USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, September 1 - 7, 2011

Table of Contents

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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

The Spy Who Tweeted Me: Intelligence Community Wants to Monitor Social Media
A research arm of the intelligence community wants to sweep up public data on everything from Twitter to public webcams in the hopes of predicting the future. The project is the brainchild of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or Iarpa, a relatively new part of the spy community that's supposed to help investigate breakthrough technologies. While other projects exist for predicting political events, the Open Source Indicators program would be perhaps the first that mines data from social media websites.
See the full article (Wired, Sharon Weinberger, 9/7/11)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Sifting Fact from Fiction: The Role of Social Media in Conflict" on September 16 at 9:00am. You can also watch the live webcast!
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Exporting Technology in the Middle East: Western Credibility in the Online World
At Nordic Techpolitics MEP (and PdF friend) Marietje Schaake exposed one of the darkest side of the Internet: Western countries are exporting technology in Middle East countries fighting for independence from authoritarian governments, but not always to help activists. Surveillance tools developed by European countries are in fact being used by regimes to monitor online communications of citizens to track political dissidents and human-rights activists.
See the full article (Tech President, Antonella Napolitano, 9/7/11)
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Cyber Terrorist Threats Loom 10 Years after 9/11
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the possibility of a second devastating attack by al-Qaida or a similar group has been on the minds of many Americans. Should we be concerned about another potential threat - a cyber weapon of mass destruction? Yes, say security experts. The cyber terrorist threat is real, and plots involving such attacks may already be in the works.
See the full article (MSNBC, Sue Marquette Poremba, 9/6/11)
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Pakistani Tech Wiz Harnesses Internet for the Poor
While many young tech wizards strive to invent the next iPad, Umar Saif is working to bring Internet-style networking to millions of Pakistanis who don't have access to the Web. He could shake up the country's politics in the process. Technological progress faces immense hurdles in Pakistan, with its pervasive insecurity, shoddy public education system, struggling economy and chronic electricity shortages. The country has fallen far behind neighboring India, which has a flourishing tech industry.
See the full article (AP, Sebastian Abbot, 9/5/11)
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Water as a Weapon: Qaddafi's Last Desperate Gamble
There is a long history of conflicts over water. As populations and economies continue to grow, pressure on limited water resources will also grow. In a last, desperate, and despicable attempt to prevent the liberation of Libya from decades of rule by the despot Muammar el-Qaddafi, his regime had just added to his list of international war crimes by cutting off water to Tripoli and other cities dependent on a massive water engineering project that was once Qaddafi's pride and joy.
See the full article (Forbes, Peter Gleick, 9/3/11)
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Political Repression 2.0
Amid the cheerleading over recent events in the Middle East, it's easy to forget the more repressive uses of technology. In addition to the rosy narrative celebrating how Facebook and Twitter have enabled freedom movements around the world, we need to confront a more sinister tale: how greedy companies, fostered by Western governments for domestic surveillance needs, have helped suppress them.
See the full article (New York Times, Evgeny Morozov, 9/1/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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