#publicsphere

Stanford University Libraries via Public Domain Review

Blog, 20 May 2022

Governance of Artificial Intelligence in the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is in charge of upholding human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Europe. Its member states are currently working on legal frameworks for the development and use of AI systems.

Read more
Aman Pal | Unsplash

Position, 25 April 2022

The Digital Services Act: EU sets a new standard for platform accountability

A political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA) reached late last week may set a major blueprint for protecting people’s rights online and holding Big Tech companies accountable. It will do so in part by forcing platforms to be more transparent about the design and function of the algorithmic systems which are core to their business practices.

Read more
Ravi Sharma | Unsplash

Position, 30 March 2022

DSA trilogues in the endgame: Policymakers must prioritize platform transparency

With the trilogue negotiations entering their final phase, key issues remain at stake that will determine the final text of the Digital Services Act (DSA). In this policy paper, we urge EU negotiators to prioritize issues that are central to the DSA’s accountability structure – including third-party data access for public scrutiny, independent audits, and increased transparency for online advertisements.

Read more
George Pagan | unsplash

Position, 22 March 2022

Joint Civil Society Briefing for the Digital Services Act Trilogues

The Digital Services Act (DSA) promises greater accountability for big tech platforms and a safer and more transparent online environment for all. At the moment, the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and the European Commission are negotiating the final version of the text. In a joint briefing paper compiled with 11 other civil society organizations, we define key priorities for these so-called trilogue negotiations.

Read more
YouTube Newsfeed

Blog, 14 March 2022

DataSkop: simulating the dynamics of recommender systems

Several thousands of supporters donated their YouTube profile data on our platform DataSkop. We have developed a simulator that is designed to demonstrate basic principles of recommendation algorithms such as YouTube's.

Read more

Position, 1 March 2022

AlgorithmWatch signs statement on ban of predictive policing in the Artificial Intelligence Act

Today, 1st March 2022, AlgorithmWatch along with Fair Trials, European Digital Rights (EDRi) and 38 civil society organisations launched a collective statement to call on the EU to ban predictive policing systems in the Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA).

Read more
Mathias P.R. Reding | Unsplash

Position, 28 February 2022

Human rights and activities of tech companies: Governments must act

Discrimination and violations of rights to equal treatment by the law – these are among the risks to human rights posed by the development and use of algorithmic systems by technology companies. In our submission to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) we argue that states have a duty to protect citizens from these risks.

Read more
Gianluca Cinnante | Unsplash

Position, 24 February 2022

Joint Statement on Stakeholder Inclusion in the Code of Practice on Disinformation Revision Process

The Code of Practice on Disinformation is currently being revised to update commitments by platforms and industry to tackle the problem of online disinformation. In a joint statement with Access Now, Civil Liberties Union for Europe, and European Digital Rights (EDRi), we express our concerns over the lack of inclusion of third-party stakeholders in the revision process.

Read more

Blog, 7 February 2022

Don’t smile for the camera – stop automated facial recognition!

Join the cause and spread the word about the dangers of biometric surveillance by ordering one of our “Don’t smile for the camera” tote bags for free.

Read more
Gareth Harrison ǀ Unsplash

Story, 4 February 2022

Costly birthplace: discriminating insurance practice

Two residents in Rome with exactly the same driving history, car, age, profession, and number of years owning a driving license may be charged a different price when purchasing car insurance. Why? Because of their place of birth, according to a recent study.

Read more
Maarten van den Heuvel | Unsplash

Blog, 27 January 2022

EU Parliament approves its negotiating position on the DSA

The plenary vote establishes the European Parliament's position ahead of the trilogue negotiations with the Council of the EU and the Commission, which will start next week. Despite progress by the Parliament on issues like platform transparency, it is far from guaranteed that this progress will be enshrined in the final law.

Read more
Susan Q Yin ǀ Unsplash

Publication, 27 January 2022

Data altruism: how the EU is screwing up a good idea

In a new AlgorithmWatch discussion paper, data regulation expert Winfried Veil argues that the Data Governance Act is not only annoyingly bureaucratic, but a missed opportunity to breathe life into the “Data for Good” idea.

