Blog post

Are you ready for the digital rights revolution?

Wed, 22 August 2018#RightsTech

Concern about the impact of technology on the way we live, work and interact is not new. 

But the pace of technological change is faster than ever before. And the role of big businesses in defining and then policing the ethics associated with their own creations is now coming under increasing scrutiny. 

#RightsTech at the Fundamental Rights Forum 2018 will explore how human rights law can evolve to keep pace and thrive in the digital age. 

Looking at issues ranging from use of biometric data through to how to train neural networks to underpin rather than undermine human rights, the #RightsTech track will bring together some of the world’s largest companies and some of Europe’s biggest thinkers to help define expectations for the years ahead. 

Recent revelations about the misuse of big data raise fears about privacy. And many now feel their human rights need protection, not just from the State, but also from corporations, platforms and algorithms. And the very freedoms granted by online communication has also led to an epidemic of cyberbullying peer pressure and fake news, where opinion is more valued than fact. 

As Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, an Irish-based Islamic scholar and 2018 Forum participant, warns: “Due to social media, views and ideologies not only are shared quickly globally but also expressed anonymously, and people are more comfortable to express even hate speech.” 

But of course, technology also offer incredible opportunities too. 

It raises new security concerns that we need to learn to address, but it also offers immense opportunities to connect to people as we have never done before, which is what we need to embrace,“ says activist Björn van Roozendaal, of ILGA-Europe, who will also be at the Forum. “We need to bring in more tech people to our conversations, so that tech solutions and problems can be integrated into our work.” 

So while technology can be liberating, enabling freedom of thought and expression, what is the cost? And who should take the lead in shaping the responsibilities of the cross-border corporations which now have such immense power? 

The #RightsTech track will bring together business and tech experts with human rights advocates to explore ways to ensure that technology respects our privacy and democracy, can be harnessed to prevent the spread of hate speech and ultimately increase transparency and awareness of how to maintain human rights across Europe. 

(Articles posted on this blog represent the views and opinions of the authors)

Keep in touch!