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INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW AS A FRAMEWORK FOR ALGORITHMIC ACCOUNTABILITY

  • Lorna McGregor (a1), Daragh Murray (a2) and Vivian Ng (a3)

Abstract

Existing approaches to ‘algorithmic accountability’, such as transparency, provide an important baseline, but are insufficient to address the (potential) harm to human rights caused by the use of algorithms in decision-making. In order to effectively address the impact on human rights, we argue that a framework that sets out a shared understanding and means of assessing harm; is capable of dealing with multiple actors and different forms of responsibility; and applies across the full algorithmic life cycle, from conception to deployment, is needed. While generally overlooked in debates on algorithmic accountability, in this article, we suggest that international human rights law already provides this framework. We apply this framework to illustrate the effect it has on the choices to employ algorithms in decision-making in the first place and the safeguards required. While our analysis indicates that in some circumstances, the use of algorithms may be restricted, we argue that these findings are not ‘anti-innovation’ but rather appropriate checks and balances to ensure that algorithms contribute to society, while safeguarding against risks.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Footnotes

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This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/M010236/1].

Footnotes

References

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1 L Rainie and J Anderson, ‘Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age’ (Pew Research Center, February 2017) 30–1 <http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/02/08/code-dependent-pros-and-cons-of-the-algorithm-age>; R Kitchin, ‘Thinking Critically About and Researching Algorithms’ (2017) 20(1) Information, Communication & Society 14, 18–19.

2 See eg HJ Wilson, A Alter and P Shukla, ‘Companies Are Reimagining Business Process with Algorithms’ (Harvard Business Review, 8 February 2016) <https://hbr.org/2016/02/companies-are-reimagining-business-processes-with-algorithms>.

3 Oxford English Dictionary, ‘Definition of algorithm’ <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/algorithm>.

4 For instance, from metadata, smart technology and the Internet of Things.

5 Balkin, JM, ‘2016 Sidley Austin Distinguished Lecture on Big Data Law and Policy: The Three Laws of Robotics in the Age of Big Data’ (2017) 78(5) OhioStLJ 1217, 1219.

6 Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, Corrected Oral Evidence: Artificial Intelligence, Evidence Session No. 1 (HL 2017–2019), 10 October 2017 Evidence Session <http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/artificial-intelligence-committee/artificial-intelligence/oral/71355.pdf> 2, 9.

7 See discussion Part IIA.

8 See discussion Parts IIIA, IVA and IVB.

9 See discussion Part IIB; Kroll, JA et al. , ‘Accountable Algorithms’ (2017) 165(3) UPaLRev 633; S Barocas, S Hood and M Ziewitz, ‘Governing Algorithms: A Provocation Piece’ (Governing Algorithms Conference (New York University, 29 March 2013); Ananny, M and Crawford, K, ‘Seeing Without Knowing: Limitations of The Transparency Ideal and Its Application to Algorithmic Accountability’ (2018) 20(3) New Media & Society 973; Citron, DK and Pasquale, F, ‘The Scored Society: Due Process for Automated Predictions’ (2014) 89(1) WashLRev 1; Zarsky, T, ‘The Trouble with Algorithmic Decisions: An Analytic Road Map to Examine Efficiency and Fairness in Automated and Opaque Decision Making’ (2016) 41(1) Science, Technology & Human Values 118; Diakopoulos, N, ‘Algorithmic Accountability: Journalistic Investigation of Computational Power Structures’ (2015) 3(3) Digital Journalism 398; Wachter, S, Mittelstadt, B and Russell, C, ‘Counterfactual Explanations Without Opening the Black Box: Automated Decisions and the GDPR’ (2018) 31(2) Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 841.

10 Discussed further in Part IIB.

11 These approaches tend to focus on computational methods to achieve some form of statistical parity, which is a narrow view of giving effect to the principle of equality. See discussion Part IIB; Kitchin (n 1) 16.

12 As shorthand in this article we use the abbreviation ‘IHRL’ to refer to international human rights law and broader norms.

13 UN Human Rights Committee, ‘General Comment No. 31 The Nature of the Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the Covenant’ (26 May 2004) UN Doc CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add. 13, paras 3–8; UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, ‘General Comment No. 3 The Nature of States Parties’ Obligations (Art. 2, Para. 1, of the Covenant)’ (14 December 1990) UN Doc E/1991/23, paras 2–8.

