30 May 2020

‘Overtaken by Aliens’: India Faces Another Plague as Locusts Swarm

By Jeffrey Gettleman and Suhasini Raj

NEW DELHI — Magan Doodi, a groundskeeper at a golf course in Jaipur, was making his rounds earlier this week when he saw the sky suddenly turn a weird pink.

It wasn’t some quirk of the weather. It was locusts — millions of them, “like a spreading bedsheet,” he said.

“The locusts have attacked the golf course!” Mr. Doodi yelled into his cellphone during the battle Monday morning. “It’s man versus locusts!”

As if India needed more challenges, with coronavirus infections steadily increasing, a heat wave hitting the capital, a recent killer cyclone and 100 million people out of work, the country now has to fight off a new problem: a locust invasion.

Scientists say it’s the worst attack in 25 years and these locusts are different.

“This time the attack is by very young locusts who fly for longer distances, at faster speeds, unlike adults in the past who were sluggish and not so fast,” said K.L. Gurjar, the deputy director of India’s Locust Warning Organization.

Will COVID-19 Kill The Liberal World Order?

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For a brief moment it seemed that the worst global pandemic in a century might lead to increased comity between the United States, China and Russia after years of geopolitical eye-gouging. As the virus spread there were early signs of a pause in the escalating cycle of military brinksmanship, cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns and trade wars that has badly shaken the rules-based international order in this era of great power competition.

Beijing seemed to initially embrace a spirit of cooperation when it donated protective gear and testing equipment to hard hit countries in Europe. President Trump for months was uncharacteristically effusive in his praise of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts to combat the virus. Russian President Vladimir Putin got into the soft power act in early April when he dispatched an An-124 military transport to New York filled with donated masks and ventilators. (Of course, you can also argue it was a highly effective information operation designed to undermine U.S. standing in the world.)

That moment was short lived.

Taipei Caught Between Beijing And Washington

The U.S.-Taipei relationship is raising tensions between the U.S. and Beijing. On Wednesday, May 20, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo broke decades of diplomatic protocol when he tweeted congratulations to Taiwan’s newly re-elected leader, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen. In the tweet, Pompeo referred to the new leader as “president”—another serious breach of protocol. According to Taiwan’s foreign ministry, it was the first time a US secretary of state had congratulated the island’s chief executive. The tweet provoked no less than three Beijing officials to lash out at Pompeo’s kind words.

The Ministry of National Defense said that the military would “take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard” China’s sovereignty, as reported by Bloomberg. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the U.S. to “immediately correct its mistakes” or the nation would respond. The Guardian also quoted China’s Taiwan Affairs Department as saying Beijing would continue “to work with both sides but would never tolerate any act separating Taiwan from China or leave any room for any forms of independence.” These threats contribute to a deteriorating political environment between the U.S. and China widely considered to be a new cold war, an environment where the strained relationship has been politicized by both sides and Taiwan has been used as leverage against Beijing.

China Wants to End Hong Kong's Autonomy While COVID-19 Distracts the World


The move by China's ruling Communist Party to set in train a national security law for Hong Kong signals a crackdown on the city's freedoms and could spell the end to the autonomy it has had since the British handover of 1997, activists and analysts have said.

The controversial law that bans "treason, sedition, secession and subversion" in Hong Kong will be presented at China's National Party Congress (NPC), which has just started, and largely rubber stamps the leadership's wishes.

After months of unrest and anti-China protests in the city last year, the new law is seen by its opponents as a way to rework the "one country, two systems" arrangement in place over the 23 years since the British transfer of Hong Kong's sovereignty, which gave it a high degree of autonomy and self-governance.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was the British foreign secretary in 1997, described the situation as "desperately serious" and that, as signatories to the treaty that ended its administration of Hong Kong, the U.K. had legal and ethical obligations to stand up for it.

What can be done to protect front-line communities from COVID-19?

John Hudak and Makada Henry-Nickie

In the first part of this analysis, we used mobility data for more than 90,000 devices in Detroit, collected earlier this year, to demonstrate the racial and income disparities in social distancing. In Detroit, as the pandemic wore on, Black residents were less likely to engage in social distancing compared to their fellow white residents. Many Black people were likely to be going to work, using public transportation, and then returning to more densely populated housing units—generating a cycle that can facilitate infection and additional transmission. Through the device data, we observed a community of front-line Detroiters who are disproportionately Black and poor.

There are similar front-line communities all over the country. What steps, then, can governments take to protect them as COVID-19 ravages the nation?

