Commentary: Tech companies can contribute to violations of freedom of expression & privacy by complying with govt. user data requests
Author: Isabel Laura Ebert, OpenGlobalRights, Published on: 17 August 2018
"The corporations' dilemma: navigating government access to information," 16 Aug 2018
Technology can be instrumental in realizing human rights in conflict and post conflict countries by enabling freedom of expression or helping to prevent violent conflict... [or] facilitat[e] human rights abuses... In conflict situations and in countries under authoritarian rule, government access to data poses multiple human rights challenges for corporations. Once disclosed, data might be used by governments to infringe on people’s rights. Yet, if companies do not comply with requests, drastic retaliatory measures might follow, such as threats and violence to the local workforce or seizure of telecommunications infrastructure.
... Companies that operate social media and technology platforms are often able to decline government requests; however, telecommunications companies usually make considerable infrastructure and/or personnel investments on the ground and rely on a cooperative relationship with governmental actors to keep their operating licenses... Companies have started to identify ways to work jointly on these challenges.. [such as through the Global Network Initiative] but much more remains to be done.