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An IA paper
June 28, 2009 at 8:36 pm #74922
Social Software and National Security:
An Initial Net Assessment
Author(s) Mark Drapeau and Linton Wells II
Social software connects people and information via online, informal Internet networks. It is appearing in increasingly diverse forms as part of a broad movement commonly called Web 2.0. Resulting social connections are typically serendipitous and can bring unexpected benefits. New social software technologies offer organizations increased agility, adaptiveness, interoperability, efficiency and effectiveness. Social software can be used by governments for content creation, external collaboration, community building, and other applications.
The proliferation of social software has ramifications for U.S. national security, spanning future operating challenges of a traditional, irregular, catastrophic, or disruptive nature. Failure to adopt these tools may reduce an organization’s relative capabilities over time. Globally, social software is being used effectively by businesses, individuals, activists, criminals, and terrorists. Governments that harness its potential power can interact better with citizens and anticipate emerging issues.
Security, accountability, privacy, and other concerns often drive national security institutions to limit the use of open tools such as social software, whether on the open web or behind government information system firewalls. Information security concerns are very serious and must be addressed, but to the extent that our adversaries make effective use of such innovations, our restrictions may diminish our national security.
We have approached this research paper as an initial net assessment of how social software interacts with government and security in the broadest sense.1 The analysis looks at both sides of what once might have been called a “blue-red” balance to investigate how social software is being used (or could be used) by not only the United States and its allies, but also by adversaries and other counterparties. We have considered how incorporation of social software into U.S. Government (USG) missions is likely to be affected by different agencies, layers of bureaucracy within agencies, and various laws, policies, rules, and regulations. While the focus of this paper is on USG national security institutions, many of the conclusions apply to government generally—what many people call “e-Government” or “Government 2.0” —and although there is more to Government 2.0 than social software usage by government entities, this research paper represents a significant advancement towards a strategic understanding of the topic matter.
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