Brussels: STOA/LIBE workshop on artificial and human rights issue

On 20 March, a conference on the interrelation between AI and the issue of human rights was held at the European Parliament. The discussion was introduced by MEP Ms. Eva Kaili, Chair of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA), and saw the participation of other field experts. The opening speech introduced the topic on how the invasive technological progress in our daily life has changed the application and advocating process of human rights.


The topic of the debate focused on the current moral controversy of whether the application of useful cyber tools could boost or downgrade the level of governmental respect of human rights. As a matter of fact, nowadays, worldwide, authorities systemically take advantage of technical assistance with the excuse of preserving public safety and order. Cameras, drones, tracking devices are widely used by governmental forces as ways to prevent any escalating risk of terrorist attacks, danger and possible cases of civil disorder.


Freedom of expression, of space and movement, protection of personal data, equality before the law, accessibility to free media are constantly threatened by cyberattacks both from governmental and non-governmental actors. The profiling strategy, in fact, could be interpreted as a double degree phenomenon. From one perspective it could indeed allow communities and activists to operate in a safe zone, on the other hand, as for the cases of repressive authorities, it narrowly intensifies the range of persecutions and violations.


During the debate, the panelists turned the attention to the EU platform and its key role within the scope of its effective actions. The unique level of completeness for human rights issues within its political frontiers could provide the necessary items in creating a comprehensive structure of checks and balances. Since the principle of democracy still dictates every policy of the European agenda, the implementation of a proper cyber jurisprudence could affect the progress of neighbouring or partner nations.


The use of such tools, however, in many situations is practically monopolized by police forces. For instance, the regional area of the Arabic Peninsula records a collection of violations perpetrated by authorities through 24h surveillance, web tracking and biased telecommunication. An Orwellian paradox which daily threatens the life of many political activists and their relatives.


The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) praises the EU active role for the implementation of proper directives for Artificial Intelligence. Hoping that such innovative framework could lead towards a revolutionary stepping stone, we praise the evolution of human rights issues towards pioneering fields.


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