There has been a diffusion of digital technology into every aspect of human life. With the Internet of Things, we are moving towards an increasingly connected world of devices. In the Internet age, communication and connection have been simplified to an unprecedented degree. However, there are pitfalls in this seemingly utopian landscape. Cyber-criminality accounts for an average loss of 0.5 per cent of the GDP for countries according to a McAfee study, and costs the global economy around 445 billion dollars annually. Crimes can range from identity theft and hacking to online harassment and stalking. A survey carried out by the Pew Research Centre showed that 18 per cent of online adults have had important personal information (such as bank account information, Social Security Number) stolen online. The ease of communication has also made online attacks on people, especially public figures, an everyday matter. While men and women both receive online abuse, the gendered harassment women face is more often than not an effort to put them back in their ‘place’. Violent rape and death threats, stalking, and the creation of fake profiles are a few examples of the ways in which women can be targeted in the digital space.

Considering the extent of online immersion in today’s society, issues of privacy violations and violence in the digital sphere have become incredibly important in the conversation around the right to security of person online. The right to security of person is guaranteed under Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” The right to security of person includes within it the right to bodily integrity, which has been defined by Martha Nussbaum in her capabilities approach as “being able to move free from place to place: to be secure against violent assault including sexual assault and domestic violence; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction”. This right extends to the digital sphere as well. While the Internet enables sexual rights by providing new spaces for expression and association, safety from online violence and abuse is paramount. The right to anonymity is key in enabling people to express and experiment with their diverse sexualities online, as well as people of other marginalised identities to represent themselves in the digital sphere.

The main aspects of the right to security of person which will be discussed in-depth are,

  • Freedom from violence
  • Sexual rights