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Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector has a vital role to play in realizing human rights and in achieving the vision laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including by facilitating mobile banking and remote learning, and enabling greater citizen participation, freedom of expression and coordination of democratic movements through social media platforms. Yet these same companies can cause, contribute to, or be directly linked to human rights abuses through their own activities, or as a result of business relationships, with adverse impacts on workers, users, customers, and individuals throughout their value chains.

Human rights issues in the ICT sector include privacy, censorship, surveillance, artificial intelligence, and automation as well as range of value chain impacts, such as child labor, forced labor, conflict and discrimination.

While some companies have started embracing their responsibility to respect human rights in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including by joining multi-stakeholder initiatives like the Global Network Initiative (GNI), most are at an early stage of adopting and implementing human rights policies and processes, and few are disclosing information on these efforts. For example, the Ranking Digital Rights 2018 Corporate Accountability Index found that many companies in the sector disclose little or no information on due diligence or board oversight of risks affecting online privacy and expression.

Our campaign therefore seeks to press ICT companies to adopt and implement human rights policies and processes that respect human rights, as well as provide remedy mechanisms to victims of abuses. We also engage governments and standard-setting bodies to help ensure they create enabling environments for responsible business conduct.

Campaign activities include:

  • Investor letters and statements to ICT companies
  • Company dialogues on human rights due diligence
  • Shareholder resolutions
  • Convening and participating in multi-stakeholder discussions
  • Engaging with state actors, as well as international and regional institutions to strengthen legislation, regulation, policies and other relevant standards aimed at promoting corporate respect for human rights

Key resources