USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, December 20, 2012 - January 2, 2013

Please note: This Roundup contains two weeks' worth of highlights due to the Christmas and New Years holidays.

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.**

Google's Eric Schmidt to Visit North Korea on Private Trip
Eric Schmidt, Google's ambassador in chief, is going where few Internet executives have gone: North Korea. Google's executive chairman will take part in a private trip led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. After handing off the reins as chief executive of Google to co-founder Larry Page, Schmidt has become the company's liaison to governments and policy makers around the world.
See the full article (Los Angeles Times, Jessica Guynn, 1/2/13)
Click to read "Social Media and Conflict Prevention," a USIP On the Issues by Sheldon Himelfarb.
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Iran Tests New Version of Missiles in Exercise
Iranian forces fired what military officers said was a new generation of surface-to-air missiles on Monday during a wide-ranging naval exercise that focused on striking hypothetical unmanned aircraft and vessels in international waters to the south of the country, Iranian news media reported. They were meant to demonstrate the country's defense of its territorial waters, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said.
See the full article (New York Times, Christine Hauser, 12/31/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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In Mexico, Tech Is Used To Help Combat Narco Violence, Insecurity
There are three basic ways that people in Mexico are using technology as a result of the drug war and resulting insecurity, [political science professor Tony] Payan tells TechCrunch. First, there's data mapping to figure out which cartels are operating in certain territories, for example. Secondly, there's social media in use that helps people protect themselves from dangerous people or places, he said. Finally, media blackouts about drug-related incidents began occurring when journalists were being killed for writing about them, so technology steps in as a way to circumvent the lack of reporting.
See the full article (TechCrunch, Sara Inés Calderón, 12/25/12)
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Iran 'Fends Off New Stuxnet Cyber Attack'
A power plant and other industries in southern Iran have been targeted by the Stuxnet computer worm, an Iranian civil defence official says. But the cyber attack has been successfully rebuffed and prevented from spreading, Iranian media report. Iran's nuclear enrichment efforts were hit hard in 2010 by the Stuxnet worm, which was also blamed for problems at industrial plants and factories. Tehran accused Israel and the US of planting the malware.
See the full article (BBC, 12/25/12)
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Real and Virtual Firearms Nurture a Marketing Link
Most established video game developers and publishers, given the huge amount of money invested in a game, seek out explicit authorizations or licenses from product manufacturers. The Connecticut shooting is not the first time violent video games have been blamed for causing violence, including mass shootings. Last year, a Norwegian who killed 77 said later that he honed his shooting skills by playing many hours of Call of Duty.
See the full article (New York Times, Barry Meier and Andrew Martin, 12/24/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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A Network of Dictators
The Internet came very close to being kidnapped last week. Russia and China used the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to push for government control of the Internet and restrictions on access to information. WCIT was supposed to update an obscure U.N. treaty on international telecommunications, but instead a longstanding fight over control of the Internet to reduce the risks it poses to authoritarian regimes came to a head.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, 12/21/12)
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Why Technology-Penetration Rates Are Worthless
Governments and policy pundits frequently cite technology-penetration rates -- Internet, mobile phone, or social media -- as meaningful proxies for deeper concepts. Despite this, in fact, penetrations rates are futile. Why should anyone care? Because inferences into what social-media- or mobile-phone- or Internet-penetration rates represent are dangerous.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Katy Pearce, 12/21/12)
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In Ex-Soviet States, Russian Spy Tech Still Watches You
On November 12, the Russian Supreme Court okayed the wiretapping of an opposition activist. The Court ruled that spying on Maxim Petlin, a regional opposition leader in Yekaterinburg, was lawful, since he had taken part in rallies where calls against extending the powers of Russia's security services were heard. The court decided that these were demands for "extremist actions" and approved surveillance carried out by the national interception system, known as SORM.
See the full article (Wired, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, 12/21/12)
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Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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