The Hebrew University of Jerusalem | September 2019
Digital Human Rights
The Federmann Cyber Law Program Newsletter Editorial #13
By: Yuval Shany
Welcome to the thirteenth newsletter of The Federmann Cyber Law Program.
One focal area of Cyber Law research program in the Federmann Cyber Security Center is the manner in which human rights apply in cyberspace. Although the principle that ‘offline’ human rights also apply online is widely accepted, the special features of the digital environment require important adjustments in the form and contents of human rights. For example, human rights have to be reinterpreted so as to accommodate the speed and scale in which information can be disseminated, to address new challenges resulting from the perpetual availability of data and the accessibility of big data, and to reflect the ever-increasing role of private actors in regulating and controlling online platforms. Furthermore, existing rights, such as privacy or freedom of expression might need to be radically reconceptualized for a radically different societal relations brought about by digital technology. Still, adjustments have their limits, and at some point, we would be confronted with the question of whether new digital human rights ought to be developed and whether new right and duty-holders should be recognized. Offline human rights have been based on a combination of power-imbalance between government and the governed and a history of oppression, abuse of power, injustice and failure to respect basic human needs and interests, and similar dynamics could justify the development of new digital or e-human rights.