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Benson and Giannoulopoulos on citizens’ rights after Brexit

No deal Brexit: on the road to nowhere for citizens’ rights

Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, Inaugural Chair in Law and Director of the Britain in Europe thinktank at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Dr Michaela Benson, Reader in Sociology, Research leader for the project Brexpats: freedom of movement, citizenship and Brexit in the lives of Britons resident in the European Union and a ‘Britain in Europe’ expert at Goldsmiths, University of London, provide a critique of the policy paper on citizens’ rights, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) on December 6th.

With the UK experiencing its deepest constitutional crisis of modern times, and amidst the drama coming from Westminster last week, few will have noticed the DExEU’s policy paper on citizens’ rights published on December 6th. But it is precisely these citizens (EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU) who stand to be affected the most – their lives in some cases shattered – as a result of the political chaos Brexit has brought upon this country.

The paper makes for grim reading. For EU citizens in the UK, ‘no deal’ would mean a shorter deadline for applications, the loss of the right to appeal against a refusal of settlement under the scheme, the introduction of a cut-off point for family members to join EU citizens with ‘settled status’ and even a lower threshold for deportation, where EU citizens have committed minor crimes.

But a ‘no deal’ scenario does not in reality create the need for any of this. Most of the changes the policy paper advocates are a political choice and rather point to the beginnings of a ‘hostile environment’, and reverting to treating EU citizens as ‘bargaining chips’, ‘foreigners’, ‘others’.

As to UK citizens in the EU, the policy paper is simply reduced to a declaration of understanding of the uncertainty this dispersed population would face in the event of a ‘no deal’, which comes with the admission that ‘the UK cannot act unilaterally to protect the rights of UK nationals in the EU’.

In relation to practical matters of critical importance for the British in the EU, such as protecting past social security contributions, reciprocal healthcare arrangements and the right to bring EU and non-EU citizen family members back to the UK, the report makes the startling admission that the government is ‘exploring options’ and ‘will set out further details in due course’. Thirty months after the EU referendum, this is the frightening state of (no) planning for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Even in the case of the deal, serious issues remain for this dispersed population. It is unclear how the 27 member states intend to implement this agreement, and they have yet to make clear the administrative procedures British citizens already resident in their jurisdictions will need to go through in order to secure their status after transition. Simply, while currently processed as EU citizens with the right to Freedom of Movement, once EU citizenship is removed from British citizens, it is uncertain what their future legal status will be within these states, and whether they will be treated as Third Country Nationals.

This is just the latest in what has been an interminable rollercoaster ride for these citizens. It is a reminder of the detrimental effect Brexit has already had upon them,  and the state of precariousness they’ve been facing for so long.

Couple the above with publication of the hostile to EU citizens immigration white paper, which announces the end of free movement for them, the fact that the UK government has just dropped claims that no-deal Brexit is ‘unlikely’, and the announcement from the European Commission that it has started to implement its preparations for a no-deal Brexit, and the full extent of the predicament citizens affected by Brexit are faced with immediately becomes clear.

This is the nightmarish scenario citizens were reassured they would not be confronted with. ‘You can stay, and we want you to stay’, they said, but they didn’t really mean it.


Technology and human rights: an uneasy relationship?

Digital technology touches on and empowers every aspect of our lives, whether as consumers, users of public services, citizens or voters.

Yet the collection and exchange of personal information can interfere with our right to privacy, and the abuse of technology can distort our democracies and lead to serious breaches of human rights.

The informational privacy mega-scandals of recent years, such as the dramatic revelations by Edward Snowden of the post 9/11 global, mass, surveillance systems operated by security services, or the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, which were courageously brought to the surface through the work of Carole Cadwalladr and whistle-blower Chris Wilie, point, worryingly, to the rise of a new Panopticism that threatens to suppress private existence in the interest of security, financial gain and control of political power.

On November 5, the Goldsmiths Law symposium on technology and human rights, in collaboration with the Goldsmiths-based Knowing Our Rights project and the New Europeans thinktank, explored key questions around the difficult coexistence of technology with human rights.

Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, who holds Goldsmiths’ inaugural chair in Law, opened up the symposium by identifying four key preliminary lines of inquiry: (a) the regulation of state surveillance, and the importance of ECHR jurisprudence in striking the balance between protecting national security and the right to privacy; (b) the abuse of communications technology as a threat to democratic elections in the age of social media; (c) the human rights challenges posed by artificial intelligence and (d) the ethical objections to machines exercising control over humans, e.g. in border control situations (he mentioned the example of an EU funded project, called IBORDERCTRL: the project is developing a way to speed up traffic at the EU’s external borders and ramp up security using an automated border-control system that will put travellers to the test using lie-detecting avatars).

