Topic: Human rights principles
Event date: 13 June – 8 July 2022
Representatives of the member states in the Human Rights Council will come to Geneva to partake in 27 interactive dialogues (ID) Special Procedures mandate holders and mechanisms and 9 interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion Ms Irene Khan will present her report (A/HRC/50/29) on media freedom of expression in the digital age in an ID. A public high-level panel discussion will focus on the laws and practices addressing the negative impact of disinformation on the enjoyment and realization of human rights.
For more information, and to register, please visit the official page.
Address: c/o Campus Biotech, Chemin des Mines 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
The SDI is an independent, non-profit foundation based in Geneva, founded in 2020 by digital Switzerland under the patronage of Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer. The SDI pursues concrete projects to secure ethical standards and promote responsible conduct in the digital world. It brings together academia, government, civil society, and business to find solutions to strengthen trust in digital technologies and in the actors involved in ongoing digital transformation.
The ethical challenges of digitalisation should be tackled through a multistakeholder approach, with public and private sector initiatives so that the full potential of digital technologies can be unleashed to serve communities and society.
To realise this ambition, the SDI seeks to enable a high-quality global conversation on the ethics of digitalisation.
The SDI subscribes to the following principles in its work:
- Inclusiveness: Commit to a participatory and inclusive process open to all relevant and interested stakeholders.
- Awareness: Take into account other relevant initiatives and research projects within the sphere of digital ethics.
- Transparency: Guarantee transparent communication with stakeholders and the public.
- Agility: Ensure flexibility and agility to allow for experimentation and innovation, balancing benefits with risks.
- Responsiveness: Enable appropriate responses to emerging dangers unforeseen during the development of new digital processes.
- Sustainability: Strive for minimal impact on resources.
- Benevolence: Put people’s rights and needs (as enshrined in principles such as autonomy and fairness) at the heart of progress.
- Accountability: Commit to acting responsibly and in accordance with applicable data protection laws.
The SDI works on concrete projects to put into practice ethical standards in the digital age and focus on the following three areas: Digital Trust, AI Ethics, and Digital Responsibility in Practice.
With the growing awareness of the importance of digital trust, more than 50 national and international initiatives are dealing with certification and the development of criteria and labels for the responsible use of new technologies. To foster collaboration among like-minded initiatives, the SDI has compiled a comprehensive report on the digital trust ecosystem. The report Labels and Certifications for the Digital World – Mapping the International Landscape takes a closer look at 12 of the most relevant initiatives and analyses success factors as well as similarities and differences compared to the Digital Trust Label (DTL) by the SDI. In addition, it provides an interactive overview that is regularly updated to keep track of the dynamic Digital Trust Ecosystem.
The Digital Trust Whitepaper provides a comprehensive overview of the dynamic digital trust ecosystem. The compiled knowledge should form the basis for better cooperation and knowledge sharing. Instead of fragmentation, more cooperation is needed to define internationally valid labels and standards. It also provides the theoretical background for the SDI’s ongoing engagement in different working groups, for example, the Working Group on Digital Trust of the World Economic Forum.
To assess the Swiss population’s mindset regarding trust in the digital world, a qualitative study Digital Trust from the User’s Perspective was carried out in November 2019.
In a trend map Landscape of the Digital Economy and Society, the trends identified further increase the importance of trustworthy digital services.
Digital policy issues
Digital Trust Label
Digital Trust is a cornerstone of a successful digital transformation. The first worldwide DTL was launched in January 2022. The DTL shows that a digital application meets mandatory criteria and thus a certain standard. It also creates more information and transparency for users regarding four aspects of the application: security, data protection, reliability of the application, and fair user interaction (use of AI).
Benefits for all stakeholders:
- Compliance with a specific standard: The digital application meets 35 different criteria in 4 aspects.
- More transparency and information: Users understand what happens with their data and whether an algorithm makes a decision.
- Responsible companies: The DTL shows that a digital application provider takes its responsibilities towards users seriously.
