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Article

Access_open Living with Others in Pandemics

The State’s Duty to Protect, Individual Responsibility and Solidarity

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2021
Keywords SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, The state’s duty to protect, Duty to rescue, Responsibility, Solidarity
Authors Konstantinos A Papageorgiou
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article discusses a range of important normative questions raised by anti-COVID-19 measures and policies. Do governments have the right to impose such severe restrictions on individual freedom and furthermore do citizens have obligations vis-à-vis the state, others and themselves to accept such restrictions? I will argue that a democratic state may legitimately enforce publicly discussed, properly enacted and constitutionally tested laws and policies in order to protect its citizens from risks to life and limb. Even so, there is a natural limit, factual and normative, to what the state or a government can do in this respect. Citizens will also need to take it upon themselves not to harm and to protect others and in the context of a pandemic this means that endorsement of restrictions or other mandatory measures, notably vaccination, is not to be seen as a matter of personal preference concerning the supposedly inviolable sovereignty of one’s own body.


Konstantinos A Papageorgiou
Konstantinos A Papageorgiou is Professor of the Philosophy of Law at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Law.
Article

Access_open What Solidarity?

A Look Behind the Veil of Solidarity in ‘Corona Times’ Contractual Relations

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Mechanical solidarity, Organic solidarity, Contract, Good faith, Punishment
Authors Candida Leone
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article uses three prominent examples from the Dutch context to problematize the relationship between contractual and social solidarity during the coronavirus crisis. The social science ideal types of ‘mechanical’ and ‘organic’ solidarity, and their typified correspondence with legal modes of punishment and compensation, are used to illuminate the way in which solidarity language in private relationships can convey and normalize assumptions about the public interest and economic order.


Candida Leone
Candida Leone is Assistant Professor at the, Amsterdam Centre for Transformative Private Law.
Article

Access_open Solidarity and COVID-19

A Foucauldian analysis

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Solidarity, COVID-19 epidemic, Foucault, Social cohesion, Practicing
Authors Marli Huijer
AbstractAuthor's information

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most governments in Europe have imposed disciplinary and controlling mechanisms on their populations. In the name of solidarity, citizens are pressed to submit to lockdowns, social distancing or corona apps. Building on the historical-philosophical studies of Michel Foucault, this article shows that these mechanisms are spin-offs of health regimes that have evolved since the seventeenth century. In case of COVID-19, these regimes decreased the infection, morbidity and mortality rates. But, as a side-effect, they limited the opportunities to act together and practice solidarity. This negatively affected the social cohesion and public sphere in already highly individualistic societies. To prevent the further disappearing of solidarity – understood as something that is enacted rather than as a moral value or political principle – governments and citizens need to invest in the restoral of the social conditions that enable and facilitate the practicing of solidarity after the epidemic.


Marli Huijer
Marli Huijer is Emeritus Professor of Public Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open Suffering from Vulnerability

On the Relation Between Law, Contingency and Solidarity

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Vulnerability, Contingency, Freedom and Anxiety, Solidarity, Legal concept of inclusion
Authors Benno Zabel
AbstractAuthor's information

    The COVID-19 crisis has produced or amplified disruptive processes in societies. This article wants to argue for the fact that we understand the meaning of the COVID-19 crisis only if we relate it to the fundamental vulnerability of modern life and the awareness of vulnerability of whole societies. Vulnerability in modernity are expressions of a reality of freedom that is to some extent considered contingent and therefore unsecured. It is true that law is understood today as the protective power of freedom. The thesis of the article, however, boils down to the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a new way of thinking about the protection of freedom. This also means that the principle of solidarity must be assigned a new social role. Individual and societal vulnerability refer thereafter to an interconnectedness, dependency, and a future perspective of freedom margins that, in addition to the moral one, can also indicate a need for legal protection. In this respect, law has not only a function of delimitation, but also one of inclusion.


