At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, Iran, Turkey, and Myanmar promised tighter trade relationships with Russia and China.
Despite President Biden’s assurances at Wednesday’s United Nations meeting that the US is not seeking a new cold war, one is brewing between the world’s autocracies and democracies—and technology is fuelling it.
Late last week, Iran, Turkey, Myanmar, and a handful of other countries took steps toward becoming full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an economic and political alliance led by the authoritarian-regimes of China and Russia.
The group, formed in 2001, has quickly become one of the most important forces in global politics and has indicated that technology is a big part of its strategic future. Although much of the SCO’s focus is on regional development, such as railways and trade agreements, it has been a key player in the proliferation of technologies designed for social control, which foreign policy experts call “digital authoritarianism.”
Following China’s lead, research shows that the majority of SCO member countries, as well as other authoritarian states, are quickly trending toward more digital rights abuses by increasing the mass digital surveillance of citizens, censorship, and controls on individual expression.