Lorna McGregor

Prof. Lorna McGregor,
University of Essex, UK,

Why Human Rights Matter in the Design, Development and Deployment of New and Emerging Tech

The use of new and emerging technologies to support or make decisions carries significant implications for human rights, including but beyond the right to privacy. Depending on the nature of the decision at issue, the integration of new and emerging technologies within decision-making processes can have far reaching consequences for rights such as the right to health, education, liberty, and freedom of opinion and expression. In this talk, I draw on the work of the interdisciplinary ESRC Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project to show how the embedding of human rights principles from the conception and design phases to deployment can complement and extend ethical principles by embedding safeguards and oversight systems to prevent and protect against harm, including in the face of uncertainty of how new and emerging technologies will operate in the real world. The talk includes discussion of whether and when red-lines should be drawn in the development and deployment of new and emerging technologies as well the challenges arising from human-machine interaction.


Lorna McGregor is a Professor of International Human Rights Law in the Law School at the University of Essex, and PI and Director of the multi-disciplinary Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project (HRBDT) funded with £4.7m from the UK Economic and Social Research Council. Her research has been funded by the British Academy, ESRC, FCO and Nuffield Foundation; published in leading international law journals such as the American Journal of International Law, the European Journal of International Law, the International and Comparative Law Quarterly, the Journal of International Criminal Justice and the International Journal of Transitional Justice; and cited by the UK House of Lords and International Court of Justice. In 2015, Lorna was awarded the Antonio Cassese Prize for International Criminal Law Studies. She was the Director of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex for two terms (2013 – 2019) and has held positions as a Commissioner of the British Equality and Human Rights Commission and as a trustee of the AIRE Centre. Prior to becoming an academic, Lorna held positions at REDRESS, the International Bar Association, and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Sri Lanka. She holds an LL.B (First Class Honours) from Edinburgh Law School and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, where she was a Kennedy Memorial Trust Scholar and Henigson Fellow.