Technology Committee

BMUN 5  United Nations Special Summit on Technology Committee Briefing

 1.      The Question of Increasing Access to Technology in LEDCs

 Introduction

LEDC = Less Economically Developed Country

Technology = the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, systems, methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures.

An LEDC is unlikely to have the capital available to spend on the development of technology in their country. This can have a devastating effect on the economic, political and social development of a country. Countries tend to be labelled as LEDCs when they are caught in a cycle of under-development. This is due to a lack of sufficient capital that would be able to lift the country out of its economic instability and provide access to other much needed necessities including the development of technology.  The United Nations has been concerned with the problem of under-developed technologies in LEDCs over the past decade. It has been debated at the World Summit on the Information society and in a report from the Broadband Commission called, “A 2010 Leadership Imperative: The Future Built on Broadband.” Allowing technological access to LEDCs globally could lead to a faster realisation of the connectivity goals of the World Summit on the Information Society, the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable economic growth globally.

However the main issue that confronts the world and the UN today is the digital divide between LEDCs and MEDCs that comes from having a lack of access to technology.  While progress has been made, nearly ¼ of the world has access to the internet; this is unfortunately mostly made up of MEDCs. The UN has said that “the need remains to reduce the digital divide and to ensure that the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communication technologies [cellular telephony, multilingual content and web addresses] are available to all.”

Key organisations and commissions that are involved:

  •  Broadband Commission for Digital Development
  • Internet Governance Forum
  • Commission on Science and Technology
  • Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development

Previous conferences that have attempted to solve the issue:

  • Connect Africa Summits (Kigali 2007 and Cairo 2008)
  • Connect the Commonwealth of Independent States Summit (Minsk 2009)
  • Internet Governance Forum (Athens 2006, Rio de Janeiro 2007, Hyderabad, India 2008, Sharm el-Sheikh 2009 and Vilnius 2010)
  • Thirteenth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (Geneva 2010)
  • 2005 World Summit

 Key Facts

  •  ¼ of the global population have access to the internet.
  • 18% of the population of developing countries use the internet compared to more than 60% of population in MEDCs.
  • Corruption can occur when money is fuelled into a country for an innocent issue such as technical developments.
  • A Gender divide exists alongside the digital divide. Women are, in some countries, not allowed access to technology and/or the internet.

Solutions

  •  Invest money into the development of technology and a global electrical grid system.
  • Create a global fund (similar to the World Bank) that would solely invest in technological developments for all.
  • Create a UN group that could monitor technological developments and Internet Usage as well as creating new ways for LEDCs to gain access to technology.
  • Tackle gender inequality via digital education.
  • Educate the youth about technology: how to use it and the benefits it can bring.
  • Solve the issue using transparent, multilateral and democratic communication between countries.

Useful Sources of Information

 2.      The Question of Measures to Prevent and Deter Cyber-Warfare

Introduction

Cyber-Warfare does not have a universal definition; however for the purposes of this briefing document it shall be defined as “politically motivated hacking in order to conduct sabotage or espionage” which usually involves “units along nation state boundaries, in offensive and defensive operations using computers to attack other computers or networks through electronic means”. Through recent development of the internet and technology, Cyber-Warfare has emerged as one of the biggest threats that many countries face all over the world. Many countries use technology to control their military and retain government information. This type of technological warfare is far more dangerous compared to conventional warfare as access to a country’s networks could potentially cause that country to collapse. Some experts argue that cyber- attacks with potential strategic national security effects, often referred to as an “electronic Pearl Harbour,” are impossible. Others say that they are unavoidable.  Particularly dominant countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia Federation, India, DPRK and most countries in the European Union who spend a huge amount of money on the development of their internal databases are most at threat. Bruce Berkowitz argued (1995):

Civilian information systems are prime candidates for attack…Just as cities are targeted in strategic bombing, in future wars we can expect civilian information systems to be hacked, tapped, penetrated, bugged, and infected with computer viruses.”

Why? Smaller countries may have a vested interest in the collapse of a country or government, while they may not be able to “conquer” it physically/externally nor in the conventional manner, instead through the use of Cyber-Warfare can they internally destroy a country.

Key Facts

  • The victim could be industrial, military or civilian.
  • Cyber-Warfare allows the aggressor to achieve their political or strategic goals without the need for armed conflict.
  • Cyberspace can give a disproportionate amount of power to small and otherwise insignificant aggressors.
  • Most aggressors act using aliases and can be completely anonymous especially in the short term.
  • In cyber-space the boundaries between civilian and military are not clear and power can be exercised by states, non-state or proxy aggressors.
  • Many experts argue that cyber-space should be viewed as the “fifth battleground” alongside the more conventional land, sea, air and space.
  •  It must be remembered that the means of attack used by Cyber-Warfare are completely different compared to more conventional methods.
  • The USA and UK maintain their strong bilateral relationship through Cyber Space and seem to dominate it.
  • The international cyber-community exists externally from sovereign control, therefore state laws cannot be applied to this threat of cyber-terrorism.

Methods of Attack

  • Espionage and National Security Breaches – Sensitive and Classified Information that is not handled securely can be easily accessed or modified by an aggressor on the other side of the world.
  • Sabotage – Military activities that use satellites or other technological hardware for coordination can be at threat from sabotage.
  • Electrical Power Grid – The transmission of electrical power is susceptible to Cyber-Warfare.
  • Other less general methods include: Trojans, worms, spyware, rootkits.

Motivation and Causes

  • The technological developments over the last decade have created the new “battleground” of Cyber-Space.
  • The tensions surrounding political relationships between countries.

Which countries pose the most threat?

  • Russian Federation
  • China
  • North Korea
  • Israel
  • Iran

Solutions

  • Education of society about the dangers of cyberspace and internet hacking.
  • A universal definition of Cyber-Warfare so that universal and state legislation can be easily applied in each country.
  • Each state to take responsibility for the cyber-aggressors that are working for or in the country.
  • Increase of transparency between countries.
  • Improve legislation of cyber-warfare, cyber-terrorism and cyber-crime.
  • Help LEDCs to build up their own technological defence systems against cyber-warfare.

Questions to consider

  • Is the internet’s structure adequate for enforcing laws on the use of cyberspace?
  • How can we authenticate the identity of the aggressor?
  • Should everyone be allowed access to cyberspace?
  • Does hidden intelligence infringe on our right to information?

Useful Sources of Information