Cities for Digital Rights: Advocacy and engagement opportunities for libraries
15 April 2021
A new IFLA briefing offers an overview of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, and highlights areas where its targets and goals overlap with the work of the library field, creating scope for engagement, collaboration and advocacy for libraries.
Digital rights in 2021
The promise of ICT for innovation and development exists side by side with critical risks and challenges to people’s rights: internet shutdowns, online censorship, mass surveillance, algorithmic bias, and others.
Libraries are grappling with such challenges in their everyday work – such as, for example, third-party vendor privacy issues, or launching initaitives to help fight online misinformation. On the global scale, some of the recent sources that help keep track of digital rights issues and challenges include Mozilla’s latest Internet Health Report and the annual look at internet shutdowns worldwide by Access Now and the KeepItOnCoalition.
Championing digital rights at a city level? Libraries can help!
Cities are among the key actors in the ongoing digital transition. On the one hand, they are facing some of the most critical challenges, for example the pressing privacy issues around facial recognition and mass biometric surveillance. On the other hand, cities are well-positioned to act on digital rights challenges – for example, to collect data on, diagnose and implement initiatives to tackle the digital divides; empower communities to engage with local Open Data initiatives; or make tech procurement choices that protect and promote communities’ rights.
This lies at the heart of the work of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights (CC4DR) – an initiative which facilitates good policies and practices around the use of ICT in city contexts.
Several goals of the Coalition overlap with the work and key values of libraries – from universal internet access and digital skills-building to privacy, ethical digital service standards, or facilitating transparency and access to information on tech systems that impact people’s lives.
Considering the many ties libraries often have with local stakeholders (where they are not already under their responsibility) – for example city halls, local media, schools and universities – there is a lot of scope for further collaboration in these areas of common interest.
A new IFLA briefing explores the shared priorities between the work of libraries and CC4DR. The brief outlines:
- The key goals of the Coalition, and areas where CC4DR is active;
- Overlaps between the driving principles set out in the Declaration of Cities Coalition for Digital Rights and the work and interests of libraries;
- Examples of how libraries help cities deliver on their CC4DR goals and commitments;
- Ways for libraries to get involved with these fields of work.