Priority in addressing Digital Trust should be given to digital services that are used in fields where
- the handled data is very sensitive the consequences of using digital services matter greatly;
- there is not much choice in whether to use a digital service; and
- digital services are rolled out at a high pace and on a large scale.
This particularly concerns digital services in healthcare, the public sector, the media sector, banking and insurance, HR, and the education sector.
Artificial intelligence ethics
As part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness for the importance of digital responsibility and ethics in AI, the SDI has partnered up with the renowned Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD) to create the interactive experience Adface. The web-based tool uses AI to analyse a person’s face and create a user profile to produce targeted advertisements that could fit the user profile. This simple tool shows that AI is already deeply embedded in and influencing everyday life (how AI algorithms influence decisions or automate a person’s decisions). Art and design can be valuable allies for raising awareness and stimulating critical thinking around the societal implications of new technologies.
The SDI is currently conducting a project with IMD Lausanne to gather best practices when it comes to implementing principles of corporate digital responsibility (CDR) and to create a starter kit with lessons, common challenges, inspiration, and additional resources to facilitate the adoption of CDR within organisations.
Future of meetings
House of Switzerland at the World Economic Forum 2022 – Event on Pioneering Digital Trust – A Commitment to Digital Responsibility together with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
As part of the Swiss digital days, the SDI conducted an event series to look at AI ethics from the perspective of the public and the private sector and to discuss scenarios for the future. Find the event summaries here:
- What to Consider When Using AI in the Public Sector?
- Expectations for the Private Sector in AI Ethics
- Exploring Future Trends Together
The SDI and Swissnex China partnered to conduct an expert talk on digital trust and the label criteria: TechTalk on Pioneering Digital Trust.
Additional resources about the Digital Trust Label in the SDI library
- SDI Annual Report 2021
- Labels and Certifications for the Digital World
- The Digital Trust Label in a Nutshell
- DTL Code of Practice
- DTL Criteria Catalogue
- Report Co-Development Process
- Recommendations of the Experts Committee
- User Study Digital Trust Switzerland
- Global Digital Trust Label User Study
- Second Public Consultation Report June 2021
Address: 7bis, Avenue de la Paix, CH-1202 Geneva
Stakeholder group: NGOs and associations
The Geneva Internet Plaform (GIP) is a Swiss initiative operated by DiploFoundation that strives to engage digital actors, foster digital governance, and monitor digital policies.
It aims to provide a neutral and inclusive space for digital policy debates, strengthen the participation of small and developing countries in Geneva-based digital policy processes, support activities of Geneva-based Internet governance (IG) and ICT institutions and initiatives, facilitate research for an evidence-based, multidisciplinary digital policy, bridge various policy silos, and provide tools and methods for in situ and online engagement that could be used by other policy spaces in International Geneva and worldwide. The GIP’s activities are implemented based on three pillars: a physical platform in Geneva, an online platform and observatory, and a dialogue lab.
Address: Palais Wilson 52, rue des Pâquis, CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations
The Human Rights Council is a United Nations intergovernmental body whose mandate is to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe, and to make recommendations on cases of human rights violations. The Council is made up of 47 member states, as elected by the UN General Assembly.
The Council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), headed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who is the principal human rights official of the United Nation.
Freedom of expression and privacy in the online space are two of the issues covered by the Council in its activities. These have been discussed at UNHRC sessions, and covered in resolutions adopted by the Council, as well as in reports elaborated by the special rapporteurs appointed by the Council. The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has issued reports on issues such as: the use of encryption and anonymity to exercise the rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age; states’ surveillance of communications on the exercise of the human rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression; the right to freedom of opinion and expression exercised through the Internet; etc. The Special Rapporteur on the righ to privacy has within its mandate the responsibility to make recommendations for the promotion and protection of the right to privacy, including in connection with challenges arising from new technologies.
Social media channels
LinkedIn @Swiss Digital Initiative