In 2016, the US President stated that the danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon was “one of the greatest threats to global security”. This briefing provides an overview of the key threats to nuclear security, and of UK and international initiatives that seek to address them.
This POSTnote describes the state of the plutonium stockpile, current plutonium policy and the options for managing the plutonium: indefinite storage, reuse in UK power plants, conversion to fuel to send overseas and disposal as waste. It then outlines the safety, security, economic and energy policy implications of these options.
Digital forensic science is the process of obtaining, analysing and using digital evidence in investigations or criminal proceedings. Digital evidence ranges from images of child sexual exploitation to the location of a mobile phone. This note looks at the use of digital forensics by UK law enforcement agencies. It covers how evidence is obtained, the legislation and regulation in this area, and the efforts being made to address the challenges faced by practitioners.
A POSTnote which examines the impact of military service on the psychological health of serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families. It outlines what is known about the effectiveness of interventions, and highlights areas for further research.
The UK space industry had a turnover of £11.8bn in 2012/13.1 By 2030, the UK Government and industry want this to grow to £40bn. In December 2015 the Government published the UK’s first National Space Policy, which sets out its vision for achieving growth. This POSTnote describes the UK space industry and potential barriers to growth.
Automated technology is increasingly used in military activities such as intelligence gathering, navigation and weapons delivery. The most widespread use of automated technology to date has been remotely piloted air systems. However, each of the main military domains – air, land and sea – make use of automation. This POSTnote outlines current and potential future applications of automation in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and in combat. It then summarises debate over legal, ethical and societal issues, including debate over whether a pre-emptive ban is needed on future lethal autonomous weapons systems.
In March 2013, the Prime Minister said that deep-sea mining could be worth £40bn to the UK over the next 30 years. This briefing summarises the framework governing activity in international waters. It also describes the mineral deposit types being considered and the proposed extraction methods, potential environmental effects and mitigation options.
This POSTnote outlines different approaches to setting and measuring thresholds and their strengths and limitations. It also summarises research on recent trends in living standards and the key factors that influence them.
A very small proportion of websites use sophisticated anonymity systems, which allow their operators to conceal their identity if they wish to. This part of the web is commonly referred to as the darknet. The darknet helps citizens to protect their security and privacy and to circumvent censorship. It also facilitate organised crime, such as the billion dollar drug market known as Silk Road. This POSTnote discusses the challenge of preventing such crimes without compromising the other uses of anonymity technologies.
This POSTnote outlines the different types and aims of these currencies. It also sets out how alternative currencies are being used and highlights regulatory and policy challenges regarding consumer protection, financial crime and taxation and benefits.
Internet communications are often monitored to investigate criminal activity. Recent attempts to update UK regulation of investigatory powers have generated controversy. This POSTnote explains the use of different internet monitoring methods and discusses the impact of evolving technologies.
The UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) support a diverse variety of habitats ranging from ice fields and rocky islands to coral reef atolls and tropical forests. This POSTnote summarises the challenges to conservation management and halting biodiversity loss in UKOTs, as required under international agreements.