Belgrade Digital Freedom Pledge

Digital platforms relate to all, surpass state borders and touch each and everyone on our planet, in direct or indirect ways. Therefore, having in mind such great importance and responsibility, we undersigned stakeholders declare our intention to seek urgent, global and humane solutions to essential challenges and dilemmas brought by emerging technologies, in order to propose global standards and regulations, protect individual rights and freedoms, such as the right to privacy and freedom of speech, and promote individual and collective well-being.

Inspired by the work of Jaron Lanier, Michal Kosinski, the Center for Humanne Technology, and Frances Haugan, we acknowledge the following:

  • We understand the utmost power of machine learning algorithms (such as recommender systems) and web trackers to shape societies (for example, by creating polarizations) as they use digital footprints to give individual content recommendations to every online user, and therefore surpass mainstream media in their influence and scope (global impact).
  • Tech organizations and societies need to make the best possible decisions on how to customize recommender systems for mutual benefits. Therefore, we’re open to discussing online recommender algorithms as a public good.
  • We strongly propagate free speech. Thus, deleting or blocking some content because of hate speech or fake news should be a shared responsibility, previously defined with other relevant stakeholders in society to preserve neutrality.
  • We shall discuss virtual identity as a basic human right, as denying it may affect the lives, work, and mental health of individuals.
  • We need to consider online users as owners of their digital footprints and give them complete insight into it and the possibility to customize it (for example, whether it would be used for ad customization or not). We also acknowledge the following:
    1. We will seek solutions to standardize our digital footprint with the use of blockchain or similar technology.
    2. The online user needs to know who can use their digital footprint while being capable of revocating access to any entity (organization) or to all of them.
    3. The online user must be able to delete their digital footprint completely and at any time.
  • We should stimulate research into how emerging technologies affect the psychological well-being of citizens. We recognize this important field is neglected and needs support to direct the development of technology towards individual and social well-being.

In Belgrade, on 12 March 2022 

Declared by the undersigned:

Digital Society Lab at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade; Serbian AI Society, Share Foundation; Data Science Serbia; Data Science Conference; Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe, University of Rijeka