Digital rights are those human rights and legal rights that allow individuals to access, use, create, and publish digital media or to access and use computers, other electronic devices, and telecommunications networks. The concept is particularly related to the protection and realization of existing rights, such as the right to privacy and freedom of expression, in the context of digital technologies, especially the Internet.[1] The laws of several countries recognize a right to Internet access.[2]

Human rights and the Internet

A number of human rights have been identified as relevant with regard to the Internet. These include freedom of expression, privacy, and freedom of association. Furthermore, the right to education and multilingualism, consumer rights, and capacity building in the context of the right to development have also been identified.[3][4]

APC Internet Rights Charter (2001)

The APC Internet Rights Charter was established by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) at the APC Europe Internet Rights Workshop, held in Prague, February 2001. The Charter draws on the People's Communications Charter and develops seven themes: internet access for all; freedom of expression and association; access to knowledge, shared learning and creation - free and open source software and technology development; privacy, surveillance and encryption; governance of the internet; awareness, protection and realization of rights.[5][6] The APC states that "the ability to share information and communicate freely using the internet is vital to the realization of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women."[7] The APC Internet Rights Charter is an early example of a so-called Internet bill of rights, an important element of digital constitutionalism.

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (2003-2004)

In December 2003 the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was convened under the auspice of the United Nations (UN). After lengthy negotiations between governments, businesses and civil society representatives the WSIS Declaration of Principles was adopted[8] reaffirming human rights:[8]

We reaffirm the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration. We also reaffirm that democracy, sustainable development, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as good governance at all levels are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. We further resolve to strengthen the rule of law in international as in national affairs.

The WSIS Declaration also makes specific reference to the importance of the right to freedom of expression in the "Information Society" in stating:[8]

We reaffirm, as an essential foundation of the Information Society, and as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organisation. It is central to the Information Society. Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits of the Information Society offers.

The 2004 WSIS Declaration of Principles also acknowledged the need to prevent the use of information and technologies for criminal purposes, while respecting human rights.[9] Wolfgang Benedek comments that the WSIS Declaration only contains a number of references to human rights and does not spell out any procedures or mechanism to assure that human rights are considered in practice.[10]

Internet Bill of Rights and Charter on Internet Rights and Principles (2007-2010)

The Dynamic Coalition for an Internet Bill of Rights held a large preparatory Dialogue Forum on Internet Rights in Rome, September 2007 and presented its ideas at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio in November 2007 leading to a joint declaration on internet rights.[11] At the IGF in Hyderabad in 2008 a merger between the Dynamic Coalitions on Human Rights for the Internet and on Principles for the Internet led to the Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights and Principles, which based on the APC Internet Rights Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights elaborated the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet presented at the IGF in Vilnius in 2010, which since has been translated into several languages.

Global Network Initiative (2008)

On October 29, 2008, the Global Network Initiative (GNI) was founded upon its "Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy". The Initiative was launched in the 60th Anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and is based on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights on freedom of expression and privacy set out in the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).[12] Participants in the Initiative include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, other major companies, human rights NGOs, investors, and academics.[13][14]

John Harrington dismissed the impact the GNI as a voluntary code of conduct, calling instead for bylaws to be introduced that force boards of directors to accept human rights responsibilities.[15]

United Nations Human Rights Council (2011-2012)

Some of the 88 recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in a May 2011 report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly[16] supported the argument that internet access itself is or should become a fundamental human right.[17][18]

67. Unlike any other medium, the Internet enables individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds instantaneously and inexpensively across national borders. By vastly expanding the capacity of individuals to enjoy their right to freedom of opinion and expression, which is an "enabler" of other human rights, the Internet boosts economic, social and political development, and contributes to the progress of humankind as a whole...
79. The Special Rapporteur calls upon all States to ensure that Internet access is maintained at all times, including during times of political unrest.

The United Nations Human Rights Council declared internet freedom a Human Right in 2012.[19]

Notable laws by place

Several countries and unions have laws dealing with digital rights:

Digital rights landscape by the Open Rights Group

Surveys

BBC World Service global public opinion poll (2009-2010)

A poll of 27,973 adults in 26 countries, including 14,306 Internet users,[28] was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan using telephone and in-person interviews between 30 November 2009 and 7 February 2010. GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller interpreted the results as showing that people around the world see access to the internet as their fundamental right, a force for good, and most do not want governments to regulate it.[29]

Findings from the poll include:[29]

Internet Society's Global Internet User Survey (2012)

In July and August 2012 the Internet Society conducted online interviews of more than 10,000 Internet users in 20 countries, including questions on digital rights:[31]

