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UK government does not yet understand threat of technology to foreign policy

A parliamentary choose committee report has stated the UK authorities’s response to threats posed by authoritarian states exploiting technological developments has been “incoherent and muted”.

The federal government’s stance on technological requirements, resembling information sharing and privateness, in addition to its stance on non-public sector regulation, is especially unclear, the report stated. 

The Foreign Affairs Committee report Encoding values: placing tech on the coronary heart of UK overseas coverage stated the federal government has up to now failed to point out it understands the affect that know-how has on overseas coverage and world governance, and has no technique to counter this.

It stated tech corporations resembling Amazon Internet Companies are providing technology that underpins government departments, together with the design and supply of diplomatic companies. “Firms resembling Google and Meta not solely present entry to info, however their algorithms decide which info is seen and the way overseas coverage points are perceived by folks the world over,” stated the committee.

The report warned that “malign actors”, together with authoritarian states resembling Russia and China, have the chance to rewrite the principles underpinning worldwide programs and know-how growth due to technological standardisation. “A battle between authoritarian and rights-based technological requirements and values is being waged,” it stated.

The committee referred to as on the Overseas, Commonwealth & Improvement Workplace (FCDO) to work with different states to make sure rights-based and human-centred know-how requirements are the worldwide norm.

The report beneficial that the FCDO identifies a minister to do that work to stop the UK “changing into a rule-taker moderately than a rule-maker”.

“Thus far, the FCDO has didn’t sufficiently have interaction with related multinational our bodies, states and personal corporations on the problem of world technological governance,” it stated. For instance, it reported that the UK is being not noted of conversations on transatlantic tech cooperation between the US and EU.

It added that the federal government needs to be speaking to what it referred to as “digital deciders” – international locations resembling India and Brazil – as a result of they could in any other case align with fashions of digital authoritarianism.

Tom Tugendhat MP, chair of the Overseas Affairs Committee, stated: “Authoritarian malign states, resembling Russia and China, are exploiting technological developments to additional their geopolitical agendas. However the identical know-how may also be used for good.

“That is no dystopian fantasy, however a present actuality, and one which the federal government has up to now uncared for to handle. By not claiming our seat on the desk, we give overseas states permission to make crucial selections that have an effect on the day by day lives of UK residents.”

Tugendhat stated it is important that the UK retains a “sturdy” tech business to strengthen home capabilities and shore up the UK’s means to affect know-how governance globally. “Nonetheless, we’re struggling to retain home-grown tech capabilities and the federal government has been sparing in its use of latest laws to intervene in overseas takeovers,” he added.

The tech giants should even be a part of the dialog, stated Tugendhat. “The merchandise and platforms of tech giants permeate each facet of contemporary life. Main tech corporations have geopolitical affect that vastly outstrips many nation states. If the UK is to form the long run, the dialog can’t simply be with different states. We have to usher in enter from tech corporations themselves, each large and small.” 

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