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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.
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.
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.
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.
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).