Discussion paper

Human rights and technology issues paper

24 Jul 2018

Like any tool, technology can be used for good or ill. However, modern technology carries unprecedented potential on an individual and global scale. New technologies are already radically disrupting our social, governmental and economic systems.

Led by the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Edward Santow, the Human Rights & Technology Project (the Project) will analyse the social impact of technology, especially new and emerging technology, using a human rights framework. The Commission will facilitate, lead and guide the public conversation on how to protect and promote human rights in an era of unprecedented technological change.

This Issues Paper:

  • sets out background information about human rights and new technology, asking which issues the Commission should concentrate on
  • asks how Australia should regulate new technology, and what other measures should be taken to promote responsible innovation
  • considers how AI is increasingly used in decision making, and asks how we can protect human rights in this context
  • considers how we can promote more accessible technology, ensuring that people with disability experience the benefits of new technology
  • asks how new technology affects specific groups, such as children, women and older people.

The Issues Paper will guide the first phase of the Commission’s in-depth and inclusive consultation. It can be used by the Australian community – including experts and decisionmakers across industry, government, academia and civil society – to engage with the Project.

The Issues Paper starts a public consultation that will inform the Commission’s work. As the potential for new technology to help or harm is almost limitless, the first phase of consultation will assist in determining the central issues the Project will focus on.

Stakeholders are invited to express their views on any or all of the questions posed in this Issues Paper. A written submission may be made by 2 October 2018, and the Commission will also organise roundtable meetings and other consultation opportunities in the second half of 2018.

Following this consultation process, the Commission will develop innovative and practical recommendations to prioritise human rights in the design and regulation of new technologies.

The Commission will publish a Discussion Paper in early 2019, and this will include the Commission’s preliminary proposals for change. The Commission will then undertake a second phase of consultation to seek feedback on the proposals made in the Discussion Paper. A Final Report will be published by early 2020.

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