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Activists Press UN to Ban Killer Robots

Activists Press UN to Ban Killer Robots

Today in international tech news: The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots lobbies the UN; Europe, too, seeks data from Facebook; England's top soccer league drops its six-year legal tiff with YouTube; a 2030 launch date is set for the world's fastest fighter jet; and the lead author of the Patriot Act enlists Europe to curb U.S. surveillance.

By David Vranicar
11/13/13 10:35 AM PT

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots -- this is a real thing -- has implored the United Nations to use this week's talks in Geneva to ban the development of fully autonomous weapons -- aka, killer robots.

Hearkening to the plot of Terminator 2, the group said that such weapons would be able to select and engage targets without human intervention.

The U.S., South Korea, Israel and the UK all use robotic systems that are, to at least some extent, autonomous and lethal. China and Russia are believed to be developing systems that would give full combat authority to machines, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots said.

A spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch urged that "an international ban is needed to ensure that humans will retain control over decisions to target and use force against other humans."

[Source: The Guardian]

Europe, Too, Zealously Seeks Data From Facebook

The European Union gave Facebook 8,500 requests for data -- affecting 10,000 user accounts -- during the first six months of 2013, Richard Allen, the company's director for public policy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told a group in Brussels.

For comparison's sake, the U.S. totaled 12,000 requests affecting 21,000 accounts.

The so-called Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties between EU nations and the U.S. could muddy the stats: Requests made via those treaties are tallied as requests by U.S. authorities, so Facebook can't really tell how many such requests came from the 28-nation bloc.

Germany, which has expressed dismay and outrage over U.S. surveillance efforts, reportedly lodged the second most requests in Europe.

[Source: The New York Times]

Premier League Drops Suit Against YouTube

The English Premier League, the UK's (and maybe the world's) top soccer league, has called off its six-year-plus legal battle with YouTube.

The case dated back to 2007, when the EPL first said that YouTube was liable for clips recorded from TV and uploaded to the platform.

The move is expected to allow EPL clubs to show delayed highlights of their matches on team-specific YouTube channels. Until now, YouTube could only show interviews and behind-the-scenes videos.

[Source: The Guardian]

Super-Super-Super-Super-Super-Supersonic Jet

Lockheed Martin is developing an unmanned plane that flies six times faster than the speed of sound -- that's about 70 miles per minute -- and could strike targets on any continent in less than an hour.

The SR-72 doesn't yet exist; it is planned to hit the skies in 2030. In order to make this international death machine a reality, Lockheed Martin has teamed with Aerojet Rocketdyne to create a new type of hybrid engine that uses a turbine when it's just cruising along, and a supersonic combustion ramjet when it really wants to cover some sky.

The plan calls for the plane's hypersonic missiles to be demonstrated by 2018.

It is perhaps wise to view Lockheed Martin's fighter-jet timelines skeptically. Despite being the most expensive plane ever built, the F-35 is, embarrassingly, still not finished after two decades.

[Source: Mashable]

Patriot Act Architect Asks for EU's Help to Tame NSA

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner -- the lead author of the 9/11-inspired Patriot Act -- has asked the European Parliament to help curb NSA snooping and pressure the U.S. to change legislation.

Speaking to the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee, Sensenbrenner said the NSA abused the trust of Congress.

He added, though, that Europe could pressure the U.S. into changing its ways.

[Source: The Register]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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