Digital Freedom

The Czech watchdog organization Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) stands behind the program Digital Freedom. The aim of the program is to defend individual freedoms in a not yet fully mapped out territory of the digital world. We do not seek to return to live in the trees or communicate through smoke signals: we just want to make sure that fundamental freedoms, rights and equal treatment are fully respected in the digital world as well.

We are on the lookout for control tools (biometric cameras), data storage (medical registries), and the risks of datification of all kinds: whether it occurs voluntarily through payment cards and mobile applications or intentionally in the form of proposed bills.

At the same time, however, the program seeks to preserve analog alternatives that allow people not to participate in the digital world at all: either because for various reasons they cannot (digital exclusion) or simply because they do not want to.

What is the problem?
We are used to paying by card and ordering services through mobile phone applications. Digital communication with its citizens is increasingly preferred by the state as well. However, the digitization of our lives brings many risks. We are not calling for a return to trees, but we believe it is important to name and address these risks – before it is too late. These include, in particular, digital exclusion, the erosion of privacy, and the appropriate system with the vulnerability of the entire society.

  • Digital exclusion
    It is a general description of the process in which all those who do not use new digital technologies find themselves on the margins of social life: either because they cannot use them (for example, a part of the elderly), because they cannot afford them (low-income groups), because that their parents will not buy them (children), or simply because they do not need them (everyone does not have a deep fryer at home). Digitization may thus overcome distances, but at the same time, it throws the deck over a certain part of society.
  • Erosion of privacy
    After every digital transaction or cashless payment, an eternal digital footprint remains. However, we can never be sure who has or will have access to everything on this track. Privacy is being eroded every day, and it is only a matter of time before someone decides to use – or rather abuse – our personal data. Will it be an insurance company, an employer, or an executor? Or will a private detective, hacker or stalker get to them without quality support in the law?

  • System vulnerability
    A bet on one digital card necessarily brings with it the overall vulnerability of the social system. At the same time, it is not just that in the event of a blackout of the Internet (or the spread of electricity), we would be left with nothing but helplessly watching the collapse. Advancing digitization also makes us more and more dependent on multinational giants. It is often a monopoly tied to a foreign legal order or state: for example, in the USA or China, as the Court of Justice of the EU has repeatedly stated, European data is not sufficiently protected against access by the local government authorities.

What do we suggest?
Due to the risks mentioned above, we advocate as much as possible to preserve the analogue solution in addition to the digital solutions. Digitization is a necessary process that can significantly improve the efficiency of processes in public administration as well as in the private sphere. In addition to the positives, it is necessary to remember the possible negative effects mentioned.

We, therefore, consider it necessary that the right to analogue solutions become part of strategic documents devoted to the digitalization of (not only) the Czech Republic and that these documents are then reflected in specific legislative proposals and practical solutions. We also consider the risks appropriate for the above to be mandatorily evaluated as part of the impact assessment during the preparation of new legislation.

Digital freedoms are the common voice of all who care that freedom will not lose its meaning in the digital space. Articles about our activities in English:

Programme Digital freedoms is realized as part of Digital watchdog II project. Project duration: 1. 10. 2022-31. 3. 2024.

The project is being supported by the Open Society Fund Prague from the Active Citizens Fund. The programme promotes citizens’ active participation in the public life and decision making and builds capacities of civil society organizations. The Active Citizens Fund is financed from the EEA and Norway Grants.