The online man remains above all a man and not just a nickname or tomorrow a 3D avatar in the Metaverse. Based on this observation, the European Commission has worked on a declaration of digital rights and principles, a declaration which defines a framework of protection for all European Internet users.
This declaration is composed of six chapters, for as many main principles. Thus, connection to the Internet, at high speed and at an affordable price, is now set not as a simple objective to be achieved but as a right within the European Union. The right to dignified and fair working conditions is also recalled, regardless of the position or type of position related to digital technology (here, it is more of a reminder and an extension of the rights already defined for any profession within the EU). The Commission also considers that all public services in the countries of the union must be accessible online.
Another large chapter of this declaration of digital rights concerns the transparency of online services and sites, whether it is targeted advertising or the use of AI. EU citizens must be informed as best as possible, knowing that the use of AI is prohibited to make selections of citizens in the fields of health, employment or education.
One point will probably be a little more debate because it concerns freedom of expression online. The European Commission considers that every citizen must benefit from a framework of free expression online… while recalling that measures will be taken to fight against illegal content (which is already the objective of the Digital Services Act). The delirious extension of copyright laws, the emergence of new concepts (micro-aggression) which make it possible to make any critical discourse look like harassment, the risks of pre-emptive censorship or mass surveillance of content as well as the irruption of the puritan morality of the GAFA on the main sharing networks (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook) legitimately raise questions about the nature of what will be considered legal or illegal on the network of networks.
Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President of the European Commission, presented the Declaration of Digital Rights and Principles
The Commission’s text also recalls that security (digital or not) is a right. EU citizens must be protected from cyber-attacks, risks of phishing or digital identity theft. As for personal data, all EU Internet users must have control over the sharing of their data. There will be no “economic model” that holds: if the Internet user does not want his data to be shared with third-party companies, then there will be no sharing. Finally, unsurprisingly, the declaration of digital rights sets itself the objective of pushing the digital sector to lower its carbon footprint, but does not go so far as to mention restrictive measures.
The declaration of digital rights and principles still needs to be “signed” by Parliament and then the European Council.