Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology

Global Politics, Law and International Relations

Edited by Ben Wagner, Matthias C. Kettemann and Kilian Vieth

In a digitally connected world, the question of how to respect, protect and implement human rights has become unavoidable. This contemporary Research Handbook offers new insights into well-established debates by framing them in terms of human rights. It examines the issues posed by the management of key Internet resources, the governance of its architecture, the role of different stakeholders, the legitimacy of rule making and rule-enforcement, and the exercise of international public authority over users. Highly interdisciplinary, its contributions draw on law, political science, international relations and even computer science and science and technology studies.
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Chapter 2: There are no rights ‘in’ cyberspace

Mark Graham


Many of the ways in which we discuss, imagine and envision the internet rely on inaccurate and unhelpful spatial metaphors. This chapter focuses on the usage of the ‘cyberspace’ metaphor and outlines why the reliance by contemporary policy-makers on this inherently geographic metaphor matters. The metaphor constrains, enables and structures very distinct ways of imagining the interactions between people, information, code and machines through digital networks. These distinct imaginations, in turn, have real effects on how we enact politics and bring places into being. The chapter broadly traces the history of ‘cyberspace’, explores the scope of its current usage and highlights the discursive power of its distinct way of shaping our spatial imagination of the internet. It then concludes by arguing that geographers should take the lead in employing alternate, nuanced and spatially grounded ways of envisioning the myriad ways in which the internet mediates social, economic and political experiences.

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