El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin is off to a rocky start | The battle for control of Afghanistan’s internet | China and Big Tech: Xi’s blueprint for a digital dictatorship
El Salvador faced a rocky transition in its adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender on Tuesday. The government’s app for facilitating transactions — its “digital wallet” — went offline temporarily, protesters took to the streets of the capital to denounce the move, and the price of Bitcoin dropped sharply, demonstrating the volatility of the cryptocurrency market. The New York Times
Our reliance on digital connections has grown exponentially since the Taliban were last in power, and even the militia themselves use social media as part of a vast propaganda machine. Afghanistan’s new leader – expected to be Mullah Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political arm – has a full in-tray of issues. Policing, the economy and Afghanistan’s place in the international community are all priorities. But equally challenging is what the Taliban does with the internet. WIRED UK
Xi’s data vision has always stressed control. In 2013, he said that “whoever controls data has the upper hand”. A year later he said that control of information has become an important aspect of a country’s “soft power and competitiveness”. The official classification of data in 2020 as a “fifth factor of production”, alongside labour, land, capital and technology, further revealed its importance to Beijing. Personal data is collected not only through online interactions but also through a whole panoply of technologies designed to order a society of 1.4bn people. Digital social security cards, digital money, smart cities, surveillance cameras, social credit systems and other technologies are being rolled out across the country, creating a grand experiment for 21st century authoritarian governance. Financial Times
How Facebook Undermines Privacy Protections for Its 2 Billion WhatsApp Users
@peterelkind @jackgillum @CraigSilverman
WhatsApp assures users that no one can see their messages — but the company has an extensive monitoring operation and regularly shares personal information with prosecutors.
Propublica Think That Whatsapp Abuse Reports Are A Backdoor
tl;dr — ""The ability to forward a message does not negate end-to-end encryption.""
‘Extraordinarily dangerous’: Backlash to govt’s new hacking powers grows
Australia’s “extraordinary” new hacking powers for law enforcement authorities represent the next step in the “explosion of the surveillance state”, according to a leading digital rights advocate, with backlash against the recently passed legislation gaining pace.
China and Big Tech: Xi’s blueprint for a digital dictatorship
Xi’s data vision has always stressed control. In 2013, he said that “whoever controls data has the upper hand”. A year later he said that control of information has become an important aspect of a country’s “soft power and competitiveness”. The official classification of data in 2020 as a “fifth factor of production”, alongside labour, land, capital and technology, further revealed its importance to Beijing. Personal data is collected not only through online interactions but also through a whole panoply of technologies designed to order a society of 1.4bn people. Digital social security cards, digital money, smart cities, surveillance cameras, social credit systems and other technologies are being rolled out across the country, creating a grand experiment for 21st century authoritarian governance.
Tech Crackdown Is a Cloud Over China Economy, Ex-WTO Chief Says
China’s regulatory efforts to increase control over its technology sector adds another “decoupling engine” to the global economy, which could weigh on Chinese growth prospects, the former head of the World Trade Organization said.
Warning of Income Gap, Xi Tells China’s Tycoons to Share Wealth
The New York Times
@ChuBailiang @jotted Cao Li
As the country’s leader prepares for a likely third term, he is promising “common prosperity” to lift farmers and working families into the middle class.
The Texas Chinese bitcoin gold rush
China's ban on cryptocurrency mining has forced bitcoin entrepreneurs to flee overseas. Many are heading to Texas, which is quickly becoming the next global cryptocurrency capital.
Alibaba Manager Accused of Rape Is Released, Adding to China’s #MeToo Debate
The New York Times
The police in China released a former Alibaba manager who had been accused of rape by a co-worker after prosecutors declined to charge him, deepening debate about an episode that has shaken the Chinese technology industry and prompted a reckoning for the fledgling #MeToo movement in the country.
BlackRock’s China Blunder
The Wall Street Journal
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has begun a major initiative in China. On Aug. 30 it launched a set of mutual funds and other investment products for Chinese consumers. The New York-based firm is the first foreign-owned company allowed to do so. The launch came just weeks after BlackRock recommended that investors triple their allocations in Chinese assets. This will push billions of dollars into China. “The Chinese market represents a significant opportunity to help meet the long-term goals of investors in China and internationally,” BlackRock Chairman Larry Fink wrote in a letter to shareholders.
