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Hong Kong Model United Nations SECURITY COUNCIL Forum: The Security Council Issue: Global Surveillance Document: Introductory Chair Report Chair: Caitlin Fischer
INTRODUCTION "Yes, I believe it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox that we could search when the nation needs to do it." -
US General Keith Alexander 2013
Although international surveillance has existed between countries since intercountry interactions first became common, international surveillance has become an increasingly relevant topic in discussions of current affairs. With the rapid developments in technology seen over recent years, surveillance has been brought into a new light, particularly after the precise nature of certain surveillance practices led by governments was leaked to the public. As such, given that previous discussions of international surveillance and privacy no longer apply to the current state of affairs for the topic, it is crucial for the international community to gather and come to a consensus as to the most recent iteration of international surveillance and its seemingly inescapable presence. This necessity evident in the fact that the last UN resolution regarding international surveillance and the privacy issues associated with it was adopted in 1988 by the General Assembly, far before the use of the Internet and other technology was prevalent and prominent throughout the globe.
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The Security Council should aim to discuss the various aspects of international surveillance, as well as the extent to which people of a nation should be aware of the surveillance that affects them. Member nations should also aim to discuss how infringements of a nation's privacy and the privacy of its people should be dealt with. The technology with which surveillance is carried out should also be discussed; particularly its development and protection. Beyond these initial questions lie many more subtleties of the topic, and the committee should aim to consider the issue in holistic sense.
TERMINOLOGY To purposefully discuss this topic, a distinction must be made between espionage and surveillance. Surveillance is the collection of information about the actions of a person or a group of people. Espionage, in the past, is typically used to more specifically refer to the infiltration of the information databases of opposing groups for the collection of information, or the monitoring of certain opposition characters. It is key to note that there are many types of surveillance and espionage, and the committee should strive to understand the main types of surveillance involved in global relations. Additionally, with the advent of the technological age, the collection of metadata has become more of a prominent issue. To avoid confusion, metadata refers to ‘data about data’, in that it provides information about the nature of the data itself. This can include how the data was created, time of creation, location of creation, and more.
UNITED NATIONS: Past Actions and Relevant Bodies Previous UN Discussion includes: -
A/C.3/68/L.45 (http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/C.3/68/L.45) This draft resolution was proposed in 2013 by Germany and Brazil, condemning mass surveillance (in particular via the internet), created in the wave of outrage surrounding leaked surveillance documents at the time. The significance of this draft resolution lies in that it is the first working paper to openly acknowledge the threat that mass Internet surveillance poses to human rights and humanity on a whole. 1988 UN Human Rights Commission ‘General Comment 16’ (http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/23378a8724595410c12563 ed004aeecd) This resolution guarantees everyone the right to privacy in the international community, barring exceptional circumstances. This is a firm interpretation of the general human rights afforded to everyone. At its time, it was the first major and definitive statement made by the UN
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regarding privacy in 25 years, though is now not up-to-date or specific enough to be applicable to the situation of privacy and surveillance as it stands today. Relevant UN Bodies include: -
United Nations Security Council Given that global surveillance has crucial militaristic involvement in todayâ€™s world, the UNSC is arguable the most relevant and able committee for the discussion of the topic, particularly as espionage is considered as both a defensive and offensive topic in terms of global warfare. The serious nature of the topic calls for a binding resolution, which the UNSC should hope to provide. UN General Assembly Past discussions of mass surveillance and privacy have occurred in the GA, including the major 1988 resolution enforcing the privacy of every individual worldwide. Recently, the UNGA has served as a platform for discussions of surveillance when the issue was brought into the limelight in 2013. UN Human Rights Commission The UN Human Rights Commission is relevant to the issue as privacy has long been regarded a fundamental human right, and as such the commission has contributed to discussions of the topic in the past.
