ASPI report: #StopXinjiangRumors | U.S. to lead global effort to curb authoritarians’ access to surveillance tools | Twitter and Facebook hit back at Chinese propaganda campaigns
Different strands of CCP online and offline information operations now interweave to create an increasingly coordinated propaganda ecosystem made up of CCP officials, state and regional media assets, outsourced influence-for-hire operators, social media influencers and covert information operations. ASPI
The Biden administration said Thursday that it would launch an initiative with friendly nations to establish a code of conduct for coordinating export-licensing policies. The effort would also see participating nations share information on sensitive technologies used against political dissidents, journalists, foreign government officials and human rights activists, administration officials said. Wall Street Journal
Twitter and Facebook said they have removed thousands of accounts connected to Chinese information campaigns, in the latest sign of Beijing’s ambitions to shape the global narrative around the country. The New York Times
Fergus Ryan, Ariel Bogle, Albert Zhang & Dr Jacob Wallis
This report analyses two Chinese state-linked networks seeking to influence discourse about Xinjiang across platforms including Twitter and YouTube. This activity targeted the Chinese-speaking diaspora as well as international audiences, sharing content in a variety of languages. Both networks attempted to shape international perceptions about Xinjiang, among other themes.
#StopXinjiangRumors: the CCP’s decentralised disinformation campaign
Jake Wallis and Albert Zhang
The two datasets analysed by ASPI’s disinformation team demonstrate that international criticism of CCP policy in Xinjiang continues to be acutely sensitive for the party-state and that this is driving investment in international-facing disinformation at multiple levels in the party’s propaganda apparatus.
Twitter Safety @TwitterSafetyRead @ASPI_ICPC’s latest analysis in a new, independent report 👇 https://t.co/VM3LWutl6C
Twitter and Facebook hit back at Chinese propaganda campaigns
The New York Times
Twitter and Facebook said they have removed thousands of accounts connected to Chinese information campaigns, in the latest sign of Beijing’s ambitions to shape the global narrative around the country.
Expanding access beyond information operations
Yoel Roth & Vijaya Gadde
Today, in addition to disclosing eight additional datasets in our archive, we’re sharing an update on what we’ve learned from these efforts and how we intend to advance data-driven transparency in 2022 and beyond. Many of the datasets we’ve released include hundreds of thousands of Tweets and gigabytes of media. Processing this information often requires advanced tooling and capabilities. Academics, independent researchers, NGOs and data journalists play a key part in translating raw data into meaningful insights, as well as providing critical context in understanding how bad actors operate. Partnerships with the Stanford Internet Observatory and Australia Strategic Policy Institute have helped put these datasets in analytic and narrative context.
Disclosing state-linked information operations we've removed
Today, we’re disclosing an additional 3,465 accounts to our archive of state-linked information operations — the only one of its kind in the industry. The account sets include eight distinct operations we’ve attributed to six countries – Mexico, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Russia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Venezuela, respectively. Every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service.
Meta’s Adversarial Threat Report
Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy
Today, we’re sharing our first report that brings together multiple network disruptions for distinct violations of our security policies: Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior and two new protocols — Brigading and Mass Reporting. We shared our findings with industry peers, independent researchers, law enforcement and policymakers so we can collectively improve our defenses.
Belarusian KGB set up fake social media accounts to inflame migrant crisis, Meta says
Facebook's parent company Meta has linked the Belarusian KGB to the setting up of dozens of fake social media accounts of people posing as journalists and activists to stir up a migrant crisis on the border of Belarus and Poland.
Quantum Quandary: Securing a Sustainable Advantage in an Accelerating Race
The quantum race is on and it is geopolitical. The stakes are high and the transition to a quantum future could undermine stability. The Indo-Pacific region is at the heart of this technology race with the US and China at the forefront, but countries such as Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have advanced regional capabilities. This specialist panel discussion will consider opportunities for greater regional collaboration on quantum that can be sustained for years to come and open opportunities for like-minded countries to leverage each other’s quantum expertise. Watch the event on our Sydney Dialogue website at 3pm today!
Inquiry should regulate tech algorithms, end ‘whack-a-mole’
Australian Financial Review
The federal government’s latest tech crackdown should shift the online safety discussion from a constant game of “whack-a-mole” to regulating the algorithms that amplify toxic content.
‘A lemon’: Coalition fights to keep Covidsafe app data under wraps
The Morrison government insists it is negotiating with the states about “future uses” for its troubled Covidsafe app despite it not being used during the outbreaks that prompted lockdowns in Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The government is also refusing to release how many Australians continue to use the app, with one tech expert accusing the government of trying to avoid disclosing embarrassing data rather than admit it had failed to achieve its purpose.
