Tag Archive | Syria

Is Social Media a Cybersecurity Gamechanger?

February 27, 2013

The Commons Lab just released a new policy memo analyzing the increased potential of social media to exacerbate conflict situations and create cybersecurity threats – a potential “gamechanger” as the United States seeks to ramp up its cybersecurity efforts. The brief is the first in the program’s Policy Memo Series. Author: Dr. Rebecca Goolsby.

Summary: Social media is responsible for much positive change in the world. But these new tools can be used by bad actors to foment strife and undermine stability, as seen during violent incidents in the Assam state of northeast India in July 2012. Cybersecurity efforts must take into account the growing potential for cyber-attack using social media, where hoax messages are incorporated into a stream of otherwise legitimate messages, and understand how quickly mobile apps and text services can disseminate false information. Authorities and volunteers must develop a healthy skepticism about information derived from these systems and new research and tools are needed to facilitate the self-policing of social media.

To download a copy of the report On Cybersecurity, Crowdsourcing, and Social Cyber-Attack (PDF), go to the Commons Lab Reports Collection on Scribd.

via Is Social Media a Cybersecurity Gamechanger? | Commons Lab.

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The Information Revolution Gets Political

by Joseph S. Nye, Project Syndicate, Jan 9, 2013

“… it would be a mistake to “over-learn” the lessons that the Arab revolutions have taught about information, technology, and power. While the information revolution could, in principle, reduce large states’ power and increase that of small states and non-state actors, politics and power are more complex than such technological determinism implies.

In the middle of the twentieth century, people feared that computers and new means of communications would create the kind of central governmental control dramatized in George Orwell’s 1984. And, indeed, authoritarian governments in China, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere have used the new technologies to try to control information. Ironically for cyber-utopians, the electronic trails created by social networks like Twitter and Facebook sometimes make the job of the secret police easier.”

For full text of this thought provoking article, please visit The Information Revolution Gets Political by Joseph S. Nye – Project Syndicate.

 

The Use of Drones for Nonviolent Civil Resistance

Follow-up op-ed by Patrick Meier, iRevolution Blog, February 18, 2012

In my [Patrick Meier’s] previous blog post on the use of drones for human rights, I also advocated for the use of drones to support nonviolent civil resistance efforts. Obviously, like the use of any technology in such contexts, doing so presents both new opportunities and obvious dangers. In this blog post, I consider the use of DIY drones in the context of civil resistance, both vis-a-vis theory and practice. While I’ve read the civil resistance literature rather widely for my dissertation, I decided to get input from two of the world’s leading experts on the topic. …

For full text of this article, visit The Use of Drones for Nonviolent Civil Resistance | iRevolution.

Drones for Human Rights: Brilliant or Foolish? (Updated)

By Patrick Meier, iRevolution Blog, on February 10, 2012

My [Patrick Meier’s] colleague Mark Hanis recently co-authored this Op-Ed in the New York Times advocating for the use of drones in human rights monitoring, particularly in Syria. The Op-Ed has provoked quite the debate on a number of list-serves like CrisisMappers, and several blog posts have been published on the question. I’ve long been interested this topic, which is why I included a section on drones in this official UN Foundation Report on “New Technologies in Emergen-cies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks.” I also blogged about the World Food Program’s (WFP) use of drones some four years ago. …

For full text of Patrick Meier’s op-ed, visit Drones for Human Rights: Brilliant or Foolish? (Updated) | iRevolution.

Drones for Human Rights

Op-ed by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Mark Hainis, NYT, January 30, 2012

DRONES are not just for firing missiles in Pakistan. In Iraq, the State Department is using them to watch for threats to Americans. It’s time we used the revolution in military affairs to serve human rights advocacy. With drones, we could take clear pictures and videos of human rights abuses, and we could start with Syria. The need there is even more urgent now, because the Arab League’s observers suspended operations last week. …

For full text of the op-ed, visit Drones for Human Rights – NYTimes.com.

