Business and human rights

We’re acutely aware Yahoo!’s products, technology, and operating footprint increasingly have potential to intersect human rights issues — in particular freedom of expression and privacy — around the world.

Today we’re announcing the launch of our Business & Human Rights Program, and through it we hope to help define ourselves as an industry leader in this important field. It’s no secret that certain governments around the world don’t live up to widely recognized standards for protecting the free expression and privacy rights of their own citizens. While the root causes of these threats clearly lie with governments, we also know corporations have important obligations in the field of human rights.

The Yahoo! Business & Human Rights Program represents another step forward in our commitment to human rights, and a number of pillars support this program:

  • Executive Commitment. We’ve got it. For those of us who’ve been with Jerry in meetings on Capitol Hill, at the State Department, or with human rights activists, the long-term commitment is clear.
  • Dedicated and Cross-Functional Teams. The Program will expand our core team and continue centralized leadership on global strategy, industry initiatives, business decision-making, and internal and external stakeholder engagement.
  • Guiding Principles and Operational Guidelines. We’re committed to the international foundations of freedom of expression and privacy, and we’ll continue translating those principles into practical steps to be followed by our employees.
  • Human Rights Touch-Point Inventory + Clearinghouse. We’ll constantly review the intersection points of our business with potential human rights issues and ensure risks are routed to the right teams.
  • Human Rights Impact Assessments. We’re committed to exploring risks to freedom of expression and privacy in challenging markets, engaging with external stakeholders, and designing risk mitigation strategies.
  • Internal and External Stakeholder Engagement. The single most important stakeholders are our users. We also must stay closely connected to our employees and maintain our strong relationships with industry peers, human rights groups, academics, and governments, including our own State Department.
  • Accountability Framework. We also believe in designing an effective system to assess our own performance in meeting our overall goals and our operational steps relating to human rights issues.

We’re a company built on open access to information and user trust . We’ve encouraged scholarship on technology and human rights, funding two university fellowships so far. We’ve also teamed up with a noted human rights activist to create the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund. We’re deeply committed to the current collective initiative with industry peers, human rights groups, academics, and socially responsible investors to design standards to guide companies in challenging markets.

We believe companies can move forward today to integrate human rights decision-making into their business operations, and we intend to show our own leadership and commitment to freedom of expression and privacy through the creation of the Yahoo! Business & Human Rights Program.

Michael Samway
VP & Deputy General Counsel