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The Council on Ethics of the Swedish National AP-funds signals its expectations for tech giants on human rights

The Council on Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds (AP-funds) has issued a new statement of its expectations of global tech companies on human rights. The expectations demand that tech giants reinforce measures to respect human rights and fully align their work with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights.

The Council on Ethics has been instrumental, in cooperation with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, in developing human rights expectations for tech giants. Based on the expectations the Council has also initiated engagement with tech giants on human rights together with a larger group of international investors.

Today, tech companies are integral to global society. Their platforms are used daily by billions of people. The Internet, mobile phones and social media are part of the fabric of our everyday lives. With expert input from the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Council on Ethics has identified what are reasonable human rights expectations of companies such as Facebook, Google (Alphabet) and Twitter. Such companies have grown rapidly in a short time. Their platforms have brought many gains in access to information and transparency. However, they also entail new challenges linked to complex issues such as the collection, use and commercialization of personal data, extremism and terrorism, electoral manipulation and severe impacts on vulnerable and at risk groups, such as children and human rights defenders.

The Council on Ethics has therefore, in cooperation with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, produced a document for the tech sector outlining its long-term expectations of how the sector should work strategically on human rights.

The purpose of this document is to serve as a platform for the Council on Ethics and for other investors, to conduct a more constructive and effective dialogue with the tech sector regarding the companies’ responsibility for and impacts on human rights.

John Howchin, Secretary-General of the Council on Ethics, said:

“We need a broader discussion on the corporate responsibility of tech companies and respect for fundamental human rights. It is still a relatively “young” sector that in a short time has grown rapidly and has a wide impact.

With this, many difficult issues have followed. We do not have all the answers to these questions as it is in many ways a new playingfield we have in front of us, but we know from our experience of engaging with other sectors over the years that difficult questions can be addressed if you work in a structured way with the problems. Our goal is for this document to be a platform for that work. Not only for us and other investors but also for other stakeholders who are involved in the issues. ”

Read the complete pressrelease on the Council on Ethics website.