GNI Welcomes Freedom Online Coalition Joint Statement on State-Sponsored Network Disruptions

Date: 
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 15:49

The Global Network Initiative welcomes the Joint Statement and accompanying Good Practices for Governments on State-Sponsored Network Disruptions issued by the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC).

In its statement, the partnership of 30 governments working to advance internet freedom “expresses deep concern over the growing trend of intentional state-sponsored disruptions of access to or dissemination of information online.” The statement was accompanied by good practices that provide specific and practical measures governments can take to respond to this troubling trend.

"This important statement from the FOC shows that the coalition of companies, civil society organisations and governments concerned by internet disruptions is growing," said Judith Lichtenberg, GNI Executive Director. 

"We are pleased that this statement cites research released by GNI on the economic consequences for businesses, individuals and economic development when governments sever or impede access to networks," she said.

“Senior policymakers, human rights advocates, and business executives share an interest in reversing the rising global trend of state sponsored network disruptions,” said international human rights lawyer and GNI Board Chair Mark Stephens, CBE.  

"This statement from 30 governments throws down the gauntlet on those who harm the human rights and economic opportunities of their people when they shut down vital communications services,” he said.

Last week at RightsCon – a leading conference on digital rights hosted by AccessNow and held this year in Brussels – GNI hosted a panel discussion to highlight the economic impact of network shutdowns. The session featured perspectives from social media and telecommunications companies, civil society organizations and academics on this growing trend, and highlighted the need for more research on the economic and social costs it creates. 

The newly enlarged GNI – which now includes telecom company members Millicom, Nokia, Orange, Telefónica, Telenor Group, Telia Company, and Vodafone Group – will continue to raise its collective voice, and to work with other concerned stakeholders to encourage human rights-based laws and policies that prevent shutdowns and improve transparency around their use.

In July 2016, the Global Network Initiative released a joint statement with the then Telecommunications Industry Dialogue companies expressing concern about the increasing number of government orders to shut down or restrict access to communication networks and related services around the world. 

About the GNI

Founded in 2008, The Global Network Initiative is an international multi-stakeholder platform comprising internet and telecommunications companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics, who have built a collaborative approach to protecting and advancing freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. Our company members have a global footprint, serving internet, mobile and telecommunication services users and customers in over 190 countries.

All companies that participate in the GNI commit to the GNI Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, and agree to be independently assessed on their implementation of those Principles. Based on international human rights instruments, the GNI Principles guide how companies respond to government requests that may conflict with the privacy and free expression rights of their users. Our membership uses these principles as the basis for collectively advocating with governments and international institutions to promote and protect user rights.

For more information on GNI’s membership, the GNI Principles, and how GNI members collectively hold companies accountable to their commitments via the GNI Independent Company Assessment process, visit our website.