HRBDT Weekly News Circular

By Katerina Hadjimatheou

Each week the Human Rights, Big Data & Technology Project, based at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre, prepares an overview of related news stories from the week. This summary contains news articles from 3 – 7 December 2018.

You can follow the HRBDT Project on twitter: @hrbdtNews.

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HRBDT Weekly News Circular

By Amy Dickens

Each week the Human Rights, Big Data & Technology Project, based at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre, prepares an overview of related news stories from the week. This summary contains news articles from 16 – 23 November 2018.

You can follow the HRBDT Project on twitter: @hrbdtNews.

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Mobile phone theft and EU eprivacy law: the CJEU clarifies police powers

By Lorna Woods

This post originally appeared on EU Law Analysis, and is reproduced here with permission.

Introduction

This week’s CJEU judgment in Case C-207/16 Ministerio Fiscal is part of the jurisprudence on the ePrivacy Directive, specifically Article 15 which broadly allows Member States to permit intrusions into the confidentiality of communications for certain specified reasons.  Article 15 is part of the legal framework for the mass retention of communications data from Digital Rights Ireland (Case C-293/12 and 594/12), EU:C:2014:238) (“DRI”) on and in which the Court has affirmed that retention schemes could be justified only in the case of “serious crime” (Tele2/Watson (Joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15), ECLI:EU:C:2016:970).  This left the question of what “serious crime” might be, and whether there would be EU law standards circumscribing the scope of this term. It is this question that the reference here seeks to address, though it should be noted that the facts in issue were very different from those in the earlier cases. Continue reading

Gender, War and Technology: Peace and Armed Conflict in the 21st Century

By Emily Jones 

Technology is vastly changing contemporary conflict. While there has been a lot of recent focus by international lawyers on topics such as drone warfare and autonomous weapons systems, very little has been published on these issues from a gender and law perspective. Seeking to bridge this gap, I recently co-edited a Special Issue for the Australian Feminist Law Journal on Gender, War and Technology: Peace and Armed Conflict in the 21st Century alongside Yoriko Otomo and Sara Kendall. The issue brings together a wide array of voices. Several different technologies are discussed; from drone warfare to lesser known technologies being used in conflict settings such as evidence and data collection technologies and human enhancement technologies.

As the introduction to the Special Issue notes, gender is used throughout the Special Issue in multiple ways, highlighting women’s lived experiences in conflicts as combatants, victims, negotiators of peace agreements, military actors and as civilians, as well as being used as a theoretical tool of analysis, ‘considering issues of agency, difference, and intersectionality, and contesting gendered constructions that presuppose femininity, ethnicity, and passivity.’ Intersectionality is also a key theme throughout the issue, with articles also ‘considering issues of race, colonialism, ability, masculinity and capitalism (and thus, implicitly, class).’ War is understood in light of feminist scholarship on conflict, noting how war and peace work on a ‘continuum of violence’ with neither war not peace being as easy to define as legal categorisations suggest.

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Why We Need to Stop Talking About ‘Killer Robots’ and Address the AI Backlash

By Lorna McGregor

This post originally appeared on EJIL: Talk!

In the field of artificial intelligence, the spectacle of the ‘killer robot’ looms large. In my work for the ESRC Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project, I am often asked about what the ‘contemporary killer robot’ looks like and what it means for society. In this post, I offer some reflections on why I think the image of the ‘killer robot’ – once a mobiliser for dealing with autonomous weapons systems – is now narrowing and distorting the debate and taking us away from the broader challenges posed by artificial intelligence, particularly for human rights.

In order to address these challenges, I argue that we have to recognise the speed at which technology is developing. This requires us to be imaginative enough to predict and be ready to address the risks of new technologies ahead of their emergence. The example of self-driving cars is a good illustration of technology having arrived before regulatory issues have been resolved. To do otherwise means that we will be perpetually behind the state of technological development and regulating retrospectively. We therefore need to future-proof regulation, to the extent possible, which requires much more forward-thinking and prediction than we have engaged in so far. Continue reading

Finding Trump with Neural Networks

By James Allen-Robertson (This post originally appeared on Medium)

When the President tweets, how do we know who is really behind the keyboard? With a trained Neural Network, we might be able to find out.

Prior to March 2018 Donald Trump had been using an unauthorised personal Android phone in his role as POTUS. Whilst a source of anxiety for his Staff, for journalists and researchers this was particularly useful for distinguishing the words of the President himself, from those of the White House Staff. With Twitter’s API — the gateway Twitter makes available for anyone wanting to utilise their data — providing information on the ‘source’ for each Tweet, it became a fair assumption that if the ‘source’ was Android, it was pure Trump.

However as you can see from the following chart that maps the month of the tweet (on the x axis) by the frequency of tweeting (on the y axis), around March 2017 activity from Android drops off, and iPhone activity picks up.

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