Digital freedom

credit: Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention

Technology is a powerful tool for human rights. Through its reach and influence in all parts of the planet come opportunities for better lives. But information and communications technology (ICT) companies can also be involved in major human rights abuses: either by committing them directly, or by facilitating abuses by governments and other firms.

In this "Big Issue" area of our website you can use the navigation on the left, to:

Keep track of latest developments, and find out about key initiatives in the field like Rebecca MacKinnon's "Ranking Digital Rights" project and the "Digital Dangers" project of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, as well as sector-wide projects such as the Global Network Initiative and Telecommunications Industry Dialogue

You can learn how technology companies are responding or failing to respond - to allegations of human rights abuses.  Since 2005, we have invited companies in all sectors to provide public responses to civil society concerns about their human rights conduct.  Over that time, the proportion of overall approaches that are to firms in the ICT sector has trebled.

We also provide access to guidance for companies on how to manage their human rights impacts throughout their operations.  And examples of company's efforts to advance human rights, such as Yahoo's human rights impact assessments, Microsoft's implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and Vodafone's transparency report on requests it receives from governments for users' data.  For more examples see the advances by ITC companies section.

Our 2014 Briefing Paper on this sector highlights key human rights issues for ICT firms: censorship; surveillance; privacy; broadening acesss; supply chain impacts and children's rights.

Briefing Paper 

Please get in touch with any questions, or suggestions of additions to this "Big Issue" on our site: Annabel Short, short (at)

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