FOCUS: Issues of Significance Intergovernmental Espionage Can a country ever legitimately commit espionage on other governments? Tensions between nations generally arise because of suspicion, and suspicion can lead to individual nations decided that they have the agency to carry out surveillance on other countries. This is generally expected of the international community, though in a comparatively 'underground' manner. However, as the recent tension between the US and Germany caused by the US's actions in surveillance officials' communications, the extent of this surveillance lies beyond just those nations with conflict between them; leading to questions about how widespread these actions may really be. As such, is espionage legitimised in the international community because these actions are 'expected' of many nations, especially pertaining to those within the UN? The committee should strive to define these limits in any working papers submitted. Surveillance and the General Populace Aside from carrying out surveillance just on other governments and those involved in policy making, however, the extent of surveillance in today's society extends beyond this, with nations carrying out massive acts of surveillance on the general populace, both within and extraneous to its own borders. When it comes
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to the people within a nation, does the government of a nation have the jurisdiction to carry out such large scale surveillance? Given the right to privacy agreed upon in the UN Human Rights Commission this seems at odds with the reality presented by countries today. This disconnect between principles and how they are enacted should be discussed more clearly by the SC. Furthermore, when it comes to surveillance carried out on the people outside of a country's borders, the situation becomes further complicated. While this is an example of the overextension of a country's actions, the reality of the situation is unavoidable. The committee should reach a conclusion on how this should be dealt with and detected. A protocol should be established for dealing with transgressions of this policy. Additionally, the collection of metadata should be discussed. Metadata includes information about the particulars of any certain segment of data, such as when, where and by whom it was created. Whether or not metadata collection falls under the same category of surveillance as more traditional data surveillance should be discussed at the discretion of delegates. Military Intelligence As the origins of surveillance would show, one of the main reasons for having international surveillance is the collection of military intelligence. With the digital nature of most militaristic technology, this has significant implications for how the militaries of various nations would interact. The SC should aim to look at military intelligence as a form of offensive attack, as such. However, the precise manner in which this is defined should be considered: is the infiltration of private military data, for example, an act of war, or does this fall under another category of offensive action? Surveillance as a Protective Measure On another note regarding the military applications of surveillance and data gathering, one of the other commonly cited reasons behind carrying out acts of surveillance is as a defensive measure: to, for example, single out potential terrorists, or catch wind of possible military actions being planned against the state. This leads us to a trade-off between having nations feeling significantly protected in their ability to gather relevant information and, again, the abuse of this idea to gather irrelevant and invasive information about the actions of other nations. This trade-off should be considered by all nations when discussing how surveillance can be considered as a protective measure against attack. Protocol for dealing with infringements When nations, as is near inevitable, overstep the guidelines discussed by the UN with regards to data collection, a protocol for dealing with these infringements should be established. This is particularly pertinent to members of the SC, given the binding nature of resolutions and the ability of the SC to enact offensive policies against bodies. Hence, it is key to establish well-defined retributions against nations which breach the code of conduct established by the United Nations.