Read more

Story, 13 January 2022

Fixing Online Forms Shouldn’t Wait Until Retirement

A new Unding Survey is investigating discrimination in online forms. But operators are already getting angry emails. Behind some: a recently retired IT consultant with one of the most common surnames in the world and 30 years experience of not being able to sign up.

Read more
Emily Morter | Unsplash

Blog, 11 January 2022

Platforms oppressing public interest research: EU Commission responds to MEP Breyer’s question concerning AlgorithmWatch

After Facebook forced AlgorithmWatch to shutter our Instagram monitoring project, MEP Patrick Breyer submitted a written question to the European Commission asking how to protect public interest research from being oppressed by large tech platforms. Now, the Commission has responded.

Read more
Jill Robidoux | flickrCC BY 2.0

Annual review 2021, 27 December 2021

The year that was not saved by automated systems – 2021 in review

A climate catastrophe in Germany and the revelations of the Facebook Files had one thing in common: the humans in the loop failed to take the right decisions. 2021 was not the year algorithms were reined in, but 2022 might be.

Read more
Dmitry Ratushny | Unsplash

Position, 14 December 2021

DSA milestone: EU lawmakers have responded to our calls for meaningful transparency for big tech

Over the last months, AlgorithmWatch – supported by dozens of civil society organizations and researchers, and over 6.000 individuals – has advocated for using the Digital Services Act (DSA) to enable meaningful transparency into the way online platforms influence our public sphere. The vote in the European Parliament today shows that our work has made an impact.

Read more
Polska Zielona Sieć | Wiki Commons | CC BY 2.0

Story, 13 December 2021

Inside Poland’s stay-at-home “selfie” app

The Polish government's mandatory "Home Quarantine" app was supposed to replace home police visits. Users say it is a joke.

Read more
Luke Watkinson | Unsplash

Position, 29 November 2021

Holding platforms accountable: The DSA must empower vetted public interest research to reign in platform risks to the public sphere

The negotiations on the Digital Services Act (DSA) are now at a critical juncture. We have written an open letter to all IMCO Committee Members of the European Parliament asking them to empower a broad base of vetted public interest researchers whose independent scrutiny is vital to holding large tech platforms accountable. It has been signed by 22 international academics and independent researchers and 29 civil society organisations.

Read more
Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Story, 16 November 2021

Facebook goes after the creator of InstaPy, a tool that automates Instagram likes

Facebook sent a cease-and-desist letter to Tim Grossmann, the creator of InstaPy, and blocked his accounts – and those of his start-up – on the platform.

Read more
Marine National Park
Photo by Hugo Vidal on Unsplash

Story, 2 November 2021

National parks near Marseilles deploy automated, live video surveillance against poachers

Two national parks in southern France want to automate the detection of poachers, but the efficacy of these systems remains unclear.

Read more
Photo: Mitya Ivanov | Unsplash

Publication, 24 September 2021

Domestic COVID certificates: what does the evidence say?

Born to help reopen international travel routes, digital COVID certificates are now required in several countries to enter premises such as bars, restaurants, gyms, pools, and museums, and to attend large public events. But do they work — and what for, precisely? More fundamentally, is it even possible to have an evidence-based debate about them at all? Tracing The Tracers looked at the lessons we should learn from the available literature, with the help of a stellar group of researchers.

Read more

Story, 22 September 2021

YouTube cleaned its ‘news’ section… with content from Axel Springer

First findings of a data donation experiment by AlgorithmWatch show that Die Welt, a conservative news outlet from the German media conglomerate Axel Springer, dominates the news section.

Read more
Felix Hunger/SZ

Story, 15 September 2021

Instagram algorithm: Süddeutsche publishes results of data analysis

Using thousands of data donations from AlgorithmWatch’s Instagram monitoring browser plug-in, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung showed that posts from the far-right appear higher on users’ timelines.

