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24 Feb 2021

Ranking Digital Rights

Ranking Digital Rights 2020 Corporate Accountability Index evaluates 26 companies on free expression & privacy

The 2020 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index

We evaluated 26 of the world’s most powerful digital platforms and telecommunications companies on their disclosed policies and practices affecting people’s rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

Key findings: Companies are improving in principle, but failing in practice

... In our research for the 2020 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, none of the 26 companies we rank—which collectively provide information and communications services to billions of people around the world—came even close to earning a passing grade on our international human rights-based standards of transparency and accountability.

Our methodology uses 58 indicators across three categories—governance, freedom of expression and information, and privacy—to evaluate company commitments, policies, and practices affecting digital rights. In 2020, we applied an expanded methodology that includes new benchmarks for what companies should disclose about their algorithmic systems and targeted advertising practices. We did this in order to better hold companies accountable for the technologies and systems that fuel the Big Tech business model—and that so often drive the spread of disinformation and harmful speech online. We also added Amazon and Alibaba to this year’s ranking, enabling us to assess the human rights commitments and policies of two of the world’s biggest online retailers...

2020 Recommendations

If the internet is to be designed, operated, and governed in a way that protects and respects human rights, everyone must take responsibility: companies, governments, investors, civil society organizations, and individuals...

Recommendations for companies

All companies evaluated in the RDR Index can make many improvements immediately, even in the absence of legal and policy reform. No company covered by the RDR Index is headquartered in a jurisdiction that enables the full range of actions companies should take to respect and protect users’ human rights. But companies should strive to be better stewards of the online spaces and services they control, and push for reform whenever the path to fully respecting human rights is blocked by regulatory barriers...

Recommendations for governments

Governments have an essential role to play in helping companies meet their human rights obligations under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It starts with upholding their own duty to protect human rights and enabling citizens to hold them accountable for how they exercise power over online speech and personal data. Then, they must foster policy environments that encourage companies to improve protections and respect for individuals’ privacy, freedom of expression and information, and freedom from discrimination...