Declaration of Digital Autonomy (draft 0.1)

We demand a world in which technology is created to protect and empower the people who use it. Our technology must respect the rights and freedoms of those users. We need to take control for the purpose of collectively building a better world in which technology works in service to the good of human kind, protecting our rights and digital autonomy as individuals.

We have become more reliant than ever on technology that we intertwine into every aspect of our lives. That technology is currently made not for us, those using it. Rather, it is for the companies who intend to monetize its use and whoever owns the associated copyrights and patents. Services are run via networked software on computers we never directly interact with. Our devices are designed to only function while broadcasting our intimate information regardless of whether the transmission of that information is necessary functionality. We generate data that we do not have access to, that is bought, sold, and traded between corporations and governments. Technologies we're increasingly being forced to use reinforce and amplify social inequalities. As schools and jobs go online, high speed computing, centralized services and Internet become inescapably necessary. Technology is designed and implemented to oppress, often with sexist, classist, and racist implications. Rather than being served by these tools, we are instead in service to them. These gatekeepers of our technology are not individual people or public organizations who think about the wellbeing of others, but instead are corporations, governments and others with agendas that do not include our best interests. Our technology has become the basic infrastructure on which our society functions, and yet the individuals who use it have no say or control over its function.

It's time to change our digital destiny.

We believe it is necessary for technology to provide opportunity for: informed consent of use; transparent development and operation; privacy and security from bad actors; interaction without fear of surveillance; technology to work primarily on the terms of the people using it; functionality inside and outside of connected networks; use with other services and other software, repair; and connection, and not alienation, from the technology itself and that which is created from it.

We therefore call for the adoption of the following principles for ethical technology:

We, as individuals, collectives, cultures, and societies, are making this call in the rapidly changing face of technology and its deepening integration into our lives. Technology must support us as we forge our own digital destinies as our connectivity to digital networks and one another changes in ways we anticipate and in ways we have yet to imagine. Technology makers and those who use this technology can form the partnerships necessary to build the equitable, hopeful future we dream of.

We'd love to hear what you think! Let us know by emailing thoughts at techautonomy dot org

The Declaration of Digital Autonomy is (c) Molly de Blanc and Karen M. Sandler, 2020, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.