Read more
YummyBuum / TarikVision / Igor | Adobe Stock

Story, 23 August 2021

How Big Tech Charms and Bullies European Politicians, Journalists and Academics

Google, Facebook and other very large tech companies built a lobbying system that, under the guise of furthering research or journalism, binds intellectuals in a complex network of patronage. Transparency is long overdue.

Read more
Sara Kurfeß Unsplash

Position, 17 August 2021

Twitter’s algorithmic bias bug bounty could be the way forward, if regulators step in

Twitter opened its image cropping algorithm and gave prizes to people who could find biases in it. While interesting in itself, the program mostly reveals the impotence of regulators.

Read more
Humaaans by Pablo Stanley, CC0 | Adobe Stock

Sign our open letter!, 13 August 2021

Under Facebook’s thumb: Platforms must stop suppressing public interest research

Facebook forced us to shut down our Instagram monitoring project. We have written an open letter to European Union lawmakers asking them to use the Digital Services Act (DSA) to defend public interest research about how platforms influence our public sphere. It has been signed by 36 organizations and 6.126 individuals.

Read more
Humaaans by Pablo Stanley, CC0 | Adobe Stock

Story, 13 August 2021

AlgorithmWatch forced to shut down Instagram monitoring project after threats from Facebook

Digital platforms play an ever-increasing role in structuring and influencing public debate. Civil society watchdogs, researchers and journalists need to be able to hold them to account. But Facebook is increasingly fighting those who try. It shut down New York University’s Ad Observatory last week, and went after AlgorithmWatch, too. The European Parliament and EU Member States must act now to prevent further bullying.

Read more

Publication, 5 August 2021

Making sense of digital contact tracing apps for the next pandemics

In an interview with AlgorithmWatch, Prof. Susan Landau discusses why we need to resist fear in the face of pandemic uncertainty and the normalization of health surveillance technologies — and why the time to have a broad democratic discussion about their future uses is now.

Read more

Blog, 15 July 2021

DataSkop: Investigating YouTube’s algorithm during Germany’s election campaign

Which videos does YouTube's recommender system suggest to users during the german election campaign? The new data donation platform “Dataskop” developed by AlgorithmWatch is helping researchers and journalists investigate how users' watch histories influence the platform’s recommendations and search results. From 15 July until 25 August, users can donate their data and explore the algorithm in data visualization experiments.

Read more
Piero Nigro | Unsplash

Analysis, 8 July 2021

Digital contact tracing apps: do they actually work? A review of early evidence

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many smartphone apps were launched to complement and augment manual contact tracing efforts without a priori knowledge of their actual effectiveness. A year later, do we know if they worked as intended? An analysis of early evidence—from both the literature and actual usage—by AlgorithmWatch finds that results, so far, are contradictory and that comparability issues might prevent an informed, overall judgment on the role of digital contact tracing apps in response to the COVID-19 pandemic altogether.

Read more

Position, 7 June 2021

Open letter calling for a global ban on biometric recognition technologies that enable mass and discriminatory surveillance

AlgorithmWatch and AlgorithmWatch Switzerland are joining 177 civil society organizations, activists, technologists, and other experts around the world to call for an outright ban on uses of facial recognition and remote biometric recognition technologies that enable mass surveillance and discriminatory targeted surveillance.

Read more
Erwin Voortman | Unsplash

Position, 27 May 2021

EU Commission asks foxes to stop eating chickens but does not build fence

The European Commission published a "Guidance on Strengthening the Code of Practice on Disinformation" aimed at large tech companies on Wednesday. The wish-list of measures forgoes any enforcement mechanism.

Read more
Julia Bornkessel, CC BY 4.0

Interview with Jessica Wulf, 25 May 2021

“We’re looking for cases of discrimination through algorithms in Germany.”

The project AutoCheck investigates the risks for discrimination inherent in automated decision-making systems (ADMS). In this interview, project manager Jessica Wulf talks about the search for exemplary cases and how the project will support counselling centers and further education on the topic.

