Technology and Global Affairs

The Centre for Technology and Global Affairs (CTGA) produces research on the transforming impact of modern technology on international relations, government, and society. Based at Oxford University’s Department of Politics and International Relations, it is the first global research initiative focusing on the study of technology in a political science department at any of the world’s major universities.

The Centre seeks to create a new body of knowledge on the political and social impact of ongoing technological changes and to apply these new understandings to the guidance of policy practice. The Centre’s research is wide ranging. Faculty, researchers, and associates explore developments across a broad spectrum of technological dimensions – including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics. Connections between our researchers and the wider world of government and industry are at the heart of our impact mission.

Recent years have brought about improvements in corporate transparency regarding content takedown requests by governments. Google and Twitter, for instance, specify details of content takedowns in their transparency reports, allowing to identify which government authority demanded what content to be removed and why. Other takedowns can be demanded by private actors on copyright grounds for instance. The Lumen database gives more insight into takedowns of such nature. However, little to almost no transparency exists when it comes to mobile app stores. Mobile app stores are a sort of marketplace on phones and allow for the download of health, productivity, privacy, …

Throughout history, technological advances have put politicians and regulators in a difficult balancing act between embracing the benefits of the transformational changes brought by new technologies, versus providing reassurance to citizens that change can be managed and stability maintained. Take for example the advent of the self-propelled vehicles (cars), which was a response to 19th century society’s need for a quicker way to transport people and goods across the country. Concerned with the safety of the public and the potential harms that could result from the new technology, the British Parliament responded with The Locomotive Act of 1865. This included …

It has been a tough few years for Facebook. Following Cambridge Analytica and the Russian interference in the 2016 election to ‘Definers-gate’, Myanmar, and a host of other crises, it is clear that, as Mark Zuckerberg has even now stated, ‘regulation is coming.’ Competition authorities, privacy regulators, and electoral commissions are all now grappling with the influence of big tech, but in the meantime, Facebook has begun implementing a series of much-needed policy changes and self-regulatory tweaks. In particular, transparency has emerged as a key means through which Facebook has attempted to regain the trust of the public, politicians, and …

With its concept of strategic autonomy, the EU risks triggering a new Cold War. In the context of globalisation and digitisation, it should focus on strategic interdependence instead. Annegret Bendiek provides a counterpoint to Paul Timmers on strategic autonomy and cybersecurity. Europe’s foreign and security policy framework has changed fundamentally since Donald Trump took office. With the US’s unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, declaration that NATO was “obsolete”, unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and termination of the nuclear agreement with Iran, the political atmosphere in EU-US talks has noticeably cooled when it comes to upholding …

In this article, we use TwitterTrails[i] to follow and analyse the online conversation about the contentious Irish abortion referendum. This referendum offers a useful opportunity for study because it is one of the first referendums in a Western democracy since 2016, when the phenomenon of misinformation on the Internet first gained prominence. Following the revelations of foreign social media interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Irish referendum was widely seen as a test for social media companies’ ability to protect voters from election meddling.[ii] Some social media companies, such as Facebook and Google, had taken action and previously …

Just a few days ago, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented his 2018 State of the Union speech with the title “The Hour of European Sovereignty”. In the speech, he argues that the time has come for the EU “to become more autonomous and live up to our global responsibilities”. The question is how to make this ambition become a reality, how to achieve strategic autonomy. Especially in the context of cybersecurity, strategic autonomy is becoming a widely discussed topic. The growing interest in the link between “digital” or “cyber” and strategic autonomy is driven by the increased dependency on …