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Resources

GNI' publications and statements on issues of privacy, freedom of expression, and human rights are sorted by topic and can be found on our Issues page. For the latest from GNI, see News

Closing the Gap: Indian Online Intermediaries and a Liability System Not Yet Fit for Purpose

Date: 
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 (All day)

The Global Network Initiative (GNI) today released a report, “Closing the Gap: Indian Online Intermediaries and a Liability System Not Yet Fit for Purpose,” prepared by Copenhagen Economics, which found that online platforms that support user-generated content can become an important part of India’s Internet economy and contribute approximately INR 2.49 lakh crore (USD 41 Billion) by 2015—in addition to the contribution of other elements of the Internet economy. 

This would mean that two years from now their GDP contribution may increase to more than 1.3 per cent, provided that the current legal liability regime is improved. Additionally, the positive productivity effects of online intermediaries will be significant—creating an even greater impact in India in areas like e-sales and e-procurement compared to their impact in Europe or the US.

Jermyn Brooks, outgoing Chair of the GNI Board, on the launch of the report said, “With India emerging as one of the fastest growing Internet user markets, our report aims to bring to light the importance of providing protection to Internet intermediaries in India in order to create an environment that is conducive to promoting innovation and economic opportunity.” He continued, “ The current liability regime for India’s Internet intermediaries—particularly the Information Technology Act and its regulations—are ill suited to deal with innovation such as social media and user generated content. They do not protect the rights of users, and stand in the way of the economic benefits that India can achieve through the Internet.”

Read the report here

Read the executive summary here

 

Public Report on the Independent Assessment Process for Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo

Date: 
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 09:00

Report Executive Summary available in ArabicChineseFrenchRussian, and Spanish.

The Global Network Initiative today released a public report on the independent assessments of founding companies Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The assessments looked at cases of government requests implicating the rights of Internet users, and found that each company is making a good faith effort to implement GNI’s Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, and to improve over time.

“These independent assessments—the first of their kind—present a major step forward on human rights accountability in the technology sector,” said GNI Board Chair Jermyn Brooks. “They demonstrated in the many specific cases examined how companies, applying the GNI Principles, have in fact been able to limit the removal of content and the release of personal data as a result of government requests,” he continued.

The assessments focused on products and services that in the company’s view posed the most salient risks to freedom of expression and privacy—search, email, and photo and video sharing services—with cases identified through a process that included consultation with GNI’s non-company members. The report presents information in aggregate or anonymized form in order to allow public disclosure of how the companies review and respond to government requests without disclosing confidential information. The report also details examples of the recommendations made by the assessors to one or more companies. The process did not and cannot determine whether the companies have acted appropriately with respect to each of the many thousands of requests received each year from governments.

Read the report.

Opening the Lines: A Call for Transparency from Governments and Telecommunications Companies

Date: 
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 18:00

Executive Summary available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish.

The human rights obligations of telecommunications companies are in the global spotlight in the wake of recent reports about national security-related communications surveillance. Companies committed to respecting free expression and privacy rights should take this opportunity to work with governments to increase transparency according to a new report by the Global Network Initiative.  

The report, “Opening the Lines: A Call for Transparency from Governments and Telecommunications Companies,” illustrates the types of requirements telecommunications companies face and explores how they can respond to them in ways that respect human rights. Informed by case study review of the laws and regulations governing telecommunications companies in the European Union, and at the national level in Russia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, the report shows that the risks to free expression and privacy in the sector are not limited to the United States. Authored by Chris Tuppen, senior partner of Advancing Sustainability LLP and the former Chief Sustainability Officer at BT, the report makes specific recommendations around how to increase transparency.

Read the report. 

Comments on European Commission draft ICT sector guidance on business and human rights

Date: 
Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 14:37

The Global Network Initiative (GNI) welcomes the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry project to develop guidance on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. We appreciate the opportunity to provide comments on the draft guidance. 

GNI is a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics, who have created a collaborative approach to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. GNI provides resources for ICT companies to help them address difficult issues related to freedom of expression and privacy that they may face anywhere in the world. GNI has created a framework of principles and a confidential, collaborative approach to working through challenges of corporate responsibility in the ICT sector.

Developing detailed guidance that is of practical use to companies across the sector is a challenging task, and we have been pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the work of the project team at the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Shift, particularly with regards to freedom of expression and privacy rights. GNI is represented on the ICT Sector Advisory Group by Executive Director Susan Morgan and GNI Board members Rebecca MacKinnon and Lewis Segall, and participated in the recent roundtable discussion of the draft in Brussels.  

Read GNI's comments here

Read all submissions on the ICT sector guidance here

Jermyn Brooks: Business and Human Rights in the Digital Era

Date: 
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 09:44

GNI Independent Chair Jermyn Brooks has authored a contribution to the Internet & Society Co:llaboratory Discussion Paper on Human Rights and Internet Governance. The article responds to a proposition by Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. 

New technologies have played a catalytic role in support of democratic aspirations in the Middle East and around the world. In her essay Shirin Ebadi eloquently describes how free expression, “the first step to democracy,” facilitates the meaningful realization of other rights, and the impact of virtual communications networks in Iran. But innovations in information and communication technologies (ICTs) present risks as well as opportunities to advance human rights. The challenges of navigating this nexus are too complicated for companies to manage alone, and a growing number of companies, civil society organizations, investors, and academics are collaborating to advance freedom of expression and privacy rights through the Global Network Initiative (GNI).