Read more
Arnel Hasanovic | Unsplash

Story, 14 May 2021

Image classification algorithms at Apple, Google still push racist tropes

Automated systems from Apple and Google label characters with dark skins “Animals”.

Read more
Reclaim your face

Position, 4 May 2021

Reclaim Your Face – A European Citizens Initiative to ban biometric mass surveillance

A large coalition of civil society organizations, among them AlgorithmWatch and AlgorithmWatch Switzerland, have come together in a European movement that demands a ban on biometric recognition systems that enable mass surveillance. Join us and sign the European Citizens Initiative, calling on the EU to ban biometric mass surveillance - such as automated face recognition in public spaces!

Read more
Icons8 | Unsplash

Story, 29 March 2021

Automated translation is hopelessly sexist, but don’t blame the algorithm or the training data

Automated translation services tend to erase women or reduce them to stereotypes. Simply tweaking the training data or the models is not enough to make translations fair.

Read more

Publication, 9 March 2021

Automating Society 2020 – Country issues Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland & Spain

Find all country issues of the Automating Society 2020 report and videos of the launch events on this page.

Read more
Roel Wijnants |flickr

Story, 3 March 2021

Politicians can do well on Instagram. Political posts, less so.

An experiment by AlgorithmWatch, Groene Amsterdammer, Pointer and NOS in the Netherlands shows that Instagram probably prioritizes images of faces and pushes down images that contain text.

Read more
Piero Nigro | Unsplash

Story, 25 February 2021

In Berlin, Google Maps and TomTom encourage car drivers to disregard the law

Routing services from TomTom and Google Maps encourage car drivers to use cycle streets, which is illegal. Both companies said they would update their databases, but this is unlikely to completely solve the problem.

Read more

Blog, 9 February 2021

New project launched: Tracing the tracers. Monitoring and analyzing ADM systems used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are very pleased to announce our new project Tracing the tracers. Monitoring and analyzing automated decision-making systems used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this, we aim at providing a platform through which to continuously update the public on how ADM systems are being used in Europe — and, comparatively, the rest of the world — in response to the SARS-CoV-2 global outbreak.

Read more

Blog, 3 February 2021

Presentation of the French and Spanish country issues of the Automating Society Report

We look forward to the publication of the French and Spanish country issues of the Automating Society Report 2020 by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung. Both issues will be launched within an online event in the respective national language.

Read more

Story, 1 February 2021

The Insta-mafia: How crooks mass-report users for profit

Groups of teenagers use weaknesses in the notification systems of Facebook and Instagram to take over accounts and harass users. The upcoming DSA regulation addresses the issue but is likely to fall short.

Read more

Publication, 28 January 2021

Read now: Swiss Edition of the Automating Society Report 2020

How are AI-based systems being used by private companies and public authorities in Switzerland? The Automating Society Report 2020 by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung sheds light on what role automated decision-making (ADM) systems play in our lives. As a result of the most comprehensive research on the issue conducted in Europe so far, the report covers the current use of and policy debates around ADM systems in 16 European countries and at EU level.

Read more

Blog, 25 January 2021

Now available: The German edition of the Automating Society Report 2020

Read the German country edition of the Automating Society Report 2020

Read more

Event, 19 January 2021

Register now: Launch event of the German edition of the Automating Society Report on 25 January 2021

How are AI-based systems being used by private companies and public authorities in Europe? The Automating Society Report by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung sheds light on what role automated decision-making (ADM) systems play in our lives. On January 25, we will present the German country edition of the report and discuss the results with experts at an online event. The main question will be how the public administration intends to deal with ADM procedures and whether concrete legal rules are needed.

Read more
Hartwig HKD | Flickr

Blog, 28 December 2020

The year algorithms escaped quarantine: 2020 in review

Amid the Covid pandemic, governments and corporations stepped up the deployments of automated systems. Civil society initiatives attempted to keep some of them in check.

Read more
Krzysztof HepnerUnsplash

Position, 16 December 2020

The DSA proposal is a good start. Now policymakers must ensure that it has teeth.

