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3 Jun 2021

Isedua Oribhabor & Peter Micek, Access Now

Putting a check on Big Tech: the path to accountability for companies in the 2020 RDR Index

You don’t need us to tell you that a fairly small group of powerful companies runs our digital lives. You know their content policies don’t tell the whole story, their data practices slide from sloppy to worse, and their algorithms run amok.

But once a year, we see the numbers. And once again, the numbers paint an ugly picture: only two companies scored above 50% in the latest Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) Corporate Accountability Index.

Our role is to make sure the business executives, lawyers, public policy teams, and engineers at these tech companies read and respond to their RDR score, and understand how to move forward...

However, the big picture is that companies that have an immense influence over the exercise of our rights still lack transparency and accountability. For the first time, the Ranking Digital Rights Index in 2020 included Alibaba and Amazon. Given the sheer size and power of these two companies, the results were particularly disappointing: Amazon came in dead last among the digital platforms in the RDR Index, and Alibaba fared only slightly better, ranking in the bottom half.

As we have done in previous years, Access Now sent letters to each of the companies, urging them to review their performance in the 2020 rankings and provide a public response. We have once again asked for at least one improvement from each company, raising issues such as increasing transparency and conducting human rights due diligence.