Digital Rights for All
The Digital Freedom Fund launched an initiative to support the work of racial, social and economic justice organisations in the digital context. This initiative emerged from conversations held as part of the decolonising process begun in 2020. From October 2021, DFF designed and organised a series of seven thematic workshops around two distinct streams: Building Digital Solidarity and Fighting Back. Since December 2022, we are focusing this year on organising strategic workshops on specific thematics during which organisers, litigators, researchers and campaigners are brought together to connect and imagine mid-term strategies to fight back against oppressive dynamics involving tech, inside and outside the court.
The negative impacts of technology disproportionately affect marginalised groups in Europe. The use of biometric technologies in policing, the digitisation of our contacts with public administrations and of tools used to search for housing or employment, the booming gig economy and the increasing use of technological tools in our work environment are part of our daily lives.
In many cases, these new technologies reinforce existing discrimination and exclusion, including towards LGBTQI+, racialised, migrant, disabled and/or poor communities. Unless these issues are tackled head on, existing structural oppressions risk being further exacerbated and institutionalised through the widespread use of these technologies.
In order to address the root causes of these issues and achieve long-lasting change, the agenda for tackling them must be set by the groups most affected by them. As it stands, however, the digital rights field does not fully represent the lived experiences of people affected by structural forms of oppression. Meanwhile, while many racial, social and economic justice organisations have begun to address digital issues, some require additional support and expertise to expand their work into the digital context.
To help bridge this gap, DFF has led a new initiative to support the development of a digital rights agenda led by racial, social and economic justice organisations. It aims to promote meaningful, racial, social and economic justice initiatives to challenge discriminatory design, development, and use of technologies, through policy, advocacy, and strategic litigation efforts.
What steps are we taking?
The project began by consulting with racial, social and economic justice organisations to identify their current priorities and understand what support they might want in order to expand their work into the digital space. A needs assessment was conducted in the spring of 2021 to identify needs and thematic priorities amongst racial, social, and economic justice organisations across Europe. Respondents indicated a need for more knowledge, expertise, and capacity on surveillance and digital policing (including biometrics and facial recognition) artificial intelligence and online violent speech indicated as top priorities, followed by data privacy and tracking, immigration and migrant surveillance, public services and welfare. Drawing on this consultation, based on this needs assessment, DFF designed and organised a series of seven thematic workshops.
The workshops from the Fighting Back stream aimed to strengthen knowledge on digital issues outlined as priorities in the survey, as well as exploring tools to resist these different digital forms of injustice. The workshops from the Building Digital Solidarity aimed to foster cooperation and collaboration around digital rights issues by working on common tools, including shared language, shared practices of digital safety, and the development of strategic litigation and advocacy tools centred on their added value for the community.
Following the first Digital Rights for All workshop called Talking Digital , the Talking Digital Toolkit, was designed with the aim to compile definitions of tech jargon that can easily be found and highlighted through a social justice lens. DFF is currently working on a second toolkit, Resisting Digital Policing, which is a follow-up to the needs expressed at the end of the workshop, Fighting back Digital Policing. Inspired by the many examples of organising against police violence across Europe , the Toolkit will offer an overview of the current state of affairs and strategies to resist and move towards real safety for all.
Following the first round of workshops, since December 2022, we are focusing this year on organising strategic workshops on specific thematics during which organisers, litigators, researchers and campaigners are brought together to connect and imagine mid-term strategies to fight back against oppressive dynamics involving tech, inside and outside the court. Each strategic workshop will be organised in partnership with a racial, social and/or economic justice organisation, in most cases, an organisation that participated in the first round of workshops.
How can I contribute and get involved?
This project will be driven by the needs and priorities of activists and organisations working towards racial, economic and social justice. As such, we particularly invite suggestions and ideas from those working on these topics. If you’d be interested in contributing or engaging with the project, or would simply like to know more, please let us know – we’d be delighted to speak at a time that suits you.
You can reach us at email@example.com.
This lexicon was first drafted as material for the first Digital Rights for All workshop called Talking Digital. This lexicon aims to be one document where definitions of often used tech vocabulary can easily be found and highlighted through their social justice lens. Therefore, the lexicon offers multiple interpretations for these definitions. It is meant to propose different approaches to the notions and invite you (the reader) to use the one best suited to your unique context.
You can download the Talking Digital Lexicon here.
Graphic Design by Claire Zaniolo and Estelle Pom
Digital Rights for All programme
Graphic Design by Claire Zaniolo
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