New E.U. Measure on Environmental and Human Rights Due Diligence Has Far-Reaching Implications for Companies Operating in Europe and Beyond

On March 10, 2021, the European Parliament approved a legislative measure by an overwhelming 504-79 majority that paves the way for a landmark set of regulations setting a corporate duty of care regarding environmental protection and sustainability, internationally recognized human rights principles, and good governance practices – collectively referred to as ESG standards.  Although the Parliament’s measure is not legally binding, it is expected that the European Commission will adopt regulations in general accordance with Parliament’s legislative measure by the end of the year.… More

Data Privacy Day Reflections – Compliance, Governance, Ethics (and AI)

Cross-posted from Security, Privacy & the Law

January 28 is Data Privacy Day, and on this 14th annual Data Privacy Day, I find myself reflecting on the question of data ethics.

Far from being an academic concept, “data ethics” presents a model for data management with real practical implications for organizations.  (I should note that I am focused here on personal data.)  To understand what the concept might entail,… More

Watch Now: Beyond Compliance: Privacy, Artificial Intelligence, and the Ethical Implications for Businesses

Rapidly-shifting regulatory requirements affecting data privacy often leave businesses struggling not only to keep up with immediate compliance needs, but also wondering how they can “future proof” their businesses to account for increasingly robust laws. And as the technology around artificial intelligence increases in sophistication and ubiquity, lawmakers and consumers are taking notice and action. How should businesses be thinking about these changes beyond mere compliance? What are the ethical implications around data use affecting how individuals and regulators are thinking about data use?… More

New U.S. Policy, Same Human Rights Expectations: Companies Sourcing from the Western Sahara Are Still Obligated to Respect International Law

On December 10, 2020, President Trump formally announced that the Government of Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco will normalize their bilateral relationship, marking the fourth Arab country that recognizes Israel as a result of the Abraham Accords. Over the coming months, the new agreement will allow the two countries to resume full diplomatic relations, increase cooperation on security and economic matters, and open up regular flights between Morocco and Israel.… More

SEC Issues Controversial New Rule on Payment Transparency in the Natural Resource Sector

On December 16, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a new regulation that revises and reinstitutes a previously-repealed SEC regulation to implement Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The new rule is the culmination (for now) of a long process to implement the ten-year old Section 1504, which Congress included in Dodd-Frank with the intent of making payments to foreign governments by oil, gas, and mining companies more transparent.… More

CBP Modifies WRO After Brazilian Co. Demonstrates Compliance with Forced Labor Regulations

On December 7, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) modified an existing Withhold Release Order (WRO) on bone black produced in Brazil by Bonechar Carvão Ativado do Brasil Ltda (Bonechar). As a result of this change, Bonechar-produced bone black is now admissible at all U.S. ports of entry, effective December 4, 2020. Bone black is charcoal made from animal bones which has multiple industrial purposes, including filtration.… More

European Union Approves Global Magnitsky-Style Human Rights Sanctions Regime

In a landmark development, the European Union’s Foreign Ministers on December 8 approved an “Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy” that establishes a new mechanism for targeting systematic violators of human rights from any country in the world. The human rights community has colloquially termed the Action Plan “Europe’s Global Magnitsky Act”, an homage to the U.S. Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act that was passed by a wide bipartisan margin in Congress and signed into law by former President Obama at the end of his administration.… More

Australia’s Two Modern Slavery Acts

The Australian Government has launched an online register that publishes companies’ statements on their compliance with the country’s Federal Modern Slavery Act of 2018. The website, which is searchable and available to the public, marks the first government-run website tracking companies’ compliance with efforts to eradicate modern slavery. Unlike comparable legislation passed recently in other jurisdictions, including the U.K. Modern Slavery Act of 2015, Australia’s Act makes reporting mandatory within six months of a company’s fiscal year-end.… More

As the United States Targets China’s Human Rights Abuses, Companies Should Prepare for Stricter Due Diligence on Forced Labor

As the United States seeks to take more forceful action punishing China for its escalating human rights abuses against Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang autonomous region and the citizens of Hong Kong, international businesses whose supply chains intersect with China should be prepared for new legislation and regulatory enforcement that could result in penalties. Companies will need to take additional steps to ensure their due diligence processes account for potential human rights risks associated with forced labor in Xinjiang and elsewhere in the country.… More

Toward a Credible and Universal Concept of Rights: How Racial Injustice in America Affects U.S. Human Rights Practices Abroad

The Murder of George Floyd on May 25th by a white Minneapolis police officer did not happen in a vacuum. It was not an aberration in an “otherwise functioning” justice system. Countless black men and women in America have suffered similar fates at the hands of a criminal justice apparatus that often sees black people as material threats before seeing them as human. Floyd’s death is just the most recent symptom implicating a justice system in the United States that many experts and activists consider out of control,… More