Freedom of expression

Telecommunications enable access to information and the exchange of ideas in a way that supports openness and transparency. We aim to respect freedom of expression and surveillance privacy.

Ambition 2017 progress 2018 goals
  • Enable, respect and support freedom of expression and surveillance privacy
  • Telia Company is trusted as an ICT industry leader in human rights

 

 

  • Eighth Law Enforcement Disclosure Report covering eight countries published
  • Four countries covered with regard to information on local surveillance legislation'
  • Information on local legislation on direct access covering all our main markets
  • More than half of closed unconventional requests challenged in some way, often by transparency
  • Contributed to the Industry Dialogue and the Global Network Initiative joining forces in March
  • All major markets covered in law enforcement disclosure reports with regard to number of conventional requests and information on local legislation on direct access
  • Promote freedom of expression and surveillance privacy in all closed unconventional requests, if and to the extent possible
  • Contribute actively to the work of the Global Network Initiative (GNI)

Challenges

Issues related to freedom of expression and surveillance privacy pose a high risk to users of telecom services globally. Risks include mass surveillance, network shutdowns, localization of mobile devices and blocking or restriction of certain content. Respecting and promoting freedom of expression and surveillance privacy is becoming increasingly important as legislators seek additional surveillance measures to fight crime, terrorism, hate speech and more.

Our approach

This focus area is governed by the Group Policy – Freedom of Expression and Surveillance Privacy, the GNI Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

Our duty to respect and promote human rights is focused on the risks to our customers. We aim to limit potential harm to individuals by seeking active measures to support the rights of our customers where we believe that these are at risk. The Group Policy addresses our commitments in relation to requests or demands with potentially serious impacts on freedom of expression and surveillance privacy in telecommunications (“unconventional requests”). A group instruction sets out practical steps regarding assessments and escalation whenever a local company receives a potentially serious request or demand. Guidance is provided in a form for assessments and escalation.

We publish periodically a Law Enforcement Disclosure Report which covers statistics on requests from the police and other authorities (‘transparency reporting’), links to national laws that provide governments with direct access to information about our customers and their communication without having to request information from Telia Company, as well as further information on ‘unconventional requests’.

More information can be found in our Annual and Sustainability Report.

Global Network Initiative (GNI)

All over the world companies in the ICT-sector face increasing government pressure to comply with domestic laws and policies in ways that may conflict with the internationally recognized human rights of freedom of expression and privacy.

In response, a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organizations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics – together some 50 entities - have joined together in a collaborative approach to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector, and formed this Global Network Initiative (GNI). More information about the GNI is available here.

Telia Company is an active member of the GNI. Our active participation stimulates shared learning on how to best respect freedom of expression and privacy and provides leverage to advocacy promoting freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT industry.