December 11, 2018

Human/People centric digital space

Recently the idea/trope of a Human/People centric digital space has been put forward by different civil scoiety / digital rights organisations. OSEPI and BEUC are working on a Human-centric digital Manifesto for Europe and a group of more than 100 NGOs have written a joint call to G20 Leaders on the occascion of the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires that is titled Let us bring people to the centre of the digital future. Contrary to what we are working on both of these documents are assume mareket mechanisms as the basis for the digital space:

(proposal for a) Human-centric digital Manifesto for Europe

This manifesto is worked on by BEUC and OSEPI and is explicityly desigend to influence the policy priorities of the next European Commission. It has not been published yet. It contains the following 4 principles:

  • Fundamental rights: The EU has set a global gold standard in data privacy. The nextmajor challenge concerns the governance of free expression online, becauseoutsourcing speech governance to US tech companies may not result in outcomes that match European interests and values. Can Europe take a leadership role –similarly to the one it has taken on privacy –to define the role of the different platforms in freedom of expression?
  • Democracy: The digital transformation is changing democracy in ways governments were slow to recognise, particularly when it comes to the manipulation of information. What role can the EU play in protectingthe democratic infrastructure, for exampleinaddressing micro-targeting around elections and bringingits external election observation missions up the challenges posed by new technologies?
  • Non-discrimination: Strongstandards of accountability for algorithms and machine learningare needed to keep open societies, for instanceto ensurethat artificial intelligence doesnot reinforce biases based on pre-existing disparities, heightening the risks of profiling and discrimination for minorities and vulnerable groups, and that new surveillance tools, data mining techniques and computerised decision-making are used in a responsible and equitable way. What role should the EU play in promoting algorithmic accountability?
  • Competition-driven innovation: Only a truly competitive digital market wouldbothallow innovationto flourishand prevent misuse of personal data.Given thatthe tech giants are largely American and Chinese, the EU hasa unique interest inreacting faster to monopolistic abuses and preventingnew forms of concentration of power deriving from the network effect around data. How can the EU promote competition in the digital market and address issues around taxation with more urgency?

Joint Call to G20 Leaders: Let us bring people to the centre of the digital future

This joint call has been published on the occassion of the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires in November 2018 and is supported by more than 100 civil scoiety organisations. The signatories call on teh G20 leaders "to work collaboratively with leaders from all stakeholder groups to adopt commitments that live up to not just the promise, but also their responsibility to ensure the evolving digital society supports a healthy web ecosystem and puts people first, including:"

  • Meaningful access: We urge G20 members to invest significantly in expanding affordable Internet access for everyone -including through community networks- to boost economies and digital literacy programmes, thus empowering all individuals to reap the benefits of the digital age.
  • Privacy and data protection rights: We urge the G20 members to adopt, apply and enforce a comprehensive approach to privacy that protects all users’ privacy and personal data, whether citizens or not. People must be given more control and agency over their data.
  • Freedom of expression: We urge G20 members to promote freedom of expression online by adopting positions and policies that are consistent with maintaining an open internet for everyone.
  • Cybersecurity: We urge the G20 members to develop cybersecurity approaches in close collaboration with all stakeholders that protect human rights and values, and preserve the Internet as a global public resource. Promoting strong encryption is essential to both these aims.
  • Increased competition: We urge G20 members to ensure that competition in the digital economy is sustainable, that the market encourages new entrants and the interoperability of new services, and that consumers are protected from unfair practices.

A Digital Manifesto for a human-centric digitalisation

update: there is also a Digital Manifesto for a human-centric digitalisation that is proposed by Telefonica as an answer to what they are percieving as a need for a Digital New Deal:

All of these challenges are those that we believe must be addressed through the formulation of a New Digital Deal. The concept may sound somewhat ambitious. Others prefer to use a term that is no less ambitious: a new social contract. However, we know from historical experience that every time that a technological revolution occurs, the foundations of common coexistence are questioned. And that everything is transformed. The rights and obligations that we agree to in order to live in society, are not immune to changes. In order to guarantee the trust in democratic societies, we have the responsibility to face the impact of technology on them. And our company does not want to look away.

This will require a renewal of social, economic and democratic institutions, as well as a closer and more open collaboration between the public and private sectors.

With their proposal Telefonica aims "to prompt reflection and renegotiate, redefine and reaffirm common values for our digital future" based on the follwing four principles:

  • First, a Digital Bill of Rights that protects our values and guarantees the fundamental rights in an age which over regulates analogue rights and ignores digital rights. This “Digital Bill of Rights” is a very relevant issue. Its public debate should serve to address the problems related to the right to education, information, privacy, and data protection, neutrality and digital identity and ultimately constitutional freedoms in the age of digitalisation.
  • Second, an inclusive model of society. We don't want to accept a society defined by the drowned and saved in this ocean of digital transformations. Nobody must be left behind. Therefore, we need a greater commitment between the public and private regarding how to improve connectivity, the base of digitalisation, and on how to improve the digital skills of people, the base of the best use of the Internet. An inclusive model must also lead us to rethink and innovate the social policies that cushion the transition periods for workers displaced by automation and other technologies. For them, we believe that States must rethink tax architectures in order to guarantee a fair and equitable tax treatment in the field of digital services. A level playing field in the fiscal framework that guarantees the sustainability of states at the service of a better society.
  • Third, transparency and choice. In a data driven society, we must guarantee the generation of trust so that we feel comfortable with the use that is made of it. To be able to enjoy all the value that it generates. And this implies agreeing on new ethics regarding the use of data that helps users to decide how and when their data is used in a private and secure environment. Empowering people is a priority for Telefónica. And this implies giving them back the control of their digital lives.
  • Fourth, States and companies must assume their responsibility and be held accountable for their actions in digital space. This means that the authorities and regulators, as guarantors of the existing values, standards and rule of law, must guarantee a safe Internet. At the same time, they must protect their fundamental rights.