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BSR Report 2013-2014 Case Study | Global Network Initiative: Protecting Human Rights in the Digital Age



Since its formation in 2008, the Global Network Initiative has created standards on freedom of expression and privacy that have been implemented by the major internet and telecommunications companies, which reach a total of more than 2 billion users. In a case study, we outline our work to help build this initiative. 


The Challenge

The rapid growth in global internet and telecommunications services has resulted in significant gains in our ability to communicate freely. However, this growth has been accompanied by government efforts to restrict user access to content, acquire personal information, and interfere with private communications. For many years, information and communications technology (ICT) companies were caught between government requirements and the users’ expectations and rights—lacking international standards to apply when governments made demands that might result in human rights infringements. To determine best practices and create these standards, BSR partnered with the Center for Democracy and Technology in 2006 to design and facilitate a multistakeholder process to fill this void.  Our Strategy BSR worked with the group to write the foundational documents—principles, implementation guidelines, and a governance charter—that shaped the work of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), which launched in 2008 as the first group of its kind that included representatives from ICT companies, civil society groups, investors, and academics.

Read more about the case study on the BSR Report website at


About the BSR Report 2013-2014

The “BSR Report 2013-2014: Transparency and Transformation” shares the organization’s vision of the transformative change needed to advance progress on sustainable business. In the opening essay of the Report, BSR explores the most significant trends in transparency that are reshaping business, and outlines six changes that every company, and every business leader, can promote to advance transformation—from changing market rules and reforming corporate governance to innovating business models and measuring the things that really matter. The Report features seven case studies, a discussion of BSR’s work on measuring impact, and more.


About BSR

BSR is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. Visit for more information about BSR’s more than 20 years of leadership in sustainability.

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KEYWORDS: Business & Trade, Reports, Human Rights, global network initiative, gni, BSR, BSR Report, ICT, information and communications technology

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