• Caliph Abu Unknown: Succession and Legitimacy in the Islamic State

    Three days after the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State released a short message, announcing the new “emir of the Muslims” as Caliph Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Haroro J. Ingram and Craig Whiteside write that “The Islamic State’s leaders are confident the gambit will succeed because the replacement caliph was selected using a process first executed in 2006, and subsequently repeated in 2010 and again this year.”

  • Facial-Recognition Technology: Closer to Utopia Than Dystopia

    Is facial recognition technology ushering in the age of Big Brother, allowing the government to monitor what we do everywhere we do it? “This is the image that the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), and a host of other alarmists are attempting to conjure in the minds of the media, elected officials, and the American public,” Robert Atkinson writes. But with the right regulations, “Americans can be safer and have more convenience with little or no reduction of our precious civil liberties.”

  • FCC Bans Use of Federal Funds in Purchases of Chinese Telecom

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on 22 November blocked U.S. telecommunications providers from using an $8.5 billion subsidy fund – the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) — to buy Chinese-made telecommunications gear deemed a national security threat to critical infrastructure. The U.S. said that given Huawei and ZTE’s close relationship and legal obligations to the Chinese government, their gear poses a threat to telecommunications critical infrastructure, as well as to national security.

  • The Case That Could Hand the Future to China

    What would the future look like if China leads 5G technology? We should contemplate this question because, as Mercy Kuo writes, fifth-generation cellular network technology, or 5G, will transform our daily lives with such inventions as autonomous-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and smart cities. If we want to maintain U.S. technology leadership and protect our values, we should be clear-eyed about the perilous consequences that could come with losing our unique lead.”

  • Nazi Symbols and Racist Memes: Combating School Intolerance

    The number of Americans between the ages of 15 and 21 who saw extremist content online jumped by about 20 percent, to 70.2 percent from 58.3 percent, between 2013 and 2016, according to a new study. As more such material spills from the web to young people and into classrooms nationwide, educators increasingly find themselves under pressure to combat this new front of hate. Many educators say they feel ill-equipped to recognize what students absorb from the web, much less to address it.

  • Fourth Spy Unearthed in U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

    The United States detonated world’s first atomic bomb on 16 July 1945. Four years later, in August 1949, the Soviet Union detonated a nearly identical device in Central Asia – an event which stunned the U.S. military and scientific communities, which did not believe the Soviet Union had the scientific and technical know-how to do so. By 1950s, it became clear that the Soviet quick march to the bomb was aided by spies that the USSR managed to place in Los Alamos – three of them were identified early on. The identity of the fourth has just been revealed.

  • The “fictional narrative” that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election “advance[s] Russian interests”: Fiona Hill

    Fiona Hill, who until July this year was the National Security Council’s top Russia adviser, on Thursday told the House Intelligence Committee that it is a “fictional narrative” that Ukraine, and not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election that Trump won. “The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016,” Hill said. “It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified.” Hill pleaded with the Intelligence panel, “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”

  • Don’t (Just) Blame Echo Chambers. Conspiracy Theorists Actively Seek Out Their Online Communities

    Why do people believe conspiracy theories? Is it because of who they are, what they’ve encountered, or a combination of both? The answer is important. Belief in conspiracy theories helps fuel climate change denial, anti-vaccination stances, racism, and distrust of the media and science. Our research shows that people who engage with conspiracy forums actively seek out sympathetic communities, rather than passively stumbling into problematic beliefs.

  • Who's Responsible When Your Car Gets Hacked?

    In the future, when cars can drive themselves, grand theft auto might involve a few keystrokes and a well-placed patch of bad computer code. At that point, who will be liable for the damages caused by a hacker with remote control of a 3,000-pound vehicle?

  • Victory: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Police Can’t Force You to Tell Them Your Password

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a forceful opinion on Wednesday holding that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being forced to disclose the passcode to their devices to the police. The court found that disclosing a password is “testimony” protected by the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination.

  • Online Disinformation and Emerging Tech: Are Democracies at Risk?

    Online disinformation campaigns supported by fundamental changes in military and geopolitical strategies of major players such as Russia and China harden tribal factions and undermine the security of infrastructure systems in targets such as the United States, as state and non-state actors mount increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks on democratic institutions, Brad Allenby writes. Whether the United States and other democracies are up to this challenge remains to be seen, he says.

  • What ISIS Will Become

    Most Americans first noticed the Islamic State in 2014 – it was called ISIS then — but the group had been around in different forms for about a decade. Many of the group’s commanders and fighters were the same people who had fought U.S. troops under the name of al-Qaeda in Iraq. In the past year, its leader has died and it has lost the last of its territory, which at its peak was roughly the size of Britain. So what’s next?

  • U.S.-Funded Research, Scientists Help China’s Drive to Become World S&T Leader

    The U.S. government has so far failed to stop China from stealing intellectual property from American universities. Moreover, the Trump administration lacks a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the threat. These are the conclusions of a new report issued on Monday by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The report says problem is especially urgent because billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded research have “contributed to China’s global rise over the last twenty years” and to its goal of becoming a world leader in science and technology by 2050.

  • U.S. Investigating Universities over Russian, Chinese, Saudi Donations

    U.S. officials have asked MIT to turn over documents regarding the university’s contacts with foreign governments and donations from foreign sources, including those coming from Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia. The University of Maryland received a similar demand from the Education Department. MIT has been under scrutiny for a while, after accepting $300 million from Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. Veklesberg is close to several of Donald Trump’s family members and members of the Trump organization. He was involved in the Moscow Trump Tower project. In 2018 MIT removed Veklesberg from its board — to which he was elected in 2013 — after the U.S. Treasury Department listed him and his business group among the Russian officials, “oligarchs,” and companies to be penalized for advancing Moscow’s “malign activities.”

  • U.S. Warns That Turkey's Syria Offensive Giving IS “Time and Space”

    U.S. defense intelligence officials are offering a sobering assessment of the impact Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria — and corresponding moves by the U.S. and other powers — will have on efforts to destroy the Islamic State terror group.