Providing PPE to front-line workers

We urge the Detroit Health Department and health departments across the country to strengthen physical safety protections for essential workers deemed low- or medium-risk under the Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSH Act). We also implore employers of all sizes to provide essential workers with personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA’s recently released COVID-19 advisory outlines helpful precautionary measures that employers can implement to protect workers, but the advisory does not confer any regulatory burden to provide low- and medium-risk workers with PPE. And where OSHA falls short, states and localities should use their regulatory and enforcement authorities to go further. Increased oversight, enforcement, worker complaint hotlines and an ombudsman should be part of the parcel, too. Essentially, there should be no uncertainty within the employer community about accountability or the standard of care that management is expected to provide for vulnerable workers.

The Kremlin’s disinformation playbook goes to Beijing

Jessica Brandt and Torrey Taussig
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The coronavirus pandemic is laying bare a growing competition between democratic and authoritarian governments. As the U.S. and Europe struggle to contain the virus at home, Russia and China are seizing the moment to enhance their international influence through information operations. Moscow and Beijing have long aimed to weaken the United States, blunt the appeal of democratic institutions, and sow divisions across the West. Their goals in this crisis are no different.

Information manipulation is just one of a suite of asymmetric tools Russia and China use to advance their political goals abroad. Other tactics include cyberattacks, economic coercion, malign financial activity, and societal subversion. The efforts by Moscow and Beijing should remind Western leaders of the ongoing geopolitical challenges percolating beyond the pandemic. As decisionmakers focus on shoring up their public health systems and economies, Russian and Chinese information campaigns are having a mutually reinforcing effect. Strong responses are needed from the United States, Europe, and democratic partners to ensure that authoritarian disinformation does not take root in fertile ground.


The End of Hong Kong

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China moved to take away the city’s autonomy, one of several aggressive actions by Beijing across the region.

Over the course of April and throughout May, while much of the world’s attention was trained on the coronavirus’s spiraling death toll, hardly a day passed in Hong Kong without news of arrested activists, scuffles among lawmakers, or bombastic proclamations from mainland officials. Long-standing norms were done away with at dizzying speed.

In that time, Beijing was undertaking aggressive actions across Asia. A Chinese ship rammed a Vietnamese vessel in the contested waters of the South China Sea, sinking it. Off the coast of Malaysia, in the country’s exclusive economic zone, a Chinese research vessel, accompanied by coast-guard and fishing ships—likely part of China’s maritime militia, civilian vessels marshaled by Beijing in times of need—began survey work near a Malaysian oil rig. The standoff that followed drew warships from the United States and Australia, as well as China. Beijing then declared that it had created two administrative units on islands in the South China Sea that are also claimed by Vietnam. Chinese officials have reacted, too, with predictable rage to Taiwan, whose handling of the pandemichas won plaudits and begun a push for more international recognition.

The Pandemic’s 5 Silver Linings

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You don’t need me to tell you that life is pretty grim these days. Nor will it help if I remind you that the negative consequences of the pandemic will persist long after it is over. But even a realist can see glimmers of hope in today’s gloomy circumstances and believe that what we are going through today could eventually have some positive consequences.

In my previous column, I offered a glass-half-full assessment of the pandemic’s impact on the risk of war. In a similar spirit of optimism, and mindful of the considerable suffering with which millions of people are now dealing, this week I offer the top five silver linings from COVID-19.
Climate change slows down (a bit).

Putting the world economy in a coma has cut fossil fuel use dramatically, thereby reducing the accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases and slowing the rate of global warming. Skies are visibly clearer, and those deeply worrisome forecasts about future warming will probably have to be revised in slightly more optimistic directions. The discovery that we can get a lot of useful work done on Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms is likely to dampen business travel in the future, thereby cutting commercial jet traffic even after recovery begins. Meat shortages resulting from the shutdown of slaughterhouses may encourage some people to shift to less carnivorous diets, which would improve public health and reduce methane emissions by all those cows.

Taiwan and the WHO in 2020: A Novel Virus and Viral Politics ANALYSIS

Jacques deLisle 

The World Health Assembly (WHA)—the annual plenary session of the 194 members of the World Health Organization (WHO)—convenes on May 18, 2020. The perennial question of Taiwan’s participation and access has again become especially prominent and contentious, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the novel coronavirus has enhanced the arguments—and international support—for restoring Taiwan’s access and, with it, providing a boost to Taiwan’s international stature and, in turn, its security. But Beijing’s opposition and other factors create challenges more daunting than those that Taipei faced when it began its earlier eight-year run of WHA attendance. The push for Taiwan’s regaining engagement and participation is a case of what should be an irresistible force meeting what may be an immovable object.

