CGCS affiliate and senior research fellow at the America Foundation, Rebecca MacKinnon recently submitted the Ranking Digital Rights project to the Knight News Challenge whose theme this year is “How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression?” The following is an excerpt from Rebecca’s submission.
“We are developing a system to assess, compare, and rank the world’s most powerful tech companies on free expression and privacy criteria. Why? If the Internet is to be a platform for free expression and innovation, companies that control and shape much of our online lives – Internet and telecommunications companies, software producers, and mobile device and networking equipment manufacturers – must respect and protect users’ right to free expression and privacy. Ranking Digital Rights will produce an annual ranking or index, scoring companies on what they are (and aren’t) doing to respect free expression and privacy. The data we generate will equip advocates, policymakers and investors with the facts needed to hold companies accountable.
Launched in 2013, the Ranking Digital Rights project (RDR) targets a problem that project lead Rebecca MacKinnon described in her 2011 TED talk and 2012 book, Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom. Internet users around the world face a rapid escalation of digital surveillance and censorship by governments and corporations via the products, services, and operations of information and communication technology (ICT) sector companies. This trend in turn makes it increasingly difficult for people to express themselves, access content they want, or innovate safely and effectively if powerful entities -particularly corporations or governments – seek to prevent them from doing so.
To address this challenge we are working with an international team of researchers and advoacates to develop a system to assess, compare, and publicly rank the world’s most powerful ICT companies on free expression and privacy criteria.
By ranking companies on an annual basis in conjunction with focused strategies for stakeholder engagement, advocacy, visual data presentation, and communications, RDR aims to accomplish four objectives…”
Click here to read full submission and support the Digital Rights Project in the Knight News Challenge
Featured Photo from Ranking Digital Rights sumbission