General Assembly 3rd Committee: Social, Cultural, Humanitarian

Committee to look at the regulation of misinformation, right to digital privacy

By Ilya Bañares, Senior Copy Editor

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At the upcoming February conference of the North American Model United Nations (NAMUN) at the University of Toronto, delegates from around the world will gather to debate hot-button topics, like the spread of fake news and the inherent human right to privacy online, in the Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian Committee.

Co-Chair Marianna Kalaczynski, who is pursuing a degree in Polish Studies, History, and English, told The Emissary that the committee will determine and establish, “what the boundaries, or lack thereof, are in regards to information that is collected and retained by states, governments, corporations, and organizations and how it ought to be respected.” She also highlighted that a main topic that will be discussed is under what circumstances can privacy be breached.

In the background guide, Kalaczynski brings up the examples of the outbreak of the Ebola virus and the 2016 United States presidential election to underline the game-changing role misinformation, or more informally, “fake news,” can play in the political discourse.

In an interview with The Emissary, Amanda Ng, the committee’s other Co-Chair and who is studying Ethics, Writing and Rhetoric, and Religion, said, “We will be engaging in debate on the notion of privacy itself; digital privacy at a time of deep concern for state security and public safety; and the responsibility of business and corporations in upholding the right to privacy.”

Ng wrote in the background guide that though the advent of the digital age has given rise to increased popular participation in democratic governance and processes, this has also given way to many abuses that could take place, including mass government surveillance.

Both Chairs wish incoming delegates all the best, and mentioned hoping to see many of them achieve a greater sense of value of international organizations, gain public speaking skills, and engage in a rigorous and meaningful debate on the topics at hand, among others.

The Co-Chairs have been preparing the academic content of the committee for months prior to the conference, in order to be ready for the delegates. NAMUN begins in four weeks on February 22 at Victoria College at the University of Toronto.