Hindsight in 2020: COVID-19 and the 2003 SARS Crisis

Taiwan’s 2020 WHA/WHO bid is also an instance of “back to the future.” In several fundamental ways, it reprises Taiwan’s success in the aftermath of an earlier deadly coronavirus that spread abroad from the Chinese mainland in 2003: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The story of COVID-19, which is also designated as SARS-CoV-2, parallels that of SARS. A dangerous contagious disease emerges in China. Government authorities at various levels suppress initial local reports of the seriousness of the threat and suppress “rumors” (even as a whistleblowing doctor—Jiang Yanyong for SARS and Li Wenliang for COVID-19—seeks to disseminate accurate information), fail to report the risks promptly and accurately to the outside world, and do not contain the virus in time to prevent its fatal spread beyond China. In the weeks to months that follow, reports continue to grow of Chinese authorities’ prior and ongoing underreporting of developments in China, and recalcitrance toward foreign and international entities calling for cooperation and investigation. Due to geographic proximity and cross-Strait travel, Taiwan is especially vulnerable to the spread of the new virus during the early phases of an emerging international epidemic. Taiwan—which had a member of the WHO from its inception in 1948 until the People’s Republic of China replaced the Republic of China as the occupant of the one “Chinese seat” at the United Nations and affiliated organizations in 1971—argues that its lack of opportunity to engage fully with the WHO puts people in Taiwan and elsewhere needlessly at risk. China rebuffs calls from Taiwan and its supporters, sticking to its opposition to Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the principal UN-affiliated public health body and insists that Taiwan’s interests are adequately addressed by Beijing’s representation of all of China, including Taiwan.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Shows the Need to Finally Take Cyber Resilience Seriously

Ian Wallace
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When the final report of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission was released in Washington on March 11, just thirty people had been reported to have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, and the unemployment rate for March was a relatively low 4.4 percent. With the exception of those related to election security, relatively little attention was paid to the report’s recommendations aimed at strengthening national cyber resilience, including two key ones on developing a better understanding of the national cyber risk and enabling rapid recovery from a cyber incident. Nearly two months later, however—with an estimated 20 million Americans finding themselves jobless and forecasts of over twice the number of deaths as the United States experienced from combat during the Vietnam War—it is clear that the United States needs to evolve its thinking about security.

With cyber regularly ranked alongside pandemics as a major threat to the nation in the threat reports of the intelligence community, that section on resilience —defined as “the capacity to withstand and quickly recover from attacks”—deserves more attention. It could prove the most prescient and important set of recommendations in the entire report. Once the initial crisis is over, Congress and the White House should finally get serious about national resilience, including to cyberattacks, as a key component of national security.

Taiwan’s Coronavirus Lesson—Technology with Transparency

Ellison Laskowski

Taiwan is undisputedly having a moment. Countries around the world are heralding the “Taiwan model” for combatting the coronavirus pandemic. Sitting only 81 miles off the coast of mainland China, it has, to date, recorded fewer than 500 cases and seven deaths. Vice President Chen Chien-Jen, Digital Minister Audrey Tang, and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are in demand to share Taiwan’s experiences and expertise with a global audience. It has also boosted its production of masks and other supplies for aid donations around the world, augmenting its efforts with flashy #Taiwancanhelp branding. Meanwhile, the United States is leading a global diplomatic push for the World Health Organization to encourage China to allow Taiwan to join its annual conference later this month as an observer.

Now is an opportune time for Europe and the United States to coordinate and collaborate meaningfully with Taiwan on the pandemic. Speaking at the kickoff for a U.S.-Taiwan coronavirus hackathon last month, American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen highlighted lessons the world could learn from the initially successful response to the coronavirus, in particular “5 Ts”: transparency, transportation controls, tracking, testing, and technology. Taiwan built on past experience to make some important decisions early on in the crisis. But it also relied on new technologies to help track and contain the virus. Europe and the United States can learn a lot from these examples even if, in many ways, its approach could not be replicated exactly elsewhere.

Now is an opportune time for Europe and the United States to coordinate and collaborate meaningfully with Taiwan on the pandemic.

