WILPF highlights dangers of weaponisation of technology ahead of the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

The 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) will meet at UN Headquarters in New York from 6 to 17 March 2023. This year’s priority theme "Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls'' has provided an opportunity for WILPF to expose the ​​impacts of online gender-based violence on participation, the weaponisation of technology, and the environmental impacts of technological expansion.

In WILPF's official statement to CSW67, we warn that:

Governments around the world are prioritising investment in technologies to facilitate violence rather than equality or peace. This includes tremendous investment in “modernisation” of nuclear arsenals, surveillance, cyber warfare capabilities, militarisation of borders including with the use of drones, and exploration of how to weaponize emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. “Killer robots’’, also known as autonomous weapons systems, are being designed with unavoidable algorithmic bias regarding factors such as race, disability, and gender, and could be programmed to “engage a target” (strike to kill) with no human operator or control. The inherently unpredictable nature of this complex system makes evasion of meaningful human control a threat to international humanitarian law requirements of accountability, proportionality, and assurance of distinction during armed conflicts. Meanwhile, data breaches as a tactic of cyber warfare have revealed sensitive data about sexual and reproductive health – information that can potentially lead to incarceration where abortion or same-sex relations are criminalised.

We also note, "Facial recognition, tracking software, internet shutdowns, surveillance spyware, and drones are among the tools used by government intelligence agencies and police forces to surveil and repress populations, particularly marginalized groups, by discriminating based on demographic categorisation."

Among other things, WILPF recommends that states ban the use of facial recognition in public spaces, the export of surveillance spyware, and autonomous weapons systems.