Joint investor statement on freedom of expression and the Internet

As investors and research analysts, we recognize that our investment decisions have an impact on human rights around the world. We are therefore committed to using the tools at our disposal to uphold human rights world wide as outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), including freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly and association, and security of persons.

The growth of the Internet offers considerable opportunities for global broad-based wealth creation. Companies involved in providing Internet services and technology are playing a leading role in building global communities and sharing knowledge. We believe that government action to censor, monitor, isolate and jail Internet users for exercising basic human rights outlined in the UDHR threatens the ultimate realization of these benefits. We believe these actions also present significant barriers to growth for Internet sector businesses, which depend on a broadly connected, free Internet.

To help advance freedom of expression, the undersigned:

– Reaffirm that freedom of expression is a universal human right that companies have an obligation to respect throughout their worldwide operations, and, in particular, in countries with a history of serious and widespread human rights violations;

– Reaffirm that Internet sector businesses have a particular responsibility in this domain for a number of reasons, including the following:

o Their long-term success depends on a broadly connected Internet that is free of censorship; and
o Millions of people depend on their products and services for reliable access to news and information;

– Recognize that, according to numerous and credible sources, a number of countries throughout the world do not tolerate public dissent and monitor and control citizens’ access to the Internet as a means of suppressing freedom of expression;

– Recognize that some businesses help authorities in repressive countries to censor and mount surveillance of the Internet, and others turn a blind eye to the use made of their equipment;

– State that respect for freedom of expression is a factor we consider in assessing a company’s social performance;

– Announce that we will monitor the operations of Internet businesses in repressive regime countries to evaluate their impact on access to news and information;

– Commit ourselves to supporting, at annual general meetings of publicly listed companies, shareholder resolutions that we believe are favorable to freedom of expression or otherwise promote the principles of this declaration;

– Call on Internet businesses to adopt and make public ethical codes stressing their commitment to freedom of expression and defining their obligations to uphold these freedoms, and

– Call on Internet businesses to make information public that will allow investors to assess how each firm is acting to ensure that its products and services are not being used to commit human rights violations (including, products and services that enable Internet censorship, surveillance and identification of dissidents).

Signatories representing over $21 billion USD in assets under management:

Boston Common Asset Management LLC (U.S.A)

Domini Social Investments LLC (U.S.A)

Trillium Asset Management (U.S.A)

Walden Asset Management (U.S.A)

Citizens Advisers, Inc. (U.S.A)

Calvert Group, Ltd. (U.S.A)


The Ethical Funds Company (Canada)

Fondation Ethos (Switzerland)

Conscious Investors Pty Ltd (Australia)

Harrington Investments, Inc. (U.S.A)

Joyce Moore Financial Services (U.S.A)

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. (U.S.A)

Groupe Investissement Responsable Inc. (Canada)

KLD Research & Analytics, Inc. (U.S.A)

Jantzi Research Inc. (Canada) (U.S.A)

As You Sow Foundation (U.S.A)

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia (U.S.A)

Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL (U.S.A)

Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul of New York (U.S.A)

Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers (U.S.A)

Dominican Sisters of Hope (U.S.A)

Mercy Investment Program (U.S.A)

Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit (U.S.A)

Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk (U.S.A)

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