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Action Programme for Tech for Democracy – Civil society recommendations

The new Action Programme for Tech for Democracy provides 8 concrete recommendations from civil society and sets out a clear path for actions needed to ensure that technology and digitalization work for - not against, democracy and human rights. We invite all of civil society to be part of the Action Programme by endorsing and sharing it.

Together with global civil society Global Focus´ has developed the Action Programme for Tech for Democracy: a global document that consolidates the findings from our global consultations (Autumm 2021) and our 5 Days of Action (November 8-12)., which have gathered global actors to discuss, share best practices and find solutions to how we ensure that technology and digitalization work for - not against, democracy and human rights. The Action Programme sets out a clear path for actions needed to achieve this goal.


The Action Programme will provide a strong basis for civil society advocacy and will contribute to raising the bar for real action amongst decision-makers all over the world as part of the Tech for Democracy initiative. 


While digital technologies hold immense potential for promoting pluralist democracy, popular participation, and giving a voice to marginalised groups, the current reality is in stark contrast to the emancipatory ideals fundamental to the open values of the internet and potential of digital technologies. Mass surveillance, internet shutdowns, polarising algorithms, and a pandemic of misinformation and disinformation have overtaken the internet. Meanwhile, freedom of speech is being restricted and online activities are criminalised. In 2021, global internet freedom declined for the 11th consecutive year, while the first 5 months of the year saw 50 intentional internet shutdowns across 21 countries. 


Digital technologies have provided the opponents of freedom and human rights a vast array of sophisticated tools to limit, exploit, and restrict online behaviour while consolidating their own power. Especially groups facing discrimination and exclusion are at the frontline of these attacks whether due to gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, race, or others. Yet this does not have to be our future! The Tech for Democracy initiative calls on all relevant stakeholders to come together and advance actionable solutions to the challenge of our time. To ensure that digital technologies positively contribute to democracy, human rights, freedom, justice, equality and dignity, rather than oppose it. 


The need for civil society to be placed front and centre 

Civil society, human rights defenders, and journalists around the world are often main targets of digital crackdowns, surveillance, and censorship. Civil society plays a crucial role in ensuring that solutions are based on local challenges and needs that they and other citizens around the world face. Building digital resilience and mobilisation, improving digital and media literacy, and fair access of civil society are key to ensuring that technology fosters democratic and inclusive societies, where human rights and civic space ensure meaningful citizen participation and dignity. 


Civil society is already working to ensure this but is met with challenges especially related to lack of digital responsibility by duty-bearers and the private sector as well as lack of funding to address the many challenges faced. Civil society voices must be kept at the forefront of the dialogue and supported financially to carry out the needed work. This includes ensuring the ongoing digital skills acquisition and capacity building of the public and civil society given the rapidly changing nature of digital technologies. 


It is our belief that only collectively, drawing on a wide range of stakeholders representing different interests and sources of expertise, can we confront the challenges facing digital technologies and democracies today. 


Aim of the Action Programme 

With the Action Programme for Tech for Democracy, civil society from across the world gives its recommendations for concrete actions to be taken by a broad range of stakeholders including governments, the private sector, multilateral institutions and civil society. The Tech for Democracy initiative is initiated and funded by the Danish government to ensure that digital technologies enable, rather than oppose democracy and human rights. The Tech for Democracy Pledge has been introduced by the Danish government, which outlines the principles and values important for Tech for Democracy to be signed by governments, the private sector and civil society. The Action Programme dives deeper into the concrete actions that civil society recommend should be taken and is based on a global consultation with inputs from over 100 civil society organisations, experts, human rights defenders and academia from over 40 countries around the world. 


Find the full Action Programme and civil society´s 8 recommendations here. X

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