America’s anti-hacking laws pose a risk to national security
When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Van Buren v. United States, cybersecurity professionals nationwide breathed a sigh of relief. Asked to determine the scope of the United States’ main federal anti-hacking law, the court adopted a limited interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Had the ruling come out differently, it could have created more risk for so-called “white hat” hackers who search for flaws in software as a public service.
Moving the U.S. Government Towards Zero Trust Cybersecurity Principles
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are seeking public feedback on strategic and technical guidance documents meant to move the U.S. government towards a zero trust architecture.
The Strange Tale of the Freedom Phone, a Smartphone for Conservatives
The New York Times
A 22-year-old Bitcoin millionaire wants Republicans to ditch their iPhones for a low-end handset that he hopes to turn into a political tool.
The Technology 202: Where are President Biden’s telecom picks?
The Washington Post
President Biden has been historically slow to appoint officials to the federal government’s top telecommunications agencies, and advocacy groups say the vacancies are preventing the administration from carrying out key agenda items, such as reinstating net neutrality rules killed during the Trump administration.
How Instagram Became the Epicenter of a Violent Gang War
Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, posts, and private messages—these alleged violent gang members used them all.
How family of a Myanmar junta leader are trying to cash in
Two defence contractors and a business associate interviewed by Reuters said the firm is led by Ivan Htet himself. He discussed deals with them, some of which were completed, those sources said. These ranged from spare parts for drones to the purchase of sonar and radar equipment. Reuters has reviewed a letter sent in 2020 from Alliance Engineering Services to suppliers requesting quotes for spare parts for Israeli-made surveillance drones. The drones have been used by the military against ethnic armed groups, according to photographs from one of the groups.
Social media giants increase global child safety after UK regulations introduced
TikTok has turned off notifications for children past bedtime, Instagram has disabled targeted adverts for under-18s entirely and YouTube has turned off autoplay for teen users: moves seemingly triggered by Britain introducing a new set of regulations aimed at protecting children online.
Russia sows distrust on social media ahead of German election
In total, the Russian broadcaster — whose aim is to provide an alternative to the Western media’s perspective on current affairs and promote Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic interests — has become the most prominent media outlet on social media in Germany just weeks ahead of the country’s federal election on September 26.
Pegasus: German Federal Police were also spyware client
The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), the German federal police, secretly bought the spyware Pegasus, for the surveillance of suspects, reveals Tuesday, September 7 the daily Zeit. Despite the legal questions posed by the use of this software in Germany, the BKA has entered into a contract with the Israeli company NSO Group, which markets Pegasus, according to several sources within the country’s security services. A parliamentary hearing on this subject is due to take place on Tuesday.
Intel to Invest Up to $95 Billion in European Chip-Making Amid U.S. Expansion
The Wall Street Journal
@asafitch William Boston
Intel Corp. plans to build new chip-making facilities in Europe valued at up to $95 billion, responding to a cross-border race to add manufacturing capacity at a time of a global chip-supply crunch.
El Salvador’s Adoption of Bitcoin Is Off to a Rocky Start
The New York Times
Oscar Lopez @el72champs
El Salvador faced a rocky transition in its adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender on Tuesday. The government’s app for facilitating transactions — its “digital wallet” — went offline temporarily, protesters took to the streets of the capital to denounce the move, and the price of Bitcoin dropped sharply, demonstrating the volatility of the cryptocurrency market.
In Global First, El Salvador Adopts Bitcoin as Currency
The New York Times
Oscar Lopez @el72champs
El Salvador on Tuesday became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, allowing the cryptocurrency to be used in any transaction, from buying a cup of coffee to paying taxes. The bold move, largely celebrated by the international bitcoin community, has found a more skeptical reception at home and in the traditional financial world, amid concerns that it could bring instability and unnecessary risk to the Central American country’s fragile economy.
El Salvador Buys Its First 200 BTC a Day Before Its Bitcoin Law Becomes Effective
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele announced on Twitter his government bought 200 BTC on Monday, a day before the country’s Bitcoin Law, which will make the cryptocurrency legal tender within the Central American nation, goes into effect.
Crypto Platform Bitso to Service El Salvador’s Bitcoin Wallet
Crypto platform Bitso said it’s a core service provider for Chivo, the Bitcoin wallet developed by El Salvador’s government, as the nation makes the world’s largest virtual currency legal tender.
