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The development of new technology is quick. As the world is forced to adapt to these changes, challenges arise for the safeguarding and promotion of human rights. In this post, young people share their insights and expertise on how new technology impacts human rights.

Through the Rising Minds podcast, young people shape conversations on the issues that impact their wellbeing. In a series of deep dive blog posts, we summarise key messages from the speakers of the podcasts. This post reviews the impacts of new technology on human rights that were raised in several podcast episodes that you can listen to below.

Biased Artificial Intelligence

“Algorithmic decision-making is a challenge, especially in areas like lending and job recruitment, where biases can emerge.” – Raashi Saxena

Raashi highlights how biases can emerge in these processes, affecting individuals based on their data, potentially leading to unfair outcomes. She notes the importance of movements advocating against such practices and the need for transparency in these systems.

This discussion contributes to the broader conversation about the ethical considerations and potential discriminatory effects of AI technologies. We’re encouraged to be mindful of the biases that may be embedded in these systems and to advocate for responsible and unbiased AI development and deployment.

Big Tech’s Ownership of Social Media

Julia Wiklander talking big tech on the Rising Minds Podcast
Julia Wiklander, Founder of Girls’ Globe, on the Rising Minds Podcast. Photo credit: Zamda Kavamahanga for Girls’ Globe

“We have surveillance, we have online violence, we have cyberbullying, we have the mental health issues, we’re feeling unsafe. And big tech is actually profiting off of all of this, the things that actually harm us.”

– Julia Wiklander

“With great power comes great responsibility,” says Sonali Silva if she could address the owners of the big tech companies today. Sonali and Nabila discuss the ways they use social media for their activism and highlight that we must hold big tech accountable and find new ways of collaborating to change the systems.

“Transparency is one of the biggest issues. We need Internet governance to build that trust.” – Nadia Tjahja

The conversation between Andreea Barbu & Nadia Tjahja hints at the responsibility and accountability of various stakeholders, including big tech companies. Questions are raised about how these companies handle user data, create policies, and maintain transparency. The need for a balance between innovation and accountability is discussed, especially in the context of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

Surveillance and Data Privacy

“Data is precious and that is private. Data is non-negotiable.” – Christopher Arunga

Christopher Arunga became an advocate for digital rights after experiencing a data breach where personal information was leaked to multiple news outlets, affecting his security and daily life. The serious implications of data breaches, including the ability to trace individuals, motivated Christopher to join the digital rights space. He co-founded Linda Data with four other activists and Amnesty Kenya around February 2022. They focused on three thematic areas: misuse of personal data, misinformation impact on children, and surveillance impact on young people.

Raashi Saxena. Photo credit: personal

“People should know that when using ChatGPT, they are giving away an aspect of their data without clear rights or privacy protection.” – Raashi Saxena

Raashi expresses concerns about the lack of agency and rights regarding informational privacy when using AI applications like ChatGPT. She points out that the terms and conditions for many applications are lengthy and may not be thoroughly read by users. This lack of transparency in data usage raises issues of data privacy, and Raashi stresses the importance of users understanding and being conscious of where their data goes when they use AI applications.

The concerns about data privacy align with broader conversations about the ethical implications of surveillance practices, especially when it comes to AI technologies. It’s an area that warrants continued exploration and discussion in the context of evolving technology and its impact on personal privacy.

The Digital Divide

Not being a part of the digital sphere can violate human rights, given the increasing reliance on online interactions, as discussed in more detail in this deep dive.

“Digital divide is a real issue. And when your half of the population is not having the access to the basic right, how the country will progress.”

– Roshni Anwar

The discussion on the digital divide emphasizes the importance of equal access to information as a human right. Roshni mentions disparities in digital access, particularly in rural areas, impacting people’s ability to access information and educational resources.

Roshni highlights gender-based challenges related to digital access. Women and young girls face restrictions and the need for permission to use smartphones. Or they do not engage in online activities due to concerns about cyberbullying and harassment. Read more on the online gender based violence in this deep dive of the Rising Minds podcast.

In terms of bridging the digital divide, Raashi Saxena suggests that efforts should focus on education initiatives. She mentions an interesting strategy in India where there is an attempt to democratize AI education in schools, specifically targeting children. Raashi also explores the concept of community networks, where communities take on the responsibility of creating and managing their own networks. This approach involves building a domestic internet infrastructure, allowing for greater agency and control over network accessibility.

Digital Governance and Why it’s Needed

Andreea Barbu and Nadia Tjahja discuss Internet governance, which involves the development and application of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs by governments, the private sector, and civil society. It shapes the evolution and use of the internet. Why digital governance is needed can be summarized into several key points.

Protection of Rights and Privacy

Digital governance is necessary to protect user rights, including privacy and freedom of expression. The evolving digital landscape raises concerns about how personal information is handled, and digital governance provides a framework to address these concerns.

Regulation of Emerging Technologies

With the emergence of technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain, digital governance is essential to regulate their development and usage. It ensures that ethical considerations, risks, and responsible practices are taken into account.

Ensuring Fair Competition

Digital governance helps maintain fair competition in the digital marketplace. It prevents monopolistic practices and promotes fair trade, contributing to a competitive and healthy digital economy.

Cybersecurity Measures

The interconnected nature of digital systems exposes them to cybersecurity threats. Digital governance, such as the Network and Information Security Directive, is crucial for strengthening cybersecurity measures and protecting against cyberattacks.

Addressing Online Harms

Digital governance plays a role in addressing online harms such as cyberbullying, hate speech, and disinformation. Policies guide platforms and users on responsible online behavior, creating a safer digital environment.

Ensuring Accountability and Transparency

Governance in the digital space establishes accountability mechanisms for organizations and individuals. It promotes transparency in decision-making processes, ensuring stakeholders are aware of rules and consequences.

Global Collaboration

The global nature of the digital space requires international collaboration. Digital governance facilitates collaboration and standardization, allowing nations to work together on common challenges such as cybersecurity and cross-border digital trade.

Adapting to Technological Changes

Digital governance is needed to adapt to the rapid pace of technological changes. It provides a structured approach for policymakers to keep up with advancements, ensuring regulations remain relevant and effective.

Examples of digital governance that Nadja Tjajha discusses are the GDPR, the Copyright Directive and the Network and Information Security Directive. These examples illustrate how digital governance involves creating and implementing policies to address various aspects of the digital landscape. The focus is on regulating and providing guidelines for entities operating in the digital space to ensure responsible and secure practices.

Navigating New Technology and Our Human Rights

Throughout the podcast episodes, the speakers emphasize the importance of user awareness, critical thinking, and reflection when engaging with digital technologies. Users are encouraged to be informed, consider the implications of their digital choices, and be mindful of the impact on various aspects of their lives.

Sonali Silva and Nabeela Iqbal on the Rising Minds Podcast
Sonali Silva and Nabeela Iqbal on the Rising Minds Podcast. Photo credit: Fondation Botnar

As we gain awareness, we can begin holding big tech and governements accountable.

“Get creative with the resistance, you know? If they [big tech] already know it’s bad and they don’t want to do anything about it, then maybe we can be just a little bit louder.”

– Sonali Silva

First launched as a pop-up radio show at the Women Deliver 2023 conference by Fondation Botnar, all Rising Minds episodes are now published as a resource available for all to access. Find out more here. And follow the series with Girls Globe that takes a closer look at the issues and perspectives raised by young people around the world. Subscribe here.

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