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.

Ambitions 2022 goals

Know our impacts and enable, respect and support freedom of expression and privacy in the context of surveillance

Promote transparency related to surveillance legislation as well as conventional and unconventional requests


 

 

Law enforcement disclosure reporting with regard to number of conventional authority requests, information on local surveillance legislation on direct access and on data retention

Implemented processes to assess impact on and promote, to the extent possible, freedom of expression and privacy in the context of surveillance in potentially unconventional requests

Good faith efforts, including continuous improvement over time, to implement the GNI principles

Actively contribute to the work of the 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, pages 46-47.

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.