TeliaSonera hosted a meeting of the on-going Industry Dialogue

On June 8, major telecom players came together, at Telia Sonera's initiative, in Stockholm, for a meeting of the Industry Dialogue on telecommunications, privacy and freedom of expression, started in 2011. The goal was to discuss and further develop guiding principles on Business and Human Rights for the telecommunications sector, based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, finalised in 2011, define what is called the ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy’ Framework, outlining the State’s duty to protect human rights and the businesses’ duty to respect human rights. Following this broadly accepted UN framework, each industry needs to define how to respect human rights.

Maybe the most important and complex human rights in the context of telecommunications sector are: freedom of expression and the right to privacy.
The participating companies are collaborating to identify how they can respond to and respect freedom of expression and privacy, globally.

Telecommunications enables the exchange of ideas and access to information in a way that supports economic and social development, and is vital in times of crisis. At the same time, the technology can also be misused in a way that can impact freedom of expression and privacy.

Telecom companies have employees, infrastructure and national licenses on the ground and are therefore bound by national legislation, while at the same time are expected to meet international standards on human rights.
The experience of telecom companies shows how requests from law enforcement officials can pose real challenges. The Industry Dialogue is exploring the UN Framework with the intention to develop due diligence measures that support freedom of expression and privacy in line with the UN guidelines. The aim is also to strengthen existing company policies and practices based on a joint platform. 

The Industry Dialogue had a full-day meeting in Stockholm, by invitation of TeliaSonera, Friday June 8th. The present focus of the work, in a continued outreach to external stakeholders, is to finalise the draft guiding principles and to define prerequisites of a long term stable home of the Initiative.

The ambition is to finalise the work by the end of 2012. TeliaSonera will give regular up-dates on progress of the Industry Dialogue here.

The companies participating in the Industry Dialogue are Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, BT, France Telecom-Orange, Millicom, Nokia Siemens Networks, Tele2, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, Telenor, and Vodafone.

Additional information, March 2013:

Now the principles have been published. They are available in 7 languages.