Corporations Agree to Standards for Internet Freedom

05 Nov Corporations Agree to Standards for Internet Freedom

The Global Network Initiative has been launched. The Initiative is a code of conduct for corporations on privacy and free speech created by a coalition of human rights, media development and research organizations, and Internet and communications companies such as Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. Its goal: to ensure that ICT companies acknowledge their “responsibility to respect and protect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users.” The Initiative was launched as a response to corporate participation in online censorship, especially in China. It took more than two years to craft, and much of that time was spent articulating a set of principles and devising mechanisms to encourage compliance acceptable both to human rights groups and to businesses. Rebecca MacKinnon, one of Global Voices’ founders, participated in the working group, and writes in RConversation: A few people have called me asking “does this thing have any teeth” or “is this thing more than just a figleaf for companies to get congress off their backs? Organizations like Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in China, Human Rights First, and the Committee to Protect Journalists would not be putting their reputations behind this thing if they didn’t think it was meaningful. That said, the initiative must prove its value in the next couple of years by implementing a meaningful and sufficiently tough process by which companies’ adherence to the principles will be evaluated and benchmarked.
Global Voices Online, MA, By Ivan Sigal, November 4, 2008