IGF 2020 OF #49 Upholding Rights in the State-Business Nexus: C19 and beyond

Time
Friday, 6th November, 2020 (13:10 UTC) - Friday, 6th November, 2020 (14:10 UTC)
Room
Room 2
About this Session
This session will focus on strategies and practices to advance human rights when governments procure, license or form partnerships to make use of new digital technologies. In a context where contact tracing-apps are developed through public-private partnerships, States should take additional steps to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises that receive substantial support and services from State agencies and where appropriate, require human rights due diligence.
Theme

Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min

Description

This session will focus on strategies and practices to advance international human rights standards when governments procure, license or form partnerships to make use of new digital technologies. The sudden and devastating onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic has galvanized governments, citizens and the private sector to develop responses and solutions to protect public health.  Technology has played an important role in these efforts – whether to, allow vulnerable and isolated individuals to stay connected to their families, sustain delivery of essential items, to advance medical research or to enable home working.  Governments and technology companies have closely worked together, sometimes being supported by emergency legal measures and also, to some degree, by a social license for such collaboration.

In a context where contact tracing-apps are developed through public-private partnerships, States should take additional steps to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises that receive substantial support and services from State agencies, and in the case of contact tracing apps mostly from health authorities, and where appropriate, require human rights due diligence in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Indeed, given human rights risks linked to the use of contact tracing apps, “States should encourage and, where appropriate, require human rights due diligence by the agencies themselves and by those business enterprises or projects receiving their support. A requirement for human rights due diligence is most likely to be appropriate where the nature of business operations or operating contexts pose significant risk to human rights” (Commentary UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Principle 4).

 Companies developing new technology products and solutions to fight the spread of the virus, coupled with the rapid and extraordinary government requests for access to user data raises major human rights concerns and questions.

  • How do we protect privacy rights while using technology to address legitimate public health and safety issues?
  • How can we prevent that governments use data about their citizens for nefarious purposes? How do we manage the risk of discriminatory access to information and public health outcomes, or social stigmatization?
  • What is an approporiate timing for rolling back special measures with elevated human rights risks?
  • How does user data need to be governed to uphold purpose limitation (e.g. public health)?

This session will explore what policies, processes and accountability mechanisms will ensure States meet their human rights obligations and companies meet their Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights in the course of government requests, solution design, procurement/sales, contract negotiations and solution implementation.

Part One will spotlight urgent human rights concerns as well as positive practices related to public-private responses around the world to COVID-19. Part Two will chart a course for how to more strongly embed – for times of crisis and beyond – human rights protections into the “State-Business Nexus” consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The session will also inform the next steps and deliverables of a key work-stream of the UN Human Rights B-Tech Project.

The session allows also to look beyond COVID-19 in recognition that, even before the current crisis, stakeholders across government, civil society and the private sector have raised alarms about the risk of public-private partnerships not being governed by a meaningful commitment to upholding human rights. 

Organizers

OHCHR B-Tech Project

Speakers
  • Gary Davis, Global Director of Privacy & Law Enforcement Requests, Apple 
  • Stephanie Hankey, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Tactical Tech
  • Philip Dawson, Lead Public Policy, Element AI
  • John Howell, Director, Human Rights Scrutiny, Australian Human Rights Commission
Onsite Moderator

Mark Hodge, Senior Adviser, B-Tech, OHCHR

Online Moderator

Mark Hodge, Senior Adviser, B-Tech, OHCHR

Rapporteur

TBC

SDGs

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions