Strategic advisory services assisting technology companies with international public policy and human rights issues – focusing on freedom of expression, privacy, public safety and national security.

What We Do

The BHR Group is led by Michael Samway, a veteran technology company executive and global public policy advisor.

We advise information and communications technology companies on integrating global business operations with responsible decision-making on policies, practices and strategies related to free expression, privacy, censorship, surveillance, public safety and national security issues.

We have advised companies including Airbnb, Facebook, LinkedIn, Millicom, and Yahoo!. We have also advised the Wikimedia Foundation and the Global Network Initiative on a pro bono basis.

We focus on operations in markets around the globe, including in countries with weak rule of law, and align our work with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its implementing treaties, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the GNI Principles, national constitutions, and other norms related to business and society and the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

Examples of our work include assisting companies with —

  • Design of global business and human rights programs;
  • Gap analysis on free expression and privacy protections;
  • Policy development on encryption, surveillance, censorship, countering violent extremism, hate speech, public safety and national security;
  • Development of decision-making frameworks for ethics and big data;
  • Human rights impact assessments;
  • International legal and data architecture plans;
  • Global law enforcement response strategies;
  • Global transparency reporting;
  • Global Network Initiative independent assessment preparation;
  • Executive and board training on business and human rights;
  • Strengthening relationships with civil society, academics, and investors;
  • Engagement strategy with government, including with legislators, foreign affairs ministries, regulatory bodies, and the intelligence community;
  • Strategic advice on market entry in jurisdictions with weak rule of law;
  • Global public affairs and communications strategies.


Below are select publications or commentary by Michael Samway on technology and human rights issues. For a more complete list, click here.

  • Business and Human Rights: From Principles to Practice

    In a global economy, multinational companies often operate in jurisdictions where governments are either unable or unwilling to uphold even the basic human rights of their citizens ....

  • Industry-Specific Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives That Govern Corporate Human Rights Standards: Legitimacy assessments of the Fair Labor Association and the Global Network Initiative

  • Book chapter offers guidance on freedom of expression & privacy for the ICT sector

    The primary purpose of this chapter is to offer practical guidance to companies on how to respect human rights...

  • Stimulating the Information Technology Economy and Expanding Democracy

    Throughout this financial crisis, Americans have heard from economists of nearly every persuasion that a sustained effort must be made to promote the flow of capital into ...

  • Interview with Michael Samway, founder of Yahoo!'s business & human rights programme

    Companies like Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others have to anticipate the most ...

  • Protection of Free Speech and Privacy

    Michael Samway talked about the Global Network Initiative, a joint effort between technology and human rights organizations to protect free speech and…

Who We Are

Michael Samway

Michael Samway is president of The Business and Human Rights Group. He spent ten years (2000-2010) at Yahoo!, where he was a vice president and deputy general counsel, led the international legal team, founded Yahoo!’s Business & Human Rights Program, and was a founding board member of the Global Network Initiative. He previously practiced corporate and securities law at White & Case in the Latin America Practice Group.

He regularly lectures and writes on business, human rights and technology topics. Michael is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where he also chairs the advisory board of the Master of Science in Foreign Service Program. He is also a senior lecturer at Duke Law School and a former visiting scholar at the Center for Business and Human Rights at NYU Stern School of Business. He has been a contributor in various international and multi-stakeholder fora, including the Freedom Online Coalition, the Internet Governance Forum, RightsCon, and the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. He has also been a contributor to workshops hosted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Free Expression and Opinion.

Samway serves on the Advisory Council of the Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index and the Content Advisory Board of eMerge Americas and is an Influencer on Privacy and Security for Passcode. He has also been called on to facilitate meetings between U.S. government officials, technology companies and civil society regarding topics including countering violent extremism online, government surveillance, and encryption. He has also testified before the U.S. Congress on internet freedom.

Michael received BSFS/MSFS degrees from Georgetown University in 1991, was a Fulbright scholar in Chile, and received JD/LLM degrees in comparative and international law from Duke Law School in 1996.

Michael on LinkedIn            


- 3 hours ago

RT @CDA: Telegram is experimenting with CDNs in Iran and other politically problematic countries to cache highly-popular media on public ch…
h J R

- 18 hours ago

RT @KathCummins: READ BEFORE UNPLUGGING! Download @theGNI multi-lingual guides to the impact of governments cutting communications access.…
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- 1 day ago

RT @davidakaye: #Russia's Parliament Went on a Censorship Binge Today via @isaacdwebb
h J R

Current and Former Policy Fellows

Paige Lovejoy Nicol 2016-17

Paige Lovejoy Nicol has been a Policy Fellow with The BHR Group since February 2016. In this role, she has supported the development of strengthened privacy policies and ethical decision making practices for the collection and use of big data at a large emerging-markets focused telecommunications provider. She is also a member of the policy team for a new initiative on Digital Identity at the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm that focuses on empowerment through emerging technologies. Before beginning her graduate studies, she spent three years as a management consultant at Deloitte.

In May of 2017, Paige will graduate from the Master of Science in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University with a concentration in Global Business and an honors certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Paige received her BSFS degree from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.

Paige on LinkedIn      

Smythe Anderson 2016-17

Smythe Anderson has been a Policy Fellow at The BHR Group since August 2016. She has led the drafting of human rights impact assessments across markets in Latin America and Africa for an international technology company. Smythe began her career in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill, serving as legislative assistant for Senator Richard Burr and as press secretary for Congressman Paul Ryan. She also worked in congressional relations and government affairs for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Smythe is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Political Science and French.

Smythe on LinkedIn      

Simon Harari  2015-16

Simon joined The BHR Group as a Policy Fellow in 2015 to work on human rights impact assessments for Latin America and the Middle East. Simon was previously a public policy fellow at Yahoo!’s Business and Human Rights Program and a fellow at the Global Network Initiative. Before moving to the United States in 2013, Simon was a policy advisor to an indigenous land council in a remote region of Northern Australia, and an attorney at Australian commercial law firm Minter Ellison. Simon currently works on the Public Policy team at Tumblr, where he is responsible for developing the company’s position on free expression, user privacy, and countering violent extremism online.

Simon has a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University, a law degree with honors from the University of Melbourne, and is admitted to legal practice in the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia.

Simon on LinkedIn      

Contact The BHR Group

If you are interested in learning more about The BHR Group or our services, please contact us at:

 © The BHR Group LLC, 2017