Democracy and Digital Technology

Article by Ted Piccone in the International Journal on Human Rights: “Democratic governments are facing unique challenges in maximising the upside of digital technology while minimizing its threats to their more open societies. Protecting fair elections, fundamental rights online, and multi-stakeholder approaches to internet governance are three interrelated priorities central to defending strong democracies in an era of rising insecurity, increasing restrictions, and geopolitical competition.

The growing challenges democracies face in managing the complex dimensions of digital technology have become a defining domestic and foreign policy issue with direct implications for human rights and the democratic health of nations. The progressive digitisation of nearly all facets of society and the inherent trans-border nature of the internet raise a host of difficult problems when public and private information online is subject to manipulation, hacking, and theft.

This article addresses digital technology as it relates to three distinct but interrelated subtopics: free and fair elections, human rights, and internet governance. In all three areas, governments and the private sector are struggling to keep up with the positive and negative aspects of the rapid diffusion of digital technology. To address these challenges, democratic governments and legislators, in partnership with civil society and media and technology companies, should urgently lead the way toward devising and implementing rules and best practices for protecting free and fair electoral processes from external manipulation, defending human rights online, and protecting internet governance from restrictive, lowest common denominator approaches. The article concludes by setting out what some of these rules and best practices should be…(More)”.