Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Fundamental Rights


This project assesses the pros and cons for fundamental rights of using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data for public administration and business purposes in selected EU Member States. It provides concrete examples of fundamental rights challenges when using algorithms for decision-making (i.e. for machine learning and AI). An aim of the project is to contribute to setting out fundamental rights guidelines and recommendations in these fields.


The rapid increase in the use of new technologies has shown there is a need to identify and explain fundamental rights challenges in this area. It can lead to infringements of privacy, data protection and equal treatment, particularly when it comes to the growing use of big data and algorithms through rapid advances in machine learning and AI.

Public administrations and businesses using technologies or engaging in digitally innovative projects need concrete solutions to ensure fundamental rights compliance. They also need clear guidelines and recommendations for processing and using data. The current situation has led the European Parliament to issue resolutions on AI and robotics, and on big data. The European Commission has created a high-level expert group on AI, which FRA is part of, and published a communication on AI for Europe. The Council of Europe is also working on AI and human rights, for example in relation to possible standard setting instruments concerning AI in new digital technologies and services.

FRA’s work will help bring fundamental rights more strongly into the development of new technologies and provide data for implementing and developing policies.


In 2018, FRA began working in this area by carrying out expert consultations and publishing a focus paper on the discriminatory potential of algorithms. It is also mapping relevant issues related to AI, big data and fundamental rights. In 2019-2020, the Agency is conducting qualitative interviews and case studies to collect data on the fundamental rights implications and opportunities related to AI and big data. Interviews will be carried out with representatives of businesses and local authorities in selected EU Member States.

Additionally, data on the use of AI and big data is being analysed from official statistics and other sources. The project will also analyse the feasibility of carrying out online experiments and simulation case studies using modern data analysis tools and techniques.