Understanding Human Rights on the Internet: An Exercise of Translation?

In: Tilburg Law Review
Wanshu Cong Canada

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In the massive ecosystem of internet governance, the Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights and Principles at the Internet Governance Forum has claimed that one way to integrate human rights and internet policy making is to ‘translate existing human rights to the internet environment to build awareness, understanding and a shared platform for mobilization around rights and principles for the internet’. This paper examines the metaphor of translation as an approach to understand human rights in the digital age, and the role of civil society as ‘translator’ to participate in global internet governance. The paper argues that translation is a unique way to conceive human rights in the digital age and, more broadly, the relation between law and technology. By referring to theories of translation studies, I aim to demonstrate the conflicted consequences of resorting to translation, and the need for accountability of the translator.

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