[LINK] Fwd: [report-release-list] Diverse Coalition Launches New Effort To Respond to Government Censorship and Threats to Privacy

Janet Hawtin janet at hawtin.net.au
Thu Oct 30 17:37:47 EST 2008


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Seth Young <syoung at cyber.law.harvard.edu>
Date: Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 11:43 PM
Subject: [report-release-list] Diverse Coalition Launches New Effort
To Respond to Government Censorship and Threats to Privacy
To: report-release-and-press-list at eon.law.harvard.edu

Good morning,

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is pleased to announce the
launch of the Global Network Initiative, a dynamic effort developed in
partnership with leading human rights groups, academics, socially
responsible investment firms, and information and communications
technology (ICT) companies. This unique coalition is working together
to uphold the human rights to freedom of expression and privacy in the
ICT sector, supporting companies as they resist governments seeking to
enlist them in acts of censorship, filtering, and surveillance that
violate international standards.

Core documents describing the effort are available on the Global
Network Initiative (GNI)'s website at
http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org:
* Principles: http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/principles
* Implementation Guidelines:
http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/implementationguidelines
* Learning, Governance, and Accountability Framework:
http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/governanceframework
* Participants: http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/participants

For the Berkman Center, this milestone represents nearly three years
of work on the GNI; an important output from our decade-long research
and policy focus on Internet governance, points of control, and new
institutions for the digital age; and our commitment to leveraging
scholarship for social impact. Based on Jonathan Zittrain and John
Palfrey's work, many members of the Berkman community helped shape
this effort from its inception, supporting its evolution not only in
the drafting process, but also in negotiations, outreach, independent
scholarship, and Congressional testimony. Multiple Berkman research
efforts, including the OpenNet Initiative, Chilling Effects,
Surveillance, and the Internet and Democracy Project, have informed
the result with investigation and empirically-driven analyses of the
rise, means, and impact of Internet censorship, filtering, and
surveillance worldwide.

* Berkman GNI page: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/research/principles

By convening diverse partners and utilizing collaborative tools and
learning platforms, the GNI can develop robust best practices, enable
the creation of dynamic and systemic solutions spanning sectors and
settings, and leverage empirical research to help the group,
policymakers, and the public understand and respond to emerging
threats to speech and privacy.

The current participants -- the GNI seeks to involve more going
forward -- are global leaders who will be implementing the GNI
Principles in their activities and decision-making processes across
the world. Intended to be global in scope, reach, and impact, the
Principles will scale with the challenges they confront, becoming
increasingly efficacious through practice, implementation, refinement,
and collective engagement across a variety of contexts.

Berkman is proud to have played a part thus far and, at this
milestone, looks forward to continuing the collaborative work of the
Initiative. For more information, including press contacts, see the
formal release below.

Seth Young
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard University

**********************************************************************************************************************************

Global Network Initiative
Protecting and Advancing Freedom of Expression and Privacy
in Information and Communications Technologies

Diverse Coalition Launches New Effort
To Respond to Government Censorship and Threats to Privacy

October 28, 2008 -- In an effort to protect and advance the human
rights of freedom of expression and privacy, a diverse coalition of
leading information and communications companies, major human rights
organizations, academics, investors and technology leaders today
launched the Global Network Initiative.

>From the Americas to Europe to the Middle East to Africa and Asia,
companies in the information and communications industries face
increasing government pressure to comply with domestic laws and
policies that require censorship and disclosure of personal
information in ways that conflict with internationally recognized
human rights laws and standards. The Initiative is founded upon new
Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy -- supported by
specific implementation commitments and a framework for accountability
and learning -- that provide a systematic approach for companies,
NGOs, investors, academics and others to work together in resisting
efforts by governments that seek to enlist companies in acts of
censorship and surveillance that violate international standards.

