Since 2021, the City of Brussels joined the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights to further develop its commitments to making Brussels a Smart City for all. Indeed, the City strategy aims at ensuring access to digital services for all citizens, allowing them to participate in decision-making for their city, and opening access to more and more data. All these actions must be implemented in a secure and highly ethical way, in order to protect our citizens’ interests and rights.
In 2022-2023, the City was selected by the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights to develop on of the four pilot projects of the Digital Rights Governance Framework. At the same time, an internal study was carried out to understand digital inclusion on its territory. Resulting from these two projects, the City of Brussels launched, in October 2023, a human rights in the digital sphere charter, which includes both the commitments that the City wishes to make on this matter and a list of actions to reflect these commitments. Existing initiatives are included to highlight what is already being done at City level, and to make people aware of existing solutions that are sometimes little-known. It also sets out new actions to be implemented in order to achieve concrete targets in this area by 2030.
The City aims to promote a human-centred vision of technology, in which digital tools and innovation can help build a more cohesive, dynamic and inclusive society. The City wishes to protect and promote digital human rights and reduce the digital divide, which can be defined as: “The gap between those who have access to and use Information and Communications Technology (ICT), including internet connectivity, internet-enabled devices and digital culture skills, and those who do not have access or know how to use them". (Source: UN-Habitat).
There are various factors that can lead to digital exclusion. Everyone may be confronted with it at some point in their lives. Inequalities when it comes to digital technology are factors that exacerbate the difficulty of accessing certain rights (bonuses, training, subsidies, complaints, etc.).
Discover the charter in its entirety here or find a summary of the charter consisting in a non-exhaustive list of some of the commitments and actions taken here