Reports & Papers

1851 Items

In this June 24, 2020 file photo, soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army march toward Red Square during the Victory Day military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Chinese and Russian forces will take part in joint military exercises in southern Russia later in September.

(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File).

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

How the U.S. Can Assist NATO and its European Alliance Members in Addressing the China Security Challenge

| June 2022

Based upon NATO’s new focus and the pending release of the NATO 2030 Strategic Concept, this paper specifically examines the security challenges that China poses to NATO and its alliance members.  It also highlights China’s opposition to democratic principles and its efforts to disrupt the rules-based international order. Finally, the paper identifies possible actions the U.S. can take to help NATO and its alliance members address the China challenge to preserve NATO’s fundamental values of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Map with various borders

Adobe Stock

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Soberanía y localización de datos

  • Emily Wu
| Original publication July 2021; translated 2022

Spanish translation (2022) of original English version of "Sovereignty and Data Localization" paper by Emily Wu.  

Las políticas sobre localización de datos les imponen a las empresas la obligación de almacenar y procesar los datos de manera local, en lugar de utilizar servidores ubicados fuera del país. La adopción de leyes sobre localización de datos ha venido aumentando, impulsada por el temor a que la soberanía de los países se vea amenazada debido a su incapacidad para ejercer pleno control sobre la información que almacenan fuera de sus fronteras. Este es un tema particularmente relevante para los Estados Unidos, si tenemos en cuenta su dominio en múltiples áreas del ecosistema digital, entre otras, la inteligencia artificial (IA) y la computación en la nube.


Towards Urban Data Commons? On The Origins And Significance Of Platform Data Sharing Mandates

| May 19, 2022

Since the launch of sharing economy platforms like Airbnb and Uber, various city stakeholders—government officials, advocates, academics, and the private sector—have extolled the public potential of sharing economy data. Cities have discussed data’s value particularly in regulatory, evaluative, and policy contexts. Despite this, prior to 2018, only a handful of local government agencies had enacted policies requiring such platforms to share operational data with municipal officials. The emergence of micromobility in recent years has led to a potential sea change, with cities increasingly utilizing policy mechanisms to require data as a precondition for certain kinds of urban platforms to operate in their jurisdictions.  

Existing scholarship on platform urbanism has established the significance of digitally networked “platform” business models to cities, explored the impact and implications of platform technology deployments in urban space, and documented the centrality of data—both in the operations and governance of 21st century cities and in the production of urban platform power. This report builds on previous work by (1) calling attention to platform urbanism data sharing (PUDS) mandates as representative of a novel type of local government policy and (2) by offering a new theoretical account of its origins and ascendant significance. 

Hijacked airliner headed toward World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001

REUTERS/Sean Adair

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Countering Terrorism With "Blue Sky" Thinking

| May 19, 2022

In the past, strategic surprise has often stemmed from a failure of imagination. Most intelligence failures are rooted in a lack of foresight or early warning of impending events. Blue sky thinking seeks to prevent these surprises by devoting more attention not just to known risks and likely scenarios, but also to low probability, high impact events. In an unprecedented step in forging ongoing global collaboration, 129 global experts gathered in Amman, Jordan, in December 2021. The conference was held under the auspices of Jordan’s Aqaba Process and facilitated by representatives from the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center’s Intelligence Project. Attendees included intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers, private sector practitioners, and academics representing 29 countries, 5 continents, and 68 government and private sector organizations. Through presentations and discussion under Chatham House Rules, the conference facilitated an open exchange of ideas on the possible next big threats from terrorism and on strategies for moving forward.


Congress and Crises: Technology, Digital Information, and the Future of Governance

| May 17, 2022

The 116th Congress began in 2019 with what would become the longest government shutdown in history, and it would end just three days shy of an unprecedented violent attack on the Capitol building during the first week of the 117th Congress. Throughout the last two Congresses, the United States government has grappled with several crises, many of which were exacerbated or complicated by information technologies. Congress responded to the challenges with a swath of technology oversight hearings, new legislation to regulate “Big Tech” and its negative impact on the public, and proposals for new technology offices and enhancements at Executive Branch agencies. Yet serious problems with disinformation and other public harms created by new technologies persist. 

The overview of this report highlights some of the crises and corresponding technology issues that Congress and the U.S. Government dealt with, and how it and other countries responded. Part I of this report specifically focuses on how Congress has responded to disinformation and the digital information crisis. Part II of this report notes that most Executive Branch agencies were created following a crisis or to better reflect the balance of power in the United States, and includes a recommendation for the creation of a Department of Technology and Innovation to better address the myriad of regulatory and public challenges presented by technology.


The Economic Consequences and Generational Impact of the Digital Divide

| May 17, 2022

This research was designed to explore three primary questions. First, is there a predominant race and socioeconomic class of the populations most frequently impacted by the digital divide? Second, does the digital divide impose a collective cost that is shared with digitally disadvantaged and connected households? Third, should investing in digital equity be a national priority? The analysis documents why the answer to all three of those questions is a resounding yes.


Bridging-Based Ranking

| May 17, 2022

There is significant concern about the engagement-based ranking systems used by TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, etc. to recommend content.

Bridging-based ranking systems can address one of the most dangerous aspects of such algorithmic recommendations—the push toward polarization and divisiveness that is tearing nations apart—and do so without reducing anonymity or increasing censorship.

This report explores what bridging-based ranking is, how it helps (overcoming downsides of chronological feeds and middleware), addresses common objections, and provides early examples of its use and benefits in the wild. The report concludes by providing next steps for platforms, governments, funders, and researchers in order to accelerate the deployment of bridging.

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Deep Tech Entrepreneurship: From Lab to Impact

| May 17, 2022

In the United States alone, breakthrough scientific discoveries are made everyday. Critically important technologies are developed in universities and research laboratories with an unparalleled amount of public funding. This research ecosystem produces a wealth of discoveries. However, a large portion of successful innovations fail to transition out of the lab. Most innovations fail to become the capabilities needed to address the most pressing societal issues faced today. Climate change, energy, pandemics, cybersecurity, terrorism. The list goes on.

hand pointing at a screen displaying a screenshot from Darkcode

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

New Risks in Ransomware: Supply Chain Attacks and Cryptocurrency

| May 16, 2022

This paper provides an overview of the current ransomware landscape, such as the rise of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) and the increase of supply chain attacks, while also gesturing towards potential emerging solutions, such as software bill of materials (SBOM), vulnerability disclosure databases, and stricter cryptocurrency regulations.

Design from the Margins

Maria Stiller


Design From the Margins

| May 13, 2022

In an age of virtual connectivity and increased reliance on the internet for daily functions, including by marginalized groups, can companies and technologists reframe their features or standards to support the most marginalized users’ needs? Can the modes of resilience within digital spaces from some of the most marginalized groups be listened to, learned from, and centered when creating technology? Design from the Margins (DFM), a design process that centers the most impacted and marginalized users from ideation to production, pushes the notion that not only is this something that can and must be done, but also that it is highly beneficial for all users and companies. For this to happen, consumer interest conversations need to be framed outside the “biggest use case” scenarios and United States and European Union-centrisms and refocused on the cases often left in the margins: the decentered cases.

This report outlines how the DFM method can be used to build our most well-known and relied-upon technologies for decentered cases (often deemed “edge cases” which is atypical or less common use case for a product) from the beginning of the design process, rather than retrofitting them post-deployment to cater to communities with what are perceived to be extra needs.