USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, June 7 - 13, 2013

Table of Contents

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TEDGlobal: Are Drones Tools of War or a Social Good?
Speakers at the TEDGlobal conference have been debating the positive use of drones in society. Delegates heard how drones, more usually seen as military tools, are increasingly playing a positive role in civilian life They are offering new ways of transportation and carrying out vital conservation work.
See the full article (BBC, Jane Wakefield, 6/12/13)
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Tech Companies Urge U.S. to Ease Secrecy Rules on National Security Probes
Technology companies stung by the controversy over the National Security Agency's sweeping Internet surveillance program are calling on U.S. officials to ease the secrecy surrounding national security investigations and lift long-standing gag orders covering the nature and extent of information collected about Internet users.
See the full article (Washington Post, Craig Timberg and Cecilia Kang, 6/11/12)
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Is There A Silver Lining To The President's Cyber War Policy?
When the Guardian published the top secret Presidential Policy Directive 20 (PPD-20) last week, [it] largely confirmed what those who pay close attention to these issues already knew: the United States is working to build up its offensive cyber warfare capabilities. But the document provides other insights as well, and perhaps even a small measure of consolation for cyber war critics.
See the full article (Forbes, Sean Lawson, 6/11/13)
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The Outsourcing of U.S. Intelligence Raises Risks among the Benefits
An examination found that 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence. At the same time, tens of billions of dollars have been spent on computers, networks, satellite systems and other technology to collect and mine information. Those systems have been shown repeatedly to be vulnerable - to attacks and exploitation by both hackers and insiders.
See the full article (Washington Post, Robert O'Harrow Jr., 6/9/13)
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U.S. and China Move Closer on North Korea, but Not on Cyberespionage
Even as they pledged to build "a new model" of relations, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China ended two days of informal meetings here on Saturday moving closer on pressuring a nuclear North Korea and addressing climate change, but remaining sharply divided over cyberespionage and other issues that have divided the countries for years.
See the full article (New York Times, Jackie Calmes and Steven Lee Myers, 6/8/13)*NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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U.S. Helps Allies Trying to Battle Iranian Hackers
The Obama administration has begun helping Middle Eastern allies build up their defenses against Iran's growing arsenal of cyberweapons, and will be doing the same in Asia to contain computer-network attacks from North Korea, according to senior American officials.
See the full article (New York Times, Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, 6/8/13)*NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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UN Drone Investigator Expecting 'Dramatic' Decrease in US Strikes
The United Nations' drone investigator says he expects a "significant reduction" in the controversial strikes by the US in the next 18 months. After meeting the CIA drector John Brennan and other high-ranking Obama administration officials this week, Ben Emmerson told the Guardian it was his expectation that strikes would decrease substantially.
See the full article (Guardian, Spencer Ackerman, 6/7/13)
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Obama's Surveillance State
The war on terror has taken over not just U.S. foreign policy, but also our inboxes, smartphones, and Facebook pages. And we're only beginning to understand how much harm that's caused. It's official. We are living in a surveillance state.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Suzanne Nossel, 6/7/13)*FP sign-up may be required to view the full article
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Obama Orders US to Draw Up Overseas Target List for Cyber-attacks
Barack Obama has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks, a top secret presidential directive obtained by the Guardian reveals. The Directive ... says the government will "identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk."
See the full article (Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, 6/7/13)
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