Apple cuts off China’s Ofilm over Xinjiang labor | Spy firm wants to sell global car location data to the U.S. military | Twitter has now suspended more than 150,000 QAnon accounts
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Apple has severed ties with Chinese component supplier Ofilm Group Co. over allegations it’s involved in a government program that transfers ethnic minorities from Xinjiang to other parts of the country for work, a person familiar with the matter says. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute said in a report last year that Ofilm used at least 700 Uyghur laborers from Xinjiang at a factory in the southern province of Jiangxi. The workers were sent there in late April 2017 as part of a state-sponsored labor transfer program, the think tank said. Bloomberg
A surveillance contractor that has previously sold services to the U.S. military is advertising a product that it says can locate the real-time locations of specific cars in nearly any country on Earth. It says it does this by using data collected and sent by the cars and their components themselves, according to a document obtained by Motherboard. VICE
While Twitter monitored, collected data and tried to suppress the reach of QAnon accounts, it had stopped short of outright banning them. That changed after the Capitol riot. On January 12, six days after the insurrection, Twitter publicly disclosed it had suspended 70,000 accounts. A Twitter spokesperson now tells CBS News the number has more than doubled — with more than 150,000 accounts suspended for engaging in "sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale. CBS News
Apple Cuts Off China’s Ofilm Over Xinjiang Labor
Apple has severed ties with Chinese component supplier Ofilm Group Co. over allegations it’s involved in a government program that transfers ethnic minorities from Xinjiang to other parts of the country for work, a person familiar with the matter says. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute said in a report last year that Ofilm used at least 700 Uyghur laborers from Xinjiang at a factory in the southern province of Jiangxi. The workers were sent there in late April 2017 as part of a state-sponsored labor transfer program, the think tank said.
Read ASPI ICPC's Report 'Uyghurs for Sale' here.
Microsoft Exchange hack could change the course of US–China relations
The hack of Microsoft’s Exchange server software, which centrally manages email and calendars for businesses, threatens to be a bonanza for cybercriminals and may alter the course of US–China relations under the Biden administration.
After years of trying to curb QAnon messaging, Twitter has now suspended more than 150,000 accounts
@CBS_Herridge @GrahamKates @luisgiraldo
While Twitter monitored, collected data and tried to suppress the reach of QAnon accounts, it had stopped short of outright banning them. That changed after the Capitol riot. On January 12, six days after the insurrection, Twitter publicly disclosed it had suspended 70,000 accounts. A Twitter spokesperson now tells CBS News the number has more than doubled — with more than 150,000 accounts suspended for engaging in "sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale.
Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the release of his Annual Report 2020
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: We have agreed in NATO, what we call baseline requirements for infrastructure including telecommunications and that covers also 5g networks. Those guidelines, or those based on requirements, we are specifically addressing risks related to foreign ownership and foreign control. And we ask all allies to carefully assess them, to analyse them and take the necessary steps, decisions to make sure that we have reliable, credible 5g networks, and take into account the risks related to potential foreign ownership.
Director-General’s Annual Threat Assessment
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
We’re particularly focused on being at the crest of the new world of data. Lawfully used, bulk data, modern analytics and machine learning provide rich opportunities for ASIO as an organisation to be more effective and more precise—as well as proportionate—in how we do our business. But the environment we operate in is a challenging one. We are seeing an exponential uptake of encrypted and secure communication platforms by violent extremists. Even supposedly unsophisticated targets are routinely using secure messaging apps, virtual private networks, fake emails and number generators to avoid detection. Now please don’t get me wrong—encryption is fundamentally a force for good. But we need to recognise how it is being used and abused by terrorists and spies. Last year I revealed that end-to-end encryption damages intelligence coverage in 90 per cent of our priority counter-terrorism cases. Now the figure is 97 per cent.
Top cop’s COVID check-in style plan for sex consent
The Daily Telegraph
The state’s top cop has proposed using technology such as an app to record consent for sexual activity in order to combat rising sex assaults as he declared consent can “no longer be implied”. Mr Fuller’s intervention comes as the NSW government faces calls to reform laws to require active consent, and calls to include consent education at schools.
