USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, January 10 - 16, 2013

Table of Contents

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

Technology Holds Key to Fair Kenya Elections
Technology is set to play a pivotal role in Kenyan elections due in March, just as it did in the last round in 2007. Signs emanating from the African nation in the run-up to the vote are encouraging. Google has launched a web portal, Kenya Elections Hub, where voters and journalists can track news and trends. Another crowdsourcing platform, Uchaguzi, is enabling citizens with access to SMS, Twitter, email, or Facebook to report incidents of illegal activities, hate speech and poll violence.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Jonathan Kalan, 1/16/13)
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Give Peace a Chance - in Space
For now, the prospect of military conflict in outer space still resides in the realm of dystopia or absurdity, to the point that a White House petition demanding the construction of a Star Wars-style "Death Star" could be treated as a harmless prank. But there's another, more idealistic reason humanity is safe from the scourge of space war. And ironically, it suggests that we might not be safe forever.
See the full article (Atlantic, Armin Rosen, 1/16/13)
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Rights Group Reports on Abuses of Surveillance and Censorship Technology
A Canadian human rights monitoring group has documented the use of American-made Internet surveillance and censorship technology by more than a dozen governments, some with harsh human rights policies like Syria, China and Saudi Arabia. The Citizen Lab Internet research group, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, used computer servers to scan for the distinctive signature of gear made by Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif.
See the full article (New York Times, John Markoff, 1/16/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Pentagon Swears It Won't Sell Killer Drones to Afghanistan, Just Spy Ones
Yesterday, when Afghan president Hamid Karzai boasted that the U.S. was about to give him his own fleet of drones, you may have been tempted to see the mercurial leader with his hand on the joystick of an armed Predator. Please disabuse yourself of that notion. The Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that it's in talks to sell the Afghans drones. But the drones will be tiny, low-flying, and unarmed.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 1/15/13)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Political and Economic Transition Challenges in Afghanistan" on January 25 at 1:00pm.
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Watching from Above
Should the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban ki-Moon, get his way, a newcomer will appear in the skies over eastern Congo. He has asked the Security Council to approve unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, for use in the troubled region. The potential uses of UAVs stretch beyond Congo, monitoring remote areas like the border between Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, for example, or troop movements on the frontier between the Sudans.
See the full article (Economist, 1/15/13)
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Computer Malware Targets Europe Agencies
Computer security researchers have uncovered malware that appears to have been used as part of a widespread cyber-espionage campaign targeting European diplomatic and government agencies. Kaspersky Lab, a global firm based in Moscow, said in a report released Monday that in terms of complexity, the malware rivals the Flame virus, a cyber-spying tool that was created by the United States and Israel for use against Iran.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 1/14/13)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "America's Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace" on January 28 at 11:00am.
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There's No App for Syria
The idea seemed laudable. Create a computer game app on the Syrian civil war that is simple enough for the general public to learn a bit about a complex conflict. Thus was born Endgame: Syria -- which puts the player in command of the Syrian rebels as they battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad's regime. It runs on Android tablets, and it will soon be available on the Apple app store, promises British publisher Auroch Digital. Except that Apple rejected it.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Michael Peck, 1/11/13) *Foreign Policy sign-up may be required to view the full article
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