The Initiative is being launched in the 60th Anniversary year of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is founded upon the
internationally recognized human rights for freedom of expression and
privacy set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Principles and accompanying Implementation Guidelines require
significant new commitments from participating companies, including:
establishing greater transparency with users; assessing human rights
risk; requesting the legal rationale for government actions and
policies; training employees; challenging human rights violations; and
providing whistle-blowing mechanisms through which violations of the
Principles can be reported.

The participants recognize that responsible company actions alone
cannot guarantee that human rights are not violated. Instead,
governments have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that human
rights are respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled. That is why
the Initiative establishes significant new commitments for company,
NGO, investor and academic participants to collaborate with each other
to promote the rule of law and the adoption of laws, policies and
practices that protect and respect freedom of expression and privacy.

Protecting freedom of expression and privacy in a climate of rapidly
changing technologies, products and services is a complex and
constantly evolving task, so collaboration among participants to lobby
governments, dialogue with stakeholders in local markets and share
learning from their experiences will be critical to the success of the
Initiative.

The participants also announced the formation of an organization to
promote and support the longterm success of the Initiative. A
multi-stakeholder governance structure for the Initiative is being
established to support joint efforts by all participants and ensure
the accountability of the participating companies.

The success of the Initiative in establishing a worldwide standard
requires a global perspective that is broadly based in the information
and communications industry. Therefore, a key priority of the
Initiative is actively recruiting new members -- from business,
academia, investors, and civil society -- with a clear commitment to
the advancement of freedom of expression and privacy.

The Initiative is the outcome of a multi-stakeholder process that
began in 2006 and was formalized in early 2007. The group has closely
examined issues and cases relating to freedom of expression and
privacy around the world, as well as relevant international laws and
standards and a number of global multi-stakeholder processes in other
industries.

Quotes

Colin Maclay, Acting Executive Director of the Berkman Center for
Internet and Society, said:

"The number of states actively seeking to censor online content and
access personal information is growing, and the means employed --
technical, social, legal, political -- are increasingly sophisticated,
often placing internet and telecommunications companies in difficult
positions. In a situation characterized by rapidly evolving
technologies, models and products, with more users -- and government
interest -- than ever, a strong code of conduct for companies embodies
the most promising approach to dilemmas that neither national law nor
international regulation can effectively resolve at this time."

Dawn Wolfe, Research Analyst, Boston Common Asset Management, said:

"As an active investor, Boston Common Asset Management expects its
portfolio companies to be responsive to the myriad of risks facing
their global operations. Information and Communication Technology
companies currently face evolving challenges to their ability to
deliver products and services, which depend on the protection of
personal privacy and free expression rights in order to thrive. Boston
Common views the implementation of these Principles as a strong
indicator that management is taking credible action to mitigate risks
to these human rights and, ultimately, to the companies' ability to
deliver quality products to its customers."

Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President, Social Research and Policy,
Calvert Group, said:

"Internet service providers and other ICTs face serious risks related
to human rights around the world. This initiative has the immediate
potential to become the global standard that guides companies in
addressing these risks and meeting their responsibilities not only to
their shareholders, but also to the hundreds of millions of users who
are also their stakeholders around the world. Balancing respect for
freedom of expression and the right to privacy with government
policies and practices is not easy, but these principles give
companies a reasonable basis to guide their actions."

Leslie Harris, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology, said:

"The Initiative launched today sets out an ethical and accountable
framework to help companies respond to the growing challenges to
privacy and freedom of expression in today's digital world. It is the
result of an extraordinary two-year collaboration among a diverse set
of companies, human rights groups, investors, academics and other
stakeholders. Together, we aim to sow the seeds of a global standard
that will be adopted by companies and promoted by advocates of digital
rights worldwide. We also aim to create a powerful forum for continued
collaboration, shared learning and joint action on digital freedom."

Robert Mahoney, Deputy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists, said:

"The Internet and mobile communications have given journalists a
powerful new voice. But Big- Brother governments are increasingly
turning such liberating technologies into tools of control and
repression. Censorship, Internet filtering and wire-tapping are
rampant. If they fail to stifle independent voices, there's always
jail. One in three journalists imprisoned today worked online. This
initiative is a first step, but a landmark first step, toward putting
the basic human rights of freedom of expression and privacy front and
center in the battle between the public and the gatekeepers of
communication and information. We hope that many more companies and
groups will join us, particularly those from countries where
journalists are sacrificing life or liberty just for doing their job."

