The European Justice ministers in October discussed digital challenges for justice in Europe. In a statement the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers declares the following:
4. Recalls the need to take into account the following principles when developing Council of Europe tools and instruments for justice and digital technology:
i. Digital access to law and justice should supplement non-digital access. In particular, digital access must support better understanding of the law, better access to court rulings, better knowledge of these rulings and sound understanding of these rulings by citizens and legal professionals.
ii. The use of digital tools and algorithms in the justice field must not have any discriminatory effect on individuals, and must guarantee respect for privacy and the right to data protection.
iii. Although the use of digital tools and algorithms offers new options for alternative dispute settlement and aids to decision-making, it should not affect the right to effective access to a judge and judicial oversight, or the right to individualised court rulings.
iv. The use of digital tools should respect the right to a fair trial and the secrecy of investigations, and comply with requirements for transparent and intelligible court rulings.
v. The use of these tools should prevent the spread of illegal content and fake news, which have a serious impact on our democratic societies, while guaranteeing freedom of expression and information.
The European association of lawyers, Council of Bars & Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) expresses enthousiasm:
One of the conclusions of the Conference: The use of digital tools and algorithms in the #justice field must not have any discriminatory effect on individuals, and must guarantee respect for privacy and the right to data protection. https://t.co/IzUXGalFwC
— CCBE (@CCBEinfo) 17 oktober 2019
It is becoming very clear that digital systems may harm human rights and that it is als happening in Europe, read the announcement by the UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights of an analysis in regard of the Dutch System Risk Indication (SyRI): The Netherlands is building a surveillance state for the poor, says UN rights expert. The Rapporteur also published a report on counter-terrorism (read this), showing the harm already done and the grave risks of even more damage occurring.
The harm of digital surveillance and digital systems is not limited to the people the Rapporteur concentrated on. It might harm all citizens of Europe and might harm small and medium companies and organisations as well. The first signs of that are already there.
Read for instance:
Algorithmen sollen Behörden helfen, Entscheidungen zu fällen. Doch die Programme sind nicht unparteiisch. Diskriminierung durch Maschinen ist jedoch deutlich schwieriger zu erkennen, zeigt eine Studie des @KITKarlsruhe https://t.co/s00ACXnf4Y
— SZ Digital (@SZ_Digital) 17 oktober 2019
- Press release after the conference, 15 October 2019, statement (pdf).
- Announcement of the conference on 9 October 2019, short version: Justice ministers to discuss digital challenges for justice in Europe. Long version: here.
- Articles on this blog on compliance-exclusion and de-risking.
— Ellen Timmer (@Ellen_Timmer) 17 oktober 2019