[Call for panels] The 9th edition of Privacy Camp explores the relations between digitalisation, digital rights and infrastructures. 2020 has highlighted the importance of digital infrastructures. Many facets of our personal and social life rely on these infrastructures – from public health to education, from labour to services, from politics to intimate relations. Although this is not completely new, society has realised that there is a need to design and maintain digital infrastructures to prioritise the public interest – resituating the interests of private actors that so often dominate practice and discourse on the topic.
In this context, digital rights are more important than ever. Privacy and data protection are important tools to question, limit and counter massive data collection and intrusive surveillance technologies. Their impact goes well beyond individual interests. While some promote a ‘data altruism’ that would consist in inviting data subjects to consent to more and more data processing operations, it might be that the real altruism and caring for the other is actually calling for a better use of digital rights. It certainly demands thinking about how these individual rights can serve the interests of the public.
Ever-expanding desires for digitalisation - now also connected to promises of post-Covid-19 recovery - are shaped jointly by government data collection priorities and the objectives of ‘big tech’ companies. Reclaiming infrastructures, and embracing digital rights as a tool for change and justice are, in this light, critical for repairing a dire, and inevitably shared, future.
Public spaces and the environment are privileged territories for investigating the intersections between digitalisation, digital rights and infrastructures. The public space, offline and online, is as such a basic democratic infrastructure. The roll-out of surveillance measures such as automated speech moderation on social media or facial recognition technologies in our streets question whether European local authorities, police forces and private companies mandate the public space under a public interest agenda. The environmental impact is furthermore a crucial dimension of all things digital. The IT sector, broadly defined, accounts for more than 2% of global emissions, which is in the same range as aviation. The negative impact of digitalisation is reflected in the effects of big data collection and storage on energy consumption; in poor repairability of devices linked to unnecessary emissions and e-waste; or in vast carbon emissions resulted from training Artificial Intelligence models.
Moving the conversation towards a solution-oriented vision, questions remain around how digital rights can best contribute to reclaiming infrastructures, and how reclaimed infrastructures sustain democratic practices, for a fair, people-centered, digital future in the EU.
In this vein, we invite panel proposals revolving round the following themes:
- The transformative power of digital rights
- The social dimensions of digital infrastructures
- The preservation of public voice in the public space
- The environmental impact of digitalisation
Concrete examples of topics include (non-exhaustively):
- Examples of using existing rights under EU law to advance a fair society
- Actions and negotiations to reclaim digital infrastructures for the public interest
- Biometric mass surveillance and resistance methods for the public square
- Digital infrastructures of oppression | Digital infrastructures of resistance
- Reclaim the means of deliberation and public debate