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The Catalan Government presents in Brussels the 'Manifesto of Digital Rights for Childhood and Adolescence of Catalonia'

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The Catalan Government presents in Brussels the 'Manifesto of Digital Rights for Childhood and Adolescence of Catalonia'

  1. The Director General of Digital Society, Liliana Arroyo i Moliner, has participated in the debate on the regulation of digital rights and responsibilities organized by the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the EU

Under the title 'Navigating Digital Citizenship: Promotion of Rights, Responsibilities, and Global Cooperation,' the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the European Union hosted today a forum for debate and reflection on the regulation of citizens' rights and responsibilities in the digital sphere. The event, inaugurated by the Government Representative to the EU, Ignasi Centelles Santana, featured Liliana Arroyo i Moliner, Director General of Digital Society of the Catalan Government, as a speaker, along with interventions from representatives of European institutions, international organizations, and other key actors of civil society.

At a time when digitalization and the emergence of disruptive technologies like AI, blockchain, or quantum computing have placed the need to recognize, defend, and codify new rights to ensure and expand fundamental freedoms in the digital era at the forefront of global debate, the Government of Catalonia has situated reflection within an international context to share and learn from initiatives promoted in this field by institutions, associations, and communities worldwide.

In this context, Director Arroyo presented the actions promoted by the Government to promote a legislative and democratic framework guaranteeing human rights in the digital era through the 'Catalan Charter for Digital Rights and Responsibilities,' a social innovation project coordinated by the Department of Digital Policies born with the aim of bringing emerging rights not yet guaranteed by law to light and thus contributing to the global debate from Catalonia.

It is within this framework that, in collaboration with the Ferrer i Guàrdia Foundation, a participatory process has been carried out to develop a proposal for digital rights for children and adolescents in Catalonia. A pioneering project in Europe for incorporating the voices of the youngest in a digital rights charter that involves them, resulting in the'Manifesto of Digital Rights for Childhood and Adolescence in Catalonia,'presented a month ago. Clearer, more understandable communication; constructive alternatives instead of prohibitions, and the implementation of security measures on social networks are some of the main demands expressed by Catalan children and adolescents in this Manifesto.

The process, in which a total of 854 children and adolescents from all over Catalonia participated, is, according to Liliana Arroyo, "an example of active participation of children and adolescents in the construction of a digital society that protects their rights and well-being, with which Catalonia wants to contribute to the global debate." In this sense, Arroyo has advocated "for listening to and taking into account the voice of youth in defining digital rights and responsibilities that any democratic regulation must include to defend and guarantee the digital well-being of all citizens, including the youngest, in the digital era in which we are immersed and facing the emergence of new disruptive technologies that have an unprecedented impact on society."

Precisely, Arroyo also highlighted in her intervention another initiative "with which Catalonia gains capacity to influence the global debate on technology governance." This is the Alliance of Disruptive and Emerging Technologies (DETA), an international coalition already comprising a dozen governments from regions and states worldwide, driven by the Government of Catalonia with the aim of maximizing the benefits of these new technologies while protecting human rights, democratic values, and cultural diversity. "One of the five areas of work on which the initiative focuses is precisely that of digital rights and technological regulation, where we already have the involvement of governments such as those of Gyeonggi (South Korea) and Wales (United Kingdom), with whom we have already begun to work, and with others interested in joining the alliance," Arroyo added.

Digital rights and responsibilities, a global debate

In December 2022, the presidents of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU signed the 'Declaration of European Digital Rights and Principles' with the aim of reflecting the values of the EU and promoting a sustainable and human-centered vision for digital transformation. Several years earlier, Catalonia had already advanced in this direction by launching the project of the 'Catalan Charter for Digital Rights and Responsibilities,' and since then, various cities, regions, and states of the EU and around the world have carried out similar exercises under the quadruple helix prism (administrations, academic sphere, private sector, and civil society), which must be framed in the global debate on the need to recognize these new rights and the possibility of codifying them appropriately.

Therefore, today's session in Brussels consisted of a first roundtable entitled 'Digital Rights and Responsibilities: Should We Codify Them?,' where, in addition to Director Arroyo, Hanne Juncher, Director of Security, Integrity, and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe, and Werner Stengg, Senior Officer of the European Commission with Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, took part. In this session, the speakers delved into the debate on to what extent digital rights and responsibilities should be codified based on ethical and social considerations from the perspective of public institutions.

In this sense, Hanne Juncher highlighted the importance of recognizing digital rights as human rights. Additionally, she described the various actions carried out by the Council of Europe in defense of digital rights, such as the AI Convention that ensures that AI development respects human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

For his part, Werner Stengg conveyed Commissioner Vestager's call to enhance the European Union as a digital leader, placing people at the center of the debate and public action. In this regard, Stengg ensured that "technology must serve people, and not the other way around." The representative of the European Commission also referred to the 'Declaration of European Digital Rights and Principles,' adopted by the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission in December 2022. Its objective is to ensure that the digital transformation of the EU is based on the fundamental values of the Union and protects people's rights.

The day was completed with a second roundtable entitled 'Promotion of Digital Rights and Responsibilities: a Collaborative Effort Among Interest Groups,' where it was made clear that multistakeholder collaboration is key in debates on the need for ethical frameworks in technological governance. In this table participated Simona Levi, founder of Xnet; Roger Olivella, co-founder of THEAD System; and Marek Tuszynski, executive director and co-founder of Tactical Tech, who showed a series of good practices, examples, and projects oriented towards digital activism and inclusion.

Specifically, Olivella pointed out the need for "innovation to be for everyone. If we are building this new society, the entire society must be put at the center," referring to the inclusion of the most vulnerable individuals in the digital transition process.

On the other hand, Simona Levi encouraged public administrations to "lead by example so that society follows them" regarding the regulation of the digital environment. In this

sense, she pointed out the resistance of some public institutions to implement "truly democratic" digital reforms. However, Levi recognized the Catalan digital ecosystem as a favorable environment for collaboration between institutions and civil society.

Finally, Tuszynski contributed to the debate with the question of how technology is affecting the vision that society is shaping of the world.



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La directora general de Societat Digital, Liliana Arroyo i Moliner, durant la seva intervenció en la jornada

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