POLITICS & GOVERNMENT CHAPTER 14 ITGS After this chapter you should be able to: ■ Explain how Internet content can be filtered, along with the social and ethical impacts of such practice. ■ Describe technology uses for electronic and online voting along with the social issues of each. ■ Explain how the government can use the Internet to provide services. ■ Describe how Information Technology can be used by the military. ■ Evaluate the use of information technology for military purposes. INTERNET FILTERING - Government Control of the Internet ■ Internet filtering or 'blocking' is when access to a certain resource or service on the Internet is prevented. This can be done on a scale of an individual machine, a group (E.g. a school LAN), or even an entire country. China, North Korea, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are all known for their extensive control over the flow of information in their respective countries. Usually, information on political opposition or democracy websites or places where information moves freely such as social media websites like Facebook or Twitter. ■ China is famous for its pervasive Internet filtering under the Golden Shield Project-sometimes called the 'Great Firewall of China' - which blocks sites using IP address filtering and DNS record alteration DMCA (DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT) ■ it is important to remember that many countries filter their citizens' Internet access, although not all at the national level. In the US Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires schools and libraries to filter access for children in many circumstances. Search engines such as Google filter their results to remove sites which have Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints made against them (usually because they are alleged to be illegally hosting copyrighted material). ■ Internet Filtering is usually done to prevent 'harmful content' being accessed by users. What types of material would you consider so harmful that users should not be allowed to create it or view it online? ■ How could we possibly know if our Internet access was filtered? Could it alter our perception of the world around us? ■ Why is cyber-terrorism such a tempting option for terrorists? ■ In the United Kingdom, Internet Service Providers are not legally required to block any material. However, many ISPs block sites identified by the Internet Watch Foundation as containing illegal material - usually images of child abuse. It has been suggested that ISPs should also block sites related to promoting terrorism, though nothing has come of these plans yet. ■ Although pornography is often the focus of Internet filtering discussions, there are dozens of other topics which are filtered by governments around the world, including: – Abortion and contraception • – Bomb making instructions • – Child abuse • – Criticism of the government • – Democracy advocacy • – Drugs • – Gambling • – Guns and weapons • – Hate speech • – HIV and AIDS • – – – – – – – – – Holocaust denial • Illegal download sites (of copyrighted material) • Political criticism • Pornography • Pro-suicide and right-to-die sites • Pro-anorexia sites • Religious extremism • Racism e.g. Neo-Nazis, 'white power' • Sexuality and gay rights • Violence To help filter the Internet the following techniques can be employed: ■ Black lists - Creating a list of websites that are NOT accessible ■ White lists - Creating a list of websites that can ONLY be accessed. ■ Keyword filters (resulting in false positives and false negatives) - scanning pages for banned keywords. As the words are not seen in context, this can sometimes lead to false positives (banning acceptable content), and false negatives (missing content that should be blocked) ■ Search engine filtering - Asking search engines to stop certain content from appearing in search results. For example, in China, searches about the Tiananmen protests will not appear in the search results. Google did not agree to be filtered and therefore do not operate their business in China anymore. ■ DNS poisoning - Altering of DNS records to send users to the wrong IP address and therefore the wrong website. This has been used in the past to display political messages in the place of regular websites. DNS-Based Attack Brings Down New Victim: WhatsApp ■ Content rating systems work by categorising a web site's content and then configuring a web browser to allow or disallow different categories of content. Usually web site owners voluntarily rate their content in a set of predefined categories such as drug use, bad language, and violence. Ethical issues ■ Filtering-sometimes referred to as censorship-raises many ethical issues. A key issue is whether users should be informed when content they try to access is blocked, perhaps so they can request access to the content. In many cases, including the UK, attempting to access blocked content results in a standard Internet 404 'site not found' error message, rather than a message explaining that the content has been blocked. Most users would thus be unaware that their content has been blocked, instead believing a technical error had occurred. ■ This has the side effect of making accidental blocking of innocent sites (false positives) extremely