Internet giants join HR groups
SAN FRANCISCO: A pair of United States human rights groups said on January 19 that they were working with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Vodafone to protect civil liberties online. The technology giants will help craft rules-of-engagement that Internet companies can use when faced with “laws, regulations and policies that interfere with the achievement of human rights,” according to the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington. Technology companies have played vital roles in economic growth and democratic reform in developing countries, but innovations are sometimes used as tools of oppression, said the center’s director Leslie Harris.
“Many government have found ways to turn technology against their citizens – monitoring legitimate online activities and censoring democratic material,” Harris said. “It is vital that we identify solutions that preserve the enormous democratic value provided by technological development, while at the same time protecting the human rights and civil liberties of those who stand t6 benefit.” Investors, academics, and groups such as Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights China, and the Electronic Freedom Foundation in San Francisco will take part in the project, which is to be completed this year.
A representative of the United Nations will be part of the group as an observer, according the center is which is coordinating the. endeavor with the non-profit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) in San Francisco. The project builds on discussions started with the technology firms separately by the rights groups last year. “We’ve already learned a great deal about the obstacles we face and the ways business and other stakeholders can join forces to address those challenges,” said BSR Chief Executive Aron Cramer. “This important dialogue reflects a shared commitment to maximize the information available via the Internet on the basis of global principles protecting free expression and privacy. The new combined group intends to establish a framework to implement the principles and hold ,signatories accountable, the center said.