14 UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of The Special Representative of The Secretary-General on The Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, John Ruggie, on Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework’ (21 March 2011) UN Doc A/HRC/17/31, Principles 1–10 [hereinafter Ruggie Principles].

15 ibid, Principle 15.

16 Council of Europe Committee of Experts on Internet Intermediaries (MSI-NET), ‘Algorithms and Human Rights: Study on the Human Rights Dimensions of Automated Data Processing Techniques and Possible Regulatory Implications’ (March 2018) Study DGI(2017)12; UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age’ (3 August 2018) UN Doc A/HRC/39/29, paras 1, 15; F Raso et al., ‘Artificial Intelligence & Human Rights: Opportunities & Risks’ (Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, 25 September 2018); M Latonero, ‘Governing Artificial Intelligence: Upholding Human Rights & Dignity’ (Data & Society, 10 October 2018); Access Now, ‘Human Rights in the Age of Artificial Intelligence’ (8 November 2018); P Molnar and L Gill, ‘Bots at the Gate: A Human Rights Analysis of Automated Decision-Making in Canada's Immigration and Refugee System’ (University of Toronto International Human Rights Program and The Citizen Lab, September 2018); UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression on A Human Rights Approach to Platform Content Regulation’ (6 April 2018) UN Doc A/HRC/38/35; UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons on Robots and Rights: The Impact of Automation on the Human Rights of Older Persons’ (21 July 2017) UN Doc A/HRC/36/48; UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston, ‘Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom’ (London, 16 November 2018) <https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23881&LangID=E>; Global Future Council on Human Rights 2016–2018, ‘White Paper: How to Prevent Discriminatory Outcomes in Machine Learning’ (World Economic Forum, March 2018); D Allison-Hope, ‘Artificial Intelligence: A Rights-Based Blueprint for Business, Paper 2: Beyond the Technology Industry’ (Business for Social Responsibility, August 2018).

17 See eg C van Veen and C Cath, ‘Artificial Intelligence: What's Human Rights Got to Do with It?’ (Data & Society, 14 May 2018) <https://points.datasociety.net/artificial-intelligence-whats-human-rights-got-to-do-with-it-4622ec1566d5>.

18 UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, John Ruggie on Protect, Respect and Remedy: A Framework for Business and Human Rights’ (7 April 2008) UN Doc A/HRC/8/5, para 3.

19 Ruggie Principles (n 14) Principle 11 and accompanying commentary. At the time of writing, the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights has produced a zero draft of ‘a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises’, as mandated by UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9. See UN Human Rights Council, ‘Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, In International Human Rights Law, The Activities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises’ (Zero Draft 16.7.2018).

20 UN General Assembly, ‘Report of the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises on Access to Effective Remedies Under the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework’ (18 July 2017) A/72/162, para 5; UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Improving Accountability and Access to Remedy for Victims of Business-Related Human Rights Abuse’ (10 May 2016) A/HRC/32/19, para 2, 4–6.

21 See Rainie and Anderson (n 1) 83.

22 ibid, 83.

23 The nature of algorithms is presented simplistically here, to encapsulate their essential elements relevant to the present discussion. There are multiple ways of understanding what an algorithm is, its functions, and how it executes those functions. See TH Cormen et al., Introduction to Algorithms (3rd edn, MIT Press 2009) 5–10; DE Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, vol 1 (3rd edn, Addison Wesley Longman 1997) 1–9.

24 T Gillespie, ‘The Relevance of Algorithms’ in T Gillespie, PJ Boczkowski and KA Foot (eds), Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society (MIT Press 2014) 167, 192.

25 The case of Wisconsin v Eric L. Loomis, which deals with precisely this issue, is discussed in greater detail in Part IVB.

26 UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston, ‘Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom’ (n 16).

27 ibid.

28 London Councils, ‘Keeping Children Safer by Using Predictive Analytics in Social Care Management’ <https://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/our-key-themes/our-projects/london-ventures/current-projects/childrens-safeguarding>.

29 N McIntyre and D Pegg, ‘Councils Use 377,000 People's Data in Efforts to Predict Child Abuse’ (The Guardian, 16 September 2018) <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/16/councils-use-377000-peoples-data-in-efforts-to-predict-child-abuse>.

30 E Benvenisti, ‘Upholding Democracy Amid the Challenges of New Technology: What Role for the Law of Global Governance?’ (2018) 29(1) EJIL 9, 60.

