Council of Europe adopts declaration on manipulative capabilities of algorithmic processes

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a ‘Declaration on the manipulative capabilities of algorithmic processes’, drawing the attention of member states to the threats that automated systems pose to human rights and democratic societies. The declaration notes that machine learning tools can not only predict choices, but also influence emotions, thoughts, and alter anticipated courses of actions, thus having the capacity to ‘manipulate and control not only economic choices but also social and political behaviours’. In this context, the committee calls on member states to consider the development of additional protective frameworks to address the impacts of the targeted use of data on the exercise of human rights. Moreover, countries are invited to initiate public debates aimed at providing guidance on the difference between permissible persuasion and unacceptable manipulation. Lastly, the declaration also encourages member states to promote digital literacy on how much data is generated and used for commercial purposes. The declaration was drafted by the ‘Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence’.