2.6 Politics and Government

The Politics and government section of the ITGS syllabus focuses on the use and possible abuse of information technology by governments, police forces, and the military. From political campaigning and online government services, to potential electronic voting fraud and censorship of the Internet, the social impacts and ethical issues of IT in this area create great debate. This chapter of the textbook covers ITGS syllabus section 2.6 Politics and Government, and raises many issues related to 1.1 Reliability and Integrity, 1.2 Security, 1.3 Privacy, 1.5 Authenticity, 1.6 Equality of Access, and 1.7 Surveillance. The topics here are also good revision material for 3.3 Networks and 3.4 Internet. The resources below support the examples in the textbook:

  • Government filtering and control of the Internet
  • E-Passports
  • Political campaigning online
  • Electronic voting and online voting
  • Online government
  • Open government
  • Internet surveillance
  • Government databases: DNA databases
  • Government databases: Citizen databases
  • Police use of IT: Risk profiling and crime prediction
  • Police use of IT: Crime mapping
  • Police use of IT: Offender databases
  • Police use of IT: Crime reporting
  • Police use of IT: Surveillance tools - SmartCCTV
  • Police use of IT: Surveillance tools - ANPR
  • Police use of IT: Surveillance tools - Mobile phone tracking
  • Police use of IT: Surveillance tools - GPS offender tracking
  • Military: Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
  • Military: Future soldiers
  • Military: Cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism
  • Military: Training tools (simulators, virtual reality)
  • Military: Smart weapons
Database security issues

Database security issues

Unfortunately significant database breaches tend to make the headlines every few months, meaning there is no shortage of examples for discussion in ITGS lessons. Also on the rise are 'ransomware' attacks, where hackers encrypt users' data and demand payment to decrypt it. Some companies have paid up to $40,000 to get their data back. Examples of database breaches include:

May 2017: Debenhams Flowers data breach hits 26,000

May 2017: Hacked plastic surgery photos published online

May 2017: India's Zomato says data from 17 million users stolen

November 2016: Mobile phone company Three suffered a security breach when criminals used an authorised Three login to access the company's database and steal personal details. The details were used to intercept expensive mobile phones being sent to customers as upgrades.

September 2016: Yahoo confirmed a 'state sponsored' hacker stole personal data from 500 million accounts back in 2014.

September 2016: Talk Talk were fined £400,000 over the theft of more than 150,000 customer details

August 2016: Personal details of up to 2.4 million people may have been stolen from Carphone Warehouse

August 2016: Accounting and payroll software company Sage said its systems were compromised and data for 280 UK businesses may have been stolen.

August 2016: Yahoo investigated a data breach in its MySpace and LinkedIn divisions, after it was claimed 200 million Yahoo IDs were stolen.

June 2016: The personal details of 112,000 French police officers became publicly available after a disgruntled worker for a support company uploaded them to Google Drive.

June 2016: Chinese hackers were suspected of stealing the details of almost 4 million people from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a branch of the US government

April 2015: the US Office of Personnel Management revealed a hack had exposed 1.1 biometric records to unauthorised access. In September 2015 this number was increased to 5.6 million fingerprints.

The textbook details several cases of lost data by the British government, including the Ministry of Defence's loss of personal data of 600,000 people. Many organisations have lost data, including 132 UK councils, the National Health Service (memory stick left on a train), and even  NASA (stolen laptop). Meanwhile, Computer World reports that over half of UK firms have lost data in security breaches.

Not to be outdone, the HMRC lost sensitive personal data of 25 million people after sending it out, unencrypted, on two CDs - which were subsequently lost.

Under the Data Protection Act, companies can be fined for losing sensitive data, and in a few cases this has happened: Zurich Insurance was fined £2.3m in 2010, Shopacheck was fined for losing data on over half a million customers in 2012, and the NHS was fined £200,000 for losing the data of 3,000 patients in 2013.

Updated: 2017-07-04
Online offender database

Online offender databases

Online databases of offenders - sometimes containing photographs and addresses - are publicly available in several US states, and raise important issues related to data reliability and integrity, privacy, and security. Online offender databases are covered on the politics and government page.
Updated: 2014-10-03
Internet censorship

Exercise 14.1: Internet filtering, censorship, and surveillance

Internet censorship is a huge topic, and one that truly highlights the global nature of the ITGS course. It is also closely related to the IB TOK course.

As an introduction to this topic, asking students to discuss or research a little about censorship in their own countries (and their opinions of this) is often very englightening. The news articles below have been divided into general categories simply to facilitate navigation.