AlgorithmWatch reacts to the release of the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA).

Read more
foodwatch | Flickr

Story, 14 December 2020

Despite transparency, the Nutri-Score algorithm faces strong resistance

The Nutri-Score summarizes basic nutritional information on a 5-letter scale. Despite its many qualities, it faces a strong backlash that could hold a lesson for operators of automated systems.

Read more
Jonathan Velasquez | Unsplash

Podcast, 9 December 2020

Podcast: The EU Digital Services Act – Why data access matters

Ahead of the European Commission's Digital Services Act, this podcast explores why it is essential that the new rules on internet governance enable journalists and independent researchers to gain access to data collected by online platforms, and why it is currently so difficult to scrutinize the algorithmic systems that control our online spaces.

Read more

Publication, 6 December 2020

Data trusts in Germany and under the GDPR

The report by Anouk, Ruhaak, Mozilla Fellow at AlgorithmWatch, considers alternative approaches to data governance, specifically data trusts.

Read more

Blog, 13 November 2020

Italian country issue of the Automating Society Report 2020 released

The Automating Society Report 2020 by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung is now available as a special Italian edition.

Read more

Joint statement, 30 October 2020

Civil Society Coalition Led by AlgorithmWatch Calls for Binding Transparency Rules for Online Platforms

A coalition of 46 civil society organizations and world-renowned academics join AlgorithmWatch and the European Policy Centre in calling for binding transparency rules for online platforms. In a statement published today, the signatories urge the European Commission to put meaningful transparency at the heart of its forthcoming Digital Services Act. As the European Commission prepares…

Read more

Position, 30 October 2020

Putting Meaningful Transparency at the Heart of the Digital Services Act

Why Data Access for Research Matters & How we can Make it Happen

Read more

Publication, 28 October 2020

Out now: Automating Society Report 2020

How are AI-based systems being used by private companies and public authorities in Europe? The new report by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung sheds light on what role automated decision-making (ADM) systems play in our lives. As a result of the most comprehensive research on the issue conducted in Europe so far, the report covers the current use of and policy debates around ADM systems in 16 European countries and at EU level.

Read more
the blowup |Unsplash

Story, 22 October 2020

Spam filters are efficient and uncontroversial. Until you look at them.

An experiment reveals that Microsoft Outlook marks messages as spam on the basis of a single word, such as “Nigeria”. Spam filters are largely unaudited and could discriminate unfairly.

Read more

Launch event, 21 October 2020

Beyond the buzzwords: Putting meaningful transparency at the heart of the Digital Services Act

Register now for an Online Policy Dialogue by AlgorithmWatch and the EPC, with Margrethe Vestager, Alexandra Geese, Daniela Brönstrup and Jef Ausloos: 30 October, 10:00 CET

Read more

Event, 19 October 2020

Coming soon: Automating Society Report 2020 – Join our launch event on 28 October!

On 28 October AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung will publish the Automating Society Report 2020 – register now and join our online launch event!

Read more
Joshua Hoehne | Unsplash

Story, 18 October 2020

Automated discrimination: Facebook uses gross stereotypes to optimize ad delivery

An experiment by AlgorithmWatch shows that online platforms optimize ad delivery in discriminatory ways. Advertisers who use them could be breaking the law.

Read more
Erika Fletcher |Unsplash

Story, 18 September 2020

In French daycare, algorithms attempt to fight cronyism

In many cities, it is unclear whose children can hope for a place in a public daycare facility. Algorithms could make the allocation of places more transparent, but not all politicians are happy.

Read more
Jon Russell |flickr

Story, 17 September 2020

Female historians and male nurses do not exist, Google Translate tells its European users

An experiment shows that Google Translate systematically changes the gender of translations when they do not fit with stereotypes. It is all because of English, Google says

Read more
elimirana |Unsplash

Story, 16 September 2020

In Italy, an appetite for face recognition in football stadiums

Right before the pandemic, the government and top sports authorities were planning a massive deployment of face recognition and sound surveillance technologies in all Italian football stadiums. The reason? To help fight racism

Read more

Position, 9 September 2020

Our response to the European Commission’s planned Digital Services Act

The consultation period for the European Commission's "Digital Services Act" ended on 8 September 2020. Read the submission by AlgorithmWatch that we submitted to the Commission.

