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29 Jan 2017

AccessNow, Peter Micek

New US plan for responsible business conduct takes steps towards digital rights, says NGO

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Last month the U.S. government published its first National Action Plan (NAP) on responsible business conduct (RBC). The U.S. had agreed to do so in 2014, and the resulting document addresses a broad range of issues, including human rights, labor rights, land and property rights, anti-corruption and transparency, and information and communications technologies (ICTs). We welcome this effort to address human rights in the ICT sector, given that most NAPs don’t touch on digital issues at all. It’s critically important, since U.S. companies reap huge profits by collecting data on people throughout the world, yet they remain largely unaccountable and out of reach, both to users and global data protection regulators. However, this NAP doesn’t go far enough in identifying specific human rights issues, and it falls short of the recommendations we made in our submission in the consultation process for the plan. Specifically, we’re disappointed that the U.S. doesn’t make any specific commitments to digital security, surveillance technology, or diversity and openness in the ICT sector. Below, we take a look at the context for the NAP; what we advise for improving it; related issues for the ICT sector; what other countries are doing; responses from civil society; and the road ahead under the Trump administration...