General articles about Internet censorship

Reporters without Borders and the Open Network Initiative (ONI) both maintain up to date information about global Internet surveillance and censorship. In addition, the following articles are useful for stimulating conversation about types of appropriate and inappropriate content, and whether government control of the internet is appropriate.

Internet censorship in Europe

Internet censorship in Asia

Internet censorship in Australia

Filtering by search engines and online services

Increasingly search engines, social networks, and other web sites may also be asked to block access to certain content - either locally or globally. This is particularly significant because millions of users rely on these services to access information: the absence of a piece of content may well be taken as an indication that the content simply does not exist. The news articles below provide examples of this type of filtering:

The digital citizenship page covers some of the potential legal impacts of online behaviour.

Updated: 2018-05-21
Electronic passport

Electronic Passports (ePassports)

Numerous countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom now issue electronic passports designed to improve security and reliability.

However, security concerns are high among some people in the IT industry. This article contains many links to cases involving cloning, 'sniffing'of passport data, data tampering, and more. The BBC has also reported (video) on German hackers who were able to clone electronic passports with relatively ease.

Updated: 2014-11-07
Online election campaigning

Election campaigning resources

Most political parties and politicians have an online presence now, and the use of information technology - especially social media - has featured heavily in the 2008 and 2012 US presidential election campaigns. Some of the better articles to cover this topic include The New York Times' How Obama's Internet Campaign Changed Politics, and HowStuffWorks' How Campaign Communication Technology Works.

Looking Ahead to Obama's 2012 Social Media Campaign, and the Internet's Broader Role in Campaign 2008 are also good reads. For a more international view, On the social media campaign trail in Brazil covers social media use by politicians in Brazil. Campaigns Use Social Media to Lure Younger Voters focuses on the younger electorate, who some credit for helping Obama take his first election victory.

Rick Santorum and his Google problem: Are digital dirty tricks here to stay? looks at some of the downsides of online politics.

The political candidates in the 2012 US election all have social media sites, including Barack Obama (web site, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, Facebook page) and Mitt Romney (web site, Facebook page, Twitter feed).
Updated: 2014-11-07
Online voting

Electronic Voting software and lesson plan

Electronic voting is a controversial topic. This E-Voting lesson plan uses a simple Java application I wrote to simulate the e-voting process. Students get to vote and then are presented with three sets of results - two of which are falsified. This is a useful practise exercise to stimulate discussions about e-voting and the potential problems that may arise.

The New York Times article Voting Test Falls Victim to Hackers and the video Why Internet-Based Voting Is a Bad Idea are also useful for this task, as are the articles below.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Electronic voting

Electronic Voting articles

E-Voting impacts and issues

Report: Voting Machine Errors Highlight Urgent Need for U.S. Database (Wired) describes many, many problems that have occurred with e-voting machines in recent years. Some of them are quite unusual.  E-voting system awards election to wrong candidates in Florida (ComputerWorld) and Voting Out E-Voting Machines (TIME) both detail further problems.

Oscar's E-Voting Problems Worse Than Feared analyses the problems that faced e-voting systems designed to vote for Oscar nominees, while 'Fake votes' cast in France's first digital election (BBC) explores France's June 2013 open primary mayoral election - both articles are a stark reminder of the myriad problems facing such systems.

Finally,  this is a letter to President Obama about e-voting, written by elections officers and computer security experts - and urging him to resist calls for Internet voting. Online voting is impossible to secure examines the various security issues related to online voting, and discusses why voting is much easier to attack than other secure applications such as online banking.


Science Daily's 'Voter-Verifiable' Voting System Ensures Accuracy And Privacy explains how paper-trails are needed on voting machines, while Aussies Do It Right: E-Voting (Wired) discusses another possible solution - open source voting software (this is a good article for students who believe open source software is "less secure".

Updated: 2018-05-21
Online government resources

Online government

www.gov.uk is the UK government's web portral, from where a lot of information and many services can be accessed. www.usa.gov is the US equivalent. Both sites are great examples of the type of functionality that online governments can offer.

Online government services can have many positive impacts, but equality of access is also a major issue. Warning over 'us and them' online services (BBC) discusses potential problems with the UK government's online service provision.

Several countries have web sites where citizens can create, sign, and send e-petitions to government, including the UK, the US, and Latvia. Typically petitions reaching a pre-requisite number of signatures are tabled for discussion in parliament.

