On 24 August 2011, GNI wrote to the UK Home Secretary about the discussions between the Government and companies in the ICT sector following the recent violence in London. The text of the letter is below.  

Dear Home Secretary,

In this open letter we write regarding discussions due to take place between the Government and companies in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector following the recent civil unrest in the UK.

Criminality and violence deserve both condemnation and prosecution under the full extent of the law. However when considering next steps, and in particular the development of any specific proposals relating to communications technology and social media, we urge a Government response that protects legal due process and internationally recognized human rights and free speech norms.

We believe it is important that the development of proposals in the UK happens in a transparent and accountable way, in consultation with  companies, civil society organizations representing freedom of expression and privacy rights and the media.

Communications companies face increased requests from governments around the world to comply with surveillance and censorship requests that could infringe the rights of users.  We ask that the Government consider this global context when formulating its response so that specific pressures of the moment do not lead to unintended consequences and undermine the Government’s ability to support and further free speech values internationally.

At the Global Network Initiative we have brought together companies, civil society organizations, investors and academics to create a collaborative approach to the protection of freedom of expression and privacy rights in the ICT sector.  We would welcome an opportunity to engage with you.

Susan Morgan

Executive Director of the Global Network Initiative