Open MIC Releases New Report Highlighting US Tech Giants’ Double Standard on Consumer Privacy in China

As many U.S. tech companies — and so-called defenders of privacy and freedom of expression — work harder and harder to enter China’s booming market, they must confront their own complicity in enabling the Chinese government’s harmful policy of all-encompassing surveillance and control. Open MIC’s new report, Does Privacy Protection Have Borders? China’s Data Localization Rule and the Risks for U.S. Tech Companies, highlights this tension, revealing how U.S. tech giants have been employing a double-standard on user privacy in China compared to their operations elsewhere, endangering the lived realities of people in China and beyond.

Following Pressure From Shareholders, Facebook Board Adopts New Focus on ‘Privacy and Data Use’, ‘Community Safety’ and Cybersecurity Risks

Facebook Inc.’s Board of Directors responded to pressure from shareholders and quietly adopted important and substantial changes to the charter of one of the board’s key committees, renaming the committee and broadening its mission to include oversight of issues that have placed the social media platform at the center of global controversy, including privacy, data use, community safety and cybersecurity.

Shareholders Have Long Warned Facebook; Company Has Been In Denial For Years

Shareholders, organized in part by Open MIC, have long been calling on Facebook to address critical issues, such as the platform’s role in enabling election interference, violations of privacy, “fake news” distribution, online hate speech and sexual harassment. Yet CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company’s senior management have consistently brushed this all under the rug – until the recent Cambridge Analytica data scandal and other controversies finally forced these problems into the light and Zuckerberg himself into congressional testimony.

Facebook’s Largest Shareholders Urged to Hold the Company Accountable

Facebook’s largest institutional investors – including well-known firms such as Vanguard, Fidelity and BlackRock – are being challenged to take action to address critical concerns regarding the social media platform’s handling of risk, privacy and transparency. The pressure comes from 78 organizations which today released a joint letter calling on the big shareholders to step out from the background and use their influence to demand better from one of the world’s most powerful companies. The letter is signed by leaders of diverse organizations, including prominent human and civil rights groups, major impact investment firms, faith-based investors and foundations. Investors signing the letter represent approximately $62 billion in assets under management.

"Zuckerberg must face consequences for his inaction" says Michael Connor, Executive Director of Open MIC

“If any other publicly-held company continually failed to improve its performance on such mission-critical issues, the CEO would have resigned or been fired by now. Zuckerberg must face consequences for his inaction, which is why Open MIC is calling on him to resign – or for Facebook’s board to fire him. At the very least, the company should take steps to separate the roles of CEO and Chairman – both of which Zuckerberg currently holds – thus providing some improved governance for the company. Facebook impacts the lives of hundreds of millions every day; it’s time for a CEO who will act quickly and transparently to address the platform’s problems and stop endangering us all.”

Open MIC Joins Coalition in Urging Companies and the Dept. of Homeland Security to Avoid Risky, Dangerous “Extreme Vetting Initiative”

Open MIC joins a coalition of over 50 civil society organizations – advocates for civil rights, civil liberties, government accountability, human rights, immigrants’ rights, and privacy – in urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to immediately halt a new “Extreme Vetting Initiative” on the grounds that it will be inaccurate, biased, and a threat to constitutional and human rights.

Facebook, Google and Twitter Investors Demand Answers and Accountability Following 2016 Election Interference

Shareholders in Facebook, Google and Twitter with assets worth more than $25 billion have filed proposals with the companies in the last week demanding answers and accountability related to  foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as threats posed by the growth of hate speech and disinformation on the three platforms.

Open MIC Signs Coalition Letter to Attorney General Sessions on AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Open MIC has joined a coalition of fourteen civil rights, media justice, and tech policy and privacy organizations in signing a letter urging the Department of Justice to protect consumers by rejecting the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger. Specifically, the letter cites the major threats to innovation and pro-consumer competition posed by the merger. 

Investors Representing $190 Billion in Assets Oppose FCC’s Proposed Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

A group of 20 investment advisors, investment management firms and foundations with broadly diversified stock portfolios today called upon the FCC to maintain current rules that support the principle of network neutrality on the Internet. The investors, representing approximately $190 billion in assets and Assets Under Management (AUM), argued in a filing with the FCC that a rulemaking proposed in April 2017 - which would gut net neutrality protections - is “fundamentally flawed.” 

Microsoft Acts to Curb Predatory Lenders

Following months of pressure by Open MIC and a coalition of tech, civil rights and policy groups, Microsoft has now quietly released new rules that will curb predatory lenders on its Bing search engine in the U.S. The policy changes are a win for all Bing users, and particularly for low income users who are the intended targets of misleading ads for predatory financial products and services. 

Data Suggests Digital Redlining by AT&T in Cleveland

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) today reports "strong evidence" that for the past decade, AT&T has systematically discriminated against poor residents in Cleveland in its deployment of home Internet and digital technologies. An analysis of FCC broadband data by digital inclusion groups NDIA and Connect Your Community suggests that AT&T has engaged in "digital redlining." 

Open MIC Releases New Report Showing Lack of Racial Diversity in Tech Could Mean Lower Returns for Investors

A new report released by Open MIC today finds that the lack of racial diversity in the tech industry undermines financial performance, demanding investors’ attention. The report titled, “Breaking the Mold: Investing in Racial Diversity in Tech,” highlights existing data showing that black, Latino, and Native Americans are unrepresented in the tech industry by 16-to-18 percentage points compared to their presence in the U.S. labor force overall. The report provides recommendations intended to address significant shortcomings with respect to workforce data transparency as well as increasing diversity at all levels of the industry.

Fake News Is Focus Of New Shareholder Advocacy Push At Facebook And Google

Concerned that long-term shareholder wealth may be at risk if Facebook and Google do not do enough to “address fake news and hoaxes,” Arjuna Capital, in partnership with Baldwin Brothers, Inc., is asking the two tech giants (proposals to Google here and Facebook here) to evaluate the impact fabricated content is having on their platforms and businesses.