Over the past 10 years we have witnessed major global developments in the online environment that carry with them real “offline” consequences. The digital space is a powerful enabler for a more inclusive democratic discourse and participation. Free and open internet provides, among other things, simplified access to information, knowledge, culture and education, and it also importantly facilitates the exercise of fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression.
At the same time, digitisation comes with new challenges to democratic systems and institutions. The use of digital technologies presents serious challenges, such as risks to privacy due to massive and uncontrolled data processing, the uncontrollable spread of hate messages and other abusive forms of expression online, new forms of cybercrime and child sexual abuse, or the use of the internet for terrorist purposes and for sowing distrust and fear.
The seminar "Human rights challenges in the digital age: Judicial perspectives", organised by the European Court of Human Rights, in cooperation with Directorate General of Human Rights and the Rule of Law of the Council of Europe (DGI), and with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland on 28 June 2019 in Strasbourg, brought together members of the judiciary, prominent legal practitioners and academics, representatives of European institutions and non-governmental organisations, as well as other professionals. The variety of speakers, coming from different legal systems and jurisdictions allowed to discuss different perspectives and to exchange views on the ways to address the complexity that protection of human rights online presents for the judiciary.