The Algrithmic State: Cyber Challenges to Demcracy and Human Rights




Over the past two decades, both governments and corporations have adjusted their strategies to the networked environment. These strategies perceive the networked environment as a risk and an opportunity, an offensive weapon and a defensive shield. The rapid development of cyber threats – to the digital environment itself and to those that inhabit the digital environment – put pressure on governments and corporations to develop new defensive strategies for protecting the infrastructure and ensuring the safety of their users.

As the details of the emerging strategies are revealed, the public and private responses may differ (and may generate conflict) or may coalesce. Moreover, the new strategies – public or private – are liable to come with a price to fundamental liberties. On a deeper level, such strategies operate vis-à-vis a redesigned structure of power distribution among states, corporations, security agencies and citizens. Social networks and IoT empower individuals and crowds to act together, but open up various vulnerabilities as well as raise new challenges regarding governance capabilities of modern democracies and non-democracies.  For a long time the fundamental tenets of liberal democracies were secured by certain assumptions regarding the application of constitutional principles, separation of power and a bill of rights. Recent developments suggest, however, that those checks and balances must be applied in new ways in order to secure freedoms in the years to come.​

The purpose is of this conference is to map the growing challenges to civil liberties that emanate from recent developments in cyberspace, and to explore new strategies to address them. The conference will examine the challenges of pursing cyber security while ensuring civil rights. As recent developments reveal, the state may be part of the problem, as traditional checks on its powers are less relevant. Yet it is also part of the solution, since in the absence of state protection and the role of the state as arbiter, commerce, culture, freedom and access to basic social goods might be at greater risk. Focusing on the state as a central player and stakeholder, the conference will explore the emergence of new state agencies, novel forms of collaboration between government and industry, and alternative ways of understanding the operation of fundamental rights in cyberspace.

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