The European way to artificial intelligence: the protection of human rights and vulnerable groups in the new AI regulation 

The recent proposal for an AI Regulation of the European Commission lays the foundation for a new approach to shape the digital future of Europe. The provision is the first horizontal and binding legal instrument to boost AI’s innovation and competitiveness while protecting fundamental rights. Such new framework acknowledges that some uses of AI may jeopardise human rights (privacy, dignity, freedom of expression) and therefore must be banned, marking a significant improvement towards civil society and human rights activists from previous policy documents. Against this background, the paper assesses the role of different interest groups, considering the extent to which such perspectives made their way through the policy cycle, from the impact assessment to the public consultation. In doing so, the paper provides an early evaluation of the proposal through the lenses of vulnerable groups and offers insights on the success of the EU in acting as an ally of marginalised individuals.

A disability rights approach to shape a human rights-oriented digital world

Digital technologies are challenging the traditional concept of human beings as individuals fully capable of making their own choices regarding their personal data. All users suffer a loss in their autonomy and capacity of self-rule, due to not only personal characteristics (such as individual digital skills and digital illiteracy) but also structural problems of the digital environment itself. In this context, the search for a different approach in the protection of human rights in the digital environment is needed, thus considering the changing capabilities of individual users. This paper argues that the supportive-decision making model deriving from the disability rights scholarship is likely to be an invaluable point of reference for developing a more equal and human rights-oriented digital world. A disability rights approach might be an inspiring starting point to build a digital world that is more flexible and respectful of individual users’ autonomy, will and preferences.

Older people ICT use and social inclusion: lessons learned from Covid-19

Since Covid-19 outbreak in spring 2020, the role of ICT in supporting social interactions has gained importance into public and academic discourses. This phenomenon also forces to reconsider the issue of ICT accessibility for many social categories that appear more at risk of social exclusion than the general population, such as older people [OP]. To that respect, welfare regimes may underestimate the need for structural interventions that enable OP to fully participate in an increasingly digital world. By adopting an active aging framework, this presentation provides an overview of the most recent research evidence on older people’s ICT use and the effects in terms of wellbeing, with a focus on Italy. In discussing the literature, we argue that OP digital inclusion might represent one of the main challenges for the future sustainability of European aging societies, as supported by demographic trends.

Disability, Social media and Public Law 

For people with a disability, media content and social media applications provide extra barriers: media devices needed to have appropriate assistive technologies which can make the content accessible. During the public health emergency surrounding the COVID-19, these barriers have grown.
The European commission recently adopted the strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030, which aims to establish the goals of the European countries as regards their commitment to improve the life of this category of vulnerable individuals.
The purpose of this contribution is to analyse the evolution of European and Italian public law in the protection of persons with disabilities’ social rights, exploring also current efforts to address disability discrimination.