Written Evidence, UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee: ‘Tech and the Future of UK Foreign Policy’, 9 June 2021, by Talita Dias and Rhiannon Neilsen

Just Speech
1 October, 2021

This submission was supported by the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) and its Programme for International Peace and Security (IPS), both housed by the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.

Executive Summary

  • Control over information and communications technologies (ICTs), as well as online and offline artificial intelligence (AI) systems, are currently shifting the international power landscape. Key global threats occurring in this context include ransomware, information technology (IT) supply chain attacks, cyber influence or information operations, and electronic surveillance.
  • To promote responsible business practices online, the FCDO should support corporate compliance with international human rights law, independent verification, standardisation auditing and testing of company IT products, and sector-specific business responsibility awards.
  • To encourage internationally accepted norms for the use of social media whilst reaping its benefits for diplomacy, the FCDO should assess the advantages of decentralised approaches to social media, strategize substantive and procedural changes with dominant platforms, promote educational campaigns about human rights-compliant platform standards, and support social media companies facing unlawful government demands to remove, limit or publish content.
  • To shape the development of, and promote compliance with, international law applicable to ICTs and artificial intelligence, including by taking advantage of the UK’s G7 Presidency, the FCDO should work with relevant government bodies to: i) update and revise the UK’s national views on international law in the cyber context, particularly as it pertains to sovereignty and due diligence, ii) propose concrete implementation measures, iii) cooperate with both like-minded and non-like-minded governments to seek common ground on how international law governs discrete cyber issues, and iv) develop the UK’s national views on the application of international law to emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence.

Read the full submission here.

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