• Truth decayDemocracy under Threat from “Pandemic of Misinformation” Online: Lords Committee

    The U.K. government should act immediately to deal with a “pandemic of misinformation” that poses an existential threat to our democracy and way of life. The stark warning comes in a report published Monday by the House of Lords’ Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies.

  • China syndromeChina’s Campaign Forcibly to Reduce Uighur Births May Amount to Genocide: Reports

    Four years ago, China has launched a broad campaign to reduce birth rates among Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic Muslim populations in Xinjiang province in western China. The Chinese authorities have implemented various population control measures in Xinjiang, including mandatory pregnancy checks and forced insertion of intrauterine devices. Officials and armed police conducted night raids to look for hidden children and pregnant women, fining and detaining parents of three or more children and forcing abortions and sterilizations on women.

  • PerspectiveCOVID-19 Reveals Need for More Research about Guns

    Shortages of toilet paper at neighborhood grocery stores have become a symbol of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 virus, but recent reports suggest that people also reacted to the pandemic by purchasing firearms and ammunition in massive numbers. Andrew R. Morral and Jeremy Travis write in USA Today (republished by RAND) that eventually, the pandemic will recede, scientific rigor will lead to treatments or a vaccine, and life will start to return to a new normal—but those new firearms aren’t going anywhere. They ask: “What does this mean for public safety? And what can policymakers do to ensure that a spike in sales doesn’t result in more injuries or deaths?”

  • ArgumentWhy Were Out-of-State National Guard Units in Washington, D.C.? The Justice Department’s Troubling Explanation

    Over the previous week, thousands of National Guard troops from states across the country arrived in Washington, D.C., as part of the Trump administration’s response to the largely peaceful protests taking place across the city. “But under what legal authority were they deployed to D.C. in the first place?” The mayor of Washington, D.C. asked Attorney General William Barr the same question – but Steve Vladeck writes that Barr’s response, that the deployment of the troops was under the authority of 32 U.S.C.§ 502(f), raises two vexing possibilities, neither of them reassuring: either Barr is wrong about 32 U.S.C.§ 502(f), or he is right.

  • SurveillanceCalls for New Federal Authority to Regulate Facial Recognition Tech

    A group of artificial intelligence experts — citing profiling, breach of privacy and surveillance as potential societal risks — recently proposed a new model for managing facial recognition technologies at the federal level. The experts propose an FDA-inspired model that categorizes these technologies by degrees of risk and would institute corresponding controls.

  • ArgumentMilitary Prestige during a Political Crisis: Use It and You’ll Lose It

    Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walked himself into a civil-military problem when he walked across Pennsylvania Avenue – in his battle fatigues! – last week. Jim Golby and Peter Feaver write that Milley was literally following President Donald Trump, who was on his way for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in order to counter stories about the president holed up in his basement while riots raged outside. “Presidents who are struggling politically have a powerful incentive to wrap themselves in military garb precisely because the American public holds the military in high esteem. But, when the language of national security is stretched to provide cover for what is otherwise viewed as a nakedly partisan effort, it jeopardizes the very esteem for the military on which the administration relies,” they write.

  • PerspectiveInvoking “Terrorism” Against Police Protestors

    President Trump on Sunday tweeted that the United States should designate Antifa, a movement of leftists radicals prone to violence, as a “terrorist” organization. Shirin Sinnar writes that leaving aside the fact that current law does not grant the president the authority to designate the movement a terrorist organization, the deeper issue is this: “The sad irony in all this is that, over the past two years, some on the left have vocally supported an expansion of domestic terrorism frameworks” – calls which neglected the many concerns that civil rights groups.

  • PerspectiveBans on Foreign Equipment in U.S. Critical Infrastructure

    One executive order does not a trend make, but maybe two do. On May 1, President Trump issued an executive order banning the acquisition, importation, transfer or installation of any bulk electric power system equipment where the secretary of energy has determined, first, that the equipment was manufactured by a company controlled by—or subject to the jurisdiction of—a foreign adversary and, second, that the transaction poses an undue risk to the U.S. bulk-power system, economy or national security. Jim Dempsey writes “The order’s issuance signals that the administration’s efforts to purge from the nation’s telecommunications network any equipment made in China may represent a new approach to critical infrastructure in general.”

  • SurveillanceGerman Intelligence Cannot Spy on Foreigners Outside Germany without a Warrant

    The German government must come up with a new law regulating the German intelligence service (BND), after the country’s highest court ruled that the current practice of monitoring telecommunications of foreign citizens at will – that is, without a court warrant — violates constitutionally enshrined press freedoms and the privacy of communications. Until now, the BND had considered foreign nationals living outside Germany essentially fair game, on the assumption that they were not protected by Germany’s constitution.

  • Last frontierU.S. Seeks to Change the Rules for Mining the Moon

    By Scott Shackelford

    At the moment, no company – or nation – is yet ready to claim or take advantage of private property in space. But the $350 billion space industry could change quickly. Several companies are already planning to explore the Moon to find raw materials like water; Helium-3, which is potentially useful in fusion nuclear reactors; and rare earth elements, which are invaluable for manufacturing electronics. Anticipating additional commercial interest, the Trump administration has created new rules through an executive order following a 2015 law change for how those companies might profit from operations on the Moon, asteroids and other planets. Those rules conflict with a longstanding international treaty the U.S. has generally followed but never formally joined.

  • ExtremismGermany: Politicians Worry about Radicalization at Anti-Lockdown Protests

    By Elizabeth Schumacher

    German lawmakers from across the political spectrum on Monday warned that the growing wave of anti-lockdown protests could provide fertile ground for radicalization and recruitment for far-right extremist groups and anti-vaccine campaigns. Over the weekend, thousands of people gathered in cities across Germany to demand an end to restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • PerspectiveAssessing Cyber Risk from External Information

    There is a vision for the future of assessing cybersecurity: The goal is a system of cyber metrics that are transparent, auditable, practical, scalable and widely agreed upon. To that end, it is useful—indeed, imperative—to evaluate various approaches to cyber risk quantification with the aim of informing the development of a public standard for measuring cybersecurity.

  • Democracy watchPoliticians in Central Europe, Balkans Exploited Epidemic to Weaken Democracy

    Freedom House’s latest edition of its Nations in Transit report finds that a growing number of leaders in Central and Eastern Europe have dropped even the pretense that they play by the rules of democracy. The report says that the coronavirus epidemic has created an inflection point for these regimes, offering them a pretext to tighten their authoritarian control even more. Three countries – Hungary, Serbia, and Montenegro – “have all left the category of democracies entirely,” the report says.

  • Nuclear powerAn Atomic Catch 22: Climate Change and the Decline of America's Nuclear Fleet

    By Eric Scheuch

    Nuclear energy in the United States has become deeply unprofitable in the last decade, driven by a combination of aging infrastructure and other electricity sources like renewables and natural gas simply becoming cheaper to build and operate. While some in the environmental community may cheer nuclear’s decline, others are concerned. Love it or hate it, nuclear plays a unique role in the American electric sector, one for which we currently have no market-ready replacement, and its decline will likely make other environmental issues, particularly climate change, harder to solve.

  • PrivacyNew Privacy Threat Combines Device Identification with Biometric Information

    A new study by computer scientists has revealed a new privacy threat from devices such as smartphones, smart doorbells and voice assistants that allows cyber attackers to access and combine device identification and biometric information.