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Should we use old or new rules to regulate warfare in the information age?

As contemporary societies grow increasingly dependant on ICTs, any form of attack that involves their informational infrastructures poses serious risks and raises the need for adequate defence and regulatory measures. The OII’s Mariarosaria Taddeo discusses the outcome of a recent NATO CCD COE workshop on Ethics and Policies for Cyber Warfare, which focused on the question of the adequacy and efficacy of existing laws and ethical frameworks for the regulation of cyber warfare. Read the full workshop report [PDF, 400kb].

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The Future of Europe is Science — and ethical foresight should be a priority

The EC recently took stock of European achievements in science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) during the last 10 years, at the high-level conference “The Future of Europe is Science”. Keynote speaker Luciano Floridi highlights three particularly significant features of the resulting report: that the report treats science and technology as equally important and intertwined; that contrary to our expectations, citizens do not consider the protection of personal data to be a high priority for SET in the next 15 years; and that ethical foresight “should also be a priority”.

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Designing Internet technologies for the public good

The ongoing development of computing, communications and storage technologies presents a challenge to privacy protection, given the increasing ease with which personal data can be collected, analysed, stored, and shared. OII Professor Ian Brown discusses how “privacy by design” techniques such as data minimisation can provide a template for societies that wish to ensure the continued protection of core social values in an increasingly technology-mediated world. Full article: Keeping our secrets? Designing Internet technologies for the public good.

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Ethical privacy guidelines for mobile connectivity measurements

To make sense of today’s increasingly complex Internet architecture, network researchers collect and share datasets of network measurements, from detailed individual-level traces to data aggregated on a regional level. The OII’s Ben Zevenbergen discusses the recommendations of the Ethical Privacy Guidelines for Mobile Connectivity Measurements project, which is aimed at helping network researchers navigate the challenges of preserving the privacy of data subjects, publishing and disseminating datasets, while adhering to and advancing good scientific practice.

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The promises and threats of big data for public policy-making

The environment in which public policy is made has entered a period of dramatic change; one in which ‘big data’ presents both promises and threats to policy-makers. Big data offers a chance for policy-making and implementation to be more citizen-focused, taking account of citizens’ needs, preferences and experience of public services. But it is also technologically challenging for government, and presents new moral and ethical dilemmas to policy makers. OII Director Helen Margetts discusses how policy-makers might respond to this changed environment.

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Responsible research agendas for public policy in the era of big data

The availability of big datasets offers great potential to shape and influence policy outcomes, as well as the means by which policy-making is undertaken. But it remains unclear how government might make best use of this rich source of information, or with what practical and ethical implications. Victoria Nash (OII) discusses a recent OII workshop that explored how policy-makers, analysts and researchers should respond to the threats and promises offered by big data to public policy making and government services.

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Uncovering the patterns and practice of censorship in Chinese news sites

China keeps sliding down the Press Freedom Index — now languishing in 174th place out of 179. While Internet censorship has attracted much attention from scholars and institutes, including IP blocking, keywords filtering and deletion in social media, censorial practices in news websites have never been comprehensively described or quantified. In their paper, “Unmasking News in Cyberspace: Examining Censorship Patterns of News Portal Sites in China” Sonya Y. Song (with Fei Shen, Mike Z. Yao, and Steven S. Wildman) present the first empirical study to systematically examine news deletion on major news portals in China.

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Staying free in a world of persuasive technologies

Technologies are increasingly being designed to change the way we think and behave. While there has been excitement recently about designing information environments to ‘nudge’ us into beneficial behaviours, are we giving enough attention to their implications for individual freedom and autonomy? When does a ‘nudge’ become a ‘push’? OII DPhil student James Williams is developing a set of ethical principles for the design of persuasive technologies.

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Did Libyan crisis mapping create usable military intelligence?

Policy and Internet author Steve Stottlemyre discusses how users of online social networks took the initiative in collecting and processing data for use in the rebellion against the Qadhafi regime during the Libyan civil war of February-October 2011. He describes how some of the information crowd-sourced by crisis mappers – whether they knew it or not – met the minimum requirements to be considered tactical military intelligence, in accordance with U.S. joint military intelligence doctrine.

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