How blockchain might help prosecute Russian war crimes in Ukraine

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine in many ways has become one of the world’s first digital wars, with combatants from both sides fighting for advantage on social media, Western players embarking on attempts to raise cryptocurrency for Ukraine, and a Ukrainian minister taking to Twitter to persuade global companies to intervene digitally.

Now there’s a new frontier. To bolster the kind of war-crimes evidence that has not always proved easy to admit to international courts, a group is looking to the technology behind cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

The project, which comes out of the Starling Lab and is backed by Stanford University and the University of Southern California, is using decentralizing technologies to ensure that visual evidence that is being gathered and uploaded in Ukraine doesn’t fall victim to the evidence-collection missteps of war crimes past. The project — which boasts human rights experts and former government officials among its leaders — hopes to use blockchain technology as well as other tools to ensure that evidence isn’t lost, challenged or corrupted by those who want the alleged crimes of the Russian invasion force covered up.

“Technology offers us so many more tools to go after perpetrators than we’ve ever had before,” said Jonathan Dotan, a former lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, staffer at the Stanford School of Engineering and a writer on the streaming show “Silicon Valley” who co-founded the Starling Lab. “Unfortunately, the perpetrators have much better tools too. So we need to fight back as hard as we can.”

Joining Dotan is John Jaeger, a former State Department employee who founded Hala, a private company funded by the U.S. government that uses artificial intelligence to gather unencrypted intelligence in war zones; Graham Brookie, who runs the Atlantic Council’s tech-minded Digital Forensic Research Lab; and Stephen Smith, a British genocide scholar and the former executive director of USC’s Shoah Foundation, who has pioneered holographic testimony that he now oversees at a company called Storyfile.

Their hope is that some of the same technologies that power cryptocurrency will make it harder for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his aides to fog up prosecutions with misinformation on social media platforms, as they’ve tried to do with the images of Ukraine’s Bucha massacre that recently surfaced.

For many Americans, the blockchain is incomprehensible; for others it is simply a way to power an NFT bubble or a widespread cryptoscam. But war-crimes prosecution may provide an unequivocally positive use.

Together, Dotan, Smith, Brookie and Jaeger have spent the past five weeks building a team of engineers and legal experts in Ukraine and the United States in an effort to make the images and video uploaded to Telegram, TikTok and other platforms more airtight against war-criminal defenses.

“Social media images as they currently exist are just not going to slow down or prevent or ultimately indict war criminals. They’re just too suspect to manipulation,” Smith said. “If we’re going to do justice

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US, by restricting technological innovation exports, hurting Russia’s skill to wage war in Ukraine: Officials

Two Commerce officers spoke to ABC Information about sanctions enforcement.

As the war in Ukraine proceeds, a person place of work within the Commerce Office in Washington is at the crossroads of innovation and national stability when it arrives to sanctions on Russia.

The Bureau of Marketplace and Stability (BIS) has been controlling and imposing exports from the United States, and when Russia invaded Ukraine, the bureau jumped in.

Export controls, in accordance to Thea D. Rozman Kendler, assistant secretary of commerce for export administration, are a “nationwide security resource” to preserve “sensitive American technologies” from nations that would in any other case use it maliciously. Some examples, she said, are products, technological innovation and application.

“Russia depends on overseas technology for most of its high-technologies output,” she stated. “They need our areas and factors, our technologies to make and maintenance weapons, planes, tanks, communications tools, whatsoever they require to wage war when Russia attacks Ukraine we were prepared with our allies and partners to impose hard limitations on what could be offered to Russia. With a widespread aim of degrading Russia’s army abilities.”

Kendler explained as Russia’s armed service machines runs out, it will require software updates and won’t get them thanks to the export controls the BIS placed on items.

“Russia cannot make people weapons of war with out us and partner country technology,” she discussed. “And if we slash off [those] technologies, which is what we have experimented with to do in the final two months, we are instantly limiting their potential to wage war.”

Matthew Axelrod, assistant secretary for export enforcement, claimed it is not in Chinese businesses curiosity to flout these controls and Chinese firms that keep on to source Russia with items on the the listing would deal with harsh penalties.

“If there is a plant in China which is building semiconductors and sending them to Russia, the type of semiconductors that aren’t permitted, they’re not able to do that without having U.S. technological help, including program updates, like on website teams that will assistance with the software package and the tooling,” he spelled out

Axlerod explained that if U.S. companies willfully violate some of the export and import bans put on Russia there could be significant outcomes, even jail time.

“If we locate that people today are willfully violating a law and delivery products to Russia that are prohibited by the policies, that’s a prison violation. And folks I do the job with each and every day are federal prison regulation enforcement agents,” he stated. “We deliver scenarios in link with the Justice Department … throughout the region versus companies that that criminally violate the export management rules.”

Both of those Axelrod and Kendler served as prosecutors in the Justice Office and they say that working experience

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Russian hackers have likely penetrated crucial Ukraine laptop or computer networks, U.S. claims

The U.S. federal government has determined only that Russia could undertake disruptive cyber-activity, not that it will, said the official, who like quite a few other people spoke on the problem of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity. “We really don’t know that they have intention to do so,” the formal reported. “But we have been working with Ukraine to improve their cyberdefenses.”

A Kremlin spokesman did not answer to a ask for for remark.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government’s Center for Strategic Communications and Data Stability mentioned that PrivatBank, the nation’s major commercial bank, was hit with a denial-of-service assault that temporarily interfered with customers’ on the net banking transactions. Support was restored within hours, the governing administration stated.

The internet websites of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and armed forces were also disrupted, the company explained. It did not say who was at the rear of the attacks.

Should the conflict with Ukraine escalate, officers concern there could be broader cyberattacks in retaliation for Western sanctions or other moves to guidance Ukraine.

The problem is so good that on Friday the White House’s deputy national stability adviser for cyber, Anne Neuberger, ran a tabletop exercise to make certain that federal organizations have been prepared for Russian cyber-assaults that may well consider put in an escalating conflict with Moscow.

This sort of events could consist of a cyberattack from Ukraine, an attack versus a NATO member or ransomware. “We needed to prepare for every single circumstance,” the formal reported.

President Biden on Tuesday stated that “if Russia attacks the United States or our allies by way of … disruptive cyberattacks against our corporations or vital infrastructure, we are well prepared to answer.”

Hackers doing work for Russia’s Federal Safety Support, or FSB, and its navy spy agency, the GRU, have been noticed inside of Ukraine’s methods, in accordance to a 2nd U.S. formal and a further particular person familiar with the make any difference.

The U.S. govt also has been warning crucial industries in the United States to be certain their systems are as hardened as possible versus cyberattacks as Russia could find to disrupt electrical power, gasoline and other techniques. The Russians have in the previous infiltrated the manage systems of some American electrical utilities, while no disruptions resulted.

Comply with a battalion commander by way of the trenches of jap Ukraine as he prepares his troops for a probable Russian invasion. (Whitney Shefte, Whitney Leaming, Erin Patrick O’Connor/The Washington Post)

Moscow has grown progressively intense in cyberspace above the past decade, carrying out not only large compromises of unclassified U.S. federal government electronic mail units and interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election but also knocking out energy temporarily in areas of Ukraine in December 2015 and then all over again in December 2016 in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

Individuals attacks took place amid an escalating geopolitical confrontation amongst Ukraine — which was leaning toward the

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