GNI Briefs the U.S. Helsinki Commission on Internet Freedom

Friday, March 4, 2016 - 11:24

On Thursday, March 3, 2016, GNI Director of Policy and Learning Lisl Brunner presented to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) at a briefing titled “Internet Freedom in the Age of Dictators and Terrorists.”

In her statement, Brunner outlined GNI’s efforts to support responsible information and communications technology (ICT) company decision making, foster corporate accountability, engage policymakers, and provide a safe space for members to share learning on complex issues.

Brunner illustrated the positive impact of these efforts on privacy and freedom of expression online. “The GNI’s independent assessment process has yielded tangible changes and improvements in [ICT] company policies and practices,” including “the adoption of human rights impact assessments and the development of enhanced company transparency with customers, users and the wider public.”

Additionally, she noted, “The application of GNI principles has reduced the amount of content removed and personal data released as a result of government requests,” and the GNI has “successfully encouraged governments to increase transparency and public debate around their surveillance laws, policies and practices.”

GNI academic member and director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at New America, Rebecca MacKinnon, also briefed the Helsinki Commission.

The Global Network Initiative is an international multi-stakeholder organization that brings together information and communications technology companies, civil society (including human rights and press freedom groups), academics and investors to work together to forge a common approach to protecting and advancing free expression and privacy around the world. GNI members commit to, and are independently assessed on GNI principles and guidelines for responding to government requests that could harm the freedom of expression and privacy rights of users.

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