IGF 2019 WS #194 Business and human rights:the role of regulatory environment

Organizer 1: ,

Speaker 1: Owono Julie, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Allie Funk, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Veszna Wessenauer, ,

Policy Question(s): 

How could the regulatory environment enforce corporate transparency and accountability around users rights? What are the effects of the GDPR on corporate transparency and accountability around users rights? What are the global platform governance & regulation developments and patterns?

Relevance to Theme: Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) produces a Corporate Accountability Index that evaluates 24 internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies on their commitments and policies affecting freedom of expression and privacy. In addition to ranking companies on their disclosed commitments and policies affecting freedom of expression and privacy, RDR’s team analyzed the legal and regulatory environment of all 15 countries where the evaluated companies are headquartered. The analysis outlines of how each company’s home country policies, laws, and regulations either helped or hindered companies’ ability to be transparent and accountable to their users about their respect for human rights online, therefore impacting their Index results.
By presenting the main findings of the jurisdictional analysis we hope to help participants better understand how regulatory environment might affect the ability of internet, mobile and telecommunications companies -- evaluated by Ranking Digital Rights’s Index -- to respect users’ rights, and to offer policy recommendations.
The RDR research team commissioned jurisdictional surveys in 15 countries where the companies evaluated in the Index are headquartered, which includes China, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 15 experts in the legal systems related to the ICT sector in these countries conducted the analyses.
Based on these surveys, RDR develops separate country reports, as well a comparative report that analyzes laws and regulations, and offers policy recommendations. The aim of these reports will be to support the work of advocacy groups working at the global, regional, and national level with a systematic and detailed analysis of the jurisdictional context for each company’s performance in the RDR Index. We expect that these country reports will support engagement with governments about how law and policy can encourage ICT sector companies to respect their users’ human rights.
While the number of attempts to regulate social media platforms is increasing, regulators often rush forward with legislation that miss the problem they should be addressing and do little to counter the threats on the right to freedom of expression or privacy. To contribute to ongoing efforts and projects aimed at platform governance & regulation, we wish to present the main findings of our regulatory analysis during a “Flash Talk” and discuss the further application of the resource. Beside regulatory trends, we will share our recommendations and observations, including how Ranking Digital Rights’ standards regarding corporate transparency and accountability are met or absent from the regulatory frameworks.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Through the jurisdictional reports, we are aiming to help different stakeholder groups better understand the global regulatory trends, including the effects of GDPR and various content regulation attempts, and discuss how regulation and legislation can strengthen or hinder the respect of human rights in the network society.
The jurisdictional research we have conducted since the inaugural RDR Index (November 2015) demonstrates the importance of rights-protecting regulation and legislation, as delineated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A more systematic and detailed analysis of the jurisdictional context of each company’s performance in the RDR Index will greatly aid efforts in engaging with governments on how law and policy can better enable and encourage ICT sector companies to respect their users’ human rights. We anticipate that more detailed materials we will present at the IGF will provide policymakers with a roadmap to identify practical policy and legislative to take in support of corporate respect for human rights in the ICT sector.

Format: 

Other - 60 Min
Format description: We would like to do present a new policy making and advocacy tool but also discuss it with the speakers and the audience. We could also cover the material more superficially in a 30 min session, if needed.

Description: We will kick off the session by presenting the main findings of RDR's jurisdictional analysis , and we will then open the floor to participants to ask their questions on the main findings, recommendations and further steps.

Expected Outcomes: Participants will improve their knowledge of main regulatory trends and patterns around corporate accountability for human rights in the ICT sector.
Advocacy groups working at the global, regional, and national levels will be equipped with a systematic and detailed analysis of the jurisdictional context for 24 internet and telecommunication company’s performance in the RDR Index.
The presented reports will improve efforts to engage with governments about how law and policy can encourage ICT sector companies to respect their users’ human rights.
Participants will be introduced to the RDR Index and get an overview of how they could use it for holding companies accountable and adopt policies and mechanisms for a more secure and free Internet.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The moderator will use up to 10 minutes to present the main findings. Twenty minutes will be dedicated for a Q&A so that participants get to ask questions about the analysis in general.

Online Participation: 

With the help of the Online Moderator, we hope to get inputs and inquiries regarding the resource we will present and discuss. Participants will be encouraged to contribute to the session online too.

SDGs: 

GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions