The Opportunities and Limits of Societal Verification

Abstract: The uptick of interest in information and communication technologies (ICT) continues to generate new thinking in the arms control and nonproliferation sectors. Ripe for further study, public technical means (PTM), as some leading experts are now calling it, have the potential to supplement traditional verification tools and mechanisms, and bolster international confidence in future bilateral and multilateral agreements. As interest in the ICT domain expands, however, fundamental questions related to the reliability and legality of these tools and sources remain. As part of its Verification Pilot Project, the Nuclear Threat Initiative launched its Societal Verification Working Group nearly two years ago in order to examine the role heightened public awareness and vigilance may play in future verification and monitoring regimes. This paper builds on NTI's 2012 INMM submission and the work of NTI's Societal Verification Working Group, detailing new case studies which retroactively track the social media footprint of past incidents, and further analyzes key questions surrounding societal verification tools and processes. We explore mobilization tactics and challenges, areas of overlap and divergence with all source intelligence gathering as well as privacy and legal issues that must be addressed if these tools are to make meaningful contributions to the arms control arena.

July 13, 2013
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This paper builds on NTI's 2012 INMM submission and the work of NTI's Societal Verification Working Group, detailing new case studies which retroactively track the social media footprint of past incidents, and further analyzes key questions surrounding societal verification tools and processes.

Authors
Kelsey Hartigan
Kelsey Hartigan

Senior Program Officer, Material Security and Minimization

Corey Hinderstein
Corey Hinderstein

Vice President, International Programs