Surgeries in Victorian hospitals cancelled after suspected cyber attack
Elective surgeries at hospitals in Melbourne’s east have been postponed until further notice after a suspected cyber-attack. IT systems at multiple Victorian hospitals shut down causing Eastern Health to cancel all but urgent category one surgeries.
Services Australia's IT contractor dependency slammed by union
Services Australia has been roundly criticised by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) for its growing reliance on IT contractors, with more than half of all staff in its technology service group now non-Australian Public Sector (APS) personnel.
Ending over mending: planned obsolescence is killing the planet
The latest iteration of Apple’s flagship product can’t be repaired – or, at least, not without using the company’s expensive proprietary service. That’s not uncommon. Some manufacturers now build with special screws or glue parts together, specifically to prevent home maintenance. Others simply don’t provide the basic components that would give their products a longer life. As the Australian Productivity Commission takes submissions into its Right to Repair inquiry, it’s worth thinking about how the items we use daily became so disposable.
China semiconductor trade association establishes work group with U.S. counterpart
The Chinese Semiconductor Industry Association (CSIA), a major trade association for China's chip industry, will establish a working group with its U.S-based counterpart, the organisation announced on Thursday. The announcement on the CSIA website, which caused a surge in prices of semiconductor related stocks in China, could signal closer cooperation as the two countries as they spar over technology.
Alibaba to Open Up Deals App in Concession to Antitrust Campaign
China’s largest e-commerce operator Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is planning to offer its fast-growing bargains service on rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging platform in a major concession to regulators seeking to crackdown on monopolies in the internet sphere, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Alibaba and Tencent have long excluded each other’s services from their platforms, creating so-called walled gardens within their ecosystems.
Pinduoduo Founder Colin Huang Steps Down From Company
The Wall Street Journal
Chinese e-commerce company Pinduoduo Inc.’s founder and chairman, Colin Huang, stepped down from the company on Wednesday, even as the five-year-old company overtook Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to become the country’s largest e-commerce company by annual active buyers.
China's 'private traffic' obsession
"Private domain traffic," or siyu liuliang (私域流量), is a term that's enamored Chinese tech CEOs over the past two years as the country's internet growth approaches a natural limit. With overall internet penetration at 70%, upstarts and tech giants alike are increasingly focused on turning casual users into dedicated ones; that is, capturing "public traffic" and turning it into "private traffic." Private traffic can come from users dedicated to a company's app, or from followers of an influencer's personal livestreaming channels. A U.S. equivalent might be newsletter subscribers.
Only Beijing gets to spread fake news in China, got it?
On Tuesday, Alibaba’s popular internet browser was removed from app stores in China after the state media criticized it for allegedly allowing misleading medical advertising.
Cars Have Your Location. This Spy Firm Wants to Sell It to the U.S. Military
A surveillance contractor that has previously sold services to the U.S. military is advertising a product that it says can locate the real-time locations of specific cars in nearly any country on Earth. It says it does this by using data collected and sent by the cars and their components themselves, according to a document obtained by Motherboard.
White Supremacists, Conspiracy Theorists Are Targeting Cell Towers, Police Warn
As the Biden administration turns its attention to an infrastructure system beset with problems, a strange new issue has emerged: conspiracy theorists. That’s according to a detailed intelligence report, produced by the New York Police Department and obtained by The Intercept, which finds that cellphone towers and other critical infrastructure have become an attractive target for conspiracy theorists, especially in the weeks and months following the presidential election.
SolarWinds hackers stole Mimecast source code
Attackers behind the SolarWinds hacking campaign successfully stole Mimecast source code as part of their sweeping espionage operation, the email security firm said in an incident report published Tuesday.
Teen who hacked Joe Biden and Bill Gates' Twitter accounts sentenced to three years in prison
An 18-year-old hacker who pulled off a huge breach in 2020, infiltrating several high profile Twitter accounts to solicit bitcoin transactions, has agreed to serve three years in prison for his actions.
In Detroit, Facebook COO urges internet regulation — but not too much
The Detroit News
Regulations for social media giants like Facebook should be revisited, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Tuesday, but policymakers should be careful not to put American tech companies at a disadvantage to their foreign competitors.