Read more

Position, 8 September 2020

AlgorithmWatch joins call for ‘Universal Advertising Transparency by Default’

We have joined the European Partnership for Democracy and many other partners in calling for the introduction of comprehensive advertisement libraries.

Read more

Blog, 1 September 2020

Europe wants to be a role model for technological responses to COVID-19. But it’s complicated.

Launch of our new report on 'Automated Decision-Making Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic'

Read more
Jilbert Ebrahimi|Unsplash

Story, 25 August 2020

For researchers, accessing data is one thing. Assessing its quality another.

Online platforms often provide data that is riddled with errors. Rather than launching quixotic attempts at fixing them, researchers increasingly investigate why platforms bias their data.

Read more
Jehyun Sung |Unsplash

Story, 24 August 2020

GPT-3 is a lot of fun, but no game-changer

We usually do not write about newly-released software, especially when there is no way to audit it. But the hype over GPT-3, a natural language generator, was such that several readers asked for a review.

Read more
Thomas Stephan |Unsplash

Story, 13 August 2020

Under the Twitter streetlight: How data scarcity distorts research

As part of our #LeftOnRead campaign, several researchers testified to the reluctance of online platforms to provide useful data. Many resort to studying Twitter, which is more accommodating than most.

Read more
Ivan Aleksic |Unsplash

Story, 12 August 2020

Algorithmic grading is not an answer to the challenges of the pandemic

Graeme Tiffany is a philosopher of education. He argues that replacing exams with algorithmic grading, as was done in Great Britain, exacerbates inequalities and fails to assess students' abilities.

Read more
Luis García |Wikimedia

Story, 11 August 2020

Spain’s largest bus terminal deployed live face recognition four years ago, but few noticed

Madrid South Station’s face recognition system automatically matches every visitor’s face against a database of suspects, and shares information with the Spanish police.

Read more

Campaign, 9 July 2020

Hey researchers! Have you been ‘left on read’ by platforms? Share your stories!

Platforms routinely refuse to provide data for public interest investigations—leaving researchers feeling snubbed. Sound familiar? Tell us your story!

Read more
Morning Brew |Unsplash (edited)

Story, 9 July 2020

Left on Read: How Facebook and others keep researchers in the dark

Internet platforms routinely deny researchers access to data or arbitrarily accede to their requests, hampering social science in the process.

Read more

Publication, 25 June 2020

AlgorithmWatch Study debunks Facebook’s GDPR Claims

A new study published by AlgorithmWatch shows that the GDPR needn’t stand in the way of meaningful research access to platform data. It looks to health and environmental sectors for best practices in privacy-respecting data sharing frameworks.

Read more
NeONBRAND | Unsplash

Story, 15 June 2020

Undress or fail: Instagram’s algorithm strong-arms users into showing skin

An exclusive investigation reveals that Instagram prioritizes photos of scantily-clad men and women, shaping the behavior of content creators and the worldview of 140 millions Europeans in what remains a blind spot of EU regulations.

Read more

Story, 3 June 2020

Ten years on, search auto-complete still suggests slander and disinformation

After a decade and a string of legal actions, an AlgorithmWatch experiment shows that search engines still suggest slanderous, false and disparaging statements.

Read more

Publication, 26 May 2020

The only way to hold Facebook, Google and others accountable: More access to platform data

An effective regulatory framework for intermediaries cannot be achieved without meaningful transparency in the form of data access for journalists, academics and civil society actors. This is the result of two new studies of the Governing Platforms Project, published by AlgorithmWatch in cooperation with the European Policy Centre and the Mainz Media Institute.

