Read our comprehensive reports, analyses and working papers on the impact and ethical questions of algorithmic decision-making, written in collaboration with our network of researchers and civil society experts.

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.

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Taylor Vick | Unsplash

25 January 2022

Sustainability criteria for Artificial Intelligence – evaluation approach presented

The sustainability of AI systems is sometimes not in good shape. Among other things, AI systems are discussed for issues relating to discrimination, high energy and resource consumption, as well as the reproduction of social inequalities. In a new publication, the "SustAIn" project has presented comprehensive criteria for a systematic sustainability assessment of AI-based systems – eventually with the aim to promote more sustainable AI.

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Photo: Mitya Ivanov | Unsplash

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.

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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.

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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.

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22 June 2021

Automated Decision-Making Systems in the Public Sector – An Impact Assessment Tool for Public Authorities

How can we ensure a trustworthy use of automated decision-making systems (ADMS) in the public administration? AlgorithmWatch and AlgorithmWatch Switzerland developed a concrete and practicable impact assessment tool for ADMS in the public sector. This publication provides a framework ready to be implemented for the evaluation of specific ADMS by public authorities at different levels.

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18 May 2021

Towards accountability in the use of Artificial Intelligence for Public Administrations

Michele Loi und Matthias Spielkamp analyze the regulatory content of 16 guideline documents about the use of AI in the public sector, by mapping their requirements to those of our philosophical account of accountability, and conclude that while some guidelines refer processes that amount to auditing, it seems that the debate would benefit from more clarity about the nature of the entitlement of auditors and the goals of auditing, also in order to develop ethically meaningful standards with respect to which different forms of auditing can be evaluated and compared.

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Analysis, 9 May 2021

In Italy, general practitioners and some regions adopt COVID-19 vaccine prioritization algorithms

Amid a chaotic rollout of the national vaccination plan, the Italian Federation of General Practitioners (FIMMG) and some regions in Italy are resorting to algorithms to more efficiently priorities who gets vaccinated against COVID-19.

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7 May 2021

People analytics in the workplace – how to effectively enforce labor rights

Increasingly, complex computational systems are being used to monitor, score, manage, promote and even fire employees. These systems are often referred to as people analytics. They have the potential to profoundly influence, alter, and redirect the lives of people at work, and therefore impact their life chances in general. In order for people to not suffer from the use of these systems but ideally benefit from it, there needs to be a comprehensive governance framework. Here’s how we will get there.

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29 March 2021

Analysis: Digital vaccine certificates – global patchwork, little transparency

A global debate has sparked around the idea of implementing a digital infrastructure to prove a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status across borders. But as the initiatives multiply across Europe and all over the globe, an international consensus is hard to reach — and issues still abound.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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30 November 2020

The compatibility of data trusts with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

By Dr. Michael Funke, JBB Lawyers In this legal analysis, data protection expert Michael Funke examines whether so-called data trusts can act as intermediaries for personal data, acquiring individual data donors’ rights to their personal data, in order to manage it on behalf of such donors – enabling data trusts to both pass personal data…

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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.

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1 September 2020

ADM Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A European Perspective

'Automated Decision-Making Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A European Perspective', by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung – a special issue of the Automating Society Report 2020, we published in October 2020.

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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.

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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.

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25 November 2019

Busted internet myth: Algorithms are always neutral

For the new anthology 'Busted! The Truth about the 50 Most Common Internet Myths' Matthias Spielkamp clears up the myth that 'Algorithms are always neutral'.

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Report, 21 October 2019

Identity-management and citizen scoring in Ghana, Rwanda, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and China

A review of identity-management practices in five African countries shows that much of the continent is well on its way towards comprehensive biometric registration. It could enable comprehensive citizen scoring or automated surveillance in the near future.

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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…

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29 January 2019

Automating Society 2019

For the report “Automating Society – Taking Stock of Automated Decision-Making in the EU”, our experts have looked at the situation at the EU level but also in 12 Member States: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. We assessed not only the political discussions and initiatives in these countries but also present a section “ADM in Action” for all states, listing examples of automated decision-making already in use. This is the first time a comprehensive study has been done on the state of automated decision-making in Europe.

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1 June 2017

Ethics and algorithmic processes for decision making and decision support

Current ethical debates about the consequences of automation focus on the rights of individuals. But algorithmic processes exhibit a collective dimension. In our working paper, we therefore suggest ways to better take this dimension into account.

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Working paper, 7 April 2017

Watching the watchers: Epstein and Robertson’s „Search Engine Manipulation Effect“

By Katharina A. Zweig 1. Watching the watchers: Epstein and Robertson’s „Search Engine Manipulation Effect“ In July, 2015, Epstein and Robertson published a widely acknowledged study on how much a biased search engine result ranking can shift undecided voters towards one candidate [1]. In their abstract, they summarize that “biased search rankings can shift the…

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