The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy serves as the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in the human rights domain. The center embraces a dual mission: to educate students and the next generation of leaders from around the world in human rights policy and practice; and to convene and provide policy-relevant knowledge to international organizations, governments, policymakers, and businesses.
The global pandemic claimed its first democracy on March 30 when Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban won approval from his parliament to rule Hungary indefinitely by decree. Orban’s new powers give him unlimited authority to fight the coronavirus by suspending parliament and all future elections, overriding Hungarian law and imprisoning persons found guilty of the new crimes of “violating a quarantine” and “spreading false information.”
Democratic governments all over the world are undertaking temporary emergency measures to address the pandemic crisis, but none are as sweeping as Hungary’s. Temporarily restricting freedom of movement and prescribing social distancing are reasonable limits on civil liberties aimed at containing the virus. But the Hungarian case demonstrates how the public-health crisis can be used as an excuse to promote authoritarianism far beyond the current emergency.
The unfortunate truth is that personal data has become the bricks and mortar used to build many AI technologies and more must be done to protect and safeguard the humans whose personal data is being used. Through a case study on AI-powered remote biometric identity verification, this paper seeks to explore the technical requirements of building AI technologies with high volumes of personal data and the implications of such on our understanding of existing data protection frameworks. Ultimately, a path forward is proposed for ethically using personal data to build AI technologies.
Very little is certain about the coronavirus, and we are only judges, not prophets. However, we can confidently predict that the response to the pandemic will be a bonanza for kleptocrats — an opportunity for the corrupt leaders of many countries to further enrich themselves.
Governments are poised to provide trillions of dollars to counter the pandemic, without even the usual, often ineffective, safeguards to assure that the funds are properly spent. The coronavirus will, therefore, provide additional compelling proof that the world needs an International Anti-Corruption Court to punish and deter kleptocrats who enjoy impunity in the countries they rule.
“The Carr Center is building a bridge between ideas on human rights and the practice on the ground. Right now we are at a critical juncture. The pace of technological change and the rise of authoritarian governments are both examples of serious challenges to the flourishing of individual rights. It’s crucial that Harvard and the Kennedy School continue to be a major influence in keeping human rights ideals alive. The Carr Center is a focal point for this important task.”
- Mathias Risse