Let’s Guarantee Digital Rights and Freedoms! Volt will ensure internet connectivity for all across Europe, and work for social inclusion through technology, work to expand digital education and literacy, and protect our rights online, keeping the internet open and free.
What will we do first?
Ensure high-quality connectivity across Europe
What is going on?
We are living in an age of rapid fundamental change, where emerging, unprecedented and disruptive technologies will radically transform our lives. This is something that our current political debate has not yet addressed, and we need to create the kind of forward-looking politics that is able to effectively deal with these topics and come to new kinds of democratic decisions.
What is our vision?
In order to fully participate in society, access and connectivity to digital technologies and the internet are not only a matter of economic potential or consumer protection, but a social, cultural and economic right. Our civil rights, freedom of expression and assembly, and the right to privacy in our times all depend on safeguarding a free internet. Emerging technologies have the power to irrevocably change the way we live our lives, and we are determined to ensure that human rights, democratic and inclusivity guide this new great transformation. The way we manage the development of new technologies must be grounded in principles of human rights and democracy.
How do we get there?
1. Ensure high-quality internet connection: push the European Union and European countries to invest more to ensure a high-quality internet connection across Europe. This includes the fastest available mobile network connections and wifi, in urban and in rural areas, that connect the most marginalised communities, as of now. The economic benefits of widespread connectivity should be encouraged, while ensuring that provision is equitable, fair and universal as a merit good or public good.
2. Encourage digital education: In a technology-driven society, education is key to fostering social inclusion, as well as awareness of the benefits and risks of technology’s uses. This is what Volt aims to do:
- Increase the focus on digital technological literacy education for all ages, including coding. Online education must begin at an early age and go on to life-long learning and vocational training, including an emphasis on mental health and social well-being given the effects of digital environments.
- Push for investment in lifelong adult education programmes emphasising occupational literacy. As more and more jobs are taken over by automation, and more and more people will have to re-train repeatedly for new jobs or to use new technology, digital literacy will be of growing importance, and requires more investment. Occupational literacy, or the idea that people should be able to learn to develop their own interests given a wide access to information and technology, should be part of a person’s development over their lifespan.
- Ensure that digital education includes an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). At the same time, encourage and foster creativity and the arts (STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), expand best-practice public and civil society initiatives like WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), who work to empower women and girls in the sector through mentorship and peer-to-peer networks. Tech education must be used as a tool of social inclusion, enabling those who are under-represented or marginalised in the field to excel, particularly in closing the gender gap in the STEM field, or overcoming socio-economic obstacles.
3. Expand the digital single market, enabling businesses and start-ups to make use of 500 million consumers and the economies of scale that come with it. Legislations need to encourage emerging online forms of organisation, as well as the potential of alternative business models such as cooperatives and mutuals.
4. Internet governance: We need to protect the stakeholder-led approach that is central to keeping a free and open internet, but as governments and large corporations encroach on citizens’ online rights, standards must be set to uphold democratic values and human rights online.
- Push for a Digital Bill of Rights as a binding international legal instrument, based on existing internet governance norms. As far as connectivity enables citizens to participate in society, this instrument will guarantee individual and social rights in an interconnected world by the mean of right to access to the internet, and it will also protect related right in the digital environment such as privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, information and association online, and stakeholder-based internet governance. Principles of Net Neutrality and an open internet are at the core of an internet system that guarantees these rights. Volt will advocate for the EU to include digital rights and freedoms in its agreements with third countries.
- Support and expand protections for privacy and data protection building on General Data Protection Regulation. Encryption is key to ensuring online privacy Volt will work to promote encryption of online communications. While providing effective protection against threats of terrorism and crime is crucial, citizens must never accept mass surveillance as a norm, by state or non-state actors.
- Advance and protect cybersecurity and digital rights as new revolutionary technologies emerge, in the coming era of the “Internet of Things”, where smart grids, smart roads, smart hospitals and even smart furniture determine crucial aspects of our lives.
5. Ensure that the principle of an open internet and freedoms of expression, access and information is compatible with the rights of authors and creators. We need to balance equitable rewards and incentives to individual creators, and sustainable creative industries, with widespread access for consumers. Writers, composers, and other creators must be fairly compensated for their work, without overly limiting users’ access and freedom of information on the internet.
6. Construct new political culture and vocabulary that is able to debate and address those issues as they arise. Indeed, as technological advances accelerate, we will soon find ourselves facing questions that we now consider far-fetched and unimaginable. Volt is committed to an ethical, inclusive, rights-based approach to technological development.