Posted on January 23, 2014.
Identifying Enemies Among Us: Evolving Terrorist Threats and the Continuing Challenges of Domestic Intelligence Collection and Information Sharing
Source: RAND Corporation
This report summarizes the discussions at a seminar organized and hosted by the RAND Corporation at which a group of acting and former senior government and law enforcement officials, practitioners, and experts examined domestic intelligence operations and information sharing as these relate to terrorist threats. Topics discussed include changes in the direction and scope of the threat; the differences in the focus of local, state, and federal agencies; the need for better communication among law enforcement and intelligence agencies; the role of Joint Terrorism Task Forces; the shortcomings of fusion centers; the political sensitivity of collecting domestic intelligence; and the consequences of reductions in counterterrorism funding on the level of risk the American people will accept.
Posted in Current Events, Links
Posted on December 31, 2013.
The 2013 Cybersecurity Executive Order: Overview and Considerations for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Open CRS)
The federal role in cybersecurity has been a topic of discussion and debate for over a decade. Despite significant legislative efforts in the 112th and 113th Congress, no major legislation on this topic has been enacted since the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) in 2002, which addressed the security of federal information systems. In February 2013, the White House issued an executive order designed to improve the cybersecurity of U.S. critical infrastructure (CI). Citing repeated cyber-intrusions into critical infrastructure and growing cyberthreats, Executive Order 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, attempts to enhance security and resiliency of CI through voluntary, collaborative efforts involving federal agencies and owners and operators of privately owned CI, as well as use of existing federal regulatory authorities.
Posted in Links
Posted on December 3, 2013.
Measuring Internet Activity: A (Selective) Review of Methods and Metrics
Source: Berkman Center for Internet & Society (via Social Science Research Network)
Two Decades after the birth of the World Wide Web, more than two billion people around the world are Internet users. The digital landscape is littered with hints that the affordances of digital communications are being leveraged to transform life in profound and important ways. The reach and influence of digitally mediated activity grow by the day and touch upon all aspects of life, from health, education, and commerce to religion and governance. This trend demands that we seek answers to the biggest questions about how digitally mediated communication changes society and the role of different policies in helping or hindering the beneficial aspects of these changes. Yet despite the profusion of data the digital age has brought upon us — we now have access to a flood of information about the movements, relationships, purchasing decisions, interests, and intimate thoughts of people around the world — the distance between the great questions of the digital age and our understanding of the impact of digital communications on society remains large. A number of ongoing policy questions have emerged that beg for better empirical data and analyses upon which to base wider and more insightful perspectives on the mechanics of social, economic, and political life online. This paper seeks to describe the conceptual and practical impediments to measuring and understanding digital activity and highlights a sample of the many efforts to fill the gap between our incomplete understanding of digital life and the formidable policy questions related to developing a vibrant and healthy Internet that serves the public interest and contributes to human wellbeing. Our primary focus is on efforts to measure Internet activity, as we believe obtaining robust, accurate data is a necessary and valuable first step that will lead us closer to answering the vitally important questions of the digital realm. Even this step is challenging: the Internet is difficult to measure and monitor, and there is no simple aggregate measure of Internet activity — no GDP, no HDI. In the following section we present a framework for assessing efforts to document digital activity. The next three sections offer a summary and description of many of the ongoing projects that document digital activity, with two final sections devoted to discussion and conclusions.
Posted in Links, Web/Tech
Posted on September 9, 2013.
Internet Freedom and Political Space
Source: RAND Corporation
The Internet has become a new battleground between governments that censor online content and those who advocate freedom to browse, post, and share information online for all, regardless of their place of residence. This report examines whether and how furthering Internet freedom can empower civil society vis-à-vis public officials, make the government more accountable to its citizens, and integrate citizens into the policymaking process. Using case studies of events in 2011 in Egypt, Syria, China, and Russia, researchers focus on the impact of Internet freedom on freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and the right to cast a meaningful vote, all of which are the key pillars of political space. Researchers analyze the mechanisms by which Internet freedom can enhance the opportunities to enjoy these freedoms, how different political contexts can alter the opportunities for online mobilization, and how, subsequently, online activism can grow out into offline mobilization leading to visible policy changes. To provide historical context, researchers also draw parallels between the effects of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty programs in the Soviet Union during the Cold War and the ongoing efforts to expand Internet freedom for all. The report concludes by discussing implications for the design of Internet freedom programs and other measures to protect “freedom to connect.”
Posted in Links, Web/Tech
Posted on August 22, 2013.
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Egypt and U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time because of the continuing political and social unrest. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on July 3, 2013.
On August 14, the Government of Egypt declared a State of Emergency that includes a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in select governates, including Cairo and Alexandria. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens who choose to remain in Egypt to comply with local regulations and follow local media for updates applicable to your specific location.
Political unrest, which intensified prior to the constitutional referendum in December 2012, the anniversary in 2013 of Egypt’s 25th January Revolution, and the July 2013 change of government, shows little sign of abating. Demonstrations have, on numerous occasions, degenerated into violent clashes between security forces and protesters, and between protesters supporting different factions, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. There have been instances of the use of firearms as well. While most violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including downtown Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, and Port Said, there are recent reports of more widespread political and social violence, including armed attacks, in other areas of Egypt. Of continued concern is gender-based violence in and around protest areas where women have been the targets of sexual assault.
The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.
Full TText: State Department Travel Warning: Egypt
Source: U.S. Department of State
Posted in Current Events, Links