Conducting a Human Rights Assessment for a Multinational Technology Conglomerate

3 min

Tasked with evaluating a technology company’s implementation of human rights principles, Venable Blue conducted an assessment of the company’s products and policies related to free speech and privacy.

The Global Network Initiative (GNI), a multi-stakeholder platform that protects digital rights around the globe, was tasked to conduct an assessment of a technology company. When GNI turned to Venable Blue to lead this effort, our team researched and analyzed the company’s key freedom of expression and privacy rights incidents and responses. Coupled with a series of in-depth stakeholder interviews, Venable Blue delivered a thorough and holistic assessment of the company’s current state in, and future potential for, promoting freedom of expression and privacy.

The Issue – Evaluating the Implementation of Human Rights Principles

Through its GNI Principles and Implementation Guidelines, the Global Network Initiative provides companies with a framework for responsible decision making regarding freedom of expression and privacy rights. In a cyclical cadence, GNI member companies participate in an independent assessment to determine whether they are making good-faith efforts to implement the GNI Principles. As the Venable Blue leadership (and, in particular, Hemu Nigam) built the original assessment template for GNI, the firm was a natural, experienced choice for conducting this assessment.

Venable Blue Response

Equipped with deep knowledge of the human rights assessment space, the Venable Blue team was prepared to conduct a thorough assessment of the company’s freedom of expression and privacy rights policies. Through researching recent rights incidents the company had faced, as well as consultations with NGOs and civic groups, Venable Blue both analyzed how the company balanced the GNI principles with business priorities and crafted a curated list of 10 cases that highlighted diversity in topic areas, jurisdictions, and media interest.

To evaluate the nuances of each case more thoroughly, the team conducted in-depth interviews with key stakeholders involved. From speaking with product leads about content moderation related to COVID-19 misinformation and business leads on efforts to enter a new market known for government overreach and surveillance, Venable Blue analyzed their business practices regarding human rights.

The Outcome

Venable Blue’s analysis culminated in both a report and presentation that provided a nuanced perspective on the corporate partner’s current state and recommendations for greater application of GNI principles going forward. In providing both GNI and the corporate partner with tangible actions, Venable Blue was able to equip the client to better advance freedom of expression and privacy rights policies.

How Venable Blue Can Help You

At Venable Blue, we want to make human rights work for your business. Whether you want to build a human rights program, identify growth opportunities using human rights principles, or operationalize the business of human rights, we can help. You can learn more here.