Digital communications have become essential for more and more parts of our lives, from connecting friends and family to accessing information or essential services.

As a communications company, safeguarding the rights to privacy and free expression and ensuring we’re aligned with international human rights standards are top priorities.   

The right to privacy

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12

Without communications services like ours it would be much more difficult for people to access information and play an active role in society. But the data which companies like us hold about our customers can reveal very personal details about their lives. So we need to protect our customers from online harms whilst also safeguarding their privacy.

We’re open and honest about how and why we collect and use your personal information. We might collect information like names and email addresses, and share them inside BT to manage accounts and offer services our customers might be interested in. We’re registered under UK data protection laws and do everything we can to keep this personal information safe.

For example, we:

  • Make security integral to our products - From the start of the design process, privacy and data protection are at the core of our technology and systems.
  • Take part in debate – We contribute to discussions on privacy online to keep up with best practice and reflect the needs of our customers.
  • Share our expertise - We work closely with regulators in the countries we operate in.
  • Train our people - Our employees know how important data protection and privacy are, and what they have to do to protect your personal information. All our employees do privacy training, and we run workshops for staff who directly manage customers’ data. 

Our privacy policy sets out how we handle the data we collect from customers and everyone else who uses our products and services.

We respect our customers’ privacy and comply with applicable laws, such as human rights legislation and data protection regulations.

However, we also have a legal obligation to comply with requests from law enforcement agencies for information on how individuals use our services. There has to be a legitimate reason for this, and any interference with someone’s privacy must be necessary and proportionate. We say more about this in our Privacy and Free Expression reports below.  

BT’s Investigatory Powers Governance Committee, which includes our Chairman, Group CEO and other senior leaders, oversees how we balance these responsibilities. 

The right to free expression

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19

We don’t host much online content ourselves, but we do provide communications services that people need to access the internet. We support freedom of expression and believe people should be able to generate, share, and access the content they want online, whenever they want, as long as it’s lawful.

But sometimes we may need to limit people’s access to content. This could be because the content is illegal. Or to keep people safe and secure online, particularly vulnerable groups like children. We say more about how we balance these issues in our Privacy and Free Expression report.

Keeping our networks secure

Network security is vital for people to exercise their digital rights. If our customers think others can access their data or communications, they might worry about what they can say or do online. We must keep our customers’ information safe so they can communicate freely.

To help with this, we give our customers advice on protecting their identities and data online
Things like creating strong passwords or being alert for phishing emails go a long way toward keeping personal information secure. We say more about the steps we take to protect our networks in the Cyber Index