“Malign“ nations including China and Russia are exploiting technology to further their geopolitical agendas and Britain’s response to the threat is “incoherent and muted,” said a report by UK parliamentarians.
China and Russia are intensifying their efforts to rewrite the rules that underpin international technology standards, particularly in fields such as 5G, 6G and surveillance equipment, said the report, overseen by Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the House of Commons’ influential Foreign Affairs Committee.
“This is no dystopian fantasy but a current reality, and one that the Government has, so far, neglected to address,” said Tugendhat, who is running to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister. “A battle between authoritarian and rights-based technological standards and values is being waged.”
The report, entitled “Encoding Values: Putting Tech at the Heart of UK Foreign Policy,” says the UK is struggling to retain home-grown tech capabilities, in part because the government has been sparing in its use of laws to prevent foreign takeovers.
Greater Controls on China
It says ”placing greater controls on the collection, aggregation and access to data available to China” would be a good first step toward ”eliminating an obvious national security vulnerability.”
Democratic countries are struggling to agree on technology policy, the report added, leaving the door open for China to become increasingly assertive in setting global standards.
“Between 2016 and 2019, 90 percent of the standards proposals for surveillance technologies at the International Telecommunications Union were put forward by China,” it said. The proposals included new rules around facial recognition, an area of high risk to human rights, it added.
- Alfie Habershon
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