31 Northpointe, ‘Practitioner's Guide to COMPAS Core’ (Northpointe, 19 March 2015) Section 4.2.2 Criminal Associates/Peers and Section 4.2.8 Family Criminality <http://www.northpointeinc.com/downloads/compas/Practitioners-Guide-COMPAS-Core-_031915.pdf>; AM Barry-Jester, B Casselman and D Goldstein, ‘The New Science of Sentencing’ (The Marshall Project, 4 August 2015) <https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/08/04/the-new-science-of-sentencing>.

32 See C O'Neil, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy (Penguin 2016) Introduction.

33 US Executive Office of the President, Big Data: A Report on Algorithmic Systems, Opportunity, and Civil Rights (May 2016) 11.

34 M Hurley and J Adebayo, ‘Credit Scoring in the Era of Big Data’ (2016) 18(1) Yale Journal of Law & Technology 148, 151–2, 163, 166, 174–5.

35 K Waddell, ‘How Algorithms Can Bring Down Minorities’ Credit Scores’ (The Atlantic, 2 December 2016) <https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/12/how-algorithms-can-bring-down-minorities-credit-scores/509333/>.

36 For instance, an application may be sold to a third-party who use their own in-house data, or who purchase data sets from data brokers.

37 See Kitchin (n 1) 21.

38 F Pasquale, The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press 2015) 3–14.

39 Y LeCun et al., ‘Learning Algorithms for Classification: A Comparison on Handwritten Digit Recognition’ in J-H Oh, C Kwon and S Cho (eds), N eural Networks: The Statistical Mechanics Perspective (World Scientific 1995) 261.

40 N Bostrom and E Yudkowsky, ‘The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence’ in K Frankish and W Ramsey (eds), Cambridge Handbook of Artificial Intelligence (Cambridge University Press 2014) 316, 316–17.

41 As distinct from learning on the basis of training data, and then being deployed to a real-world context.

42 State of Wisconsin v Eric L. Loomis 2016 WI 68, 881 N.W.2d 749.

43 Although they were not held to be decisive in respect to the matter at hand.

44 State of Wisconsin v Eric L. Loomis (n 42) para 66.

45 See eg Lenddo, ‘Credit Scoring Solution’, <https://www.lenddo.com/pdfs/Lenddo_FS_CreditScoring_201705.pdf>, which includes social network data in credit scores.

46 J Angwin et al., ‘Minority Neighborhoods Pay Higher Car Insurance Premiums Than White Areas with the Same Risk’ (ProPublica, 5 April 2017) <https://www.propublica.org/article/minority-neighborhoods-higher-car-insurance-premiums-white-areas-same-risk>; M Kamp, B Körffer and M Meints, ‘Profiling of Customers and Consumers – Customer Loyalty Programmes and Scoring Practices’ in M Hildebrandt and S Gutwirth (eds), Profiling the European Citizen: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives (Springer 2008) 201, 207.

47 D Boyd, K Levy and A Marwick, ‘The Networked Nature of Algorithmic Discrimination’ (Open Technology Institute, October 2014).

48 Conference of Federal Savings & Loan Associations v Stein, 604 F.2d 1256 (9th Cir. 1979), aff'd mem., 445 U.S. 921 (1980) 1258.

49 N Diakopoulos and M Koliska, ‘Algorithmic Transparency in the News Media’ (2017) 5(7) Digital Journalism 809, 811.

50 BD Mittelstadt et al., ‘The Ethics of Algorithms: Mapping the Debate’ (2016) 3(2) Big Data & Society 6.

51 See Diakopoulos and Koliska (n 49) 816.

52 See Ananny and Crawford (n 9) 977.

53 D Kehl, P Guo and Samuel Kessler, ‘Algorithms in the Criminal Justice System: Assessing the Use of Risk Assessments in Sentencing’ (July 2017) Responsive Communities 32–3.

54 See Diakopoulos and Koliska (n 49) 816.

55 See Kehl, Guo and Kessler (n 53) 28.

56 N Diakopoulos, ‘Accountability in Algorithmic Decision Making’ (2016) 59(2) Communications of the ACM 56, 60.

57 See Diakopoulos and Koliska, n (n 49) 822.

58 See Diakopoulos (n 56) 58–9, 61; Diakopoulos and Koliska (n 49) 810–12; L Edwards and M Veale, ‘Slave to the Algorithm: Why A ‘Right to An Explanation’ Is Probably Not the Remedy You Are Looking For’ (2017) 16(1) Duke Law & Technology Review 18, 39; A Tutt, ‘An FDA for Algorithms’ (2017) 69(1) Administrative Law Review 83, 110–11.

