GNI has identified significant interest from companies across the technology sector in guidance regarding freedom of expression and privacy issues, including challenges posed by sales of equipment, software, or services to governments, and challenges related to government mandates for modification of equipment, installation of software, or other mandates. (See also GNI’s statement giving Guidance to ICT Manufacturing and Software Sector).

In response, on September 10, 2009, the Global Network Initiative hosted an open house discussion for technology companies. Attendees included companies from the telecommunications, equipment and software manufacturing, and Internet sectors. The meeting covered key questions of interest about the Global Network Initiative, including:

  • The business value of joining GNI;
  • How GNI will be organized and governed;
  • How GNI’s multi-stakeholder learning and collaboration activities function;
  • How the accountability component of GNI operates; and
  • How the GNI principles and implementation guidelines are relevant to a wide variety of technology companies, and are capable of adaption by those sectors.

Many companies expressed interest in continuing discussions. The GNI is convening a workstream to explore how the current GNI guidelines can be further developed to assist other companies in their efforts to protect freedom of expression and privacy. This process, which will be held under the Chatham House Rule on confidentiality, will be multi-stakeholder in nature, bringing together perspectives from industry, investors, academics, and human rights organizations in GNI to create credible and broadly accepted guidance.

Participation in this workstream is not limited to attendees at the Open House; GNI welcomes participation by any technology company interested in these issues. Interested companies should contact info@globalnetworkinitiative.org (subject line: GNI Guidance Workstream).