NEI is increasing its ambition to help improve digital rights for consumers through involvement with the Global Impact Initiative.
Information technology and communication continue to extend our freedom and privacy online. These trends have profound positive impacts on all of us. But they have also opened the door to many forms of exploitation. There are daily headlines about authoritarian regimes attempting to censor, repress, and silence individuals within their borders and beyond. The challenges in protecting digital rights across the globe require commitment from many stakeholders. We believe investors have a role to play, and while we have been supporting digital rights on many fronts, we see there is more to contribute.
NEI has joined the Global Network Initiative (GNI) to support this ambition. The GNI is a leading multi-stakeholder platform made up of information technology and communication companies, civil society organizations, academics, and investors, organized to help technology companies best respect users' rights to freedom of expression and privacy. The GNI is setting a global standard for responsible corporate decision-making on digital rights by building public trust through transparency and accountability, education, and promoting human rights through a unified voice on issues regarding government restrictions and company demands.
According to their website, the GNI “helps companies respect freedom of expression and privacy rights when faced with government pressure to hand over user data, remove content, or restrict communications.” Recent efforts include issuing a public statement condemning protestor violence and internet restrictions in Iran, and convening a roundtable with the U.S. government and technology companies to discuss ways to increase Iranian citizens’ access to communication tools.
The GNI also spurs corporate accountability through independent biannual assessments of all corporate members' practices related to governance, due diligence and risk management, freedom of expression, privacy, and transparency. The GNI publishes its assessment report publicly with the expectation that companies will continue to improve practices over time.
We believe the GNI's approach to protecting digital rights aligns well with our corporate engagement and policy advocacy. We intend to utilize the group as a forum for learning from a wide variety of stakeholders, engaging with information technology and communication companies in our portfolio, and contributing to collective advocacy to support policies that promote and protect freedom of expression and privacy.
We look forward to our future involvement in the GNI and to contributing meaningfully to advancements on this important topic.