Ranking Digital Rights Releases its Winter 2020 Investor Update

Helps investors evaluate and compare tech and telecom companies on their respect for human rights, and cuts through noise regarding tech company behavior and risk
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Jan. 14, 2020

Ranking Digital Rights (RDR), an independent research initiative housed at the Open Technology Institute at New America, is releasing its Winter 2020 Investor Update. The concise, 12-page guide is an easy-to-use tool for institutional investors, policy advocates, journalists, and others to evaluate technology companies using a methodology based on rigorous, peer-reviewed human rights research.

The Investor Update is packed with original analysis and concrete, actionable information that investors can use to get a clear picture of risks and opportunities undertaken by some of the world’s most powerful tech companies. The Investor Update uses data from RDR’s 2019 Corporate Accountability Index, an annual ranking of the world's most influential digital platforms and telecommunications companies.

The Update is written by renowned digital rights expert and RDR director Rebecca MacKinnon and by veteran investment analyst Melissa Brown. It draws on research conducted by a team of tech policy and human rights experts led by RDR’s research director Amy Brouillette.

Says MacKinnon, “Responsible and accountable corporate governance of digital rights risks is a growing investor concern. Ranking Digital Rights’ Investor Update cuts through the fog of opinion and outrage about tech company ethics and provides a clear framework for investors to evaluate human rights risks, and engage with companies about how such risks can be better anticipated and mitigated.”

More regulation on digital privacy and online content is coming – but are companies ready? Given the pace of technological change, anticipating regulatory risk means thinking beyond compliance with laws that have already been passed. The Ranking Digital Rights Investor Update offers clear guidance to investors on how evaluate tech companies’ ability to be proactive and responsible about how their products and services are affecting society.

RDR’s Investor Update includes these topics and more:

  • Insights into how tech and telecom companies can minimize human rights risk in the current business and political landscape.
  • An interactive list of 2019’s digital rights-related shareholder resolutions for major companies such as Google and Facebook. Citing data and recommendations from Ranking Digital Rights, the advocacy group SumOfUs introduced a shareholder resolution for 2020 that would require Apple to make its policies and decisions related to freedom of expression available to shareholders.
  • Due diligence: The importance of board level oversight and human rights impact assessments.
  • Key questions for investors to ask companies about human rights concerns.
  • What investors should ask about targeted advertising and algorithmic decisionmaking and the threat of disinformation.

For previous editions of RDR Investor Updates and other resources, including MacKinnon’s recent article “Holding Tech Titans Accountable Amidst Global Uncertainty,” see our Investors page.