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Resources

GNI' publications and statements on issues of privacy, freedom of expression, and human rights are sorted by topic and can be found on our Issues page. For the latest from GNI, see News

Corporate Responsibility and Global Internet Governance

Date: 
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 08:00

A Global Network Initiative Policy Brief1  

This December in Dubai, world governments will gather to renegotiate a key treaty under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency that specializes in global telecommunications. The meeting, known as the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), has been billed as a mortal threat to Internet freedom, a rare opportunity to fix inequitable flaws in the existing global economic framework for communications infrastructure, and all or none of the above. 

Although there is a real risk that authoritarian states will use this process to seek greater government control over the Internet, it would be a mistake to turn the WCIT into a referendum on UN involvement in Internet governance. The UN already plays a key role through the international human rights system, and by supporting discussion venues like the Internet Governance Forum. The problem is that the opaque ITU process, which is largely closed to civil society participation, presents opportunities for governments to pursue politically motivated policies at the expense of users and innovators alike.  Although companies and governments have legitimate reasons to cooperate on Internet policy, when this happens behind closed doors without adequate safeguards the human rights of users can be put at risk. 

Download the full policy brief (PDF).

GNI is a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics, who have created a collaborative approach to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. GNI provides resources for ICT companies to help them address difficult issues related to freedom of expression and privacy that they may face anywhere in the world. GNI has created a framework of principles and a confidential, collaborative approach to working through challenges of corporate responsibility in the ICT sector.

  • 1. This document draws on discussion in a July 2012 GNI learning call on the ITU as well as feedback and suggestions from GNI’s Policy and Learning Committee. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of GNI’s participants.

Digital Freedoms in International Law

Date: 
Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 12:30


On June 14th, 2012, GNI released the report “Digital Freedoms in International Law: Practical Steps to Protect Human Rights Online” by Dr. Ian Brown and Professor Douwe Korff. The report examines the challenges facing governments and technology companies as they balance rights to expression and privacy with law enforcement and national security responsibilities. The report draws from extensive research conducted by co-authors Dr. Brown and Professor Korff, including multi-stakeholder consultations held in London, Washington, and New Delhi.

To download the executive summary, click here

To download the full report, click here

 

New Report Outlines Recommendations for Governments, Companies and Others on How to Protect Free Expression and Privacy Rights Online

Date: 
Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 07:03

Governments, companies, and other stakeholders can collaborate to protect rights to freedom of expression and privacy online, according to the authors of “Digital Freedoms in International Law: Practical Steps to Protect Human Rights Online” released today. The report, co-authored by Dr. Ian Brown and Professor Douwe Korff, examines the challenges facing governments and technology companies as they balance rights to expression and privacy with law enforcement and national security responsibilities. 

"We hope this report will help governments and companies protect human rights and public safety online, especially in countries where the Internet is playing a key role in political debate and activism," said Dr. Brown. 

The report draws from extensive research conducted by co-authors Dr. Brown and Professor Korff, including multi-stakeholder consultations held in London, Washington, and New Delhi. 

"The new global-digital environment poses challenges to the application of traditional human rights standards, for states, companies and NGOs,” said Professor Korff. “In our report, we have tried to identify those challenges and formulate tentative recommendations on how to meet them.  We hope this will lead to a wide debate, involving all stakeholders.'"

“GNI commissioned this report in order to engage on some of the most difficult and complicated questions about how to protect freedom of expression and privacy rights,” said GNI Executive Director Susan Morgan. “We hope it provokes a dialogue and debate that, over time, leads to practical steps that make a positive difference in how governments, companies, and other stakeholders address these issues.”

To download the executive summary, click here

To download the full report, click here

GNI is a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics, who have created a collaborative approach to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. GNI provides resources for ICT companies to help them address difficult issues related to freedom of expression and privacy that they may face anywhere in the world. GNI has created a framework of principles and a confidential, collaborative approach to working through challenges of corporate responsibility in the ICT sector.

 

Report on Account Deactivation and Content Removal

Date: 
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 16:43

The GNI is pleased to announce a report released by the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society on “Account Deactivation and Content Removal: Guiding Principles and Practices for Companies and Users.” This document grew out of the GNI’s ongoing learning series on the impact on user rights of the moderation, takedown, and abuse-prevention mechanisms adopted by platforms that host user-generated content. The report was strengthened by the experience and feedback of our diverse participants, including company representatives, socially responsible investors, academics, and advocates. It intends to offer realistic and concrete guidelines that are rights-sensitive while also flexible enough to be practically implemented across diverse platforms and contexts.

Download the report here (pdf).

