Rebecca MacKinnon is a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance principles of freedom of expression and privacy in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.
Rebecca MacKinnon: I'm actually a founding member of something called the Global Network Initiative that is trying to get companies to sign on to a set of human rights principles. Our argument is that if companies work together with human rights groups and others who have been kind of thinking about these issues from a public interest perspective and work together on what are the best practices, what are the strategies to kind of push back when governments are basically over-stretching . . . and when governments are trying to use companies to control citizens, there are ways that companies can push back.
You’re seeing some companies like Google, for instance, they published something called “The Transparency Report” where they are revealing the number of requests that governments around the world are making for user information and they’re revealing the number of demands they’re getting from governments to remove content or block content around the world. And that’s helping people understand what their governments are doing and how their governments are trying to manipulate these internet companies to control people’s speech.
And so I really think that all companies ought to be much more transparent and open about the demands that they’re receiving from governments so that internet users understand more what’s going on, and if we understand more what’s going on we can make more intelligent decisions about, you know, maybe there is some things we don’t want to send through email because we might understand that the government might access that information. Maybe it’s better to send a letter with certain information. . . . And we need to be just more aware of what’s going on so that we can make intelligent choices about how to communicate in ways that keep our information private when we really need it to be.
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd