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.
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's Principles (see Declaration below) 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.
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.
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