Tag Archives: information technology

Meet Bradford Smith, the “Tech World’s Envoy”

A lawyer that you can like–and other compliments abound for this corporate leader who combines policy knowledge with negotiation skills.  Bradford Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, plays a key role on both coasts and around the glob–much like a diplomat-in-chief for tech interests.

Coalition building isn’t just for diplomats:

And in the fall of 2013, Mr. Smith and Erika Rottenberg, the general counsel of LinkedIn, the social media company, organized a meeting of general counsels from a half dozen or so major technology companies to talk about further unifying their efforts to press for government change. The meeting, in a private dining room of a restaurant in Palo Alto, Calif., eventually led to the formation of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, which counts Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft and LinkedIn as members.

“He’s good glue for those kinds of groups because of his policy skills and general intelligence,” Bruce Sewell, the general counsel of Apple, said of Mr. Smith.

via Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Is the Tech World’s Envoy – NYTimes.com.

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The Need to Care | Why the N.S.A. Matters

Germany is pulling back from its ally and Brazil threatens to creates its own internet.  What are you going conclude about the N.S.A. spying allegations?

Several U.S. senators suggest the following:

As members of the Intelligence Committee, we strongly disagree with this approach. We had already proposed our own, bipartisan surveillance reform legislation, the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act, which we have sponsored with a number of other senators. Our bill would prohibit the government from conducting warrantless “backdoor searches” of Americans’ communications — including emails, text messages and Internet use — under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It would also create a “constitutional advocate” to present an opposing view when the F.I.S.C. is considering major questions of law or constitutional interpretation.

And this Op-Doc video makes the case.

Edward Snowden has ignited a debate, and for that I am grateful. But now that he’s done his part, it’s time for all Americans to decide how to respond to his revelations. That is to say, it is no longer his story. It is ours.

via ‘Why Care About the N.S.A.?’ – NYTimes.com.

 

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Defending the Actions of Snowden?

As Fareed Zakaria noted on his CNN GPS program today, smart people are starting to make that case that Snowden’s leaks have served U.S. national interests, moving to a more “multi-polar internet” as one commentator notes.

Most national security professionals still don’t agree, but this may be a change in the dominant view.  Edward Luce’s main arguments:

  • “Snowden reminds us there is more at stake over America’s sprawling data intelligence complex than hunting terrorists.”
  • “Nowadays anyone can download enough classified information to construct Tolstoyan epics about US espionage. Here too, Mr Snowden’s actions have been helpful.”
  • Obama now has the reason to reform the national security system, to repair the post 9/11 overcorrection.

To sum up, Luce notes that America’s soft power is taking a relative hit over these NSA spy leaks, and the US President has a chance to change the view of US power, from its “coming to stand for Big Brother” to an emphasis on the positive aspects.

via Edward Snowden has done us all a favour – even Barack Obama – FT.com.

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Booklist: A Preview of Schmidt & Cohen, The New Digital Age

A series of early interviews on NPR this week are setting the stage for a new book from Google’s CEO and former State Department technology guru who works for Google’s in-house think tank. They explore the promise and limits of information–and implications for the Arab Spring, repressive regimes, and the changing role of nation-sates.

Schmidt: “The power of information is underrated. When we went to North Korea, we felt that if there was any way we could help get that country on the right track, [it] would be to get a little bit of Internet into the country. In many countries, the Internet is the only way to get an alternative point of view in, and the Internets arrival could destabilize some of these autocratic regimes, who we believe will fight it. They cant completely shut it off, because the Internet is too important for their business and their other goals, so a little bit of Internet in there will bring some openness and some ideas to every single country.”Countries that have the Internet already are not going to turn it off. And so the power of freedom, the power of ideas will spread, and it will change those societies in very dramatic ways. North Korea is the last stop. Its the one country thats never had the Internet, where its been blocked — in my view, very harshly — by the government. All they have to do is turn it on a little bit, and they cant turn it back. Once the ideas are in, you cannot kick them out of the country.

via Interview: Eric Schmidt And Jared Cohen, Authors Of The New Digital Age : All Tech Considered : NPR.

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Alec Ross Signs Out, Will Digital Diplomacy Grow?

The notion of tech innovation and Foggy Bottom might seem like two entirely different spheres–but thanks to @AlecJRoss the latest generation of ambassadors and foreign policy implementers are more aware of how social media, internet freedom and online tools play an important role in 21st century diplomacy.

Ross always rejected the idea that innovation was about specific tools such as Twitter or Facebook. He would often say “There’s no such thing as a Twitter revolution,” insisting that social media is simply a vehicle revolutionaries can use to organize and spread their ideas and plans.

“It’s really about how do you conduct diplomacy beyond formal interactions between nation states,” he told The Cable.

via Tech guru Alec Ross leaves the State Department | The Cable.

And because diplomacy is occurring in new and interesting ways on a person-to-person and person-to-group level across social networks Ross made the contribution to integrate understanding of the power of social media across the organization. Josh Rogin quotes Ross in The Cable: “I don’t want this to be viewed as another slice of the pie, but rather a part of every diplomat’s work. I want 21st-century statecraft to just be ‘statecraft.'”

These interviews on big think and Brookings, respectively, give you a little more info on the power of social media in the recent US elections as well as the strategy behind integrating it into eDiplomacy. And this was the first story (NYT Magazine) I recall about him that gives you a better insight into his career path from T4A to State’s Policy Planning Staff.

