Digi Rights: Applying fundamental Human Rights to the Digital Realm

human-rights
community-project
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digital-citizenship

#21

Good idea to reach out with the Digital Freedom Fund.

I was thinking of a few options to “create laws”:

  1. Find a country that would we willing to do it, small enough where they are willing to try new things but not so small that companies will simply block all users from their country. The country could then also earn revenue by collecting privacy violation fines from companies all over the world as law applies to user location.

  2. Have the tech industry themselves push to change the law (or simply make life difficult - stop connecting with - any companies that don’t go along with new privacy standards). Many tech companies are not in the attention economy, so they would stand to gain to have the privacy issues fixed and this would also help to clear out some unethical competitors. This could start like this: citizens’ campaign + small / medium business support => large business support => mega business support. It could snowball with the help of “techlash”. Many companies could want to get “on the right side” of the privacy issue to help secure their own future if facing a paradigm shift in privacy expectations.


#22

Thanks @aschrijver. So glad you are enjoying the podcast!

Sorry for the delay. I have been nose down with getting my latest book, Digital Self Mastery Across Generations, (the updated print version) ready for CES. I will be signing and interviewed at Gary’s Book club at CES 2019 in January. The reason I mention this, is that it will be a great opportunity to share future plans for a Digital Wellbeing and Ethics Manifesto.

I would love to work together to create a manifesto. The CES stage will be a great platform to share even seed the idea of a manifesto and to get people involved.

If still interested, please shoot me an email directly at heidi@forbesoste.com (somehow when deep into other work, notifications from this forum got lost or went into spam).


#23

The no default option would be very important for human rights- this is due to the marginalized population that are independent but vulnerable- like elderly or mentally ill, or developmentally delayed, English learners (in the USA), chronically ill- the list goes on for people who are responsible for themselves but may not understand. People in these groups try to get by day to day and may not have the bandwidth or cognitive ability to respond in a way to keep themselves protected.


#24

This is called opt-in (as opposed to opt-out which is now ofthe the standard on social media platforms). The GDPR, among others, prescribes that privacy-sensitive settings should be opt-in, and the user must explicitly choose to allow the setting.


@Free, I mentioned Estonia in reaction to @micheleminno’s idea for users being in control of their own data. Estonia is very open to adopting law in support of their move to an all-digital government, and they may be a very good study case.

Regarding point 2) we already see this playing out all over the internet, with growing awareness of privacy, privacy becoming a USP for a company (think e.g. Apple), and government willingness to get stricter privacy regulations and laws in place. But a good digital (human) rights foundation would be a great means of giving direction to the effort.

Are you in on the human rights project, @Free?


Hi @ForbesOste, these are really interesting subject matter for our community. Don’t hesitate to post to the forum, or ask for help. Also, although we just started building them, we can promote things via our social media channels.

Do you see the Manifesto as in line with the topic of this thread, i.e. a Digital Human Rights Declaration project? Or as a separate initiative (that can be started from the new Ethics category). Note that I also have the idea (not posted yet) to have an AI Ethics Manifesto for Journalism project, based on an excellent article by @Ellen_sch.

Also in my awesome-humane-tech list, in the Ethics section, there are a number of existing Manifestos related to technology use.

If you think this is a separate subject, then we’ll create a new topic for the discussion.


#25

However all that seems to mean is that users are given the option of either using a service, or not being allowed to use it at all. One crucial missing part from GDPR is that the NO option should be at least as easy as the yes option. Right now no looks like: click tiny text, read a full page of text, click small text, read and click through a few more pages, and then finally find out that once you choose “no” you are barred from using the service. While GDPR works great in many cases, in this typical use case of web / app / major internet company all that’s happened is that the user is being annoyed by GDPR and with purchases I’m sure the costs of complying with GDPR are being passed down to users, not to mention that all this ugly legalese is using up EU citizens’ valuable time.

With current EU law, the best choice for users is to press “accept” as fast as possible, because they know that if they don’t they will end up wasting too much time being jerked around and possibly blocked from using the service, app or web page.

I’m sure that I’m not the only user frustrated with annoying popups that mislead us and waste our time, all while being ineffective at all against the big companies like Google and Facebook where users are literally tricked and forced into opting in. (GDPR apparently has strengthened these two companies by hurting their smaller competition.)

Another path might be a reform of the EU GDPR and Cookie Law. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to get both users and tech companies behind this. I think some kinds of information about users should be better protected and require a real and easy choice of no, while other kind of more casual use such as web browsing or using an app without login could have some default rights to what can and can’t automatically be tracked, and how the information can be used, to try to strike a balance for all parties involved.