Benno Zabel
Benno Zabel is Professor of Criminal Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of Bonn.
Article

Access_open Sick and Blamed

Criminal Law in the Chilean Response to COVID-19

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Solidarity, Punishment, Legitimacy, Inequality, COVID-19
Authors Rocío Lorca
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Chilean government called upon ideas of social solidarity to fight the pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 and it relied heavily on the criminal law in order to secure compliance with sanitary restrictions. However, because restrictions and prosecutorial policy did not take into account social background and people’s ability to comply with the law, prosecutions soon created groups of people who were being both over-exposed to disease and death, and over-exposed to control, blame and punishment. The configuration of this overpoliced and underprotected group became so visibly unjust that appealing to social solidarity to justify the criminal enforcement of sanitary restrictions became almost insulting. This forced the Fiscal Nacional to develop a ‘socially sensitive’ prosecutorial strategy, something that we have not often seen despite Chile’s inequalities. The changes in policy by the Fiscal Nacional suggest that perhaps, at times, penal institutions can be made accountable for acting in ways that create estrangement rather than cohesion.


Rocío Lorca
Rocío Lorca is Assistant Professor at Universidad de Chile’s School of Law.

    This comparative study looks into the proposed “vaccine passport” initiative from various human rights aspects. It was undertaken by the Global Digital Human Rights Network, an action started under the EU’s Cooperation in Science and Technology programme. The network currently unites more than 80 scholars and practitioners from 40 countries. The findings are based on responses to questions put to the network members by the authors of this study in February 2021.


Mart Susi
Mart Susi is Professor of Human Rights Law at Tallinn University, Editor-in-Chief, Action Chair of Global Digital Human Rights Network.

Tiina Pajuste
Tiina Pajuste is Professor of International Law and Security at Tallinn University.
Article

Access_open Reflections on Digital Human Rights Practice Research and Human Rights Universality

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2021
Keywords non-coherence theory of digital human rights, network approach, universality of human rights, transversality effect
Authors Mart Susi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The idea of universality of human rights is under multidimensional challenges entailing the aspects of practice generalization and postmodern social theories with juridical ambitions. Competing theories continue to exist and the elements of choice between theories are determined by practice, convenience and economies and not necessarily by idealistic goals. Among the many arguments raised against the universality of human rights stands the network approach, which is characterized by permeability, its supportive purpose of vertical normative structures, its impact on the rise of social responsibility, obscuring effect on legitimacy and “reliance on trust”. Supportive purpose of vertical normative structures in a network means that private networks can articulate the claim for correctness in self-regulation due to the existence of the vertical normative backbone. One of the main reservations related to digital human rights law and remedies through the network approach is that of distortion of legitimacy. The article approaches these issues through a novel theoretical approach of non-coherence.


Mart Susi
Mart Susi is Professor of human rights law at Tallinn University, Editor-in-Chief, Action Chair of Global Digital Human Rights Network

Mart Susi
Mart Susi: Professor of human rights law at Tallinn University, Editor-in-Chief, Action Chair of Global Digital Human Rights Network

    This study explores the spread of disinformation relating to the Covid-19 pandemic on the internet, dubbed by some as the pandemic’s accompanying “infodemic”, and the societal reactions to this development across different countries and platforms. The study’s focus is on the role of states and platforms in combatting online disinformation.
    Through synthesizing answers to questions submitted by more than 40 researchers from 20 countries within the GDHR Network, this exploratory study provides a first overview of how states and platforms have dealt with Corona-related disinformation. This can also provide incentives for further rigorous studies of disinformation governance standards and their impact across different socio-cultural environments.
    Regarding the platforms’ willingness and efficacy in removing (presumed) disinformation, a majority of submissions identifies a shift towards more intervention in pandemic times. Most submitters assess that this shift is widely welcomed in their respective countries and more often considered as taking place too slowly (rather than being perceived as entailing dangers for unjustified restrictions of freedom of expression). The picture is less clear when it comes to enforcing non-speech related infection prevention measures.
    While the dominant platforms have been able to defend, or even solidify, their position during the pandemic, communicative practices on those platforms are changing. For officials, this includes an increasing reliance on platforms, especially social networks, for communicating infection prevention rules and recommendations. For civil society, the pandemic has brought an increasing readiness – and perceived need – to intervene against disinformation, especially through fact-checking initiatives.
    National and local contexts show great variance at whether platform-driven disinformation is conceived as a societal problem. In countries where official sources are distrusted and/or seen as disseminating disinformation criticism against private information governance by platforms remains muted. In countries where official sources are trusted disinformation present on platforms is seen more negatively.
    While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram play important roles in the pandemic communication environment, some replies point towards an increasing importance of messaging apps for the circulation of Covid-19-related disinformation. These apps, like Telegram or WhatsApp, tend to fall under the radar of researchers, because visibility of content is limited and scraping is difficult, and because they are not covered by Network Enforcement Act-type laws that usually exclude one-to-one communication platforms (even if they offer one-to-many channels).
    Vis-à-vis widespread calls for a (re)territorialization of their content governance standards and processes amid the pandemic, platform companies have maintained, by and large, global standards. Standardized, featured sections for national (health) authorities to distribute official information via platforms are exceptions thereto.


