Internet Policy Research Website

Anchoring Digital Rights: Digital Constitutionalism in Hard Times

Edoardo Celeste, Dennis Redeker, Mauro Santaniello & Digital Constitutionalism Network


ust like modern political regimes, the governance of digital networks has been often oscillating between the expansion of unconstrained powers—both public and private—and the thrust forward a more effective protection of fundamental rights. Currently, under the pressure of a mounting global public health and economic crisis, the progressive constitutionalisation of the digital environment stands at a crossroads. On the one hand, the increasing reliance of contemporary societies on digital networks during a state of emergency is raising awareness about the need for fundamental rights protection online. On the other hand, the global pandemic risks to further increase inequalities of access to knowledge and communication, and to legitimise the use of digital technologies for authoritarian and surveillance purposes. This chapter seeks to identify actors, processes and mechanisms that anchor citizens’ rights and constitutional values in times of crisis. Through a multidisciplinary approach including law, political science and communication studies, the authors analyse and discuss key opportunities for digital constitutionalism. In this way, the chapter outlines a set of possible paths of “anchoring” human rights and democratic values in the digital ecosystem.

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