Data and Democracy

Digital Rights 24

Open Rights Group shared this guide for political parties to help inform the digital policies in their manifestos for the 2024 General Election.

Digital Rights 24

Read our guide for political parties to protect digital rights.

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The digital rights landscape

  • Data protection rights
    Improving data rights gives people more control and protection over their data.
  • Platform power
    Too much power in the digital world lies with a handful of influential platforms. We want to open up the market and empower web users.
  • Surveillance
    New technologies such as facial recognition and AI-empowered predictive policing erode people’s freedom.
  • Freedom of expression
    Britain has a tradition of free and open speech, but our right to free expression online is being put at risk.

The right to send private messages

  • Surveillance
    Our historic right and ability to have private conversations is under threat from a war on encryption.
  • Privacy is a fundamental right
    Democratic governments should promote end-to-end encryption as a means to preserve our ability to talk privately with other people.
  • Government, business interests
    It is vital for protecting sensitive business communications and keeping sensitive information away from hostile actors.
  • Private communication is essential for freedom
    Freedom requires people to communicate openly without fear of censorship or retaliation.
  • Reduces risk of crime
    Keeps personal data secure and away from the hands of criminals.

Platform power

  • Putting users in control
    The content we create on social media is ours. We should be free to move it between platforms.
  • ActivityPub
    Open, decentralized social networking protocols already exist.
  • Would work similar to email
    With email you can email anyone. Why isn’t social media the same?
  • Market competition
    Users would be free to move between platforms. They wouldn’t be tied into walled gardens.
  • Puts users in control of their content
    Users would not be limited to privacy damaging apps to interact with a platform.

Digital Sanctuary

  • Protecting those most at risk of digital harms
    Digital harms are exacerbating inequalities and discrimination within society.
  • Protecting asylum seekers
    People fleeing oppressive regimes require digital protection as well as physical protection.
  • Special category of data
    Enhanced data protection rights for people at higher risks of digital harms.
  • Training and support
    To help victims of surveillance and stalking minimise their digital footprint.
  • Anonymous voter registration
    Recognising asylum seekers and refugees as vulnerable people who can register to vote anonymously.

The right to appeal takedowns and demonetisation

  • The right to appeal takedowns
    Protecting content creators from unfair moderation decisions that infringe on their free expression and livelihood.
  • Protecting content creators
    Content creators, and business owners livelihoods can be destroy by unfair changes in terms and conditions and moderation decisions.
  • A right to appeal and impartial assessment
    An Ofcom or Ombudsman appeals process to handle complaints that have not been resolved; and a simple route to the courts.
  • Algorithmic demonetisation
    Many content decisions are made by AI. Content creators are often treated unfairly and need simple ways to challenge decisions.

Accountable Artificial Intelligence (AI)

  • Protecting those most at risk of digital harms
    Without the correct regulation, AI systems and algorithmic decision-making risks exacerbating inequalities.
  • The right to human review
    Ensuring everyone has the right for a human review of any AI decision made about their life.
  • Transparency
    People should be able to see how AI systems make decisions about them and the data sources they use.
  • Regulation
    AI systems should be regulated in a way that helps to protect people’s data rights.
  • Exacerbating inequalities
    AI must be stopped from magnifying or perpetuating existing biases within society.

Stronger data rights and a functioning ICO

  • Data protection rights
    Stronger data protection rights for individuals and reform of the ICO are needed to protect individuals and build trust in the digital economy.
  • The ICO isn’t working
    Currently many complaints to the ICO are not resolved. The watchdog rarely takes enforcement action against organisations, other than light touch ‘reprimands’.
  • Protecting individuals
    Stronger individual data rights help to protect vulnerable groups from digital harms.
  • Reduction in cybercrime
    Controls on the proliferation of personal data online to help to reduce fraud and cybercrime.
  • Helps tackle injustice
    Campaign groups fighting scandals and injustice should be able to launch collective complaints to the ICO.

Restricting AI empowered surveillance

  • Surveillance
    New technologies that erode people’s right to a private life, such as facial recognition, are increasingly being deployed.
  • Pre-crime
    Prohibiting the use of AI to try and ‘predict’ individuals’ behaviour and risk of committing crimes.
  • AI in workplaces and schools
    Banning harmful behavioural analysis in schools and workplaces.
  • Facial recognition
    Give people protections against AI empowered live facial recognition systems.
  • Biometrics
    Restrict biometric categorisation systems using sensitive characteristics (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity).

Protecting free speech online

  • Protecting our speech
    Freedom of speech online is under threat from algorithmic censorship, employer overreach and unfair copyright and defamation claims.
  • Employer Protection
    Other than for politically restricted roles employees should be free to express themselves online without workplace punishment.
  • Unfair copyright and defamation claims
    There should be punishments for solicitors and organisations who issue clearly unfounded copyright or defamation claims.
  • Transparent censorship
    Internet Service Providers should always explain why a site is being blocked. Shadow bans should be banned
  • Right to appeal censorship
    Individuals should have a right to appeal wrongful censorship on digital platforms.

Consumer friendly and sustainable technology

  • Platform power
    Market competition is restricted by digital rights management tying people to platforms, and practices that exploit people’s data.
  • Do not track default
    Do not track settings should be the default options for browsers and software with explicit consent required to share.
  • Open source solutions
    Government procurement practices should favour open standards and open source solutions.
  • Right to repair
    People should be free to repair devices and use replacement parts and consumables from different suppliers.
  • Digital rights management
    People should be able to move content they have purchased between platforms. DRM locks ought to be removed when copyright expires.
  • Platform liability
    Marketplaces should share some liability for scam adverts and sellers who flout regulations.
Digital Rights Manifesto

Political hustings

Listen to our panel discuss Digital Rights in the Age of AI

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manifestos analysis

How the policies of the UK political parties will impact digital rights

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