The theft of knowledge and know-how from universities and research institutes by foreign nationals is a growing concern, security experts warn.
By Gill Bonnet from rnz.co.nz
The warning came during an annual meeting of security and immigration ministers from the Five Eyes countries – the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom – during a meeting in Washington DC last month.
And a technology plan by the M5 alliance showed it was aiming for a “contactless border” for its citizens by 2030.
A joint statement said strengthening border protection and countering cyberattacks were among its priorities.
Other joint work focused on countering violent extremism, trafficking and foreign interference.
They pledged to establish deeper collaboration for emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction as well as to combat the sexual exploitation of children.
The statement said the alliance is working collectively to deter abuse of Interpol’s systems and other global security tools, and to focus on intellectual property theft.
“We condemn efforts aimed at the unwanted transfer of intellectual property and that seek to exploit our immigration systems and institutions to gain access to sensitive information,” he said.
“This practice of using assets to perform covert acquisition of sensitive and protected information in the academic and research and development sectors must be combated. Building on last year’s commitment, we will continue to ‘expand our collaboration to reduce the threat in these areas.’
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) was approached for comment by RNZ but did not respond.
The Five Country Ministerial Meeting (FCM), which governs the B5M5 or Migration 5 network, also said it was working together on its position on Interpol and deterring abuse of the global policing system.
“We will continue to deepen the cooperation of our law enforcement institutions and officials to work together and share tools and capabilities to prevent child sexual offenses and bring perpetrators to justice.
“Ministers discussed the need to partner to expand legal pathways for regular migration, thereby meeting critical labor needs and fulfilling the hope of disadvantaged people for a better life.
“Following the recommendations of a feasibility study, a central repository system for hash sharing among the five countries will be developed. We will engage with international partners to share lessons learned from this work.”
Contactless border and data sharing
He also affirmed the countries’ common views on the social and economic benefits of immigration.
“We recognize the importance of ensuring access to safe, legal and orderly immigration pathways as a means of combating irregular migration. We encourage each partner in the five countries to identify and strengthen the pathways that best suit to their national landscapes – whether based on family reunification, economic prosperity or international protection.”
A briefing to Immigration Minister Michael Wood said the FCM had in recent years become an “increasingly active body” on matters relating to national security.
A statement from the U.S. Office of Information and Technology this year showed the “B5M5 Technology Strategy 2020-2024 efforts to deliver scalable, efficient, and cost-effective technology that enables continuous and secure access to data between members “.
“The forum continues to work together to develop a Five Eyes technology collaboration strategy to leverage each other’s investments, develop suitable emerging technologies, and build capabilities for sharing information on the six technologies. These include digitization, artificial intelligence, machine learning, biometrics, data analytics, augmented and virtual reality and distributed ledger technology (blockchain).
“The Future Border strategic plan, which calls on the B5M5 to implement a contactless border by 2030, guides this strategy.
“It ensures a seamless traveler continuum across members. The strategy document identifies emerging technologies that countries can leverage in their quest for a contactless border, establishes common standards to facilitate better data sharing and integration systems, and identifies key trends, threats, and common issues and resolutions that each B5M5 agency’s information and technology offices will face in the coming year.”
It aims to create a “one-stop shop” through which partner countries can view each other’s immigration and customs datasets.
As of 2020, INZ said there were no plans to expand immigration data sharing at Interpol, but it would not comment on future plans for international data sharing.
Currently, it can request facial, fingerprint, and biographical data from its partners.
New Zealand is home to the M5 permanent secretariat and the alliance holds meetings throughout the year.
M5 working groups usually meet monthly and M5 governance groups also meet regularly, including an annual conference.