The Working Papers of the Global Digital Human Rights Network contain both an idealistic and a practice-oriented dimension. It is often difficult but always unavoidable for academia to reach out to the “real world”. Scholars working with digital human rights have for some time realized that in the digital domain of human rights theory matters less and technical solutions matter more. The Working Paper series, again idealistically, attempt to reverse this pattern. The level of this goal’s pragmatism depends on the Network’s capability to break or at least question the strengthening grip of the online companies as powerful actors in defining the image of human rights in the digital landscape.
The current inaugural edition clearly shows how turbulent times accelerate the solidification of the novel “digital paradigm” in human rights protection. What during ordinary times could have taken decades may show itself as an important trend within a brief time due to the pandemic crisis. This means “normalization” of features which previously were considered contestable. For example, absence of transparency and foreseeability as inherent charac- teristics of private content governance has long been tacitly accepted because of the focus shift from the content assessment process to the outcome. But during difficult times, people expect answers and justification for decisions that impact how they can communicate.