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Yahoo! launches Business and Human Rights Program

As part of the Principles process, the Berkman Center has been participating in an ongoing dialogue among multiple stakeholders, including companies, human rights groups, investors, academics and technology leaders, on the importance and complexity of offering ICT services in a wide range of national settings. The group's focus is on protecting and advancing free expression and privacy rights through both collective and individual company action. The participants have shown great commitment to the effort, and we are thrilled to see the trailblazing approach that Yahoo! is taking by launching an integrated human rights platform to advance this work in the near and far term. Their program raises the profile of human rights within their organization and at the executive level, boosts institutional capacity accordingly, integrates human rights concerns into business decision-making, and creates the systems to track these concerns and the program's impact upon them.

As a group, we've explored both how we can collaboratively advance rights to ICT privacy and free expression, as well as what individual companies can -- indeed must -- do to meet these challenges proactively. We still have much to learn and it is clear that these steps won't solve everything, but it's imperative that the work -- and the learning and outreach -- get underway, and Yahoo's initiative is an important first step. As the challenges in this rapidly changing space become increasingly complex and pervasive, we look forward to hearing more from other companies as they develop and institute their own innovative strategies. These measures will not come easy, to be sure, and will require lasting commitment to implement effectively, but we are confident that they will bear fruit -- for these leading companies, for future participants and stakeholders, and above all, for the communities they serve.

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