USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, February 16 - 22, 2012

Table of Contents

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Beware the Patriotic Geek: The Risk of Cyber Militias in Asia
When people warn of growing cyber insecurity they are often referring to the threat of an arms race, countries trying to outdo each other in the development of offensive weapons and defensive technologies. This is certainly a real risk, but the greater threat to Asian regional stability may not be from technology, but the spread of an organizational framework. Patriotic geeks might be the answer to a lot of policy challenges. But in terms of cybersecurity, it may be best to either bring them completely into the fold, or keep them at arms length.
See the full article (Council on Foreign Relations, Adam Segal, 2/22/12)
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Drone Journalism Takes Off
Drones play an increasing and controversial role in modern warfare. From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iran and Yemen, they have become a ubiquitous symbol of Washington's war on terrorism. Now drones are starting to fly into a more peaceful, yet equally controversial role in the media. Rapid technological advances in low-cost aerial platforms herald the age of drone journalism. But it will not be all smooth flying: this new media tool can expect to be buffeted by the issues of safety, ethics and legality.
See the full article (ABC, Mark Corcoran, 2/21/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Preventing Incitement and Promoting Peace" on February 28 at 12:30pm.
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Iran to Build its First Cyber Army in War on Hackers
Iran is poised to build its first "cyber army", a top official has announced. Brig Gen Gholamreza Jalali, commander of the Civil Defence Organisation, claimed the Islamic Republic would follow the example of the US, which is downsizing its army for larger cyber defence infrastructure. Tehran opened a cyber defence headquarters four months ago. Its aim is to prevent computer worms breaking into and stealing data from Iran's networks, including nuclear facilities, power plants, data centres and banks.
See the full article (International Business Times, Gianluca Mezzofiore, 2/21/12)
Click to read "Assessing the Impact of Israeli-Iranian Tensions," a USIP On the Issues by Daniel Brumberg.
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Exposing the Darknet
They call it the darknet. It's an Internet network hidden from most of us, websites and networks where users are anonymous and nearly impossible to trace. Some say it's a dangerous forum for society's evils. But there are many legitimate reasons to be anonymous on the Internet. Many people living under repressive regimes, like those who launched the Arab Spring, rely on these networks to remain safe. It's also a tool used by journalists and law enforcement, and it's even used by those who simply seek more privacy in an increasingly linked online world.
See the full article (NPR, 2/21/12)
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The Cool New Palestinians: Geeks
The West Bank and Gaza Strip is home to hundreds of tech companies, creating everything from websites to smart phone apps. [Rasha Rasem] Hussein has already helped launch a start-up called Bazinga, a communal space for local entrepreneurs with mentors, gadgets, and networking events. She says her work gives her a sense of freedom despite the Israeli occupation. "It doesn't matter where you are and what you do, you can go anywhere on the Internet - the opposite of what's here in Palestine, with checkpoints and [the] political situation and everything."
See the full article (Christian Science Monitor, 2/18/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Principled Peace: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Just Peacemaking" on February 27 at 10:00am.
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Yemenis to Participate in SMS Election Monitoring
For the first time, ordinary Yemenis will be able to monitor the country's elections as they go to the polls on February 21. The project, called "Ersod" in Arabic or "Watch" in English, allows people to monitor the elections, reporting any violations or suspicious activities by sending an SMS message to 3377. Each text message then goes to a committee that will investigate any alleged violations, such as the use of state-owned cars to transport voters, threatening and intimidating voters, or failing to check ID cards.
See the full article (Yemen Times, Anas Rawi, 2/16/12)
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