Global Network Initiative

Global Network Initiative
Abbreviation GNI
Purpose preventing Internet censorship by authoritarian governments and protecting the Internet privacy rights of individuals

The Global Network Initiative (GNI) is a non-governmental organization with the dual goals of preventing Internet censorship by authoritarian governments and protecting the Internet privacy rights of individuals. It is sponsored by a coalition of multinational corporations, non-profit organizations, and universities.


On October 29, 2008, the Global Network Initiative (GNI) was founded upon its "Principles of Freedom of Expression and Privacy". The Initiative was launched in the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and is based on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights on freedom of expression and privacy set out in the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).[1]


As a human rights organization, GNI seeks to safeguard freedom of expression and personal privacy against government restrictions. The protections are facilitated by a coalition of companies, investors, civil society organizations, academics, and other stakeholders.

GNI esteems freedom of expression and privacy each as a “human right and guarantor of human dignity”.[2] Participants are expected to respect and protect information available to users and users’ ability to freely create and distribute information, provided that they operate outside narrowly defined circumstances necessary to adhere to international laws and standards set by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Participants are also expected to protect users’ personal information from illegal or arbitrary interference when confronted with government demands, laws, or regulations that compromise a user’s privacy. The same principle of adherence of international laws and standards applies.

Collaboration among stakeholders is key to the goals of the Global Network Initiative. The GNI's outline of principles encourages participants to explore ways to engage governments advance their cause, individually or collectively.[3]

GNI recognizes that the actions of their corporate participants alone cannot guarantee the protection of human rights. One fundamental commitment is to promote the adoption of laws, policies, and practices that protect freedom of expression and privacy. GNI considers governments to be ultimately responsible for the fulfillment of their citizens' human rights, specifically pursuant to freedom of expression and privacy.[4]

Staff and Board of Directors[5]

NGO Members

Company Members

Academic Members

Investor Members

Alternate Board Members

NGO Alternates

Company Alternates

Academic Alternates

Investor Alternates


The Global Network Initiative requires participating companies to integrate their principles deeply into their decision-making and culture.[6] The GNI struggles to get large corporate participants other than the initial three, Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. Facebook and Twitter are valuable for their large audiences and wide use by activists in the Middle East and other volatile regions. The reasons they will not join remain vague from spokespersons or entirely unspecified, but factors like the toughness of the independent auditing process or the lack of financial benefit may engender corporate reluctance.[7]

Notes and references

  1. "Global Network Initiative, FAQ". Retrieved March 6, 2009.
  2. "Global Network Initiative - Principles". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  3. "Principles: Multi-stakeholder collaboration". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  4. "FAQ: How will the Global Network Initiative accomplish its goals?". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  5. "Global Network Initiative - Board of Directors". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  6. "Principles: Responsible Company Decision Making". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  7. Kopytoff, Verne G. (6 March 2011). "Sites Like Twitter Absent From Free Speech Pact". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2011.

External links

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