USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, April 19 - 25, 2012

Table of Contents

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

Russia Says Many States Arming for Cyber Warfare
Russia has stepped up its campaign for a globally binding treaty on cyber security, warning that many states are acquiring cyber warfare capabilities that, if unleashed, could subvert economies and bring down critical infrastructure. Russia has been hosting meetings in Germany - which it likes to call the cyber equivalent of Davos - for the past six years. This year it is trying to drum up support for a treaty that would classify "information warfare" as a crime against international peace and security.
See the full article (Reuters, Adrian Croft, 4/25/12)
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Containing Weapons of Mass Surveillance
President Obama is on the right track with Monday's executive order, but the United States needs to get tougher on the global digital arms race. As the bodies continue to pile up in Syria, the Assad government's war against its own people extends beyond physical space to cyberspace. Not satisfied with pervasive surveillance through Internet and mobile networks -- conducted with the help of Western companies -- the Syrian government also conducts outright cyber-warfare against its own people.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Rebecca MacKinnon, 4/24/12)
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Connected Conflict
Local youths [in Libya] set up Internet-­connected media centers in almost every town to document and catalogue photographs and videos and track events in their region. The media centers had basic equipment: simple PCs and digital cameras. But Libyan youths were creative, editing footage of the conflict into montages uploaded to popular YouTube and Facebook channels. Satellite equipment was used to upload footage and keep us and journalists abreast of the situation in other areas of the country.
See the full article (Technology Review, Moez Zeiton, 4/24/12)
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Are Chinese Bloggers America's Accidental Spies?
On Dec. 22, 2010, someone apparently pointed a cellphone out of the window of a car driving along a public road outside the perimeter of a military airfield in Chengdu. The person holding the phone, whose name has never been revealed, snapped a photo of a black-painted jet fighter taxiing through fog blanketing the airfield. With that simple act, the photographer appeared to outperform the $80-billion-a-year U.S. spy community, which has the advantage of a plethora of drones, satellites, hackers and old-fashioned human spies.
See the full article (Wired, David Axe, 4/24/12)
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Iran Cracks US Stealth Spy Drone's Secrets, Shows Proof
Iran claims that their engineers have reverse engineered the secrets of the American stealth spy drone RQ-170 Sentinel that went down in their territory last December. To prove it, they have made public some of the encrypted information stored in the plane. If confirmed, it's very bad news for the United States. Not only they would be able to use this information to their own advantage in the future, but you can bet that these secrets are going to end up in the hands of Russians and Chinese military.
See the full article (Gizmodo, Jesus Diaz, 4/23/12)
Click to read "Despite Big Unresolved Issues, Progress in Iran Nuclear Negotiations," a USIP On the Issues by Daniel Brumberg.
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Obama Administration Looking to Award Prize Money for Ideas on Preventing Mass Atrocities
The Obama administration on Monday issued a call to the public to come up with creative ideas for tracking and preventing mass genocide and other atrocities in countries across the globe. "We want to invite students, individuals, and folks who are savvy about tech, to help us think about new applications of science and technology for a range of atrocity prevention challenges." The call involves $600,000 in prize money that will come from USAID and The Omidyar Group's Humanity United foundation.
See the full article (techPresident, Sarah Lai Stirland, 4/23/12)
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Obama Announces Sanctions for Tech Used in Human Rights Abuses in Iran and Syria
President Obama issued an executive order Monday that allows U.S. officials for the first time to impose sanctions against foreign nationals found to have used new technologies, including cellphone tracking and Internet monitoring, to help carry out grave human rights abuses. Authoritarian governments, particularly in Syria and Iran, have shown that their security services can also harness technology to help crack down on dissent.
See the full article (Washington Post, Scott Wilson, 4/23/12)
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The Science of Civil War: What Makes Heroic Strife
For the past decade or so, generals commanding the world's most advanced armies have been able to rely on accurate forecasts of the outcomes of conventional battles. Guerrilla warfare, however, is harder to model than open battle of this sort. [But] in the war-games rooms and think-tanks of the rich world's military powers, bright minds are working on the problem of how to model insurrection and irregular warfare. Slowly but surely they are succeeding, and in the process they are helping politicians and armies to a better understanding of the nature of rebellion.
See the full article (Economist, 4/21/12)
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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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