Thursday, 5 November 2015

Corporations Worldwide Lack Digital Rights Accountability

The results of Ranking Digital Rights’ 2015 Corporate Accountability Index can be summarized in two words: needs improvement.

The inaugural Index examined eight Internet companies and eight telecommunications companies that collectively provide access to billions worldwide and concluded that “There are no ‘winners.’ Even companies in the lead are falling short.” 

Results were tallied overall and in three categories: Commitment, Freedom of Expression and Privacy. Of Internet companies, the United States’ Google ranked the highest with a score of 65% and Russia’s Mail.Ru Group came in at a low 13%. For telecoms, British Vodafone reported a high score of 54% and Emirates’ Etisalat rounded out the rankings with a score of 14%.

Ranking Digital Rights, 2015 Corporate Accountability Index, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Twitter, Kakao, Facebook, Tencent, Mail.Ru
Ranking Digital Rights, 2015 Corporate Accountability Index, Vodaphone, At&T, Orange, America Movil, MTN, Bharti Airtel, Axiata, Etisalat

The accompanying report acknowledged that the freedoms of expression and privacy are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but continue to go unheeded.

When reached for comment, Ranking Digital Rights shared, "The Corporate Accountability Index underlines that in countries around the world, companies' respect for freedom of expression and privacy still has a long way to go.

"With increased interest of civil society, media, investors, lawmakers and of course, general technology users in these issues, companies will continue to face scrutiny on their related disclosure and practices. For companies to improve, they will have to communicate much more clearly with their users about what happens with their data, be transparent about cooperation with government and other third parties, institute company-wide assessments and trainings on freedom of expression and privacy concerns, and provide users with grievance mechanisms to remedy company wrongdoing, among other things.

"Ranking Digital Rights looks forward to conversations with companies around the world about how they can improve based on the standards and findings of the Corporate Accountability Index."

The Index report cited the “universal resonance” of corporate respect for freedom of expression and privacy as reason for optimism looking ahead and also included several recommendations, such as:
  • For companies: Use end-to-end encryption and communicate with users in a clear and accessible manner.
  • For everyone: Be an advocate. Corporate accountability will only be achieved when companies, activists, citizens, investors and policy-makers collectively demand it so.

Want to know more about freedom of expression and privacy worldwide? Read on!

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