A New Agenda for Digital Justice

A New Agenda for Digital Justice

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The corporate capture of data and technology is a growing, serious threat to workers and to quality public services. Working with civil society allies, PSI co-founded the Global Digital Justice Forum – a group who share the belief that governance of data must sit with governments, not corporations, and must be designed for public good, not profits.

Our first action, as the forum, was to develop a submission to the UN Tech Envoy on what we think the UN Global Digital Compact (GDC) should include. Our submission rejects the “multistakeholder model” that has dominated digital cooperation processes, leading to an entrenchment of corporate power. Instead, we argue that the GDC must set up a new democratic global digital governance framework, founded on human rights principles, that acknowledges the legitimate role of governments in digital policymaking.

Next year the UN General Assembly will hold a Summit of the Future, where the GDC is scheduled to be adopted. Affiliates will play an important role lobbying governments to support reforms that honour the UN Charter, apply the international legal principle of solidarity and advance a progressive agenda for global governance of data. 

The world is slowly waking up to the many dangers posed by the unfettered power of Big Tech companies. The business model of Big Tech is to use public research and public infrastructure to build their technologies; win large government contracts; capture enormous amounts of data about individuals, workers, public health, the environment, the use of services, transport, about how we interact, read, vote … about every aspect of life; commercialise the aggregated and individual data; avoid paying taxes and; dismantle the foundation of employment contracts. And it’s not only the traditional Big Tech companies who see opportunities in monopolising digital information – health, insurance, infrastructure, car companies, are all moving to become data collection platforms.

The process of negotiating the Global Digital Compact provides an opportunity to contest the power Big Tech and other corporations have accrued and argue for a more accountable and democratic approach to data governance.

Key principles covered in the submission include:

  • democratizing the governance of digital technologies and promoting decentralized digital systems;

  • upholding the Internet as a global commons that can decentralize knowledge and power in our society and economy, enabling global exchange of information and knowledge, peer production cultures, sustainable local economies, free expression and association, and democratic deliberation and participation;

  • privileging a people-led, ecologically responsible, non-extractive, rights-enabling and gender-just vision of technology that furthers a new international order rooted in development sovereignty;

  • calling for an end to corporate impunity; and

  • developing legal-policy frameworks for data, AI, and platforms grounded in human rights and economic justice

Read the submission for more information and get in touch if your union would like to attend any of the “deep dive” discussions with the UN Tech Envoy.