Integrating Privacy Concerns in the Development and Introduction of New Military or Dual Use Technologies

Yuval Shany, Tal Mimran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


New and emerging technologies impact the ways in which military operations are conducted. Notable quantum leaps are being achieved in three fields: autonomous weapon systems, military use of cyberspace, and human enhancement. These fields involve dual use digital technologies that have both civilian and military uses: Artificial Intelligence-based autonomous systems are increasingly employed in civilian settings; cyberspace is a domain extensively utilized by civilian users and it comprises a linchpin of the global economic system; and enhancement technologies have an important role in treating, aiding and rehabilitating injured persons and persons with disabilities in non-military contexts. The military application of these three technologies raises legal issues relating to human control over military operations and accountability, and, as we wish to discuss in this article, serious privacy concerns.<br><br>The legal implications of introducing new technologies into the military should be assessed in accordance to Article 36 of first additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions, which obligates States parties to determine “in the study, development, acquisition or adoption of a new weapon or new means or methods of warfare”, whether their employment would be prohibited under international law. The importance, but also the challenges of conducting proper legality reviews under Article 36 increase in the context of new technologies with unclear impact on civilians and civilian objects. The picture is even more complicated when long-term impacts, including long term privacy violations that could continue to affect them long after they finish their military service. <br><br>In this article, we examine how Article 36 can serve as a vehicle for integrating privacy concerns in the evaluation of new military technologies, including dual use technologies. We claim that all three technologies bring about to privacy-related implications – the reliance of autonomous weapons on extensive surveillance and data collection, the corroding effects of cyber operations on cyber security and data protection and the potentially dramatic intervention in the bodies and minds of enhanced persons. As such, we suggest that the reviews would need to delineate possible harms, consider safeguard measures and justifying circumstances for use. Ultimately, a new privacy impact assessment methodology would need to be developed, covering difficult issues such as consent, long-term harm and indirect harms.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Rights to Privacy and Data Protection in Times of Armed Conflict
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-9916-9565-7-1, 978-9916-9565-6-4
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameRights to Privacy and Data Protection in Times of Armed Conflict (CCDCOE, Asaf Lubin and Russal Buchan Eds., 2022).


  • New technologies
  • Privacy
  • Human Rights
  • Article 36


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