In February, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) announced an ambitious three year project to explore the challenges and opportunities that technology poses to human rights. One of the first outputs of the project was a public consultation, launched in July, asking participants to respond to questions on a range of key issues. GPD’s response – which we submitted this week – focused on the particular threats and opportunities relating to the right to freedom of expression.
In our submission, we highlight some of the new technologies that have particular impacts on how people are able to exercise and enjoy their right to freedom of expression online, including automation and algorithmic filtration of content, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. We also highlight some of the risks to freedom of expression that stem from inappropriate state action and regulation, such as network disruptions, excessive intermediary liability, and censorship.
The submission also emphasises the importance of ensuring that any regulation of technology, or other policy responses, are consistent with international human rights law and standards, and that companies within the tech sector play a full role in respecting human rights, consistent with their obligations under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The consultation is now closed to input. A discussion paper will be published by the AHRC in early 2019, setting out “innovative and practical recommendations to prioritise human rights in the design and regulation of new technologies”. This will be followed by a second phase of consultation on the proposals before the publication of a final report in 2020, which means that there are further opportunities for engagement by other civil society organisations in and outside of Australia.
You can read GPD’s submission to the consultation here.