Read the full article. 

Download the PDF discussion paper. 

Pages

Video: New Frontiers of Open Government

Date: 
Fri, 11/01/2013 - 11:00

At the Open Government Summit in London, GNI Board Chair Jermyn Brooks joined a panel on the next-generation challenges governments and civil society must face in advancing the open government agenda globally.

Event Recap: 2013 Learning Forum in Brussels

The Global Network Initiative and the Telecommunications Industry Dialogue held their first joint Learning Forum in Brussels, Belgium, presenting an opportunity to share perspectives on current challenges facing freedom of expression and privacy.
Date: 
Tue, 11/26/2013 - 09:49

Video: GNI and the Telecom Industry Dialogue

Interview with Susan Morgan, Executive Director of the GNI and Patrik Hiselius, Chair of the Industry Dialogue and Senior Advisor, TeliaSonera.
Date: 
Fri, 05/31/2013 - 11:13

Video: Internet Freedom in the Global Debate: Mapping the State of Play

Date: 
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 13:35


GNI Executive Director Susan Morgan joined Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, for a high-level panel discussion to recollect and reflect on the state of play on internet freedom and to introduce the second Stockholm Internet Forum.

The Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Internet Governance


GNI Independent Chair Jermyn Brooks discusses the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance at the OSCE Internet 2013 conference in Vienna, Austria.

A Plan for Rights-Respecting Telecoms


GNI Policy and Communications Director David Sullivan joins a workshop at the Internet Governance Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan. 

GNI Hosts Online Debate on the UK Communications Data Bill

Susan Morgan hosts a Google Big Tent Hangout discussing the UK draft Communications Data Bill.

Date: 
Mon, 12/17/2012 - 16:49

Global Network Initiative 2012 Learning Forum

GNI's inaugural Learning Forum brought to Washington, D.C. an exciting lineup of international speakers on cutting-edge issues relating to freedom of expression and privacy rights online.

Date: 
Fri, 06/15/2012 - 11:35

Pages

Op-Ed: Tech Companies Should be Allowed to Disclose Government Requests

Unless we know not only how many of these orders governments make, but also how many companies receive, it will be impossible for individual users of communications services to grasp the scale and scope of surveillance.

Date: 
Wed, 11/13/2013 - 08:55

ThinkProgress: How To Bring More Transparency To U.S. Surveillance Programs

There is no shortage of divergent views about the once secret NSA surveillance programs former contractor Edward Snowden allegedly leaked. But there is one point on which even the fiercest critics and staunchest defenders of national security communications surveillance seem to agree: more transparency from the U.S. government is required.

Date: 
Wed, 07/03/2013 - 17:04

GNI in Slate: Network Shutdowns Go Beyond Syria

On May 7 at 3 p.m., for the second time in six months, Syria’s connection to the global Internet was severed.

Date: 
Fri, 05/10/2013 - 09:35

Pages

Annual Reports & Newsletters

2012 Annual Report


In the past year the Global Network Initiative put its principles into action, harnessing the power of its diverse membership—companies, civil society organizations, investors, and academics—to advance freedom of expression and privacy rights worldwide.

Download the report

2011 Annual Report


Our 2011 Annual Report focuses on the difference we are making in seeding a global standard for free expression and privacy, helping companies to chart an ethical path forward, and using our collective voice to change policy and advance human rights worldwide.

2010 Annual Report

Date: 
Fri, 12/31/2010 - 12:00

GNI is delighted to release its inaugural annual report.

External resources

External Resources

The Principles set out by the Global Network Initiative are founded on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights. The following are the core international norms on which the Initiative's documents are based.
 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
 
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Other Resources

OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, updated 25 May 2011

Frank La Rue Special Report on the right to freedom of opinion and expression (pdf) 16 May 2011

Protect, Respect, and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights (pdf) 7 April 2008

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework (pdf) 21 March 2011

Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and the Internet issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information.

UNESCO, "Freedom of connection, freedom of expression: the changing legal and regulatory ecology shaping the Internet" 1 June 2011

Participant Resources

Resources from GNI Participants

Here you can find news, research, and data analysis on privacy and free expression online from our wide-ranging participants

Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California

New Media and Technology Research Page

Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Projects, Research, and News

Boston Common Asset Management

Sustainability and Engagement

Calvert Group

Sustainable and Responsible Investing

Center for Democracy & Technology

Global Internet Freedom

Centro de Estudios en Libertad de Expresión

Freedom of Expression Research

Right of Access to Information

Committee to Protect Journalists 

CPJ Internet Channel

Domini Social Investments LLC

Human Rights

Electronic Frontier Foundation

"Our Work"

F&C Asset Management

Engagement Programmes

Folksam

International Cooperation

Google Inc.

Transparency Report

Human Rights First

Internet Freedom and Privacy

Business and Human Rights

Human Rights in China

Technology and Human Rights

Human Rights Watch

Business and Human Rights

Internet Freedom

Internews

Global Issues: Internet access

Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft Security Intelligence Report

Corporate Citizenship Report

Rebecca MacKinnon

New America Foundation

Global Voices Advocacy

Trillium Asset Management

Trillium's Approach to Socially Responsible Investing

United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Business & Human Rights (observer status)

Technology, Telecom, and Electronics

University of California, Berkeley School of Information

Current Research

Websense

Websense Policy on Government-Imposed Censorship

World Press Freedom Committee

WPFC Publications

Yahoo! Inc.

Yahoo! Business and Human Rights Program