Egypt Lifts GPS Ban

 As cited in the blog Ogle Earth on April 19, 2009:

Egypt lifts GPS ban

By Theodore May
First Published: April 6, 2009

CAIRO: Egypt announced this week that it would allow the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, ending a ban that had meant that certain mobile phones could not be sold in the country. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) lifted the ban, meaning that now only two countries on earth, Syria and North Korea, still forbid the use of GPS. In addition to allowing Egyptians greater access to GPS technologies and the products (phones and cars) that provide them, the ruling is expected to spur business in the telecom and auto sectors. Egyptian traders will now be permitted to import cars and mobile phones that have the technology, and manufacturers in the country will be allowed to make and export those products too.

The NTRA, however, will continue to monitor and control manufacturing of the devices. Phones and computers with GPS may only be exported “provided that NTRA authorizes the type of machines based on its criteria and procedures,” the NTRA said in a statement on its website Saturday.

Despite lifting the ban on GPS, the NTRA said that the use of a similar technology, Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems, will only be permitted with its expressed consent. NTRA officials had told Daily News Egypt late last year that the ban on GPS devices was in place as a result of security concerns. Whether those security concerns were overcome or whether the NTRA was simply adapting to the times remains unclear. Egyptians have long used technologies like Google Earth to skirt the ban. In addition, GPS technologies had long bled into Egypt through the black market.

The NTRA’s ruling may have been part of an effort to bring the use of GPS into the legal fold so that it might control the use of the technology. There were reports throughout last year that leading mobile phone provider Nokia had been in pitched negotiations with the Egyptian government to allow GPS, which it provides on roughly 40 percent of its phones, but the government wouldn’t budge.

For full text of the story, visit: http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=20865

Impact of Commercial Satellite Imagery on Global Security

SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 109
November 10, 2008

Secrecy News Blog:  http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

Support Secrecy News
http://www.fas.org/sgp/donate.html

COMMERCIAL SATELLITE IMAGERY SHEDS LIGHT HERE AND THERE

As the quality and availability of commercial satellite imagery continue to improve, the technology is adding a new dimension to public understanding of world events, while both enhancing and challenging national and global security.

“Last month, the most powerful commercial satellite in history sent its first pictures back to Earth, and another with similar capabilities is set for launch in mid-2009,” wrote Peter Eisler in USA Today last week.  “The imagery provided by those and other commercial satellites has transformed global security in fundamental ways, forcing even the most powerful nations to hide facilities and activities that are visible not only to rival nations, but even to their own citizens.”  See “Google Earth helps yet worries government,” November 7.

Iraqi insurgents, among other non-state actors, have also taken advantage of the new capabilities offered by satellite imagery.  A 2006 dispatch prepared by the DNI Open Source Center (first reported by USA Today) documented “the use of Google Earth for tactical planning of rocket attacks against U.S. military targets in Iraq.”  See “Iraqi Insurgency Group Utilizes Google Earth for Attack Planning,” July 19, 2006.

A newly disclosed GeoEye commercial satellite image of the site of a suspected Syrian nuclear facility at Al Kibar that was taken on November 23, 2007, some two months after it was bombed by Israel on September 6, 2007, shows rather rapid reconstruction of the destroyed facility.

“I’d say it confirms that the Syrians were in a really big hurry to get the site covered up,” said Allen Thomson, a former CIA analyst who has studied the case.  “The previously available DigitalGlobe picture of 24 October 2007 showed only a mound of dirt.  By a month later (the GeoEye pic), what appears to be a thick slab (you can see that it casts a shadow) was in place.  And January 11 imagery shows the new building up and the roof in place.”

The new image was released last week courtesy of GeoEye / Space Imaging Middle East.  It appears on page 1170 of an extensive open source compilation (large pdf) on the Israeli Strike in Syria prepared by Mr. Thomson.

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