59 The Royal Society, ‘Machine Learning: The Power and Promise of Computers That Learn by Example’ (2017) 93–4; See Tutt (n 58) 101–4.

60 See Ananny and Crawford (n 9) 975–7; E Ramirez, Chairwoman, Federal Trade Commission, ‘Privacy Challenges in the Era of Big Data: A View from the Lifeguard's Chair’ (Keynote Address at the Technology Policy Institute Aspen Forum, Aspen, Colorado, 19 August 2013) 8; Kehl, Guo and Kessler (n 53) 32–3.

61 See The Royal Society (n 59) 93.

62 AR Lange, ‘Digital Decisions: Policy Tools in Automated Decision-Making’ (Center for Democracy & Technology, 2016) 11.

63 See Kroll et al. (n 9) 639.

64 See Kroll et al. (n 9) 638, 657–60; BW Goodman, ‘A Step Towards Accountable Algorithms?: Algorithmic Discrimination and the European Union General Data Protection’ (29th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, Barcelona, Spain, 2016) 3–4.

65 At a simpler level, algorithms themselves may be modified due to a normal update/development system.

66 See Kroll et al. (n 9) 647–52.

67 MIT Technology Review Editors, ‘Explainer: What is a Blockchain?’ (MIT Technology Review, 23 April 2018) <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610833/explainer-what-is-a-blockchain/>.

68 M Burgess, ‘Holding AI to Account: Will Algorithms Ever Be Free from Bias if They're Created by Humans?’ (The Wired, 11 January 2016) <https://www.wired.co.uk/article/creating-transparent-ai-algorithms-machine-learning>.

69 R Neisse, G Steri and I Nai-Fovino, ‘A Blockchain-based Approach for Data Accountability and Provenance Tracking’ (12th International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security, Reggio Calabria, Italy, August 2017) 1.

70 J Burrell, ‘How the Machine ‘Thinks’: Understanding Opacity in Machine Learning Algorithms’ (2016) 3(1) Big Data & Society 3–4.

71 See Tutt (n 58) 117–18.

72 Some authors argue that transparency is not simply full informational disclosure, and that notions of transparency against secrecy is a false dichotomy. See Ananny and Crawford (n 9) 979; Diakopoulos (n 56) 58–9.

73 Science & Technology Committee, Oral Evidence: Algorithms in Decision-Making (HC 2017–2019, 351), 12 December 2017 Evidence Session, Q112-113 <http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/algorithms-in-decisionmaking/oral/75798.pdf>.

74 See Kroll et al. (n 9) 639, 658.

75 ibid, 639.

76 See Diakopoulos (n 56) 57, 60; M Wilson, ‘Algorithms (and the) Everyday’ (2017) 20(1) Information, Communication & Society 137, 141, 143–44, 147.

77 See Burrell (n 70) 4.

78 Science & Technology Committee (n 73) Q207.

79 See Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, ‘Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, (Version 2) (2017); M Ananny, ‘Towards an Ethics of Algorithms: Convening, Observation, Probability, and Timeliness’ (2016) 41(1) Science, Technology & Human Values 93, 94–6; L Jaume-Palasí and M Spielkamp, ‘Ethics and Algorithmic Processes for Decision Making and Decision Support’ (AlgorithmWatch, Working Paper No. 2, 2017) 9–13; Mittelstadt et al. (n 50) 10–12.

80 See discussion Part IIB.

81 C Cath et al., ‘Artificial Intelligence and the ‘Good Society’: The US, EU, and UK Approach’ (2018) 24(2) Science & Engineering Ethics 505, 508.

82 See Kroll et al. (n 9) 637–8, 662–72, 678–9.

83 The utility of this approach has recently been noted by others. See Amnesty International & Access Now, ‘The Toronto Declaration: Protecting the right to equality and non-discrimination in machine learning systems’ (16 May 2018) <https://www.accessnow.org/cms/assets/uploads/2018/05/Toronto-Declaration-D0V2.pdf>. The Toronto Declaration applies the human rights framework with a focus on the right to equality and non-discrimination. This article proposes a human rights-based framework based on the full range of substantive and procedural rights. See discussion Part IIIA.

