USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, December 29, 2011 - January 4, 2012

Table of Contents

**Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

Internet Access Is Not a Human Right
There is a high bar for something to be considered a human right. Loosely put, it must be among the things we as humans need in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives, like freedom from torture or freedom of conscience. It is a mistake to place any particular technology in this exalted category, since over time we will end up valuing the wrong things.
See the full article (New York Times, Vinton G. Cerf, 1/4/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Japan Fights Virus with Virus
The Japanese government is developing a computer virus to track down the source of a cyber-attack and neutralize it, underscoring the seriousness of the threat. According to a report from The Times of India, software company Fujitsu is reportedly developing the "electronic weapon," a process that has taken three years and $2.3 million, to combat Internet-based threats.
See the full article (Forbes, 1/4/12)
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Technology 2012: Four Tech Trends to Watch
Technological innovations lay at the heart of many of last year's biggest stories -- from citizen-recorded videos that fanned the flames of the Arab Spring to the social-media organized Occupy movement. So what new technologies - and unexpected uses of them - will change social habits and relationships this year? Here are four 2012 technology trends that are sure to play a role.
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, 1/2/12)
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2011: The Year of Domestic Cyber Threat
From the perspective of the domestic security agenda, Stuxnet served as a game-changer. It showed that any state with a civilian cyber infrastructure faces a clear and present threat to its critical infrastructure. This challenged most public domestic security assessments around the world; putting internal pressure on governments to more urgently tackle cyber threats to critical infrastructure.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Eddie Walsh, 1/1/12)
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Video Game Depicts Kurds As Terrorists
A new version of Battlefield was released in Europe in October. The game, a product of an American-Swedish company, portrays Iraqi Kurdistan and Sulaimani city as terrorist hideouts. In the game, the terrorists speak Arabic and not Kurdish, but they are introduced as Kurds.
See the full article (Rudaw, Wladimir van Wilgenburg, 12/31/11)
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Apple: Time to Make a Conflict-free iPhone
My name is Delly Mawazo Sesete. I am originally from the North Kivu povince in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a deadly conflict has been raging for over 15 years. While that conflict began as a war over ethnic tension, land rights and politics, it has increasingly turned to being a war of profit, with various armed groups fighting one another for control of strategic mineral reserves.
See the full article (Guardian, Delly Mawazo Sesete, 12/30/11)
Click to read "Elections Could Plunge the Democratic Republic of Congo into Violent Conflict," a USIP On the Issues by Raymond Gilpin.
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Viewpoint: We Must Resist Over-hyping Security Threats
2011 has been the year of cybersecurity awareness, with the headlines frequently featuring reports of serious cyber-attacks and references to "cyber-warfare." Threats such as Stuxnet and Duqu achieved widespread fame. Unfortunately, they also invoked a torrent of security theatre and over-the-top speculation that provided rich fodder for media and security discussion groups.
See the full article (BBC, James Lyne, 12/29/11)
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Space Plan from China Broadens Challenge to U.S.
The Chinese government on Thursday announced an ambitious five-year plan for space exploration that would move China closer to becoming a major rival at a time when the American program is in retreat. Coupled with China's earlier vows to build a space station and put an astronaut on the moon, the plan conjured up memories of the cold-war-era space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
See the full article (New York Times, Edward Wong and Kenneth Chang, 12/29/11) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Arab Spring Leads Surge in Events Captured on Cameraphones
In 2011, cameraphones entered the mainstream of photojournalism due to a combination of the Arab uprisings, the Occupy protests and improved technology. The Guardian, wire agencies and major broadcasters used many more cameraphone and video images. The New York Times said its use has increased a hundredfold. "Most of the reporters are carrying smartphones because of the image quality of the cameras. They like the style of cellphone filtered imagery and they're less intrusive [to use] in conflict situations."
See the full article (Guardian, David Batty, 12/29/11)
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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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