G20 in the Spotlight: The Fight Against COVID-19

The human cost of the COVID-19 outbreak is enormous. The pandemic is also pushing countries across the globe into a deep economic recession that is expected to be worse than the financial crisis of 2008,[1] even under relatively optimistic scenarios in which trade rebounds in 2021.[2] A recent UN World Food Programme report also warns that the number of people suffering from acute hunger worldwide could double unless urgent measures are taken.[3]

At stake is the international system of multilateral cooperation, which has so far failed to provide an adequate collective response to the outbreak. National governments have enacted similar measures – such as lockdowns, travel bans and social distancing – to cope with the health crisis, but efforts to ensure desperately needed international coordination have been limited.

The Group of Twenty (G20), which includes the world’s leading economies, has the potential to play a central role in alleviating this crisis. It could provide the political impetus needed to galvanize global solidarity in the fight against the outbreak and reinforce the mandates and instruments of global governance. Were it to do so, the G20 could make a crucial contribution to the preservation, and possibly revitalization, of the global multilateral system.

Between Politics and Finance: Hong Kong's "Infinity War"?

Alessia Amighini 
As the Covid-19 pandemic strikes hard, protests in Hong Kong appear to have abated. Distant seem the days when yellow umbrellas and balaclavas saturated global media. And yet, just like at the start of what has now come to be known as the 2019 “global protest wave”, Hong Kong remains at the frontline of political contestation worldwide. The protests against the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition law unearthed one of the main points of contention between Hong Kong and mainland China. Through the protests, China’s increasingly assertive stance has found a counterweight, revealing how important the city is to Beijing. Apart from Hong Kong’s role as a major global trade and financial area, China’s actions towards Hong Kong might also serve as a litmus test for Beijing’s ability to mediate and pacify its neighbourhood. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic risks further heightening tensions between the two. What makes Hong Kong special? To what extent have the protests exacerbated or eased over time? How will the city’s role in mainland China’s outward-looking plans change, if the protests continue.

Beijing’s Deadly Game: Consequences of Excluding Taiwan from the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This report includes the following key findings:

Beijing’s influence within the WHO and its pressure on the UN agency to exclude Taiwan undermined global health as the novel coronavirus COVID-19 swept the world in the early months of 2020. WHO officials consistently ignored Taiwan’s attempts to exchange information about the virus and share best practices for containing it. Meanwhile, Beijing ramped up military pressure on Taiwan through a series of coercive exercises.

Taiwan appears to have successfully contained COVID-19 by instituting early and aggressive measures informed by its experience battling the 2003 outbreak of SARS, a respiratory illness that also originated in mainland China. As of May 12, the island had just 440 confirmed cases and seven deaths.

Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHO imperils the health of the island’s 23 million people and limits WHO members’ access to crucial public health information, jeopardizing global health.

China’s Periphery Diplomacy: Implications for Peace and Security in Asia

BY: Jacob Stokes

China’s foreign policy is expanding in scope and depth and now reaches across the globe. Yet its diplomatic efforts focus on its own complex neighborhood. To advance these interests, China’s leaders practice an interlocking set of foreign affairs activities they refer to as “periphery diplomacy.” This report details the main tools Beijing uses to engage the countries with which it shares borders, assesses the campaign’s effectiveness, and lays out the implications for peace and security in Asia.


China is expanding its influence around the world, yet the heart of its diplomatic efforts still lies in its own complex neighborhood. To advance the country’s interests in the region, Chinese leaders practice an interlocking set of foreign affairs activities they group under the umbrella of “periphery diplomacy.”

China’s strategic rationales for working more closely with its neighbors include upholding the security of its border, expanding trade and investment networks, and preventing a geopolitical balancing coalition.

China Declares Victory Over Both the Coronavirus and Critics of the Communist Party at the Biggest Political Event of the Year

By Barbara Demick

If there was a moment during the coronavirus crisis when the Chinese Communist Party looked as if it was losing its grip, it came on the night of February 6th, as the ophthalmologist turned whistle-blower Li Wenliang lay dying in a Wuhan hospital. In a small act of bravery that is now legend, Li had warned fellow-doctors in an internal chat group, in late December, of the impending contagion, which earned him a reprimand and a threat of arrest for spreading rumors. Li’s death was first reported at 9:30 p.m., but government censors quickly ordered the reports amended to say that he was still undergoing treatment; his death was not confirmed until just before three o’clock the next morning, when most of the country was asleep.

Nevertheless, virtually the entire online population followed Li’s death. The hashtag #LiWenliangDies received six hundred and seventy million views. People blamed the government’s coverup for what was by then a full-blown epidemic. They demanded free speech. They quoted from the Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s writings on totalitarianism and lying. They called for the Communist Party to be held accountable.

