Despite Google’s attempts to quell public outrage over Dragonfly, employees and shareholders remain concerned that work on Dragonfly has not fully stopped, and that the company must perform human rights due diligence during the product development phase, not after. The proposal (Proposal Number 14) asks Alphabet to publish a Human Rights Impact Assessment by October 30, 2019, to examine “actual and potential impacts of censored Google search in China,” with specific consideration of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
As federal regulators move to investigate platform companies like Facebook over antitrust violations, an Open MIC analysis of Facebook’s latest filing to the SEC, following last week’s annual meeting, shows that independent shareholders overwhelmingly support major governance changes at the company.
The reports from the proxy advisors come amid mounting pressure for change at the top levels of Facebook. In today’s open letter to Facebook’s largest institutional shareholders, investors and leading civil society organizations are seeking support for a “Vote No” campaign that would withhold votes from Mr. Zuckerberg as a member of Facebook’s board. “As Facebook’s largest institutional investors, your vote ‘no’ on Mark Zuckerberg will send a clear message that it is past time for new governance,” says the letter.
Citing unchecked hate speech, rampant privacy violations, discriminatory advertising and a host of other ills, shareholders and civil rights groups today launched a “Vote No” campaign urging Facebook investors to withhold their votes of support from Mark Zuckerberg as a member of the company’s board. The new push is taking place ahead of the Facebook annual meeting on May 30 and follows months of revelations of abuses and no persuasive evidence that existing corporate leadership can turn things around for shareholders.
Open MIC joined 25 other civil society organizations in sending a letter to Congress calling on legislators to ensure that any federal privacy legislation addresses the discriminatory impacts of commercial data practices and protects people of color, women, religious minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities, persons living on low income, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations.
In a major victory for investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled late yesterday that Amazon must give shareholders an opportunity to consider and vote on two separate shareholder resolutions that address major business risks posed by the sale of Amazon's facial recognition technology to government agencies. The SEC’s ruling comes amidst mounting criticism of the Amazon technology, “Rekognition,” as racially biased.
A coalition of Google shareholders has filed a resolution asking the company to publish a human rights impact assessment for a controversial censored search product -- called "Dragonfly" -- that Google is reportedly developing for use in China. Led by Azzad Asset Management, the shareholders are concerned that Google's compliance with China’s repressive laws would facilitate and legitimize surveillance and censorship, posing serious human rights risks.
Open MIC joined with 43 civil society organizations in sending a letter to Congress calling on legislators to protect civil rights, equity, and equal opportunity in the digital ecosystem. As members of Congress continue to hold hearings and introduce legislation on digital privacy, they must address the data security and privacy abuses that disproportionately harm marginalized communities.
Citing critical concerns over immigrant surveillance of vulnerable communities, racial profiling, and other civil and human rights violations, Amazon shareholders have filed a resolution asking the company to prohibit sales of “Rekognition”, Amazon’s facial recognition technology, to government agencies — unless the company’s Board concludes the technology does not pose actual or potential civil and human rights risk.
An institutional shareholder in Google is calling on the tech giant to disclose information about the risks associated with a controversial Chinese search engine product, "Project Dragonfly," that has drawn criticism from lawmakers and activists.
Azzad Asset Management, a socially responsible investment firm, on Monday filed a shareholder petition asking Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., to evaluate the potential impact on investors if Google developed a censored search engine in China and to publish a report on its findings by Oct. 30, 2019.
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.
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.
Last night, Facebook, Inc. released the full results of last week’s shareholder votes, showing that outside investors are overwhelmingly outraged by the dual-class voting system, lack confidence in Facebook’s leadership overall, and seek stronger content management and governance as the company reels from scandal after scandal.
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.
Top proxy advisor Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has recommended that Facebook investors vote in favor of two shareholder proposals, developed with support from Open MIC, aimed at improving the company’s performance on issues such as election interference, online harassment and risk management.
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.
As algorithms and Artificial Intelligence become ubiquitous in our modern world, their capacity to make life better becomes clearer - as do many critical risks. Open MIC's new report, “Formulas for Trouble: Why Smart Companies Must Tread Carefully With Algorithms,” highlights the need for businesses to beware of baked-in bias.
“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.”
Citing significant risks associated with multiple recent data breaches, Verizon Communications investors have filed a shareholder proposal calling on the company’s board to link senior executive compensation to the effectiveness of its cyber security and data privacy practices.