I had the opportunity to travel to João Pessoa, Brazil for the 2015 Internet Governance Forum, a UN-sponsored multistakeholder event focused on Internet governance. I moderated a workshop on “Benchmarking ICT companies on human rights.”
There has been growing interest over the past few years in civil society efforts to hold ICT companies accountable for their impact on human rights,. All stakeholders including companies have an interest in setting clear industry standards on dimensions of privacy and freedom of expression. To that end, more research and comparative data about different companies’ policies and practices can encourage companies to compete with one another on respect for users’ rights. Given the international scope and complexity of the sector, this task is more than any single organization can fully tackle on a global scale, and it is important to recognize the diversity of goals and perspectives represented by organizations working in this space. The purpose of this roundtable workshop is to bring together a geographically diverse range of NGO’s and researchers to share experiences and perspectives on creating projects to rank or rate ICT companies. The goal is to create a “how to” guide on launching such projects as well as a collaborative network of organizations and researchers. Company and government stakeholders will also provide feedback on how such projects can most effectively influence corporate practice and government policy.