USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, January 3 - 9, 2013

Table of Contents

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

UN Seeks to Deploy Drones over DR Congo
The UN peacekeeping department has asked the Security Council to back the use of surveillance drones for the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The UN wants to use the drones to monitor the vast eastern DRC border, where Rwanda has been accused of helping rebels fighting the government. The introduction of drones would be a major shift in UN peacekeeping operations.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 1/9/13)
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Tech for Truth
Benetech [is] the nonprofit commissioned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' office to complete the analysis of the [Syria] killings. It might seem strange, but as someone who started Benetech with the goal of using technology for the social good, this has reconfirmed to me the importance of technology in both giving voice to the targets of human rights abuse today and creating a global standard of accountability tomorrow.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Jim Fruchterman, 1/9/13)
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Apple Rejects iOS Game Exploring Syria's Civil War
Apple's App Store has rejected a game that allows users to explore the different factions, consequences and outcomes of Syria's ongoing civil war, because it deals with a "real entity." Endgame: Syria, which is a free HTML5 game so it can be played on an iOS browser (it's also available on Android), was designed to give players the chance to explore the different outcomes of the conflict, based on different decisions made by Syrian rebels.
See the full article (Wired, Liat Clark, 1/8/13)
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Bank Hacking Was the Work of Iranians, Officials Say
Security researchers say that instead of exploiting individual computers, the attackers [in the cyber-attack on US banks] engineered networks of computers in data centers. The skill required to carry out attacks on this scale has convinced United States government officials and security researchers that they are the work of Iran, most likely in retaliation for economic sanctions and online attacks by the United States.
See the full article (New York Times, Nicole Perlroth and Quentin Hardy, 1/8/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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6 Strikes, 8 Days, 35 Dead: The U.S. Drone War in Pakistan Is Back
The sixth U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2013 has killed at least eight people, as if to announce the impending arrival at the CIA of the drone campaign's chief advocate. While the statistical sample is small, it's starting to sound like the drone campaign over Pakistan is ticking back up after a recent decline. Eight days into 2013, there have already been six deadly drone strikes, for reasons that remain unclear.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 1/8/13)
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The Age of Surgical Censorship
[Iran] is developing "intelligent software" that aims to manipulate, rather than fully control, citizens' access to social networks. While there's a good chance that the system in question would use automated filtering to identify and block controversial content -- and that it would rely for its workings on a "dual stack" approach to IP addressing -- it's unclear from existing reports how, exactly, the software would work.
See the full article (Atlantic, Megan Garber, 1/7/13)
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Could Human Enhancement Turn Soldiers Into Weapons That Violate International Law? Yes
Science fiction, or actual U.S. military project? Half a world away from the battlefield, a soldier controls his avatar-robot that does the actual fighting on the ground. Another one wears a sticky fabric that enables her to climb a wall like a gecko or spider would. All of these scenarios are real military projects currently in various stages of research. This is the frontlines of the Human Enhancement Revolution.
See the full article (Atlantic, Patrick Lin, 1/4/13)
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Israel Trains Teen Cybersleuths, But Loses Social Media War to Hamas
A nationwide programme aimed at teaching students aged between 16 and 18 how to become "cyberattack interceptors" has been launched in Israel. Announcing the launch of the three-year-long Magshimim Le'umit programme at Ashkelon Academic College, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked that it was a big step toward creating a "digital Iron Dome", referring to the nation's highly effective missile defence system.
See the full article (, Liat Clark, 1/4/13)
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