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DQ 101: Digital Rights

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Rules and regulations can feel more allusive in the digital world, but online actions have real-world consequences. Discover why understanding Digital Rights is crucial to using technology.

In the Digital Intelligence 101 introduction, we shared that people experience eight critical areas of digital life — Identity, Use, Safety, Security, Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Literacy and Rights. These areas make up a framework mapping one’s Digital Intelligence (DQ).

This article explores how Digital Security manifests at each maturity level — Citizen, Creator and Competitor (if you need a refresher on these levels, check out our Intro to DQ article).

Area #8: Digital RightsDigital Rights

Do you ever use a piece of technology and say, “meh, my privacy doesn’t matter as much as convenience does?” Chances are you don’t say that to yourself, but it’s imperative that we stop and reflect upon our Digital Rights and what we expect of our digital world when it comes to privacy and protection.

We’ve come to depend on various digital platforms to protect our personal information ever since essential services started migrating online — from banking to doing our taxes, applying for jobs and accessing our medical records. This means sharing sensitive, personal information with both government and private institutions. It means we have to trust that our information and privacy are being protected — but it’s not always clear how our data is being used.

Did you use Google Maps recently? Do you allow apps to track your activity? Perhaps you’ve uploaded family photos to social media without knowledge that a third party facial recognition platform logged that image in its database? Do you have a smart speaker in your house?

An innocent internet search (or even the fact you’ve stood in a particular mall, near a particular store while your phone was in your pocket) can lead to an endless following of targeted advertisements. It’s no coincidence considering modern marketing algorithms, tracking pixels and cookies gather thousands of data points about our online behaviors — but are we truly consenting to this type of tracking?

What rights do we have when it comes to how our data is being used, and how much control do we have over our own data and digital footprints?

More than ever, it is critical that people to understand how their data is being used, since it not only shapes the technology we use, but literally shapes our world, — but that’s easier said than done. It’s common to breeze through the terms and conditions when you visit a new website, and the complex legal jargon can be hard for the average user to understand.

Copyright and plagiarism are also major Digital Rights issues. While theft such as stealing a watch from a store is black and white, downloading a movie or using an artist’s song without proper permission may not seem as harmful. Creative assets such as photos, graphics and written words can simply be copied and pasted — there’s complex laws and rules that aren’t always obvious.

It’s clear people need new skills to fully understand how privacy, content and personal information can be used online. Governments, organizations and businesses have a heightened responsibility to help users understand what they’ve signed up for, and as part of that system, individuals also need to be accountable for protecting their own privacy and rights, while respecting others.

Do you feel you understand your Digital Rights, or that you can have a hand in shaping them? This is why a level of DQ regarding your rights are important. Below is a list of three competencies areas (knowledge, skills, attitudes) that evolve as one’s understanding of Digital Rights matures.

Level 1 (Citizen) = Privacy Management

This is an individual’s ability to handle their personal information online with discretion to protect their privacy and the privacy of others.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands privacy is a human right
    • Knows what personal information is and how it can be used, stored, processed and shared on digital platforms
    • Aware of strategies and tools to help them keep personal information private and secure
  • Skills:
    • Develops behavioural technical strategies to limit privacy violations
    • Able to make good decisions around creating and sharing information and content
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows respect for their own privacy and personal information
    • Treats other’s’ privacy and information of others with respect
    • Understands how privacy and information are valuable personal assets worth protecting

Level 2 (Creator) = Intellectual Property Rights and Management

This is a creator’s ability to understand and manage intellectual property rights including copyrights, trademarks and patents while creating content and using technology.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands legislation around rights, ownership and remixing online content
    • Aware of digital rights management technologies, plagiarism, copyright, fair use and licensing
    • Can distinguish between creative use and appropriation of others' work
  • Skills:
    • Understands the difference between digital works that can be legally downloaded, and those which need to be paid for
    • Uses strategies including trademarks, creative commons, and copyrights to protect their own and others' digital creations
    • Tracks and manages changes in their digital creations to protect their own/organizational assets from unauthorized change, use and deviation
  • Attitudes:
    • Builds trust and shows responsibility, self-respect and respect for others by protecting their own digital creations
    • Credits others’ creations when appropriate

Level 3 (Competitor) = Participatory Rights Management

This is a competitor’s ability to understand and exercise one’s powers and rights to online participation. This includes rights to personal data protection and freedom of expression.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands rights of digital citizens and consumers, including the right to personal data protection and freedom of expression
    • Knows why opportunities for online participation are unevenly distributed across social groups, due to differences in socioeconomic statuses, disabilities and physical location
  • Skills:
    • Equipped to develop cognitive skills to understand legislation within their own practices to ensure digital rights are upheld and respected online
    • Develops complex systems-level thinking to uphold individual and community rights to online participation while monitoring and improving systems
    • Holds contradictory ideas and ideals in tension
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows proactive thinking grounded in respect for democratic ideals, rule of law and human rights
    • Takes responsibility for managing technology to promote the public good of society and the environment

These three sub-competencies are a solid foundation to build on as individuals, experts and organizations continue to explore how human emotions and feelings are influenced, shaped and impacted as we navigate the digital world. What’s your Digital Emotional Intelligence maturity level, and what does it say about your DQ?

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