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.
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.
The Coalition's 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. We stand by:
1. Universal and equal access to the internet, and digital literacy. Everyone should have 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.
2. Privacy, data protection and security. Everyone should have privacy and control over their personal information through data protection in both physical and virtual places, to ensure digital confidentiality, security, dignity and anonymity, and sovereignty over their data, including the right to know what happens to their data, who uses it and for what purposes.
3. Transparency, accountability, and non-discrimination of data, content and algorithms. Everyone should have access to understandable and accurate information about the technological, algorithmic and artificial intelligence systems that impact their lives, and the ability to question and change unfair, biased or discriminatory systems.
4. Participatory Democracy, diversity and inclusion. Everyone should have full representation on the internet, and the ability collectively to engage with the city through open, participatory and transparent digital processes. Everyone should have the opportunities to participate in shaping local digital infrastructures and services and, more generally, city policy-making for the common good.
5. Open and ethical digital service standards. Everyone should be able to use the technologies of their choice, and expect the same level of interoperability, inclusion and opportunity in their digital services. Cities should define their own technological infrastructures, services and agenda, through open and ethical digital service standards and data to ensure that they live up to this promise.
The Coalition aims to rally up cities around the world to sign the declaration with the following objectives:
The Coalition has the following expected outcomes of its activities:
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