Rebecca McKinnon has a piece up about the "Global Network Initiative," which launches this week.
That's the corporate code of conduct on free speech and privacy I've been talking about in generalities for quite some time. By midnight Tuesday U.S. East Coast time, the full set of documents and list of initial signatories will be made publicly available at globalnetworkinitiative.org.
On that website you'll be able to read the full text of the Principles on free expression and privacy. A group of companies, human rights organizations, socially responsible investment funds, academics, and free speech groups spent the last two-plus years reaching agreement on what should go into that document. There will also be a Governance Charter and a set of Implementation Guidelines giving more detail on how companies should adhere to the core principles. There will be an FAQ, list of participants, and contact people for the organizations that have joined the Global Network Initiative so far. The hope is that many more companies, NGOs, investment funds, and academic institutions around the world will join in the coming months.
The initial plan was to release the news so that the first news reports about the initiative would come out closer to the website's unveiling at 12:01am Wednesday EDT or 12:01pm HKT. But the story leaked early and the San Francisco Chronicle reported it on Monday without any comment from the participants who had all agreed not to talk until the official launch. Since then, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, WSJ China Blog, the AP, AFP and others have reported the story with remarks from some of the participants. We can expect more coverage in the next 24 hours.
A few people have called me asking "does this thing have any teeth" or "is this thing more than just a figleaf for companies to get congress off their backs?"
Organizations like Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in China, Human Rights First, and the Committee to Protect Journalists would not be putting their reputations behind this thing if they didn't think it was meaningful.
Link to her piece on rconversation.blogs.com.