Our Strategic Priorities

“Ranking Digital Rights produces open data and standards that should be considered core infrastructure for everybody working for a healthier internet in support of human rights.”

— Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation


RDR has proven its unique value. While a number of benchmarks and rankings evaluate companies on other important human rights issues like supply chain labor practices, or on environmental sustainability, RDR is the only organization that produces a global benchmark of corporate respect for digital rights. While some other organizations focus on changing government policies and the behavior of nation states, no other organization in the world produces an open data set on companies’ policies and disclosures affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy, based on internationally recognized human rights standards. Thus the RDR Index data and open methodology have become “core infrastructure” for anybody conducting due diligence, research, advocacy, or developing policy positions related to companies’ impact on digital rights.

How do we sustain RDR’s value and increase its impact? While our impact is well documented, we cannot evaluate the same companies on the same questions forever. Online threats to human rights continue to evolve—and multiply. The next three years require us to confront the human rights challenges of a rapidly evolving tech sector while building a sustainable future for our organization.

Ranking Digital Rights: Strategic Priorities 2019-2021

RDR is a successful start-up. Now we’re ready to scale up. 2013 to mid-2015 was our early research and development phase: we created the methodology. 2015 to 2018 was our “proof-of-concept” phase: we launched the first RDR Index followed by two more RDR Indexes, demonstrating our ability to put a quality research process in place and spur company improvement in just three years. Having launched the fourth RDR Index in May 2019, we are entering a third and critical phase of work that we have outlined in our strategic plan for the next three years.

Our 2019-2021 Strategic Priorities

  • Upgrade, strengthen, and expand the RDR Index
    If companies are to be held fully accountable for the range of online threats to human rights, the RDR Index needs to be upgraded, strengthened, and expanded. In 2019 and 2020, we will expand our methodology to address human rights harms associated with targeted advertising, algorithms, and machine learning. We will also adapt the methodology to include more company types, especially powerful global platforms with core e-commerce businesses such as Amazon and Alibaba. The fifth RDR Index will then be published in early 2021 with the expanded methodology and scope.
  • Increase impact, visibility, and engagement
    We will deepen our engagement with the companies that we rank, helping those that share the vision of an internet that supports and sustain human rights to implement their commitments more fully. We will broaden our outreach to U.S. and international media in order to maximize impact. We will strengthen our engagement with advocacy groups, policy makers, and investors. We will deepen the support we provide to researchers around the world who use our data and methodology in their own work.
  • Strengthen organizational structure and capacity
    RDR has punched above its weight, producing four RDR Indexes with a hard-working eight-person team and an amazing group of research partners. But we cannot achieve our strategic goals without expanding our staff and re-structuring our organization. We must expand the research team as we expand the RDR Index, strengthen senior management, and add new positions focused on communication, outreach, and engagement.
  • Diversify funding and substantially increase budget
    RDR needs to increase its funding in order to evolve and scale, and thus to realize its full potential. Our budget will need to double along with the size of our staff. We recognize that this expansion will require diversification of funding sources. We will develop a fundraising strategy that engages foundations and donors through compelling communication, events, and targeted outreach.

Our organization has arrived at an exciting yet critical crossroads. We have proven our value and impact. Now we need the investment and support to keep generating value for an ecosystem of stakeholders committed to ensuring that the internet sustains and supports human rights.

For more information about RDR’s strategy and fundraising goals, please contact us.