Q2/2020 - Council of Europe

Ad-hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence, Strasbourg, 7 April 2020 (video conference)

The 2nd meeting of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI), which was scheduled for March, is now planned to be held as a virtual conference on 6 and 7 July 2020[1]. The CAHAI, to which all 47 member states of the Council of Europe are members, was established in September 2019. Its mandate is to discuss which legal instruments should be drawn up by the Council of Europe to guarantee that human rights are appropriately taken into consideration during the further development of artificial intelligence. At its third (virtual) meeting at the CAHAI office on 27 March 2020, the Committee had readjusted its timetable. The CAHAI Bureau, which is chaired by Gregor Strojin, State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice of Slovenia, is dealing with the first draft of the feasibility study that had been agreed. The study includes a mapping of the ever more branched international discussions on artificial intelligence and an overview of the international documents and national strategies adopted until now. The study shall also investigate in greater detail the role of the private section in the development and introduction of artificial intelligence. Three theme-based working groups shall organise a broad-based multi-stakeholder discussion process.

Recommendation on Algorithms and Human Rights, 8 April 2020

On 8 April 8, 2020, the Council of Europe adopted a Recommendation on Algorithms and Human Rights (Recommendation CM/Rec(2020)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the human rights impacts of algorithmic systems). The Recommendation imposes an obligation on the 47 members of the Council of Europe to ensure that human rights are sufficiently respected in the use, development and acquisition of algorithmic systems. States are obliged to establish effective legal, regulatory and control frameworks to prevent, detect, prohibit and remedy human rights violations, regardless whether they are attributable to public or private actors.

The Recommendation recognises the great potential of algorithmic methods in promoting innovation and economic development in many areas, including communications, education, transportation, administration and health care. In the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, algorithmic systems are used for prediction, diagnosis and research on vaccines and treatments. Electronic systems for enhanced motion monitoring are being discussed in a growing number of member states - they too rely on algorithms and automation.

At the same time, the Recommendation warns against considerable risks to human rights when algorithmic systems are used. Affected are in particular the right to a fair trial, the right to privacy and data protection, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and assembly, the right to equal treatment, and economic and social rights[2].

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Q2/2020Council of Europe
  1. [1] Report of the Third Meeting oft he Council of Europe´s Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligenc (CAHAI), Strasburg, 7 April 2020: The CAHAU should „ examine the feasibility and potential elements on the basis of broad multi-stakeholder consultations, of a legal framework for the development, design and application of artificial intelligence, based on the Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. When fulfilling this task, the Ad hoc Committee shall: take into account the standards of the Council of Europe relevant to the design, development and application of digital technologies, in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, in particular on the basis of existing legal instruments; take into account relevant existing universal and regional international legal instruments, work undertaken by other Council of Europe bodies as well as ongoing work in other international and regional organisations; take due account of a gender perspective, building cohesive societies and promoting and protecting rights of persons with disabilities in the performance of its tasks.“ In: https://www.coe.int/en/web/artificial-intelligence/cahai#{%2266693378%22:[1],%2266693418%22:[1]}
  2. [2] Recommendation CM/Rec(2020)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the human rights impacts of algorithmic systems, Straßburg, 8 April 2020: „B. Obligations of States with respect to the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of algorithmic systems: 1. Principles of general application: 1.1. Legislation: The process of drafting, enacting and evaluating policies and legislation or regulation applicable to the design, development and ongoing deployment of algorithmic systems should be transparent, accountable and inclusive. States should regularly consult with all relevant stakeholders and affected parties, including at sector level where appropriate. States should ensure the enforceability and enforcement of laws, including by demanding that relevant actors produce adequate documentation to verify legal compliance. Where public and private sector actors fail to discharge their legal duties, they should be held responsible. 1.2. Ongoing review: Throughout the entire lifecycle of an algorithmic system, from the proposal stage through to the evaluation of effects, the human rights impacts of individual systems and their interaction with other technologies should be assessed regularly. This is necessary due to the speed and scale at which these systems function and the fast-evolving technological environment in which they operate. This should be done based on broad, effective consultations with those affected or likely to be affected. 1.3. Democratic participation and awareness: In order to ensure the full exercise of human rights and democratic freedoms, States should foster general public awareness of the capacity, power and consequential impacts of algorithmic systems, including their potential use to manipulate, exploit, deceive or distribute resources, with a view to enabling all individuals and groups to be aware of their rights and to know how to put them into practice, and how to use digital technologies for their own benefit. In addition, all relevant actors, including those in the public, private and civil society sectors in which algorithmic systems are contemplated or are in use, should promote, encourage and support in a tailored and inclusive manner (taking account of diversity with respect to, for instance, age, gender, race, ethnicity, cultural or socio-economic background) a level of media, digital and information literacy that enables the competent and critical consideration of and use of algorithmic systems. 1.4. Institutional frameworks: States should identify and/or develop appropriate institutional and regulatory frameworks and standards that set general or sector-specific benchmarks and safeguards to ensure the compatibility of the design, development and ongoing deployment of algorithmic systems with human rights. Efforts should ensure that direct or indirect risks to human rights, including possible cumulative effects of distinct systems, are promptly identified and that adequate remedial action is initiated. States should invest in relevant expertise to be available in adequately resourced regulatory and supervisory authorities. They should further closely co-operate with independent authorities, equality bodies, national human rights institutions, universities, standard-setting organisations, operators of services, developers of algorithmic systems and relevant non-governmental organisations in various fields, such as, particularly, those engaged in defending human rights. in: https://search.coe.int/cm/pages/result_details.aspx?objectid=09000016809e1154