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Digital dilemmas

Real life consequences.

Learn more about the impact of digital technologies on civilians in conflict



Misinformation and disinformation can increase people's vulnerabilities and exposure to risk. Hate speech, meanwhile, contributes directly or indirectly to endangering civilian populations' safety or dignity.

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Biometrics data can help facilitate humanitarian action in many cases. But since it creates a permanently identifiable record of an individual, this technology comes with risks that need to be addressed first.

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Data protection

Safeguarding the personal data of individuals, particularly in armed conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies, is an essential aspect of protecting people's lives, their physical and mental integrity, and their dignity.

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Metadata surveillance

Surveilling metadata produced or data collected for purely humanitarian purposes poses a big threat to the trust affected people by conflict and authorities have in humanitarian organizations.

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Connectivity is a lifeline for people affected by armed conflicts. In case of shutdowns or when it is surveilled, this can pose serious risks to the life or the mental health of those already vulnerable.

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Artificial Intelligence

It is essential to preserve human control and judgment in AI and machine learning applications for tasks and in decisions that may have life-and death-consequences for people affected by armed conflicts.

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Civilian involvement

The growing involvement of civilians in activities on the digital battlefield during armed conflicts puts individuals at risk of harm and contributes to the erosion of the principle of distinction, a cornerstone of international humanitarian law.

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What we do:

Check out ICRC’s (digital) protection work

Protection for the civilian population is a basic element of humanitarian law: civilians, civilian objects, and humanitarian data must on no account be attacked and must be spared and protected. This applies in the physical and in the digital world.

ICRC Protection work ICRC Data Protection Office ICRC Delegation for Cyberspace Humanitarian Data and Trust Initiative

Where we stand:

Technologies and humanitarian action

Technological developments have given rise to new methods and means of warfare, such as cyber-attacks, armed drones, and robots, raising novel humanitarian and legal challenges. They also put challenges on how humanitarian organizations should navigate these new constraints.

Humanitarian principles to the digital age New technologies and IHL