Microsoft has unseated Google at the top of the 2019 RDR Corporate Accountability Index. Telefónica outpaced Vodafone among telecommunications companies. Yet despite progress, most companies still leave users in the dark about key policies and practices affecting privacy and freedom of expression, according to the 2019 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, released today.
The 2019 RDR Index evaluated 24 of the world’s most powerful internet, mobile ecosystem, and telecommunications companies on their disclosed commitments, policies, and practices affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy, including governance and oversight mechanisms. Research showed that in the past year a majority of companies improved and clarified policies affecting users’ privacy—a trend that appears to be driven by new data protection regulations in the EU and elsewhere. But even the leading companies fell short in key areas. Few scored higher than 50 percent, failing to even meet basic transparency standards, leaving users across the globe in the dark about how their personal information is collected and protected—and even profited from.
Companies evaluated by the 2019 RDR Index collectively provide products and services used by more than half of the world’s 4.3 billion internet users, thus providing a snapshot of the extent to which users’ rights are protected and respected across the globe. The RDR Index methodologysets minimum standards for what companies should disclose about their rules and processes for enforcing them, data privacy and security policies and practices, and how they handle government demands to remove or block content, to shut down internet services, or to access user information and communications.
- Microsoft ranked first, due to strong governance and consistent application of its policies across all services. It unseated Google, which had held a decreasing lead since the first RDR Index in 2015.
- Telefónica shot ahead of all other telecommunications companies. Vodafone, which led in 2018, earned second place, ahead of AT&T,which dropped to third.
- Facebook maintained fourth place among internet and mobile ecosystem companies, but received a score of just 57% and lagged behind RDR Index leaders in key areas. It showed no evidence of risk assessments on its use of AI or terms of service enforcement, and despite some improvements still disclosed less than a number of its peers about many aspects of how it handles user information.
Click here to view report cards for all 24 companies evaluated by the 2019 RDR Index. An in-depth report analyzing the 2019 RDR Index results across companies and issue areas elaborates on how the world’s most powerful tech companies have a long way to go before the internet supports and sustains human rights for everyone.
“People have a right to know, and companies have a responsibility to show,” said Ranking Digital Rights Director Rebecca MacKinnon. “When companies fail to meet RDR’s standards for disclosure of commitments, policies, and practices, users are exposed to undisclosed risks affecting their freedom of expression and privacy.”
For the full interactive data and analysis, report cards for all 24 companies, methodology, raw data, and other resources for download, please visit: rankingdigitalrights.org/index2019. Follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #rankingrights.