IGF 2023 Town Hall #97 Human Rights Accountability of Public-Private Partnerships


Counter-terrorism and Human Rights
Technology in International Human Rights Law

Break-out Group Discussions - 90 Min


As states around the world seek to expand their surveillance capabilities and harness the power of data to deliver public services, they are often tempted to use the products or services of private technology companies. Public-private partnerships can be useful in promoting efficiency and innovation in public service and decision-making, but they come with a number of human rights risks - stemming in particular from the lack of transparency that surrounds the use of private technology, AI and data.

Civil society, journalists, academics, and other actors can better understand and challenge the risks and issues that emerge from these partnerships, through investigations, reporting and advocacy. But identifying concrete risks and potential human rights abuses is not an easy task, as it requires a multilevel understanding of the tech, law and governance mechanisms involved.

Building on its own investigative work and on the expertise of its partners around the world, Privacy International have designed two 'living' resources to support civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, academics, journalists, and individuals to navigate these partnerships and build strong advocacy: a practical investigative handbook and a set of governance safeguards, revolving around the international human rights standards of transparency, accountability, legality & necessity, oversight and redress.

This session will train attendees to use those resources, equipping them with the knowledge and tools they might need to investigate surveillance PPPs in their own contexts and jurisdictions, and to advocate for relevant governance safeguards.

We will also benefit from the expertise of Lighthouse Reports, a collective of collaborative investigative journalists who have previously uncovered key information about the use of private technology in public administration, such as Netherlands' use of algorithms to predict welfare fraud.

We will split participants in 3 teams (depending on the number of participants) - each will work through one case study, applying the resources' guidance to real-life scenarios. The handbook and safeguards will be circulated to participants in advance and copies will be provided during the session so they can be used to work through case studies. The session will conclude with participants sharing their findings with other teams, and a summary of key learnings.

For a hybrid experience, the facilitators of this session will seek to consciously include both onsite and online participants. Prior to the session, resources (concept note, reading materials and an agenda) will be made available to registered participants. We will have onsite and online breakout groups, with the latter supported and facilitated by the online facilitator. Online interaction will be facilitated through the use of Jamboards or similar tools, and online participants will be invited to report back to the group for the last part of the session.

Organizers will also share key learnings and materials after the session with all participants, both onsite and online.


🔒Privacy International
Ilia Siatitsa, Programme Director and Senior Legal Officer, Privacy International
Lucie Audibert, Legal Officer, Privacy International
Daniel Howden, Managing Director, Lighthouse Reports


Lucie Audibert, Legal Officer, Privacy International
Daniel Howden, Managing Director, Lighthouse Reports

Onsite Moderator

Lucie Audibert, Legal Officer, Privacy International

Online Moderator

Ilia Siatitsa, Programme Director and Senior Legal Officer, Privacy International


Lucie Audibert, Legal Officer, Privacy International



Targets: Public-private partnerships have become an essential tool through which institutions can harness the power of technology to deliver effective, relevant and fair services. But these partnerships must yield accountable and inclusive policies and practices, in a way that promotes rather than harms human rights. Civil society and other stakeholders therefore need tools to better understand what they entail, and how to safeguard against human rights abuses.