Why do digital rights matter?

This isn’t just a question for our members, so I asked the staff in our office what motivates them and their campaigning for digital rights:

“I love the Internet. I grew up on it, and like many of us watched it evolve from the whirring sounds of dial-up on a massive computer, to reading the news on my smart phone. I love it because it opened my eyes. Without the teen forum on world issues I wouldn’t have learnt about feminism and campaigning, and without the call to listen on Twitter I wouldn’t have been able to see the police violence in Ferguson or the protests in Gezi Park as they happened. That’s why I think it is vital that we all campaign against online censorship and surveillance. The Internet should be a place where the marginalized are able to have a powerful voice, amplified across the world, not suppressed and silenced by governments and companies through secretive web blocking and surveillance.”
-Ruth Coustick-Deal, Supporter Officer

“Digital rights are human rights. I’ve always been passionate about promoting human rights, across a range of issues including migrants’ rights and women’s rights. The Snowden revelations made me realise that surveillance is currently the greatest threat to human rights in the UK. As our use of digital technology increases, so does the importance of ensuring our rights to privacy and freedom of expression are protected. I believe in fighting to enforce our fundamental human rights in the face of mass surveillance by government agencies. I also believe in fighting for protection of our personal data in the face of companies’ thirst for data. For me, fighting for digital rights means claiming what is ours.”
-Elizabeth Knight, Legal Director

 “We used to talk about two separate worlds: the real and the virtual. Their convergence has opened a new front in the fight for human rights – a front no less important to us now than our historical struggles for equality, privacy, freedom and security. Why do I believe #DigitalRightsMatter? Because the internet is real life.”
-Richard King, Project manager

“When I was at university, I barely used a computer until one day I did a course called ‘The Information Superhighway for Arts Students’. I don’t think the phrase digital rights existed back then and I certainly never imagined that I would one day work for a digital rights organisation. But you don’t need to be a digital native or even tech savvy to think that digital rights matter. You just need to care about human rights and want to live in a world where your rights to privacy and free speech are protected. #DigitalRightsMatter because they are for everyone”
-Pam Cowburn, Communications Director

“Our lives are increasingly mediated by digital technologies with far reaching consequences. These technologies can be a force for good, but the story is still in the making, with nobody certain of how it will end.

The original grand visions where the internet would bring universal access to knowledge have been challenged by established cultural industries and their political lackeys. But these industries are also supported by well-meaning politicians concerned about jobs, as whole economic sectors become de-localised.

New technologies break down the barriers that have kept humanity within national borders for hundreds of years, but are also used by sectarians, criminals and bigots to reach a global audience.

With our new freedoms we should learn our new responsibilities However, governments of all hues are building paternalistic and socially divisive mass surveillance systems. They hope to get away with it because they can mirror the data monopolies of big internet businesses, built on the promise of convenience.

The fascination with technology can takes us to a black and white world that either mindlessly celebrates disruption or wishes the clock could be turned back. In my work at ORG I try to promote the best that the digital world can offer us, while trying to navigate the grey areas.”
-Javier Ruiz, Policy Director

“In 2010, I skipped an afternoon of sixth form to join ORG’s Digital Economy Bill protest outside parliament. My understanding then was quite a black and white ‘the internet is good, taking it away is bad’ approach. What I think now is still pretty similar – although a bit more nuanced! Digital Rights are important because open and free access to the internet is lifeline for people in need. My teenage years would have been much more difficult without access to websites where I could read about anything and everything. The internet is a lifeline that we need to protect.”
-Lydia Snodin, Local Groups Coordinator

Tell us why you believe in digital rights! Join the conversation:

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