India and other South-Asian countries have made leapfrogs in the technology sector to adapt to digital lifestyles. In recent years, there has been a disturbing trend towards mass surveillance by government agencies, the invasion of privacy, and acts to curb free speech online. The Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) organized the first Digital Citizen Summit on the 11th November 2016 to address these issues. The key objective of the summit was to generate actionable policy-based recommendations and lay down steps to promote human rights online.
Taking the initiative forward, DEF will be organizing the second Digital Citizen Summit in 2017 in New Delhi. We invite scholars, researchers, academics, civil society organisations, and government representatives to engage by presenting papers, participating in sessions, conducting workshops and demonstrations, and attending the summit. We hope to make this a truly multilateral summit by inviting all stakeholder groups to participate. This time, the objective is to find a solution to bridge the digital divide, and finding ways to providing as many with the means to access information, and creating a platform for youth, women and social media enthusiasts to raise awareness about internet rights, digital literacy, and digital security.
Defining the Digital
Internet architecture rests on collaboration and sharing, and this nature should be preserved and promoted in national drives to go digital. Such drives must emphasise ambitions towards citizenship rather than appropriation. However, while the digital offers many exciting and new opportunities for the exercise of rights, citizenship should not be reduced to the digital. The digital must be promoted with view to preventing real-world exclusions of the poor and marginalised from being reproduced online. The promotion of the digital should espouse the ideals of citizenship, which is rights-based and inclusive.