All Human Rights Content

All Digital Societies

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Tech start-ups across the country like to portray themselves as savvy social entrepreneurs – whiz kids who use simple, data-based technologies to make our cities “smart” and “open.” But in the rush to modernize, the new generation of tech enthusiasts often neglects the complexities of urban communities, the tangled histories of racial discrimination and deep-seated socioeconomic divides. 

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Based in Brooklyn, the Health Maker Lab uses 3D printing technology to produce low-cost prostheses and medical instruments, with the aim of radically shifting the "relationship between the 1% and 99% of the population.” Hbs Media Fellow Giorgio Ghiglione met with one of its founders. 

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In the United States the “right to repair” electronic devices is highly contested. Big manufacturers only allow for repairs carried out by authorized technicians using original spare parts, and they have US copyright law on their side. Now, The Repair Association is taking on multinationals to try to change things.

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According to digital experts, political campaigning in the US is at a turning point. Could California, where Silicon Valley is driving global tech innovation, offer new tools to take democracy into the digital age? The search for answers led Hbs Media Fellow Lena Schnabl to the University of California, Berkeley.

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Today, two million New Yorkers do not have access to the Internet. Mesh, a project designed for the unemployed living on the outskirts of Brooklyn could overthrow the power of the "super providers" by providing free connections or a solid emergency network, as it did in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. House by house, one balcony at a time, this revolution advances one router at a time. 

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In April 2016, the European Parliament passed the General Data Protection Regulation. Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht was the parliament’s Rapporteur for the new law and led the negotiations. Heinrich Boell Foundation Program Director Hannah Winnick spoke with Jan Philipp Albrecht following a screening of the documentary “Democracy” on May 17, 2016.

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This February our Berlin-based Transatlantic Media Fellow Lena Schnabl traveled to California to find out how Donald Trump is using digital tools to mobilize his supporters.

This Spring, Hbs North America selected its second round of Transatlantic Media Fellows, this time for its Digital Societies program. After a competitive selection process open to both European and American journalists, four outstanding fellows were selected.

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Nowadays, almost every new car has internet access. That makes it easy for hackers to take control of a car with only a laptop—a danger that the police seem powerless to prevent.

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Chris Valasek can control cars remotely – without the drivers being able to do anything about it. He works together with his friend Charlie Miller, a hacker and former NSA employee, and together they’re the most famous car hackers  in the world. Now both of them work for Uber, and insist: "we are definitely not hacking the taxi industry." 

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Since Snowden’s disclosure of the NSA’s massive global surveillance programs, organizations like EFF and the ACLU have brought countless legal challenges to protect civil liberties, technologists have developed new tools to safeguard data privacy, and even policymakers have begun to rein in surveillance authorities. Andrew Crocker, staff attorney on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s civil liberties team, takes stock of what’s changed since Snowden first revealed a cache of classified NSA documents in June 2013. 

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In the United States, it's normal for cars to be connected to each other through data exchange. It's considered safe and practical--until hackers get involved. Today, even police cars aren't safe from outside interference.

Is this journalism or activism? This is a question Glen Greenwald was frequently faced with. But in a time of mass surveillance, we need journalists like him, journalists that don't hide behind a superficial balance between being fair and telling the truth.

Human Rights Archive

Intro

Digital technologies are rapidly transforming traditional economies and outpacing the legal and policy frameworks that ensure citizens’ privacy and civil liberties. Yet, digitalization is also the key to future innovation, offering promising new approaches for green technologies, creating new sectors of the global economy, facilitating democratic exchange and transparency, and rapidly increasing the pace of scientific discovery. We support a nuanced transatlantic dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of the digital age for democratic societies and the transatlantic partnership.