Tech & telecom companies make progress implementing the GNI Principles, according to independent assessments

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19 May 2020

Commentary: Robust governance mechanisms needed to ensure corporate respect for human rights

Author: Isedua Oribhabor & Peter Micek, Access Now

"Starting from the top: governance matters for human rights, as GNI assessment report shows," 14 May 2020

Transparency is one piece of corporate accountability; governance is another. Without robust governance mechanisms, corporate respect for human rights will be inconsistent at best... [T]he rush to implement tech solutions...[during the Covid-19 pandemic] has revealed the dangers of making human rights an afterthought in developing tech tools. As use of tech products increased due to the health crisis, recent examples of tech companies backpedaling to improve their human rights practices demonstrate why companies need robust internal governance mechanisms.

[The] Global Network Initiative (GNI) public assessment report...provides recommendations to member companies across four categories: governance, due diligence and risk management, freedom of expression and privacy in practice, and transparency and engagement...GNI made more recommendations on governance than on any other category...the recommendations focused on building better internal structures and providing human rights training to employees to ensure that human rights are integrated throughout business operations... We urge companies to take these steps to implement robust governance mechanisms and to ensure consistent respect for human rights in all their business operations. [Refers to Facebook, MTN, Verizon, Zoom]

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23 April 2020

Tech & telecom companies make progress implementing the GNI Principles on freedom of expression & privacy, according to independent assessments

Author: Global Network Initiative

This is the public report on the 2018/2019 independent assessments of 11 member companies of the Global Network Initiative (GNI): Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Millicom, Nokia, Orange, Telefónica, Telenor Group, Telia Company, Verizon Media, and Vodafone Group... This cycle of assessments provides a window into how a growing number of companies from across the ICT sector are exercising their responsibility to uphold the rule of law and respect the freedom of expression and privacy rights... Based on a review of the assessment materials, the GNI Board may make recommendations to a company regarding alternative approaches to the implementation of the GNI Principles... During this assessment cycle, the GNI Board made a total of five recommendations to four companies.

... Creating an enabling environment... will require the efforts of governments, companies, and other key actors including investors, academics, and civil society organizations inside and outside GNI... states committed to human rights must lead by example;... companies across the ICT sector should embrace their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and use the GNI Principles and Implementation Guidelines to integrate freedom of expression and privacy rights into their operations;... [and] companies and states should not address these threats and challenges on their own.

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