digital rights [English]

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ Fundamental entitlements inherent to all individuals in the digital era, including access to online services, transparency and openness in government, control over personal information, and how technology is used to monitor individuals' activities.

General Notes

The concept of digital rights is evolving; no generally accepted definition of those rights exists. European Digital Rights (EDRi), a network of 36 civil and human rights organizations from 21 European countries, has published a draft charter of digital rights that addresses transparency, access to documents, and citizen participation; data protection and privacy; unrestricted access to the internet and online services; updated copyright legislations; unchecked surveillance measures; anonymity and encryptions; privatized law enforcement; surveillance and censorship technology; multistakeholderism, open-source software; and democracy and the rule of law (EDRi, 2014).


  • Croll 2015 (†649 ): We’re also at a turning point in human history because we’re digitizing everything. That means copies are free and analysis is effortless. . . . This will become a flashpoint for digital rights. Others track you; at the very least, you should have access to that data. It’s your life, after all, and as regulation becomes increasingly data-driven we need a sort of data habeas corpus (more specifically, a confrontation clause): I have the right to see the data collected about me by others. In fact, we’ll have to update that right, too: I need the right to see the data my accusers present against me, using the tools of my accuser. ¶ Ultimately, this is a profound social challenge, and one that I believe will become the moral issue of the next decade: nobody should know more about you than you do. Others might understand the data better – your banker understands your finances; your doctor understands your health. But you should be able to look at it because the tools that analyze and visualize it are improving rapidly and becoming agent-based. (†1464)
  • DW Akademie 2016 (†874 ): Digital technologies affect how billions of us live, learn, work and communicate. But we pay a high price for the advantages of living in a connected world. As governments monitor private communications and private companies collect and sell our digital data, our fundamental human right to privacy is being eroded. And with the right to privacy underpinning key rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of association, other human rights are also under threat. Dissatisfied with protections for digital rights in Europe, a group of German experts spent 14 months drafting a "Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights of the European Union". (†2619)
  • Hutt 2015 (†873 ): Digital rights are basically human rights in the internet era. The rights to online privacy and freedom of expression, for example, are really extensions of the equal and inalienable rights laid out in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to the UN, disconnecting people from the internet violates these rights and goes against international law. British Prime Minister David Cameron recently pledged to give all UK homes and businesses access to fast broadband by 2020, adding that access to the internet “shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a right”. (†2618)