Read more

Story, 19 May 2020

Automated moderation tool from Google rates People of Color and gays as “toxic”

A systematic review of Google’s Perspective, a tool for automated content moderation, reveals that some adjectives are considered more toxic than others.

Read more

Story, 14 May 2020

This man had his credit score changed from C to A+ after a few emails

A 52-year-old man in Hanover, Germany, discovered that he’d been erroneously scored by a credit bureau. His story reveals the gaps in credit score regulation.

Read more
Nicepear Jakarta|Unsplash

Story, 15 April 2020

Credit scores algorithms keep operating normally even as everything else doesn’t

Consumer organizations are calling for a credit score freeze but credit bureaus see no need to change anything as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc in the finances of many.

Read more
Marko Bugarski|Unsplash

Story, 7 April 2020

Google apologizes after its Vision AI produced racist results

A Google service that automatically labels images produced starkly different results depending on skin tone on a given image. The company fixed the issue, but the problem is likely much broader.

Read more

Joint statement, 2 April 2020

States use of digital surveillance technologies to fight pandemic must respect human rights

Together with more than 100 civil society groups AlgorithmWatch signed a joint statement setting out conditions that must be met before the use of surveillance technology to fight pandemic (PDF). The COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health emergency that requires a coordinated and large-scale response by governments worldwide. However, States’ efforts to contain the…

Read more

Position, 2 April 2020

Automated decision-making systems and the fight against COVID-19 – our position

by AlgorithmWatch – also available in German, French (Framablog)* and Italian (KRINO)*. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages throughout the world, many are wondering whether and how to use automated decision-making systems (ADMS) to curb the outbreak. Different solutions are being proposed and implemented in different countries, ranging from authoritarian social control (China) to privacy-oriented, decentralized…

Read more
Fusion Medical Animation | Unsplash

Op-ed, 31 March 2020

“We must save privacy from privacy itself”

Michele Loi is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Zurich. He argues that proponents of privacy should not put privacy above health – else risk sliding into irrelevance. Not once I have seen a greater threat to privacy than the current pandemic of coronavirus. I am presently a pessimist about privacy: I think that privacy…

Read more

Position, 9 March 2020

Germany’s new media treaty demands that platforms explain algorithms and stop discriminating. Can it deliver?

Facebook can’t decide if it’s a tech company, a media company, a telecoms company, or something else entirely. Ahead of talks with European regulators, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it’s something in between. Now, German regulators might have decided for Facebook: The company will be subject to the country’s newly expanded media regulation regime. 

Read more
lalo Hernandez | Unsplash

Data donation, 3 March 2020

Help us unveil the secrets of Instagram’s algorithm

Install the add-on for Firefox or Chrome to help us monitor Instagram's newsfeed algorithm!

Read more
François Genon|Unsplash

Story, 19 February 2020

EU Commission publishes white paper on AI regulation 20 days before schedule, forgets regulation

In a set of documents published today, the European Commission unveiled its strategy for “Europe's digital future”. Despite some promising regulatory proposals, the Berlaymont’s program for automated systems fails to seriously appreciate the risks.

Read more
Charles | Unsplash

Blog, 30 December 2019

Automating societies: Nine predictions for 2020

A few days before 2020, AlgorithmWatch makes nine predictions for the new year. Twelve months from now, we will come back to them and assess our forecasting skills.

Read more
蔡 嘉宇 | Unsplash

Blog, 23 December 2019

The year the wrong Amazon burnt: 2019 in review

As the hype around “artificial intelligence” leveled off, the impact of automated decision-making made itself seen. Regulators and civil society fought hard to rein in Big Tech, but much remains to be done to achieve a good balance.

Read more
Fikri Rasyid |Unsplash

Story, 4 December 2019

Price-fixing algorithms can come, competition authorities are ready, they claim

In a new report, the competition authorities of France and Germany reviewed how algorithms could lead to cartels and price-fixing. They offer solutions, too.

Read more
Parker Coffman | Unsplash

Story, 11 November 2019

Palantir, the secretive data behemoth linked to the Trump administration, expands into Europe

The data analysis company, known in particular for running the deportation machine of the Trump administration, is expanding aggressively into Europe. Who are its clients?

