SCiDEV joint the regional online event “Digital rights faltering amid political, social unrest: What now?” organized by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and SHARE Foundation on 01 July 2021.

The event gathered representatives of CSOs, experts, students, activists, tech enthusiasts, and other interested parties in order to open a broad discussion on the growing challenges we face and the steps we need to take to counter the further deterioration of citizens’ digital rights, and press for policy change.

The latest Digital Rights report was published by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and SHARE Foundation, taking an interdisciplinary approach and looking at the problems of cybersecurity from the legal, political, tech, and societal angle. The report highlights that the lack of awareness of digital rights violations within society further undermines democracy, not only in times of crisis. Platform B (BIRD) was also launched to amplify the voices of strong and credible individuals and organizations in the region that promote the core values of democracy.

SCiDEV became a member of the Southeast European Digital Rights Network in December 2020 driven by its engagement in researching, advocating, raising awareness and capacities on the matter and inter-related issues including media freedom, digital safety of journalists, inclusive digitalization, digital literacies, and promoting Women in STEM.

Blerjana Bino, Co-Founder of SCiDEV, highlighted some examples of the digital rights violations in Albania and echoed one of the conclusions of the Digital Rights Report: “Those guilty of using the digital space to undermine democracy, intimidate others from publishing the truth or to spread malicious falsehoods operate with impunity, not least because there is no meaningful sense in the region of what constitutes digital rights – never mind the desire to or means to protect those rights”.

She concluded that “we need to build a broad coalition of stakeholders to raise awareness on digital rights, inform and capacitate citizens and decision-makers on the importance of safeguarding digital rights as a tool for ensuring a resilient democracy in the post covid19 induced reality. But this is a very complex issue, and we need dialogue and reflection, research and advocacy on what type of actions are necessary to safeguard and promote digital rights, how to build public awareness, how to strengthen capacities and resources of public institutions, how to ensure safe and inclusive digital space for all”.