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, Google, LinkedIn, Millicom, Oath and Yahoo!. We have also advised the Global Network Initiative, the Wikimedia Foundation and Cloudflare (Project Galileo) 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 ethics decision-making frameworks for big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning;
  • 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.

Publications and Interviews

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

  • In beta, Episode 3: Can a business be a human rights defender?

    GPD’s Executive Director interviews Michael Samway, former Vice-President and Deputy General Counsel for Yahoo! and current adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

  • 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…

  • 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 ....

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. While studying law, Michael worked in the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations Unit at the U.S. Department of Commerce and in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, holding a top secret security clearance.

Michael regularly lectures and writes on business, human rights and technology topics. He 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 has been a senior lecturer at Duke Law School and is a former visiting scholar at the Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University’s 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, SXSW, 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 formerly served on the Content Advisory Board of eMerge Americas and as an Influencer on Privacy and Security for Passcode (of the The Christian Science Monitor). He served for more than ten years on the board, including as chair, of the children’s advocacy organization Foster Care Review. Michael has 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            


- 36 minutes ago

RT @farhip: Just announced: Jason Rezaian rejoins @washingtonpost as a writer on our WorldViews team. Jason was our correspondent in Iran w…
h J R

- 37 minutes ago

RT @nicolewong: Really interesting Senate hearing on the problem of online terrorist content w/ great representation of Facebook, Youtube,…
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- 1 hour ago

RT @Jigsaw: Over the past 18 years, more than 3.4 billion people came online for the first time.
h J R

Current and Former Policy Fellows

Rebeca Joy West

Rebeca Joy West has been a Policy Fellow with The BHR Group since summer 2017. She has assisted in the design and preparation of human rights impact assessments for companies in the ICT sector. Rebeca is an Honors Fellow with the Center for International Business & Human Rights at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, which prepares law students to address the growing human rights challenges faced by U.S. companies operating abroad, and provides academic think tank support to positively influence contemporary international business and human rights issues, with a particular focus on the Information & Communications Technology and energy sectors.

In May 2018, Rebeca will receive her LL.M. in International Business & Human Rights from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Oklahoma.

A. Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng

Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng has been a Policy Fellow with The BHR Group since the fall of 2017, working on human rights impact assessments and various technology and human rights research projects. He has worked at the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, leading the Mission’s digital and youth engagement. Kwabena began his career as an Assistant Export Development Officer for the Ghana Export Promotion Authority. He went on to co-found an election monitoring project in Ghana. In 2016, he was awarded the Georgetown MSFS Africa Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship for a talented graduate student from sub-Saharan Africa.

In May 2018, Kwabena will receive his Master of Science in Foreign Service (with a concentration on Global Politics and Security) from Georgetown University. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Resource Development from the University of Ghana.

Smythe Anderson

Smythe on LinkedIn      

Smythe was a Policy Fellow at The BHR Group from August 2016 to May 2017. She 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 a legislative correspondent for Senator Richard Burr and as a legislative assistant and press secretary for Congressman Paul Ryan. She also worked in congressional relations and government affairs for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Smythe currently works on energy policy and planning in the government affairs office at Chevron.

Smythe has a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Political Science and French.

Paige Lovejoy Nicol

Paige on LinkedIn      

Paige was a Policy Fellow with The BHR Group from February 2016 – April 2017. In this role, she 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 began her career as a consultant at Deloitte Consulting and is currently a manager on the Intellectual Capital team at Omidyar Network where she has focused on projects including Governance & Citizen Engagement and Digital Identity initiatives.

Paige received a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She also graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown with a B.S. in Foreign Service.

Simon Harari

Simon on LinkedIn      

Simon was a Policy Fellow at The BHR Group in 2015 and worked on human rights impact assessments in Latin America and the Middle East. He is currently a Public Policy Manager at Facebook, where he helps develop and implement Facebook’s community standards. Prior to joining Facebook, Simon was a member of the Public Policy and Social Impact team at Tumblr, and has held fellowships in the Yahoo! Business and Human Rights Program and at the Global Network Initiative. 

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.

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