The proposal for a Global Digital Compact arose from the calls to improve digital cooperation on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. It is “expected to outline shared principles for an open, free, and secure digital future for all”, covering issues of digital connectivity, data sovereignty, and responsible digital governance. As part of the inter-governmental process, consultations with member states and stakeholders are being held from January 2023 – June 2023. IT for Change has regularly participated in the consultation sessions, highlighting necessary interventions to ensure that the Global Digital Compact does not fall into the trap of techno-solutionism.
Taking part in one of the consultations on 3 February 2023, our advocacy associate, Viraj Desai, sketched out three foundational concerns to put the brakes on data extractivism, and confront the nexus of speculative finance and Big Tech. The first: stopping corporate impunity which exploits human and natural environments, and has led to the destruction of local economies, and the normalization of violence in the public sphere among others. The second concern laid out involved creating a new rights-based regime that prioritized self-determination by protecting individual autonomy and preserving community rights. Additionally, they also emphasized the need to rebuild taxation and IP regimes, respecting the goal for an equitable digital economy. Finally, they warned against a stakeholderist governance that impedes states’ abilities to pursue public policy objectives for a just digital economy.
Read their full input here.
On 27 March 2023, Viraj Desai represented us during another consult for the Global Digital Compact. The deep dives aimed to share knowledge and views, as well as allow for contributions on a wide range of digital issues. They gave a speech on the deep dive topic of ‘Digital Inclusion and connectivity’ and provided inputs on what actions should be taken to enable digital inclusion for all, on behalf of IT for Change. The full text of their speech can be found here.
On 8 May 2023, taking part in their third consultation session, Viraj Desai shared a few comments on human rights in the digital sphere. The digital paradigm not only reflects, but also amplifies intersectional exclusion and discrimination based on social locations, such as class, race, gender, and caste. Women and marginalized groups in particular face threats to their human rights in the digital public sphere due to the spread of hate speech through algorithms. To tackle this issue, Viraj underscored the need for new types of rights that encompass datafied existence, and listed out a few actions that can be taken at the multilateral level to realize an updated vision of human rights online. Read their full input here.