Rebeccca MacKinnonwas interviewed by Public Radio Internationalabout the importance of transparency and accountability from governments and companies:
One such advocate is Rebecca MacKinnon, the director of the Ranking Digital Rights Project at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. She says her interest in the cross-section of the Internet and human rights began when she was a China correspondent for CNN in the 1990s.
“I was in China when the Internet showed up in ’95, so I began to see how it was affecting discourse, how people were using it, and from the get-go, the government’s efforts to control this. And so, I became fascinated in the topic, and the set of issues as a result,” she says. “So that has definitely colored this whole thing, that I’ve been following the global emergence of the Internet ... and thinking about its impact as it relates to governments, power and human rights.”
And now, heading the Ranking Digital Rights Project, Rebecca oversees studies to rank Internet and telecommunications companies on how well they’re respecting their users’ digital rights, protecting their privacy and freedom of speech, and telling them when governments or third parties ask for data, or for certain postings or even accounts to be deleted. The project’s November 2015 report ranks 16 companies, in different countries, on 30 different measures.
“The highest grade was a D, and that was Google,” Rebecca says. “So there’s a lot of room for improvement, all around.”