Berkman Announces New Global Network Initiative

Marking a milestone in the battle for free expression and privacy online, The Berkman Center is announcing today the launch of the Global Network Initiative, a broad alliance of groups that are officially endorsing, promoting, and implementing a set of principles to protect the rights of users worldwide. From the site:

All over the world – from the Americas to Europe to the Middle East to Africa and Asia – companies in the Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector face increasing government pressure to comply with domestic laws and policies in ways that may conflict with the internationally recognized human rights of freedom of expression and privacy.

In response, a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics spent two years negotiating and creating a collaborative approach to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector, and have formed an Initiative to take this work forward.

You can read more about the work of the Global Network Initiative on the Berkman site and the statement of principles that they’re working from here.

This commitment in the GNI is a big step. The principles call on groups to affirmatively protect users rights to free expression and privacy even when confronted by government pressure. Moreover, the stakeholders include a broad array of major players in the information infrastructure, including Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Only time will tell how this declaration plays out in practice as governments increasingly attempt to shape the online space, but for now, it looks like a line has been drawn in the sand.

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