The thirteenth in the Remote Control project’s monthly briefing series from Open Briefing was published this week. The briefings cover developments in five key areas of remote warfare: special forces, private military and security companies, unmanned vehicles and autonomous weapon systems, cyber warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Key stories this month:
- United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia pledge special forces to confront Islamic State and support Syrian armed opposition: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have committed to participating in airstrikes against Islamic State and sending special operations forces (SOF) to support and train Syrian opposition forces to retake key cities from the terrorist organisation
- International anti-corruption organisation renews calls for better regulation of private military and security companies: Transparency International has renewed calls for the better regulation of PMSCs. The organisation is concerned about the lack of transparency of the procurement processes of contracts to PMSCs and the imposition of international quality standards.
- The dangers of fully-autonomous weapons discussed at World Economic Forum for first time: At the meeting on 20-23 January, there was considerable focus on the potential advantages and benefits to human progress of autonomous technologies, such as driverless cars; however, one panel changed the tone with a discussion on ’What if robots went to war?’.
- US president announces Cybersecurity National Action Plan underpinned by $19 billion in proposed federal spending on cyber security: Barack Obama, announced a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) underpinned by $19 billion in proposed federal spending on cyber security. The plan and the proposed 35% increase in the cyber security budget represent a major modernisation programme for improving the security of the United States’ highest-risk networks.
- UK government’s draft surveillance legislation threatened by European Court of Human Rights ruling and parliamentary committee criticism: On 12 January, in a case brought by two human rights activists, Máté Szabó and Beatrix Vissy, against the Hungarian government, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that mass surveillance was illegal, in a ruling that could have significant implications throughout Europe.
The Remote Control project is a project of the Network for Social Change hosted by Oxford Research Group. The project examines changes in military engagement, in particular the use of drones, special forces, private military companies and cyber warfare.