Chinese tech companies pulling out of Russia | Musk's plans for Twitter | UK ministers retreat from giving new tech regulator statutory backing
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Chinese tech companies are quietly pulling back from doing business in Russia under pressure from U.S. sanctions and suppliers, despite calls by Beijing for companies to resist overseas coercion. The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Musk, the world’s richest man, has presented a pitch deck to investors in recent days outlining his grand — some might say incredible — plans for Twitter and its financial targets. Here’s a peek into what Mr. Musk sees for the social media service in the years ahead. The New York Times
UK ministers will not legislate in the next parliamentary session to empower a new technology regulator to police big internet companies such as Facebook and Google. Without statutory underpinning, the technology regulator will be unable to set bespoke rules for technology companies or fine them with penalties of up to 10 per cent of turnover for breaching them. Financial Times
Unattributed attack ads targeting Labor on Chinese-language WeChat fuel fears of misinformation
Anne Davies and Wing Kuang
Attack ads targeting Labor are being published without any authorisation or party attribution on the Chinese-language social networking platform, WeChat, raising concerns that misinformation could be circulating without oversight. Fergus Ryan, a senior analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, said the most effective strategy to spread election messaging would be for “supporters and their proxies to use their own personal accounts to feed material into WeChat groups, because that’s where the activity takes place. It’s similar to WhatsApp groups.”
Fragmented internet is ‘detrimental to prosperity and innovation’
Australia, along with the European Commission and 58 other countries have signed a United States-led collective commitment to support an open internet that promotes democracy, the rule or law, and human rights. Director of the International Policy Centre at the Australian Security Policy Institute Fergus Hanson said that the declaration acknowledges that “fragmentation of the global internet is detrimental to our prosperity, innovation power, and people-to-people interaction”.
Ukraine - Russia
Facebook accused of deliberately disrupting Australia emergency services
Facebook deliberately used an over-zealous blocking system that took down the pages of Australian emergency services last year as a negotiating tactic, whistleblowers claim. The social network moved to block all news outlets in Australia over a row about paying news providers. But fire services and state health services were also blocked, during fire season and Australia's vaccine rollout.
Should Facebook be criminally liable for interfering with Australia’s lawmaking process
Julia Powles and Hannah Smith
The takedown timing rebuked and embarrassed lawmakers, and galvanized a vociferous and emotive public response, enhancing Facebook’s opportunity to negotiate an advantageous outcome external to the democratic process.
How Meta is preparing for the 2022 Australian Election
We’ve been involved in more than 200 elections around the world since 2017, and we’ve learned key lessons from each one about where to focus our teams, technologies, and investments so they will have the greatest impact. Here are some of the ways that we’re already promoting safety and integrity across our platforms ahead of this year’s Australian Election.
Employee monitoring software became the new normal during COVID-19. It seems workers are stuck with it
What was introduced in the crisis of the pandemic, as a short-term remedy for lockdowns and working from home (WFH), has quietly become the "new normal" for many Australian workplaces.
Chinese tech giants quietly retreat from doing business with Russia
The Wall Street Journal
Chinese tech companies are quietly pulling back from doing business in Russia under pressure from U.S. sanctions and suppliers, despite calls by Beijing for companies to resist overseas coercion. Several major companies are curtailing shipments in Russia, where Chinese tech firms dominate the market for many products, without making any public announcements, according to interviews with people familiar with the matter.
Anonymous warns China not to 'try anything stupid against Taiwan'
The collective stated that it is taking a "short break" from its cyberwar on Russia to "remind China to not try anything stupid against Taiwan." It pointed out that since the Russian invasion began, it has launched numerous attacks on Russian government and state-run media websites, industrial control systems, and hundreds of surveillance cameras.
China orders government, state firms to dump foreign PCs
China has ordered central government agencies and state-backed corporations to replace foreign-branded personal computers with domestic alternatives within two years, marking one of Beijing’s most aggressive efforts so far to eradicate key overseas technology from within its most sensitive organs.
Didi, Lenovo founders go private on China social media, join retreat from spotlight
The president of Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing and her father, the founder of Lenovo, have ended their public presence on China's main social media site, the latest Chinese tech leaders to retreat from the spotlight.
China developed a drone swarm that can fly effortlessly through an entire forest
Researchers at Zhejiang University in China have developed the necessary technology for a drone swarm to fly through uncontrolled environments completely autonomously.
U.S. abortion war spotlights women's risk from online tracking
David Sherfinski and Avi Asher-Schapiro
A woman's digital footprint risks becoming a dangerous weapon in the escalating U.S. abortion wars, with experts urging women in the crossfire to leave less of a trace if Roe v. Wade falls.
As Roe v. Wade reversal looms, should you delete your period-tracking app?
In light of the reported decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, some are calling for people to delete their period-tracking apps amid fears that the data they collect — and subsequently share — could be used to target and punish those seeking an abortion.