Prof Giannoulopoulos explained that the symposium aimed to undertake a contextual study of specific technologies’ impact on the right to privacy, and reflect on what specific measures we can take to protect our core individual liberties against technological threats, and conversely how we can use technology to enhance the enjoyment of individual liberties.

Prof Douwe Korff with Julie Ward MEP

Prof Douwe Korff (Emeritus Professor of International Law at London Metropolitan University, Associate of the Oxford Martin School, Oxford and Visiting Fellow at Yale University’s Information Society Project) explained that it is becoming clear that the problem is not the rules and guidelines, but how they are being applied, noting, with concern, that law enforcement agencies are increasingly demanding the powers of national security agencies. Referring to the ECHR, he also noted that fighting arbitrary power, including in relation to privacy, is at the very core of the Court’s jurisprudence, but the problem has always been the loopholes, those deriving from the antagonistic interest to protect national security or public order for instance.

Julie Ward MEP (who is Labour’s spokesperson in the European Parliament on culture and education, member of the women’s rights and gender equality committee, Board member of the European Internet Forum, Attendee of the annual Internet Governance Forum, and an expert of the Goldsmiths-based Britain in Europe thinktank) argued that legislators have been slow to respond to the issue of technology conflicting with human rights. “The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandals demonstrate lack of attention”, she pointed out, “with Brexit and Trump being wake up calls”, adding that “there are dark web machinations we don’t even know about”.

Julie discussed her membership of the European Parliament Digital Working Group and the Human Rights Committee, and her work on the Copyright Directive, which she is a strong advocate for and which she considers an important mechanism to protect the incomes and incentives for creatives. She also raised concerns that at the European Internet Forum, “civil society is hardly in the room”, and that it’s primarily the “big players” (tech companies) talking to governments.  Julie pointed to the importance of ensuring that access to the internet is protected as a human right, and expressed concern that post-Brexit, British politicians will “not be in the room” when  internet-related agreements are being made and Britain will have less global influence in this debate.

Andreas Aktoudianakis with Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos

Andreas Aktoudianakis with Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos

Andreas Aktoudianakis, who provides direct, high-level research and programmatic support to the director of the Open Society European Policy Institute, placed the question in the context of the rise in populism in Europe. Big data is generating a ‘modern revival’ of 1930s communication theories, he explained, with algorithms confirming existing biases (filter bubbles) and falsehoods being 70% more likely to be shared than truths.

Dr Bethany Shiner

Dr Bethany Shiner

Bethany Shiner, a lecturer in Law at Middlesex University, asked whether the electoral law’s understanding of influence for the purpose of democratic autonomy is out-of-date when it comes to technology. She argued that explanations for electorate decision-making and influence, as reflected in popular discourse, as well as the law, are flawed and problematic in their simplicity, and that instead of measuring interference in elections through undue influence, harm can be shown by focusing on the intent of political campaigns to knowingly deceive, mislead or lie.

Hannah Couchman, who leads Liberty’s advocacy work on technology and human rights, including surveillance, the use of technology in policing and data rights, expressed significant concern about the use of AI in police decision-making and predictions. Datasets are all intrinsically biased, she noted; when we teach a computer, we are teaching it our own biases. She raised the example of HART (Hart Assessment Risk Tool), used by Durham Police Constabulary, which diverts people to and from the court process depending on their data and ‘risk of re-offending’. Hannah expressed the wider concern that these technologies are being used before we really know how they work; advantages are actually irrelevant until we’ve addressed the human rights implications of these technologies.

Hannah Couchman with Goldsmiths' Prof Susan Schuppli

Hannah Couchman with Goldsmiths’ Prof Susan Schuppli

The use of AI in policing in particular could generate arbitrariness, inequality and breach of fundamental rights, Hannah observed. The foundation of democracy and the rule of law is that you have reasoned decisions, which somebody can challenge and question and appeal, she concluded. You can’t do that with an algorithm, and, with self-learning algorithms you can’t even do that with the designer of the algorithm because they themselves will no longer be able to explain it.

