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Human Rights in the Digital Age


The course critically examines the interaction and conflict between fundamental rights and digital technologies. While tech, and our relationship with it, is always evolving, fundamental rights tend to remain static. Or do they? Courts and regulators must resolve, not only the conflict between technology and fundamental rights but the conflict between competing rights. Over the five weeks of the course, we will focus on several areas of interest. This course will focus on both constitutional principles, fundamental and human rights, and the challenges facing digital technologies in today’s world. The following topics will be covered:

  • Introduction to human rights in the digital age;

  • Business, human rights and digital technologies;

  • Children’s rights in relation to the digital environment;

  • Freedom of expression, access to information and manipulation in the digital age;

  • Artificial Intelligence and human rights;

  • Big data for human rights.
    We will focus on the UN human rights regime, the European Convention of Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and case law from the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union but will also draw on other rights regimes from around the world.


The course is designed to teach students how to research, understand, and deploy authority from a variety of legal regimes. Each topic is unique and chosen to enhance students’ learning experience by building on the multi-jurisdictional and any inter-disciplinary perspectives they have developed so far and develop skills in the art of academic research. The class is characterized by a legal and positivistic approach. Accordingly, students should be able to:

  • Gain an understanding of the core effects of digital technologies on fundamental rights;

  • Gain a better understanding of the framework for fundamental rights at the International and European level;

  • Understand and contribute to contemporary debates over changes in identity, sociality, the economy, education, and play associated with the emergence of digital technologies;

  • Recognize how digital technologies constantly impact and/or structure everyday social interactions and behaviours;

  • Understand the role of human rights in protecting users online for both systemic and individual harms.

  • To critically analyse, engage with and present academic sources in the field covered by the course;

  • To provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course;

  • To actively participate and critically engage in academic debates on a subject in the field covered by the course;

  • To be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;

  • To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;

  • To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

  • To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;

  • To understand how to use legal authority and precedent properly;

  • To analyse and assess literature with a critical eye as to its quality and reliability;

  • To formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Mode of instruction

  • Number of lectures: 10 Lectures/seminars.

  • Names of lecturers: Dr. Sabine K. Witting, Assistant Professor

Assessment method (Caveat: the assessment methods may be susceptible to adjustment depending on the conditions set by covid-19 measures)

  • Closed book exam – 100% of the overall mark

Reading list
To be announced.


  • Course reader is available to be downloaded from Brightspace.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Dr. Sabine K. Witting, Assistant Professor

  • Email: (The Course Coordinator is not based in the Netherlands and can hence best be reached via email).


Institute: Public law
Administration advanced masters: BIO
Mrs. Mahshid Alizadeh (LL.M.):

Currently these pages are being updated to reflect the courses for 2022 - 2023. Until these pages are fixed as per 1 September 2022 no rights can be claimed from the information which is currently contained within.
Should there be any future changes of the Covid 19 virus which may impinge our teaching and assessment, these could necessitate modification of the course descriptions after 1 September. This will only happen in the event of strict necessity and the interests of the students will be taken into account. Should there be a need for any change during the course, this will be informed to all students on a timely basis. Modifications after 1 September 2022 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board and Programme Director.