Technology-related threats to be reviewed by counter-terrorism body of UN Security Council

In Mumbai and New Delhi on Friday, the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the United Nations Security Council will hold a special meeting to assess the growing threat emerging technologies pose. First meeting outside UN Headquarters in New York since 2015, the Committee will meet in India for two days. Three areas will be discussed: the Internet and social media, financing for global terror networks, and unmanned aerial systems.

Technology-related threats to be reviewed by counter-terrorism body of UN Security CouncilEmerging technologies are developing rapidly and are being used more and more frequently by countries around the globe, including for domestic security and counterterrorism. However, terrorist groups are also increasingly using high-tech hardware and software illegally. Until the end of this year, India will lead the Counter-Terrorism Committee. A briefing to journalists in New York was delivered by Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, the Chair of the Committee. According to Kamboj, the high stakes meeting will reflect on the latest research on terrorism and the use of technology.

This will bring together “a wealth of real-world expertise and knowledge on the topic,” as well as participation from Member States, relevant operational partners, and key stakeholders. The meeting will provide a platform for exchanging ideas on how the tech sector can assist in combating the spread of terrorist content online and counterterrorism narratives effectively. They are also expected to discuss how tech-savvy terrorists are moving money around using social media platforms, crowdfunding, merchandise sales, and appeals for donations.

In addition, 3-D printing, robotics, AI, machine learning, unmanned aerial systems, and synthetic biotech will be examined as potential sources of illegal activity. Jennifer Bramlette, the Committee’s Coordinator for Information Technologies, said that Member States have taken steps to address drone use. No-fly zones are present around airports and critical infrastructure. The companies themselves have built in mechanisms to geo-lock drones, so that if they are seen flying in certain places, they can be automatically deactivated”, she said. A number of discussions are also underway regarding how drones are sold, as well as “who can buy them.”

Because of the complexity of the issue, and its rapid evolution, members are expected to produce a final document that provides an overview of how terrorists use technology. This will enable them to shut their narrative down. International human rights law requires that member states share best practices and keep up to date on recent developments and research on threats. The seminar will also discuss how to take joint measures through industrial collaboration, public-private partnerships, and legislative, policy, and regulatory responses.