hard to spot, because the true cause of the problem is disguised by the false error message. Accidental blocking of a businesses web site, for example, could cause serious and long term impact on the business. In these cases there needs to be a quick and accessible way of requesting a review of the blocking from the content provider to minimise the financial loss to the business. ■ There can be cases 'mission creeping', where gradually more and more content is added to a filter, expanding its role far beyond its originally intended purpose. This could be motivated by social, political, or business interests. ■ However, perhaps the greatest ethical issue related to content filtering is determining which content is appropriate and which is inappropriate. ■ Cultural diversity plays a key role here because ideas about what constitutes 'appropriate' and 'inappropriate' are likely to vary greatly from person to person, based on their upbringing, religion, culture, and personal beliefs. E-PASSPORTS ■ E-Passports use RFID technology to reduce the chance of passport forgery. A microchip in the passport holds all of the user data, including their picture and biometric information. When scanned, the data is sent to the border control staff wirelessly and hacked for authenticity. E-Passports have faced criticism from some due to the fact that all of the user data might be accessed unlawfully if someone has an RFID reader nearby to capture the data in order to produce a clone of the passport. ■ The process of reading an e-passport is complicated by the need to maintain security of the transmitted data, the need to verify the passport's integrity, and the desire to prevent unauthorised readers accessing passport data. The steps followed are: ■ Authenticate the RFID reader: To ensure that an unauthorised person is not trying to access the passport, the reader authenticates itself using digital certificates. This is known as Extended Access Control (EAC). EAC is also used to ensure the chip is not a clone-i.e. an exact, unaltered copy of another genuine passport chip. EAC is not used by all countries. ■ Establish a secure connection: to prevent eavesdropping by any nearby unauthorised readers, the data is encrypted before being sent from the passport to the authorised reader. This is known as Basic Access Control (BAC). ■ Verify the integrity of the chip: To ensure that the data contained on the passport's chip has not been changed since it was issued (for example, by replacing the chip with another chip, or by changing the digital photo), the data on the chip is signed with a digital signature. This signature is checked when the data is read. This is known as Passive Authentication (P A). ■ Authenticate the passport holder: a biometric template is generated from the digital image stored on the passport's chip. A photograph of the passport holder is taken at the customs point, and a biometric template from this image is compared to that stored on the chip Criticisms ■ A number of criticisms have been levelled at e-passports, particularly by privacy and security advocates. A key concern is the security of the data held on the passports' chips, especially the biometric data. Researchers have demonstrated attacks against the e-passport systems including successfully reading a passport from an unauthorised reader; cloning a passport by covertly reading its data from a distance; and using an altered passport chip without detection. Many of these attacks rely on the fact that not all countries implement the security and authentication methods detailed above. POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING ■ During the last US Presidential election, the use of social media was prevalent. Donald Trump, who was already a presence on Twitter, made us of the platform to push his messages out to the mass population, and the globe. Even now in office, Trump uses Twitter to keep people informed of what he is doing and what opinions he currently has on various topics. ■ Obama's campaign was carefully crafted to make use of all the latest technologies available to the electorate: – A central campaign web site provided core features such as information on volunteering and donating to the campaign (www.barackobama.com). – Facebook was used to connect with potential voters especially the younger part of the electorate. Groups supporting Obama as well as the official Obama page were used as platforms to discuss issues and critically +get feedback from the electorate. – YouTube was used to publish key interviews and debates, making the content available long after the television broadcasts had finished. As with Facebook, these videos also provided a platform for feedback from viewers. • – Twitter and blogs were used to provide up to the minute information on the campaign's progress ■ Obama was the first presidential candidate to decline the $85 million public fund available to him, instead raising $747 million through his campaign. $659 million came from individual donations, with $246 million (37%) being micro-payments of $200 or less- many of them made through the campaign web site ■ These technologies in Politics bring numerous advantages for candidates and the electorate too: Direct connections can be made with the voters. Friendships, follows, likes