Global Network Initiative launches

October 29, 2008

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is pleased to announce the launch of the Global Network Initiative, a dynamic effort developed in partnership with leading human rights groups, academics, socially responsible investment firms, and information and communications technology (ICT) companies, including, to date, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. This unique coalition is working together to uphold the human rights to freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector, supporting companies as they resist governments seeking to enlist them in acts of censorship, filtering, and surveillance that violate international standards.

Core documents describing the effort are available on the Global Network Initiative (GNI)’s website at

For the Berkman Center, this milestone represents nearly three years of work on the GNI; an important output from our decade-long research and policy focus on Internet governance, points of control, and new institutions for the digital age; and our commitment to leveraging scholarship for social impact. Based on Jonathan Zittrain and John Palfrey’s work, many members of the Berkman community helped shape this effort from its inception, supporting its evolution not only in the drafting process, but also in negotiations, outreach, independent scholarship, and Congressional testimony. Multiple Berkman research efforts, including the OpenNet Initiative, Chilling Effects, Surveillance, and the Internet and Democracy Project, have informed the result with investigation and empirically-driven analyses of the rise, means, and impact of Internet censorship, filtering, and surveillance worldwide.

By convening diverse partners and utilizing collaborative tools and learning platforms, the GNI can develop robust best practices, enable the creation of dynamic and systemic solutions spanning sectors and settings, and leverage empirical research to help the group, policymakers, and the public understand and respond to emerging threats to speech and privacy.

The current participants -- the GNI seeks to involve more going forward -- are global leaders who will be implementing the GNI Principles in their activities and decision-making processes across the world. Intended to be global in scope, reach, and impact, the Principles will scale with the challenges they confront, becoming increasingly efficacious through practice, implementation, refinement, and collective engagement across a variety of contexts.

Berkman is proud to have played a part thus far and, at this milestone, looks forward to continuing the collaborative work of the Initiative. For more information, including press contacts, see the formal release.

Last updated

November 3, 2008