Category: Global Network Initiative


The Global Network Initiative is an organization that helps “the information and communications technology sector navigate the complexities and obligations of Internet privacy and freedom of expression of Netizens as well as the respect online law enforcement.” GNI is a perfect example of “global civil society.” It advocates through information politics through the use of politically usable information, symbolic politics as it uses testimonies to reach a larger audience, leverage politics as it pressures governments and accountability politics by convincing governments and others to publicly change their positions while encouraging government demands that are consistent with international laws and standards of freedom of expression. The GNI initiative gather resources from government and internationals organizations as well as Human Rights groups. Their goal is to encourage governments “to be specific, transparent and consistent in the demands, laws and regulations related to freedom of expression on the Internet.” The Global Network Initiative uses information, accountability and leverage politics.

“GNI engages proactively with governments to reach a shared understanding of how government restrictions can be applied in a manner consistent with GNI’s principles.”

(GNI Website: http://globalnetworkinitiative.org)

Source: http://globalnetworkinitiative.org

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Extract from the Global Network Initiative’s report

“Global Network Initiative’s principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy (“the Principles”) have been developed by companies, investors, civil society organizations and academics (collectively “the participants.”)

These Principles are based on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“ICESCR.”)

All human rights are indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated: the improvement of one right facilitates advancement of the others; the deprivation of one right adversely affects others. Freedom of expression and privacy are an explicit part of this international framework of human rights and are enabling rights that facilitate the meaningful realization of other human rights.

The duty of governments to respect, protect, promote and fulfill human rights is the foundation of this human rights framework. That duty includes ensuring that national laws, regulations and policies are consistent with international human rights laws and standards on freedom of expression and privacy.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies have the responsibility to respect and protect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users. ICT has the potential to enable the exchange of ideas and access to information in a way that supports economic opportunity, advances knowledge and improves quality of life.

The collaboration between the ICT industry, investors, civil society organizations, academics and other stakeholders can strengthen efforts to work with governments to advance freedom of expression and privacy globally.

For these reasons, these Principles and their accompanying Implementation Guidelines establish a framework to provide direction and guidance to the ICT industry and its stakeholders in protecting and advancing the enjoyment of human rights globally.

The participants have also developed a multi-stakeholder governance structure to ensure accountability for the implementation of these Principles and their continued relevance, effectiveness and impact. This structure incorporates transparency with the public, independent assessment and multi-stakeholder collaboration.

The participants will seek to extend the number of organizations from around the world supporting these Principles so that they can take root as a global standard.

Freedom of opinion and expression is a human right and guarantor of human dignity. The right to freedom of opinion and expression includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Freedom of opinion and expression supports an informed citizenry and is vital to ensuring public and private sector accountability. Broad public access to information and the freedom to create and communicate ideas are critical to the advancement of knowledge, economic opportunity and human potential.

The right to freedom of expression should not be restricted by governments, except in narrowly defined circumstances based on internationally recognized laws or standards.5 These restrictions should be consistent with international human rights laws and standards, the rule of law and be necessary and proportionate for the relevant purpose.

Participating companies will respect and protect the freedom of expression of their users by seeking to avoid or minimize the impact of government restrictions on freedom of expression, including restrictions on the information available to users and the opportunities for users to create and communicate ideas and information, regardless of frontiers or media of communication.
Participating companies will respect and protect the freedom of expression rights of their users when confronted with government demands, laws and regulations to suppress freedom of expression, remove content or otherwise limit access to information and ideas in a manner inconsistent with internationally recognized laws and standards.

Privacy is a human right and guarantor of human dignity. Privacy is important to maintaining personal security, protecting identity and promoting freedom of expression in the digital age.

Everyone should be free from illegal or arbitrary interference with the right to privacy and should have the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

The right to privacy should not be restricted by governments, except in narrowly defined circumstances based on internationally recognized laws and standards. These restrictions should be consistent with international human rights laws and standards, the rule of law and be necessary and proportionate for the relevant purpose.

Participating companies will employ protections with respect to personal information in all countries where they operate in order to protect the privacy rights of users.
Participating companies will respect and protect the privacy rights of users when confronted with government demands, laws or regulations that compromise privacy in a manner inconsistent with internationally recognized laws and standards.”

The following organizations are participating in the Global Network Initiative. Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern CaliforniaBerkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard UniversityBoston Common Asset ManagementCalvert GroupCenter for Democracy & TechnologyCentro de Estudios en Libertad de ExpresiónChurch of SwedenCommittee to Protect JournalistsDomini Social Investments LLCElectronic Frontier FoundationEvocaF&C Asset ManagementFolksamGoogle Inc.Human Rights FirstHuman Rights in ChinaHuman Rights WatchIndex on CensorshipInternational Business Leaders ForumInternational Media Support (IMS)InternewsMicrosoft Corp. Movements.orgRebecca MacKinnonNew America FoundationResearch Center for Information Law, University of St. GallenTrillium Asset ManagementUnited Nations Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Business & Human Rights(observer status), University of California, Berkeley School of InformationWorld Press Freedom CommitteeYahoo! Inc.