Units: 0
Level: Upper year

Class Schedule



The global public policy agenda has been dominated in recent years by questions of how we should address the social disruption caused by new information technologies. Interestingly, many of these questions have been framed in terms of a trade-off between respecting human rights and securing other pressing social priorities. For example:

- Can we combat Covid-19 using digital technologies while respecting the right to privacy?
- Can we defend against online disinformation without sacrificing the right to free expression?
- Can governments protect national- and cyber-security as encryption places electronic information beyond the reach of law enforcement and intelligence agencies?
- Can new algorithmic technologies to promote fairness and equality instead of fostering discrimination?

These are among the pressing public policy questions we will explore in this seminar from a human rights perspective. In so doing, we will explore the many advantages that the human rights framework provides to governments, companies, and other social actors in addressing these difficult challenges—all the while acknowledging the limitations of this framework and the need for innovative new approaches.

Readings will be drawn from a variety of sources, ranging from classic theoretical works on human rights to the latest tweets by key participants in these global debates. We will also welcome several guest speakers throughout the semester who are on the frontlines of addressing these issues at technology companies and (non-)governmental institutions around the world.

Teaching Method:


Additional information on the teaching method delivered in this class:

This seminar will be offered via distance (synchronous) pedagogical methods. Students should be prepared to attend and participate in synchronous online discussions. The Zoom platform will be used. Students will be invited to turn on their video and must be able to activate audio for Q&A.

Major Paper

Students can complete a major paper in the context of this class.

Materials Used:

Open online casebook (previous version available at https://opencasebook.org/casebooks/179257-technology-human-rights-and-cybersecurity-winter-2020/) supplemented by additional online readings.

Method of Evaluation


Other Type of Evaluation:

Students will be evaluated based on their participation in the synchronous online discussions, and their completion of either a final paper or a series of reaction papers. Further details will be available in the syllabus.


Final Exams:

Exam type: None

Exam duration:


Method of evaluation for graduate students:

The method of evaluation for graduate students is the same as for students in the J.D. program.