Privacy International’s submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights


On 17 December 2021, we made a submission contributing to the UNSR on extreme poverty and human rights’ forthcoming report which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council. The report will be titled “Social protection: a reality check” and aims to highlight the obstacles that individuals and households face when seeking to access social protection.

We highlighted the systemic problems emerging from the increased digitalisation, automation and intrusive data collection in the “digital welfare state”.

Our submission focuses on how the implementation of the “digital welfare state” has negatively impacted access to social protection in three fundamental ways:

  1. First, systems that are “digital-by-default” and rely on automated decision-making and profiling have led to discrimination and exclusion and as a result, individuals and households from marginalised communities face significant obstacles when seeking to access benefits;
  2. Second, intrusive conditionalities are creating legal and technical barriers for people, preventing them from accessing social protection programmes;
  3. Third, surveillance and a lack of guaranteed data protection have led toserious and unjustified interferences with affected individual’s fundamental right to privacy and dignity, therefore undermining public trust in social protection systems.



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