AT&T has a longstanding commitment to human rights. We respect and promote human rights in our operations and with stakeholders, including users, employees and suppliers.
In keeping with our longstanding commitment to human rights, we operate with transparency, engage with stakeholders and promote responsiveness and accountability when we receive grievances.
We conduct due diligence to identify, prevent, and mitigate adverse human rights impacts related to our products and services. We comply with laws and regulations that relate to our business, while seeking to honor the principles of internationally recognized human rights. We seek to ensure that we are not complicit in human rights abuses. Our commitment to human rights is detailed in our Human Rights Policy.
Our commitments include:
- We respect and promote human rights in our operations and with stakeholders, including users, employees, and suppliers.
- We respect and protect our users’ right to privacy and freedom of expression.
- We commit to monitor the implementation of this our Human Rights Policy through AT&T’s Human Rights Committee.
- We report on our human rights progress in AT&T’s annual Corporate Social Responsibility update.
Our Human Rights Policy is informed by internationally-recognized organizations such as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
We post our Human Rights Policy online and we publicize it in a variety of ways, such as appearances at public events or communications with policymakers. We make it available to our employees, particularly those most likely to interact with human rights issues. We also communicate the Human Rights Policy to our suppliers; it is posted on the AT&T Supplier Portal and referenced in our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, along with other policies and materials that explain our supply chain sustainability approach. We have implemented a sustainability-focused contract clause that specifically highlights our relevant policies and obligates suppliers to adhere to programs in a manner consistent with these policies. We conduct periodic reviews, audits and assessments to evaluate suppliers on their sustainability efforts based on survey responses that include questions about their human rights practices.
Our Senior Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility CSR, who is also our Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), is responsible for overseeing our Human Rights Policy. The CSO reports several times a year on CSR issues, such as human rights, to the Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Committee of the AT&T Board of Directors. Our CSO also regularly convenes the (CSR) Governance Council, comprised of senior executives and officers from across the company who are responsible for the business areas most linked to our CSR topics, including human rights. The AT&T Human Rights Committee is comprised of senior executives from across the business. In 2017, independent consultants concluded a broad-ranging human rights impact assessment of the operations of 2 Mexican wireless companies that AT&T had previously acquired. We have worked to incorporate recommendations from that process into our governance structure and internal procedures.
Grievance Mechanisms and Remedy
AT&T is committed to receiving, investigating and addressing grievances from stakeholders, including users, employees, and suppliers, as referenced in our Code of Business Conduct, Terms of Service for wireless and internet customers, Privacy Policies, and Principles of Conduct for Suppliers. We take seriously the concerns of our many stakeholders and work promptly to address them.
AT&T identifies, mitigates and manages potential human rights risks in connection with our products, services and technologies through implementation and management of our Code of Business Conduct, Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, and Privacy Policies. These policies apply to our domestic and international operations.
Additionally, we conduct a robust privacy and cybersecurity review when developing new products or services, and in connection with our entrance into new markets. We also work to prevent and mitigate negative effects of our operations, including by conducting human rights impact assessmentsments.
- Supporting Human Rights
Our approach to human rights includes the following:
We respect and protect our users’ right to privacy. Protecting our users’ privacy is fundamental to the way we do business every day. We implement protections with respect to personal information and protect the privacy rights of our users.
Through AT&T’s Privacy Policies, we give users fair and understandable notice of the types of information we collect, how and with whom it may be shared, how it may be used and how it will be protected. We strive to provide our users with easily understood tools that will allow them to exercise meaningful control over how their data is used.
We provide information to governmental agencies, including law enforcement, in response to lawfully authorized government requests to produce such information. Although we comply with government requests that may impact our customers’ freedom of expression and privacy, we do so only to the extent required by law. Where appropriate, AT&T will seek clarification or modification of a request or object to a government demand or court order in the appropriate forum. We report on all such requests in our semi-annual Transparency Report.
Freedom Of Expression
We believe that the freedom to access information, the freedom to communicate and the respect for privacy is essential to the advancement of human potential. At its most basic level, the infrastructure we build and operate is part of a global platform which enables the ability to connect and communicate. Through our services and platforms, we make it possible for our users to hold and share opinions freely, to seek out the ideas of others and to communicate their own. This exchange of information and ideas is at the very core of what we do as a company.
We respect and protect the freedom of expression of our users. We promote the right of our users to hold and freely share opinions without interference, and to access the full range of ideas and information. We seek to protect our users, particularly children, from harmful content by providing tools and information and by working with those dedicated to online safety. We believe restrictions on freedom of expression using communications services and the internet will diminish their usefulness, dampen the exchange of ideas and reduce innovation and commercial opportunities.
Freedom Of The Press
The role of a free press is fundamental to ensuring the security of human rights. At AT&T we consider the commitment to a free press to be a core value that is central to our mission. We will safeguard editorial independence and we will support efforts to ensure and advance freedom of expression across our platforms around the world.
Human Rights In The Supply Chain
AT&T is committed to conducting business with integrity and ethics, with an emphasis on corporate citizenship and sustainability. As part of our business, suppliers are held accountable to the same environmental, social and economic standards. For information on human rights in the supply chain, please visit our Responsible Supply Chain issue brief.
As we describe in AT&T’s Climate Change Policy, we recognize that climate change is happening and that greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to it. Further, we believe not only that climate change creates serious environmental issues, but also that it can infringe upon the world’s most vulnerable populations’ basic human rights, as outlined in the Unnited Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Learn more about our work to address climate change in our Climate Change issue brief.
- Engaging with Stakeholders
We engage with groups such as:
- Freedom Online Coalition: AT&T participates in the Advisory Network of the Freedom Online Coalition, a group of 30 governments that have committed to working together to support internet freedom and protect fundamental human rights — free expression, free association, free assembly and privacy online — worldwide. The Advisory Network provides input to the Freedom Online Coalition’s Program of Action and joint statements on internet freedom issues.
- BSR Human Rights Working Group: AT&T is a member of BSR’s Human Rights Working Group (HRWG). The HRWG was created to develop a safe space for a cross-sector group of companies to openly share best practices, challenges, questions and experiences.
- Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT): AT&T is an active supporter of CDT. The company regularly participates in its free expression working group as well as in a number of its other formal and informal working groups addressing issues that affect human rights and freedom of expression on the internet.
- Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI): Since 2012, AT&T has participated in GeSI’s Human Rights Working Group, which is pursuing a practical means of implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights across the information and communications technology (ICT) sector — which includes internet providers, telecoms and manufacturers. The working group is also coordinating GeSI’s involvement in the European Commission’s project to develop human rights guidance for the ICT sector.
- Internet Governance Forum (IGF): AT&T regularly attends IGF meetings, actively participating in the multi-stakeholder process that has historically governed the internet. During these meetings, the company advocates against local storage mandates and other impediments to the free flow of information.
- Tech Against Trafficking: AT&T is collaborating with other tech and telecom companies to jointly leverage our technology to prevent human trafficking and support survivors.
Since the acquisition of WarnerMedia in June 2018 and the launch of Xandr in September 2018, we are continuing to integrate operationally and through our CSR reporting. For this reason, information for these 2 affiliates is not included in this brief, except where specifically referenced.
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