The transition from Industrial to Information Society creates advanced information and communication technologies, that all stem from a military background. These tools can be easily abused in the hands of governments or corporations and used against the interest of the general public in a highly dangerous way. A new power structure arises, which has the potential to substantially dominate those lacking skills and access to communication tools.
The new power structure calls for the extension and adoption of the universal human rights to the needs of the Information Society. Electronic networks like the Internet are a unique communication medium, allowing individuals to express their ideas, opinions, literary, artistic or scientific work online. At the same time, they allow individuals access to ideas and information, to which they otherwise may not have access.
The realization of the digital human rights shall grant that every human being may participate in this medium and use its potential freely and unrestrictedly.
Digital human rights are based upon the understanding of communication as motor of civilization and foundation of individuality as well as communities. The very basic digital human rights are the right to access to the electronic domain, the right to freedom of expression and association online, and the right to privacy.
On a global scale, the right to access is the most crucial one: the majority of the world’s people lack even the minimal technological resources. Unless resources are shared and re-allocated, new communication technologies tend to further widen the gap between the (information-)rich and the (information-)poor. The digital divide between those with access to the new electronic communication channels and those without is in violation of the most fundamental digital human right.
Everyone has the right to education and skills in new technologies of the infosphere and the right to a basic level of information via public institutions and service providers.
Online free expression shall not be restricted by direct or indirect means, such as censorship, restrictive governmental or private control over computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or other essential components of the electronic networks.
The right to privacy, anonymity and security includes the protection from arbitrary surveillance of either content or association online as well as the right the choose privacy technology such as cryptography to protect their communication. Efforts that lead to the development of communications infrastructure designed for surveillance violate this right. Establishing individualized user profiles, tracking data traces or intercepting online communication for surveillance or marketing purposes despise the value of activity online as an important private good.