A group of three cities including New York made an announced this week regarding the formation of a new collaborative movement to defend their residents’ digital rights, such as internet access, privacy, and data transparency. In a news release, a New York City official noted that the Cities alliance for Digital Rights, as the new partnership is formally called as marks the first international agreement between cities to strengthen policies to protect their citizens’ internet privacy.
The alliance was introduced at the Smart Cities Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Spain that is one of the other two signatories, along with Amsterdam. In a statement, New York’s interim CTO, Alby Bocanegra said that as technology continues to be an integral part of everyone’s in today’s world, the group in cities will see it as their duty to defend all people from the threats to human rights that come with an active, digital life. In their two-page announcement, the alliance group stated that it aimed to deploy certain human rights standards, as established by the United Nations to the digital space. Through the document officials from the alliance said that the internet has become inseparable from everyone’s daily lives. As cities, the closest democratic institutions to the people, the group is committed to defeating impediments to harnessing technological opportunities that enhance the lives of their constituents, and to provide reliable and secure digital services and infrastructures which support communities. The alliance strongly supposes that human rights principles, such as freedom of expression, privacy, and democracy must be incorporated by design into digital platforms starting with locally-controlled digital infrastructures and services.
Officials from the three alliance cities plan to share best practices and coordinate on initiatives with following the five established principles includes universal internet access and digital literacy; transparency and non-discrimination of data, content and algorithms; privacy and data protection; participatory democracy; and ethical digital standards that make city services accessible to all citizens regardless of their technological adoption.