Technology and digital rights

List Map
Catalyzing Rights and Technology and digital rights

Relevant sources: ICCPR Arts. 17, 19, 21, 22(1)-(2); CEDAW Art. 7(c); ICPPED Art. 25(5); CRC Arts. 12(1), 13, 15-16; CRPD Arts. 4(1)(g), 7(3), 9, 21-22, 29(b), 31; ICERD Art. 5(d)(viii)-(ix); ICRMW Arts. 13-14, 26, 40; UDHR Arts. 12, 19, 20(1)

Core elements of the guarantee during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Recognize that “access to universal, open, affordable, secure, and stable Internet is vital to save lives, to prevent abuses, to continue to promote and protect human rights and urgently increase access to information” (OHCHR)
  • Ensure that governments and the private sector do not use digital technologies “to restrict fundamental freedoms, reduce civic space, and target civil society actors” (OHCHR)
  • “Prevent, combat and remediate” racial discrimination, including in the form of “the disparate effects of the pandemic on marginalized racial and ethnic groups . . . because of the exclusion of these groups from the benefits of emerging digital technologies, or because emerging digital technologies are deployed in ways that put these groups at greater risk of human rights violations” (UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance)
  • Recognize that “the right of access to the Internet” is “a critical element of health-care policy and practice, public information and even the right to life” as well as a prerequisite “for the enjoyment of the freedom of expression” (UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression)
  • Expand infrastructure to “allow for [digital] access” (UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression)
  • Increase “international coordination and support for digital connectivity” (UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression)
  • Devote “significant resources . . . to expanding broadband Internet access” during and after the pandemic including to “historically disadvantaged groups, and especially women” (UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression)

Further guidance can be found here: Joint Statement; WHO

Briefing Paper

Structural and Systemic Change through COVID-19 Human Rights Measures

The “Structural and Systemic Change through COVID-19 Human Rights Measures” Briefing Paper highlights measures that explicitly aim to create structural and systemic change, including by emphasis on the concept of doing things differently than previously. In putting into place such measures, States have sought to demonstrate a commitment to transformative, structural, and long-term change.

Show me of advances during COVID-19

Showing 18 matching measures.

Technology and digital rights

Measure Country
Affordable Connectivity Program United States

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is an extension of the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) which provided “a temporary discount on monthly broadband bills for qualifying low-income households,” including “[u]p to…

Arizona Department of Education Announces $1.5 Million Dollars to Fund Final Mile Project United States

“Federal relief and recovery funds available to [the Arizona Department of Education] will fund high-speed internet infrastructure to homes located in six geographically diverse rural areas of Arizona. The project…

National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools Sierra Leone

The National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools, under the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education “provide[s] a roadmap for the day-to-day operations of schools and the Ministry of…

Hundreds of Thousands More Laptops to Support Disadvantaged Pupils Learn at Home United Kingdom

As “[p]art of the Get Help with Technology Programme,” an additional 300,000 laptops and tablets, in addition to the already “700,000 laptops and tablets . . . delivered to schools…

BiblioTechs: Transforming Public Libraries into Functional Ones Albania

“‘BiblioTech: public libraries into functional ones’ is an initiative of the Municipality of Tirana and UNICEF Albania, implemented in close collaboration with Albanian Sustainable Development Organization (ASDO). The initiative aims…

$50 Million in Grant Funding Available to Help Students Gain Internet Access United States

In Ohio, “[t]he lieutenant governor announced the state will set aside $50 million of funding through the federal CARES Act to provide hotspots and internet-enabled devices to students.” According to…

Agreement Signed to Cover Villages And Population Centers With Telecommunications And Internet Services Via Satellite Oman

“The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and Oman Broadband Company (OBC) signed an agreement . . . to provide telecommunications and internet services to [598] villages and population centers by satellite…

Governor Ivey Allocates $100 Million for Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students United States

“Alabama Broadband Connectivity (ABC) for Students, will provide vouchers for families of students currently eligible for free and reduced-price school meals, or other income criteria. The vouchers will help cover…

Chicago Launches Groundbreaking Initiative to Bridge Digital Divide, Providing Free High-Speed Internet Access to Over 100,000 Chicago Public School Students United States

“‘Chicago Connected’ . . . will provide free high-speed internet service to approximately 100,000 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students in their households.” The program “will provide high-speed internet for households…

Connected Beyond the Classroom United States

The City of San Antonio “propose[s] to build a collaborative, citywide, multi-government agency network between the City and other governmental entities to expand fiber capability and student access in San…

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Privacy Act under House Bill 2016 (New Sec. 16) United States

The stated purpose of the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Privacy Act of Kansas is: “to protect the privacy of persons whose information is collected through contact tracing and the confidentiality of…

New York Contact Tracing Law: Senate Bill S8450C United States

The New York legislation includes provisions on: confidentiality (“All contact tracing information shall be kept confidential by any contact tracer and contact tracing entity, and may not be disclosed except…

Notice Issued By Tra-Oman On The Measures Taken By The Sultanate Of Oman To Guarantee The Provision Of Telecommunication Services, Limit The Spread Of The Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic And Mitigate Its Effects Oman

A series of “measures were taken to ensure the continuity of the telecom services and avoid network congestion due to increased demand.” Among others, these include: “provide free distance learning…

NOVISSI Togo

“To support eligible Togolese citizens in the informal sector whose daily income has been disrupted by the Coronavirus crisis, the Government of Togo has set up the ‘NOVISSI’ cash transfer…

Regulations Issued in Terms of Section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 South Africa

Pursuant to these regulations, “The National Department of Health shall develop and maintain a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have…

Rural Broadband Upgrade to Boost COVID-19 Recovery in Remote Communities New Zealand

As part of an effort towards economic recovery from COVID-19, “[t]he Government has allocated up to $15 million in savings from the Ultra-fast Broadband initiative to improve rural broadband capacity”…

Etisalat and Du Provide Mobile Internet for Families Who Have No Home Internet to Enable Distance Learning United Arab Emirates

The “TRA [Telecommunications Regulatory Authority] announced that it has coordinated with service providers to provide free internet data via mobile phone to families with no home internet services, in order…

The People-Centric Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN): No One Will Be Left Behind Malaysia

“Several packages will be offered in collaboration with various telecommunications companies (telcos), including efforts to improve telecommunications network and free Internet offerings, that are collectively worth RM1 billion. To ensure…

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