Global Network Initiative sets important precedent for transparency

Posted by: Ross LaJeunesse, Global Head of Free Expression and International Relations, and Lewis Segall, Senior Counsel

Five years ago, when we became founding members of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), we agreed that outside assessors would review how we’re doing against GNI’s Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy. GNI brings together diverse stakeholders to address the risks to a free and open Internet, and conducting these assessments is an important part of the organization's mandate.

This morning, GNI released its first ever Company Assessment Report. The organization used independent assessors to look into whether the GNI’s three founding companies -- Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft -- are upholding GNI’s principles in practice. After reviewing specific cases on how Google is implementing the principles, the board found that we are compliant and working to protect freedom of expression and privacy online.

Even though it can be uncomfortable to open up to outside scrutiny, we believe the assessment is a useful model for companies, NGOs, academics, and others working together to assess how companies respond to government requests related to human rights.

Today’s report also supports the organization’s other primary task, advocacy -- ensuring that governments everywhere protect privacy and free expression online. If you’re interested in learning more about how Google responds to government demands for user information and content removal, check out our Transparency Report.