The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) is a good example of how governments can provide useful information online - in this case, guidelines for businesses in the tourism industry to set up online businesses.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Internet surveillance

Internet surveillance

With ever-increasing use of the Internet by criminals and terrorists, many governments are pushing for greater surveillance and monitoring powers. However, the issues of surveillance and privacy are fundamentally linked.

In the US, Wired's Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans makes interesting reading, while (somewhat ironically), a Freedom of Information request forced the Department of Homeland Security to Release List of Keywords Used to Monitor Social Networking Sites (Forbes).

In the UK, the controversial Communications Data Bill is one example of the types of power governments are pushing for globally. Do we need the Snooper's Charter to save lives? (PC Pro) discusses the bill, which was proposed in 2012 as a method of combating terrorism and organised crime.

Governments may also request data about users from search engines, social networks, and other organisations. In the US, National Security Letters sent by the government require the recipient to hand over data on specified individuals, and come with a 'gag-order' that prevents the receipient from discussing the letter. Google is one such recipient who has challenged these National Security Letters in court on grounds of privacy and freedom of speech.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Smart city technology

Smart Cities

Modern cities are composed of many separate systems: education, transport, electricity, water, and so on. Smart cities use information technology to monitor, automate, and improve the efficiency of these systems. For example, an information system monitoring the weather may automatically post warnings for roads that are likely to be flooded in an upcoming storm; a low-performing school may have extra resources allocated to it automatically; or additional police may be automatically allocated to areas experiencing rises in crime. Data logging, analytics, and modelling are key smart city technologies.

IBM has excellent resources about smart cities, including this introductory video and a wide range of information in various areas of application (ITGS Strand 2). MIT also does a lot of research in this area.
Updated: 2014-11-07
DNA databases

Government databases: DNA databases

DNA databases are used by some governments to store DNA samples taken from people arrested or convicted of a crime. CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) is operated by the FBI, and the UK's National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database are the two largest DNA databases in the world. Their web pages explain some of the issues and impacts of DNA databases.

DNA Database: Key case studies (BBC) highlights some of the successes (and failures) of DNA databases in solving old crimes.

Accuracy (data integrity) is a critical issue in any database: Outrage at 500,000 DNA database mistakes (The Telegraph) discusses problems with the UK's National DNA Database.

Another related issue is the possibility of 'genetic profiling' - i.e. discriminating against people (for example, for employment or insurance purposes) based on genetic markers that may indicate susceptibility to particular diseases.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Citizen databases

Government databases: Citizen information

Governments routinely (and necessarily) collect and store data about their citizens. However, large, connected computerised databases open the door for new possibilities - good and bad.

In some cases, electronic databases simply offer a quicker way to perform tasks that have long been possible - though privacy concerns may still be raised.. The ATF Wants 'Massive' Online Database to Find Out Who Your Friends Are, for example, discusses a large database requested by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to help with criminal investigations.

U.S. Terrorism agency to tap a vast database of citizens (Wall Stret Journal) details a March 2012 proposal - which was passed into law - allowing the National Counterterrorism Center to examine government data on citizens even if they were not suspected of a crime.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Crime prediction

Police use of IT: Risk profiling and crime prediction

Since 2001 governments and airports have invested huge sums of money in systems to detect potential terrorist threats. Software which analyses passengers' data to establish their 'risk score' is explained in Risk profiling software tackles the terrorist threat (BBC), while Airport Screening Concerns Civil Liberties Groups (NY Times) discusses the inherent concerns about profiling and privacy. Finally, Deception Is Futile When Big Brother's Lie Detector Turns Its Eyes on You (Wired) details software that can - relatively accurately - detect liars at border control points.

A similar technological development is 'predictive policing': the use of software and large amounts of data to make predictions about where crimes might occur - and even who might commit them - before they happen. The following articles and videos cover this topic:
Updated: 2017-07-12
Crime map

Police use of IT: Crime mapping tools

Several sites provide online crime mapping data. The UK police run Local Crime and Policing information - just type in the name of any UK town or village. Website plots area Crime-by-Crime (BBC) explains the site in more detail.

CrimeReports.co.uk is another site that maps crimes in the UK, US, and Canada. Trulia Crime Maps covers the US, creating 'heatmaps' of different crime types.

