Author archive

Will Richmond-Coggan

Will Richmond-Coggan is a director in the IT & Data team at Freeths Solicitors, specialising in contentious and non-contentious data protection and technology issues. Email William.Richmond-Coggan@freeths.co.uk. Twitter @Tech_Litig8or.

In August 2015, a British journalist and cameraman were travelling in Turkey, making a documentary for Vice News. As is often the case, they were working with a local agent, a “fixer” who was responsible for getting them access to the locations and subjects they wanted to include in their documentary. All three were arrested and, in September 2015, charged with deliberately aiding an armed organisation. The primary justification for the charge was reported to be the presence of sophisticated encryption software on the devices of the fixer, of a type alleged to be commonly used by terrorists.

On Urban Dictionary “algorithm” is defined as “a word used by programmers when they don’t want to explain what they did.” As the pace of practical AI adoption increases, there is increasing truth in the joke. Someone who wants to understand this new technology, how it works and how it might be controlled or improved will encounter a number of informational barriers. To overcome the first of those hurdles, we need some proper definitions.