The Digitalcourage association has started a petition calling on the Bundestag to include a “right to a life without digital coercion” in the Basic Law and thus enshrine it in law. The exercise of basic rights should not be made dependent on software or hardware.

When the German Basic Law was passed on May 23, 1949, digitization was not yet a topic. However, to mark the 75th anniversary of our constitution, the Digitalcourage association has launched a petition. The demand: The Bundestag should include a “right to a life without digital coercion” in the Basic Law.

“Right to life without digital constraint” should be included in the Basic Law

Digitalcourage justifies its petition as follows: “The exercise of fundamental rights and public services, participation in social life and the use of public infrastructure (e.g. post office, railways, medical care) must not be made dependent on people using the Internet, a smartphone or certain software.”

The association criticizes the fact that a digital requirement excludes many people. These include: old or sick people, people with disabilities and people with low incomes. Another point of criticism: with a few exceptions, the BahnCard can only be used in combination with a customer account and a smartphone app, while the plastic card is to be almost completely abolished.

Digitalization leads to more surveillance

Digitalcourage, meanwhile, sees an “urgent need for action” as more and more existing services are being dismantled at a rapid pace and replaced by smartphone-based applications.

“The compulsion to use a smartphone or certain apps for services that were previously generally available leads to ever new, detailed data collections that enable comprehensive (commercial) surveillance of all areas of life,” the petition continues.

Instead, the association is calling for freedom of choice. In concrete terms, everyone should be able to freely decide whether they want to own or use a smartphone. The same applies to software and operating systems, as “social dependence on digital solutions” poses a risk. That is why it is good “if a non-digital option is still available.”

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