Blurb: (hackathons, online safety bill report, digital rights conference)
The catalyst this past decade has been technology: Social media have dominated communications – just imagine that Instagram turned 10 this year! The gig economy disrupted task based labour: The phrase “drive me back home” became relevant, as the driver might not be a professional driver (thanks Uber!) and home might not be your own home (thanks Airbnb!). We gained new friends – Alexa and Siri are always there for us, lending an ear. As the pandemic started taking over the world in 2020, we all slowed down. The world stood still for a while. And reflected. In today’s fast-paced academic environment we are rarely given the chance to explore current matters from such a wide angle: in studying digital rights, we aim to bring in a generalist perspective that transcends disciplinary boundaries and specialisms.
Digital Rights 2.0 Conference
Our Digital Rights 2.0. Symposium in July 2021 marked a ten year anniversary since the “Digital Rights 1.0” conference held at the University of Leeds and chaired by Dr Karanasiou. The main aim of this symposium has been to establish a venue for exploring with the research community the ways in which human rights have been shaped by emerging technologies over the past ten years. This is a decade that exposed the conceptual fragilities of the rule of law in data-driven environments, a decade characterised by disillusionment with human rights narratives, beginning with the Snowden revelations in 2013, then the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2015, leading on to the “fake news info-demic” in 2020. Such a revisionist approach not only suggests an innovative means of interpreting social phenomena in a techno-legal setting, but it is much needed as a tool to evaluate past considerations and hypotheses, and explore any lessons learned.
The Digital Rights 2.0 symposium was co-chaired by Dr Karanasiou and Dr Diker Vanberg and sessions were moderated by Fatimazahra Dehbi, Eva Souchet, and Dilara Altun. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich and Tim Barnes QC delivered opening addresses marking the official start of the event. The Symposium featured keynote speeches from Prof Andrew Murray (LSE) and Prof Roger Brownsword (KCL) and gathered some of the leading voices in Information Technology Law across the world: Prof Mireille Hildebrandt, Radboud University – Vrije Universiteit Brussels; Prof Ian Cram, University of Leeds; Dr Paul Bernal, University of East Anglia; Dr Emily Laidlaw, University of Calgary; Dr Angela Daly, University of Strathclyde; Dr Shara Monteleone, Italian Information Commissioner’s Office; Dr Jasper Sluijs,University of Utrecht; Dr Dariusz Kloza, Vrije Universiteit Brussels; Dr Nicholas Gervassis, University of Plymouth.
DigiRights Hackathon: Human Rights in Smart Cities
At LETS Lab we are driven by a passion to devise pragmatic solutions that involve cross-disciplinary work. In this spirit, our hub has held a few legal hackathons that involved students, practitioners, and professionals from law and computing, working together on projects that promote human rights in digital contexts.
Our “Data for Good” Hackathon in 2020 was sponsored by the Oxford University Press and the winning project was "StaySafe". Team members were: Sophia Ahmad, Kushla Everitt-Kingston, and Riazil Bhuiyan.
Our global hackathon “DigiRights”, was held in 2021 in collaboration with the Innovation in Law Studies Alliance (ILSA) and the Instituto de Innovación Legal and brought together participants from all over the world: United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Ghana, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina, Israel, the Netherlands, Greece, Hungary, Mauritius, Turkey, Portugal, Pakistan and India.
The aim of the hackathon was to develop software to promote the digital rights of citizens in "Smart cities'. Nearly 60 people from 20 countries in four continents participated to empower citizens exercising digital rights.
Our panel of judges had a very difficult task as all projects were innovative and displayed an excellent understanding of the challenge set. We were privileged to have as our judges the Honourable Judge Dory Reiling (Amsterdam District Court), Jordi Rivera (CEO DAS Spain), Tomer Libal (American University of Paris), Ebru Metin (Legal Design Turkey), Juan Carlos Luna (CEO Lawgistic), Ghislain Boddington (Body Data Space), Jim Chiang (CEO MyLegal Einstein) and Karol Valencia (CEO WowLegalExperience).
The hackathon winning teams and projects were:
-Project "Fairgram" from the University of Padova ITLL/ROKH Team (Italy) won first place - The team members were Carlo Maria Guiotto, Cosetta Masi, Jader Francia, Marco Alagna, Romina Sanja. The award was presented by PwC Head of AI Department, Dr Ahmad Haj Mosa.
-Project "Conscendo" from the University of Greenwich Team (UK) won second place. The team members were Esra Kilic (Law), Szabina Horvath (Law), Haresh Patel (Computing) and Siddhesh Panchal (Computing). The award was presented by LETS Lab Director, Dr Argyro Karanasiou.
-Project "RightsBot'' from the Universidad Catolica de Cuenca (Ecuador) won third place - The RightsBot team is Ana Zamora, Juan Carlos Ortega, Edison Ortiz, María Cecilia González Artega and Rolando Andrade. The award was presented by ROKH CEO Filippo Maria Andreani.
All three winning projects share the vision of supporting the human rights in an increasingly data driven world. The Fairgram project highlighted the potential of infographics to communicate the terms and conditions in a more understandable way to citizens. Conscendo envisioned a platform that allows identity management from a single point ensuring a more controlled management of personal data. Finally, RightsBot, is a chatbot whose objective is to eliminate doubts in relation to data protection and cybersecurity
Automated Content Moderation & Free Speech Online
Sponsorships: We are grateful for a number of sponsorships that have made this work possible, in particular:
The Greenwich hackathon 2020 has been sponsored by Oxford University Press.
The global hackathon “Digirights 2021” has been sponsored by ROKH and PwC Europe.
The Digital Rights 2.0 symposium has been sponsored by the Peter Harris Charitable Trust. We are indebted to Tim Barnes QC for all his support.
Dr Argyro Karanasiou
Dr Aysem Diker Vanberg
Dr Taimoor Khan
Maria Jesus Gonzalez Espejo
Suzanne Louail, University of Greenwich
Fakhar Raza, University of Greenwich
Karen Ward, University of Greenwich