Samsung warns of deepening semiconductor shortage
Samsung Electronics has sounded the alarm over a “serious imbalance” in the semiconductor industry, the latest warning that a chip shortage disrupting carmakers threatens to spill over into the broader technology sector. The signal from the Seoul-based group — the world’s biggest computer chip manufacturer and a linchpin in the global tech supply chain — came as governments and companies expressed concerns that shortfalls in the semiconductor market might slow the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Line silently exposed Japan user data to China affiliate
New Zealand & The Pacific
Mobile internet prices in Papua New Guinea: still no downward movement
The Development Policy Centre
@ahawatson Picky Airi & Moses Sakai
Overall, our assessment is that there has been no perceptible decrease in mobile internet prices in PNG since the Coral Sea Cable System was launched in December 2019. The authors will continue to monitor mobile internet prices and provide updates every six months, in order to ascertain trends over time. It’s possible that there could be a new player in the PNG market in the near future.
A filtered Internet is not the Internet we need
Right now, the government is putting forward rules for a filtered Internet under New Zealand law. Changes to the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act being considered by Parliament would enable officials to mandate filtering by all New Zealand Internet service providers.
Putin targeted people close to Trump in bid to influence 2020 election, U.S. intelligence says
The Washington Post
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials in Moscow sought to influence the 2020 election by spreading misleading information about Joe Biden through prominent individuals, some of whom were close to former president Donald Trump, the U.S. intelligence community said in a report Tuesday. While foreign disinformation and interference was a major concern heading into the 2020 campaign, domestic efforts to disrupt the race — including by Trump and his allies — turned out to be of far greater significance.
Facebook's long-awaited content 'supreme court' has arrived. It's a clever sham
Sometimes described as Facebook’s “supreme court”, the oversight board has been met, in the legal and academic worlds, mostly with wonder, excitement and praise. Giving predominantly legal scholars input on the content moderation of the world’s largest social media platform seems like a positive step for social media governance. But behind the gloss, Facebook’s experiment is intended to foster anything but genuine accountability. It is a clever obfuscation offering Facebook cover to engage in socially irresponsible profit-seeking that would be publicly reviled were it more transparent.
Wikipedia Is Finally Asking Big Tech to Pay Up
From the start, Google and Wikipedia have been in a kind of unspoken partnership: Wikipedia produces the information Google serves up in response to user queries, and Google builds up Wikipedia’s reputation as a source of trustworthy information. The two have grown in tandem over the past 20 years, each becoming its own household word. But whereas one mushroomed into a trillion-dollar company, the other has remained a midsize nonprofit, depending on the generosity of individual users, grant-giving foundations, and the Silicon Valley giants themselves to stay afloat. Now Wikipedia is seeking to rebalance its relationships with Google and other big tech firms like Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, whose platforms and virtual assistants lean on Wikipedia as a cost-free virtual crib sheet.
The Secret Auction that Set Off the Race for AI Supremacy
How the shape of deep learning—and the fate of the tech industry—went up for sale in Harrah's Room 731, on the shores of Lake Tahoe.
TikTok considers introducing group chat feature this year - sources
Video-sharing platform TikTok may launch a group messaging feature this year, people with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters, putting the Chinese-owned app in more direct competition with social media rivals such as Facebook.
Most People Don't Actively Seek to Share Fake News
It’s tempting to conclude that we’re in a “post-truth” world where people are either unable to distinguish fact from fiction or are willfully ignorant and purposefully share falsehoods. This is not an idle curiosity. If true, our democracies are in very big trouble, and perhaps the only option we have is accept (and even beg for) strict censorship of falsehood by social media companies. This may come as a surprise, but new work just published in Nature offers a strong challenge to this view.
ASPI Webinar: Are you ready for the new critical infrastructure law?
With amendments to the Critical Infrastructure Act currently before parliament, impacted industry sectors are racing to get ready. ASPI's International Cyber Policy Centre is delighted to invite you to a panel discussion on 18 March at 4pm where representatives from Home Affairs, the cybersecurity sector and industry will discuss the impact of the changes and answer your questions. Register here.
The Data Visualizations Behind COVID-19 Skepticism
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
How do COVID-19 skeptics use public health data and social media to advocate for reopening the economy and against mask mandates? We studied half a million tweets, over 41,000 visualizations, and spent six months lurking in anti-mask Facebook groups. Here’s what we found.