WG3 – Privacy and Transparency Online: Blog Series

Welcome to the Working Group 3 Blog. In this forum, members of the group will build on our research over the last year and provide analyses of emerging transparency and privacy issues.

In our first year, we published a report about transparency about government requests to ICT companies for user information and content restriction. We examined the role of transparency as a tool for government and corporate accountability, and as a fundamental part of empowering individuals to fully exercise their rights online. We hope to continue and expand on that conversation with our readers through this blog.

Building on our report findings, we’re pursuing three main activities this year:

  • Analyzing emerging issues: In this blog, WG members will analyze current events and emerging issues related to transparency and privacy. An initial area of focus will be the rise of informal and extra-legal requests to companies related to concerns over terrorist use of the internet. Stay tuned for our next post to learn more.
  • Defining transparency: We see a need to define what it takes for companies and governments to provide meaningful transparency to users. It’s easy to take for granted what we mean by transparency and why it matters for human rights. We previewed some of our case for transparency in our January submission to UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye. An upcoming blogpost will propose a “litmus test’ for whether transparency efforts are serving their purpose of empowering individuals.
  • Addressing policy and research gaps: We’re pursuing longer-term projects to address major research gaps on transparency, and partner with governments and companies developing relevant policies and practices. Our initial focus is on models for more robust government transparency reporting. We’ll be participating in a panel at RightsCon focused on some of these issues.

Overall, our goal is to encourage companies and governments to be transparent in a way that empowers individuals with the information necessary to exercise their rights freely and safely online.  We hope you’ll follow our blog to learn more!

The views expressed in this blog represent the views of individual authors, informed by the Working Group’s goals, themes, and recommendations. They do not represent the views of the Freedom Online Coalition or its members.