Question No. of Responses Responses
Access to the Internet should be considered a basic human right. 10,789 83% somewhat or strongly agree,
14% somewhat or strongly disagree,
  3% don't know
Each individual country has the right to govern the Internet the way they see fit. 10,789 67% somewhat or strongly agree,
29% somewhat or strongly disagree,
  4% don't know /not applicable
The Internet does more to help society than it does to hurt it. 10,789 83% somewhat or strongly agree,
13% somewhat or strongly disagree,
  4% don't know / not applicable
Increased government control of the Internet would make me use the Internet less. 9,717 57% somewhat or strongly agree,
39% somewhat or strongly disagree,
  5% don't know / not applicable
Increased government control of the Internet would increase the number of users. 9,717 40% somewhat or strongly agree,
52% somewhat or strongly disagree,
  8% don't know / not applicable
Governments need to place a higher priority on expanding the Internet and its benefits in my country. 10,789 83% somewhat or strongly agree,
11% somewhat or strongly disagree,
  5% don't know / not applicable
For the Internet to reach its full potential in my country people need to be able to access the Internet without data and content restrictions. 10,789 79% somewhat or strongly agree,
17% somewhat or strongly disagree,
  4% don't know / not applicable

Digital rights advocacy groups

See also

References

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  2. ^ Lucchi, Nicola (2011-02-06). "Access to Network Services and Protection of Constitutional Rights: Recognizing the Essential Role of Internet Access for the Freedom of Expression". Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law. Rochester, NY. SSRN 1756243. Archived from the original on 2023-01-17. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  3. ^ Benedek 2008, 17 November 2011
  4. ^ Kim, Minjeong; Choi, Dongyeon (2018). "Development of Youth Digital Citizenship Scale and Implication for Educational Setting". Journal of Educational Technology & Society. 21 (1): 155–171. ISSN 1176-3647. JSTOR 26273877. Archived from the original on 2020-10-05. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  5. ^ "Towards a charter for Internet rights". Internet Rights UK. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2008.
  6. ^ Benedek, Wolfgang; Veronika Bauer; Matthias Kettemann (2008). Internet Governance and the Information Society. Eleven International Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 978-90-77596-56-2. Archived from the original on 2023-01-17. Retrieved 2021-11-29.
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  10. ^ Benedek, Wolfgang; Veronika Bauer; Matthias Kettemann (2008). Internet Governance and the Information Society. Eleven International Publishing. p. 36. ISBN 978-90-77596-56-2. Archived from the original on 2023-01-17. Retrieved 2021-11-29.
  11. ^ Benedek, Wolfgang; Veronika Bauer; Matthias Kettemann (2008). Internet Governance and the Information Society. Eleven International Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 978-90-77596-56-2. Archived from the original on 2023-01-17. Retrieved 2021-11-29.
  12. ^ Global Network Initiative, FAQ Archived 2009-03-09 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "News". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 2019-08-24. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  14. ^ "Participants". globalnetworkinitiative.org. Archived from the original on 2018-02-19. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
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  19. ^ Carr, Madeline (November 2013). "Internet freedom, human rights and power". Australian Journal of International Affairs. 67 (5): 621–637. doi:10.1080/10357718.2013.817525. ISSN 1035-7718. S2CID 153790388.
  20. ^ "Judgement 12790 of the Supreme Court" Archived 2015-12-17 at the Wayback Machine, File 09-013141-0007-CO, 30 July 2010. (English translation Archived 2015-12-17 at the Wayback Machine)
  21. ^ "Estonia, where being wired is a human right" Archived 2012-02-22 at the Wayback Machine, Colin Woodard, Christian Science Monitor, 1 July 2003
  22. ^ "European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles | Shaping Europe's digital future". digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu. 2023-02-07. Retrieved 2023-07-14.
  23. ^ "Finland makes 1Mb broadband access a legal right" Archived 2012-07-29 at the Wayback Machine, Don Reisinger, CNet News, 14 October 2009
  24. ^ "Top French Court Declares Internet Access 'Basic Human Right'". London Times. Fox News. 12 June 2009. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  25. ^ Constitution of Greece As revised by the parliamentary resolution of May 27th 2008 of the VIIIth Revisionary Parliament Archived 2015-07-05 at the Wayback Machine, English language translation, Hellenic Parliament
  26. ^ Sarah Morris (17 November 2009). "Spain govt to guarantee legal right to broadband". Reuters. Archived from the original on 25 December 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  27. ^ Samuels, Cindy Cohn and Julie (2012-10-31). "Megaupload and the Government's Attack on Cloud Computing". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2023-07-14.
  28. ^ For the BBC poll Internet users are those who used the Internet within the previous six months.
  29. ^ a b "BBC Internet Poll: Detailed Findings" Archived 2013-06-01 at the Wayback Machine, BBC World Service, 8 March 2010
  30. ^ "Internet access is 'a fundamental right'" Archived 2012-01-07 at the Wayback Machine, BBC News, 8 March 2010
  31. ^ "Global Internet User Survey 2012" Archived 2013-03-14 at the Wayback Machine, Internet Society, 20 November 2012
  32. ^ "Digital Rights Global Shapers". Global Law Forum. Archived from the original on 2020-06-07. Retrieved 2021-09-20.