Matthias C. Kettemann
Prof. dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard) is head of the research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces” at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut.

Martin Fertmann
Martin Fertmann is a PhD student at the Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut’s research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces”.

    Terms-of-service based actions against political and state actors as both key subjects and objects of political opinion formation have become a focal point of the ongoing debates over who should set and enforce the rules for speech on online platforms.
    With minor differences depending on national contexts, state regulation of platforms creating obligations to disseminate such actors’ information is considered dangerous for the free and unhindered discursive process that leads to the formation of public opinions.
    Reactions to the suspension of Trump as not the first, but the most widely discussed action of platform companies against a politician (and incumbent president) provide a glimpse on the state of platform governance debates across participating countries.
    Across the countries surveyed politicians tend to see the exercise of content moderation policies of large platform companies very critically
    The majority of politicians in European countries seem to be critical of the deplatforming of Trump, emphasizing fundamental rights and calling for such decisions to be made by states, not private companies
    These political standpoints stand in an unresolved conflict with the constitutional realities of participating countries, where incumbents usually cannot invoke fundamental rights when acting in their official capacities and where laws with “must carry” requirements for official information do not exist for social media and would likely only be constitutional for narrowly defined, special circumstances such as disaster prevention.
    Facebooks’ referral of the Trump-decision to its Oversight Board sparked a larger debate about institutional structures for improving content governance. The majority of participating countries has experience with self- or co-regulatory press-, media- or broadcasting councils to which comparisons can be drawn, foreshadowing the possible (co-regulatory) future of governing online speech.
    Media commentators in participating countries interpreted the deplatforming of Trump as a signal that far-right parties and politicians around the world may face increasing scrutiny, while conservative politicians and governments in multiple participating countries instrumentalized the actions against Trump as supposed proof of platform’s bias against conservative opinions.
    Even without specific legal requirements on content moderation, submissions from several countries refer to a general – often: constitutional – privileging of speech of politicians and office holders. This could potentially support or even compel the decisions of platforms to leave content of political actors up even if it violates their terms of service.


Martin Fertmann
Martin Fertmann is a PhD student at the Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut’s research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces”

Matthias C. Kettemann
Prof. dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard) is head of the research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces” at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut.
Article

Access_open Artificial Intelligence and Customer Relationship Management

The Case of Chatbots and Their Legality Framework

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2021
Keywords artificial intelligence, chatbots, CRM, data protection, privacy
Authors Konstantinos Kouroupis, Dimitrios Vagianos and Aikaterini Totka
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the new digital era as it is formed by the European digital strategy, the explosion of e-commerce and related technologies has led to the formation of tremendous volumes of customer data that could be exploited in a variety of ways. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can now exploit these data sets to map consumers’ behaviour more effectively. As social media and artificial intelligence widened their penetration, firms’ interest shifted to chatbots in order to serve their customers’ needs. Nowadays, CRM and bots are developed in a parallel way. With the help of these virtual personal assistants, CRM establishes a virtual relationship with consumers. However, the extended collection and use of personal data under this scope may give rise to ethical and legal issues. In this article, the term CRM is defined, followed by an analysis of the way chatbots support CRM systems. In the second part, the legal context of chatbot use will be highlighted in an attempt to investigate whether there are personal data protection issues and whether certain rights or ethical rules are somehow violated. The draft AI Regulation, in combination with the provisions of GDPR and e-Privacy Directive, offers a significant background for our study. The article concludes by demonstrating the use of chatbots as an inherent part of the new digital era and lays special emphasis on the term ‘transparency’, which seems to penetrate the lawfulness of their use and guarantee our privacy.


