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About us

The Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, launched by the Cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona and New York in November 2018 and now with a membership of over 50 cities worldwide, is a network of cities helping each other in the greenfield of digital rights based policy-making. The Coalition is committed to promoting and defending digital rights in urban context through city action, to resolve common digital challenges and work towards legal, ethical and operational frameworks to advance human rights in digital environments.

With increasing reliance on the internet comes the need to protect and respect basic human rights for all in the digital realm. Globally, six out of ten people are not connected to the internet, and violation of human rights including shutdowns, targeting of activists and journalists for their online activities, collection of personal data without consent, and digital surveillance persist. The Cities Coalition for Digital Rights bring together cities committed to harnessing technology to improve the lives of people and support communities in cities by providing trustworthy and secure digital services and infrastructure.

Local governments, working with non-governmental and civil society organizations and the private sector, have an important role to play in development of proactive and holistic policies to ensure that technology is used to increase both freedom and security, and that the benefits of digital technology are experienced by all.

The Coalition

United in spirit and ambition, the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights represents cities from around the world and we are building the coalition in a pragmatic and principled way. The Coalition has been conceived as an ongoing world-wide initiative to promote and defend digital rights of citizens, residents and visitors in cities and urban environments to ensure fair, inclusive, accessible and affordable non-discriminatory digital environments. The Coalition Principles are inspired by the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition based at the UN Internet Governance Forum and in this endeavour the Coalition Cities have been joined by United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and Eurocities, that latter being aligned in the aim of furthering digital rights of citizens among its 190 members in 39 countries.

Why Cities?

Cities are frequently the closest democratic institutions to communities and are dealing with growing consequences when it comes to digital rights violations. This makes city-leadership a suitable actor to promote and defend digital rights, as we all lead public opinion advocating of residents and visitors’ concerns. Cities can be agile testbeds for new policies and rules and can actively promote digital rights through legislating and managing public space and using their purchasing power to this end.

To make this happen, the coalition members unite in collective action and local implementation by applying expert-knowledge in practical city context to tackle challenges collaboratively; gathering local use-cases and experience to influence international policy; developing policy and technology toolkits; and forming working groups focused on digital rights topics relevant for City-members.

Current topics include, among others, Artificial Intelligence in public systems, data sharing projects, and digital inclusion.

Objectives and expected outcomes

So, our Coalition aims to rally up cities around the world to sign the declaration with the following objectives:

  • Improved policies, laws, plans and strategies for better open and ethical digital service standards at the city and global level.
  • Improved access to affordable and accessible internet and digital services on equal terms, as well as the digital skills to make use of this access and overcome the digital divide.
  • Improved privacy and control over personal information through data protection in both physical and virtual places.
  • Increased understanding of the technological, algorithmic and artificial intelligence systems that impact their lives, and the ability to question and change unfair, biased or discriminatory systems.
  • Improved representation on the internet, and collectively engage with the city through open, participatory and transparent opportunities to shape the technologies designed for them, including managing our digital infrastructures and data as a common good.

The Coalition has the following expected outcomes of its activities:

  • To eliminate barriers to harnessing technological opportunities that improve the lives of city inhabitants;
  • To provide secure digital services and infrastructures that support communities; and
  • To increase respect for human rights in a digital environment, particularly in City services by incorporating human rights principles such as privacy, security, freedom of expression, and democracy by design into locally controlled digital platforms, infrastructures and services.
  • To jointly advocate for digital rights and the provision of digital services and infrastructures that support communities.

For more information about our partners, please visit their dedicated pages linked below.

Join us!

The Coalition Cities are interested in inviting all third parties interested in promoting and defending digital rights to collaborate with the Coalition.

Latest Coalition Activities

  • Libraries and Cites should join forces to uphold digital rights locally

    Read more >
  • Defining digital rights

    Read more >
  • Presentation of the Global Observatory on Urban AI

    Read more >
Cities who would like to sign and learn more about the coalition, please review the checklist of digital rights actions and apply to formally indicate your interest in joining.
For more information, contact us at:
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