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These retributive actions should be able to act as a suitable deterrent against nationâ€™s committing far too wide-reaching acts of international surveillance, as well as encouraging those nations who do breach the resolution to change their data collecting policies to ones more in line with the stances of the rest of the global community as established in committee. Technology and Transparency Technology is arguably the biggest factor contributing to the omnipresence of surveillance that we see in nations today: it is what allows information to be collected in secretive and effective manners. Given the wide implications of this technology, arguments could be made in favour of making this technology, or at least a basic understanding of it, available to the global community, in particular within policymakers within this country. This is at odds with the subversive nature of surveillance, but would be in line with the United Nationâ€™s ideals of transparency and openness. Hence, should the efficacy of individual nationsâ€™ surveillance systems be compromised in light of the international cooperation sought after by the UNSC? The extent to which the nature of this technology should be transparent between nations should hence be discussed, balancing self-interest with the wider community. A platform for the sharing of this knowledge may also want to be considered if decided upon as needed by the committee. Non-State Actors and Surveillance Increasingly, non-state actors have involved themselves in surveillance. Many private companies have established themselves as major players in the Information Age, and as would hence be expected, huge amounts of information has been and continues to be collected by non-state actors as people go about their daily lives. This data could then go on to be used by these out-of-state actors for means that may not align with the principles of the nations involved, worsened by the multinational nature of many of these data harvesting organisations. Because of the conflicting aims of many governments and the international side nature of these non-state actors, a problem is hence posed- the trade-off between protecting the public from invasive surveillance measures from private firms and the autonomy and ability of the firm to carry out its own actions. Limitations for and a protocol aimed at dealing with transgressions regarding these non-state actors should be discussed by the SC, if deemed important or necessary by the committee. Industrial Espionage International surveillance has the potential to give rise to industrial espionage on a widespread scale, where the industrial processes of one firm or localized industry is collected as data and delivered to competing firms or governments of another nation. (This is contrasted with corporate espionage, which more
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specifically refers to intra-national industrial espionage.) Widespread mass surveillance evidently has crucial implications for industrial espionage, in that it provides leeway for it to occur much more frequently and which greater ease. Nations in the SC should hence consider the extent to which a government should monitor the firms within its borders and their intelligence based activities. The UN should also try to explore how to regulate industrial espionage carried out by governments on industries of other nations, particularly in light of the principles of international competitiveness. Extent of Public Awareness When the public are subject to surveillance measures, they are actively having their rights breached in that their piracy is being sacrificed. Not only does this beg the question of how much the breaching of this right is considered justified, discussed earlier in this report, but also leads to the issue of whether or not civilians should have an awareness of the information gathering tactics that they are subject to on a daily basis. While this could compromise the effectiveness and efficacy of the surveillance tactic, and could, as seen in certain countries, lead to vigilantism against such surveillance, it could be argued that the public has the right to know about the gist of the nature of such surveillance. Given that UN member states have already agreed to recognise the right to privacy of individuals it is pertinent to discuss when people should be aware of the breaching of this right. The extent to which the public should be aware of these procedures is a fine line, the general guidelines of which the committee should hope to establish.
QUESTIONS: For Discussion by the Committee When, if ever, is the surveillance of another nation's government justified or necessitated, and how do we determine when these situations are? Does a nation ever have the right to carry out surveillance on its own people, or the people of another nation? Where should the boundaries of this surveillance lie? Is metadata included under these same jurisdictions? Where do we draw the line between â€˜legitimateâ€™ surveillance and the overextension of a nationâ€™s activities?
How should we consider acts of surveillance in a militaristic sense, whether these acts are offensive or defensive? To what extent should the public be aware of this surveillance? Is there a need for the basics of the technology behind surveillance to be transparently made available to the wider community? How should governments inform themselves and regulate the surveillance data collected by non-state actors?
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How can governments monitor their firms and other governments to prevent industrial espionage from occurring?
FURTHER READING: Research and Bibliography http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/23378a8724595410c12563ed004aee cd 1988 UN Human Rights Commission â€˜General Comment 16â€™ on the Rights to Privacy http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/C.3/68/L.45 Brazil and Germany: Proposed Resolution Against Mass Surveillance (2013) https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/brazil-and-germany-propose-un-resolutioncondemning-global-threat-mass Discussion of Brazil and Germany: Proposed Resolution Against Mass Surveillance (2013) https://www.accessnow.org/blog/2013/11/21/message-to-u.n.-general-assemblystand-up-for-right-to-privacy-in-the-digit Discussion of the Recent UN Discussions of Privacy in the Digital Age http://arstechnica.com/security/2007/05/massive-ddos-attacks-target-estoniarussia-accused/ DDOS Cyber attacks: Russia and Estonia http://resources.sei.cmu.edu/library/asset-view.cfm?assetID=8163 Examination of Industrial Surveillance and Sabotage https://ssd.eff.org/ Surveillance Self Defense Project - explains the extent to which the government can carry out surveillance on its own citizens in some nations https://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/government-surveillance US Specific Activists Against Surveillance (Vigilantism Example)