Adam M. Kanzer, Managing Director & General Counsel at Domini Social
Investments LLC, said:

"This initiative represents a serious effort to wrestle with some of
the most difficult challenges facing Internet and telecommunication
sector companies around the world. These technologies are helping to
build global communities, advance knowledge and contribute to global
broad-based wealth creation. Their long-term success is intimately
connected to the fundamental human rights of the users of their
products and services. This initiative strives to highlight that
connection, and provide practical, meaningful principles for companies
that face government requests that violate international human rights
norms. It is grounded in international human rights law, practical
experience, and a commitment to transparency and accountability. We
have not solved every problem, but we have built a strong foundation
of trust and agreement to build upon."

Karina Litvack, Head of Governance & Sustainable Investment, F&C
Investments, said:

"Information and Communication Technology companies face increasing
scrutiny of how they manage human rights-related risks in challenging
conditions that are often not of their own making. The Principles come
at the right time and provide a valuable body of best practice to help
companies address these concerns. We encourage all telecommunication
and internet companies to sign up to the Initiative and use the
Principles and supporting tools as part of their internal controls for
managing these business risks."

Andrew McLaughlin, Google Director of Global Public Policy, said:

"Google has a strong record of promoting freedom of expression and
protecting its users' rights. We have joined this initiative because
we know that a wide range of groups working together can achieve much
more than the company acting alone. The principles we're announcing
today are universal, and our next step must be to bring on board more
companies and NGOs from around the world."

Mike Posner, President, Human Rights First, said:

"In today's world, it is urgent for Internet providers and other
communications companies to challenge government censorship and
intrusion into personal privacy. These practices often lead to tragic
consequences for front line human rights activists. Through this
initiative, we take a crucial first step in advancing free expression
and privacy, at a time when government interference with these basic
human rights is on the rise.

"As we move to implement this initiative, we will judge our success by
whether we can develop a credible system for reviewing and evaluating
individual company compliance with these standards. The public must
have confidence that participating companies are taking the necessary
measures to challenge unwarranted government interference. Technology
must no longer be used to trample basic human rights."

Arvind Ganesan, Director, Business and Human Rights Program, Human
Rights Watch, said:

"This initiative is an important opportunity to ensure respect for
human rights in the ICT industry. The hard work is still ahead, but
this is an important step forward."

Meggin Thwing Eastman, Senior Research Analyst for Technology and
Communications, KLD Research & Analytics, said:

"KLD recognizes that freedom of expression and the right to privacy
are essential to civil society. The socially responsible investment
community believes that corporations play a vital role in sustaining
these core freedoms. By defining and promoting worldwide standards for
Internet and telecommunications companies, the Global Network
Initiative can help protect human rights in the digital age."

Pamela Passman, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
for Microsoft's Global Corporate Affairs, said:

"Microsoft's core mission is to help enable many more of the world's
citizens and societies to realize their full potential. A key aspect
of this mission is to help enable the capabilities today's global
networks and technology provide, such as access to reliable
information, opportunities for self-expression, engagement with public
issues, and the ability to connect across borders. Microsoft is
pleased to support this Initiative to help advance basic protections
for freedom of expression and privacy and to further our commitment to
responsible leadership."

Jonas Kron, Senior Social Research Analyst at Trillium Asset
Management Corp., said:

"Trillium Asset Management Corp. is guided by a belief that active
investing can offer good returns to the investor, while also promoting
social and economic justice. The Internet provides individuals a
powerful vehicle for expression -- political, social, economic and
cultural. Unfortunately, it can also be used to violate the human
rights we hold dear. Therefore, we are acutely aware that these
gatekeepers of the Internet must address privacy and freedom of
expression concerns in a proactive and accountable manner which
protects our hard won rights. We believe these three documents
represent a productive first step in meeting these responsibilities."

