It has been a long, long year. With reports of internet shutdowns from Kashmir to Sudan and beyond, continued revelations of massive data breaches, and ratcheting pressure to regulate content online in the wake of terrorist attacks, it has become increasingly clear that internet and telecommunications companies have a tremendous impact on our human rights. In a post from May of this year, Access Now outlined the areas in which the 24 internet, mobile, and telecommunication companies in the 2019 Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) Corporate Accountability Index must improve to demonstrate their respect for human rights. This is the follow-up to help keep them accountable.
Ranking Digital Rights evaluates the world’s most powerful internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies on how their policies and practices affect our rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Just as we have done in previous years, Access Now sent letters to each of the companies in the RDR index, urging them to review their performance and provide a public response to the findings. This year, we decided to ask each company for one timely and achievable improvement, a recommendation based on what we see as the most acute issues facing at-risk users, such as journalists, activists, human rights defenders, and members of oppressed and marginalized communities.
Since the next RDR Index won’t be published until early 2021, all of the ranked companies have ample time to make at least one meaningful improvement to their policies and practices that affect our human rights. We encourage the companies to be transparent on these issues, particularly as fewer technology companies are publishing transparency reports. In the meantime, we have updated our own Transparency Reporting Index to highlight trends in corporate accountability in the technology sector.
The individual letters are available below. Each company has been given a deadline of October 16, 2019 to respond to this call with a plan to get, at minimum, one job done. We will publish their responses and follow up with opportunities for further action.