Dr Jerdrez Nicklas

Dr Jerdrez Nicklas

Dr Jedrzej Niklas, a Research officer in the department of Media and Communications for the Justice, Equity and Technology (JET) project, at the London School of Economics, focused on the relationship between AI and social justice, explaining how JET examines the impact of automated computer systems on anti-discrimination advocacy and service organizations in Europe. Of particular interest to the symposium was a discussion of gender bias in search engines, which Jerdrzej explored in the Q & A session that followed his presentation.

Midori Takenake

Midori Takenake, an associate at Clifford Chance, working in the Corporate Technology team and advising a wide range of corporates, financial institutions and technology companies on data protection, emerging technology and key commercial agreements, explained that as a result of the GDPR, companies are now taking more notice of their ethical use of AI and large datasets. Companies are so worried of the fines attached to the GDPR that people are actually paying attention to these issues in the boardroom. “Data ethics” is the new buzzword, she said. But, at the same time, it’s often overlooked that GDPR and data protection is actually just one part of a much larger, broader ‘umbrella’ issue: human rights; the link is there but often is not made explicitly.

Kilian Vieth

Kilian Vieth

Kilian Vieth, who manages the work of SNV (Stiftung Neue Verantwortungon) on government surveillance and intelligence oversight, focused on how judicial oversight is critical in the field of bulk surveillance, but also a very complex exercise, because of the different conceptualisations of the intelligence cycle.

Jonathan McCully

Jonathan McCully


Jonathan McCully, a legal adviser to the Digital Freedom Fund and Editor of Columbia University’s Freedom of Expression Case Law Database, discussed facial recognition technologies, giving the example of taking a biometric map of your face and placing it on a watch list. The facial map can then be used to identify individuals in crowds and other public places. This generated significant concerns in relation to the discriminatory effects of these practices, particularly for women and people of colour. He also referred to the challenge of regulating the “Internet of Things” and the “Internet of Toys”, which he described as “bringing spies into our homes”. He pointed to the example of the “My Friend Caila” doll which has been banned in many places due to spying concerns.

from left to right: Jonathan McCully, Sabrina Rau and Kilian Vieth

Sabrina Rau, a Senior Research officer at the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology project (HRBDT) at the University of Essex, focusing specifically on the regulation of businesses, provided a brief background on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and their development, explaining what they mean for ICT companies in the context of current regulation and what unique elements of the sector make such assessments challenging. She concluded by illustrating the added value of consulting the UNGPs to determine the responsibility that ICT companies should have when it comes to protecting, respecting and remedying human rights.

Griff Ferris, who is Legal & Policy Officer at Big Brother Watch, gave an outline of the Big Brother Watch (and others) v the United Kingdom case at the European Court of Human Rights, brought post-Snowden in 2013/14. He described the chilling effect of the PRISM and Tempora bulk interception regimes that were adopted by NSA and GCHQ, and were at the centre of the Big Brother Watch case. The outcome of the case was that the Court agreed that there was a lack of oversight and a lack of safeguards, he explained, but that generally the concept of bulk surveillance did fall under the state’s margin of appreciation (and was therefore legal). He concluded his analysis on the case by noting that Big Brother Watch is continuing to call for respecting necessity and proportionality in bulk surveillance.

He then added that other areas of concern for Big Brother Watch include face surveillance, predictive policing, free speech online, restrictions in relation to the regulation of the internet and the use of digital evidence in relation to victims with a complete lack of safeguards in place (e.g. rape victims’ phone data being downloaded by the police etc.)

Marianne Franklin, Professor of Global Media and Politics at Goldsmiths, who intervened via Skype, offered an overview of the Internet & Rights Principles Coalition, where she has served as a co-chair. The coalition is active across internet policy-making meetings that focus on human rights frameworks with partipcipants from civil society, technical community, academia, business, IGOs, political parties, and other policy makers around the world. It provides leadership and supporting roles on the ground and online for education, consultations, and implementation projects in which rights-based and sustainable internet policy agendas are at stake.

The main work of the Coalition has been to build awareness, understanding and a shared platform for mobilisation around rights and principles for the internet, explained Prof Franklin, drawing on the Coalition’s flagship document, the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet.

The symposium closed with a presentation by Christina Varvia, deputy director at Forensic Architecture (FA), the pioneering research agency based at Goldsmiths. Christina explained how FA undertake advanced architectural and media research on behalf of international prosecutors, human rights organisations and political and environmental justice groups. The premise of FA is that analysing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) in urban, media-rich environments requires modelling dynamic events as they unfold in space and time, creating navigable 3D models of sites of conflict and the creation of animations and interactive cartographies on the urban or architectural scale. The techniques of architectural analysis also enable FA to generate new insights into the context and conduct of urban conflict. Combining these novel approaches, FA have built a track record of decisive contributions to high-profile human rights investigations, providing forms of evidence that other methods cannot engage with.

