Report Summary: Tech for Democracy: Learnings from the Year of Action

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Tech for Democracy: Learnings from the Year of Action
By Adam Moe Fejerskov, Trine Rosengren Pejstrup, Alma Andersen Tjalve

As the world becomes more and more digitised, use of digital technologies has expanded to encompass various avenues for political and social action. It has also been used to strengthen democracy and human rights by promoting popular participation and providing a wider scope for freedoms of speech and expression. Now more than ever a shared commitment to safe and democratic technological development must be enacted in order to maintain the responsible use of these technologies in the political future.

At a November 2021 conference, Denmark’s Tech for Democracy initiative launched its Year of Action, a program intended to transform visions surrounding responsible technological development into concrete actions. This conference also marked the launch of the Copenhagen Pledge, a political commitment to promote the use of digital technologies as means of advancing democracy and human rights initiatives. Signed by over 200 stakeholders consisting of civil society organisations, private companies, national governments, and academic institutions, the pledge highlights several areas of commitment while also focusing on the many specific goals that each organisation holds.

This report provides an analysis of specific cases from the Year of Action. It highlights ways in which Tech for Democracy has succeeded in keeping non-participating organisations engaged and how it has furthered its goals of protecting human rights in cyberspace. Synthesising observations from both the Copenhagen Pledge survey as well as impact cases from the Year of Action, the report provides seven findings on what Tech for Democracy has done well. This includes providing a platform for knowledge production and dialogue, fostering political attention to challenges emerging from tech, emphasising the importance of critical engagement with the tech sector, and utilising Danish networks, among others.

Finally, the report sets out seven recommendations for future pathways of the initiative, stressing the importance of continued access to knowledge production and collaborations and continued critical engagement with the tech sector. These recommendations also reflect the need to ensure coherence with other international initiatives. The report praises the work of the Tech for Democracy initiative while highlighting the benefits of political support in heightening its impact.

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