Uploaded by kojo ataya


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
■ Describe how Information Technology can be used by the
■ 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
■ 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
■ 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 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
■ 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
■ 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.
■ 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
– 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
■ 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
■ 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
■ 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.
■ 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.
■ 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
■ 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
■ The UK site GOV.UK has all of the services and is affiliated
with CHANGE.ORG which allows users to submit e-petitions.
■ 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.
■ 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.
■ 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).
■ 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.
■ 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
■ 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.
■ 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
■ 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
■ 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 warfare is the use of attacks on computer infrastructure and
networks in order to spy on systems or destroy enemy morale and
■ 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
■ 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