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Remote-control warfare monthly briefing | #14

Commissioned by the Remote Control project, the fourteenth in our monthly remote-control briefing series from Open Briefing covers developments in five key areas or remote warfare: special forces, private military and security companies, unmanned vehicles and autonomous weapon systems, cyber warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. This month’s briefing discusses covert activities of French and Italian […]

Remote Control Project Briefing – ‘Drone Chic’

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from Caroline Kennedy-Pipe (University of Hull), James I. Rogers (University of York) & Tom Waldman (University of York) examines the current biases in the depictions of drones as precise, clean and value free. Drawing upon the discussions and debates at the ‘Who Bears the Cost?’ workshop sponsored by Remote Control in St Andrews in September, 2015, the authors raise a series concerns which challenge the conventional views of drones and then make several recommendations.

Remote-control warfare monthly briefing | #13

Commissioned by the Remote Control Project, the thirteenth in a series of monthly briefings from Open Briefing on remote-control warfare looks at key developments in the areas of special forces, private military and security companies, unmanned vehicles and autonomous weapon systems, cyber warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. This month’s stories include news that the UAE and Saudi Arabia have pledged special forces to confront Islamic State and support the Syrian armed opposition and the US president has announced a Cybersecurity National Action Plan underpinned by $19 billion in proposed federal spending on cyber security.

Hostile drones: The hostile use of drones by non-state actors against British targets

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from Open Briefing examines the design and capabilities of over 200 current and upcoming unmanned aerial, ground and marine systems, providing analysis of the specifications that would affect their threat to potential targets, including payload, range and imaging capabilities.

The report then goes on to assess known drone use by non-state groups, including terrorist organisations, insurgent groups, organised crime groups, corporations and activists, before outlining recommendations to mitigate these threats, including specific regulatory, passive and active countermeasures.

Tear gassing by remote control: The development and promotion of remotely operated means of delivering or dispersing riot control agents

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from by the Omega Research Foundation and Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project, looks at the development and promotion of “remote control” riot control systems.

The report highlights the States and companies that have developed and promoted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – drones, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and other remotely operated systems for delivering tear gas or other so-called “less-lethal” weapons. The report has found that there is inadequate regulation of “remote control” means of delivery of riot control agents (RCAs) (tear gasses) and that they could be at risk of being misused by both State and non-State actors. The report concludes that it is critical for the international community to determine constraints upon these devices under international and regional human rights law to guard against misuse. The report sets out specific recommendations for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to ensure effective regulation.

Mass surveillance: security by ‘remote control’ – consequences and effectiveness

This briefing paper, by the Remote Control project, looks at the implications and effectiveness of mass surveillance as a counter-terrorism strategy following the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013.

The briefing finds that mass surveillance programmes are leading to a number of unforeseen consequences, including the proliferation of surveillance technologies to authoritarian regimes, a decrease in public trust in government and the weakening of internet security. As well as this, doubts over the ability of mass surveillance to thwart terror plots have also been found.

The Impact of Drone Attacks on Terrorism: The Case of Pakistan

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from Dr Paul Gill of University College London looks at the relationship between drone strikes and terrorism in Pakistan.

The report analyses data on drone strikes and terrorist attacks in Pakistan between 2004 and 2013 at the monthly, weekly and daily levels to establish whether targeted killing by drone strikes result in an increase or decrease in subsequent terrorist attacks and whether what happened in each drone and terrorist attack (who is killed and how many) has an impact. The report finds there to be a complex relationship between targeted killing by drones and subsequent terrorist attacks. It also finds that violent responses to drone strikes by terrorist groups are disproportionately more likely to target civilians, suggesting that drone strikes are having a cumulative effect on civilian casualties in terms of indirect victims.

Securing change: Recommendations for the British government regarding remote-control warfare

Commissioned by the Remote Control project this report from Open Briefing analyses the main trends in the five key areas of remote-control warfare in the past 6 months.

The report looks at the unintended consequences of remote warfare and makes 31 specific recommendations for the new British government. What is ultimately needed, it argues, is a comprehensive rethink of defence and security strategy and a move away from remote-control warfare towards more enduring, accountable and effective responses to today’s multiple security threats.

Remote-control warfare monthly briefing | #11

Commissioned by the Remote Control Project, the tenth in a series of monthly briefings from Open Briefing on remote-control warfare looks at key developments in the areas of special forces, private military and security companies, unmanned vehicles and autonomous weapon systems, cyber warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. This month’s stories include news that US special operations forces have withdrawn from Yemen, former Blackwater security contractors have been sentenced and China have acknowledged their cyber operations in a recent publication.