• DronesIdentify, Track, Capture: Addressing UAS Threats

    Sandia National Laboratories robotics experts are working on a way to intercept enemy unmanned aircraft systems midflight. They successfully tested their concept indoors with a swarm of four unmanned aircraft systems that flew in unison, each carrying one corner of a net. Acting as a team, they intercepted the flying target, trapped it in air like an insect caught in a web and safely lowered it to the ground.

  • PrivacyMind Reading: New Software Agents Will Infer What Users Are Thinking

    Personal assistants today can figure out what you are saying, but what if they could infer what you were thinking based on your actions? A team of academic and industrial researchers is working to build artificially intelligent agents with this social skill.

  • Drone defenseLaser Defense System against Next Gen Autonomous Attack Drones

    attack drones are becoming increasingly common threats, and future attack drones will be completely autonomous, navigating via onboard sensors and cameras and eschewing any sort of exploitable communication link. In order to neutralize them before they reach their target, a “hard kill” option is needed to physically target and shoot down the drone. A Ben Gurion University (BGU) laser expert has developed a laser-based defense system, dubbed Light Blade (Lahav-Or in Hebrew), that will be able to down the next generation of attack drones.

  • China syndromeThe Ominous Metaphors of China’s Uighur Concentration Camps

    By Aidan Forth

    The recent leak of Chinese Communist Party documents to the New York Times offers a chilling glimpse into the twenty-first century’s largest system of concentration camps. A million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are now detained in a Chinese operation that combines the forced labor and re-education of Mao-era laogai with the post-9/11 rhetoric of the “war on terror.” Retina scans, DNA databanks and facial recognition technology are now ubiquitous across China’s Xinjiang province. More than anything, however, Chinese statements about Uighur concentration are saturated with the language of disease. Likening Islam to a contagion, an official Communist Party document suggests Uighers have “been infected by unhealthy thoughts.” The biological metaphors revealed by the Chinese government’s recent document leak find their most sinister analogies with Nazi Germany. The language of disease justified some of the twentieth century’s worst crimes. If left unchecked by the international community, China is poised to continue that tradition in the twenty-first century. And where China leads, others are likely to follow.

  • SurveillanceIsraeli Court to Hear Case against Spy-Software Company NSO Behind Closed Doors

    On Thursday, a judge at Tel Aviv’s District Court begin hearing arguments as to why Israel’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) should revoke the export license of NSO Group. The firm’s Pegasus software has been used to target journalists and activists in several countries – including in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates.

  • China syndromeGOP Senators: Chinese Drones Pose National Security Threat

    A group of GOP senators called on the administration to restrict the use of Chinese drones by U.S. government agencies. “American taxpayer dollars should not fund state-controlled or state-owned firms that seek to undermine American national security and economic competitiveness,” they write.

  • ExtremismGermany Restructures Police, Intelligence to Fight Far-Right Violent Extremists

    German government statistics show that in 2018 there were more than 24,000 active right-wing extremists in Germany, with about 12,500 of them considered capable of carrying out violent acts. The total number of these extremists is expected to increase in 2019 by as much as a third, to 32,200, according to government documents obtained by the newspaperTagesspiegel. On Tuesday, The German government unveiled broad new measures to restructure domestic intelligence and law enforcement agencies in 2020 in order to make the German intelligence and law enforcement services more capable to fight the rising threat of right-wing extremism.

  • ArgumentThe FBI Needs to Be Reformed

    Bob Bauer and Jack Glodsmith write that “the FBI has taken a large hit in its credibility over the last four years, due in large part to Trump’s unprecedented, reckless, and routinely baseless attacks on it. But the Bureau has also hurt itself by its conduct of the investigation of Trump campaign officials and of Hillary Clinton’s emails when she was a presidential candidate.” There are many destructive pressures today on the legitimacy of the American electoral process, and “Our democracy cannot afford the added delegitimating burden of botched investigations related to elections that inevitably give rise to suspicions or charges of political manipulation,” they write.

  • Argument: DOJ IG reportThe Crossfire Hurricane Report’s Inconvenient Findings

    The DOJ IG report, Michael Sanchez, writers, confounds the hopes of Donald Trump’s more ardent admirers by failing to turn up anything resembling a Deep State cabal within the FBI plotting against the president, or deliberate abuse of surveillance authorities for political ends – but it also paints a disturbing picture of the FBI’s vaunted vetting process for FISA warrant applications.

  • Argument: DOJ IG reportJustice Department Inspector General’s Report Raises Troubling Questions About FBI’s Role in FISA

    The Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI’s initiation of the Russia probe met legal standards, but the report issued last Monday by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) strongly criticized the FBI’s handling of one aspect of the probe: the request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap of ex-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and subsequent renewals of the FISA. Peter Margulies writes that along with the record of Russian election interference compiled in the Russia probe, institutional reforms to the FISA process will be a valuable legacy of the investigation.

  • PrivacyUnlawful Metadata Access Is Easy When We’re Flogging a Dead Law

    By Genna Churches and Monika Zalnieriute

    After watching this year’s media raids and the prosecution of lawyers and whistleblowers, it’s not hard to see why Australians wonder about excessive police power and dwindling journalistic freedom. But these problems are compounded by another, less known issue: police, and other bodies not even involved in law enforcement, have broad powers to access metadata. Each year, police alone access metadata in excess of 300,000 times.

  • PerspectiveWhat Can Drones Do to Protect Civilians in Armed Conflict?

    Drones are usually in the news for bad reasons, like controversial killings of suspected terrorists in the Middle East, bombings of Saudi oil facilities or an assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Michael Yekple writes that what many people may not know is that United Nations peacekeepers use drones to protect civilians from violence. These drones are different: They don’t carry weapons.

  • Argument: Social media vettingSocial Media Vetting of Visa Applicants Violates the First Amendment

    Beginning in May, the State Department has required almost every applicant for a U.S. visa—more than fourteen million people each year—to register every social media handle they’ve used over the past five years on any of twenty platforms. “There is no evidence that the social media registration requirement serves the government’s professed goals” of “strengthen” the processes for “vetting applicants and confirming their identity,” Carrie DeCell and Harsha Panduranga write, adding: “The registration requirement chills the free speech of millions of prospective visitors to the United States, to their detriment and to ours,” they write.

  • ArgumentCrack Down on Genomic Surveillance

    Across the world, DNA databases that could be used for state-level surveillance are steadily growing. Yves Moreau writes that “Now the stakes are higher for two reasons. First, as technology gets cheaper, many countries might want to build massive DNA databases. Second, DNA-profiling technology can be used in conjunction with other tools for biometric identification — and alongside the analysis of many other types of personal data, including an individual’s posting behavior on social networks.”

  • DronesShould Santa Use a Drone to Deliver Gifts to Well-Behaved Children?

    Santa has always run a one-sleigh operation, but a new analysis could help him speed deliveries and save energy, if he ever decided to add a drone to his route. The new routing algorithm anticipates the day trucks and drones cooperate to drop packages at your doorstep quickly and efficiently.