The battle for control of Afghanistan’s internet
Our reliance on digital connections has grown exponentially since the Taliban were last in power, and even the militia themselves use social media as part of a vast propaganda machine. Afghanistan’s new leader – expected to be Mullah Baradar, head of the Taliban’s political arm – has a full in-tray of issues. Policing, the economy and Afghanistan’s place in the international community are all priorities. But equally challenging is what the Taliban does with the internet.
US-built databases a potential tool of Taliban repression
Over two decades, the United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars building databases for the Afghan people. The nobly stated goal: Promote law and order and government accountability and modernize a war-ravaged land.
How Cambridge Analytica’s Digital Propaganda Failed in Afghanistan
“David Carroll has no more right to submit this request than a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in Afghanistan.” That was the bizarre statement issued by Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct British consultancy firm, in May 2018 in response to Professor David Carroll’s Subject Access Request (SAR) for any of his personal details held by the company.
Microsoft warns of new IE zero-day exploited in targeted Office attacks
The Record by Recorded Future
Microsoft’s security team issued an alert earlier today to warn about a new Internet Explorer zero-day that is being abused in real-world attacks.
REvil ransomware group returns following Kaseya attack
The Record by Recorded Future
Dark web portals previously operated by the REvil ransomware gang has come back to life earlier today, sparking fears that the once-vaunted ransomware gang will soon resume its attacks.
The Missing Piece in the Push for Boardroom Diversity
The New York Times
Last summer, major public companies across the country pledged to increase diversity in their boardrooms, one of the actions taken after the murder of George Floyd in police custody. Corporate directors set goals, and some have begun to make progress, with investors, activists and others tracking their commitments on racial equity.
Anti-Vaxxers Are Learning How To Game TikTok’s Algorithm – And They’re Going Viral
Sophia Smith Galer
A VICE World News investigation led to TikTok removing over 50 videos, many of which had been on the platform for weeks and been watched millions of times.
Stronger together: how cyber defence alliances could create a stronger digital economy
ASPI's International Cyber Policy Centre is delighted to invite you to the webinar 'Stronger together: how cyber defence alliances could create a stronger digital economy'. At this webinar, panellists General (Ret.) Keith Alexander, former Director of the National Security Agency, Commander of U.S. Cyber Command, and founder of IronNet; Abigail Bradshaw CSC, Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre; and Rachael Falk, CEO of the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre, will join moderator Fergus Hanson to discuss the collective measures government, industry, and academia can take to combat cyber threats to the benefit of our digital security and the growth of our digital economy. 30 September 2021, 8:30 am - 9:30 am.
Building a More Inclusive Cyber Future
The Aspen Institute
Current diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, however well-meaning, have not adequately supported underrepresented groups in the cybersecurity field. Join the Aspen Tech Policy Hub and Aspen Digital on Thursday, September 9, at 9am PT/12pm ET for a discussion on “Building a More Inclusive Cyber Future,” in which we will release a new report on diversity in cybersecurity, detailing the findings from two expert roundtables convened in October 2020 and February 2021.
New ICPC Program on Critical Technologies - 3 positions
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has a unique opportunity for three exceptional and experienced senior analysts and analysts to join its large team from October 2021. These new roles will focus on original research, analysis and stakeholder engagement centred around international critical technology development, including analysis of which countries are leading on what technologies.
ICPC Pacific Islands Analyst - Information operations & disinformation
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has an outstanding opportunity for a talented and proactive Pacific Islands analyst who will work with the Centre’s information operations and disinformation program. The successful candidate will work with a small, high-performing team to produce original research and analysis centred around policy responses to information operations and disinformation by actors in the Pacific Islands region. They will also work with senior staff in the centre to engage globally with governments, social media and Internet companies. Candidates must have a demonstrated background in, and strong knowledge of, the Pacific Islands region, including the region’s digital, media and social media landscape.
ICPC Analyst & Project Manager - Coercive diplomacy
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has a unique opportunity for an Analyst and Project Manager to manage, and help lead, a project on coercive diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific region. This new role will focus on analysis, workshops and stakeholder engagement centred around coercive diplomacy, including how countries in the Indo-Pacific can work together to tackle this complicated policy challenge. Candidates must have excellent coordination, project management and stakeholder engagement skills.
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.