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Chinese Initiative on Jointly Building a Community With a Shared Future in Cyberspace

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The world is experiencing rapid changes unseen in a century. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken heavy losses on countries around the world. The only collective struggle may win the battle between humanity and the virus. In the face of evolving risks and challenges, humankind must augment solidarity and cooperation in cyberspace and uphold fairness and justice for the digital economy’s collective benefits.

During the second World Internet Conference held in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward four principles and a five-point plan on the Internet’s global development and governance. He advocated respect for sovereignty in cyberspace and revealed the vision of building a community with a shared future in cyberspace, offering China’s wisdom and methodology to the Internet’s global development and supremacy. In 2019, the World Internet Conference’s Organizing Committee released the perception document entitled Jointly Shaping a Community with a Shared Future in Cyberspace, further explaining this vision. The current pandemic highlights a more significant distinction and urgency to building a community with a shared future in cyberspace. We call on all nations, global organizations, Internet companies, technical societies, social organizations, and individuals to take the attitude to global governance, which is based on extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, uphold the philosophy of “achieving shared development, ensuring common security, realizing joint governance, and enjoying benefits together,” and work together to build cyberspace into a community where we can jointly advance development, safeguard security, participate in governance, and share the benefits. To this end, we would like to propose the following:

Achieving shared development

We should implement more proactive, inclusive, and synchronized policies that benefit all, speed up global information infrastructure building, promote advanced development of the digital economy, and improve public service capacity.

1. Improving Internet access and stimulating connectivity. We should further advance cooperation in communications structures such as optical cable backbone networks and international underwater cables. Based on respecting sovereignty in cyberspace and Internet policies of individual countries, we should explore adequate means of expanding Internet access and linking, and deliver development opportunities brought by the Internet to more developing countries and peoples.

2. Evolving information infrastructure construction. We need to work together to increase cooperation in information infrastructure construction, operation, and service capability. Funding should be given to the structure, application, and development of 5G, Internet of Things, and industrial Internet, to substitute new economic growth drivers and improve economic recovery and development.

3. Enhancing ICT-enabled public serviceability. We should boost experience sharing and cooperation in using digital technologies to respond to such public disasters as epidemics and natural disasters. Digital technologies should be leveraged to improve public service capability in culture and education, environmental protection, urban planning, community management, healthcare, etc.

4. Incorporating digital technologies with industrial development for economic revolution and upgrading. It is essential to integrate digital technologies with outdated industries by further applying digital, network, and intelligent technologies in industries, encouraging economic transformation and upgrading, and enabling the development, utilization, and sharing of data resources.

5. Nurturing an enabling business environment to sustain, stable, and secure global ICT industry and supply chains. We call on countries to arrange for an open, fair, and non-discriminatory business atmosphere and strengthen solidarity and cooperation in times of hardship to enhance the global market’s confidence. Good multilateral digital rules should be developed to promote mutual expectation and win-win cooperation, ensure openness, stability, and security of global ICT industry and supply chains, to encourage the healthy growth of the worldwide economy.

Ensuring common security

We campaign a cybersecurity vision that landscapes openness and cooperation and encourages Internet development while setting equal emphasis on cybersecurity to jointly support peace and security in cyberspace.

6. Strengthening strategic conjoint trust in cyberspace. Cooperation and negotiations at global, regional, multilateral, bilateral, and multi-party levels need to be encouraged to jointly maintain peace and stability in cyberspace and reinforce strategic trust among nations. We should oppose acts of attacks, deterrence, and blackmailing in cyberspace, stand against leading activities that destabilize other countries’ national security and public interests through the use of ICTs, and safeguard against arms race in cyberspace as well as attempts to politicize technical subjects, to create a peaceful atmosphere for development.

7. Stepping up the shield of information infrastructure. We should stride up cooperation in early-warning and prevention, information sharing and emergency response, and aggressively engage in experience exchanges to protect critical information infrastructure. We stand against harming the critical information infrastructure or stealing essential data from other countries through its use.

