Commentary: The B-Tech project assesses the response of technology companies to the attack on the United States Capitol
The response of technology companies to the attack on the United States Capitol on 6 January 2021 has escalated public debate about the role of social media and other technology companies in society and public life...
There are urgent discussions to be had about governance gaps between the speed and scale of the activities of technology companies, and the ability of societies to manage related adverse impacts, including on human rights. What is clear is that by leaving companies to define and implement their own vision of responsible conduct largely untethered by state regulation and guidance, governments will likely fail to meet their own human rights obligations which include to protect against human rights abuses by businesses.
Companies should not wait for the necessary regulations and other institutional underpinnings to be in place, as important as that may be... To this end, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide a framework for technology companies to help guide their actions and to “know and show” that they are living up to their human rights responsibilities. For those impacted by company decisions and the broader society, the Guiding Principles also provide a framework basis for consumers and societies to assess the adequacy of company actions and hold companies to account for the measures they are taking.