The internet has become a critical instrument in the struggle to hold business and government accountable for their dealings with each other and to tackle the complicity of business in human rights abuses by governments. There has been a veritable avalanche of sites emerging on the internet that monitor all sorts of business–government interactions globally. The different actors in this virtual arena are quite a mixed bag. There are groups such as the London-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, which seeks to provide a neutral platform for information. It offers a balanced perspective by, for instance, inviting corporations to comment on allegations published on the site. With researchers on every continent it is certainly the most global source of information on business and human rights, and content is provided in various languages. In a similar category there is Transparency International (TI), a global civil society organization dedicated to fighting corruption. TI is best known for its annual Corruption Perception Index (see Corruption of governmental actors by business, pp. 507–509) and Bribe Payers Index which are freely available to consult on its website and have become invaluable yardsticks for assessing corruption issues internationally. The organization also reports on stories of corruption around the world and offers resources for those seeking to address problems of corruption, including business–government bribery. More recently, we have also seen a number of local initiatives emerging around the topic of corruption, such as Corruption Watch UK and Corruption Watch South Africa (the latter co-operates closely with TI). These include social media platforms, such as Corruption Watch Connected, where users can set up regional groups of experts and professionals interested in certain issues and industries. Another site seeking to offer balanced evidence of business–government relations is the US-based Center for Public Integrity, whose mission is to ‘produce original investigative journalism about significant public issues to make institutional power more transparent and accountable’. In the US the issue of business funding political campaigns is a huge issue, and websites such as the Center for Responsive Politics attempt to provide more transparency. The Center for Responsive Politics also provides in-depth information about the lobbying activities of business in Washington. Interestingly, this topic is now also of wide public interest in the EU where we have seen the emergence of three web-based activist groups in recent years. Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyFacts are two activist groups that offer in-depth information about corporate lobbying including searchable databases of statistics and other data. Similar work is done by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation that has roots in the European trade union movement. Other players in the world of online watchdogs focus on specific issues, an example being Intellectual Property Rights Watch, which reports on a host of ethical issues relating to the involvement of business and other special interests in the design and implementation of intellectual property rights policy. Based in Switzerland and reporting mainly in English, the organization also provides reports in French, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin. Organizations such as these have clearly started to play an important role in generating and disseminating news, data, and insights into specific elements of business– government relationships. In so doing, they help to facilitate, at least in some small way, accountability between governments, corporations, and citizens.


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