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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: social networks » USA instructs spying on key UN officials

version: 2 / updated: 2010-12-08
id: #1228 / version id: #1201
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Rafael Popper
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Last changed by: Rafael Popper
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

Social Networks (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)

The source of the Weak Signal is

WikiLeaks (as reported by BBC) See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11858990

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
USA instructs spying on key UN officials

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
As reported by Wikileaks in BBC, a cable to US diplomats issued under US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's name tells them to collect "biographic and biometric" information - including iris scans, DNA samples and fingerprints - of key officials at the UN. The diplomats are also ordered to find credit card details, e-mail addresses and passwords and encryption keys used for computer networks and in official communications. The officials covered include "undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders". At least nine similar directives covering various countries are included in the Wikileaks release, both under the name of Mrs Clinton and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice.


USA, UN, spying, diplomats, WikiLeaks, cables


(max. 250 characters)
A cable to US diplomats issued under US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's name tells them to collect "biographic and biometric" information - including iris scans, DNA samples and fingerprints - of key officials at the UN.

Signal's first apperance


Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Hillary Clinton's resignation new/emerging
#2 Barack Obama's resignation new/emerging
#3 USA striped from veto power in the UN Security Council new/emerging
mainly beneficial

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

Recognition of the Weak Signal leads to major actions from UN authorities


please specify
please select
Level 1: important for a particular country USA
Level 3: important for the European Union
Level 4: important for the whole world United Nations

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
institutional filters (rules, laws, regulations)
political filters (party or ideological interests)

Comments on selection:

As reported by The Guardian, the US government's panic over the WikiLeaks revelations is extending to American campuses, with Columbia University warning students they risk future job prospects if they download any of the material. Similar filleting strategies are likely to appear at other political and communicational levels. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/05/columbia-students-wikileaks-cables

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Social Growing number of organisations challenging political elites
Technological/Scientific Growing role of Web related ICT
Values/Ethical/Cultural USA lack of recognition of international law

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
before 2015 The collapse of the Obama administration UN General Assembly revokes USA veto power in the Security Council
between 2015-2025 More respect for international bodies
between 2025-2050 A more transparent society

Potential stakeholders' actions

short-term actions
(after 2015)
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Create an independent committee to investigate the veracity of the leaked cables

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Coexistence and conflicts
Crime and terrorism
Ethics and abuse of S&T
Governance and trust in democracy

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
ICT - Information & communication technologies
Social Sciences and Humanities
International S&T Cooperation

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer

Research-friendly strategies potentially improving understanding of the signal

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here
please justify:
particularly relevant
Overcoming sub-criticality and systemic failures
To be subcritical means that the effort in a particular field or subfield lacks resources, equipment or a sufficient number of researchers to achieve a desired goal

Signal's relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
More research on the future role of international organisations.