Global Coalition To Protect Digital Rights Launched In Barcelona

Lea Hemetsberger

Nov 16, 2018


Netherlands | Press Release | Spain

Share this post

The Cities Coalition for Digital Rights builds upon five shared principles to create policies, tools and resources to promote and protect resident and visitor rights online.

Amsterdam, Barcelona and New York City formally launched the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, a joint initiative to promote and track progress in protecting residents’ and visitors’ digital rights. The Coalition will create policies, tools and resources to help advance this effort in alignment with the Charter for Human Rights and Principles for the Internet, established within the framework of the UN’s Internet Governance Forum around five core shared principles. The Coalition marks the first time that cities have come together to protect digital rights on a global level.

The shared principles will set the agenda for further policy discussions in coordination with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other participating cities over the next year:

  1. Universal and equal access to the Internet, and digital literacy
  2. Privacy, data protection and security
  3. Transparency, accountability, and non-discrimination of data, content and algorithm
  4. Participatory democracy, diversity and inclusion
  5. Open and ethical digital service standards

For full details, visit

Digital rights refer to the human rights that individuals and communities are entitled to when accessing and using the internet and digital technologies. The Cities Coalition for Digital Rights is based on the principle that the same human rights that people have offline must also be enjoyed and protected in the digital society. We are entering a world where digital technologies are becoming pervasive and imply greater risks for these rights in the real and virtual spaces where we live, and in our interactions with institutions and public administration.

The internet has become inseparable from our daily lives. Yet, every day, there are new cases of digital rights abuse and misuse, and personal information, including our movements and communications, being monitored, shared and sold without consent; ‘black box’ algorithms making unaccountable decisions; social media being used as a tool of harassment and hate speech; and democratic processes and public opinion being undermined.

Cities can work together to solve common digital challenges. As a coalition, the cities commit to share practical examples of their work, learn from each other, and create and share action programs.

The Coalition is supported by UN-Habitat, EUROCITIES, and Open & Agile Smart Cities:

“Technology reflects values and decisions and is therefore never neutral,” said Martin Brynskov, Chair of Open & Agile Smart Cities. “As cities we have an responsibility towards our future generations to reflect on the direction we are heading and what implications our choices have. Ethical considerations should be at the heart of the design process of a digital society. As Open & Agile Smart Cities we support models where governments, private sector, academia, and residents cooperate to shape cities in which people have control over technologies. We welcome this initiative and will further engage with the cities in our network to endorse the statement. We look forward to appending the exciting work of Amsterdam, Barcelona, and New York within our efforts on Digital Rights and Skills.”

For more information about the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights download the full press release.