Digital Lives of Australians: The Internet is invaluable but cyber security fears are keeping Australians offline
According to new research released today by the .au Domain Administration (auDA), almost 90 percent of Australians say the Internet has a positive impact on their lives, and almost all small businesses (98 percent) depend on the Internet as an invaluable tool for generating revenue and connecting with customers. However, auDA’s research also revealed Australian consumers and small businesses lack confidence in using the internet, with cyber security a top concern.
Beijing goes full nanny state on internet tech
Wall Street Journal
The Wild West days of China’s consumer internet are now well and truly over. On Tuesday, Chinese regulators published new rules for the ride-hailing sector. Protecting drivers’ rights is a key objective, including ensuring they get enough time off and benefits like social insurance. The guidelines also said ride-hailing companies should set a “reasonable” cap on their take from fares—and disclose them publicly. Language on the dangers of the “disorderly expansion of capital” and using “big data” to exploit customers was repeated.
‘Where is **?’: Fans in China elude censors to talk about Peng Shuai
The New York Times
Amy Chang Chien & Alexandra Stevenson
On Wednesday, the Women’s Tennis Association Tour suspended its future tournaments in the country, prompting China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reiterate that China was “opposed to the politicization of sports.” But Chinese tennis fans are pushing back as well, using subtle, sometimes tongue-in-cheek language to voice their frustration online while trying to outmanoeuvre censors.
Understanding the pro-China propaganda and disinformation tool set in Xinjiang
Darren Linvill & Patrick Warren
In the past several years, inauthentic social media accounts attributed to China have been identified as operating as part of several disinformation campaigns. China’s trolls first made headlines when they worked to undermine Hong Kong democracy protests. Since then, actors linked to the Chinese government have expanded the use of similar accounts.
U.S. to lead global effort to curb authoritarians’ access to surveillance tools
Wall Street Journal
Yuka Hayashi & Alex Leary
The Biden administration said Thursday that it would launch an initiative with friendly nations to establish a code of conduct for coordinating export-licensing policies. The effort would also see participating nations share information on sensitive technologies used against political dissidents, journalists, foreign government officials and human rights activists, administration officials said.
Suspected Chinese hackers breach more US defense and tech firms
A suspected Chinese hacking campaign has breached four more US defense and technology companies in the last month, and hundreds more US organizations are running the type of vulnerable software that the attackers have exploited, according to research shared with CNN.
Georgia election workers suing conspiracy website over ‘campaign of lies’
Two Georgia election workers who became the target of conspiracy theories around the 2020 election are suing The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that published false information about them as part of a sweeping effort to sow doubt about the integrity of the vote.
FTC challenges Nvidia’s $40 billion deal for arm holdings
Wall Street Journal
Brent Kendall & Stu Woo
The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday sued to block U.S. chip supplier Nvidia Corp.’s proposed landmark takeover of semiconductor-design specialist Arm Holdings, arguing the chip-industry deal is anticompetitive. The lawsuit marks the beginning of what is likely to be an aggressive antitrust campaign by the FTC under the leadership of Chairwoman Lina Khan, a progressive tapped by President Biden in June to lead the agency.
The US crackdown on Chinese economic espionage is a mess. We have the data to show it.
MIT Technology Review
Eileen Guoarchive, Jess Aloearchive & Karen Haoarchive
An investigation by MIT Technology Review shows that the China Initiative has strayed far from its initial mission. Instead of focusing on economic espionage and national security, the initiative now appears to be an umbrella term for cases with almost any connection to China, whether they involve state-sponsored hackers, smugglers, or, increasingly, academics accused of failing to disclose all ties to China on grant-related forms. To date, only about a quarter of defendants charged under the initiative have been convicted, and about half of those defendants with open charges have yet to see the inside of an American courtroom.
Villagers left behind – People up in arms over no internet access
The Fiji Times
A lack of phone and internet connectivity in rural Cakaudrove is hurting families, damaging small farming businesses and resulting in parents relocating to ensure their children get an education, villagers say.
Cryptocurrency Bill: Raining on India's crypto parade
With millions of Indians already invested in cryptocurrencies and possibly as many trying to assess its scope and risks before taking the plunge, there is a lot of interest in the upcoming Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, slated for discussion in the ongoing winter session of Parliament. The Bill is expected to include accountability and transparency standards for crypto-trading exchanges, with many hoping the digital tokens will be treated as assets like equities or real estate. But it’s near-certain that private cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, will not be recognised as legal tender in India.
Britain throws down gauntlet to EU in Big Tech crackdown
Vincent Manancourt, Annabelle Dickson & Samuel Stolton
The EU has long cast itself as the world’s toughest digital policeman, setting the global standard on everything from privacy to online content moderation and slapping hefty fines on tech platforms that flout its trust-busting rules. But it has competition — from an ex-EU member across the Channel. In ordering Facebook to sell GIF platform Giphy on Tuesday, Britain’s competition watchdog did what no EU trustbuster has done before: block an acquisition by a Big Tech firm. In terms of regulatory enforcement, it’s far more of a headache for Facebook than even the most headline-grabbing of fines.
