The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has recently published recommendations for improving compliance with human rights regulations by parties developing, deploying or implementing artificial intelligence (AI).

The recommendations are addressed to Member States. The principles concern stakeholders who significantly influence the development and implementation of an AI system.

The Commissioner has focussed on 10 key areas of action:

    1. Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) – Member States should establish a legal framework for carrying out HRIAs. HRIAs should be implemented in a similar way to other impact assessments, such as data protection impact assessments under GDPR. HRIAs should review AI systems in order to discover, measure and/or map human rights impacts and risks. Public bodies should not procure AI systems from providers that do not facilitate the carrying out of or publication of HRIAs.
    2. Member States public consultations – Member States should allow for public consultations at various stages of engaging with an AI system, and at a minimum at the procurement and HRIA stages. Such consultations would require the publication of key details of AI systems, including details of the operation, function and potential or measured impacts of the AI system.
    3. Human rights standards in the private sector – Member States should clearly set out the expectation that all AI actors should “know and show” their compliance with human rights principles. This includes participating in transparent human rights due diligence processes that may identify the human rights risks of their AI systems.
    4. Information and transparency – Individuals subject to decision making by AI systems should be notified of this and have the option of recourse to a professional without delay. No AI system should be so complex that it does not allow for human review and scrutiny.
    5. Independent oversight – Member States should establish a legislative framework for independent and effective oversight over the human rights compliance of AI systems. Independent bodies should investigate compliance, handle complaints from affected individuals and carry out periodic reviews of the development of AI system capabilities.
      Continue Reading Council of Europe publish recommendations for the regulation of AI to protect human rights

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched an inquiry into the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the “Digital Revolution”. The inquiry will examine whether further safeguards to regulate the collection, use, tracking, retention and disclosure of personal data by private companies are required to protect human rights in the new digital age.

The key human right considered to be at risk is the right to private and family life under Article 8.

The Committee has also stated that freedom of expression (Article 10), freedom of assembly and association (Article 11) and prohibition of discrimination (Article 14) are also deemed to be at risk.

The Committee are now in the process of collecting written evidence of the threats posed to human rights by the processing of personal data by companies, and instances where those rights have been breached. The Committee have raised the following five questions and requested responses to be submitted online by 31 January 2019:


Continue Reading Joint Committee on Human Rights launches inquiry into Article 8 and the digital revolution

Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor (“EDPS”), has announced plans to set up a new European Ethics Advisory Board to address the technological challenges of the 21st century in a world where there are now more connected devices on the planet than people. He stated, “in today’s digital environment, adherence to the law is not enough; we have to consider the ethical dimension of data processing”.

The Opinion paper, published by the EDPS 11 September 2015, highlights the difficulties in protecting the dignity of the human person, including the rights to privacy and protection of personal data, against a digital landscape in which there are now more connected devices on the planet than people. He has called for a broader discussion on how to “ensure the integrity of [European] values while embracing the benefits of new technologies”. While the EDPS considers that data protection principles have proved capable of safeguarding individuals and their privacy from the risks of irresponsible data processing, he believes that today’s trends “may require a completely fresh approach”, and has urged those responsible internationally to promote an “ethical dimension in future technologies”.
Continue Reading EU Data Protection Ethics Advisory Board to be Established because “adherence to the law is not enough”, says EDPS

The Council of Europe released a Declaration encouraging the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (‘ICANN’), when developing policies for the Internet’s domain name system, to consider international privacy, security and human rights laws and policies. The Council has no legal power to force any changes on ICANN, but, having official observer status within ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, can offer detailed advice.

In its Declaration, the Council were keen to emphasise the important role that ICANN holds with regard to the control, security and supervision of the Internet, but also talked about its own responsibility to protect human rights; namely, the right to freedom of expression and access to information, the freedom of assembly and association, and the right to private and family life, including the protection of personal data.

Continue Reading ICANN urged to take international and security rules seriously by Council of Europe