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Tuesday, December 19 • 17:20 - 18:20
Big-data, business and respect for human rights (OF49)

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Big-data, business and respect for human rightsTuesday 19/12  Room XXI E from 5:20 to 6.40 PM


Organizational Affiliation:
 joint open forum by WBU/EBU, Council of Europe and Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)


Is it possible for business entities to use Big Data in a fair way that respect human rights and privacy rules ?
This open forum will bring together companies, governments and other stakeholders to discuss the importance of fostering sustainable and responsible business on/via the Internet, with regard to the management of (big-)data. It will explore the opportunities for governments, companies and the civil society to constructively collaborate together, in order to address common issues facing the management of (big-)data.
Various models of self-regulation in the use of Big Data will be discussed in the Media, in non ICT and in the Internet sector.
Swiss policy in relation with the Business and human rights framework at the national level (Swiss government) will be presented.
While Council of Europe will present model of enforcement and of self-regulation agreements at the international level.                 

The European Broadcasting Union (member of the WBU)  has made the challenge of big-data a priority. A ‘big-data’ week has been organised in Geneva with speakers from
all over the world (including UN privacy rapporteur Prof. Joe Cannataci) to  discuss why big-data are so sensitive as media and how could do they relate to human rights.

The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is following the topic of big-data because of its implications for the realisation and promotion of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The Council of Europe is also working on big data related issues from a standard setting angle, having already addressed the data protection implications of big data and examining the broader impact of algorithms on human rights. 

In a press release issued on 4 April 2016, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights underlined that the effects of business practices on human rights have become a central issue for human rights protection. He also referred to a survey carried out by The Economist which highlighted that many businesses have started to view themselves as important actors in respecting human rights. While it is the task of governments to secure for everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, there is now wide recognition that businesses are key actors in the respect for human rights. This is confirmed by the Committee of Ministers in a Declaration in 2014 and a Recommendation in 2016.
The protection of personal data and the right to privacy online are at odds with the very nature of the Internet which is to facilitate the free flow of (big-)data in an open environment. There is a growing technological ability to collect, process and extract new and predictive knowledge from great volume, velocity, and variety of data. The main issue is the analysis of the data using software to extract new and predictive knowledge for decision-making purposes regarding individuals and groups. 

-       Respect for human rights - what are the challenges for Internet business vis-à-vis respecting human rights in the management of personal data they process? To what extent have the tech sector/Internet businesses committed to respecting the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights (i.e. ‘Ruggie Principles’). How companies can avoid infringing on the human rights of others and how should they address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved?

-       Fostering business online - looking ahead, how can governments, business and other stakeholders work together to respect human rights in the management of personal data? Where are common issues and opportunities of collaboration? What does sustainable and responsible Internet business practice look like? Reference to good practices.

-       Conclusions :

The final round of interventions, will close the discussion with proposal of solutions on how to establish a correct relation between digital service suppliers and their users on the way to use their data.

Tag 1: Big Data

Tag 2: Human Rights Online

Tag 3: Digital Geneva Convention

Organizers: Giacomo Mazzone for EBU, Rémy Friedmann for FDFA, Peter Kimpian and Lee Hibbard for CoE:

Lee Hibbard - Council of Europe


EBU – Giacomo Mazzone Head of Institutional Relations

FDFA– Rémy Friedmann,  Senior Advisor, Desk Human Security and Business, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)
- Human Security Division, Deputy Head, Human Rights Policy Section

CoE - Corina Călugăru,  Coordinator on Information Policy (TC-INF), Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Republic of Moldova to the Council of Europe

CoE – Alessandra Pierucci, Chair of Data Protection Committee of Council of Europe

eXascale/scigility – Philippe Cudré-Mauroux,  
Full Professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, leading the eXascale Infolab. 

Institute for Human Rights and Business - John Morrison,  Executive Director of IHRB

Microsoft – Bernard Shen,  Assistant General Counsel     Corporate, External & Legal Affairs – Business & Human Rights

Name of Online Moderator: Peter Kimpian

Background Papers  & Links to relevant documents and to recently organized events




- www.ebu.ch/member-services/big-data
; ebu_big_data_initiative_newsletter.pdf

- https://www.ebu.ch/contents/events/2016/12/big-data-initiative-workshop-algorithms-and-society.html

- http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=fb1289bbe8d8438ceb20398df&id=2d49d094ac

Council of Europe:
- Guidelines on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data in a world of big data see https://rm.coe.int/16806ebe7a                                              
- (Ms. Pierucci)
-  Letter of intent exchanged with Internet Service providers and Social media organizations: https://www.coe.int/en/web/freedom-expression/exchange-of-letters
- (Ms. Calugaru)


Institute for Human Rights and Business
The Wilton Park conference of June 2016 : https://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/WP1478-Programme.pdf


IHRB report, November 2016 :


The concept note of the session that took place at the UN annual forum on business and human rights in November last year:


GNI principles
http://globalnetworkinitiative.org/principles/index.php  & http://globalnetworkinitiative.org/staff


Microsoft  https://shop.icrc.org/handbook-on-data-protection-in-humanitarian-action.html  see Chapter on the cloud


Session Organizers

Giacomo Mazzone

Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU)

Tuesday December 19, 2017 17:20 - 18:20 CET
Room XXI - E United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)