and groups allow campaigners a bigger 'reach'. Voters can access content on RSS feeds or through shared content. Information on the campaigns is up-to-date and can even be created automatically. The cost of the campaign can be much more reduced compared to older time as social media is free. Social media can help harness the support of younger voters who are regular users of the various social media platforms. E-VOTING ■ Two main methods of E-Voting are Electronic Voting and Online Voting (Internet Voting Systems). ■ Electronic voting is where voters travel to a voting station as usual but their votes are counted by a computerised system. In optical scanning voting systems, voters authenticate themselves as usual with ID, then cast their vote on a piece of paper that is then passed into an OMR system to count their vote. Direct Recording Electronic systems have a display where they can choose their option by pressing it on screen. ■ Online voting is done via a Public Network Direct Recording Electronic System (PNDRE). Voters visit a website to authenticate themselves either by smart card or using a registered email address. Votes cast via this method are sent to a central location and automatically counted. ■ Regardless of which method is used, the following issues always apply: – Secrecy/security – Authenticity of the voter – Integrity of the result Advantages ■ E-voting and online voting allow quicker and hopefully more accurate counting of votes. ■ They can also provide greater equality of access - for example, incorporating accessibility features for disabled users or producing ballot slips in different languages. ■ Online voting lets voters vote from home, hopefully increasing voter tum-out. ■ Computer systems can also warn voters of possible errors such as voting for too many or too few candidates, reducing the number of spoilt votes. Risks ■ Although electronic vote counting appears easy, it is actually fraught with potential problems and unique challenges related to the integrity and reliability of the results. Significantly, most electronic voting machines are black boxes - that is, an input is made but there is no way of verifying how the machine processes it to produce an output. For example, a vote may be cast for one candidate but actually counted for a different candidate (or even just ignored), and there may be no way to verify this. Solutions ■ Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT), also called paper audit trails, can be used to verify that votes have been correctly cast. ■ Software verification is also important. Independent verification of voting software, performed by qualified software verification companies, could be used to ensure it functions as required. Online Government ■ Govenrment websites and social media accounts can help provide a country with advice, services and information about government operations. ■ They can include crime statistics or travel advice information. ■ Government services can allow applications for important documents such as passports or driving licenses, as well as hosting e-petitions that allow citizens to give their opinion on relevant issues and have it requested to be reviewed in Parliament. ■ The UK site GOV.UK has all of the services and is affiliated with CHANGE.ORG which allows users to submit e-petitions. Challenges ■ Equality of access is essential in the provision of government information and services: if citizens lack such access, they are effectively no longer being represented. Eg. Disable people and rural folks. ■ Authenticity of visitors is not a concern for advice or information sites, but is a key challenge for those which provide governmental services. Eg. National Insurance or Social Security numbers. Identity theft can make these methods vulnerable. Solutions ■ Specialised cards, such as National Identity Cards or voting cards can help, especially if they must be physically present to use the site (for example, by using a card reader attached to the computer). ■ Biometrics is also another possible solution, but raises concerns about the privacy of data in government databases. GOVERNMENT DATABASES ■ Keeping track of citizens in order to monitor and improve government services is something that appeals to governments. ■ They can track medical records in order to know which areas that funding is required. ■ They can keep transport databases to control payments using smart devices. This then allows them to track the flow of traffic across transport systems in cities and across the country. ■ Police databases are used to hold data on crimes, criminals, convictions and stolen property in order to produce meaningful reports to help manage the justice system in a country. ■ Telephone call databases are kept by most telecoms companies. These databases record the time of calls, the caller and the call recipient numbers, and the length of the call, but do not record the call itself (among other reasons, because of the storage requirements). Concerns ■ Key concerns about government databases often involve the size of the databases, the length of time fo ■ Data matching and data mining techniques, are also often applied to government databases, and this raises further concerns about secondary use of data. ■ Security of the