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Weaponising Big Data

This site is the home of the ‘Weaponising Big Data’ Project, a Free Range research project on the military and intelligence sites in Britain that are preparing for offensive cyberwarfare and automated state surveillance.

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Resources & Information

A page of links from the Free Range Network and elsewhere listing informative resources on cyberwarfare and automated state surveillance.

Free Range Network publications & information:

Publications are listed in reverse chronological order

‘Weaponising Big Data’ Project Outline, 1st October 2019
A summary of how – from mini-nukes, to autonomous drones, to mass surveillance, to industrial-scale hacking – information technology is changing the military and intelligence agencies, making them more injurious to civil and human rights.

For the article with hyperlink references from which this summary was produced, click here.

‘The Global Military Infrastructure and You’
(YouTube video), June 2018
A presentation on the use and abuse of data by military and intelligence agencies. A new ‘intelligence fusion’ centre is being built at USAF Croughton. Experience suggests that the flaws in how data is processed, but more significantly the bias that the ‘intelligence fusion’ process has historically created in the USA since 9/11, will have a negative impact on European security, privacy and civil liberties.

USAF Croughton, Networked Warfare, and the Intelligence-Fusion Complex, June 2018
The report on NATO’s new Joint Intelligence Analysis Centre (JIAC) was written by researcher and consultant, Paul Mobbs. The report considers not only the details of the recently permitted JIAC development, but also the wider technological and policy issues surrounding ‘information’ and ‘hybrid’ warfare – and the critical role of data collection and analysis in that process, and on how digital networks, data, and artificial intelligence are blurring the boundaries between military, political and civil conflict.

‘Keep Space for Peace’, part 2 – USAF Croughton
(YouTube video), December 2017
This video investigates not just USAF Croughton ('RAF' assumes a level of control that does not, in reality, exist), but also the evolution of the idea of "network-centric warfare" as it has developed at this site.

‘Keep Space for Peace’, part 1 – NSA Menwith Hill
(YouTube video), December 2017
A trip to visit the NSA's Menwith Hill spy base in Yorkshire, and the regular Tuesday evening protest outside the base.

The Quiet Militarisation of West Wales' Skies, July 2014
As technology changes, so Britain's military policy has changed. For decades the military's presence in the hills of Wales was experienced through the fencing-off of large areas of land for military exercises, and the use of the region's local long winding valleys for pilot training. Now a new phase is about to begin, with the use of Wales' landscape to support the development and testing of 'unmanned aerial vehicles' (UAVs) – or "drones".

Other informative publications:

Publications are listed in reverse chronological order

rand-2018Perspectives and Opportunities in Intelligence for U.S. Leaders, RAND Corporation, September 2018
America’s ability to identify and respond to geostrategic and regional shifts and their political, economic, military, and security implications requires that the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) gather, analyze, discern, and operationalize information. In this information-dominant era, the IC must continuously pursue strategic intelligence to anticipate geostrategic shifts, as well as shorter-term intelligence so that the United States can respond to the actions and provocations of rivals. The ability of the United States to modernize our military forces to overmatch our adversaries requires intelligence support.

amnesty-2018Deadly Assistance: The Role of European States in US Drone Strikes, Amnesty International, April 2018
The reach of the US lethal drone programme is extensive, going beyond Pakistan, to countries such as Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Syria and including areas outside of armed conflict. For this, the USA relies heavily on assistance from many States, including European States. The United Kingdom (UK), Germany, the Netherlands and Italy have played a significant role in supporting the US’s lethal operations, including its drone programme.