Yes I’m interested in the Declaration of Privacy. It would be nice to discuss the project and help out. Your plan sounds good so far. Regarding the design of the site, I suppose a simple static page if you must have something on the humanetech domain. The signature part sounds very technically complicated and I’m sure that means using an existing third party service. I suppose we could jump into writing the Declaration on Github to get started?


#26

Wonderful article. I think when we talk about ‘Rights’ we should talk about ‘Responsibilities’ in the same breath, as it puts the onus not only on some third party but on ourselves as well.

In my adventure series (see also my introduction) for young people I tie these together based on the Rights of Children from the UN charter. The excerpt is from Team Savv-i: The 10 Secrets of Cyberspace, which covers the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship devised by Dr. Mike Ribble but sets it in an adventure narrative to make it a little more palatable.

Excerpt from Team Savv-i: The 10 Secrets of Cyberspace (click to expand)

Digital rights and responsibilities

Mia did not arrive at school. Izzy sent a message and another, but received no replies. Weird… she thought. Normally she is quick as a flash. Maybe she’s sick? She pushed herself so hard… At recess, she tried again, then called her mum. Still no answer. This time, she left a voice message. Something is definitely wrong here… She became concerned. I know it. Her mind raced around. She could not concentrate and kept fidgeting.
“What’s up?” Beamer nudged her as he leaned over on the bench she was sitting.
She pulled away with a frown.
“I’m worried. Mi is not answering neither her mom.”
“Maybe they took the day off shopping.”
“Beam something is wrong, I know it.” She bit the rim of her finger.
Rob and Chi strolled by and sat down on either side of the twins.
“Gloomy lot you two,” Rob stated with the sensitivity of a bulldozer. Chi, picked up Izzy’s hand and held it, which made Rob eat his words. Why can’t I do that? he thought. She attempted a faint smile.
“Mi’s not answering any of my calls. Something has happened. Something bad.”
“Let’s go to her house during lunch.”
“Thanks Rob, I’ll like that,” She gave him a warm expression. This sent him flying with the pigeons. He felt the rims of his ears glow. No, no, not that!.. he thought, but lucky for him the redness stayed local and no one noticed. At least no one let on.
At lunch they jumped on their bikes and rode to Mia’s place. They knocked on the door and her mom opened still in her pyjamas, dark rims under her eyes and her hair in a mess.
“Oh… hi… Izzy… so sorry… I received you messages, but we’ve been through such a terrible night. I didn’t sleep at all… oh huh … come in.” She stepped aside to let them enter while attempting to tidy her hair. They walked straight up to Mia’s room.
She had cried all night. Her eyes red and puffy. Her hair matted with knots. Her pillow was a soggy mess. As they came in, she quickly hid herself.
“Mi!” Izzy leapt across the floor to her bed and put an arm around the hopeless lump covered in blankets. Mia didn’t look up, but stuck her hand out with her phone. Izzy read the sequence of messages sent from an obvious fake account as she couldn’t recognise the sender’s name. But the bully showed an intimate knowledge of her and used this to crank up the embarrassment factor. Some counted over twenty reply comments. Some so vile and full of hatred it made chills run down her spine. Izzy handed the phone to her brother. The boys stood there a little awkward. They read the message sequence.
This has been going on for a while and she hid this throughout the crowd funder campaign. She should have told us, Beamer thought. Izzy rubbed her back through the blankets. Perhaps, Mia’s exhaustion after the fundraiser contributed, but the bullying effect left her a complete and utter wreck. Time for the Team to kick in.
The boys looked at each other.
“Whoever did this will pay.” Beamer said through clenched teeth.
Izzy whispered in her ear. “We’re here to help. Don’t worry you’re not alone.” She continued telling her these messages were just disgusting rubbish from a stupid human being and nothing to do with the incredible positive and powerful Mia they all knew and loved.
“Not true…” she moaned from underneath the blankets. “I’m crap… I want to leave the Team…”
Izzy eyes moved from Mia to the boys with an expression on her face showing ‘this is really bad’.
Rob took screenshots of the bullying messages and forwarded them to a safe place in the cloud.
Chi tried to trace the source, but the coward used an anonymous service. He worked out that it all came from a single location.
Rob noticed that ‘Princess’ misspelled as ‘Prencess’. He looked up. “Remember that jerk who wrote 'Princess” that way?"
When he received blank stares, he continued. “That boy caught graffiting at our school. He sprayed Princess on the wall like that.”
“You’re right Rob… I remember… he came from the school up the road,” Beamer said. “Could be him?”
“Let’s pay him a visit later.”
Beamer and Chi nodded.
Izzy stayed with Mia and messaged her Mom to explain the situation. The boys rode back, making plans along the way and arrived just in time for their next class.
Beamer said, “I’ll show Mr Hill the messages, I won’t be long.”
“Thank you Jai, this is a serious cyber bullying incident. Your mother already contacted and let us know that your sister would stay the day with Mia. How is she?”
Beamer described the sorry state of poor Mia. Mr Hill assured him that he would do what he could to help her. He called Mia’s house straight away.
He’s not such a bad dude, Beamer thought on his way to class. He never spoke about their suspect though. They first make sure it was him, before they would hand him over.
He walked into the room. The screens showed ‘Rights and Responsibilities’. Mr Allsop continued after a pause giving him enough time to sink down in a beanbag.
“As I said, as a member of any group, say a scouts club, you gain the fun things being a scout, but you’re also expected to follow their rules. Being on the Internet is like being in a huge club. You have your rights. For example the right of access or the freedom to express yourself, but these rights go hand-in-hand with responsibilities. Such as never being abusive, to publish your own work and never plagiarise. These rules apply to everyone, not just to you.”
He paused to smile. “Like with the scouts club, it is important to know your rights and responsibilities when you become a member of the Net. This is what we mean when we talk about the secrets of cyberspace. After all, this is a club you will spend a lot of time in.”
A colourful slide appeared with the flags of the world flapping in the wind.
“The United Nations is an important organization that represents all the people around the globe. It described key rights, called basic human rights, that everyone everywhere should enjoy. In short, it is the right to knowledge, protection, participation, justice, education and to health. These lofty rights make it a club worth joining.”
He smiled again checking if they were paying attention.
“But to have these rights, we all should be responsible looking after them. Not only for ourselves, but for all.” His voice took on a sober tone that amplified the impact of his words. Then mellowed. “Sure makes sense that these rights apply in cyberspace too. As the online world is just an extension of our physical one. It all becomes one really.”
The students hung onto his every word. Such was the magnetic teaching style of Mr Allsop. The man barely larger than themselves. They loved listening to him.
“Let’s go through them and see how they apply to cyberspace.” The slide changed. He slowly read out the points as they appeared.

