• PrivacyHow to Protect Privacy When Aggregating Location Data to Fight COVID-19

    By Jacob Hoffman-Andrews and Andrew Crocker

    As governments, the private sector, NGOs, and others mobilize to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen calls to use location information—typically drawn from GPS and cell tower data—to inform public health efforts. Compared to using individualized location data for contact tracing—as many governments around the world are already doing—deriving public health insights from aggregated location data poses far fewer privacy and other civil liberties risks such as restrictions on freedom of expression and association. However, even “aggregated” location data comes with potential pitfalls.

  • TerrorismU.S. Designates Russia-Based White Supremacist Group, Leaders as Terrorists

    The United States has designated the ultranationalist Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) along with three of its leaders as terrorists, marking the first time the classification has been applied to a white supremacist group. The decision marks the first time the designation has been applied to a white supremacist group abroad, and comes after Trump signed an executive order in September 2019 that expanded sanctions for combating terrorism by allowing the terrorist designation to be applied to groups that provide training to terrorists.

  • TerrorismNew Report Outlines Tactics of Modern White-Supremacist Terrorism

    On Monday, as the U.S. Department of State, for the first time ever, designate a white supremacist group as a terrorist organization, a new report on white supremacist terrorism was released, analyzing the evolution of the threat presented by violent white supremacists. The report notes that, until Monday’s announcement of the Department of State’s decision, none of the 69 organizations designated by the U.S. Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations is a white supremacist organization, despite the dramatic uptick in that threat.

  • PerspectiveWhy China's Coronavirus Lies Don't Matter If It Plays the Long Information Game

    The world will never be the same after COVID-19 –but Mark Payumo writes that this will not be because people sheltered in place and reacquainted themselves with traditional family bonding, but because China opened a new front in information warfare. “This front is global in scale and one that Beijing has laid the groundwork for a decade prior to the pandemic,” he writes. “As it unravels, it underscores one fact that we already know: that the world, especially truly-functioning West democracies, continues to fail in responding to Chinese global statecraft that may threaten civil liberties as we know it.”

  • TerrorismDOJ: Deliberately Spreading COVID-19 to Be Prosecuted as Domestic Terrorism

    As panic and fear spread with the COVID-19 pandemic, stupid, or malicious, acts may soon be considered criminal offenses and subject to terrorism laws. DOJ has circulated a memo to law enforcement and federal prosecutors saying that deliberate acts to spread the coronavirus could be prosecuted under federal terrorism laws given that the virus is a biological agent.

  • Climate & conflictClimate-Related Disasters Increase Risks of Conflict in Vulnerable Countries

    The risk for violent clashes increases after weather extremes such as droughts or floods hit people in vulnerable countries, an international team of scientists finds. Vulnerable countries are characterized by a large population, political exclusion of particular ethnic groups, and low development. The study combines global statistical analysis, observation data and regional case study assessments to yield new evidence for policymakers.

  • First respondersCloud-Based Electronic System: Helping First Responders Better React to Natural Disasters

    Every year natural disasters kill around 90,000 people and affect close to 160 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Such disasters also result in the destruction of the physical environment of the affected people. Now, researchers have developed a new tool to help first responders and disaster relief organizations better provide assistance to developing countries. The researchers created a cloud-based supply chain management system for emergency response to track inventory and distribution in countries struck by disasters.

  • PerspectivePandemics and the U.S. Military: Lessons from 1918

    The novel coronavirus will hit the U.S. military and its allies hard — how hard will depend on a number of variables, some having to do with the virus itself (how and to what extent it mutates, whether it comes back in subsequent waves, etc.) and others having to do with what measures militaries take to protect themselves. Michael Shurkin writes that, fortunately, we have a historical example that could offer some clues on how the virus might affect the military, and the policy choices that at some point today’s military leaders may face. He is referring to the 1918 influenza epidemic — commonly referred to as the Spanish flu.

  • FireHow Fire Causes Office-Building Floors to Collapse

    Engineers and technicians at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) spent months meticulously recreating the long concrete floors supported by steel beams commonly found in high-rise office buildings, only to deliberately set the structures ablaze, destroying them in a fraction of the time it took to build them.

  • Mass shootingsMost Mass Shootings Occur Closest to Non-Trauma Hospitals

    In an analysis of 2019 mass shootings and hospital locations, researchers found that the closest hospital to more than 70 percent of mass shootings was a non-trauma center, where sudden, high casualty loads were more likely to overwhelm capacity and trauma-specific care options may have been limited. They also found that in more than half of mass shooting events, the nearest pediatric trauma center was more than 10 miles away.

  • Hemispheric securityU.S. Announces Narcoterrorism Charges Against Venezuela's Maduro

    The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced narcoterrorism charges against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other top officials, accusing them of collaborating with a leftist Colombian guerrilla group to traffic cocaine to the United States.

  • Homegrown terrorismFBI Foils Neo‑Nazi Plot to Blow Up Missouri Hospital

    FBI agents on Tuesday shot and killed a white supremacist in Belton, Missouri while trying to arrest him for plotting to use a car bomb to blow up a local hospital overflowing with patients. Timothy Wilson, 36, was initially considering blowing up a mosque or a synagogue, but with the onset of the epidemic, he reasoned that blowing up a hospital would allow him to kill more people.

  • ExtremismGermany Bans Far-Right “Reichsbürger” Movement

    German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer last week banned a faction of the far-right “Reichsbürger” movement, also known as the Imperial Citizens’ Movement, a group which combines far-right nationalism and yearning to 1930s Germany. The movement rejects the legitimacy and authority of the modern-day German government, because all post-Second World German governments were not interested in reclaiming the territories Germany gained under Adolf Hitler – what the movement calls the German Empire — but was forced to relinquish when the Allies defeated Nazi Germany.

  • RansomwareDeal with Ransomware the Way Police Deal with Hostage Situations

    By Scott Shackelford and Megan Wade

    When faced with a ransomware attack, a person or company or government agency finds its digital data encrypted by an unknown person, and then gets a demand for a ransom. The two major ways people have so far responded – pay the ransom of hire a specialist to recover the data — are missing another option that we have identified in our cybersecurity policy studies. Police have a long history of successful crisis and hostage negotiation – experience that offers lessons that could be useful for people and organizations facing ransomware attacks.

  • CybersecurityStrengthening Cybersecurity in Sports Stadiums

    Someone pulled a fire alarm during the February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 students and teachers. The alarm caused more students to move into the hallways and into harm’s way. “Hackers no longer use cyberattacks to cause cyber damage,” says an expert. Instead, “they are using these attacks to cause physical damage or put people in locations to maximize physical damage.” Sports venues, with tens of thousands of spectators, are especially vulnerable. To combat the cyber threat in sports, scientists built an assessment tool for team and stadium owners to fix vulnerabilities.