The Digital Diplomacy Round Table in DC was a huge success!

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At the Digital Diplomacy Round Table, leaders in diplomacy and national security came together at the historic Cranford House in Washington DC on February 26 to discuss digital diplomacy and cyber security. The event was put on by the Digital Future Forum (DFF), a group that brings together the most innovative and disruptive players in media discuss to the state of global digital affairs. Panels addressed timely issues in how traditional diplomacy is being affected by social media, how transnational surveillance protects national security, and how to counter and weaken violent extremist’ narratives from DAESH / ISIS online.

The event was hosted by Bob Berkowitz, a major force in media for over 35 years. Mr. Berkowitz was a correspondent for CNN to the White House in the early 1980’s and has since reported and hosted for ABC News, “Today” show, and CNBC.

Delegates of the round table included current and former ambassadors such as Former Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhán, who in 2009 was the first ambassador in Washington DC to actively use a social media account. Representatives from the Armenian, Italian, Polish, Swiss, Ukrainian, and British Embassies and Consuls also participated in the round table. Delegates from the U.S. government included Gray Brooks, Sr API Strategist for the General Services Administration (GSA), and Shaarik Zafar, Special Representative to Muslim Communities from the State Department.

The four panels at Digital Diplomacy Round Table featured thought leaders from public and private sectors. The first panel was about official diplomacy on digital media and how diplomats are using social channels to communicate on behalf of their governments. Former Ambassador Sarukhán shared about his experience learning how to use Twitter. Sean Evins, Twitter’s head of Government and Politics, showed Twitter’s Government and Elections Handbook and discussed innovation in foreign policy with author and Italian diplomat Andreas Sandre. Jen Charlton, from the Swiss Consulate General of NY, shared how the consulate uses RebelMouse, Tumblr, and Twitter direct messages to communicate with their constituencies.

The second panel was moderated by Brittany Kaiser, an independent diplomat who is Director of Programme Development at SCL. Panelists discussed how government communications and political campaigns can use behavioral dynamics and big data through targeted messaging. Participants included Republican digital mastermind Patrick Ruffini, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), Jake Brewer from Change.org, and senior members of the Obama for America campaign. Panelists noted how technology developed in U.S. campaigns was now being used in political campaigns around the world.

David Scholberg moderated the third panel about cyber security, surveillance, and transparency. He is a digital intelligence veteran from Switzerland and founder of KBSD and Digital Bodyguarding. Zach Goldman, Executive Director of the Center on Law & Security at NYU Law School, discussed the implications from a national security perspective, while James Harris shared frank experiences in law enforcement from his 10+ years in cyber divisions of the FBI. Jeramie Scott from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) talked about the cost of neglecting privacy for the sake of security. David Shefter, CTO of Ziften Technologies, comes from the private sector and shared that the biggest cyber security threat his clients face is reputation risk.

The final panel was moderated by journalist Tim Pool who is currently the Director of Media Innovation at Fusion and was formerly with Vice News. Shaarik Zafar, Special Representative to Muslim Communities at the U.S. State Department, brought up how violent extremists are using digital communication to recruit for terrorists organizations. Joining him were security veteran and growth hacker Geoff Shively and Lucas Bean, an analyst from Obsidian Analytics who used to work with Palantir Technologies and the U.S. Government intelligence community.

The Digital Future Forum’s first event, the Mobile Journalism Round Table, was held in New York City in November 2014. The event was a huge success, bringing together almost 100 journalists, media executives, and content creators to discuss mobile production, content rights, and the effects of tech dollars investing in journalism companies.

The DFF is a group of thought-leaders committed to improving the state of global digital affairs through a series of international high level events and reports. It was founded by Brittany Kaiser, David Scholberg, Tim Pool, and David Scholberg The DFF focused on particular sectors where innovation in digital media in having significant impact. Previous events have focused on mobile / social journalism and digital diplomacy. For information about future events, please see the website www.digitalfutureforum.org.

For inquiries and more information about the Digital Future Forum’s office, please contact Isaac Phillips. You can reach him at isaac@digitalfutureforum.org.

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