Online crime mapping clearly raises several ITGS social and ethical issues: the article Will crime maps work? (BBC) discusses some of the potential impacts. Online offender databases, which go one step further and include the personal details of offenders on their sites, are covered below.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Offender databases

Police use of IT: Offender databases

Online offenders databases remain a controversial topic, with security, privacy, and integrity being key issues. Nevertheless, many such databases exists, especially in the US: Family Watchdog lists details of sex offenders living in the community (US), while the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry (PSOR) contains records of sex offenders in the state of Michigan. Florida Department of Corrections Offender Database has online records of prison inmates, released inmates, and fugitives. The Sensible Sentencing Trust is a similar database of offenders in New Zealand - interestingly this is not operated by the government, which could raise further issues related to privacy and integrity.

Mugged by a Mug Shot Online (NY Times) discusses some of the potential long term ramifications of exposing such data.

Updated: 2014-11-07
Online crime reporting

Police use of IT: Crime reporting sites

The Internet and social media has opened the doors for improved police-citizen communication. Whotube is a site that displays CCTV footage of crimes and invites the public to identify suspects.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Smart CCTV

Police use of IT: Surveillance tools / Smart CCTV

Although regular CCTV is not an IT System in the context of ITGS, Smart CCTV, which combines video images with artificial intelligence software that looks for 'suspicious' behaviour, is - and its use raises some important ITGS issues - including surveillance and privacy.  Chicago video surveillance gets smart (CBSNews) and City Gets 'Crime detecting' CCTV (BBC) both discuss this relatively new phenomenon. This brief video from New Scientist is also a good resource.

Meet the face of Big Brother in NSW is a very worrying article about similar technology that is currently being applied in New South Wales, building biometric templates of citizens' faces from CCTV footage  - without their permission. The wall that knows whether you're a criminal (PCPro) discusses a similar system.

The Telegraph reports that Brazilian police will use 'Robocop-style' glasses at the 2014 World Cup.
Updated: 2014-11-07
ANPR technology

Police use of IT: Surveillance tools / ANPR

Thames Valley Police - Road Safety, ANPR technology in Plymouth police cars (video) and New Technology Targets Criminals (BBC) explain another new technology being used by the police and private businesses alike - Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). ANPR uses OCR technology to read car number plates and automatically look them up in a database - perhaps a database of suspect vehicles or a database of authorised vehicles in a secure car park. Your Car is Being Watched (WSJ) explains that both the police and private companies are using this technology, even if cars are not suspected of wrongdoing.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Cell phone tracking

Police use of IT: Surveillance tools / Cell phone tracking

'Stingrays' are devices that impersonate a cell phone tower to trick phones into connecting to them, allowing traffic to be captured. How 'Stingray' Devices Work (Wall Street Journal) discusses the privacy and surveillance issues related to their use.
Updated: 2014-11-07
GPS offender monitoring

Police use of IT: GPS offender monitoring and tracking

Prison without Walls is an excellent article about the use of GPS trackers to monitor paroled offenders. It covers the technical aspects of the system (Strand 3: IT Systems) plus the plethora of impacts and issues (Strand 1), including economic impacts and psychological impacts. However, according to the LA Times and The Atlantic, some of these ankle GPS trackers have serious reliability and security issues which mean prisoners have been able to disable them.

SecureAlert, GPS Monitoring Solutions, and G4S are all companies that develop and supply offender tracking technology - their home pages include a lot of detail and examples about how the systems work and their impacts.

This topic also makes a great practice paper 2 news article.
Updated: 2014-11-07

Military use of IT: Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are aircraft remotely controlled by pilots who may be on the ground nearby - or thousands of miles away. Drones use the very latest technology (BBC), including ultra-high resolution cameras (18 gigapixels!) to view the ground from altitudes upto 15,000 ft.

UAVs, in particular the US Predator and Reaper drones, are famous for their use in Iraq (CBS) and Afghanistan (BBC). In early 2013 The Atlantic reported that the US Air Force were researching micro-UAVs - this scary video suggests some of their possible applications. Army Wants Tiny Suicidal Drone to Kill From 6 Miles Away covers similar possible developments.

UAVs have also moved outside of traditional military roles. Business Insider reports that since late 2009 US drones have been protecting civilian shipping off the coast of Somalia - waters notorious for pirate attacks. British forces were considering similar tactics, according to The Telegraph.

On US soil, unarmed drones are used to patrol the US-Mexico border for illegal immigrants (Washington Post), and drone manufacturers have marketed their products to US police forces, though not without some privacy concerns being raised (NY Times).

Civilian uses for drones are covered on the AI and robotics page
Updated: 2014-11-07
Future Warrior technology

Military use of IT: Future Warriors

Battlefields are common testing grounds for new technological developments. The article The Army's New Land Warrior Gear: Why Soldiers Don't Like It (Popular Mechanics) covers developments in future warrior technology and talks about two of the key problems it faces: reliability and ergonomics. If successful, the trial would network soldiers and other assets together to form a battlefield visualisation for commanders.

