Digital Debate 6: On ethical red lines for the use of digital tools by CSOs
The digital transformation encompasses consumer electronics, online shopping and education, eGovernment and Gig work. And as our societies undergo this transformation, so do civil society organisations (CSOs). What started with digitalised back offices, eMail and accounting, has evolved in CSOs maintaining data and databases, using biometrics and bots, experimenting with artificial intelligence. Some CSOs have entered into alliances with tech companies while others keep their distance, criticising their business models and advocating for change.
Hosted by Barb Iverson, the 6th Digital Debate will discuss the role of CSOs in this vast landscape, sometimes called surveillance capitalism or platform economy, and state-sponsored digital surveillance or CSOs-driven compassionate surveillance. The perspective offered by three eminent panellists is not that of self-styled digital freedom fighters but that of analysts who observe that in times of a pandemic, even CSOs seem convinced that the battle for health is not only fought by virologists and epidemiologists but also by computer scientists and big data specialists.
Fighting poverty with pen and paper was yesterday. Today’s modernisation lures by collecting personal data for statistical modelling and automated decision-making. The digital rights movement has produced numerous documents, enshrining principles, guidelines, and codes of conduct that are trying to set a framework for operating ethically. But none of these well-meaning documents is legally binding, and when laws come into play, such as the GDPR data protection regulation, then most CSOs rely on self-policing rather than submitting themselves to third party supervision and litigation.
So, the question stands: Where are ethical red lines for the use of digital tools by Civil Society Organisations?
2 September 2021, 16:00 hrs. CEST
Digital Debates: Event Series
Every month, this event series will provide inspiring discussions for the civil society sector based on the constant change that digitalisation brings to our societies. Each debate will be a call to action for CSOs to take a more active role in shaping our digital future.
Barbara Iverson will moderate each debate. She teaches Interpersonal Skills and Intercultural Management at the CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin.