Blinken tells democracy summit that technology must sustain democratic values

Protesters stage a rally to denounce the visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, March 18, 2024.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Protesters stage a rally to denounce the visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, March 18, 2024.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored the need to make sure that technologies sustain democratic values, telling a democracy summit on Monday that authoritarian regimes deploy them to undermine democracy and human rights.

Blinken spoke at the ministerial conference of the third Summit for Democracy, a U.S.-led initiative held in Seoul, South Korea, this year.

“Revitalizing democracy will also require us to shape the technological future, that’s inclusive, that’s rights respecting, directed at driving progress in people’s lives,” Blinken said.

“As authoritarian and repressive regimes deploy technologies to undermine democracy and human rights, we need to ensure that technology sustains and supports democratic values and norms,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden first proposed the idea of a democracy summit during his 2020 campaign and has called for the U.S. and like-minded allies to show the world that democracies serve societies better than autocracies.

The Biden administration announced as the summit kicked off that six additional countries were joining an American-led consortium focused on countering the misuse of commercial spyware. Blinken announced that Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Poland and South Korea were joining the group that already included Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.

Concerns about countries using spyware to target activists, diplomats and journalists is a growing worry for the White House. Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it had sanctioned two people and a Greece-based commercial spyware company headed by a former Israeli military officer that developed, operated and distributed technology used to target U.S. government officials, journalists and policy experts.

Biden administration officials said it marked the first time that the Treasury Department has sanctioned people or entities for the misuse of spyware.

Also Monday, Blinken met South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and President Yoon Suk Yeol for talks on North Korea and the U.S.-South Korea alliance, according to the South Korean government.

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