Our Approach

The Global Network Initiative (GNI) was launched in 2008 to set a standard for how technology companies should respect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users when addressing government requests and restrictions, and be accountable for the same.

A unique multistakeholder platform, GNI was the product of more than two years of deliberation by technology companies, human rights and press freedom organizations, academics, and investors.

We are committed to fostering a robust multistakeholder initiative through our structure, governance, and working methods, as well as to promoting and improving multistakeholder approaches more broadly.

We believe the international human rights framework serves as an enduring, resilient foundation for company decision-making and the governance of new technologies.

These universal rights and protections are enshrined in global instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and have been interpreted and extended to guide private sector conduct and its governance through the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

We believe the international human rights framework serves as an enduring, resilient foundation for company decision-making and the governance of new technologies.

GNI works with a wide range of partners, including various UN agencies and other multilateral organizations, as well as rights-respecting governments, to continue to build on this foundation.

The architects of GNI created a multistakeholder framework because they recognized that the complex and evolving challenge of protecting digital rights globally requires a concerted and combined effort, drawing on the perspectives, leverage, credibility, and expertise of many different actors. GNI brings together key stakeholders into four constituencies: academics, civil society, companies, and investors with equal voice.

As technology and regulation evolve, GNI’s role as a safe space for identifying and collaborating on responses has only become more vital. Our institutional credibility and expert membership uniquely position us to identify and influence the conduct of technology companies, as well as efforts by governments to regulate them, in order to ensure that human rights are upheld in an ever-evolving landscape of technological development and regulation.

We are committed to addressing emerging issues at the intersection of freedom of expression, privacy, and corporate responsibility. This includes situations where governments attempt to access user data directly, misuse company Terms of Service, and push censorship deeper into the tech stack by targeting demands to digital equipment and infrastructure providers. GNI continues to actively explore the implications of emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and 5G, as well as evolving geopolitical dynamics, on government-company dynamics. We also discuss company conduct outside of the context of government requests and government efforts to influence technology beyond their interactions with companies where appropriate, including through our shared learning and policy advocacy activities.

Since 2008, GNI has convened an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders across regions (including South and South/East Asia, Africa, MENA, Latin America, Europe, and North America) in a trusted space to share learnings and collectively encourage responsible business conduct across the technology ecosystem. Our membership includes individuals and organizations on every populated continent with almost two-thirds based in the majority world. We are committed to establishing and continuing to grow a broad, inclusive network that enables and encourages candid and sometimes challenging discussions, fostering equitable collaboration toward our shared objectives.

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