database is also a concern since a large number of users are connected to the database. Key Point Whenever discussing databases, the most important issues are almost always security, privacy, and integrity of the data. MILITARY USE OF IT MILITARY USE OF IT ■ The military uses a range of technologies to help train personnel. Virtual and mixed reality systems allow users to be fully immersed in an environment but without the dangers of being injured. ■ Virtual reality, such as the Future Immersive Training Environment (FITE) systems, use virtual reality headsets or goggles to place a 'wrap around' image close to the soldiers' eyes, removing their view of the world around them and thus increasing the immersion of the experience ■ Tactile feedback devices attached to a soldier's leg even cause a physical sensation when he is shot or injured. ■ Mixed reality systems, as their name suggests, use a combination of physical training environments and technology. A physical training environment gives soldiers a sense of the actual sights, sounds, and even the smells and explosions of the combat environment, while computer images projected on the walls show hostiles and civilians ■ Battlefield technology has the potential to give soldiers an advantage over their enemies such as using augmented reality to overlay data on a soldier's vision about the environment they are in - it could also highlight friendly vs enemy soldiers in real time. ■ Future warrior systems, sometimes known as wired soldiers, use information technology to increase an army's tactical advantage over the enemy by improving communication between individual soldiers, units, and commanders. ■ A key component of these systems is providing tactical information to individual soldiers on the ground. Problems ■ Ergonomic design remains one of the biggest challenges of future warrior systems: equipment has to be rugged enough to withstand the harsh conditions of battle, but also light enough to be carried by a soldier who already carries many kilograms of equipment. ■ There is also a fine line between providing a soldier with useful information and causing a dangerous obstruction to his vision. ■ Information systems like these need to update in real-time to keep up to date with the fast changing pace of battle. Lags in network communication or processing data are not acceptable, as out of date information-for example, about friendly soldiers' positions-could be worse than no information. Smart weapons ■ Technology can also make weapons smarter in terms of accuracy, by using GPS, the missiles can hit remote targets with a high degree of accuracy. ■ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also called drones, are now commonly used by US and other military forces. ■ The most common drones, the Predator and the Reaper, can fly at up to 15 kilometres above the battlefield for more than 10 hours. ■ UAVs are often used for target tracking and surveillance, being able to discretely follow targets wherever they go. They are also equipped with weapon systems to provide air support for friendly forces, and infrared cameras to see through dust and in the dark. ■ Precision guided weapons-sometimes called smart bombs-use a variety of techniques including lasers, infrared cameras, and radar to guide a missile or bomb to its target with greater accuracy. ■ Precision guided weapons were used in both Gulf Wars as well as Afghanistan, where it is claimed their improved accuracy reduces the need to use more powerful explosives, thus reducing the risk of collateral damage. ■ Military robots are being used for functions such as bomb disposal, and for carrying heavy equipment. The SWORD robot is a high speed robot equipped with weapons that can be remotely controlled by soldiers from up to several hundred meters away. CYBER TERRORISM + CYBER WARFARE CYBER TERRORISM + CYBER WARFARE ■ Cyber warfare is the use of attacks on computer infrastructure and networks in order to spy on systems or destroy enemy morale and confidence. ■ Targeting power grids or water supplies to disable a countries ability to defend itself are possible approaches. ■ Viruses can be used to infect enemy computers to delete or steal data from their machines. ■ Denial of service (DOS) attacks could be used to bring enemy networks down. ■ Autonomous drones could be created using artificial intelligence to help determine whether targets are enemy or friendly. Many people have worries about such technology because of it's unproven reliability. ■ Defending against cyber-attacks is extremely difficult as no computer system can be made 100% secure, and human weaknesses such as choosing a poor password or inserting an unknown flash drive into a computer can circumvent even stringent security measures. Once infected, systems can remain under foreign surveillance for extended periods-possibly years-and it can be difficult or impossible to discover which information was compromised or who the perpetrators were. ■ Presentation ■ Imagine that you are managing a campaign for an independent presidential candidate in Ghana. Explain which technologies you would choose to use on your campaign. Which technologies would you decide not to use? Why? Your presentation should look at the level of IT and Electronic development in Ghana.