☮ Open Society Justice Initiative: Death by Drone: Civilian Harm Caused by U.S. Targeted Killings in Yemen, 2015
The United States has been conducting targeted killings in Yemen at least since 2002. These killings have been cloaked in secrecy. Neither the U.S. nor the Yemeni government systematically discloses information on civilian deaths and injuries caused by U.S. airstrikes. In the face of pervasive government secrecy, this report provides detailed and thorough information on civilian harm caused by nine such strikes in Yemen, all apparently conducted by U.S. drones.
☮ JFQ: Defense Intelligence Analysis in the Age of Big Data, Winter 2015
Over the past decade, the U.S. and Australian intelligence communities have evolved rapidly to perform new missions. They have developed new capabilities and adapted their business processes, especially in support of joint and complex military operations. But in the coming decade, their greatest challenge will be to develop new capabilities to manage and exploit big data. We use the term big data to mean the exponentially increasing amount of digital information being created by new information technologies (IT).
4milaero_2014Electronic warfare to be part of all military operations, Military Aerospace, August 2014
New threats and technologies are giving rise to terms like spectrum warfare that seek to blend electronic warfare, cyber warfare, and other technological approaches to controlling the RF spectrum.

☮ Human Rights Watch/ACLU: With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy, July 2014
With Liberty to Monitor All, a joint report by Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, documents the insidious effects of large-scale US surveillance on the practice of journalism and law in the United States, and the threat it poses to basic freedoms and democratic values. The report is based on extensive interviews with journalists, lawyers, and senior US government officials. The US has an obligation to protect national security, and may engage in surveillance to the extent it is lawful, necessary, and proportionate to a legitimate state interest. But many existing surveillance programs are indiscriminate or overbroad, and threaten freedom of expression, the right to counsel, and the public's ability to hold its government to account.
☮ Article 36: Killer Robots: UK Government Policy on Fully Autonomous Weapons, April 2013
Whilst considering that unmanned and automated systems will take on a growing role in its military forces, the UK Government has committed in parliament that the operation of weapon systems will always remain under human control. This commitment provides a positive basis for discussing the effective control of autonomous weapons for the future. However, this commitment is brought into question by a consideration of the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Joint Doctrine Note on 'The UK Approach to Unmanned Systems.' As a result, current UK doctrine is confused and there are a number of areas where policy needs further elaboration if it is not to be so ambiguous as to be meaningless.
☮ Human Rights Watch/International Human Rights Clinic: Losing Humanity: The Case against Killer Robots, November 2012
With the rapid development and proliferation of robotic weapons, machines are starting to take the place of humans on the battlefield. Some military and robotics experts have predicted that "killer robots" – fully autonomous weapons that could select and engage targets without human intervention – could be developed within 20 to 30 years. At present, military officials generally say that humans will retain some level of supervision over decisions to use lethal force, but their statements often leave open the possibility that robots could one day have the ability to make such choices on their own power.
☮ Yorkshire CND: Lifting the Lid on Menwith Hill, 2012
Anyone travelling along the A59 to Skipton cannot fail to notice the collection of large white spheres spread over many acres of otherwise green fields just outside Harrogate. Some may know that these ‘golfballs’, as they are often called, contain satellite receiving dishes, but few will know much more than that. In fact, it’s extremely difficult to find out very much more because this place – RAF Menwith Hill – is the largest secret intelligence gathering system outside of the US and it is run, not by the RAF (as its name would suggest) but by the National Security Agency of America.
☮ Liberty: liberty-2003Casualty of War – 8 weeks of counter-terrorism in rural England, July 2003
This report looks at the policing of recent peace demonstrations at RAF Fairford, RAF Welford, and other military bases during the recent invasion of Iraq. It is based on documentation and testimonies given to Gloucestershire Weapons Inspectors and Berkshire Citizens Inspection Agency by those involved in these protests. It does not purport to be a complete record of all incidents and policing methods used during these demonstrations. However, it brings together enough threads and case studies to raise very serious concerns about restrictions on the right to lawful protest and, in particular, the use of anti-terrorist powers in circumstances where no terrorist threat was present.

