Technologies are not built neutrally. From the early stages of ideation to the last stages of deployment and maintenance, decisions are made by executives, policymakers, designers, and developers that generate both positive and negative effects of technology on society. We at Taraaz and the CITRIS Policy Lab, believe that human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, should guide decision-making in the design and development of technologies. We ask how the core international human rights instruments and principles such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can help to design technologies ethically, deploy them responsibly, and advocate for or against those deployments effectively.
To answer these questions, we initiated the “Technology and Human Rights” fellowship program to support students whose research ideas lie at the intersection of technology and human rights. Today, we are happy to welcome our first cohort of fellows.
Ph.D. student, Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, the University of California, Berkeley
Project Title: When the Streetlights Come On: How “Smart Cities” are Becoming a Surveillance State
Project Description: This project will produce a toolkit for U.S. city officials to consider the privacy and security vulnerabilities when adopting new technologies that have the potential for wide-spread surveillance and data collection. The project is particularly pressing as smart street lights, as well as other “smart” technologies, sweep across urban locales throughout the country. This guide will center ethics, transparency, and accountability as critical components to consider in order to better ensure that human rights are not violated.
Research Method: Methodologies will include interviews with activists who are currently advocating for U.S. City Councils to adopt ordinances that will prevent intrusions on resident’s privacy, as well as activists and city officials in Oakland, California who have successfully adopted a Privacy Advisory Commission that oversees law enforcement’s adoption of technology that could be used as tools for surveillance.
More about Brie McLemore: Brie McLemore is a Ph.D. student in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the adoption and integration of technology in urban spaces and the implications for surveillance. Brie’s work is informed by Black Feminist Surveillance Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and Legal Theory. She has a Master of Public Policy/Master of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Brandeis University and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Gender Studies from New College of Florida. Brie is a Health Policy Research Scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies Fellow, and a Graduate Fellow at the Center for Technology, Society, and Policy at UC Berkeley. Her previous work has been published in the Virginia Law Review, the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, and TruthOut. In her free time, she enjoys fencing, caring for her plants, and watching reality television with her dog. You can follow Brie McLemore on Twitter.