Topic A: Sexual Education – Taboo or mandatory?
When was the last time you used calculus? Unless you're an engineer or scientist I would be willing to bet it was that awful class in 12th grade. Imagine if your parents could have opted you out of that. What if they could have just signed a sheet of paper and excused you from that unit of math? Well, as terrible as calculus is, it's still important. Maybe you don’t use it every day, but it's useful at times and sex education is the same way.
Traditionally, this type of information is considered taboo and is often revealed just before the person marries. The parents are usually tasked to do so, no matter the amount of knowledge they possess on this matter. Such information was obtained from friends or family, as mentioned before, however, this changed after the HIV outbreak in 1960, since most of Western Europe took action and implemented some sort of class regarding intercourse. Allegedly, the number of teen pregnancies and people infected with sexually transmitted diseases lowered.
This being said, studies show that, in the US, the states which implemented Sex Ed in schools have shown a massive decrease in the numbers of teen pregnancies and so more and more people applaud the introduction of mandatory Intercourse Education classes in schools.
Despite the continuous publicity of such classes, other people argue that, in a world that is promoting sexual values more and more, at least schools should be a place in which this type of information won’t be brought up. Some also suggest introducing “Abstinence Programs” which encourage young people to wait until marriage. Both of these arguments are often supported by religious or cultural beliefs, even institutions.
So, countries such as The Netherlands, New Zealand and Belgium have a rather comprehensive Sex Ed curriculum, some would say too explicit for the target population, while Uganda, China, and Malaysia have a restrictive policy towards reproduction, the Ugandan minister even stating that the said curriculum is morally wrong.
The fight between moral righteousness and the right to know about intercourse has been going on ever since the notion of such a class existed. How will the UN SOCHUM Committee balance knowledge shared in classrooms and religious ideals?
Topic B: “Internet privacy”
Privacy is supposed to be one of the Internet’s greatest assets, and many people believe their actions remain hidden from unwanted observation. This belief remains even after hearing multiple times about information leaks and the ease with which their private information becomes available to those who aren’t supposed to have access to it.
Throughout the existence of the World Wide Web, there have been companies or engines designed to keep track of peoples activities online. However, how much personal information is too much? Privacy can entail either Personally Identifying Information (PII) or non-PII information such as a site visitor's behavior on a website. PII refers to any information that can be used to identify an individual. For example, age and physical address alone could identify who an individual is without explicitly disclosing their name, as these two factors are unique enough to typically identify a specific person. By the beginning of this century, researchers had established that nearly 90% of the US population could be uniquely identified simply by combining their gender, their date of birth and their postal code. All kinds of things can be reliably inferred from freely available data: four likes on Facebook are usually enough to reveal a person’s sexual orientation.
Through social media, many users expose their PII, which can be further used. For example, Facebook CEO, Mr. Zuckerberg, appeared before Congress in April to answer questions about the way it handles users’ data in the wake of the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica – the UK data firm that harvested personal information from around 87 million Facebook accounts for the purpose of political profiling. Despite there being ways of protecting one's privacy, a vast majority is unaware, as established beforehand.
Alongside personal info, there are also engines which track non-PII, for example, the sites a person use. Some of those are called cookies and nowadays there appear to be three types that pop up one after another, meaning that they are practically inescapable for the average internet user. Even the search engine can be utilized to see people’s recent internet visits.
Some argue, that, in the 21st century, people should forget about privacy and focus on the greater good, safety, while others say that the population deserves at the very least the right to have confidential information.
How will the UN SOCHUM Committee strike the balance between control and democracy?