Morning Security Brief: Drone Strikes, Racist Algorithms, and More

By Sherry Harowitz

► "A lethal strike against a senior operational leader of al Qaeda — or an affiliated terrorist group — can occur if a three-part test is met," writes The Hill. The finding is according to a formerly secret Department of Justice legal document addressing when the U.S. use-of-drones policy would permit a deadly strike against a U.S. citizen. It was first revealed February 4 by NBC News, reports The Hill. The three criteria are "that a high-level American intelligence official has determined the individual poses an imminent threat, that capture is infeasible, and that the strike is conducted according to the laws of war governing use of force," The Hill writes.

► The algorithms used to decide what ads go next to name searches are yielding racist results, says Harvard University Professor Latanya Sweeney. The are more likely to reference companies that search arrest records with searches of names the system thinks sound African-American, for example. "The answer is a powerful wake up call. Sweeney says she has evidence that black identifying names are up to 25 per cent more likely to be served with an arrest-related ad," writes MIT Technology Review. "Sweeney gathered this evidence by collecting over 2000 names that were suggestive of race."

► A new report from the Open Society Foundation finds that 54 countries helped the CIA after 9-11 in questionable off-the-books activities, such as extraordinary rendition and interrogation of terrorist suspects that many critics say amounted to torture. "The Open Society Foundation found that 136 people went through the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition, and 54 countries were complicit in it," writes Danger Room.

► Elsewhere in the news, Avianics Intelligence reports that students at four universities have unmanned aircraft designs that passed through the first phase of a DHS innovation awards program. "A team of aerospace engineering students from Oklahoma State University has been selected by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to move to the next phase of theBORDERS Small Unmanned Aircraft System Competition." It notes that "OSU is among four teams to receive this honor. Other universities include Purdue, Texas A&M and St. Louis University."


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