Digital technologies offer promising means of anticipating, analyzing, and responding to serious human rights concerns, but they also present human rights challenges. On September 18, 2019, the Committee on Human Rights of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a public symposium on the human rights risks and opportunities associated with development and use of digital technologies. The symposium, which was webcast live, convened experts in the fields in human rights and technology to discuss pressing issues such as algorithmic bias and the use of digital evidence in justice and accountability processes. The symposium helped raise public awareness of the human rights implications of new and emerging digital technologies and aided in forging useful connections between experts in the fields of technology and human rights.
At the proceedings, our senior program manager, Jessie Brunner, discussed her work with local anti-trafficking organizations on using digital data/technology to enhance their operations and her research on best practices for human trafficking data in Southeast Asia. She noted that data on human trafficking have historically been focused on prevalence. While better access to and use of technologies and digital data can help empower these organizations, she said, many lack the technical systems and normative frameworks, as well as technical staff, to fully benefit from them. She emphasized that listening to the voices and perspectives of those directly affected by data systems is critical and that ensuring data privacy and security sometimes presents a challenge. To help address some of these issues, she has developed guidelines for digital data collection, sharing, and use for anti-trafficking practitioners in Southeast Asia, adding that groups have been created at the local level to discuss implementation of the guidelines.
Visit the CHR’s symposium webpage for more information.