Exoskeletons and 'Iron Man' armour are two more exciting military technologies on the verge of going mainstream.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism

Military use of IT: Cyber-warfare and Cyber-terrorism

The computer security page contains teaching resources for common computer security threats including phishing and computer viruses.

Cyber-warfare and cyber-terrorism are often highlighted by the media as growing problems. Cyber-warfare attacks may be performed by countries or nation-states to disable steal secret data, disrupt computer networks, or install malware to further spy on the targets. The news articles below provide some examples:

Government sites are not the only potential targets of hacking attacks: Iran has been accused of hacking US banks (NY Times) and British research universities have been warned about the possibility of attacks from spies (Telegraph) looking to steal research data. Cyber attackers have also seized, encrypted and held ransom medical centre patient databases (Sophos Security). Major sporting events such as The Olympics can also be tempting targets for cyber-terrorists.

The need to respond to cyber-attacks quickly and effectively has led to specific training courses within several countries' military and intelligence communities, as well as the occasional practice 'war-games'.

Updated: 2014-11-07
Military training tools

Military use of IT: Training tools

Virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality 'games' play an important role in military training exercises:
Updated: 2014-11-07
Smart weapons

Military use of IT: Smart weapons

Smart weapons use computerised systems to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of weapons systems. The news articles below are good resources:
Updated: 2014-11-07
Predator book cover

Predator: The Remote-Control Air War over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot's Story

by Matthew Martin
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kindle  | Worldwide (free shipping)

As the title suggests, Predator: A Pilot's Story tells the story of Matthew J. Martin, an air force Captain who flew Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) on hundreds of missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout the book Martin gives an insight into how these drones work, and how this technology has contributed to the modern battlefield. Along the way he addresses several related ethical issues, including suggestions that drone pilots are less "involved" in the battle, and allegations that drone attacks have resulted in serious civilian casualties.

Students with an interest in information technology and the military should find this an interesting and informative read, with clear links to ITGS and social/ethical issues.
Updated: 2014-11-07
America the Vulnerable book cover

America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare

by Joel Brenner
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kindle | Worldwide (free shipping)

Update: America the Vulnerable is now available as a free audio book when you sign up for a free Audible trial (US or UK customers only). Even if you cancel the trial, you get to keep the books.

American the Vulnerable examines the potential impact of cyber-warfare and cyber-terrorism on the United States. The book covers tactics that could be used to attack American computers, including hacking, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and spyware.

Brenner also examines the difficulty of addressing these threats. Isolating sensitive computers from a network, for example, is good practice. However, it raises new threats we might never have considered - such as USB flash drives loaded with malware at the point of manufacture. Ironically, Brenner says we know that many of these threats are real because the US has tried them against its own enemies.

America the Vulnerable is a good read for anybody interested in computer security and cyber-warfare / cyber-terrorism. Although it initially appears slightly paranoid, by the end its veracity is quite convincing.

Updated: 2017-11-10
Enemy of the State DVD cover

Enemy of the State

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Instant Video

Another film that addresses the abuse of technology, particularly surveillance and database technology - this time by government forces. Will Smith plays a lawyer who is tracked down - using all manner of sophisticated surveillance technology - by NSA agents after a video tape he possesses. This film covers many of the issues dealt with by The Net but in slightly different and more modern context.
Updated: 2014-11-07
The Conversation DVD cover

The Conversation

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Instant Video

The Conversation is Francis Ford Coppola's classic psychological thriller starring Gene Hackman as a somewhat paranoid surveillance expert. Although the surveillance in The Conversation is generally unrelated to information technology, it raises major issues about the impacts and side effects of runaway surveillance, as well as the dangers of interpreting data obtained in this way - issues which are every bit as relevant in today's society. Viewing The Conversation could be a good lead-in to a classroom discussion about issues such as the NSA surveillance scandal and how far governments could and should go in their data collection efforts.
Updated: 2014-11-07
NSA government surveillance

United States of Secrets

Two-part documentary from PBS about the US government's warrantless surveillance of the Internet, as revealed by Edward Snowden's leaked files.

Through in-depth interviews with key insiders, the film does a extremely good job of presenting the complex ethical and legal arguments both in favour and against widespread government surveillance of the Internet.