Your Rights and Responsibilities in Cyberspace

The right to knowledge - Everyone must have access to knowledge of how the Internet works and to become digitally literate. Your responsibility is to help anyone with this.

The right to protection - Everyone online should be protected from bullying, harassment, violence and anyone who sets out to be wilfully mean and degrading. Your responsibility is to be upstanding and help those affected.

The right to privacy - The law should protect you from attacks against your way of life and your reputation. Your responsibility is to safeguard your personal details and not misuse the details of others.

The right of participation - Everyone should be able to freely take part in discussions and forums, engage and interact on social media and websites and have the right to an opinion without fear of violence or harassment. Your responsibility is to contribute in a positive manner and understand that everyone has the right to their own views.

The right of justice - Everyone should have the opportunity to legally seek help if threatened in any way. Have the right to go to teachers, parents and authorities with concerns about online behavior. Your responsibility is to respect anyone seeking help.

The right to an education - Everyone should have a right to an education in whatever form. Your responsibility is to use the opportunities the Internet provides and help others with this if you are able.

The right to good health - Everyone has the right to feel safe physically, mentally, and emotionally whilst interacting online. Your responsibility is to treat others the way you like to be treated.

“Do the kids in Fiji know about all of this?” a boy asked.
“I’m not sure, every community has their own rules but when we link up and I’ve been told this happens in the holidays-”
The class let out a whoop.
“-it’s going to be fun exploring this with them. We will cover the basics when we are over there. We’ll show the Acceptable Use Policy of our school and talk with them about netiquette, but it is up to all of us to become role models showing appropriate digital behaviour… and… we may learn a thing or two from them.” He looked around the room.
The class continued to discuss the seven points. What was ok and not ok using the technology they used daily? Mr Allsop was surprised by the many rules new to him his students took for granted. Like it was not all okay to be mean indirectly hidden from any outsider. Like twisting the lyrics of a song for example to embarrass someone, the meaning of which most adults would miss not knowing the original lyrics.
Izzy came home from Mia’s late in the afternoon. She told Beamer and her mother that Mi was doing a little better. She ate some food and went to her room. Seated on her bed she opened her laptop and searched the Savv-i blog. Bugger! Nothing again, she thought. What’s going on? Three weeks passed and still no message from him. She listened until she could hear Beamer enter his room. Then, sneaked down the stairs avoiding the creaky parts and walked to his shed. By the faint light coming from the house entering through the shed’s side window she pressed the chunky square button on the old computer.