Deirdre K. Mulligan, Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley School of
Information, said:

"This effort once again reflects the unique willingness of the
high-tech sector -- corporations, nonprofits, academics -- to work
collaboratively to advance the rights and freedoms of online users
around the world. This Initiative, while nascent, sets the groundwork
for a shared bottom-up strategy and mechanisms for advancing and
protecting human rights in digital media."

Mark Bench, Executive Director of the World Press Freedom Committee, said:

"As the world increasingly obtains its news and information from a
press that is making a progressively larger -- or even exclusive --
use of the Internet, old problems must be attacked in new ways.
Longstanding censorship issues such as laws imposing criminal
penalties for alleged defamation or even truthful statements that
"insult" a head of state (or other government officials) become even
more damaging when the last bastion for the wrongfully persecuted,
protecting oneself under the cloak of anonymity that the Internet may
provide, cannot be fully utilized. These principles assist the press
and any other citizens who seek to inform and influence others by
ensuring a strong united front against the government persecution and
censorship that is often effected against the lone dissenter."

Jerry Yang, Co-Founder and CEO, Yahoo! said:

"Yahoo! was founded on the belief that promoting access to information
can enrich people's lives, and the principles we unveil today reflect
our determination that our actions match our values around the world.
These principles provide a valuable roadmap for companies like Yahoo!
operating in markets where freedom of expression and privacy are
unfairly restricted. Through the collective efforts of industry,
advocates, and government, we will continue to see technology and the
Internet as a way to improve people's lives."

More Information

The Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy and related
documents can be found at http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org.

Press Contacts

Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Lexie Koss
+1 617 384 9100
lkoss at cyber.law.harvard.edu

Calvert Group
Melinda Lovins
+1 301 657 7089
melinda.lovins at calvert.com

Center for Democracy & Technology
Brock Meeks
+1 202 637 9800 x114
brock at cdt.org

Committee to Protect Journalists
Meredith Greene-Megaw
+1 212 465 1004 x105
mgmegaw at cpj.org

Domini Social Investments LLC
Geoff Wisner
+1 212 217 1063
gwisner at domini.com

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Rebecca Jeschke
+1 415 436 9333 x125
press at eff.org

F&C Investments
Paula Garrido
+44 (0)20 7 011 4190
paula.garrido at fandc.com

Google
Bob Boorstin
+1 202 346 1221
rboorstin at google.com

Human Rights First
Matt Dorf
Rabinowitz-Dorf Communications
+1 202 265 3000
matt at rabinowitz-dorf.com

Human Rights in China
Mi Ling Tsui
+1 212 239 4495
miling.tsui at hrichina.org

Human Rights Watch
Arvind Ganesan
+1 202 255 8305
ganesaa at hrw.org

Internews
Annette Makino
+1 202 822 2093
aymakino at internews.org

KLD Research & Analytics
Amy Blumenthal/Karen Myers
Blumenthal & Associates
+1 617 879 1511

Microsoft
Waggener Edstrom
+1 503 443 7070
rrt at waggeneredstrom.com

Rebecca MacKinnon
Journalism and Media Studies Centre
University of Hong Kong
Office: +852 2219 4005
Mobile: +852 6334 8843
rmack at hku.hk
Note: Rebecca MacKinnon is in the Hong Kong time zone and can do
interviews in Mandarin.

Trillium Asset Management Corp.
Jonas Kron
+1 971 222 3366
jkron at trilliuminvest.com

World Press Freedom Committee
Mark Bench
+1 703 715 9811
embench at aol.com

Yahoo!
Tracy Schmaler
+1 202 777 1053 or +1 202 631 9463
schmaler at yahoo-inc.com

###

**********************************************************************************************************************************

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http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/research

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About the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is
proud to celebrate ten years as a research program founded to explore
cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development.
Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R.
Berkman, the Center is home to an ever-growing community of faculty,
fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad
range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society.
More information can be found at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu.


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