Will our future Internet be paradise or dystopia?

What we learned from an Atlantic Council event discussing digital trends and possible scenarios for the world’s online future.

What does the perfect Internet look like?

The paradisiacal vision of its future – a scenario Atlantic Council senior fellow Jason Healey calls “Cyber Shangri La” – is one in which the dreams of Silicon Valley come true: New technologies are born and implemented quickly; secure online access is a human right.

There’s also what Mr. Healey, a Passcode columnist, dubs “Clockwork Orange Internet.” In this dystopian future, criminals and nation-states knock down attempts to secure networks and devices; people are afraid of shopping online or communicating freely with friends.

Passcode was the exclusive media partner for an event hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative on Wednesday focusing on alternate realities for the future of the Digital Age. Here are three things we learned from some of the country’s leading thinkers. Continue reading

Intimidating new Internet fraud reported in AC

New type of malicious computer virus known as ‘ransomware’

There is a relatively unknown malicious computer virus going around the Internet posing as an official message from the Department of Homeland Security’s “ICE Cyber Crime Center.”

The ransomware is part of what is known as the the Troj/Reveton-Ransomware family and it displays a lock screen that requires the user to pay a ransom before they will be allowed to access their Windows desktop, applications or files. Continue reading

Tajikistan: Islamic Party Facing Pressure in Dushanbe

Muhiddin Kabiri heads the opposition IRPT, which has come under pressure from the Tajik government. (Photo: IRPT) 


Muhiddin Kabiri heads the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, which has come under pressure from the Tajik government. Party members complain that they are being unfairly linked by members of security services to Islamic militants. (Photo: IRPT)



The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan is the only officially recognized, faith-based party in Central Asia. But Tajik President Imomali Rahmon’s administration appears to be taking aim at the party as part of a general crackdown against Islamic extremism.

Pressure on the IRPT began in the fall, amid a resurgence of Islamic militant activity in the Rasht Valley, south of the Tajik capital Dushanbe. An effective information blackout surrounded government counter-insurgency operations in the valley. Meanwhile, authorities implemented an array of measures, including mass arrests, designed to contain the spread of radical Islamic beliefs. Continue reading

Miami police, City Hall at odds over game machines

Posted on Wednesday, 01.12.11

Miami police, City Hall at odds over game machines

The Miami Police Department and City Hall disagree over the interpretation of a state law on amusement machines.



At Cafe Raul in Hialeah, diners can feed dollars into an All Fruit Bonus video gaming machine. Though it looks like a traditional slot machine, the game — allowed by the city — gives winners nothing more than a free game or two and a few minutes of amusement, says Miguel Rotella, owner of the machines.

But in Miami, police say the machines are illegal — and the owners subject to arrest.

“Everything is legal. We’re not delinquents,” said Rotella, who had 10 similar machines seized by police in Miami cafes in October. “They’re lumping us in with the mafia.”

Whether the video game machines constitute illegal gambling or not is at the heart of an escalating conflict between Miami Police and City Hall.

Miami police say the machines are illegal, that the games are based on pure chance dressed up as “amusement.” But the adult arcade industry insists the machines are legal because they are programmed differently than casino slots, and can be mastered by skilled players.

The flash point came last month when Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito publicly accused Mayor Tomás Regalado of attempting to interfere with an October raid on establishments that operate the machines.

Last year, the mayor successfully championed an ordinance, modeled after a Hialeah ordinance and crafted with help from the arcade industry, that allows the machines to run as long as operators pay a registration fee. The ordinance stresses the machines cannot be used for gambling. Continue reading