This week, we discuss who should be held accountable for abusive online content in the wake of the New Zealand terrorist attack; how the UK can prepare for a no-deal Brexit; relations between China and Israel; the Trump administration's rumored “Cost Plus 50” policy; autonomous vehicle cybersecurity; and federal options for supervised drug consumption sites.
The suspect charged with killing 50 worshipers at two New Zealand mosques last week posted a white nationalist screed online shortly before live-streaming the carnage. This is the latest reminder that terrorism can be incited, spread, and sometimes organized and concealed by internet activity.
Who should be held accountable for abusive online posts, the author or the publisher? According to RAND's James Dobbins, social media companies should bear the social responsibility for their content. “Facebook is no more obliged to accept a posting than the New York Times is to print a submitted article,” he says.
The European Union has agreed to push back the Brexit deadline until May 22, but only if the British Parliament accepts Prime Minister Theresa May's deal—something it has declined to do twice. RAND research shows that crashing out of the EU without a deal would be costly. But it doesn't have to spell economic doom, say RAND experts. There are steps the UK could take to improve its post-Brexit prospects.
Relations between China and Israel have been expanding in several areas since the early 2000s. According to a new RAND report, this relationship provides both countries with important opportunities. But it may pose challenges to U.S. interests. For example, China's engagement with the Israeli tech sector could upset Washington, especially in light of growing U.S.–China trade tensions.
Under the Trump administration's rumored “Cost Plus 50” plan, countries that host U.S. forces would theoretically subsidize the cost of the U.S. military presence there—and pay an extra 50 percent of that amount. Research suggests that this type of transactional foreign policy is risky, says RAND's Stacie Pettyjohn. It could damage long-standing relationships and limit the military's ability to operate globally.
In autonomous vehicle companies, safety and cybersecurity are often pursued by separate teams. A collaborative approach may be better, says RAND's Marjory Blumenthal. Why? As AVs become more and more complex, changing one aspect of the technology can create an unexpected vulnerability in another feature. This makes it crucial to develop safety and cybersecurity as integrated systems.
With overdose deaths mounting, some U.S. cities are trying to create designated spaces where people who use heroin and other drugs can be supervised by medical professionals. How will federal policymakers respond? According to RAND experts, they have several options. One option that hasn't received much attention would be to mirror the federal response to states that have legalized marijuana. In other words, use discretion to shape how supervised consumption sites operate and where they are located.
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