Privacy and free expression, both fundamental human rights, are closely connected. Protecting our customers’ information also enables them to communicate freely.
We secure customers’ data on our networks – and help them protect themselves online – as part of our strategy to create standout customer experiences (see our Annual Report). And our privacy impact assessment tool helps us make sure we build privacy into the design of new products and services to protect our customers and their data.
Challenges around tech, privacy and free expression are continually evolving. We work with other tech companies and human rights organisations to respond through our involvement in the Global Network Initiative (GNI). We support the GNI’s Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy and this year we presented a self-assessment of our performance against the principles to the GNI board. We identified several areas where we could improve and we’re strengthening our policies, processes and governance structures in advance of an independent external assessment in the coming year.
This year, at the UK Government’s request we provided limited anonymised network data – such as general patterns in the movement of people – to help plan the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has subsequently begun paying for this information following a formal competitive tender. No personal data is involved, and individual users can’t be identified. Safeguards include scheduled reviews, additional security and measures to ensure data remains anonymised (see our website for more).