Every day, in almost every country in the world, technology companies receive requests from governments to censor content, restrict access to communications services, or hand over user data.

Given this reality, how can technology companies best respect the rights of their users – wherever they operate?

The Global Network Initiative was launched in 2008 to address this question. A unique multistakeholder platform, GNI was the product of more than two years of deliberation by companies, human rights and press freedom organizations, academics, and investors.

The architects of GNI created a multistakeholder process because they recognized that the complex and evolving challenge of protecting digital rights globally requires a concerted and coordinated effort drawing on the perspectives, leverage, credibility, and expertise of many different stakeholders.

They also agreed that the foundation for good law and policy is internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and privacy. These rights and protections are enshrined in instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and subsequently, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

GNI participants work together in two mutually supporting ways. The GNI Principles (“the Principles”) and Implementation Guidelines provide an evolving framework for responsible company decision making in support of freedom of expression and privacy rights. As our company participation expands, the Principles are taking root as global standard for human rights in the ICT sector.

We also collectively advocate with governments and international institutions for laws and policies that promote and protect freedom of expression and privacy.