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U.S. Demands Chinese Block Cyberattacks

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon demanded in a speech yesterday that China put a stop to the theft of U.S. firms’ data through cyberattacks. This is the first time that a U.S. official has specifically named China in regards to cybercrime. A cyber security firm recently released information that attacks were coming from an area in China that is home to a large cyberunit of the People’s Liberation Army, information which lines up with the U.S.’s own data on the attacks, making it difficult for the U.S. to not deal with this problem directly. This comes at a complicated time for U.S.-Chinese relations as the U.S. is seeking the diplomatic help of the Chinese government in negotiations with an increasingly hostile North Korea.

Although not fully addressed by the article, the theft of U.S. firms’ data brings up the issue of intellectual property rights and the ease of the dissemination of information during this technological age. It has become increasingly difficult for companies, governments, and individuals to protect their intellectual property, and developing countries (read: China) view the international organizations in charge of protecting those rights, such as WIPO, as biased towards the wealthy, developed countries (read: U.S.). Although the announcement came as a demand, one of the things the U.S. wants China to do is to work together to help establish a set of rules to act as a global standard on cyberspace protocol in order to alleviate these problems.

The White House, Mr. Donilon said, is seeking three things from Beijing: public recognition of the urgency of the problem; a commitment to crack down on hackers in China; and an agreement to take part in a dialogue to establish global standards.

Via U.S. Demands Chinese Block Cyberattacks – NYT.com

What result will come from the U.S. calling out China on this issue remains to be seen.

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Brooks on Cyberwar, Cascading Brutality and Global Cooperation

How cyberattacks descent into a covert tech war–with commensurate wall that stifle trade and interchange–in an insightful perspective from David Brooks on how collective responses (“a Geneva Convention that bans cyberactivity against citizens and private companies”)

Americans and Europeans tend to think it is self-defeating to engage in cyberattacks on private companies in a foreign country. You may learn something, but you destroy the trust that lubricates free exchange. Pretty soon your trade dries up because nobody wants to do business with a pirate. Investors go off in search of more transparent partners.But China’s cybermercantilists regard deceit as a natural tool of warfare.

Cyberattacks make perfect sense. Your competitors have worked hard to acquire intellectual property. Your system is more closed so innovation is not your competitive advantage. It is quicker and cheaper to steal. They will hate you for it, but who cares? They were going to hate you anyway. C’est la guerre.In a brutality cascade the Chinese don’t become more like us as the competition continues. We become more like them. And that is indeed what’s happening. The first thing Western companies do in response to cyberattacks is build up walls. Instead of being open stalls in the global marketplace, they begin to look more like opaque, rigidified castles.

via The Brutality Cascade – NYTimes.com.

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Cyberattack on Saudi Oil Firm Disquiets U.S. – NYTimes.com

Another skirmish in a conflict that looks like a full-fledged cyberwar on the horizon:

United States intelligence officials say the attack’s real perpetrator was Iran, although they offered no specific evidence to support that claim. But the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, in a recent speech warning of the dangers of computer attacks, cited the Aramco sabotage as “a significant escalation of the cyber threat.” In the Aramco case, hackers who called themselves the “Cutting Sword of Justice” and claimed to be activists upset about Saudi policies in the Middle East took responsibility….

Immediately after the attack, Aramco was forced to shut down the company’s internal corporate network, disabling employees’ e-mail and Internet access, to stop the virus from spreading.

via Cyberattack on Saudi Oil Firm Disquiets U.S. – NYTimes.com.

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Is the UN Taking Over the Internet? (Short answer: No.)

Are black helicopters taking over the Internet?  According to Rebecca Mackinnon at FP.com not if a broad group including Congress, the Obama Administration, Silicon Valley and civil liberties groups can stop it (and they can).

Underneath it all she points out are efforts by powerful governments such as Russia and China to wrest control of the Internet from private control.  (Leaked document analysis thanks to the Center for Democracy and Technology).

But will they succeed? “There is no doubt that some governments, notably Russia, would like to see the ITU replace ICANN and other private sector-based Internet institutions,” Syracuse University professor Milton Mueller wrote in a recent blog post recapping much of the history and distilling highlights from his book on the struggle published two years ago. “What most people dont realize, however, is that certain governments have advocated that position for more than a decade — and they have repeatedly failed to realize those goals.”

via The United Nations and the Internet: Its Complicated – By Rebecca MacKinnon | Foreign Policy.

Milton Mueller, the author of Networks and States notes that this has been occurring since 1996 but there is no concern for a sudden takeover, nor is there growing political support for the ITU, and even the notion of “intergovernmentalism” is losing power.  He suggests the biggest challenges come from India, China, Russia, and even other countries that might attempt to control or regulate the Internet.

 

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‘Technik’ and the City: How Urban Centers Like New York and Tokyo Are Becoming Info-States – The Daily Beast

To what extent are cities acting like states?  Is technology really changing the dynamic of social, political, and economic realities in a major way? Parag and Ayesha Khanna make the case:

The rise of the info-state is about not only money and technology, but also loyalty and collective identity. As the Canadian scholar Daniel Bell argues, we are entering an age of “civic-ism,” in which pride in one’s city supersedes national patriotism. The “city-zen” is the new citizen. We identify ourselves as much or more as New Yorkers as Americans—and so many expats and immigrants in New York feel the same way.

via ‘Technik’ and the City: How Urban Centers Like New York and Tokyo Are Becoming Info-States – The Daily Beast.

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