The symposium was organised in collaboration with the New Europeans  thinktank, and special thanks are due to Roger Casale, CEO of New Europeans, and Kristiana Kuneva, for coordination and support. New Europeans champions freedom of movement, non-discrimination and the principle of solidarity in Europe.

The team behind the Law programme at Goldsmiths wants to thank the many sixth form students who have attended the symposium for their attention as well as the wider audience which engaged in the debate, including representatives from the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) and the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Special thanks are also due to Gemma McNeil-Walsh, Research Assistant to the Director at BIICL. This post is based on notes she has taken at the symposium.

Photographs were taken by, and are the copyright of, of Richard Gardner.

For more information on the above, and on how the LLB Law programme at Goldsmiths integrates theoretical knowledge and skills related to the interaction between law, technology and human rights, please contact Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos.

Investigating UK complicity in torture after 9/11: the Intelligence and Security Committee reports

Goldsmiths Law seminar on torture and rendition

On December 6, 18.00 – 19.45, Goldsmiths Law organised the first in a series of research events that will explore UK compliance with the prohibition against torture.

The event investigated the Intelligence and Security Committee’s (ISC) reports on detainee mistreatment and rendition after 9/11, and we had the unique opportunity to hear from the chair of the Committee, and former Attorney General, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, Dr Natasa Mavronicola (Birmingham Law School) and one of the UK’s foremost investigative reporters, including at the Guardian, Ian Cobain.  Goldsmiths’ Pro-Warden for Research, Prof David Oswell, introduced the event, highlighting the Law programme’s ambition to tackle challenging human rights issues. Goldsmiths’ Professor in Law, Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, chaired the event.

Intelligence and Security Report on Detainee Mistreatment and Rendition

The ISC reports on ‘detainee mistreatment and rendition’ after 9/11, published in June 2018, paint a bleak picture of UK complicity in torture, cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment undertaken by the US intelligence services after the September 11thattacks, and raise serious concern about UK commitment to respecting the absolute right against torture.

Dominic Grieve offered an overview of the report, highlighting that the UK government tolerated action, and took other, that the Committee regarded as “inexcusable”. “The Government is embarrassed” about what is described in the report, he added.

In seeking to contextualise the report’s revelations of the hundreds of incidents of UK complicity in US-ran torture post 9/11, Grieve distinguished between the intelligence services (MI5, MI6, GCHQ) and the military, explaining that military personnel are trained to withstand torture and may be becoming desensitised to it, as a result. Following 9/11, the intelligence services worked with army personnel who had got involved in torture, but were not doing torture themselves, he added.

Grieve also drew a dividing line about what went on until 2010, and what followed, expressing confidence that we now have the protections in place to avoid a similar scandal in the future.

Ian Cobain explained that the ISC reports were a very thorough and candid piece of work, and quite unique in the number of findings of UK complicity in torture it has unearthed. Ian placed the reports in their historic context, drawing on abuses in Kenya, Cyprus and Northern Ireland, with a focus on the adoption of the “five techniques” and the pervasive effect they’ve had upon their victims.

Dr Natasa Mavronicola offered a pessimistic view of the UK’s ability to learn lessons from this history of abuse, analysing torture as an instrument for the dehumanisation of vulnerable groups, minorities, foreigners, an expression of state barbarity towards ‘others’. ‘The ISC Reports confirm and reinforce what many at least suspected to be the widespread, profound and prolonged UK complicity in the torture and rendition practised after 9/11’, she added.

Pro-Warden (Research), Prof David Oswell, opening the seminar on UK complicity in torture

The ISC reports detail the findings of the ISC’s Inquiry into the actions of the UK Agencies and Defence Intelligence in respect of detainees and also rendition. The Committee have taken 50 hours of oral evidence, reviewed 30,000 original documents and a further 10,000 documents which they requested, and 30,000 staff hours have been devoted to this Inquiry.

The Committee reached the point in their Inquiry where they had covered the breadth of the issues but needed to examine certain matters in detail, which could only be done by taking evidence from those who had been on the ground at the time. But restrictions were imposed by the Government which reduced the list of potential witnesses to just four; even those individuals would not be allowed to give evidence on specific cases. The Committee was therefore forced to draw a line under the Inquiry, deciding that what they had found to date should be put into the public domain.

