Archives for March 2013

RESEARCH WORKSHOP to determine 2013 research scope, approach, and plan

On April 4th we will hold a day-long invitation-only workshop to determine the scope and focus of general research as well as specific case study research to be conducted in 2013, so that the Phase I methodology for ranking ICT companies on free expression and privacy can be drafted by early 2014 and published for public consultation.

Invited participants include: UPenn faculty advisors; graduate and undergraduate students involved in the research; international research partners from Brazil, China, India, Russia, the United Kingdom and elsewhere; human rights advocates; technologists; socially responsible investors; experts on best practices in corporate ranking and rating systems; experts in the field of business and human rights, business ethics, and corporate social responsibility.

The proceedings will be held under Chatham House Rule and a summary of the discussion and outcome will be published online.

For more information please contact Rebecca MacKinnon at mackinnon AT newamerica DOT net.


10-10:30 – Introductions and overview

10:30-11:30 – Lessons from other ratings/rankings initiatives

11:30-11:45 – Break

11:45-2:30 (With working lunch around 1pm) – Possible criteria for ranking the policies and practices of Phase 1 companies (web/internet and telecommunications). What elements are globally rank-able?

– Lessons from the Global Network Initiative

– EFF’s “who has your back”

– Special issues related to telecommunications companies

– Technical criteria for security and privacy

– Privacy policies and terms of service

– Questions related to export controls, sanctions, conflicts and atrocity situations.

2:30-2:45 – break 

2:45 -3:45 – Maximizing data compatibility with other projects

– outline for first steps and how to follow-up/coordinate going forward

4-5:30 – Next steps for methodology research

– What other regional/country case studies are needed beyond Brazil, India, China & Russia?

– What other research needs to be prioritized and what is missing from our list?

(Note that case study research partners and other members of the research team will be holding a follow-up meeting on Friday morning to lay out next steps for research more concretely.)

PUBLIC EVENT: Censorship, Surveillance, and Corporate Transparency

WHO: Google’s Dorothy Chou in conversation with international experts

DATE: Wednesday April 3, 2013

TIME: 4:30-6:30pm, followed by a reception.

PLACE: Room 109, Annenberg School of Communication, 3620 Walnut St., Philadelphia

Since mid 2010 Google has been publishing data about the requests it receives from governments to remove content or hand over user data. This regularly updated Transparency Report reveals alarming trends: Government surveillance is on the rise, everywhere. Even worse, a large number of government censorship and surveillance requests are of dubious legality even according to the host countries’ own laws.  In a world where citizens increasingly rely on digital products and services owned and operated by private corporations for their civic and political lives, the implications for human rights and democracy around the world are troubling.

Dorothy Chou, a Senior Policy Analyst who leads Google’s efforts to increase transparency, will discuss Google’s Transparency Report with Rebecca MacKinnon, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation and author of Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom.  They will then be joined by a panel of international experts who will react to the report and discuss the question of whether accountable governance in any society is possible without sufficient transparency and accountability in how companies respond to government censorship and surveillance demands.  They are:

  • Ronaldo Lemos, Director Center for Technology and Society at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) School of Law in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Hu Yong, Associate Professor, Peking University School of Journalism and Communication
  • Malavika Jayaram, Fellow, Center for Internet and Society, Bangalore and Annenberg CGCS
  • Gregory Asmolov,  PhD Candidate, London School of Economics; Global Voices “RuNet Echo” contributor and Russian social media expert

This event is part of the cross-disciplinary, university-wide “New Technologies, Human Rights, and Transparency” project funded by the university’s Global Engagement Fund and hosted by Annenberg’s Center for Global Communications Studies in partnership with Wharton, PennLaw, Engineering, and the School of Arts and Sciences.  The project aims to examine the relationship between government and corporate power in today’s digitally networked world, bringing together research partners from across the university and around the world to develop a methodology to evaluate and compare the policies and practices of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies as they affect Internet users’ freedom expression and privacy in a human rights context.