84 See eg Facebook, ‘Community Standards’, <https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/>.

85 In her oral evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry on algorithms in decision-making, Sandra Wachter suggested that a more refined harm taxonomy is required to respond to the ethical and real-world problems that may be difficult to predict at the outset and ‘new harms and new kinds of discrimination’ arising from inferential analytics. See Science & Technology Committee, Oral Evidence: Algorithms in Decision-Making (HC 351, 2017–2019) 14 November 2017 Evidence Session, Q55 <http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/algorithms-in-decisionmaking/oral/73859.pdf>. This paper agrees that a robust understanding for harm is necessary, but argues that it is provided by existing definitions in IHRL.

86 C Dwork et al., ‘Fairness through Awareness’ (3rd Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference, Cambridge, MA, January 2012) 215.

87 R Binns, ‘Fairness in Machine Learning: Lessons from Political Philosophy’ (Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency (New York, 2018) 3–5.

88 See eg UN Human Rights Committee, ‘General Comment No. 18 (Non-discrimination’ (10 November 1989) para 6.

89 J Angwin et al. (n 46); F Raso et al. (n 16) 21–4; R Caplan et al., ‘Algorithmic Accountability: A Primer, Tech Algorithm Briefing: How Algorithms Perpetuate Racial Bias and Inequality’ (Data & Society, 18 April 2018) <https://datasociety.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Data_Society_Algorithmic_Accountability_Primer_FINAL-4.pdf.

90 See further Part IVA.

91 It is noted that, even where international law does not impose direct obligations on businesses, States’ obligations to protect against human rights violations requires that they take measure at the domestic level to ensure that individuals’ human rights are not violated by businesses. States may be held accountable for failure to take appropriate measures in this regard. See Ruggie Principles (n 14) Principle 1.

92 See UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 31 (n 13) paras 3–8; UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 3 (n 13) paras 2–8.

93 See eg Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, ‘CIFAR Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy’ <https://www.cifar.ca/ai/pan-canadian-artificial-intelligence-strategy>; E Macron, ‘Artificial Intelligence: “Making France a Leader”’ (AI for Humanity Conference, Collège de France, 30 March 2018) <https://www.gouvernement.fr/en/artificial-intelligence-making-france-a-leader>; NITI Aayog, ‘National Institution for Transforming India (national Strategy for Artificial Intelligence #AIFORALL’ (June 2018), <http://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/document_publication/NationalStrategy-for-AI-Discussion-Paper.pdf>; Japan Strategic Council for AI Technology, ‘Artificial Intelligence Technology Strategy’ (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, 31 March 2017) <http://www.nedo.go.jp/content/100865202.pdf>; AI Singapore, <https://www.aisingapore.org/>; UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, ‘Policy Paper: AI Sector Deal’ (26 April 2018) <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/artificial-intelligence-sector-deal/ai-sector-deal>; US White House, ‘Artificial Intelligence for the American People’ (10 May 2018) <https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/artificial-intelligence-american-people/>.

94 See Ruggie Principles (n 14) Principle 1.

95 UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on ‘The Role of Prevention in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights’ (16 July 2015) UN Doc A/HRC/30/20, para 9.

96 ibid, para 7.

97 See eg UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ‘General Comment 14 The right to the highest attainable standard of health (article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)’ (11 August 2000) UN Doc E/C.12/2000/4, para 33.

98 Ruggie Principles (n 14) Principle 12.

99 See eg K Crawford and J Schultz, ‘Big Data and Due Process: Toward a Framework to Redress Predictive Privacy Harms’ (2014) 55(1) Boston College Law Review 93, 95; Kroll et al. (n 9) 678.

100 For instance, indirect discrimination may only become visible during the deployment phase.

101 See OHCHR (n 95) para 31.

102 See eg Microsoft, ‘Satya Nadella Email to Employees: Embracing Our Future: Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge’ (Microsoft, 29 March 2018) <https://news.microsoft.com/2018/03/29/satya-nadella-email-to-employees-embracing-our-future-intelligent-cloud-and-intelligent-edge/>; S Pichai, ‘AI at Google: Our Principles’ (Google, 7 June 2018) <https://www.blog.google/technology/ai/ai-principles/>; DeepMind, ‘DeepMind Ethics & Society’ <https://deepmind.com/applied/deepmind-ethics-society/>.