The report brought to light:

  • evidence of two cases in which UK personnel were directly involved in detainee mistreatment administered by others;
  • evidence of UK officers making verbal threats in nine cases;
  • that senior Agency staff had been briefed by the US Agencies and had a clear warning of US treatment of detainees and rendition;
  • 13 incidents recorded where it appears that UK personnel witnessed at first hand a detainee being mistreated by others;
  • 25 incidents recorded where UK personnel were told by detainees that they had been mistreated by others;
  • 128 incidents recorded where Agency officers were told by foreign liaison services (whether formally or informally) about instances of what appears to be detainee mistreatment;
  • 232 cases recorded where it appears that UK personnel continued to supply questions or intelligence to liaison services after they knew or suspected (or, in the Committee’s view, should have suspected) that a detainee had been or was being mistreated;
  • 198 cases recorded where UK personnel received intelligence from liaison services obtained from detainees whom they knew had been mistreated, or with no indication as to how the detainee had been treated but where, in the Committee’s view, they should have suspected mistreatment;
  • three individual cases in which SIS or MI5 made, or offered to make, a financial contribution to others to conduct an extraordinary rendition operation, to countries where there was real risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of the detainees;
  • that the Agencies also suggested, planned or agreed to rendition operations proposed by others in 28 cases.

After publication of the report, there have been calls from across the political spectrum and human rights organisations such as Liberty, Amnesty and Reprieve, for a “full blown” judge-led investigation into British involvement in extraordinary rendition and torture.

The Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan subsequently told Parliament that the government would decide within 60 days whether or not to hold an inquiry led by a judge – but the deadline passed without an announcement.

In the light of these developments, analysis of UK’s involvement in serious human rights violations such as rendition and torture is urgently needed, and the Law programme at Goldsmiths is keen to take part in, and inform, the debate, and help instil policy reform in this respect.


Goldsmiths Law Visiting Professor is The Times Lawyer of the Week for defending landmark case on right to protest

Goldsmiths Law Visiting Professor Kirsty Brimelow QC won national and international acclaim this week for her exceptional defence of the right to protest in the “fracking three” case. Kirsty will be speaking at the next Law information evening at Goldsmiths on 14 November. You can reserve your place here.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, who was recently appointed a Visiting Professor in our Law programme at Goldsmiths, is the UK’s “lawyer of the week” according to The Times (October 25).

Kirsty represented three anti-fracking activists in the Court of Appeal, the first environmental protesters to be imprisoned for protest activities since 1932. She was successful in demonstrating to the Court of Appeal that the sentences imposed were  “manifestly excessive”.

Kirsty relied on jurisprudence that “rights worth having are unruly things”, and that “demonstrations and protests are liable to be a nuisance, they are liable to be tiresome, or they are likely to be perceived as such by people who are out of sympathy for them”, as mentioned in a press released by Doughty Street chambers. The press release added that this case “re-establishes that police and courts must treat peaceful protestors with sensitivity and proportion as protest is a requirement of any civilised democracy”. Kirsty is the head of Doughty Street’s International Human Rights Team, and the Chairwoman of the UK’s Bar Human Rights Committee.

In an interview with the Guardian, Kirsty said: “what the judge has done is [that he has] imprisoned these people for their views and for a peaceful protest and what’s happened as a result is that there has been a chilling effect on protest, and this is something that has not occurred for many, many years.”

In an interview with RT’s “Going Underground” programme (video below, starting at 20:05), Kirsty explained how the right to protest was underpinned by the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and how international human rights jurisprudence had been of assistance in the case. She has also highlighted that the purpose of the public nuisance offence, upon which the conviction of the defendants in this case had been based, had long gone, and reform was urgently required. She pointed to a Law Commission 2015 report in this regard.

The Law Commission report had recommended that:

  • Public nuisance was made a statutory offence. It should cover any conduct which endangers the life, health, property or comfort of a section of the public. Or obstructs them in the exercise of their rights.
  • The new public nuisance offence would require that the defendant either intended or was reckless in the act.

Kirsty’s pioneering human rights work echoes the values, and ambition, of the LLB (Law)  programme at Goldsmiths, which places strong emphasis on social engagement and social justice, and Law as ‘a force for good and change’ as well as a harmonic integration of legal theory and legal practice.