You can watch both parts on the PBS website.
Updated: 2014-11-18

NSA Internet surveillance

In June 2013, revelations published in the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers cast a spotlight on PRISM, a warrant-less Internet mass surveillance program operated by the United States' NSA security agency. As weeks and months passed, more and more aspects of the surveillance program were revealed, including the cooperation of the British GCHQ intelligence agency, the widespread collection and processing of images, and the use of surveillance against foreign allies of the United States. The articles below chart the progress of the story and the legal and ethical issues it raises:

Updated: 2014-11-18
Rogue Code book cover

Rogue Code

by Mark Russinovich
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kindle | Worldwide (free shipping)

Update: Rogue Code is now available as a free audio book when you sign up for a free Audible trial (US or UK customers only). Even if you cancel the trial, you get to keep the books.

Rogue Code is the third book in Mark Russinovich's series about cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism (the first is Zero Day). Fictional computer security expert Jeff Aiken returns to deal with a potential security breach at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which rapidly turns into a cat-and-mouse pursuit linked to large criminal gangs intend on performing an electronic "bank heist". One of the strengths of Russinovich's books is his realism and accuracy, which has been praised by many reviewers. At no time while reading the novel does anything that Aiken encounters seem unrealistic or even far-fetched. This is a great book for extended reading about the topic of Politics & Government and cyber-terrorism.

Updated: 2017-11-10
Who Controls the Internet?

Who Controls the Internet?

by Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kindle | Worldwide (free shipping)

Update: Who Controls the Internet? is now available as a free audio book when you sign up for a free Audible trial (US or UK customers only). Even if you cancel the trial, you get to keep the books.

Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World discusses the challenges that arise with the rapid spread of the Internet and the benefits and drawbacks for citizens, corporations, and governments. The book covers the technical details essential to understand the nature of information on the Internet, and then discusses specific examples of government or corporate attempts at control. The examples include the rise of file sharing in the late 1990s and the Chinese government's ongoing crackdown on online dissidents. Each case study is presented with clear examples, and throughout the book ITGS social and ethical issues are raised, including globalization, equality of access, and surveillance.

Updated: 2017-11-10
Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know

by Peter Friedman and Allan Singer
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kindle | Worldwide (free shipping)

Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare provides a clear explanation of the types of Internet and computer-based threats that can face countries. Friedman and Singer do a good job of explaining not only the potential damage that could be done by cyberintrusions, but also how technology can - as is - being used as a weapon of war by powers such as the US (Stuxnet is covered in detail). There is also a good discussion of why it is so hard to defend computers and infrastructure against cyber attacks.

The book focuses primarily on miltiary (Politics and Government) but many of the issues and problems are equally applicable to the realm of Business and Employment, and the examples are an excellent basis for discussions about the future of cyberwarfare and the ethics of using technology in this way.

Updated: 2015-03-06
Citizen Four DVD

Citizen Four

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Instant Video

Citizen Four is an academy-award winning documentary about former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked classified information which led to revelations of global surveillance by the NSA, GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies. The documentary primarily features interviews conducted with Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room by journalists Laura Poitras , Glenn Greenwald, and Ewen MacAskill. These are interpersed with archive footage of press revelations and government responses.

The documentary focuses primarily on the moral and philosophical implications of a surveillance state which, although quite abstract, can make for great classroom viewing material for ITGS students. The documentary works well when tied in with the myriad news articles that have been written on the subject and a discussion of how technical capabilities can often develop quicker than legalisation and understanding of their social implications.

Updated: 2015-05-26
Examples of FOSS

Examples of FOSS in Use

ITGS students sometimes mistakenly believe FOSS is 'trial' or 'simple' software, or that it lacks features compared to commercial software. The examples below highlight where FOSS in used in the 'real world' and where the advantages and challenges are found, and should help ITGS students understand that very large organisations do make extensive use of free and open source software. 50 places running Linux is a good place to start, with some perhaps unexpected examples.

FOSS in schools

FOSS in government

FOSS in Healthcare

  • NHS to embrace open source explains the benefits the UK's National Health Service hopes to derive from switching to open solutions.

Updated: 2017-05-03
All your devices can be hacked

All Your Devices Can Be Hacked

All Your Devices can be Hacked discusses the increased security threats as much and more devices feature Internet connectivity - including implanted medical devices, car networks, police radios, and voting machines. The very interesting - and worrying - aspect of this video is that it is not mere scaremongering - all of the attacks described, including disabling a pacemaker and taking over control of a car, have all been successfully executed as proofs of concepts. This makes great discussion material for ITGS students in several different strands of the ITGS triangle.

Updated: 2016-07-07