How Forensic Architecture uses technology to protect human rights

Woman on Laptopsource: Computer Weekly
published: 24 January 2022

Forensic Architecture speaks to Computer Weekly about how it uses various digital technologies to investigate human rights abuses around the globe, including the pushback of migrants over the Greek border and the killing of Mark Duggan by London police.

From biometric identification technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) to communications interception equipment and unmanned surveillance drones, modern nation states have a vast array of immensely powerful tools at their disposal thanks to the corporations they partner with to develop and deploy such technologies.

It is also well-documented that states and corporations alike routinely engage in technologically-enabled abuses of power.

Recent examples include the hacking of activists’, journalists’ and others’ phones by Israeli cyber surveillance firm NSO Group; the European Union (EU) using unvalidated predictive analytics and automated decision-making systems on refugees without their consent; the digital mass surveillance conducted by six African governments; and the disproportionate use of facial recognition technologies by UK police – with no clear legal basis.

“Technology is not neutral as it is a product of specific political and historical contexts,” says Nour Abuzaid, a researcher and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) liaison for Forensic Architecture.

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