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Human Rights In The Digital Space And Right To Privacy

Digital technologies provide new means to advocate for, defend, and exercise human rights and affect all types of rights.

These technologies shape how people access and share information, form their opinions, debate, and mobilize – they have deeply transformed the “public square”.

But they are equally used to suppress, limit and violate rights, for instance through surveillance, censorship, online harassment, algorithmic bias and automated decision-making systems. The misuse of digital technologies also disproportionately affects marginalized individuals and groups, leading to inequality and discrimination – both online and offline.

As our world unfolds increasingly in the digital space, the need for our rights to be respected both online and offline becomes even greater, something which is particularly true for young people who are among the primary users of digital and online technologies. At the same time, closing the digital divide to ensure internet connectivity for all is a prerequisite for the exercise of human rights online.

Where can I learn more?

Data-intensive technologies, such as artificial intelligence applications, contribute to creating a digital environment in which both States and business enterprises are increasingly able to track, analyze, predict and even manipulate people’s behavior to an unprecedented degree. These technological developments have significant implications for human dignity, autonomy and privacy and the exercise of human rights in general, if applied without effective safeguards.

Artificial intelligence systems can negatively impact the right to privacy, including for example in law enforcement, national security, criminal justice and border management, in public services, in employment contexts as well as in online information management.

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Facing Barriers And Obstacles

Young people often face barriers or obstacles in exercising their human rights because of their age. However, age is one characteristic that can intersect with, add to and multiply discrimination based on other grounds.