Official publications:

Publications are listed in reverse chronological order

jcos_nukes-2019Nuclear Operations (Joint Publication 3-72), US Joint Chiefs of Staff, 11th June 2019
This publication provides fundamental principles and guidance to plan, execute, and assess nuclear operations. It sets forth joint doctrine to govern the activities and performance of the Armed Forces of the United States in joint operations, and it provides considerations for military interaction with governmental and nongovernmental agencies, multinational forces, and other interorganizational partners.

mcdc-chwCountering Hybrid Warfare, Multinational Capability Development Campaign, March 2019
Hybrid warfare is the synchronized use of multiple instruments of power tailored to specific vulnerabilities across the full spectrum of societal functions to achieve synergistic effects. The challenge presented by revisionist actors who exploit hybrid warfare has a broad impact across societies, national government and multinational institutions. The purpose of this handbook is to inform national and multinational security and defence policy by developing conceptual guidance for countering hybrid warfare. It builds upon previous guidance on understanding hybrid warfare.

hocl-mdp-2018The Modernising Defence Programme, House of Commons Library Briefing, 21st December 2018
The Ministry of Defence published its long-awaited Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) on 18 December 2018. Spun out of the National Security Capability Review, conducted earlier this year, the MDP was seen as a mini defence review, and was expected to lay out how the Ministry of Defence positioned itself to respond to a world that has become more uncertain and volatile since 2015 and address budgetary problems in its equipment programmes.

mdp-2018Mobilising, Modernising & Transforming Defence: A report on the Modernising Defence Programme, Ministry of Defence, December 2018
The Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2015 set a new headmark for Defence: Joint Force 2025, equipped with a range of new capabilities, and better able to take on a broader range of missions to meet national security challenges. It also introduced important new policies on our international approach, on Service personnel, on innovation, and on Defence’s contribution to national prosperity.

cdsc-mdp-2018Beyond 2 per cent: A preliminary report on the Modernising Defence Programme, House of Commons Defence Committee, 12th June 2018
The Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) is a defence policy review which was removed from the wider and cost-neutral National Security Capability Review (NSCR) and placed under the control of the Ministry of Defence. This provides an opportunity for the Government to realign the size and structure of the Armed Forces with the scale and range of intensifying threats that face the United Kingdom.

nscr-2018National Security Capability Review, Cabinet Office, March 2018
The world has become more uncertain and volatile since 2015. This report updates the SDSR’s assessment of the complex and overlapping challenges likely to drive UK security priorities over the next decade. It explains how we are taking a transformative whole-of-government approach in response, bringing to bear the widest possible range of capabilities. It also highlights areas where we want to sustain dynamic cooperation with the EU to protect capabilities that keep people safer across the whole of our continent.

jdn-01-18Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities (Joint Doctrine Note 1/18), Ministry of Defence, February 2018
Joint Doctrine Note (JDN) 1/18, Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities attempts to capture the widest concept of cyber and electromagnetic activities (CEMA) and draws together elements of existing doctrine and best practice. JDN 1/18, aims to clarify the nature of CEMA and offers guidance on how to enable, realise, employ and exploit it. It considers how CEMA supports understanding, offensive and defensive actions and how it enables commanders and staff to make effective decisions and create effects within the full spectrum approach.

jdp-00-30UK Air and Space Power (Joint Doctrine Publication 0-30, 2nd Ed.), Ministry of Defence, December 2017
The generation of combat, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and mobility aircraft now entering service will transform how we fight and will be the bridge to the introduction of even more transformational air and space technologies. In realising their potential we must exploit opportunities to enhance integration – military and non-military, at home and overseas – as well as optimising cross-domain integration to contribute to joint action. The profile of the space domain is growing as our dependence upon it increases and the boundaries between air and space become less distinct. Space has become more accessible and affordable not only to us but also to our potential adversaries, and understanding the domain now needs to be a business for all, not just for a small group of specialists.

jcn-02-17Future of Command and Control (Joint Concept Note 2/17), Ministry of Defence, September 2017
As an authoritative high-level concept, it is coherent with JCN 1/17, Future Force Concept and supports balance of investment decision-making to shape the design and development of command and control (C2) capability out to 2035. Our future C2 must be designed for a state of persistent competition, able to adapt to a broad range of crisis and conflict situations, operating with various actors in different configurations across a full spectrum approach and remain effective under a variety of stresses.

