“The Multistakeholder Global Network Initiative: Watch the Story Unfold” by Executive Director Judith Lichtenberg
Forging consensus between technology companies and human rights experts isn’t always easy. Having worked as both a human rights lawyer and a telecommunications company executive, I know firsthand that it can be challenging to navigate these very different perspectives. But in the face of the very serious risks arising at the intersection of human rights and information and communications technologies (ICTs), there is no substitute for multistakeholder collaboration.
Today, ten years after the launch of the Global Network Initiative, our new video offers a moment to reflect on the difference we have made in the fight for freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector.
GNI started as a conversation among mostly US-based companies, civil society organizations, investors, and academics who sought to find a collaborative approach to freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. Working together, twenty-three organizations established the GNI Principles and a framework for responsible ways for companies to resist government demands for surveillance and censorship that are inconsistent with international human rights law.
Since then, our membership has nearly tripled, and now includes world-leading social media companies, telecommunications network operators, and equipment vendors, as well as some of the most influential academics and civil society organizations from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, regions where new threats to freedom of expression and privacy are on the rise.
Many have contributed to this first ten years, and numerous lessons have been learned in forging a new path for human rights in the ICT sector. In our anniversary blog series, “Ten Years, Ten Insights,” our members and critical supporters and partners share the unique story of GNI and hopes for its future. I invite you to read the already-published pieces by Professor Michael Samway and Paradigm Initiative Executive Director ‘Gbenga Sesan.
GNI is the only multistakeholder initiative dedicated to the rights to freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. The GNI Framework has not only had a meaningful impact on ICT companies practices, but also has helped shape rights-respecting laws and policies around the world.
However, new threats to online freedom of expression and privacy emerge quickly and change rapidly. Our increasingly global membership and our platform for collective engagement must remain strong and vigilant to face these challenges as we continue working to protect the rights to freedom of expression and privacy in the digital age.
Judith Lichtenberg is the Executive Director of the Global Network Initiative