CDT's press release
Berkman Center announcement

Protecting Human Rights in the Digital Age

Date: 
Friday, February 4, 2011 - 16:49

 

On February 14th, 2011 we announced the publication of a GNI-commissioned report, written by BSR, titled "Protecting Human Rights in the Digital Age". The report describes the evolving freedom of expression and privacy risks faced by information and communications technology (ICT) companies and how these risks can be more effectively mitigated by the industry. It focuses on the issues for telecommunications services; cell phones and mobile devices; internet services; enterprise software, data storage and IT services, semiconductors and chips, network equipment, consumer electronics and security software.

Read the full report here (pdf).

Pages

GNI Participants Discuss Human Rights Challenges at Soul of the New Machine Conference

On May 4, 2009, Global Network Initiative participants took part in a panel at the Soul of the New Machine Conference in Berkeley, California. Participants discussed recent challenges to freedom of expression and privacy in Korea, Moldova, and Australia, and the role of the GNI as a source of first principles, collaboration, and engagement.

Date: 
Tue, 06/02/2009 - 16:00

Pages

GNI in Slate: Network Shutdowns Go Beyond Syria

On May 7 at 3 p.m., for the second time in six months, Syria’s connection to the global Internet was severed.

Date: 
Fri, 05/10/2013 - 09:35

International Herald Tribune Op-Ed: "Hands Off the Internet!"

A chorus of human rights groups, diplomats, companies and technologists has achieved something remarkable. They are shining a media spotlight on the most boring international conference you have never heard of: an obscure gathering of governments called the World Conference on International Telecommunications, or W.C.I.T.

Date: 
Thu, 12/06/2012 - 11:32

Op-Ed: Responding to India’s Internet Clampdown

Last week, the Indian government missed an opportunity to show the world the right way to handle social media in a time of crisis.

Date: 
Thu, 08/30/2012 - 17:31

Pages

Annual Reports & Newsletters

2015 Annual Report

Date: 
Fri, 10/28/2016 - 18:00

2015 was an exciting year for the Global Network Initiative. We launched our second cycle of independent company assessments, we expanded our membership and we leveraged our multi-stakeholder voice for global freedom of expression and privacy.

Download the report.  

2014 Annual Report

Date: 
Mon, 06/22/2015 - 11:15

GNI's 2014 Annual Report describes the initiative's work on freedom of expression and privacy during the past year.

Download the report.  

2013 Annual Report

Date: 
Mon, 05/05/2014 - 00:01


The Global Network Initiative 2013 Annual Report charts the initiative’s progress protecting free expression and privacy in the ICT sector during the past year.

Download the report.  

External resources

External Resources

The Principles set out by the Global Network Initiative are founded on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights. The following are the core international norms on which the Initiative's documents are based.
 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
 
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Other Resources

OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, updated 25 May 2011

Frank La Rue Special Report on the right to freedom of opinion and expression (pdf) 16 May 2011

Protect, Respect, and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights (pdf) 7 April 2008

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework (pdf) 21 March 2011

Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and the Internet issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information.

UNESCO, "Freedom of connection, freedom of expression: the changing legal and regulatory ecology shaping the Internet" 1 June 2011

Participant Resources

Resources from GNI Participants

Here you can find news, research, and data analysis on privacy and free expression online from our wide-ranging participants

Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California

New Media and Technology Research Page

Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Projects, Research, and News

Boston Common Asset Management

Sustainability and Engagement

Calvert Group

Sustainable and Responsible Investing

Center for Democracy & Technology

Global Internet Freedom

Centro de Estudios en Libertad de Expresión

Freedom of Expression Research

Right of Access to Information

Committee to Protect Journalists 

CPJ Internet Channel

Domini Social Investments LLC

Human Rights

Electronic Frontier Foundation

"Our Work"

F&C Asset Management

Engagement Programmes

Folksam

International Cooperation

Google Inc.

Transparency Report

Human Rights First

Internet Freedom and Privacy

Business and Human Rights

Human Rights in China

Technology and Human Rights

Human Rights Watch

Business and Human Rights

Internet Freedom

Internews

Global Issues: Internet access

Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft Security Intelligence Report

Corporate Citizenship Report

Rebecca MacKinnon

New America Foundation

Global Voices Advocacy

Trillium Asset Management

Trillium's Approach to Socially Responsible Investing

United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Business & Human Rights (observer status)

Technology, Telecom, and Electronics

University of California, Berkeley School of Information

Current Research

Websense

Websense Policy on Government-Imposed Censorship

World Press Freedom Committee

WPFC Publications

Yahoo! Inc.

Yahoo! Business and Human Rights Program