Ranking companies on whether and how they respect your digital rights

Recent revelations about NSA surveillance and the demands placed on U.S. Internet and telecommunications companies have certainly highlighted a central theme of this book: How communications technology companies can serve as an opaque extension of state power if the public is not vigilant in holding both governments and companies accountable for how they collect and share our personal information.

For the past eight months I have been working on addressing a specific part of this problem in a very concrete way. I have published no articles and written few blog posts this year because I have been spending all my time launching a new start-up research and advocacy project called Ranking Digital Rights. Here is our mission statement from the project website:

Internet and telecommunications companies, along with mobile device and networking equipment manufacturers, exert growing influence over the political and civil lives of people all over the world. These companies share a responsibility to respect human rights.  The Ranking Digital Rights project brings together a group of international researchers and advocates. We are developing a methodology to evaluate and rank the world’s major Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies on policies and practices related to free expression and privacy in the context of international human rights law.

Our work aims to a) inform companies, individual users, civil society, academics, investors, governments, and the public about the relationship between the ICT sector and human rights; b) encourage companies to develop, deliver and manage products and services in a manner consistent with international human rights norms; c) identify what specific legal and political factors prevent or hinder companies from respecting users’ and customers’ human rights.

For more detailed information please see the About page,Work Plan and Timeline, and other Project Documents. You can also go to the front page and subscribe to updates about the project’s progress.

2013 Goldsmith Book Prize!

prize ceremony

Photo uploaded to Twitter by user @JFKJrForum.

It was a tremendous honor to receive the 2013 Goldsmith Book Prize in the Trade category last week from the Shorenstein Center on the Press and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Also honored were Jonathan M. Ladd in the Academic category for his book, Why Americans Hate the Media and How it Matters.  An investigative team from the Chicago Tribune won the investigative journalism prize, and the New York Times’ Nick Kristof received the Career Award for Excellence in Journalism. Full video and audio of the ceremony, plus a Storify curation of tweets and photos, can be found here.

Kindle version now available – at least for U.S. credit card holders…

I am pleased to announce that a Kindle version of the book is now available on Amazon!

Unfortunately, friends outside the United States who use a non-U.S. credit card with their Amazon account have reported they are unable to purchase it. I am seeking resolution of this problem and will report back when I have more information.

Thanks again for everybody’s enthusiasm and patience!!

E-Book is Coming Soon!

Many people have asked why no e-book is available for a book about the Internet.

I agree, it is indeed bizarre and unfortunate that the e-book is not already available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes, and elsewhere.

My publisher informs me that the e-book version was delayed by a technical glitch that has now been fixed. Now we are waiting for the various humans along the chain to get the files uploaded, add the various “buy” buttons, etc. It should hopefully be available in the next few days. I will post an announcement as soon as it’s up.

I realize that the delay is especially frustrating for international readers and globe-trotters for whom shipping costs and customs delays and fees for the physical book are prohibitive.

Thanks to everybody for your concern, your support, and patience.

“Consent of the Networked” on the EFF’s 2011 reading list

Even though it won’t be officially out until the end of this month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has put the book at the top of their (alphabetical) 2011 reading list. They write:

We’re looking forward to the imminent release of Rebecca MacKinnon’s Consent of the Networked, previewed through her 2011 TED Talk. MacKinnon’s first book promises to provide user-oriented solutions to taking back the Internet…from governments, from corporations, and from anyone seeking to repress!

Thanks to the good folks at EFF for the plug!


Coming January 31, 2012.

Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom will be published by Basic Books on January 31st. Amazon is already taking orders. Click here for other ways to buy the book.

More links and information will be added to this website as the publication date approaches. Meanwhile, please enjoy my recent TED talk: