14 Aug 2023 WACC partner forum outlines agenda for just digital future
WACC project partners from 17 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East have outlined a vision for a process of digital transformation rooted in justice and focused on the common good as the international community moves towards the 20-year review of the World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS +20) in 2025.
Participants representing 22 WACC partner organizations and members of local civil society organizations created a global digital justice agenda during a learning, exchange, and networking consultation on communication rights on 1–3 August in Nairobi, Kenya. Co-organizer was WACC Africa.
“Digital justice is the redress of harms to individuals and groups resulting from human rights violations on and through the Internet,” participants state in “A Digital Rights and Digital Justice Advocacy and Action Agenda,” a visionary statement from the consultation.
In the Agenda, the participants articulate a catalogue of essential digital communication rights — including the right to be forgotten, to freedom of expression online, and not to be subjected to fake news, disinformation, and misinformation — while stressing that ongoing developments mean that the listing is not exhaustive.
“This Agenda identifies priority justice issues in digital communication and the technology ecosystem and offers an opportunity to channel our efforts as communication rights advocates towards WSIS +20,” notes Sarah Macharia, WACC Gender and Communication program manager.
“It can be further developed by the broader WACC network to secure and protect human rights of everyone — and especially those of marginalized and vulnerable people — on digital platforms,” she adds.
A just, rights-based digital transformation
The Agenda calls for WSIS +20 to commit to a digital transformation that ensures inclusion, awareness of digital rights, equality and gender sensitivity, respect for diversity, informed consent, and an adaptable digital sphere that responds to community needs.
In a just digital transformation, “[t]he internet is recognized as a public good, and essential for the enjoyment of human rights,” the participants underline. “All people should be able to safely, securely, and reliably access digital public goods.”
The WSIS +20 process should be a collaborative space, the Agenda urges, with a range of stakeholders having a voice — from State policymakers, academia, and Big Tech to civil society organizations and the public at large, particularly members of marginalized communities and underrepresented groups.
Vision for a just digital future
In the Agenda, the Nairobi consultation sets the bar high, aspiring to a “safe and secure, equitable, free, unbiased, accessible, transparent, and inclusive” digital future, free from exploitation, oppression, or discrimination — including misogyny and gender-based violence.
This digital world would invest in tech development from a broad range of cultures and backgrounds and prioritize communication for all, the participants say.
“We want a digital future … that is focused on the common good rather than on profit, one that is localized, [and] respects and complements the values of communities.”
Through grants, learning and networking fora, and participation in global events, WACC’s Communication for All Program (CAP) supports grassroots organizations as they promote communication rights and sustainable development. It is funded by Bread for the World-Germany.