Decolonising Digital Rights
The Digital Freedom Fund and its partner European Digital Rights (EDRi) are in the initial phases of a new initiative to begin a decolonising process for the digital rights field.
The initiative emerged from conversations held at DFF strategy meetings, which brought into focus the need to reflect on the way in which uneven power dynamics, exclusion, and privilege play out in our field, including how these shape the way in which digital rights are conceived and how they are protected.
What do we mean by a 'decolonising' process?
The growing use and deployment of digital technologies has the potential to affect almost every aspect of our lives, as they become involved in everything from hiring processes to the operation of the “welfare state” and the criminal justice system.
The digital rights field exists to promote and protect rights and freedoms in the digital sphere. In order to do so, it is crucial that the field reflects the society it works to safeguard. Here, the field must do better and ensure there are no blind spots in our work so that the digital rights of marginalised groups are upheld. This is especially important given the growing evidence that the use of digital technologies has the potential not only to reproduce but also to amplify existing forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia.
By a decolonising process, we mean a process which acknowledges that these forms of oppression have their roots in a history of domination and colonisation and are maintained by structural forces. Our goal is to initiate a process that challenges the structural causes of oppression in order to work towards a digital rights field in which all groups in society have their voices heard and which works to protect the digital rights of all.
What steps are we taking?
Our next step is to open up a conversation with a broader range of partners. We have begun speaking with individuals and organisations that work on issues of discrimination, equity, and social justice in order to gain a better understanding of how digital technologies affect their work, as well as to gain their input on what a decolonising process for the digital rights field should look like, who should be involved, and to imagine what such a process could potentially achieve.
How can I contribute and get involved?
As we begin this work, our focus is on listening and learning to better understand the current situation in the field and to hear the perspectives of a broad range of people as to where they see room for improvement. These conversations will be crucial to inform the next steps in the process.
If you are interested in contributing or would simply like to know more, please let us know – we’d be delighted to speak to you. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This post was co-authored by Nani Jansen Reventlow and Claire Fernandez. How do we create change? Numerous books, essays and TED talks have been dedicated
This speech was given by DFF director, Nani Jansen Reventlow, on 9 October as the keynote for the 2020 Anthropology + Technology Conference. The power
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