Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism: A Case Study of the Redirect Method

Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism: A Case Study of the Redirect Method. Rand Corporation. Todd C. Helmus, Kurt Klein. December 10, 2018.

The number of programs dedicated to countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown in recent years, yet a fundamental gap remains in the understanding of the effectiveness of such programs. This is particularly the case for CVE campaigns, which are increasingly conducted in the online space. The goal of this report is to help CVE campaign planners better evaluate the impact of online efforts. It reviews prior assessments of online CVE campaigns, provides recommendations for future assessments, and provides a case study of one particular CVE campaign — the Redirect Method. A limited evaluation of the Redirect Method process variables suggests that the implementers are able to use advertisements linking to counter-extremist videos to effectively expose individuals searching for violent jihadist or violent far-right content to content that offers alternative narratives. Users clicked on these ads at a rate on par with industry standards. However, as is the case with other CVE evaluations, this partial evaluation did not assess the impact of the video content on user attitudes or behavior. The potentially highly radical nature of the Redirect Method’s target audience makes evaluation of the campaign particularly complicated and therefore might necessitate the recruitment of former extremists to help gauge audience response. Alternatively, it might be advisable to analyze user comments to understand how a subsample of users respond to the content. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 19 pages].

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Developing Cybersecurity Capacity: A Proof-of-Concept Implementation Guide

Developing Cybersecurity Capacity: A Proof-of-Concept Implementation Guide. RAND Corporation. Jacopo Bellasioet al. August 2, 2018.

 The role played by information communication technologies (ICTs) and by the networks they generate and underpin has continuously increased throughout recent decades. From an economic perspective, the potential positive impact of the Internet and ICTs on growth and development has now been widely recognised. However, the cloak of immunity and anonymity that these technologies can provide, have led to a growth in illicit activities across cyberspace.

This document is a proof-of-concept operational toolbox designed to facilitate the development of national-level cybersecurity capacity building programmes and of holistic policy and investment strategies to tackle challenges in the cyber domain. The document seeks to enable a better translation of the results of national cyber maturity reviews and assessments into tangible policy recommendations and investment strategies, allowing policymakers to develop their countries’ cybersecurity capacity. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 324 pages].

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Angele A. Gilroy.  June 22, 2018

 As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the internet, to ensure equal access and nondiscriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” There is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” but most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network.

 [PDF format, 29 pages].

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Angele A. Gilroy. December 20, 2017

 As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and nondiscriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” While there is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network. 

 [PDF format, 28 pages].

Did Technology Kill the Truth?

Did Technology Kill the Truth? Brookings Institution. Tom Wheeler. November 14, 2017

We carry in our pockets and purses the greatest democratizing tool ever developed. Never before has civilization possessed such an instrument of free expression.

Yet, that unparalleled technology has also become a tool to undermine truth and trust. The glue that holds institutions and governments together has been thinned and weakened by the unrestrained capabilities of technology exploited for commercial gain. The result has been to de-democratize the internet. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Civic Engagement: How Can Digital Technologies Underpin Citizen-Powered Democracy

Civic Engagement: How Can Digital Technologies Underpin Citizen-Powered Democracy. RAND Corporation. Talitha Dubow et al. October 11, 2017

The report gives an overview of the discussions held as part of an expert consultation on how digital technologies can be used to support citizen-powered democracy. It summarises what participating experts considered the current situation to be, overviews the key benefits and challenges associated with the use of digital technologies in our democracy, and elaborates further on potential strategies for overcoming these challenges. The report also focuses on collective aspirations for the future, and presents the consultation group’s vision of what a digitally-supported citizen-powered democracy might look like, and what the characteristics of such a democracy would be. These include: strengthened transparency and trust in democratic processes; an improved informational environment for civic and political decision-making; and the existence of well-networked, empowered communities. Emerging ideas for what kinds of digital tools might support this vision are described, which includes ideas for the analysis, synthesis and presentation of data. Finally, the report concludes with some overarching reflections on the consultation discussions, focusing in particular on the role of different actors and stakeholders in contributing to this vision. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 25 pages, 296.93 KB].

Digital Currency: Transacting and Value Exchange in the Digital Age

Digital Currency: Transacting and Value Exchange in the Digital Age. RAND Corporation. Katherine Stewart, Salil Gunashekar, Catriona Manville. October 11, 2017.

Digital platforms and technologies have led to innovation in the way we trade: from early online mail order shops, to today’s complex cryptocurrencies and digital assets. Understanding the economic, social and political implications of such change in the way we make transactions — and how these fit into the context of wider socioeconomic trends — are key areas of focus for policymakers who wish to address social challenges and also make the best use of such platforms for public benefit. This report captures discussions among participants and key themes that arose over a two-day Thought Leadership consultation held at St George’s House, Windsor, in April 2017. It captures preliminary ideas about how digital technologies are changing the way we are able to transact and the implications of such changes on society, as well as providing recommendations for further research. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages, 572.67 KB].