BRAINPLAY: The Right to Communicate, The Right to Privacy

2nd December 2016 (7pm)

Communication represents an essential and important human need, as well as being a basic human right. “The right to communicate involves other basic human rights, such as freedom of expression, the right to information and universal access to information and knowledge, but also the participation of citizens in decision-making processes about communication and information policies, the promotion of cultural diversity by the media and new information and communication technologies, access of social groups that have historically been excluded from the public sphere to resources and tools to realise their right to communicate and the protection of privacy and confidentiality of communication.” (Fulya Sen, 2014) We are surrounded by an increasing number of technological tools, making communication easier.

“The increasing sophistication of information technology with its capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate information on individuals has introduced a sense of urgency…. New developments in medical research and care, telecommunications, advanced transportation systems and financial transfers have dramatically increased the level of information generated by each individual. Computers linked together by high speed networks with advanced processing systems can create comprehensive dossiers on any person without the need for a single central computer system. New technologies developed by the defence industry are spreading into law enforcement, civilian agencies, and private companies.” (Banisar & Davies, 2006)

Further to communication we have the advent of digital technologies that on one hand appear emancipatory from ineffective systems but may reduce personal freedoms. For example blockchain may be a strong digital proof-of-ownership platform but relies on a duplicated and transparent register of activity. The visible information in the register being a potential threat to privacy.

This brings about many questions and discussions in regards to privacy. Privacy too is considered a fundamental human right by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. In this era, privacy is increasingly becoming an ever more important human right, and underpins human dignity and other key values of association and freedom of speech. There are many reasons to worry. Firstly, in many countries the laws are not keeping up with the technological advancements, ultimately leaving significant gaps in protections. And secondly, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are given significant exemptions.

Join us for the democratic roundtable discussion in association with the Association of Professional Futurists as we discuss the right not to be connected, not to be measured or monitored!