Rapid technological change over the past several decades has been accompanied by two dominant ways of thinking: one predominantly academic and policy-based, that proposes the central role of technological change for economic growth and catching up, and another, largely market-centred and technology-focused that suggests the need to create unfettered conditions for technological change. Both of these perspectives frame technology’s role for society and development in a top-down model of creation, control and distribution, with nation states and the private sector playing crucial roles in different ways.

But as we move into the more complex technological changes introduced by the digital economy, it is becoming evident that focusing just on the ‘public interest’ in and through technological change is not enough to address the challenges posed by technology for society. New divisions are emerging, not just between countries, but within countries all over the world. Some essential questions arise from the perspective of creating better rules of the game. What is public interest? What is the role of the state in ensuring people’s best interests? Can technological companies know what is best for us? Can we democratise technology agenda-setting? How can we devise rules to make technological change empowering to all - communities, businesses and society alike? Can we think of new ways of structuring the discourse around technological change with better cost benefit approaches that work for all groups?

Rights2100 is an initiative that seeks to address many of these. Rights2100 aims to promote more decentralised, ownership-based approaches to technology and governance in the digital economy. It promotes rights-based approaches that deeply integrate societal questions of justice, participation and equality in the debates on technological change. Central to the work of Rights2100 are approaches that promote autonomy and rights on personal data, secure processes for the use of non-personal data, and increase participation and voice for all in the digital economy. It is an initiative aims at grassrooting technological change, by pioneering new methods, approaches and solutions that respond to the needs of firms, communities and people in novel ways.

To facilitate discussions on equal rights, opportunities and choice for all in the data economy, Rights2100 combines theory, policy and practice to:

(a) provide a forum for discussion and exchange

(b) put new issues of importance from a grassroots perspective on the global attention radar (A New Bill of Rights, Workshop on Development in the Data Economy, Our Data Futures, and a large project on Development in the 4th Industrial Revolution)

(c) offer advice on inclusive business strategies, privacy strategies, data stewardship and ownership with a view to promote social and integration of new technologies to solve age old issues of biases and exclusion. (Contact)