The Global Network Initiative today released its Annual Report for 2016.
“2016 saw the risks for global freedom of expression and privacy rights ratchet up – with a proliferation of government efforts to regulate online extremist content, and an unprecedented spike in government-ordered disruptions to internet and network services,” said GNI Executive Director Judith Lichtenberg.
Highlights of the GNI Annual Report include:
The launch of our recommendations for governments and companies on how best to protect freedom of expression when addressing extremist and terrorist content online. The policy brief, “Extremist Content and the ICT Sector” has the endorsement of GNI’s diverse multi-stakeholder membership, and was developed with input from global consultations, including a series of closed roundtable sessions with government officials, law enforcement agencies, civil society and companies in London, Washington and Brussels.
The publication of the first-ever joint statement of concern by telecommunications and internet companies with civil society about the global surge of internet and network-service disruptions. GNI’s joint statement with the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue in July is part of ongoing advocacy to educate governments on the acute economic, development, and human rights harms of disruptions.
The completion of GNI’s second cycle of independent company assessments – with enhanced transparency measures. Amidst escalating challenges for freedom of expression and privacy worldwide, this assessment cycle demonstrated that member companies Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn are making good faith efforts to implement the GNI Principles, and to improve this implementation over time. GNI increased transparency around the assessments by releasing supporting documents, including a Step-by-Step Guide to how assessment works, and each company issued a public comment on their assessment. The full Public Report on the 2015/16 Independent Company Assessments and accompanying documents can be found here.
The growth of GNI’s membership. We celebrate our successful collaboration with the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue, which resulted in seven telco member companies – Millicom, Nokia, Orange, Telefónica, Telenor Group, Telia Company and Vodafone Group – joining GNI as observers in February 2016. Their full membership of GNI was subsequently announced in March 2017, in a move that extends the footprint of the GNI Principles to cover hundreds of millions of additional users of mobile and other communications services in more than 120 countries across the globe.
We also spotlight our efforts to expand our members from the Global South – including the GNI-Internews Fellowship partnership which in 2016-18 will allow digital rights advocates from key Global South countries to participate as full members of GNI as a pathway to membership.