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Ranking Digital Rights Partners with Consumer Reports to Set Standards for Privacy and Security

Washington, D.C.— Today Consumer Reports is launching a new initiative to develop a digital standard to measure the privacy and security of products, apps, and services with the goal of helping companies prioritize consumers’ data security and privacy needs. The first version of the standard is available at https://thedigitalstandard.org.

The standard was developed in partnership with leading privacy, security, and consumer rights organizations. Ranking Digital Rights, a non-profit research initiative housed at New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI), was a partner in the collaborative effort.  

Ranking Digital Rights works with an international network of partners to set global standards for how companies in the information and communications technology sector should respect freedom of expression and privacy, and will be launching their 2017 Corporate Accountability Indexon March 23. The Index evaluates 22 of the world’s most powerful telecommunications, internet and mobile companies on disclosed commitments and policies affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy. The digital standard draws from the Ranking Digital Rights research methodology along with other technical testing and research methodologies developed by other coalition partners. 

As a part of today’s launch, the coalition behind the new digital standard is inviting broader input and collaboration from a range of stakeholders to help develop and improve the new protocol. OTI, which has lately focused on promoting corporate policies that foster a more open and secure internet through projects like its Transparency Reporting Toolkit and the new “Do the Right Thing” collection of case studies, looks forward to participating in the continued development and application of these new standards.

The following statement can be attributed to Rebecca MacKinnon, Director of Ranking Digital Rights:
“Our research shows that users lack adequate information about how companies’ policies and practices affect their privacy, security, and other rights like freedom of expression. We believe that this effort can help people make more informed decisions about how they use technology. We also believe that the digital standard will help companies do a better job of protecting and respecting users’ rights.” 

The following statement can be attributed to Kevin Bankston, Director of the Open Technology Institute:
“In our research on how best to drive internet companies to adopt strong privacy and security policies, the use of rankings and standards to judge whether companies are doing the right thing—and to prompt them to compete to see who can do the best by their customers—has repeatedly been an effective lever for change. Therefore, we’re excited to see Consumer Reports, the most trusted source of information in the consumer realm, prioritizing security and privacy as a key metric for evaluating tech products and services, and proud of Ranking Digital Rights’ critical role in this innovative project. We look forward to continued collaboration with Consumer Reports to further develop this new digital standard and help foster better consumer-level cybersecurity and privacy practices."

Consumer Reports’ new privacy initiative was made possible by the generous philanthropic investments of the Ford Foundation, The Craig Newmark Foundation, and the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund. 

About New America
New America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute dedicated to renewing America in the digital age through big ideas, technological innovation and creative engagement with broad audiences. To learn more, please visit us online at www.newamerica.org or follow us on Twitter @NewAmerica.

About the Open Technology Institute
The Open Technology Institute (OTI) works at the intersection of technology and policy to ensure that every community has equitable access to digital technology and its benefits. We promote universal access to communications technologies that are both open and secure, using a multidisciplinary approach that brings together advocates, researchers, organizers, and innovators. To learn more, please visit us online at www.newamerica.org/oti and on Twitter @OTI.

About Ranking Digital Rights
Ranking Digital Rights is a non-profit research project housed at New America’s Open Technology Institute, working with an international network of partners to set global standards for how companies in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector should respect freedom of expression and privacy. On March 23, 2017, Ranking Digital Rights will release the second edition of its Corporate Accountability Index, ranking 22 internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies on their commitments, policies and practices affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy. To learn more please visit www.rankingdigitalrights.org and follow @rankingrights on Twitter.