4 Ways Your Google Searches And Social Media Affect Your Opportunities In Life

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4 Ways Your Google Searches And Social Media Affect Your Opportunities In Life
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Whether or not you realise or consent to it, big data can affect you and how you live your life. The data we create when using social media, browsing the internet and wearing fitness trackers are all collected, categorised and used by businesses and the state to create profiles of us. These profiles are then used to target advertisements for products and services to those most likely to buy them, or to inform government decisions.

Big data enable states and companies to access, combine and analyse our information and build revealing – but incomplete and potentially inaccurate – profiles of our lives. They do so by identifying correlations and patterns in data about us, and people with similar profiles to us, to make predictions about what we might do.

But just because big data analytics are based on algorithms and statistics, does not mean that they are accurate, neutral or inherently objective. And while big data may provide insights about group behaviour, these are not necessarily a reliable way to determine individual behaviour. In fact, these methods can open the door to discrimination and threaten people’s human rights – they could even be working against you. Here are four examples where big data analytics can lead to injustice.

1. Calculating credit scores

Big data can be used to make decisions about credit eligibility, affecting whether you are granted a mortgage, or how high your car insurance premiums should be. These decisions may be informed by your social media posts and data from other apps, which are taken to indicate your level of risk or reliability.

But data such as your education background or where you live may not be relevant or reliable for such assessments. This kind of data can act as a proxy for race or socioeconomic status, and using it to make decisions about credit risk could result in discrimination.

2. Job searches

Big data can be used to determine who sees a job advertisement or gets shortlisted for an interview. Job advertisements can be targeted at particular age groups, such as 25 to 36-year-olds, which excludes younger and older workers from even seeing certain job postings and presents a risk of age discrimination.

Automation is also used to make filtering, sorting and ranking candidates more efficient. But this screening process may exclude people on the basis of indicators such as the distance of their commute. Employers might suppose that those with a longer commute are less likely to remain in a job long-term, but this can actually discriminate against people living further from the city centre due to the location of affordable housing.

3. Parole and bail decisions

In the US and the UK, big data risk assessment models are used to help officials decide whether people are granted parole or bail, or referred to rehabilitation programmes. They can also be used to assess how much of a risk an offender presents to society, which is one factor a judge might consider when deciding the length of a sentence.

It’s not clear exactly what data is used to help make these assessments, but as the move toward digital policing gathers pace, it’s increasingly likely that these programmes will incorporate open source information such as social medial activity - if they don’t already.

These assessments may not just look at a person’s profile, but also how their compares to others’. Some police forces have historically over-policed certain minority communities, leading to a disproportionate number of reported criminal incidents. If this data is fed into an algorithm, it will distort the risk assessment models and result in discrimination which directly affects a person’s right to liberty.

4. Vetting visa applications

Last year, the United States’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) announced that it wanted to introduce an automated “extreme visa vetting” programme. It would automatically and continuously scan social media accounts, to assess whether applicants will make a “positive contribution” to the United States, and whether any national security issues may arise.

As well as presenting risks to freedom of thought, opinion, expression and association, there were significant risks that this programme would discriminate against people of certain nationalities or religions. Commentators characterised it as a “Muslim ban by algorithm”.

The programme was recently withdrawn, reportedly on the basis that “there was no ‘out-of-the-box’ software that could deliver the quality of monitoring the agency wanted”. But including such goals in procurement documents can create bad incentives for the tech industry to develop programmes that are discriminatory-by-design.

The ConversationThere’s no question that big data analytics works in ways that can affect individuals’ opportunities in life. But the lack of transparency about how big data are collected, used and shared makes it difficult for people to know what information is used, how, and when. Big data analytics are simply too complicated for individuals to be able to protect their data from inappropriate use. Instead, states and companies must make – and follow – regulations to ensure that their use of big data doesn’t lead to discrimination.

About The Authors

Lorna McGregor, Director, Human Rights Centre, PI and Co-Director, ESRC Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Large Grant, University of Essex; Daragh Murray, Lecturer in International Human Rights Law at Essex Law School, University of Essex, and Vivian Ng, Senior Researcher in Human Rights, University of Essex

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Books by these Authors:

Transitional Justice from Below: Grassroots Activism and the Struggle for Change (Human Rights Law in Perspective)

technologyBinding: Paperback
Features:
  • Used Book in Good Condition

Brand: Brand: Hart Publishing
Creator(s):
  • Kieran McEvoy
  • Lorna McGregor

Studio: Hart Publishing
Label: Hart Publishing
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Manufacturer: Hart Publishing

