WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the unveiling of the Global Network Initiative by a diverse group of information and communication companies and human rights organizations.

The initiative, fostered in part by numerous hearings held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recognizes that all companies have a responsibility to protect against human rights violations, especially by authoritarian governments.

“It's about time,” Berman said. “This initiative is an important, yet only a first step in better protecting freedoms of expression and privacy.” Berman noted that Congress would continue to engage human rights groups and technology companies, especially those not part of the agreement, on the issue. "I am eager," he continued, "for participants to fully implement these principles as soon as possible."

Technology companies and human rights groups that join the initiative agree to abide by a set of operating principles that are based upon internationally recognized human rights standards. Under the agreement, participating companies would face yearly reviews to ensure that they are advancing rights of expression and privacy in their business operations. Members of the initiative intend to make the program a standard for companies around the world.

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