Digital harm is on the rise – here's how we can give victims a pathway to justice

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Malicious actors who instrumentalize hate, distrust and political divisions in the form of disinformation have colonized our digital spaces in order to negotiate and assert their own societal values, creating new forms of harm. Whether this harm emerges from deep-fake videos, defamatory content or inaccurate information spread by administrative error, it is becoming increasingly difficult to remedy, since at present there are limited ways to seek justice in a globally digitized world.

There are a range of reasons why justice is hard to come by, including technical architecture, confusion over jurisdictions and market interests, to name a few. But if you need to seek recourse for a digital harm, do you know where to start? When a crime takes place, one would normally raise the issue to law enforcement. However, given how opaque responsibility is for any given data service – let alone for the creation of defamatory content online – does law enforcement really have the capabilities to uncover the perpetrator? What if you experience the harm in a different jurisdiction from your home country? Would the same rules apply? It is a daunting and often expensive process to fix the problem, if that is even possible, let alone to seek redress.

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