ICTs and Human Rights

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Comparto abstract del paper que presenté para la Inaugural Postgraduate Research Conference: “Contemporary challenges in international law”, realizado por la Universidad de Nebrija (España) y Coventry Law School (UK)

Abstract

The rise of information society has been disruptive, has changed our societies and economies, and has brought a lot of opportunities and challenges for everyone.

Internet and new technologies, facilitated the creation of new digital services and applications, which are held on online platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, that have generated a digital ecosystem, which: erased frontiers, showed that we live in an international community, brought more access and empowered people. Nonetheless, the digital ecosystem has many risks, mainly in relation with Human Rights, which enforce authorities to face the necessity to achieve international solutions that allow the fully realization of those rights and freedoms which are recognized in different International Human Rights Instruments, such us the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The UDHR proclaimed a common standard for all people and nations. It states the fundamental human rights to be protected universally by the rule of law and that have to be promoted by progressive measures to secure their effectiveness, still they are essential to achieve freedom, justice and peace in the world.

In the digital environment, some rights and freedoms have threats that must be considered, in order to find solutions that allow the development of the digital ecosystem, while protecting the fundamental rights of everyone.

For this paper, we will consider specially the following rights: privacy and data protection, freedom of expression and access to information, and non-discrimination.

(i) Privacy and data protection: the development of technology, the automatization, the increase of processing and storage capacity, allow different organizations to collect large amount of data and to use it for diverse purposes which could be very good for societies but which can also affect Human Rights.

(ii) Freedom of expression and access to information: express ourselves freely as well as receive information and ideas through any media, is vital for modern democracy, even though it could be restricted because of pressure on intermediaries, forcing them to filter content and to hand over some data. Also, it can be affected as a consequence of oppression or retaliation on specific groups, and for the practices that companies could have with networks.

(iii) Non-discrimination: when the information is analyzed automatically and different algorithms are developed, with or without intention, we can be discriminating, affecting essential aspects of our lives. This could happen when we use certain parameters that could be impartial. A clear example could be seen in the selection of human resources. If to create and describe a new position, we use the profile of older employees, in case the majority of them were men, probably the algorithm would prefer men rather than women.

In order to work in these challenges, different solutions are being analyzed, such as: reach global agreements, reform laws, empower people, enhance digital security, discourage discriminatory models, develop digital agendas and focus more on digital rights.

Those that work and develop better strategies for the digital environment, would be able to create better conditions for the future of their citizens.

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