jcn-01-17Future Force Concept (Joint Concept Note 1/17), Ministry of Defence, September 2017
JCN1/17 combines the separate environmental operating concepts into a single publication. Its purpose is to guide coherent future force development in the strategic headquarters and in all commands, beyond current policy and resource horizons. At the heart of this concept is the idea that we can enhance joint action, and therefore our influence, through exploiting information, being more integrated as a force and more adaptable to changing circumstances. Integrating information and physical activity across all domains – cyber, space, maritime, land and air – within a full spectrum and multinational approach will be the prerequisite to future success.

mcdc-hwUnderstanding Hybrid Warfare, Multinational Capability Development Campaign, January 2017
The international consensus on ‘hybrid warfare’ is clear: no one understands it, but everyone, including NATO and the European Union, agrees it is a problem. This report takes the view that in order to solve a problem, one must first understand it. It sets out a framework – developed under the Multinational Capability Development Campaign (MCDC) Countering Hybrid Warfare (CHW) project – to help nations understand, detect and respond to hybrid warfare.

ncss-2016National Cyber Security Strategy, HM Government, November 2016
The future of the UK’s security and prosperity rests on digital foundations. The challenge of our generation is to build a flourishing digital society that is both resilient to cyber threats, and equipped with the knowledge and capabilities required to maximise opportunities and manage risks. We are critically dependent on the Internet. However, it is inherently insecure and there will always be attempts to exploit weaknesses to launch cyber attacks. This threat cannot be eliminated completely, but the risk can be greatly reduced to a level that allows society to continue to prosper, and benefit from the huge opportunities that digital technology brings.

mod-cyber-2016Cyber Primer (2nd Ed.), Ministry of Defence, July 2016
This Cyber Primer introduces you to the subject of cyber, particularly in a Defence context, but also in your life at work and home. It is also a good foundation to reading the UK’s cyber doctrine.

jdp-00-01UK Defence Doctrine (Joint Doctrine Publication 0-01, 5th Ed.), Ministry of Defence, November 2014
The purpose of United Kingdom Defence Doctrine (UKDD) is to explain the military instrument of power and its utility both in and beyond warfare. Professions are defined in part by their bodies of professional knowledge and UKDD is part of ours. While UKDD is authoritative, it requires judgement in its application. Doctrine draws on the lessons of history, upon original thinking and from experiences gained from training and operations. It sets out the fundamental principles by which military force is employed.

Informative videos:

☮ Channel 4 News – Shoshana Zuboff on 'surveillance capitalism' and how tech companies are always watching us (40 minutes)
She’s a Harvard professor and celebrated scholar who has been described as “the true prophet of the information age.” Shoshana Zuboff’s new book looks at the exploitation of the digital dream and its rapid mutation into what she has coined – surveillance capitalism. A mutant form of capitalism where tech giants like Facebook and Google are spying on users and manipulating our data to exploit and predict behaviours – in what is a serious threat to our freedom and privacy.
‘The Great Hack’ (official trailer), July 2019 (2½ minutes)
A trailer for the most recent documentary exposing how data can be ‘weaponised’ to serve political or economic ends (a review is here).
‘Do You Trust This Computer’ (official trailer), April 2018 (1½ minutes)
A trailer for a documentary which explores the growing use of artificial intelligence in technological society (a review is here).
☮ Netpol – War on Dissent (5½ minutes)
Documenting the increasing use of police power to restrict protest rights.
☮ VICE News – 'State of Surveillance' with Edward Snowden, 2016 (27 minutes)
A programme, featuring Edward Snowden, looking at how military and intelligence technologies are invading civil society to create mass surveillance system.
☮ VICE News – CYBERWAR (Trailer), 2016 (1½ minutes)
A trailer for VICE News’ ‘CYBERWAR’ series, which provides and accessible and informative view of the problematic frontiers of the information society.
☮ VICE News – The Attribution Problem in Cyber Attacks, 2016 (1¾ minutes)
Why cyber operations are so hard to attribute, and thus so tempting for state agencies to engage in.
☮ VICE News – Are we in a state of 'Cyberwar'?, 2016 (3 minutes)
Are we already in a state of cyberwar, which may spill over across society at any time?