“Tech Week” conversations must include human rights

Tomorrow, as part of “tech week,” the Trump administration in the U.S. will meet with executives from top companies, including representatives from telecommunications companies, to discuss emerging technologies such as drones and the Internet of Things (IoT). Access Now urges both government and corporate representatives to make the protection of human rights central in these conversations. It is crucial that both government and industry respect the rights of the people using these technologies.

At Access Now, keeping people safe as technology evolves is high on our list of priorities. We’re working to ensure that when technology is developed and used, human rights aren’t forgotten.

Human rights and tech

“It’s great that the White House is focusing on the challenges and opportunities of new technologies. That means we could make significant progress on issues such as data protection, commercial breach notification, and promotion of secure technologies. However, unless human rights are central to this discussion, it is more likely we’re going to leap backward rather than forward on U.S. tech policy, damaging users’ trust and the foundation for the digital economy.” – Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager

Internet of Things

“We cannot perpetuate the misconception that simply because these ‘things’ have become an everyday extension of our life, they are not subject to the same threats, vulnerabilities, and misuse by malicious third parties as the laptops sitting in our offices or the iPhones in our pockets. Often they are more so. The time to protect our security and privacy is now.” – Lucie Krahulcova, E.U. Policy Associate


“Effective cybersecurity must look beyond incremental changes at federal agencies or extending the military’s role in critical infrastructure. Instead, the government and companies must work together on solutions that build users’ trust. One key area for development is ensuring the security of drones, a technology that can provide great value — for example, by delivering internet access in places that are under-served — but could also expose vulnerable populations to harm by collecting and storing personal data without protecting it.” – Drew Mitnick, Policy Counsel

Access and transparency

“Telecom companies increasingly understand their integral role and responsibility to respect human rights. U.S. telcos have demonstrated leadership on transparency and should continue to disclose the demands and requests they process that impact our rights, setting global standards on accountability to the public. They should also develop policies to respond to network disruptions, a growing problem worldwide that’s also possible in the U.S. Generally, they can do much more to understand, prevent, and remedy the threats we are facing in a world where everyone and everything is becoming increasingly connected.” -Peter Micek, General Counsel

Artificial intelligence

“New technologies, like artificial intelligence, can be seen to reflect racial bias in algorithms and means of operation, disproportionately impacting marginalized communities. Tech companies must strive for transparency and accountability, to ensure that the development and design of new technologies is fair, and that they foster the values of equality, diversity, and justice.” – Wafa Ben-Hassine, MENA Policy Analyst

Additional resources

Access Now has produced the following resources on these important topics:

These aren’t the drone standards you’re looking for (May 19, 2016), https://www.accessnow.org/drones-not-best-practices/

Secure all the things! How to protect human rights on the Internet of Things (May 9, 2017), https://www.accessnow.org/secure-things-protect-human-rights-internet-things/

An open letter to tech CEOs meeting with President (December 13, 2016), https://www.accessnow.org/open-letter-tech-ceos-meeting-president-elect-trump/

Open letter to the next President of the United States, (September 8, 2016), https://www.accessnow.org/open-letter-next-president-united-states/