graduate student, Scientific and Research
Institute of Informatics and Law NALS of Ukraine,
deputy vice-rector for international collaboration
NTUU "KPI", Kyiv, Ukraine
Information technologies in a framework of human rights protection
We live in a world where information and communication technologies (hereafter referred to as IT) and extensive flow of information have become the natural and unmistakable features of modern life.
Today, human rights in the information sphere (concerning to usage the Internet), in fact, include:
- The right of access to the Internet;
- The right to a full life with the use of the Internet;
- The right to a balanced use of the Internet in everyday life;
- The right to freedom of speech and expression within the Internet.
- The right to education, knowledge and communication through the Internet.
Mentioned rights give rise to the main areas of organizational and technical complexities and challenges that must be addressed. Said direction can be classified into the following groups:
1) “End user” – respect the rights of a specific person, the protection of his honor and dignity, and other non-property rights associated with the human personality;
2) “Legal frameworks” - the fact that legal regulation has low level of dynamic of development than process of the formation of new public relations;
3) “Jurisdictional complexity” – here we mean the cross-regional dissemination of information in general and separate informational flows. That is, as a result of the absence of de facto borders and boundaries for the dissemination of information the necessity to the permanent coordination of the national law of the various states arise worldwide. It is also important process of integration of the specific local (state) law in international practice;
4) “Technological complexity” – high speed high speed and turnover of the progress and of the development of new technologies with the unpredictable, often negative, consequences for human rights;
5) B2B and B2G relations – relations in the framework “business to business” and “business to government” in the field of human rights.
Many companies are already taking strong steps to share the IT more wider within the global audience. For example, Unilever's company has partnered with Facebook company under the direction by Internet.org alliance, to understand how to provide Internet access to millions of people across rural India (currently, only about 12% of the Indian population has access to the Internet ).
Informatively: Internet.org Alliance - a global partnership between leaders in technology, non-profit organizations, local communities and experts who work together to "Expanding access to the Internet aimed to bring the Internet up to two-thirds of the world's population that does not have it" . The founders and partners: Ericsson, Facebook, Mediatek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung.
Another example of both B2B and B2G relations is a project created by Amnesty International. Thus, the company has developed a «panic button». Mentioned mobile application has an intuitive interface and implementation in the form of a standard tool - which allows users to secretly send a notification to pre-selected contacts by quickly pressing the phone's power button (or any another button on the external casing). One of among other objectives pursued: to provide journalists who are attacked or detained, the ability to report it to the competent persons (authorised bodies). Described situation of journalists inability to protect themselves took place in just a few years ago. And today, any mobile gadgets equipped by such button.
However, development of B2B and B2G relations in the field of human rights has also a number of negative aspects. Thus, in many countries, Internet companies are faced with requirements to restrict access to Web sites, delete user-generated content or provide personal information to law-enforcement agencies or other government agencies. Risks to human rights, freedom of expression and privacy are relevant to the whole chain of IT usage (from technological issues to organizational matters). For example, the introduction of IT usage monitoring system during the elections in Iran caused serious public debate and has attracted the attention of a number of human rights organizations. Another one example - revealing disparity to the state requirements of telecommunication service providers (as a result - its vulnerability) in Egypt led to the mass closure of such providers.
Thus, there are several «risk drivers»:
1) Telecommunications Services (for example, the state requirements to disclose the privacy information aimed to assist law-enforcement agencies or other government agencies);
2) Mobile phones and other mobile devices (the risks of breaches of confidentiality, which are caused by the possibility of a hidden location determination);
3) Internet services (possibility of a legally or illegally gain access to the contents of the filter, to remove, block or disable individual user accounts, as well as significant risks of information storage using a so-called cloud resource (often vulnerable);
4) Home appliances (Smart Electronics) (risks of installed special software to covert surveillance and recording information).
In the interconnection between human rights, business, government, law-enforcement agencies or other government agencies, as well as the interests of national security it is important to clarify some of the specific features of such relations. Named specificity can be accurately described by the statement that perfectly expressed in 2008, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on business and human rights: all the States must protect human rights, and companies are responsible for the lack of respect for human rights .
It is necessary to designate two pitfalls in mentioned relationships:
at first, there are legitimate reasons for the state (law-enforcement agencies or other government agencies) and various companies to restrict the free flow of information (for example, the removal of images of violence) or, on the contrary, allow access to personal information (such as the fight against fraud, terrorism). In this context, can we talk about the positive intervention, since the main purpose is to protect human rights;
secondly, while the said activity (justified interference) in the examples carried out with positive aims, however, there is always a risk that an external organization (public or private entities) require to translate privacy in public - for its protection, transparency etc. That is, to create a legal basis for intervention. In this case it would be appropriate to specify as an example of informational reservation of North Korea.
The contrast between these features of the relationship is great. Therefore, the most correct approach is to keep the balance:
- Transparency of legal regulation;
- The consistency of national law and international norms and practices;
- Practice of justified intervention;
- Individual and situational approach.
- Data of International Telecommunication Union : http://www.itu.int/en
- Official web Internet.org : https://info.internet.org/en/
- Data of The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) : http://www.ohchr.org