Why Remote Work Is So Hard—and How It Can Be Fixed

By Cal Newport

As we enter the uncertain second phase of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear when, or whether, knowledge workers will return to their offices. The question is whether we can solve the long-standing problems that have thwarted remote office work.Illustration by Jon Han

In the nineteen-sixties, Jack Nilles, a physicist turned engineer, built long-range communications systems at the U.S. Air Force’s Aerial Reconnaissance Laboratory, near Dayton, Ohio. Later, at nasa, in Houston, he helped design space probes that could send messages back to Earth. In the early nineteen-seventies, as the director for interdisciplinary research at the University of Southern California, he became fascinated by a more terrestrial problem: traffic congestion. Suburban sprawl and cheap gas were combining to create traffic jams; more and more people were commuting into the same city centers. In October, 1973, the opec oil embargo began, and gas prices quadrupled. America’s car-based work culture seemed suddenly unsustainable.

That year, Nilles published a book, “The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff,” in which he and his co-authors argued that the congestion problem was actually a communications problem. The personal computer hadn’t yet been invented, and there was no easy way to relocate work into the home. But Nilles imagined a system that could ease the traffic crisis: if companies built small satellite offices in city outskirts, then employees could commute to many different, closer locations, perhaps on foot or by bicycle. A system of human messengers and mainframe computers could keep these distributed operations synchronized, replicating the communication that goes on within a single, shared office building. Nilles coined the terms “tele-commuting” and “telework” to describe this hypothetical arrangement.

Japan Doesn’t Want to Become Another Casualty of English

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In a 2019 survey, Japan dropped to 53rd in global English proficiency, squarely in the “low proficiency” band. Japan ranks near the bottom of Asian and developed countries alike despite constant reshuffling and refinement of the English educational curriculum in schools and the frequent assertions, acknowledged by Japan’s Ministry of Education, that English-language skills are needed to compete in the modern economy.

The failure to adopt English is particularly unexpected given that the English language—and the whiteness associated with it—signifies privilege in Japan. Countless advertisements flaunt white foreigners on TV and use English aptitude as the basis for selling products. Top companies such as Rakuten, an e-commerce website and the Japanese competitor to Amazon, place immense weight on English proficiency, whether or not English is needed for an employee’s role. Eikaiwa (English conversation) programs run daily on TV, and accounts featuring videos of Japanese American children speaking English cultivate tens of thousands of Instagram followers.

Europe’s Differing Leadership Styles in the Coronavirus Crisis

From France to Turkey, the coronavirus crisis has affected Europe’s countries differently and been met with widely varying political responses. Many leaders, it seems now clear in hindsight, were a bit slow to react, but then most soon enough reacted decisively. While Germany’s Angela Merkel was late to take on the leadership of her country’s response and immediately chose a rhetoric of compassion, other leaders were quick to employ war-time rhetoric and activism. Despite fractious political constellations in many countries, governments were able to respond with high degrees of political unity. However, as Europe tentatively enters “phase two” and the public’s patience with lockdown measures are fraying, unity too, is likely to face increasing strain. Below, GMF experts from six countries provide portraits of their leaders’ crisis leadership.

Inconsistent Wartime Leadership in France

“We are at war,” President Emmanuel Macron insisted during his March 16 address, calling for national unity in the battle against the coronavirus and announcing the beginning of a strict lockdown, as well as reaffirming the role of the welfare state. By contrast with his usual speeches, he assumed the role of commander-in-chief. He also launched the “Resilience” military operation to provide logistical support where needed. A couple weeks later, faced with declining public confidence, Macron was compelled to acknowledge many mistakes that had been made regarding shortages of essential medical supplies and handed the government the responsibility to present a concrete plan that would ensure a successful end to the lockdown on May 11.

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Partners in a Post Covid-19 International Order? The EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA)

Hiroki Sekine

In July 2018, Japan and the EU signed both the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). The two agreements have been described as formally ushering in a new era of increased cooperation and global leadership between the two normative powers. To understand the significance of this cooperation, ISDP asked three authors to debate how effective the two agreements have been thus far and what we can expect from the strengthened partnership particularly during a time when the world is facing a global pandemic and an impending economic recession.