103 A Hern, ‘DeepMind Announces Ethics Group to Focus on Problems of AI’ (The Guardian, 4 October 2017) <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/04/google-deepmind-ai-artificial-intelligence-ethics-group-problems>; J Temperton, ‘DeepMind's New AI Ethics Unit Is The Company's Next Big Move’ (The Wired, 4 October 2017) <https://www.wired.co.uk/article/deepmind-ethics-and-society-artificial-intelligence>; T Simonite, ‘Tech Firms Move To Put Ethical Guard Rails Around AI’ (The Wired, 16 May 2018) <https://www.wired.com/story/tech-firms-move-to-put-ethical-guard-rails-around-ai/>.

104 See Zakharov v Russia, App No 47143/06 (ECtHR, 4 December 2015) para 233.

105 See Parts IVA and IVB.

106 See, by way of analogy to security oversight, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Issue Paper: Democratic and Effective Oversight of National Security Services’ (Council of Europe, 2015) 47.

107 UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, ‘Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation: Consultation’ (June 2018) <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/715760/CDEI_consultation__1_.pdf> 10.

108 UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, ‘Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation: Government Response to Consultation’ (November 2018) <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/757509/Centre_for_Data_Ethics_and_Innovation_-_Government_Response_to_Consultation.pdf> 5.

109 ibid, 12.

110 Government of Canada, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, ‘Responsible Artificial Intelligence in the Government of Canada: Digital Disruption White Paper Series’ (Version 2.0, 10 April 2018) <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Sn-qBZUXEUG4dVk909eSg5qvfbpNlRhzIefWPtBwbxY/edit> 32–3.

111 See, for instance, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner's Office established to oversee the UK Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

112 See C Miller, J Ohrvik-Scott and R Coldicutt, ‘Regulating for Responsible Technology: Capacity, Evidence and Redress’ (Doteveryone, October 2018).

113 See Kitchin (n 1) 17; M Hardt, E Price and N Srebro, ‘Equality of Opportunity in Supervised Learning’ 2 (30th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, Barcelona, Spain, 2016).

114 L McGregor, ‘Activating the Third Pillar of the UNGPs on the Right to an Effective Remedy’ (EJIL: Talk!, 23 November 2018) <https://www.ejiltalk.org/activating-the-third-pillar-of-the-ungps-on-access-to-an-effective-remedy/>.

115 M Oswald et al., ‘Algorithmic Risk Assessment Policing Models: Lessons From the Durham HART Model and ‘Experimental’ Proportionality’ (2018) 27(2) Information & Communications Technology Law 223, 225.

116 See, for example, London Ventures <https://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/our-key-themes/london-ventures>; Data Justice Lab, ‘Digital Technologies and the Welfare System, Written Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human rights Consultation on the UK’ (14 September 2018) <https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Epoverty/UnitedKingdom/2018/Academics/DataJusticeLabCardiffUniversity.pdf> 2–3.

117 This example is provided for illustrative purposes. It is not intended to be an absolute guide to responsibility: this is something that must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

118 Ruggie Principles (n 14) Principles 11, 12.

119 Y Wang and M Kosinki, ‘Deep Neural Networks Are More Accurate Than Humans at Detecting Sexual Orientation from Facial Images’ (2018) 114(2) Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 246, 254.

120 H Murphy, ‘Why Stanford Researchers Tried to Create a ‘‘Gaydar’ Machine’’ (New York Times, 9 October 2017) <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/science/stanford-sexual-orientation-study.html?_r=0>.

121 S Levin, ‘LGBT Groups Denounce ‘Dangerous’ AI that Uses Your Face to Guess Sexuality’ (The Guardian, 9 September 2017) <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/08/ai-gay-gaydar-algorithm-facial-recognition-criticism-stanford>; D Anderson, ‘GLAAD and HRC Call on Stanford University & Responsible Media to Debunk Dangerous & Flawed Report Claiming to Identify LGBTQ People through Facial Recognition Technology’ (GLAAD Blog, 8 September 2017) <https://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-and-hrc-call-stanford-university-responsible-media-debunk-dangerous-flawed-report>.

122 See Anderson (n 121).

123 The Yogyakarta Principles: Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (March 2007) Principle 3.

124 See eg UN Human Rights Committee, ‘General Comment No. 34, Article 19: Freedoms of Opinion and Expression’ (12 September 2011) UN Doc CCPR/C/GC/34, paras 21–22, 24–30, 33–35; UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age’ (n 16) para 10; Zakharov v Russia (n 104) para 230; Khan v The United Kingdom App No 35394/97 (ECtHR, 12 May 2000) para 26; Kroon and Others v The Netherlands App No 18535/91 (ECtHR, 27 October 1994) para 31.

