SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Joining fellow founding members, Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) announced the launch of the Global Network Initiative: Protecting and Advancing Freedom of Expression and Privacy in the Information and Communication Technology Industry (GNI).
This landmark initiative will help guide information and communications technology companies in protecting and advancing freedom of expression and privacy across the globe when they encounter laws and policies that interfere with these fundamental human rights.
“Yahoo! was founded on the belief that 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,” said Jerry Yang, Yahoo!’s CEO and Co-founder. “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.”
Today’s announcement represents the result of over two years of work by an international group of information and communications technology companies, human rights organizations, academics, investors and technology leaders. The GNI establishes a core set of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy that will help participating companies protect the use of the Internet as a worldwide vehicle for sharing information, personal expression, innovation and economic development.
Participating companies include Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft, and human rights groups including Human Rights First, Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights in China. The process was facilitated by the Center for Democracy and Technology and Business for Social Responsibility. The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University was also a key advisor in the process.
Beyond these principles, the GNI establishes a framework for providing communications products and services the world over while ensuring a sustained commitment to protect fundamental human rights. Participating companies and other GNI members have agreed on Implementation Guidelines and a Governance, Accountability and Learning Framework that will ensure that the principles are reflected in their activities and business operations.
“Governments have the ultimate duty to protect their own citizens’ rights, and we realize responsible company actions alone cannot guarantee governments will uphold these obligations That is why GNI participants will also engage with governments and advocate for change where policies or practices are inconsistent with the protection of free expression and privacy,” said Michael Samway, Yahoo! Vice President and Deputy General Counsel.
GNI members commit to protect freedom of expression and privacy, partner with others to ensure collective governance and accountability, and promote its objectives throughout the world. For more information on the GNI please visit www.globalnetworkinitiative.org. (NOTE: Web site goes live Wednesday, October 29th)
While we have much still to accomplish collectively, Yahoo! believes the GNI and our other business and human rights initiatives are important steps in advancing freedom of expression and privacy around the world. Other key Yahoo! initiatives include:
Business Policies and Practices
We established the Yahoo! Business & Human Rights Program, a dedicated set of business policies and practices to promote access to the Internet while limiting ways in which our technologies can be used to suppress freedom of expression and the right to privacy. Yahoo! has previously instituted its own Human Rights Impact Assessment process, similar to the one now being adopted by the GNI, that examines the human rights landscape in a region and offers strategic approaches to protect the rights of our users through legal and operational structures, among other methods.
Yahoo! Human Rights Fund
Jerry Yang announced in November 2007 the intent to create the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund to provide humanitarian and legal support to political dissidents who have been imprisoned for expressing their views online, as well as support for their families.
High-Level Efforts to Release Dissidents
Yahoo! has been, and will continue, working to secure the release of certain political dissidents through ongoing discussions with high-ranking U.S. and Chinese officials, human rights groups, and the State Department. Our CEO Jerry Yang has been to Capitol Hill and to the State Department to discuss this issue, and earlier this year sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging the Bush Administration to use its diplomatic influence to actively pursue the release of Chinese dissidents imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Global Values/International Fellowships
Yahoo! has also established international fellowships at Stanford and Georgetown Universities to promote the pursuits of journalists from press-restrictive countries and scholars exploring the link between global values, the Internet, and communication technologies. For more information, please visit our Human Rights and Freedom of Expression web page at http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/press/ human-rights-free-expression.cfm. (Due to its length, this URL may need to be copied/pasted into your Internet browser’s address field. Remove the extra space if one exists.)
Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! is focused on powering its communities of users, advertisers, publishers, and developers by creating indispensable experiences built on trust. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. For more information, visit pressroom.yahoo.com or the Company’s blog, Yodel Anecdotal. http://www.ycorpblog.com/