Read more
Nik Shuliahin | Unsplash

Story, 4 November 2019

Facebook enables automated scams, but fails to automate the fight against them

Scammers massively use Facebook’s advertising platform using so-called “cloakers” to evade automated checks. They would be very simple to detect but, despite announcements to the contrary, Facebook seems to tolerate them.

Read more
Jonathan Borba | Unsplash

Story, 3 October 2019

Ethical guidelines issued by engineers’ organization fail to gain traction

The world’s largest professional association of engineers released its ethical guidelines for automated systems last March. A review by AlgorithmWatch shows that Facebook and Google have yet to acknowledge them.

Read more
Suganth | Unsplash

Essay, 22 July 2019

Mind The Algorithm

The question of whether automation benefits or damages us citizens is primarily a political one. No one should let themselves be told that only those who have studied mathematics or computer science can take part in the discussion.

Read more
Pablo García Saldaña | Unsplash

Story, 20 June 2019

“Ethical AI guidelines”: Binding commitment or simply window dressing?

In April this year, we began to compile an overview of guidelines for so-called “ethical AI”. Thanks to contributions of our readers, our inventory has grown to 83 entries and is finding global resonance. It is therefore time for an interim overview: there are some substantial contributions, but many entries are lacking substance. Additionally, there is a dearth of oversight mechanism to ensure that these guidelines are adhered to.

Read more
Con Karampelas | Unsplash

Blog, 20 June 2019

AlgorithmWatch accepts invitation by Facebook to discuss company’s plans for creating oversight board

Next week, AlgorithmWatch will participate in a workshop organised by Facebook, convening representatives of the company and external stakeholders to discuss whether and how a Facebook-appointed board could oversee the company's content removal practices.

Read more

Blog, 2 May 2019

OpenSCHUFA is nominated for the Grimme Online Award

Grimme-Institut has nominated the crowdsourcing project OpenSCHUFA by AlgorithmWatch and Open Knowledge Foundation Germany for the Grimme Online Award 2019 in the category SPECIAL (website in German). The award ceremony will take place on 19 June in Cologne. We are very excited about this acknowledgement. However, despite the success of the campaign, it has to…

Read more
Alina Grubnyak | Unsplash

Blog, 26 April 2019

New project: Governing Platforms

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new project Governing Platforms, which is funded by Civitates, a collaborative philanthropic initiative that aims to strengthen the capacity of civil society to play its indispensable role in shaping vibrant open European democracies. Our project partners are the European Policy Centre (EPC) and the Mainzer Medieninstitut.

Read more

Blog, 3 April 2019

Atlas of Automation – Automated decision-making and participation in Germany

Automated decisions are part of our everyday lives and have a significant effect on the way we live – often without being aware of it. In order to use these systems it must be guaranteed that they are intelligible and effectively overseen. These are some of the recommendations made in the ‘Atlas of Automation’, presented…

Read more

Publication, 2 April 2019

Atlas of Automation

AlgorithmWatch’s  ‘Atlas of Automation’ provides an overview of ADM systems used in Germany that are relevant to participation. It is a compilation – in this case not of maps and graphics, but of topics that are relevant for addressing the question of how these systems affect access to public goods and services as well as…

Read more

Blog, 25 March 2019

IEEE launches Ethically Aligned Design, First Edition

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published the first edition of Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (EAD1e). The document was conceived as part of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems and provides scientific analyses as well as pragmatic and application-oriented recommendations…

Read more

Position, 11 February 2019

Open Letter: Facebook, Do Your Part Against Disinformation

Along with more than 30 other organisations AlgorithmWatch has signed Mozilla's Open Letter to Facebook, telling them to make good on their promise to provide more transparency around political advertising ahead of the 2019 EU Parliamentary Elections.

Read more
If you want to learn more about our policy & advocacy work on ADM in the public sphere, get in touch with:
John Albert
Policy & Advocacy Manager