8. Improving personal information safe and data security management. It is imperative to legalize the practices of collecting, storing, using, processing, transmitting, providing, and disclosing personal information to safeguard personal information security. International exchanges and cooperation should be advanced in data security, personal information protection, and relevant rules and standards, and energies should be made to promote mutual recognition among countries on regulations and standards on personal information protection in line with the commitments of the UN Charter. Companies should not pre-install backdoors or malicious codes in their information technology equipment nor steal users’ data when providing products and services.

9. Strengthening the safeguard of minors in cyberspace. We should promote knowledge sharing on the legislation of minors protection in cyberspace, fight cybercrimes and cyberbullying targeted at children, protect their privacy on the Internet, and cultivate their digital literacy to help them develop vigorous Internet habits.

10. Increasing international cooperation on struggling cybercrimes and cyberterrorism. We should take engagements to crack down upon cybercrimes, especially their eco-system and chains, and other progress mechanism building on combating cybercrimes and cyberterrorism. We should support and take an active part in the negotiations on the global convention against cybercrimes under the United Nations’ outline. Effective coordination on legislations and practices of different countries should be made in a joint effort to tackle the threats of cybercrimes and cyberterrorism.

Realizing joint governance

We should stay dedicated to a multilateral and multi-party approach to cyberspace governance. Dialogues and consultation should be stridden up to foster a more just and impartial governance system in cyberspace.

11. Giving full play to the UN’s main-channel role in global authority in cyberspace. We should exert the UN Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) functions and the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and support articulating codes, norms, and principles of responsible state conduct in cyberspace that are suitable to all parties under the UN framework.

12. Improving the international authority system that is shared and governed by all. We were backing the roles of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the World Internet Conference (WIC), the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and other platforms and encourage the participation of governments, international organizations, Internet companies, technical communities, public organizations, and individual citizens in the global governance in cyberspace.

13. Participating in Internet infrastructure resource management on the same footing. The convenience and reliability of Internet infrastructure resources for each country should be guaranteed, and efforts should be made to promote joint management and rational distribution of Internet infrastructure resources for the international community.

14. Cultivating governance on new technologies and applications. We should use expression into laws, regulations, rules, and standards to guide the use of new technologies and applications such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the next-generation communications network, and endorse international cooperation in technical standards and moral standards.

15. Promoting capacity building on cyberspace governance. We call on countries to establish multi-channel exchange platforms and launch assistance and training programs on global management in cyberspace under the UN and other multilateral frameworks to help developing countries improve their capacity of participating in global governance.

Enjoying benefits together

We should advocate Tech for Good with a people-centered approach, contracted the digital divide, and achieve collective prosperity.

16. Sharing the paybacks of e-commerce. Countries need to diminish barriers in market access and other fields for charming trade channels. Cross-border e-commerce needs to be further encouraged. Countries need to establish mechanisms for information sharing and mutual trust and recognition. Secure and reliable digital technologies should be encouraged to enable cross-border trade.

17. Generating more opportunities for MSMEs in the digital economy. Policy backing needs to be stepped up to assist MSMEs in exploiting new-generation information technologies for innovation in products, services, processes, and organizational and business modes to generate more jobs and help MSMEs join the global value chains.

18. Strengthening backing and support to the vulnerable groups and leaving no one behindhand. We inspire experience sharing on Internet-enabled targeted poverty eradication to promote international cooperation in poverty reduction. More products and services appropriate for the elderly, the disabled, women, and children should be developed, and more policies, procedures, and technical tools should be employed to improve the digital skills of the vulnerable groups for the advancement and improvement of digital literacy among the public.  

19. Endorsing cyber cultural exchanges and mutual learning. The multiplicity of cyberculture should be respected. We advocate for tapping into adequate cultural resources to promote Internet-related exchanges and cooperation, and mutual knowledge. There is a need to establish inclusive, open, and diverse platforms and instruments for cyber cultural exchanges.

20. Contributing to the enactment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We request all countries to set great store by developing countries’ apprehensions, bridge the digital divide, and promote sustained, comprehensive, and sustainable economic growth and social development with ICTs as an enabler.

