Fundamental human rights in a digital world

Fundamental human rights in a digital world


Sponsorship area


Sponsorship amount

CHF 100,000

Sponsorship term

2020 - 2021


Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR), Bern

Digitisation and human rights in focus

The project focuses on a handbook addressing the topic of fundamental rights in a digitised society.

The rapid advance of digitisation affects central fundamental rights in every area of life in many ways.

Digital transformation is confronting society with far-reaching changes. Robotics, artificial intelligence, big data and what is known as the Internet of Things are just a few of the keywords that typify digital transformation.

The handbook provides interested readers with a comprehensible tool for identifying the areas of everyday life where digitisation is taking place:

  • the areas of everyday life in which digitisation may affect fundamental rights,
  • which legal claims can be derived from it, and
  • which specific options are available for anyone affected to take action.
  • On the one hand, digitisation has great potential to strengthen fundamental human rights in very different areas of life.

The internet provides access to a global information and communication infrastructure.

At the same time, there is a danger that digital technologies will result in new or aggravated types of breaches of fundamental rights.

This particularly affects the collection of data about people and the surveillance and monitoring of people.

The handbook addresses a broad audience and provides a summary of the impact of digital technologies on fundamental rights in everyday life.

The handbook is divided into two parts:

A general part provides information on important new IT technologies in different aspects of life and the connection and relevance to the fundamental human rights set out in the Federal Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

  • Digital technologies and applications
    • Data, metadata, and big data
    • Algorithms
    • Machine learning
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Internet of Things
    • Cloud computing
    • Robotics
    • Blockchain
  • Fundamental human rights
    • Legal foundations
    • The impact of digitisation on individual fundamental human rights

A practical section uses case studies to show where specific fundamental rights can be relevant in the use of digital technologies and how to respond to encroachments on fundamental rights.

  • Employment
  • Health
  • Contacts with administration, justice, and politics
  • Internet use
  • Education and research
  • Economy

The handbook was introduced to the public at a preview on 3rd June 2021 and is now available from the publishing company buch & netz (, CH-5742 Kölliken, either as an online book, as an eBook in various formats or as a printed book.

Team of authors

The handbook Grund- und Menschenrechte in einer digitalen Welt (Fundamental Rights and Human Rights in a Digital World) was written at the University of Zurich under the supervision of Prof. Christine Kaufmann.

The team of authors included Sabrina Ghielmini, Christine Kaufmann, Charlotte Post, Tina Büchler, Mara Wehrli and Michèle Amacker.

Contributors were the Center for Information Technology, Society and Law (ITSL) at the University of Zurich and the Digital Society Initiative (DSI) at the University of Zurich.