Australians expect to be able to live their lives without being watched, monitored and tracked. The concept that our cities need to be ‘smart’ needs to be managed alongside the freedoms of the people who inhabit them.

Join us in calling on local government authorities to incorporate human rights principles such as privacy, freedom of expression, and democracy into digital platforms – starting with locally-controlled digital infrastructures and services.

Take action now.

Call on your local Council to stand up for your digital rights.

We’re smarter than that.

The Internet has become inseparable from our daily lives. Yet, every day, there are new cases of digital rights abuse, misuse and misinformation and concentration of power around the world. #SmarterThanThat

We are smarter than that.

We are seeing a real-world effect of technology creep on the privacy rights of Australian cities through the rapid expansion of surveillance technology in public spaces – often those directly managed by local government authorities.

Technology is developing far more rapidly than we could have predicted just a few decades ago. Increases in computer power; access to more sophisticated surveillance systems; data-matching and linked databases; and a rise in the use of AI and automated systems have seen many governments expanding their ‘public safety’ programs and turning to the concept of developing ‘smart cities’.

But it’s the wrong kind of smart.

The wrong kind of smart.

Far from taking advantage of technological leaps to enhance and protect rights, so-called ‘smart’ data-centric projects focus on the constant generation, collection and processing of data, often with a cost to our right to privacy. Indeed, as we place sensors and CCTV cameras all over our streets, buildings and public spaces, we are building a world in which we are constantly subject to surveillance. In Australia, we are already starting to see these technologies roll out in several cities already, such as PerthBrisbane and Darwin.

There is no empirical evidence that supports the assertion that blanket surveillance is effective at preventing serious crime and terrorism either domestically or internationally. In fact, if anything, these approaches almost always erode rights and diminish freedoms.

Australian Cities For Digital Rights. Because we're smarter than that.

At Digital Rights Watch, we’re not against technology. Far from it! In fact, many of our supporters are either avid users of technology or work in technological fields.

We just think technology should genuinely be smart – not erode human rights and diminish people’s freedoms. #SmarterThanThat

Cities for Digital Rights Initiative.

There are positive interventions that local government representatives can do to protect residents against this rising trend.

In 2018, the Cities for Digital Rights initiative was launched by the three major cities of Barcelona, Amsterdam and New York City with the support of the United Nations Human Settlements Program, with an aim to protect, promote and monitor residents’ and visitors’ digital rights.

Many more local government authorities around the world have since adopted this declaration, including the City of Sydney, with others such as the City of San Francisco recently moving to ban all use of facial recognition software.

Let’s get more truly smart Australian cities standing up for your digital rights!

Share your smarts.

Help spread the word by sharing our campaign images below on social media with the hashtag #SmarterThanThat.

Or message us your own #SmarterThanThat preferences and we may publish them online. Send us your smarts! Message us on Facebook or tweet us on Twitter. Example below:

Smart: Watches, glasses, earbuds that monitor your health.
Not smart: Centralised data collection that erodes rights and diminishes freedoms.

Click images below to download.

Smarter Than That - Australian Cities For Digital Rights