The Internet is a shared home for all humankind. The future of the human race in cyberspace has never been so closely interwoven. To conserve a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative, and orderly cyberspace is to build a better place than we all call home. Going accelerative, we stand ready to work with the global community to seize the opportunities and address the challenges to conjointly build a closer community with a shared future in cyberspace towards a brighter future for humankind.

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.

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What is a ‘vaccine passport’ and will you need one the next time you travel?

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An Arab-Israeli woman shows her COVID-19 card which shows she has been vaccinated against the virus. Mohamed Yassin

Is the idea of a vaccine passport entirely new?

The concept of a passport to allow for cross border travel is something that we’ve been working on with the Common Trust Network for many months. The focus has been first on diagnostics. That’s where we worked with an organization called “The Commons Project” to develop the “Common Trust Framework”. This is a set of registries of trusted data sources, a registry of labs accredited to run tests and a registry of up-to-date border crossing regulations.

The set of registries can be used to generate certificates of compliance to prevailing border-crossing regulations as defined by governments. There are different tools to generate the certificates, and the diversity of their authentication solutions and the way they protect data privacy is quite remarkable.

We at the Forum have no preference when it comes to who is running the certification algorithm, we simply want to promote a unique set of registries to avoid unnecessary replication efforts. This is where we support the Common Trust Framework. For instance, the Common Pass is one authentication solution – but there are others, for example developed by Abbott, AOK, SICPA (Certus), IBM and others.

How does the system work and how could it be applied to vaccines?

The Common Trust Network, supported by the Forum, is combining the set of registries that are going to enrol all participating labs. Separately from that, it provides an up-to-date database of all prevailing border entry rules (which fluctuate and differ from country to country).

Combining these two datasets provides a QR code that border entry authorities can trust. It doesn’t reveal any personal health data – it tells you about compliance of results versus border entry requirements for a particular country. So, if your border control rules say that you need to take a test of a certain nature within 72 hours prior to arrival, the tool will confirm whether the traveller has taken that corresponding test in a trusted laboratory, and the test was indeed performed less than three days prior to landing.

The purpose is to create a common good that many authentication providers can use and to provide anyone, in a very agnostic fashion, with access to those registries.

What is the WHO’s role?

There is currently an effort at the WHO to create standards that would process data on the types of vaccinations, how these are channelled into health and healthcare systems registries, the use cases – beyond the management of vaccination campaigns – include border control but also possibly in the future access to stadia or large events. By establishing in a truly ethical fashion harmonized standards, we can avoid a scenario whereby you create two classes of citizens – those who have been vaccinated and those who have not.

So rather than building a set of rules that would be left to the interpretation of member states or private-sector operators like cruises, airlines or conveners of gatherings, we support the WHO’s effort to create a standard for member states for requesting vaccinations and how it would permit the various kinds of use cases.

It is important that we rely on the normative body (the WHO) to create the vaccine credential requirements. The Forum is involved in the WHO taskforce to reflect on those standards and think about how they would be used. The WHO’s goal is to deploy standards and recommendations by mid-March 2021, and the hope is that they will be more harmonized between member states than they have been to date in the field of diagnostics.

What about the private sector and separate initiatives?

When registry frameworks are being developed for authentication tools providers, they should at a minimum feed as experiments into the standardization efforts being driven by WHO, knowing that the final guidance from the only normative body with an official UN mandate may in turn force those providers to revise their own frameworks. We certainly support this type of interaction, as public- and private-sector collaboration is key to overcoming the global challenge posed by COVID-19.

What more needs to be done to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines?

As the WHO has warned, vaccine nationalism – or a hoarding and “me-first” approach to vaccine deployment – risks leaving “the world’s poorest and most vulnerable at risk.”

COVAX, supported by the World Economic Forum, is coordinated by the World Health Organization in partnership with GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; CEPI, the Centre for Epidemics Preparedness Innovations and others. So far, 190 economies have signed up.

The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) is another partnership, with universal access and equity at its core, that has been successfully promoting global collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. The World Economic Forum is a member of the ACT-Accelerator’s Facilitation Council (governing body).

