Big Brother is watching: Spyware exports pose unprecedented threat to democratic leaders and human rights defenders

by Kerry Pearson, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

‘Never has the human right to privacy been more important and more under siege,’ suggested the UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, Joe Cannataci, when presenting his recent report on ‘artificial intelligence and privacy’ to the Human Rights Council’s 47th session (HRC47). His words seemed especially prescient this week as news broke that spyware developed by NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance company, …

Human rights in the digital age: Making digital technology work for human rights

by Geneva Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, In focus: democracy, Policy reports, Reportes

Human rights in the digital age: Making digital technology work for human rights

The seventh  Glion Human Rights Dialogue (Glion VII), organised by the Governments of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and the Universal Rights Group (URG), in partnership with the Permanent Missions of Fiji, Iceland, Mexico, the Seychelles and Thailand, was held on 3-4 December 2020 and considered the topic: ‘Human rights in the digital age: Making digital technology work for human rights.’ In particular the Glion VII …

Making AI trustworthy: the EU’s proposed legal framework for regulating artificial intelligence

by Courtney Halverson, URG NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a plethora of uses, spanning from surprising and beneficial applications, like applying the same technology used to analyse pastries to identify cancer cells, to potentially detrimental and intrusive applications, like using facial recognition to track citizens. The European Union’s new proposal for a legal framework to govern AI suggests that the introduction of ethical, human centered regulations can both …

FinTech’s opportunities and risks, and the importance of regulation for the protection of human rights

by Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Financial technology (FinTech) has been described as a harbinger of change, one that could  impose a new regime of streamlined finance. Although there is some merit to the potential of these services to revolutionise finance, reduce inequality and accelerate development, like any other technology, they require regulation to safeguard against abuses that could have serious human rights impacts. The United …

Recent US report of Russian election interference reveals how disinformation can exploit existing divides to erode trust in democracy

by Amanda Gu, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 16 March 2021, the US National Intelligence Council released a declassified report detailing what they found to be the extent of Russian interference in the 2020 US Presidential Election. US President Joe Biden issued a strong rebuke and one month later on 15 April his administration announced sanctions and other retributory measures. According to the report, Russian disinformation campaigns aimed …

How do you solve a problem like WhatsApp? The complicated role of messaging apps in the fight against disinformation and for free speech

by Tess Kidney Bishop, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Much of the debate around the spread of misinformation and online harassment has been focused on the biggest social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and, more recently, TikTok. Messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat, and the increasingly popular Telegram and Signal, have nearly as many users as these platforms and are also rife with disinformation, hate …

Digital democratic cities and the future of human rights online

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, In focus: democracy

The title of the seventh edition of the Glion Human Rights Dialogue in late 2020, ‘ Making digital technology work for human rights ,’ was chosen deliberately. The organisers hoped that at the same time as considering the important threats to human rights posed by such technology, such as the emergence of ‘surveillance States’ and internet shutdowns, Glion VII would also – in a more positive sense …

New corporate ‘Treaty Body’ gears up to consider Facebook’s decision to bar Donald Trump

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

As reported in the New York Times , its members include two people who were reportedly on presidential shortlists for the US Supreme Court, a Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a British Pulitzer Prize winner, a former UN Special Rapporteur, Colombia’s leading human rights lawyer, and a former prime minister of Denmark. Welcome to the Facebook Oversight Board, operational since October 2020 (Mark …

Garbage in, garbage out: is AI discriminatory or simply a mirror of IRL inequalities?

by Aurore Lentz, Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

When considering the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), it is useful to remember Tay, an infamous Twitter chatbot launched by Microsoft in March 2016. Tay was an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot intended to ‘learn’ by reading tweets and interacting with other Twitter users. ‘The more you talk, the smarter Tay gets!,’ its description read. It only took a few hours …

Advertisers and social media companies strike a deal to address harmful content

by Aurore Lentz, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Following months of negotiations, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), a consortium of companies including major brands of consumer goods and media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, reached an agreement earlier this trimester to adopt a common framework on harmful content in the context of advertisement. By defining sensitive or harmful content in a unified manner across the industry, this agreement would make …