Konstantinos Kouroupis
Konstantinos Kouroupis: Assistant Professor of European and Data Rights Law, Department of Law, Frederick University, Cyprus.

Dimitrios Vagianos
Dimitrios Vagianos: Electrical & Computer Engineer, Laboratory Teaching staff, Department of International and European Studies, University of Macedonia, Greece.

Aikaterini Totka
Aikaterini Totka: Graduate Student, Department of International and European Studies, University of Macedonia, Greece.
Article

Access_open European Standards of Judicial Independence in Lithuania

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2021
Keywords judicial independence, selection of judges, appointment of judges, rule of law, mutual trust
Authors Vygantė Milašiūtė and Skirgailė Žalimienė
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article examines the procedure for selection and appointment of judges in Lithuania in the light of the European standards of judicial independence. Both the Council of Europe and the European Union (EU) legal materials are relied on. The procedural role of different actors, the criteria for assessment of candidates, the question of judicial review of selection and appointment decisions as well as the problem of delays of judicial appointments are also examined. Even though the Lithuanian system for the selection and appointment of judges has been assessed favourably by European institutions, certain elements of the system are questionable. However, as long as these deficiencies are not systemic and do not raise issues of the rule of law in the sense of EU law, they would not negatively affect the operation of the EU law-based mutual trust instruments with respect to Lithuania. A suggestion is made that paying more attention to non-systemic deficiencies of judicial independence and the rule of law in EU member states could be beneficial for improving the protection of individual rights.


Vygantė Milašiūtė
Vygantė Milašiūtė: Associate professor at Vilnius University, Faculty of Law.

Skirgailė Žalimienė
Skirgailė Žalimienė: Associate professor at Vilnius University, Faculty of Law.

    The Arnhem Court of Appeal has examined whether an employee was reasonably able to take leave, applying the ECJ’s Max Planck and Kreuziger judgments. According to the Court, the employer did not violate its obligation to inform the employee regarding the lapse of the right to paid annual leave. The Court stated that the employee was reasonably able to take leave, despite being incapacitated for work due to sickness. The Court ruled that the employee was not entitled to an allowance in lieu of untaken paid annual leave, as the right to such leave had lapsed.


Tessa van der Stel
Tessa van der Stel recently graduated from Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam.

Zef Even

    An Employment Tribunal (ET) decision involving an advertising agency has highlighted the dangers for employers of taking an overly aggressive approach to reducing gender pay gaps. It also provides a reminder that all discrimination is unlawful, even where the victims are from a historically privileged group.


Colin Leckey
Colin Leckey is a partner at Lewis Silkin LLP.
Rulings

ECtHR 7 December 2021, app. no. 29582/09 (Yakut Republican Trade-Union Federation – v – Russia), Unions

Yakut Republican Trade-Union Federation – v – Russia, Russian case

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2021
Keywords Unions
Abstract

    A court’s order to a trade-union federation to expel a grassroots union of working prisoners because of a statutory ban on their unionization did not violate article 11-1 of the Charter.

    Building upon the ECJ case law qualifying stand-by time with significant availability obligations of volunteer firefighters as working time, the Belgian Court of Cassation has upheld a system of compensation by which stand-by time pays less than regular working time.


Gautier Busschaert
Gautier Busschaert is an attorney-at-law at Van Olmen & Wynant, Brussels.
Pending Cases

Case C-560/21, Privacy

ZS – v – Zweckverband ‘Kommunale Informationsverarbeitung Sachsen’ KISA, a body governed by public law, reference lodged by the Bundesarbeitsgericht (Germany) on 13 September 2021

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2021
Keywords Privacy
Rulings

ECtHR 9 November 2021, app. no. 31549/18 (Špadijer v. Montenegro), Privacy, Whistleblowing

Ms. Špadijer – v – Montenegro, Montenegro case

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2021
Keywords Privacy, Whistleblowing
Abstract

    States must protect the physical and psychological integrity of individuals from others, including setting up a legal framework with that aim in an adequate way.

Pending Cases

Case C-650/21, Age Discrimination

FW, CE, reference lodged by the Verwaltungsgerichtshof (Austria) on 27 October 2021

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2021
Keywords Age Discrimination
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