It’s been a busy week in the world of digital rights. On April 11th the UK’s Liberal Democratic party decided to put digital rights on the election campaign agenda by launching a proposal for a Digital Bill of Rights. On April 15th, the Global Commission on Internet Governance released a statement titled “Towards a Social Compact for Digital Privacy and Security” in the run up to the 2015 Global Conference on Cyber Space in the Hague, which culminated with the launch of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise.
The notion that there is a need for some kind of formalization of citizen, corporate and government rights and obligations for the internet is not new. Organizations like the Electronic Freedom Foundation or its UK counterpart, the Open Rights Group as well as the various Pirate Parties have been campaigning for this for many year now. Ever since the start of the ‘Snowden Revelations’ in 2013, however the campaigns for digital rights have steadily increased in strength. Examples of some of these more recent campaigns include the more than 500 writers who called for an international bill of digital rights back in December 2013, the Web We Want campaign, led by Sir Tim Berners Lee, which has been campaigning for a Magna Carta for the Internet for more than a year and the iRights coalition which has been championing digital rights for young people since 2014.
As a project that looks at internet research and services from a citizen perspective, we at CaSMa are following these developments with interest. While we are not directly involved in policy activism, we do engage in efforts to increase citizen awareness about their digital rights. We also work to strengthen the position of citizens by supporting efforts like iRights through the running of the Youth Juries, and developing alternative methodologies for internet services and internet mediated research that preserve citizen privacy and dignity.