October 28th, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)
In a world where governments all too often censor what their citizens can see and do on the Internet, Google has from the start promoted global free expression and taken the lead in being transparent with our users. We've pressed governments around the world to stop limiting free speech and made it possible for dissidents, bloggers and others to have their voices heard.
As part of those ongoing efforts to promote free expression and protect our users' privacy, today we're announcing Google's participation as a founding company member of a new program called the Global Network Initiative. (The site, at globalnetworkinitiative.org, will be live within a day or so.)
This initiative is the result of two years of discussions with other leading technology companies, human rights organizations, socially responsible investors and academic institutions. Thanks to hard work and cooperation from all parties, the Initiative sets the kinds of standards and practices that all companies and groups should use when governments threaten internationally recognized rights to free expression and privacy.
The Global Network Initiative also offers an important commitment from all parties to take action together to promote free expression and protect privacy in the use of all information and communication technologies. We know that common action by these diverse groups is more likely to bring about change in government policies than the efforts of any one company or group acting alone.
Companies that join the Initiative commit to putting into effect procedures that will protect their users by:
- Evaluating against international standards government requests to censor content or access user information
- Providing greater transparency
- Assessing human rights risks when entering new markets or introducing new products
- Instituting employee training and oversight programs
These are things that Google does now, but joining the Initiative will help us refine our methods and maintain our leadership position. Down the road companies will be assessed on how they're doing in implementing the principles and the Initiative will report those results.
This Initiative is by no means a silver bullet or the last word, but it does represent a concrete step toward promoting freedom of expression and protecting users' privacy in the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now we're actively recruiting more companies and groups to join the Initiative and advance these critical human rights around the world.