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Symposium „Big Data, Peace and Justice: Potentials and Challenges”

04 October 2018

UG/Campus Fryslân and the Embassy of Austria in the Netherlands organized a symposium on September 17 2018 which was hosted by the Hague Humanity Hub in The Hague. This event took place in the context of the 2018 EU Council Presidency of Austria. Speakers included the member of the European Parliament Eugen Freund, representatives of the Dutch and Austrian Justice ministries, and experts in data science and human rights protection. Approximately 70 guests attended the event, including diplomats, representatives of other national and international research institutions, and the tech start-up community.

Big Data is revolutionizing the Peace and Justice sector. Artificial intelligence applications for case law analytics, data analysis for decision making and other innovations accelerate the processes and responses but also confront us with ethical implications. The symposium aimed at exploring the potentials and challenges of the data revolution for peace and justice with practitioners and academics. After the opening through the Austrian Ambassador in the Netherlands, Heidemaria Gürer, the dean of the University College of Campus Fryslân, Andrej Zwitter, guided the visitors through the presentations and panel discussion.

In one of the presentations Oskar Gstrein, Senior Researcher of the Campus Fryslân Data Research Centre, focused on the discussion about governmental surveillance. In the Netherlands a referendum on a new law governing this sector (“Wet op de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten”) was held on 21 March 2018. The close outcome of the referendum showed the complexity of the topic. Gstrein tried to address this complexity by focusing on a few simple hypothesis which he then discussed.

According to his presentation there is “no ultimate solution to security.” In other words, security is an ongoing problem, that we can only manage, but that will never be completely solved. Hence, if there is a need to manage security, this must be done with policies based on the fundamental European pillars democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. He then went on to focus on the balancing aspect between the human rights to privacy and security, stating that ultimately both rights are essential in order to promote human dignity. In other words, balancing privacy and security is not an end in itself, but ultimately must be done to raise the level of human dignity in a society. Finally, he stated that these general considerations can only be implemented in the work of police and security services, if there is a detailed law containing clear procedures, with internal checks and balances, and combined with legal and political oversight.

His presentation was followed by a panel discussion, in which all presenters participated. This exchange of views was followed by three workshops, where the potentials and risks of Big Data were discussed with humanitarian organizations and start-ups.

Last modified:19 December 2018 07.02 a.m.

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