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Accepted Paper:

Tensions in global human rights and transnational data infrastructures  
Holli Sargeant (University of Cambridge) Jat Singh (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

Much tech-related human rights discourse concerns particular technologies and their use. However, the rights issues underlying digital infrastructures are less-considered. This paper explores the tensions between human rights with the global, yet regionally-bound, nature of digital infrastructures.

Paper long abstract:

There is a growing body of human rights literature regarding the design and use of AI. Human rights are universal, meaning they apply equally to everyone and indivisible, meaning that all human rights have equal status. They are also interdependent and interrelated, meaning the improvement of one right can facilitate the advancement of others, and vice versa. In practice, human rights are set out in international and domestic laws. Governments ratify international treaties and develop domestic laws to make human rights a reality for their local community.

The processing of data ultimately drives AI. This means that data infrastructure underpins data-driven applications and services such as AI. Digital infrastructures can adversely impact and infringe on human rights, where such violations may fall unevenly across different social, economic, and political lines between individuals and groups. Importantly, data infrastructures operate across jurisdictions, yet each legal system deals with data and such infrastructures according to local norms. That is, the global nature of digital infrastructures makes imposing particular governance and other norms challenging. Moreover, tensions may arise between the advancement of different rights, particularly when taking a human rights approach to governing digital infrastructures.

This paper therefore elaborates the tensions between the universal and global nature of human rights, with digital infrastructures that operate globally, yet have particular regional, cultural, political and jurisdictional groundings.

Panel P35b
‘The future belongs to us’: The data justice turn and the transformation of AI ethics
  Session 1 Tuesday 7 June, 2022, -