Leading legal experts appointed Visiting Professors at Goldsmiths Law

Visiting professors: Judge Donald Cryan, Kirsty Brimelow QC, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC and Martha Spurrier

Visiting professors: Judge Donald Cryan, Kirsty Brimelow QC, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC and Martha Spurrier

Some of the UK’s foremost experts on international law and human rights law have joined the Law programme at Goldsmiths, the College announced this week.

As reported in The Times (The Brief) on October 8th, Goldsmiths’ LLB degree programme “will feature some big names in human rights practice. On the Goldsmiths roster as visiting profs will be Martha Spurrier, executive director of the campaign group Liberty; Kirsty Brimelow, QC, chairwoman of the Bar human rights committee and a tenant at Doughty Street Chambers in London; Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC, who was part of the team that prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; and Donald Cryan, a family law judge and former treasurer at the Inner Temple”.

Find more information here about our high profile appointments.

The profiles of our visiting professors can be viewed here.

The new degree was also mentioned in (after another news story about our LLB degree appeared there in September). Legal Cheek did an exclusive story when Goldsmiths announced it would incorporate the new solicitors qualifying system in the LLB Law programme.

Why the EU-UK security negotiations should be prioritising human rights protections

The UK and the EU are strongly coSecuritymmitted to continuing security cooperation in criminal justice matters after the UK withdraws from the EU, but diverge as to its nature and scope.

The UK would wish to strike a new security deal with the EU, allowing it to sustain cooperation on the basis of existing EU measures. But this ambition does not square with the EU position that the UK will be a ‘third country outside Schengen’ after Brexit, and that, as such, it will not be able to maintain the status quo.

To retain any fast-track system of extradition, as a sound alternative to the EAW, the UK will have to subscribe to key principles dictating how the latter operates, including fundamental European human rights; UK alignment with EU procedural rights directives should attract particular attention in that respect, argues Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, Chair in Law at Goldsmiths, in a piece that was published by ‘Fair Trials’ NGO.

 Read Prof Giannoulopoulos’ analysis in full here.

Call for papers: Technology and Human Rights symposium

Call for papers: Technology and Human Rights in the wake of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica and GCHQ-NSA scandals

Goldsmiths, University of London

Organiser: Law at Goldsmiths (with the Knowing Our Rights research project and the New Europeans civil rights organisation)

Monday, 5 November 2018 (09.30 – 16.30)

data analyticsDigital technology touches on and empowers every aspect of our lives, whether as consumers, users of public services, citizens or voters.

Yet the collection and exchange of personal information can interfere with our right to privacy, and the abuse of technology can distort our democracies and lead to serious breaches of human rights.

The informational privacy mega-scandals of recent years, such as the revelation (by Edward Snowden) of the post 9/11 global, mass, surveillance systems operated by security services, or the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal (which came to the surface through the work of Carole Cadwalladr and whistle-blower Chris Wilie), point, worryingly, to the rise of a new Panopticism that threatens to suppress private existence in the interest of security, financial gain and control of political power.

In this one-day international, interdisciplinary, symposium, we will ask:

  • How can the law be used to strike the right balance between freedom and security in the age of the internet?
  • What more can be done to make sure big technology firms respect the rule of law?
  • How can government surveillance best be monitored and held to account so that law enforcement agencies retain public confidence?
  • Can technology be used to promote democracy and development while respecting human rights?
  • Should the government be allowed to operate systems of bulk interception of private communications, intelligence sharing with foreign government and acquisition of communications data from communication service providers?
  • Does the European Court of Human Rights judgment in Big Brother Watch and Others v the United Kingdom strike the right balance?
  • How can the sociology of security and surveillance inform the debate on law, technology and human rights?
  • Who is best positioned to provide the legal solutions required? What are the limitations facing individual countries?
  • Has the European Union been successful in dealing with these challenges, and what are the next steps in the process of regulating the internet, securing privacy rights and enhancing data protection?
  • What role can international organisations such as the Council of Europe play?
  • What extra challenges for human rights are posed by the rise of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning?

We will discuss these issues with international experts and practitioners including from the fields of politics, law and social sciences, in order to crystallise the key questions and issues facing our society as we are confronted with modern technology that is increasingly invading our private lives.

Papers submitted can relate to any of the issues raised, and questions asked, above.

Deadline for the submission of abstracts (max 200 words): Friday, 12 October 2018

Papers should be submitted to