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The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

Human Rights

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A new Human Rights Watch report suggests children as young as one are now in the database

More than 160 children, some as young as one year old, were placed on Argentina’s national criminal database in the last three years, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), and their faces were uploaded into Buenos Aires’ city live facial recognition database.

Buenos Aires’ facial recognition has a history of failures, as OneZero reported earlier this year. In 2019, a man named Guillermo Ibarrola was wrongfully detained for six days based on a misentry into CONARC, the national database of citizens wanted for serious crimes.

The new report suggests that even toddlers could be found on…


Applying core international human rights principles to coronavirus-related privacy interferences

Photo: Paul Faith/Getty Images

In the face of the devastating coronavirus pandemic, governments around the world are deploying an array of public- and private-sector technologies, causing great concern and alarm among privacy advocates worldwide. Many privacy experts are calling on the need to favor more privacy-preserving technologies, take measures to mitigate the risks to individual privacy posed by specific technologies, and impose purpose and storage limitations (among other restrictions) on the use of any personal data collected by the technologies that are ultimately deployed.

One example of a specific measure causing alarm is known as contact tracing, or the process of identifying individuals who…


Children mine cobalt — a key element for making batteries — in terrible conditions

Credit: Sebastian Meyer/Getty Images

There is no trace of toxic dust on the sleek, shiny iPhones lined up in the Apple Store — that would be terrible for marketing campaigns. And there is nothing mentioned about the 40,000 children in the southern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who are forced to mine cobalt with their bare hands to create mobile phone batteries.

But there is toxic dust in those mines, and those children are almost always given nothing to protect themselves from it. Inhaling cobalt dust can cause fatal lung diseases, chronic rashes, vomiting, and convulsions. …


Social media platforms should look to human rights law to govern speech on the internet

Photo: Just_Super/Getty Images

Today, a few private companies, driven to expand shareholder value, control social media. And yet the rules of speech for public space, in theory, should be made by relevant political communities, not private companies that lack democratic accountability and oversight. If left alone, the companies will gain ever greater power over expression in the public sphere.

Governments see that corporate power and are jealous of it, as they should be. French President Emmanuel Macron said directly when he appeared before the UN’s Internet Governance Forum in November 2018 in Paris: “I deeply believe that it is necessary to regulate.” Macron…


Tech companies should ensure their ethics boards are guided by universal human rights and resist bad faith arguments about diversity and free speech

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

Co-authored with Brenda K Leong

Who should be on the ethics board of a tech company that’s in the business of artificial intelligence (A.I.)? Given the attention to the devastating failure of Google’s proposed Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) earlier this year, which was announced and then canceled within a week, it’s crucial to get to the bottom of this question. Google, for one, admitted it’s “going back to the drawing board.”

Tech companies are realizing that artificial intelligence changes power dynamics and as providers of A.I. and machine learning systems, they should proactively consider the ethical impacts of…

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The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

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