The Cities Coalition for Digital Rights is calling on cities around the world to commit to harnessing technology to provide trustworthy and secure digital services and infrastructure.
A global campaign to advance digital rights is targeting 100 cities in 100 days to join its coalition to help to create policies, tools and resources to promote and protect resident and visitor rights online.
The Cities Coalition for Digital Rights was formed by the cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona and New York in November 2018 with the support of UN-Habitat. It is also partnering with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, United Cities and Local Governments and the Eurocities network to build capacity, extend its reach, and coordinate support.
Since forming, an additional 22 cities have joined the coalition, marking the first time that cities have come together to protect and promote digital rights on a global level. The new cities are Athens, Bratislava, Cary, Chicago, Grenoble, Helsinki, Kansas City, London, Los Angeles, Lyon, Milan, Moscow, Philadelphia, Portland, San Jose, Tirana, Torino, Vienna and Zaragoza.
The coalition is commited to the following five principles:
With increasing reliance on the internet comes the need to protect and respect basic human rights for all in the digital realm. The coalition reports that, globally, six out of 10 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.
“A paradigm shift in the protection and promotion of digital rights world is needed”
“We are just scratching the surface of understanding digital rights abuses in the modern world such as the monitoring and misuse of personal information that private companies are sharing and selling without our consent,” said Alby Bocanegra, interim chief technology officer, City of New York.
“I’m proud that New York, Amsterdam and Barcelona are demonstrating leadership in protecting human rights in the virtual world and that cities around the world are joining us. Together, we can protect the fundamental rights of all people to feel protected while harnessing the benefits of technology."
Like urbanisation, the opportunities conferred by the Internet and other digital technologies can drive sustained and inclusive economic growth, social and cultural development, and environmental protection.
Digital rights also offer great potential for promoting and accelerating sustainable development relating to SDGs, and especially SDG 11 geared towards making cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
"We are just scratching the surface of understanding digital rights abuses in the modern world"
In line with the New Urban Agenda, the coalition said it is important that local and national governments make appropriate use of digital platforms and tools to improve participatory processes and provide options for inhabitants to make more environmentally friendly choices, boost sustainable economic growth and enable cities to improve their service delivery, promoting equality for all in the enjoyment of the benefits of the digital era.
Appropriate use entails ensuring accessibility, inclusivity, affordability and sustainability, thereby contributing immensely to sustainable development and peace.
“A paradigm shift in the protection and promotion of digital rights world is needed,” said UN-Habitat executive director, Maimunah Mohd Shariff. National and local governments, non-governmental and civil society organisations, and the private sector all have a role in the development of proactive and holistic policies that ensure that technology is used to increase both freedom and security, and that the benefits of digital technology are experienced by all.
"Local governments have a responsibility in ensuring digital rights trickle down to every inhabitant. It is on this premise that the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights was founded”
Cities can learn more and fill out a form to join the coalition at citiesfordigitalrights.org.
You might also like: