WASHINGTON, DC—The Global Network Initiative (GNI) today announced the election of Mark Stephens as Independent Chair of its Board of Directors, effective March 21, 2014. Mr. Stephens, a London-based partner at the law firm HowardKennedyFSI, is an internationally accomplished and respected human rights and free expression lawyer and advocate, also specializing in media and intellectual property rights law.

“Mark’s record of achievement and dedication to human rights, freedom of expression and the right to privacy—together with his energy and dynamism—equip him well to serve as GNI’s independent chair at this critical moment for human rights online,” said Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President of Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments and Secretary of the Board of GNI.

Specializing in international, appellate and complex litigation, constitutional, human rights, media and regulatory work, defamation, privacy, media, art and cultural property, data protection and freedom of information and intellectual property, Mark Stephens has undertaken some of the highest profile cases in the UK and abroad. He has taught at many Universities including, Oxford, Columbia, Hong Kong, INSEAD, and been sent on mission to China by UNESCO, to teach media law, speech and regulation.

Mark said, “An informed public debate about personal privacy in modern society is urgently needed. As this debate begins, I am excited to be joining GNI, which has a critical role to play in formulating, informing, and advancing global privacy and free expression policy through collaboration among our member companies, civil society organizations, investors, and academics.” He added, “I’d like to thank Jermyn Brooks for his amazing work as the founding Chair of GNI.”

“Mark brings stellar experience on protecting rights in the real world,” said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. “We look forward to working with him as GNI evolves and confronts a world that is increasingly challenging for privacy and free expression online.”

Mark succeeds Jermyn Brooks, who served as Chair during the past three years. “Jermyn’s extraordinary experience and expertise, together with his unsurpassed integrity, have made him the ideal Independent Chair during GNI’s formative years,” said GNI Executive Director Susan Morgan. She added, “His leadership has been instrumental in building GNI’s accountability and credibility, while extending its influence and membership.”