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Editorial Review: Although relatively new as a distinct field of study, transitional justice has become rapidly established as a vital field of enquiry. From vaguely exotic origins on the outer edges of political science, the study of justice in times of transition has emerged as a central concern of scholarship and practical policy-making. A process of institutionalization has confirmed this importance. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court, hybrid tribunals in Sierra Leone and East Timor, and 'local' processes such as the Iraqi Higher Tribunal have energized international law and international criminal justice scholarship. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was for a time lauded as the model for dealing with the past and remains one of the most researched institutions in the world. It is one of approximately two dozen such institutions established in different transitional contexts over the past twenty years to assist conflicted societies to come to terms with a violent past. At the national level, international donors contribute huge sums of money to 'Rule of Law' programs designed to transform national justice systems. This collection offers something quite different to the mainstream of scholarship in this area, emphasizing the need for solutions to different transitions rather than 'off the shelf' models. The collection is designed to offer a space for diversity, prompted by a series of perspectives 'from below' of societies beset by past violent conflict which have sought to effect their transition to justice. In doing so, the contributors have also sought to enrich discussion about the role of human rights in transition, the continuing usefulness of perspectives from above, and the still contested meanings of 'transition.'




Practitioners' Guide to Human Rights Law in Armed Conflict

technologyAuthor: Daragh Murray
Binding: Hardcover
Creator(s):
  • Elizabeth Wilmshurst
  • Francoise Hampson
  • Charles Garraway
  • Noam Lubell
  • Dapo Akande

Studio: Oxford University Press
Label: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Manufacturer: Oxford University Press

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Editorial Review: Although the relationship between international human rights law and the law of armed conflict has been the subject of significant recent academic discussion, there remains a lack of comprehensive guidance in identifying the law applicable to specific situations faced by military forces.

Providing guidance for armed forces and practitioners on the detailed application of international human rights law during armed conflict, this book fills that gap. Part 1 of the volume details foundational information relating to international human rights law and human rights institutions, the types of operations that States' armed forces engage in, and how the law of armed conflict and international human rights law apply to regulate different situations. Part 2 provides practical guidance as to the legal regulation of specific situations, including discussion of the conduct of hostilities, detention operations, humanitarian assistance, cyber operations, and investigations.

This book is the result of an in-depth process involving both academic and practitioner experts in the law of armed conflict and international human rights law who were convened in meetings at Chatham House chaired by Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Distinguished Fellow at Chatham House. The group included Professor Francoise Hampson, Essex University; Professor Dapo Akande, Oxford University; Charles Garraway, Fellow at Essex University; Professor Noam Lubell, Essex University; Michael Meyer, British Red Cross; and Daragh Murray, Lecturer at Essex University.




Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Armed Groups (Studies in International Law)

technologyAuthor: Daragh Murray
Binding: Hardcover
Studio: Hart Publishing
Label: Hart Publishing
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Manufacturer: Hart Publishing

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Editorial Review: This book is concerned with the international regulation of non-state armed groups. Specifically, it examines the possibility of subjecting armed groups to international human rights law obligations. First addressed is the means by which armed groups may be bound by international law. Of particular interest is the de facto control theory and the possibility that international law may be applied in the absence of direct treaty regulation. Application of this theory is dependent upon an armed group's establishment of an independent existence, as demonstrated by the displacement of state authority. This means that armed groups are treated as a vertical authority, thereby maintaining the established hierarchy of international regulation. At issue therefore is not a radical approach to the regulation of non-state actors, but rather a modification of the traditional means of application in response to the reality of the situation. The attribution of international human rights law obligations to armed groups is then addressed in light of potential ratione personae restrictions. International human rights law treaties are interpreted in light of the contemporary international context, on the basis that an international instrument has to be applied within the framework of the entire legal system prevailing at the time of interpretation. Armed groups' status as vertical authorities facilitates the vertical application of international human rights law in a manner consistent with both the object and purpose of the law and its foundation in human dignity. Finally, if international human rights law is to be applied to armed groups, its application must be effective in practice. A context-dependent division of responsibility between the territorial state and the armed group is proposed. The respect, protect, fulfil framework is adapted to facilitate the application of human rights obligations in a manner consistent with the control exerted by both the state and the armed group. ''Daragh Murray's book analyses the practical and theoretical difficulties associated with the topic of the international human rights obligations of non-state armed groups by considering the latest developments in this field and suggesting ways forward. His proposals are realistic and carefully argued; this book should be essential reading for anyone grappling with this subject.'' Andrew Clapham, Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.




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