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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Australian universities must wake up to the risks of researchers linked to China’s military – The Conversation (Clive Hamilton | July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on July 28, 2019

Two Australian universities, University of Technology Sydney and Curtin University, are conducting internal reviews of their funding and research approval procedures after Four Corners’ revealed their links to researchers whose work has materially assisted China’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province.

UTS, in particular, is in the spotlight because of a major research collaboration with CETC, the Chinese state-owned military research conglomerate. In a response to Four Corners, UTS expressed dismay at the allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang, which were raised in a Human Rights Watch report earlier this year.

Yet, UTS has been aware of concerns about its collaboration with CETC for two years. When I met with two of the university’s deputy vice chancellors in 2017 to ask them about their work with CETC, they dismissed the concerns.

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(US/China) When DNA science goes down an unethical path in China, who is responsible? – Medical Xpress (Brittany Meiling, et al | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 24, 2019

New reports that China is using DNA science developed in San Diego County for widespread ethnic surveillance raise ethical questions about who is responsible for how that technology is used.

The New York Times reported recently that Chinese authorities are building a DNA database of the country’s Uighur minority, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group blamed for a series of terrorist attacks in northwestern China.

Since 2016, there have been regular reports of authorities taking blood samples in the Xinjiang region, where ethnic tensions have been rising. The situation has evolved into a Muslim crackdown in China, with nearly one million Uighurs and other minorities reportedly held in “re-education” camps bent on making Muslims more subservient to the Communist Party. There, Uighurs are being forced to hand over genetic samples, which activists worry could later be used by authorities to chase down any Uighurs who resist the indoctrination.

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Universities warn against defence plans to increase control over research – The Guardian (Christopher Knaus | October 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on November 4, 2018

Labor and academics say freedoms will be stifled by proposed powers which officials claim are necessary because of potential overseas infiltration

Labor, Australia’s leading universities, and the tertiary education union have warned a proposal to dramatically expand defence’s control over university research would stifle academic freedom and damage the sector’s competitiveness.

This item in The Guardian is critical of attempts by Defence in Australia to extend control over university-based research, partly as a result of concerns about links to China.

Defence has called for a sweeping overhaul of laws that currently give it strict control over the sharing or export of sensitive Australian research and technology, citing a “changed national security environment”.

It wants the ability to control technology and research beyond that currently on a defined list, known as the defence and strategic goods list, which compiles military and some commercial goods and technologies. Defence has also asked for an escalation of warrantless search and seizure powers on university campuses and research agencies.

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The Limits of Dual Use – Issues in Science & Technology (Tara Mahfoud, et al | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on October 12, 2018

Distinguishing between military and civilian applications of scientific research and technology development has become increasingly difficult. A more nuanced framework is needed to guide research.

Research and technologies designed to generate benefits for civilians that can also be used for military purposes are termed “dual use.” The concept of dual use frames and informs debates about how such research and technologies should be understood and regulated. But the emergence of neuroscience-based technologies, combined with the dissolution of any simple distinction between civilian and military domains, requires us to reconsider this binary concept.

Not only has neuroscience research contributed to the development and use of technology and weapons for national security, but a variety of factors have blurred the very issue of whether a technological application is military or civilian. These factors include the rise of asymmetric warfare, the erosion of clear differentiation between states of war abroad and defense against threats “at home,” and the use of military forces for homeland security. It is increasingly difficult to disentangle the relative contributions made by researchers undertaking basic studies in traditional universities from those made by researchers working in projects specifically organized or funded by military or defense sources. Amid such complexity, the binary world implied by “dual use” can often obscure rather than clarify which particular uses of science and technology are potentially problematic or objectionable.

To help in clarifying matters, we argue that policy makers and regulators need to identify and focus on specific harmful or undesirable uses in the following four domains: political, security, intelligence, and military (PSIM). We consider the ways that research justified in terms of socially constructive applications—in the European Human Brain Project, the US BRAIN initiative, and other brain projects and related areas of neuroscience—can also provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be applied in these four domains. If those who fund, develop, or regulate research and development (R&D) in neuroscience, neurotechnology, and neurorobotics fail to move away from the dual-use framework, they may be unable to govern its diffusion.

Mahfoud, Tara, Christine Aicardi, Saheli Datta, and Nikolas Rose. “The Limits of Dual Use.” Issues in Science and Technology 34, no. 4 (Summer 2018).