Ireland's the wrong privacy watchdog for Europe
Europe’s ambition to lead the world on data privacy has a weak spot: Ireland. The country’s Data Protection Commission works on behalf of 447 million EU citizens to defend their data from Meta Platforms Inc., Alphabet Inc. (the parent companies of Facebook and Google respectively), Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and roughly a dozen other tech giants — and it’s been too lax on the job.
Influence operation targeting Canadian 2021 federal election
Marcus Kolga & Ai-Men Lau
As DisinfoWatch reported in September 2021 during the fall Canadian federal election, our team observed Chinese government media and pro-Beijing actors publishing and promoting disinformation narratives on various platforms, including Global Times, WeChat, and local Canadian-Chinese websites. After analysing available open-source data and consulting with key stakeholders, we believe that the timing and content of narratives indicate the likelihood of a coordinated influence operation targeting Chinese-Canadian voters.
Ethiopia Accuses Twitter of Pro-rebel Bias in Complaint
Ethiopia has filed a complaint with Twitter accusing the social media giant of suspending accounts critical of Tigrayan rebels it has been fighting in a gruesome, year-long war, a government spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Researchers have a method to spot Reddit’s state-backed trolls
The playbook to subvert democracy and sow dissention often starts with social media. And it happens on sites like Reddit, through accounts such as the aforementioned Bootinbull and JerryRansom, both of which were identified by Stringhini and his colleagues, trying to drip-feed a controversial message while using a stream of more regular and mundane posts as cover. Like Bootinbull, JerryRansom used the same cute animal photos and 4chan-baiting memes, then gradual slid into political discourse—with added posts in r/sexygirls. Notably, many of the accounts that Stringhini says have similar behavior to those definitively linked to Russia have previously posted on r/aww, which encourages users to share photographs that may prompt an “aww”-like response—often over cuddly animals.
Crime Prediction Software promised to be free of biases. New data shows it perpetuates them
Aaron Sankin, Dhruv Mehrotra, Surya Mattu & Annie Gilbertson
Millions of crime predictions left on an unsecured server show PredPol mostly avoided Whiter neighborhoods, targeted Black and Latino neighborhoods
China’s move to greater self reliance
China Leadership Monitor
Reshaping the Chinese economy around the principle of self-reliance will be an extremely complex, highly uncertain, and multi-year process. The barriers to self-reliance, especially in the semi-conductor sector, are high. Still, the conflict with the United States is starting China off on a longer-term restructuring of the economy and innovation system. Success will not be measured by complete self-reliance, which is not a realistic goal. Rather, the goal will be one of degree— to restructure China’s domestic economic and technological systems and supply chains on Beijing’s own terms.
Edge Networks, Core Policy
Martijn Rasser, Ainikki Riikonen & Henry Wu
It is time for tech-leading democracies to heed lessons from the 5G experience to prepare for what comes next, known as Beyond 5G technologies and 6G, the sixth generation of wireless.
Meta builds tool to stop the spread of ‘revenge porn’
Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has worked with the U.K.-based nonprofit Revenge Porn Helpline to build a tool that lets people prevent their intimate images from being uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and other participating platforms without their consent.
Rules of war need rewriting for the age of AI weapons
The Editorial Board
AI promises enormous benefits. Yet, like nuclear power, it can be used for good and ill. Its introduction into the military sphere represents the biggest technological leap since the advent of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are difficult and expensive to develop or obtain. By contrast, AI-aided arms — used at scale — could combine the power of weapons of mass destruction with the scope for cheap production of the AK-47. That opens the possibility of their use, even if not in their most sophisticated forms, not just by advanced economies but by “rogue” states and terrorists. And the world is starting to wrestle with how to control them while the technology is still evolving at lightning speed.
The Metaverse is coming, and the world is not ready for it
The New York Times
The metaverse is coming. It was once a science-fiction fantasy, most notably in Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash,” of an all-encompassing virtual universe that would exist alongside the physical one. But technological advances have brought this transformation of human society close enough to reality to demand that we consider its consequences.
ICPC Senior Analyst or Analyst - China
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has a unique opportunity for exceptional and experienced China-focused senior analysts or analysts to join its centre. This role will focus on original research and analysis centred around the (growing) range of topics which our ICPC China team work on. Our China team produces some of the most impactful and well-read policy-relevant research in the world, with our experts often being called upon by politicians, governments, corporates and civil society actors to provide briefings and advice. Analysts usually have at least 5 years, often 7-10 years’ of work experience. Senior analysts usually have a minimum of 15 years relevant work experience and, in addition to research, they take on a leadership role in the centre and tend to be involved in staff and project management, fundraising and stakeholder engagement.