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Other human rights

2019

In the USA, the Senate of of Maryland has voted to update state laws against cyber-bullying of children. The measures propose to widen the scope of the law to  only include cyber-bullying, update the definition of electronic communication, and emphasise that it is applicable even for a single significant act, instead of requiring multiple examples of bullying acts. The proposed measure is  named ‘Grace’s Law 2.0’ in memory of 15 year old Grace McComas of Woodbine, a teenager who killed herself after being cyber-bullied repeatedly on social media.

The UK Parliament members have concluded that it is the  ‘legal duty of care  of online companies and social media platforms to act to protect young users online. The government has been tasked to examine legislations to ensure online companies share necessary data to help, identify, and protect children online. Further, a report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee highlighted how the existing ‘patchwork’ of regulation has resulted in a ‘standards lottery’ which does not ensure safety of children online, recommending the government to set a target to reduce online sexual abuse of children by halve within two years and eliminate it in four years.

2018

In the view of the permeability of algorithmic technics and automated data processing in all aspects of the contemporary life, the Council of Europe Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence has published a drafted Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states to evaluate the impacts of the application of algorithmic systems in public and private spheres on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The document outlines that the misuse of algorithmic systems can jeopardise the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and prohibition of discrimination provided by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Although public and private sector initiatives to develop ethical guidelines for the design, development and deployment of algorithmic systems are welcome, they do not substitute the duty of member States to guarantee that human rights obligation are embedded into all steps of their algorithmic operations. In addition, member States should ensure appropriated regulatory frameworks to promote human rights-respecting technological innovation by all actors. The guidelines for States on actions to address the use of algorithmic system include data quality and modelling standards; principles of transparency and contestability; provision of effective judicial and non-judicial remedies to review algorithmic decisions; the implementation of precautionary measures to maintain control over the use of algorithmic systems; and empowerment through research and public awareness. The document also engages responsibilities for private actors that member States should ensure, including guidelines on data quality and modelling.  ​

The Council of Europe Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence has published a Draft Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on the manipulative capabilities of algorithmic processes. The document draws the attention of states to the rights of all human beings to take decisions and form opinions independently of automated systems. It underlines the risks of using massive amounts of personal and non-personal data to sort and micro-target people, to identify vulnerabilities, and to reshape social environments to achieve specific goals and vested interests. The draft encourages states (1) to consider additional protective frameworks to address the impacts of the targeted use of data on the exercise of human rights; (2) to initiate inclusive public debates on permissible forms of persuasion and unacceptable manipulation; (3) to take measures to ensure that effective legal guarantees are in place against such forms of interference; and (4) to empower users by promoting digital literacy on how much data are generated and used for commercial purposes.

Freedom House's report Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise Of Digital Authoritarianism shows key findings that: 

  • Declines outnumber gains for the eighth consecutive year, with almost half of these being election-related.
  • China trains the world in digital authoritarianism.
  • Internet freedom declined in the United States (mostly due to a decline in net neutrality protections).
  • Citing fake news, governments curbed online dissent (17 countries).
  • Authorities demand control over personal data (18 countries increased surveillance).

In his introduction to the report, Fake news, data collection, and the challenge to democracyAdrian Shahbaz said 'Events this year have confirmed that the internet can be used to disrupt democracies as surely as it can destabilize dictatorships'  [...] 'With or without malign intent, the internet and social media in particular can push citizens into polarized echo chambers and pull at the social fabric of a country, fueling hostility between different communities.'

 

                                                                               Changes in Internet Freedom 2018 Freedom House

In Jamal Khashoggi: All you need to know about Saudi journalist's death, the BBC summarises reports about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey on 2 October. The article gives details of the development of different government responses, the investigation, and a timeline.

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