World Economic Forum

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Iran among five pioneers of nanotechnology

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Prioritizing nanotechnology in Iran has led to this country’s steady placement among the five pioneers of the nanotechnology field in recent years, and approximately 20 percent of all articles provided by Iranian researchers in 2020 are relative to this area of technology.

Iran has been introduced as the 4th leading country in the world in the field of nanotechnology, publishing 11,546 scientific articles in 2020.

The country held a 6 percent share of the world’s total nanotechnology articles, according to StatNano’s monthly evaluation accomplished in WoS databases.

There are 227 companies in Iran registered in the WoS databases, manufacturing 419 products, mainly in the fields of construction, textile, medicine, home appliances, automotive, and food.

According to the data, 31 Iranian universities and research centers published more than 50 nano-articles in the last year. 

In line with China’s trend in the past few years, this country is placed in the first stage with 78,000 nano-articles (more than 40 percent of all nano-articles in 2020), and the U.S. is at the next stage with 24,425 papers. These countries have published nearly half of the whole world’s nano-articles.

In the following, India with 9 percent, Iran with 6 percent, and South Korea and Germany with 5 percent are the other head publishers, respectively.

Almost 9 percent of the whole scientific publications of 2020, indexed in the Web of Science database, have been relevant to nanotechnology.

There have been 191,304 nano-articles indexed in WoS that had to have a 9 percent growth compared to last year. The mentioned articles are 8.8 percent of the whole produced papers in 2020.

Iran ranked 43rd among the 100 most vibrant clusters of science and technology (S&T) worldwide for the third consecutive year, according to the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020 report.

The country experienced a three-level improvement compared to 2019.

Iran’s share of the world’s top scientific articles is 3 percent, Gholam Hossein Rahimi She’erbaf, the deputy science minister, has announced.

The country’s share in the whole publications worldwide is 2 percent, he noted, highlighting, for the first three consecutive years, Iran has been ranked first in terms of quantity and quality of articles among Islamic countries.

Sourena Sattari, vice president for science and technology has said that Iran is playing the leading role in the region in the fields of fintech, ICT, stem cell, aerospace, and is unrivaled in artificial intelligence.

From our partner Tehran Times

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Free And Equal Internet Access As A Human Right

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Having internet access in a free and equal way is very important in contemporary world. Today, there are more than 4 billion people who are using internet all around the world. Internet has become a very important medium by which the right to freedom of speech and the right to reach information can be exercised. Internet has a central tool in commerce, education and culture.

Providing solutions to develop effective policies for both internet safety and equal Internet access must be the first priority of governments. The Internet offers individuals power to seek and impart information thus states and organizations like UN have important roles in promoting and protecting Internet safety. States and international organizations play a key role to ensure free and equal Internet access.

The concept of “network neutrality is significant while analyzing equal access to Internet and state policies regulating it. Network Neutrality (NN) can be defined as the rule meaning all electronic communications and platforms should be exercised in a non-discriminatory way regardless of their type, content or origin. The importance of NN has been evident in COVID-19 pandemic when millions of students in underdeveloped regions got victimized due to the lack of access to online education.

 Article 19/2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights notes the following:

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

Internet access and network neutrality directly affect human rights. The lack of NN undermines human rights and causes basic human right violations like violating freedom of speech and freedom to reach information. There must be effective policies to pursue NN. Both nation-states and international organizations have important roles in making Internet free, safe and equally reachable for the people worldwide. States should take steps for promoting equal opportunities, including gender equality, in the design and implementation of information and technology. The governments should create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling online environment in accordance with human rights.

It is known that, the whole world has a reliance on internet that makes it easy to fullfill basic civil tasks but this is also threatened by increasing personal and societal cyber security threats. In this regard, states must fulfill their commitment to develop effective policies to attain universal access to the Internet in a safe way.

 As final remarks, it can be said that, Internet access should be free and equal for everyone. Creating effective tools to attain universal access to the Internet cannot be done only by states themselves. Actors like UN and EU have a major role in this process as well.

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