125 The role of human agency is also an important consideration, noting that individuals may change their behaviour in unexpected—and unpredictable—ways.

126 See discussion Part IIA.

127 UN Human Rights Committee, ‘General Comment No. 35, Article 9: Liberty and Security of Person’ (16 December 2014) UN Doc CCPR/C/GC/35, para 10.

128 ibid, paras 12, 15, 18, 22, 25, 36.

129 As discussed in Part IIA.

130 This appears to be the conclusion reached by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Wisconsin v Eric L. Loomis, discussed further in Part IVB.

131 UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression on Freedom of Expression, States and the Private Sector in the Digital Age’ (11 May 2016) UN Doc A/HRC/32/38, paras 35–37.

132 S Cope, JC York and J Gillula, ‘Industry Efforts to Censor Pro-Terrorism Online Content Pose Risks to Free Speech’ (Electronic Frontier Foundation, 12 July 2017) <https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/07/industry-efforts-censor-pro-terrorism-online-content-pose-risks-free-speech>.

133 See Part IIA.

134 See Kroll et al. (n 9) 680 fn 136; DK Citron, ‘Technological Due Process’ (2008) 85(6) WashLRev 1249, 1283–4.

135 State of Wisconsin v Eric L. Loomis (n 42) para 7.

136 ibid, para 15.

137 ibid, para 6.

138 ibid, para 51.

139 ibid, para 34.

140 ibid, para 88.

141 See Science & Technology Committee (n 73) Q132 (Martin Wattenberg, Google, evidence arguing for a ‘very high level of scrutiny’ to the use of algorithms in the criminal justice system).

142 State of Wisconsin v Eric L. Loomis (n 42) para 3.

143 ibid, para 40.

144 See eg O'Neil (n 32) (critiquing the assumption that big data algorithms are objective and fair).

145 See State v Loomis (n 42) para 54.

146 ibid, para 53, 55–6.

147 ibid, para 66.

148 ibid.

149 See Finogenov & Others v Russia App Nos 18299/03 and 27311/03 (ECtHR, 4 June 2012), para 270, the court stated that ‘the materials and conclusions of the investigation should be sufficiently accessible’.

150 This is contrary to the minimum standards of thoroughness and effectiveness for investigations that demands adequate and rigorous analysis of all relevant elements by competent relevant professionals. See ibid, para 271; UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 31 (n 13) para 15.

151 See Finogenov & Others v Russia (n 149) para 271 and Husayn (Abu Zubadyh) v Poland App No 7511/13 (ECtHR, 24 July 2014) para 480—in both cases the Court stated that “a requirement of a “thorough investigation” means that the authorities must always make a serious attempt to find out what happened and should not rely on hasty or ill-founded conclusions to close their investigation or as the basis of their decisions’; Paul & Audrey Edwards v UK App No 46477/99 (ECtHR, 14 March 2002) para 71; Mapiripán Massacre v Colombia, Judgment, Inter-American Court of Human Rights Series C No 134 (15 September 2005) para 224.

152 See Rainie and Anderson (n 1) 55.

153 See Mittelstadt et al. (n 50) 11–12.

154 See Floridi, L and Sanders, JW, ‘On the Morality of Artificial Agents’ (2004) 14(3) Minds & Machines 349, 351; Crnkovic, GD and Çürüklü, B, ‘Robots: Ethical by Design’ (2012) 14(1) Ethics & Information Technology 61, 62–3; Matthias, A, ‘The Responsibility Gap: Ascribing Responsibility for the Actions of Learning Automata’ (2004) 6(3) Ethics & Information Technology 175, 177.

155 For example, in some industries where the use of automated technology is more developed such as the use of autopilot programmes in aviation, errors in operation can still give rise to responsibility of the pilot and/or liability of the company.

156 See, for instance, a joint statement issued by the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, addressing 50 years of the Covenants. Joint Statement by the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ‘The International Covenants on Human Rights: 50 Years On’ (17 November 2016) UN Doc CCPR/C/2016/1-E/C.12/2016/3.

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/M010236/1].

Keywords

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW AS A FRAMEWORK FOR ALGORITHMIC ACCOUNTABILITY

  • Lorna McGregor (a1), Daragh Murray (a2) and Vivian Ng (a3)

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