The three authors are; Axel Berkofsky, Senior Lecturer at the University of Pavia, Italy and Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Milan-based Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI); Hiroki Sekine, Visiting Fellow at both Chatham House and ISDP and former Senior Advisor to the corporate planning department at the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC); And, Lars Vargö, Distinguished Fellow at ISDP and former Swedish Ambassador to Japan and South Korea.


DoD Creating Standards For AI Programs

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WASHINGTON: DoD’s Research and Engineering (R&E) office has launched a new initiative to develop best practices for the many programs to design and build artificial intelligence (AI) applications, says Mark Lewis, director of modernization.

AI is one of DoD’s top research and development priorities, charged to the Director of R&E Mike Griffin.

The standards initiative is the brain child of newly appointed AI technical director Jill Chrisman, Lewis told the virtual “Critical Issues in C4I Conference 2020,” sponsored by AFCEA and George Mason University.

“When Jill first joined us just a couple of weeks ago, I asked her to give me a site view of all the efforts underway in AI across the department, and kind of give me an evaluation of where we stood,” Lewis explained today. However, he said, because DoD has “so many hundreds of programs that we really couldn’t do a fair evaluation of each individual activity.”

So, instead R&E has decided “to establish a series of standards, if you will, principles and practices that we consider to be good practices for artificial intelligence engineering,” he said. “I liken it to systems engineering.”

Should Communities Be Concerned About Digital Technologies to Fight COVID-19?

by Abbie Tingstad, Shira H. Fischer, Erika L. Bloom, Mary Lee
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Recently, Apple and Google caused a stir among cybersecurity experts and privacy advocates in particular with their announcement that they are jointly working on an application to enable contact tracing through their respective devices' Bluetooth systems.

But these digital applications could pose privacy and security concerns of which communities should be aware.

Personal, internet-connected electronic devices, such as smartphones and activity trackers, are offering an unprecedented opportunity to identify, track, map, and communicate about COVID-19 within communities.

For example, increasing use of telemedicine—delivery of health provider services via telecommunications technologies like phones, computers, and tablets—is one important advance that has been used to help those with mild COVID-19 symptoms.

This Apple and Google app would monitor phone location data, instruct users to report if they had tested positive for COVID-19, and alert users if their phone was in close physical proximity to the phone of an infected individual.

Data as a Weapon: Refined Cyber Capabilities Under Weapon Reviews and International Human Rights Law

Samuele De Tomas Colatin Ann Väljataga

Article 36 of Protocol I Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions requires states to conduct a legal review of all new weapons, means and methods of warfare in order to ensure that their deployment would be in compliance with international law. It states that: “In the study, development, acquisition or adoption of a new weapon, means or method of warfare, a High Contracting Party is under an obligation to determine whether its employment would, in some or all circumstances, be prohibited by this protocol or by any other rule of international law applicable to the High Contracting Party.”

The cyber domain creates some new controversies as to what to review, when to conduct the review and which legal regime should apply – international human rights law or law of armed conflict. Cyber capability development is a complex and time-consuming procedure, further complicated by the fact that majority of the more sophisticated cyber weaponry is tailored to a specific target. Getting to know the target, its functioning and the vulnerabilities inherent to it, therefore, makes up a large share of the whole development and/or deployment procedure, while the actual attack may consist of merely switching a button. This kind of systemic long-period covert information gathering typically belongs to the arsenal of foreign intelligence services, rather than that of weapons review committees. The merging of espionage and weapon acquisition implies that while one is accessing and copying the necessary data about the target and learning to know its systems, she might, in fact, already be using or at the very least building the capability. Taking the latter as its point of departure, the present study aims to look at how cyber intelligence is regulated and compare it to the legal framework applicable to weapon reviews, search for overlaps and contradictions and ultimately shed some light into which regime should be preferred in the different stages from the study to deployment of a cyber weapon.

Exploring military victory in battle: a qualitative study on contemporary tactics

Lars Henåker

This study examines simulated battle settings, to analyze how tactics are performed and victory is achieved by observing tacticians dueling in wargames. In contemporary warfare, victory in battle relates to a wide variety of elements. According to military theory, these elements commonly involve deployment, reconnaissance, manoeuvre, breakthrough, tempo, surprise, exploitation, and shock, resulting in enemy organizational breakdown. Ideally, if one side in combat exploits all elements successfully, the likelihood of victory increases. Although the use of the tactical elements is not always obvious to the participants, the study indicates a correlation between using the elements and victory in a wargame setting. Although wargames inherent bias by not being the real world, they are used in training, education and analysis worldwide. The study also illustrates that the participants view tactical victory differently in battle.