Recommendations on the Human Rights Impacts of Algorithmic Systems

Observing Human Rights
Observing Human Rights (c) Pixabay CC


The Council of Europe today called on its 47 member States to take a precautionary approach to the development and use of algorithmic systems and adopt legislation, policies and practices that fully respect human rights.

In a Recommendation on the human rights impacts of algorithmic systems, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers issued a set of guidelines calling on governments to ensure that they do not breach human rights through their own use, development or procurement of algorithmic systems. In addition, as regulators, they should establish effective and predictable legislative, regulatory and supervisory frameworks that prevent, detect, prohibit and remedy human rights violations, whether stemming from public or private actors.

The recommendation acknowledges the vast potential of algorithmic processes to foster innovation and economic development in numerous fields, including communication, education, transportation, governance and health systems. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, algorithmic systems are being used for prediction, diagnosis and research on vaccines and treatments. Enhanced digital tracking measures are being discussed in a growing number of member States – relying, again, on algorithms and automation.

At the same time, the recommendation warns of significant challenges to human rights related to the use of algorithmic systems, mostly concerning the right to a fair trial; privacy and data protection; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; the freedoms of expression and assembly; the right to equal treatment; and economic and social rights.

/1/ Full statement

Gerhard Schimpf, the recipient of the ACM Presidential Award 2016, has a degree in Physics from the University of Karlsruhe. As a former IBM development manager and self-employed consultant for international companies, he has been active in ACM for over four decades. He was a leading supporter of ACM Europe, serving on the first ACM Europe Council in 2009. He was also instrumental in coordinating ACM’s spot as one of the founding organizations of the Heidelberg Laureates Forum. Gerhard Schimpf is a member of the German Chapter of the ACM (Chair 2008 – 2011) and a member of the Gesellschaft für Informatik. --oo-- Gerhard Schimpf, der 2016 mit dem ACM Presidential Award geehrt wurde, hat an der TH Karlsruhe Physik studiert. Als ehemaliger Manager bei IBM im Bereich Entwicklung und Forschung und als freiberuflicher Berater international tätiger Unternehmen ist er seit 40 Jahren in der ACM aktiv. Er war Gründungsmitglied des ACM Europe Councils und gehört zum Founders Club für das Heidelberg Laureate Forum, einem jährlichen Treffen von Preisträgern der Informatik und Mathematik mit Studenten. Gerhard Schimpf ist Mitglied des German Chapter of the ACM (Chairperson 2008 – 2011) und der Gesellschaft für Informatik.

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