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Casebook Credits History Find
Technology, Human Rights, and Cybersecurity (Winter 2020)
First published Oct 2019

The global public policy agenda has been dominated in recent years by questions of how we should address the social disruption caused by new information technologies. Interestingly, many of these questions have been framed in terms of a trade-off between respecting human rights and securing other pressing social priorities. For example:

  • Can we defend against online disinformation while respecting the right to free expression?
  • Can we protect the right to privacy against the “surveillance capitalism” model of the major internet companies?
  • Can governments protect national- and cyber-security as encryption places electronic information beyond the reach of law enforcement and intelligence agencies?
  • Can the use of cyber-weapons ever be justified—especially when they cause various forms of collateral damage?
  • Can new algorithmic technologies to promote fairness and equality instead of fostering discrimination?

These are among the pressing public policy questions we will explore in this seminar from a human rights perspective. In so doing, we will explore the many advantages that the human rights framework provides to governments, companies, and other social actors in addressing these difficult challenges—all the while acknowledging the limitations of this framework and the need for innovative new approaches.