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AI and Human Rights

Policy

NEC has formulated the “NEC Group AI and Human Rights Principles” (hereinafter referred to as the “Companywide principles”) to guide our employees to recognize respect for privacy and human rights as the highest priority in our business operations in relation to social implementation of AI and utilization of biometrics and other data (“AI utilization”).
In addition to facilitating compliance with relevant laws and regulations around the globe, the Companywide principles will guide our employees to recognize respect for human rights as the highest priority in each and every stage of our business operations in relation to AI utilization and enable them to take action accordingly.
In accordance with the Companywide principles, the NEC Group is committed to the three following initiatives:

  1. Ensure that all products and services are implemented and utilized by NEC employees, customers and partners appropriately
  2. Continue to develop advanced technology and talent to further promote AI utilization with respect for human rights as the highest priority
  3. Engage with a range of stakeholders to build partnerships and collaborate with closely

Furthermore, based on Companywide principles, NEC defined “AI utilization with respect for human rights as the highest priority (AI and Human Rights)” as one of our “materiality” management priority themes from an ESG perspective.

Implementation Framework

We have established the Digital Trust Business Strategy Division to create and promote Companywide strategies to incorporate the notion of respect for human rights into business operations in relation to AI utilization. The division is promoting business operations with respect for human rights through ways such as establishment of internal systems and conducting training for employees to incorporate the Companywide principles into our business operations, as well as strengthening its links with relevant divisions such as the research and business divisions.

Measures and Main Fiscal 2021 Activities

In AI utilization, we conducted the following initiatives in fiscal 2021 to promote business operations with respect for human rights.

Reinforce and Improve Respect for Human Rights Initiatives through Companywide Principles

In response to the global spread of novel coronavirus as countries work to prevent the spread of infection, we have conducted timely identification and analysis of trends related to the identification and tracking of infected individuals and its impact on human rights and privacy. Based on the results of this analysis, we reflected the balance between public health and human rights and privacy in the specifications, and provided infection control solutions, such as border protection and avoidance of close quarters to airports and stadiums at an early stage.

In the AI and biometric authentication businesses, we have reinforced our processes by confirming specific human rights and privacy measures at the planning stage, which we have been doing when receiving orders.

Training for Employees

We conducted training for employees of NEC Corporation and affiliated companies in Japan so that they can act appropriately with respect for human rights in business operations, in accordance with the Companywide principles.

  1. Web-based Training
    All employees attend yearly web-based training where they learn about Companywide principles and points to be aware of when considering human rights and privacy related to AI utilization. In fiscal 2021, we increased the number of affiliated companies in Japan that attended the training from 12 companies, in fiscal 2020, to 27 companies. The completion rate for training also increased to 96%.
  2. Internal Lectures
    We held internal lectures where employees involved in the AI business learn about the social acceptability of AI and awareness of the issue. We invited experts as lecturers to explain the latest trends in laws and policies related to AI and cases in Japan and abroad that received social criticism (scoring issues, etc.), to increase comprehension of issues that arise from improper use of AI.

Continue Dialogue with a Range of Stakeholders

NEC established the Digital Trust Advisory Council in the previous fiscal year, which we continued to hold in fiscal 2020. Our aim is to incorporate diverse opinions from external experts, who have specialized knowledge on legal systems, human rights and privacy, and ethics, and utilize them to strengthen our ability to deal with new issues arising from AI utilization.

We consulted with experts from a variety of perspectives and obtained valuable opinions on issues that have been actively debated in Japan and abroad, such as how to use technology in a way that balances public health with human rights and privacy, as well as on matters to be aware of when using advanced technology we are researching and developing.
Additionally, we exchange opinions with and make proposals to governmental agencies and industry organizations regarding NEC’s human rights and privacy initiatives in order to promote the appropriate social implementation of AI and biometric authentication.

Digital Trust Advisory Council held online