World leaders recognize that a strategic competition is underway and that the geopolitical context in which it will play out is morphing. Many of these leaders also understand that technology is at the core of this competition. Technology-leading countries will drive the digital economy, gaining political power and military strength, and shaping the rules for technology use. Illiberal states see both a pathway to cementing their rule and opportunities to discredit democracies. Liberal democracies see a means to shore up the rules-based order and to hold creeping authoritarianism at bay. Australia’s leaders are updating the country’s strategic posture in response. This multilateral approach is key: the alliances and partnerships among the world’s democracies are a strategic advantage that illiberal states come nowhere close to matching.
This report lays out a blueprint for Quad technology policy. After setting the scene of the current technological and geopolitical landscape and the context in which the group would operate, the report presents a policymaking framework called techno-democratic statecraft. This framework entails seven qualities that should guide Australia’s 21st-century technology policy. The document further details values and principles Australia should promote and how Australia should pursue its interests internationally, via the Quad and beyond. Much of this document is devoted to detailed policy recommendations that apply techno-democratic statecraft principles. These recommendations come in two categories: (1) opportunities for Australian leadership in the Quad Tech Network, and (2) opportunities to build Australia’s tech capacity. Together, the framework and recommendations constitute an actionable plan for an affirmative and proactive multilateral technology pact rooted in shared democratic values.
About the QTN Series
The Quad Tech Network (QTN) is an Australian Government initiative to promote regional Track 2 research and public dialogue on cyber and critical technology issues. This paper is part of a series of papers by universities and think tanks in Australia (the National Security College at The Australian National University), India (the Observer Research Foundation), Japan (the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies) and the United States (Center for a New American Security). The QTN series offers analysis and recommendations on shared challenges facing Australia and Indo-Pacific partners across four themes: • international peace and security • connectivity and regional resilience • human rights and ethics, and • national security.
The QTN is managed by the National Security College at The Australian National University, with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.