UN Special Rapporteur commends landmark ruling banning AI technology

The District Court in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled that a government system using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify potential welfare fraudsters is illegal, because it violates laws that protect human rights and privacy. The ‘SyRI’ automated learning program, used by authorities to predict which citizens are likely to commit some form of housing or welfare fraud, is a surveillance system that violates the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. This decision was praised by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, stating that, ‘This decision sets a strong legal precedent for other courts to follow. This is one of the first times a court anywhere has stopped the use of digital technologies and abundant digital information by welfare authorities on human rights grounds’.