Positions

Here you’ll find AlgorithmWatch's positions on current policy and regulatory processes concerning algorithmic decision-making systems and online platforms. AlgorithmWatch is an evidence-based advocacy organization. We advocate for the use of ADM systems that benefit people and society instead of harming them. Learn more about the basics of our policy and advocacy work here.

Members of the European Parliament could protect us from biometric surveillance – if they wanted to

Together with Reclaim Your Face and 51 other civil society organizations, AlgorithmWatch calls for a meaningful ban of remote biometric identification systems in public spaces. In an Open Letter to Members of the European Parliament, we urge them to amend the draft AI Act accordingly.

Andrew Seaman | Unsplash
Aliane Schwartzhaupt | Unsplash

4 May 2022

Civil society reacts to EP AI Act draft Report

Together with civil society partners we analyse in our new joint statement the two main EU parliamentary committees' draft report on the AI Act. In light of our core demands we identify the important steps it takes – and the gaps it still needs to fill so that it protects people and our fundamental rights.

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Shane | Unsplash

2 May 2022

A Milestone in the AI Act negotiations

On April 21st, the much-awaited IMCO-LIBE draft report on the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), produced by the European Parliament lead negotiators Brando Benifei and Dragoș Tudorache, was finally disclosed – a major milestone in the AI Act negotiations. While we are preparing a detailed analysis in collaboration with our partners, we share below our first take on the draft report.

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Aman Pal | Unsplash

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.

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Hans Reniers | Unsplash

11 April 2022

AlgorithmWatch’s demands for improving the AI Act

As policymakers are busy with shaping the AI Act, AlgorithmWatch has clear demands what should flow into the regulation so that it genuinely protects our fundamental rights.

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Tingey Injury Law | Unsplash

4 April 2022

Joint Statement ahead of negotiations on legal framework on AI in the Council of Europe

Today, the Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAI) at the Council of Europe launches the negotiations on a new legal framework on Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. In a Joint Statement, AlgorithmWatch and other civil society organizations urge Member States to create an AI governance framework that is truly oriented at the Council of Europe’s mandate: the protection of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

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Ravi Sharma | Unsplash

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.

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24 March 2022

Algorithmic Discrimination – How to adjust German anti-discrimination law

In their coalition treaty, the new German government has signaled their intention to evaluate the German anti-discrimination law (Allgemeine Gleichbehandlungsgesetz – AGG). We demand for them to account for the special features of algorithmic discrimination, for instance by considering the right to collective redress mechanisms to better protect the rights of those affected.

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George Pagan | unsplash

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.

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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).

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Mathias P.R. Reding | Unsplash

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.

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shawnanggg | Unsplash

25 February 2022

Automated Decision-Making Systems in the Public Sector – Some Recommendations

When using automated decision-making systems (ADM systems) in the public sector, authorities act in a unique context and bear special responsibilities towards the people affected. Against this background, the use of ADM systems by public administrations should be subject to stringent transparency mechanisms – including public registers and mandatory impact assessments.

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Gianluca Cinnante | Unsplash

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.

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Dmitry Ratushny | Unsplash

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.

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Elwood j blues | Wiki Commons | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

3 December 2021

Joint Statement on the Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) in the Council of Europe

Yesterday, the Council of Europe’s Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) held its last session. In a joint statement with the Conference of International NGOs of the Council of Europe, Global Partners Digital, and Homo Digitalis, we express our concerns over the outcome of the process, and we call upon the Council of Europe to ensure that the procedure leading to a legal framework on AI be inclusive and open to representatives of civil society.

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Christian Lue | Unsplash

1 December 2021

A paradigm shift in German digital policies? – The newly presented German coalition agreement shows good approaches, but there is need for clarification

The coalition agreement between SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and FDP is out. It contains many good ideas. A strengthening of civil society actors working on digitization issues, digital transformation with a focus on people's interests and the protection of fundamental digital rights are covered in the text. The outlooks are encouraging. But when looking more closely, there is room for improvement - especially with regard to automated decision-making systems (ADM systems).

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30 November 2021

Civil society calls on the EU to put fundamental rights first in the AI Act

115 civil society organisations, including AlgorithmWatch and European Digital Rights (EDRi), launched a collective statement to call for an Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA) which foregrounds fundamental rights.

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Luke Watkinson | Unsplash

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.

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Romain Vignes Unsplash

23 November 2021

EU policy makers: Protect people’s rights, don’t narrow down the scope of the AI Act!

EU Member States are pushing for a definition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the proposed AI Act that would dramatically limit its scope and exclude many systems that already have stark consequences for people’s fundamental rights and life prospects. We demand the European Council change its course, and call on the European Parliament to defend a position that puts people’s rights first instead of turning the AI Act into a paper tiger.

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Sara Kurfeß Unsplash

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.

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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.

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Michael Dziedzic | Unsplash

4 August 2021

Draft AI Act: EU needs to live up to its own ambitions in terms of governance and enforcement

Going forward with the proposed AI Act, the European Parliament and the Member States should re-think its risk-based approach, focus on affected communities, and beef up transparency requirements and enforcement mechanisms. We very much welcome the EU’s efforts to develop a framework for the governance of AI-based systems based on European values and the protection of fundamental rights, but there’s a long way to go to achieve these objectives.

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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.

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Erwin Voortman | Unsplash

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.

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Reclaim your face

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!

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Farnoosh AbdollahiUnsplash

22 April 2021

AlgorithmWatch’s response to the European Commission’s proposed regulation on Artificial Intelligence – A major step with major gaps

Disclaimer: Our analysis below is a first take and a provisional analysis of selected issues that we find particularly relevant to our work. A profound and comprehensive assessment of the 100+-page document certainly requires more time and in-depth analysis. Yesterday, the European Commission unveiled its eagerly awaited proposal for the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI)…

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Krzysztof HepnerUnsplash

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).

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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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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Tom Parnell CC BY-SA 2.0

12 June 2020

Our response to the European Commission’s consultation on AI

Read our response to the European Commission's White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, submitted as part of the public consultation on AI.

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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…

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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…

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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. 

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24 October 2019

Germany’s data ethics commission releases 75 recommendations with EU-wide application in mind

A new document presented to the German government argues for more regulations in automated decision-making. AlgorithmWatch welcomes some proposals.

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Joint statement, 17 October 2019

UN: Protect Rights in Welfare Systems’ Tech Overhaul

Automating Benefits, Services Threatens Welfare Rights, Privacy

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11 June 2019

Submission to the Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, is preparing a thematic report on digital technology in national social protection systems and its human rights impact, especially on those living in poverty.

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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.

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Analysis, 6 February 2019

‘Trustworthy AI’ is not an appropriate framework

AlgorithmWatch and members of the ELSI Task Force of the Swiss National Research Programme 75 on Big Data comment on the EU HLEG on AI’s Draft Ethics Guidelines

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19 November 2018

AccessNow maps regulatory proposals for Artificial Intelligence in Europe – our take

AlgorithmWatch welcomes the report by AccessNow on mapping regulatory proposals for Artificial Intelligence in Europe. It provides a good starting point for the ongoing work that will need to be undertaken to develop robust regulatory frameworks in this field.

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17 November 2018

Why Zuckerberg’s “Independent Governance and Oversight” board is not gonna fly (but some of his other ideas are at least worth discussing)

Mark Zuckerberg is all for regulation of social media all of sudden. What’s wrong with that picture?

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