.
I will repeat the section on Digital Citizenship outside of the collapsed block, because they are most relevant to the discussion here:

Your Rights and Responsibilities in Cyberspace

The right to knowledge - Everyone must have access to knowledge of how the Internet works and to become digitally literate. Your responsibility is to help anyone with this.

The right to protection - Everyone online should be protected from bullying, harassment, violence and anyone who sets out to be wilfully mean and degrading. Your responsibility is to be upstanding and help those affected.

The right to privacy - The law should protect you from attacks against your way of life and your reputation. Your responsibility is to safeguard your personal details and not misuse the details of others.

The right of participation - Everyone should be able to freely take part in discussions and forums, engage and interact on social media and websites and have the right to an opinion without fear of violence or harassment. Your responsibility is to contribute in a positive manner and understand that everyone has the right to their own views.

The right of justice - Everyone should have the opportunity to legally seek help if threatened in any way. Have the right to go to teachers, parents and authorities with concerns about online behavior. Your responsibility is to respect anyone seeking help.

The right to an education - Everyone should have a right to an education in whatever form. Your responsibility is to use the opportunities the Internet provides and help others with this if you are able.

The right to good health - Everyone has the right to feel safe physically, mentally, and emotionally whilst interacting online. Your responsibility is to treat others the way you like to be treated.


Declaration of Privacy
#27

Hi @cpieters. Welcome to the community!

I added the story part to a collapsed region, because it was a bit long for this thread. They are very nice works, and a great way to educate children, I agree. Thanks for posting.

I did a search for Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and found your reference: Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship by Mike Ribble

Also another similar named, printable poster, that looks a bit different:

9 elements of Digital Citizenship poster

We should look at how the term Digital Citizenship relates to Human Rights in the digital realm (or maybe they are synonymous?).

And for reference the Wikipedia entry for the Rights of the Child:


#28

What you describe is not the fault of the GDPR. It is the software providers that want to keep applying things in the old ways (where you give up your personal data). There are many dark patterns at play here. As far as I know the GDPR requires opt-in (the NO option) to be the default, so it is the easiest and should be a no-brainer (no need to go through all configuraiton settings to opt-out).

Also they have specified rules for how a Privacy Policy must be drafted, and thereby removed much of the ugly legalese you’d usually find here. The problem here is that - with easy to understand texts - lawyers can still build in the same loopholes that you just as quickly will overlook.

But I agree GDPR is still far from perfect and has already shown a number of dark sides, like e.g. an important downside is that it favors the big tech companies, who can easily throw enough money in their system to comply with the rules, while for SMB companies this is a struggle (but that will only be a hurdle at the start, as new software will be developed from the ground up to be compliant).

The annoying popups are once again choices of the software creators, and there are automated solutions to get around most of them (consent frameworks, dialog suppressors, tracker blockers, etc.). But better solutions are still maturing. Note that I do not find the popups all that annoying (except if they have dark patterns), because they make me aware of the bad practices of the site.

Too much going off-topic: Yes, GDPR must be further improved, and we need additional laws to get things in order!


Regarding the design of the site, I suppose a simple static page if you must have something on the humanetech domain.

Yes, in the bullet list for the project I was thinking of a single Markdown document - easily edited with any editor and stored on Github, that is automatically transformed to html by the static site generator that creates the community website (Jekyll).

The signature part sounds very technically complicated and I’m sure that means using an existing third party service. I suppose we could jump into writing the Declaration on Github to get started?

Yes, the bullet points are just a possible feature list. Collecting signatories is of secondary importance after creating a good text, and could also be omitted if too complex. But it can reside as a feature request in the Issue tracker of the project.

Note that my awesome-humane-tech list contains a number of example Manifesto projects in the Ethics section from which we may borrow (parts of) this mechanism.

Besides drafting texts, we can draft and launch a first awareness campaign to attract attention to the effort.


#29

Hi @Free, I saw you created Declaration of Privacy to follow up on the project. I had quickly created a Github repo humanetech-community-digital-rights for it.

I like the name you’ve chosen, but at the same time it does not fully cover the whole digital human rights spectrum, only the privacy aspects (though these are the most pervasive part of the rights).

Still it might not be a bad idea to compartmentalize and start with Declaration of Privacy, but then have additional declarations later, all of them part of the Universal Declaration of Digital Rights. For the awareness program the theme can be called Digital Rights then, and the campaign is Privacy Declaration. WDYT?


#30

Sounds good! I focused on privacy because I wasn’t sure of other aspects of humane technology which could be considered rights. Also I wanted to keep it simple and memorable, easy to understand, and not confusing.