re:publica15 - Ranking Tech Companies on Privacy and Free Expression Standards
This session will introduce the start-up Ranking Digital Rights project to the audience of Re:publica. In this ranking, the world’s web and telecommunication companies are measured on how they protect the rights to freedom of expression and privacy of their users. RDR finished two years of research and development, and will conduct its first public ranking this year. We will invite the audience to weigh in on what’s most important to them in protecting their free expression and privacy rights.
In this session, we hope to acquaint a wider audience with Ranking Digital Rights in advance the launch of our inaugural company ranking in Fall 2015.
The Ranking Digital Rights project (RDR---rankingdigitalrights.org) targets a troubling problem with serious implications for the future of freedom and democracy worldwide: Rapid escalation of digital surveillance and censorship via the products and services of information and communications technology (ICT) sector companies. This in turn makes it increasingly difficult for activists, political opposition groups, whistleblowers, and journalists to use the Internet safely or effectively. RDR has developed a methodology to rank ICT companies on free expression and privacy criteria. A key goal is to better incentivize and benchmark companies’ respect for and protection of user rights, as well as to better inform global company-focused advocacy around the right to free expression and privacy. By May 2015 RDR will have completed a pilot study focused on Internet and telecommunications companies and we will have published the full list of companies that will be publicly ranked in 2015.
In introducing RDR we will also introduce the broader framework of principles and guidelines for business and human rights, upon which RDR has built concrete standards for measuring ICT sector companies’ policies and practices. We will present Ranking Digital Rights as an innovative approach to producing a concrete tool for companies to understand how they can improve practices to meet their human rights obligations, for civil society to build concrete advocacy strategies based on comparative data, for responsible investors to set clear criteria, and for policymakers to better understand how specific laws and regulations affect companies’ ability to respect human rights.
We will be especially interested in getting the audience’s feedback on what they experience to be critical in defending their free expression and privacy rights when using online and mobile services.