U.S. lawmakers to open chips, China bill negotiations
Members of Congress will meet Thursday to open negotiations on a compromise measure that would fund $52 billion in semiconductor manufacturing subsidies and boost U.S. competitiveness with Chinese technology.
Pentagon’s China warning prompts calls to vet U.S. funding of startups
The Wall Street Journal
Congress may soon require government agencies to vet tech startups seeking federal funding, after a Defense Department study found China is exploiting a popular program that funds innovation among small American companies.
Buy now, pay later' is sending the TikTok generation spiraling into debt, popularized by San Francisco tech firms
The services, also known as point-of-sale loans, are heavily marketed by influencers and brands on TikTok and Instagram. They giddily display their “hauls” from the most popular brands, not just normalizing debt, but actually glamorizing it — and selling it as a way for trend-conscious young people to have all the coolest consumer goods, whether they have the cash on hand or not.
South and Central Asia
India's ongoing outrage over Pegasus malware tells a bigger story about privacy law problems
In October 2021, India's Supreme Court established a Technical Committee to investigate whether the national government had used Pegasus to target citizens illegitimately. The Committee emerged after the government offered to investigate itself. The Court rebuffed that proposal, and referred to allegations of Pegasus's deployment as an "Orwellian concern".
UK ministers retreat from giving new tech regulator statutory backing
Jim Pickard and Kate Beioley
UK ministers will not legislate in the next parliamentary session to empower a new technology regulator to police big internet companies such as Facebook and Google. Without statutory underpinning, the technology regulator will be unable to set bespoke rules for technology companies or fine them with penalties of up to 10 per cent of turnover for breaching them
The EU could start enforcing rules to regulate Big Tech in spring 2023
The European Union aims to begin enforcing the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in spring 2023, Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager announced last week. Vestager suggests that the Commission will be prepared to act against any violations made by “gatekeepers” — a classification that includes Meta, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon — as soon as the laws come into force.
Uganda's central bank weighs issuance of digital currency
Uganda's central bank is considering whether to issue a digital currency and has not banned cryptocurrencies, but has concerns about risks from the technology including consumer protection and financial inclusion.
Inside Elon Musk’s big plans for Twitter
The New York Times
Mike Isaac, Lauren Hirsch and Anupreeta Das
Mr. Musk, the world’s richest man, has presented a pitch deck to investors in recent days outlining his grand — some might say incredible — plans for Twitter and its financial targets. The New York Times obtained the presentation. Here’s a peek into what Mr. Musk sees for the social media service in the years ahead.
Musk says he will ban Twitter spam bots, but he has been a beneficiary
The Washington Post
Joseph Menn and Cat Zakrzewski
Researchers say bots — automated accounts that are programmed to do pre-defined tasks, often at speeds faster than a person could manage — have been deployed to harass Musk critics, to trumpet the controversial takeover approved by Twitter’s board, and even to present Musk as a model of manliness.
Twitter isn’t the town square, it’s the theatre
What is said on the platform is not “The Discourse”; it’s a performance, in which everyone has carefully rehearsed their 280-character lines, is aware that they are being watched and is playing to their crowd. Performers jostle for the mic, which they are given via retweets or likes when they say something suitably outrageous or funny or consensus-pleasing.
TikTok’s work culture: Anxiety, secrecy and relentless pressure
The Wall Street Journal
Georgia Wells, Yoree Koh and Salvador Rodriguez
Long hours and tight deadlines are hardly novel at fast-growing tech companies like this, nor is a skewed sleep cycle rare for employees of foreign firms. But TikTok’s U.S. workforce embodies such stresses to an unusual degree, said several people who have worked both there and elsewhere in tech.
Data as a weapon: Psychological operations in the age of irregular warfare
Modern War Institute
Jon Reisher, Charity Jacobs and John Beasley
The information environment is increasingly complex and important for the cognitive aspect of conflict. If the US Army hopes to deliver decisive effects in the information environment, it must modernize the capabilities of psychological operations (PSYOP) units, which are designed to operate in this space against both near-peer adversaries and irregular threats.
Leaked audio underscores dark side of far-right YouTube subculture
Southern Poverty Law Center
Michael Edison Hayden
In leaked audio first reported by the U.K. outlet Byline Times, a voice that seems to belong to YouTube performer Paul Joseph Watson utters a string of racist and anti-gay epithets before stating that he wishes someone would “press the button to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth.”
Events and Podcasts
Digital Surveillance & the Fight for Reproductive Rights
Many of these intrusive new digital surveillance technologies are already being used to target immigrant communities and as a form of “digital stop and frisk” in predominantly Black neighborhoods, paving the way for rapid adaptation to larger populations. What role can tech companies, advocates, and legislators play in protecting reproductive rights through better privacy protections, and how can individuals shield themselves going forward?
The Sydney Dialogue - Senior Events Coordinator
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is currently recruiting for an experienced events professional to coordinate the planning and logistics of the second iteration of ASPI’s Sydney Dialogue - the world’s premier summit on emerging, critical and cyber technologies.
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.