Utopia Lost – Human Rights in a Digital World

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




The long progress towards universal human rights is regressing. This regression is pronounced within digital spaces once thought to be potential bulwarks of a new era in human rights. But on the contrary, new technologies have given rise to threats that undermine the autonomy, empathy, and dignity of human beings. Early visions of human rights being strengthened by networked technologies have instead crashed into technological realities which not only fail to advance human rights discourses, but rather serve to actively undermine fundamental human rights in countries around the world. The future of human rights is increasingly threatened by advances that would make George Orwell blush. Omnipresent data collection and algorithmic advances once promising a utopian world of efficiency and connection are deeply interwoven with challenges to anonymity, privacy, and security. This paper examines the impact of technological advances on the regression of human rights in digital spaces. The paper examines the development of human rights through changes in concepts of autonomy, empathy, and dignity, it charts their regression as technologies are used to increasingly prey on these very same characteristics that undergird human rights discourses.



Human rights, Digital rights, Cyberspace