Hostile Social Manipulation: Present Realities and Emerging Trends

Hostile Social Manipulation: Present Realities and Emerging Trends. RAND Corporation.  Michael J. Mazarr et al. September 4, 2019.

The role of information warfare in global strategic competition has become much more apparent in recent years. Today’s practitioners of what this report’s authors term hostile social manipulation employ targeted social media campaigns, sophisticated forgeries, cyberbullying and harassment of individuals, distribution of rumors and conspiracy theories, and other tools and approaches to cause damage to the target state. These emerging tools and techniques represent a potentially significant threat to U.S. and allied national interests. This report represents an effort to better define and understand the challenge by focusing on the activities of the two leading authors of such techniques — Russia and China. The authors conduct a detailed assessment of available evidence of Russian and Chinese social manipulation efforts, the doctrines and strategies behind such efforts, and evidence of their potential effectiveness. RAND analysts reviewed English-, Russian-, and Chinese-language sources; examined national security strategies and policies and military doctrines; surveyed existing public-source evidence of Russian and Chinese activities; and assessed multiple categories of evidence of effectiveness of Russian activities in Europe, including public opinion data, evidence on the trends in support of political parties and movements sympathetic to Russia, and data from national defense policies. The authors find a growing commitment to tools of social manipulation by leading U.S. competitors. The findings in this report are sufficient to suggest that the U.S. government should take several immediate steps, including developing a more formal and concrete framework for understanding the issue and funding additional research to understand the scope of the challenge. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 302 pages].

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Consumer Credit Reporting, Credit Bureaus, Credit Scoring, and Related Policy Issues

Consumer Credit Reporting, Credit Bureaus, Credit Scoring, and Related Policy Issues. Congressional Research Service.  Cheryl R. Cooper, Darryl E. Getter.  Updated July 26, 2019

The consumer data industry—generally referred to as credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus—collects and subsequently provides information to firms about the behavior of consumers when they participate in various financial transactions. Firms use consumer information to screen for consumer risks. For example, lenders rely upon credit reports and scores to determine the likelihood that prospective borrowers will repay their loans. Insured depository institutions (i.e., banks and credit unions) rely on consumer data service providers to determine whether to make available checking accounts or loans to individuals. Some insurance companies use consumer data to determine what insurance products to make available and to set policy premiums. Some payday lenders use data regarding the management of checking accounts and payment of telecommunications and utility bills to determine the likelihood of failure to repay small-dollar cash advances. Merchants rely on the consumer data industry to determine whether to approve payment by check or electronic payment card. Employers may use consumer data information to screen prospective employees to determine the likelihood of fraudulent behavior. In short, numerous firms rely upon consumer data to identify and evaluate potential risks a consumer may pose before entering into a financial relationship with that consumer.

[PDF format, 22 pages].

Digital Trade and U.S. Trade Policy

Digital Trade and U.S. Trade Policy. Congressional Research Service.  Rachel F. Fefer, Wayne M. Morrison, Shayerah Ilias Akhtar. May 21, 2019

As the global internet develops and evolves, digital trade has become more prominent on the global trade and economic policy agenda. The economic impact of the internet was estimated to be $4.2 trillion in 2016, making it the equivalent of the fifth-largest national economy. The digital economy accounted for 6.9% of current‐dollar gross U.S. domestic product (GDP) in 2017. Digital trade has been growing faster than traditional trade in goods and services.  Congress has an important role to play in shaping global digital trade policy, from oversight of agencies charged with regulating cross-border data flows to shaping and considering legislation implementing new trade rules and disciplines through trade negotiations. Congress also works with the executive branch to identify the right balance between digital trade and other policy objectives, including privacy and national security.

[PDF format, 45 pages].

Terrorist Definitions and Designations Lists: What Technology Companies Need to Know

Terrorist Definitions and Designations Lists: What Technology Companies Need to Know.  Brookings Institution. Chris Meserole and Daniel L. Byman.  July 19, 2019

This publication is part of a series of papers released by the Global Research Network on Terrorism and Technology, of which the Brookings Institution is a member. The research conducted by this network seeks to better understand radicalisation, recruitment and the myriad of ways terrorist entities use the digital space.  [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 15 pages].

5G in Five (not so) Easy Pieces

5G in Five (not so) Easy Pieces. Brookings Institution. Tom Wheeler. July 9, 2019

Throughout the world, ink is being spilled and electrons exercised in a frenetic focus on fifth generation wireless technology, or 5G. The 5G discussion, with all its permutations and combinations, has grown to resemble an elementary school soccer game where everyone chases the ball, first in one direction, then another.

In classic network engineering terms, the “noise” surrounding 5G is interfering with the “signal” about just what 5G is and what is necessary for its introduction. Consideration of 5G is far more serious than the so-called 5G “race” concocted by those seeking to advantage themselves in the business or political market—especially the political market. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Exploring Media Literacy Education as a Tool for Mitigating Truth Decay

Exploring Media Literacy Education as a Tool for Mitigating Truth Decay. RAND Corporation. Alice Huguet et al. July 11, 2019

The authors examine the ways in which media literacy education can be used to counter Truth Decay — the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in political and civil discourse — by changing how people consume, create, and share information. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 162 pages].

Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019

Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019. Pew Research Center. Monica Anderson. June 13, 2019.

37% of Americans now go online mostly using a smartphone, and these devices are increasingly cited as a reason for not having a high-speed internet connection at home

As the share of Americans who say they own a smartphone has increased dramatically over the past decade – from 35% in 2011 to 81% in 2019 – a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the way many people choose to go online is markedly different than in previous years. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 23 pages].