Facebook whistleblower says its algorithms are dangerous | Google will invest $1 billion for “digital transformation” in Africa | Singapore passes powerful foreign interference law
Frances Haugen’s testimony at the Senate hearing raised serious questions about how Facebook’s algorithms work. During her testimony, Haugen repeatedly came back to the idea that Facebook’s algorithm incites misinformation, hate speech, and even ethnic violence. MIT Technology Review
Google said that it would be investing $1 billion to support “digital transformation” across Africa. This will include landing a subsea cable into the continent to enable faster internet speeds, low-interest loans for small businesses, equity investments into African startups, skills training and more. TechCrunch
Singapore’s Parliament has passed a law aimed at countering foreign interference that is potentially so powerful rights groups and legal experts worry it could crush public debate in a city-state where authorities are already frequently accused of curbing civil liberties. The law, approved late Monday after a 10-hour session, would allow authorities to compel Internet service providers and social media platforms to provide user information, block content and remove applications used to spread content they deem hostile. The Washington Post
Maria Ressa urges world leaders: ‘Act now’ vs infodemic threatening democracies
Rappler CEO and president Maria Ressa appealed to world leaders to "act now" against disinformation, a weapon populist regimes have been using to erode democracies. The veteran Filipino journalist made the appeal during the first global Ministerial Summit for Information and Democracy held on the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday, September 24.
Maintenance error caused Facebook's 6-hour outage, company says
An error during routine maintenance on Facebook's network of data centers caused Monday's collapse of its global system for more than six hours, leading to a torrent of problems that delayed the repairs, the company said on Tuesday.
Boosting space capabilities through AUKUS
The AUKUS partnership opens up new opportunities for promoting deeper information and technology sharing, integrating security- and defence-related science and technology, and building industrial bases and supply chains. In addition to the momentous decision for Australia to acquire nuclear submarines, the agreement nominates cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and ‘additional undersea capabilities’ for trilateral cooperation. Interestingly, though, the vital area of space wasn’t mentioned in the initial communiqués, but it needs to be a key area of cooperation under the pact.
Cyber criminals dig into data mining
Data theft extortion could overtake ransomware as the biggest threat to Australian businesses within 12 months, as the nation’s biggest cyber security firm warned smaller organisations face grave risks from online criminal gangs. Ahead of Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews finalising further action to combat ransomware threats and support for businesses, new CyberCX data reveals NSW (38 per cent) and Queensland (32 per cent) were the hardest hit states by ransomware incidents this year.
Tech industry hits back at eSafety code plans
Industry groups and academics have hit back at the eSafety Commissioner’s plans for codes to tackle child sex abuse and other adult materials, which they say are overly broad and could potentially weaken Australia’s cyber security defences and cripple encryption.
Suspected Chinese hackers masqueraded as Indian government to send COVID-19 phishing emails
An increasingly active Chinese government-linked hacking group impersonated Indian government agencies with phishing lures related to COVID-19 statistics and tax legislation, researchers say. It was the continuation of a campaign that dates to the earliest days of the pandemic, BlackBerry said in a blog post Tuesday.
How a banned encryption chip is stopping China from running Windows 11, for now
South China Morning Post
Microsoft released Windows 11 on Tuesday but many personal computer users in China found themselves unable to switch to the latest version of the operating system as their devices lack a critical component called a trusted platform module (TPM) chip.
China’s TMZ comes for politics, then censors come for it
Time stopped on Sept. 23, 3 p.m. in the Goose Group. Since that moment, nothing has been published on the once-roiling Chinese online forum with nearly 700,000 registered members, for years the prime source of news on celebrity gossip and internet trends. It's looking increasingly possible that Goose Group will be permanently dissolved, another high-profile victim of Beijing's campaign on internet influencers, one increasingly edging into the cultural sphere.
The Facebook whistleblower says its algorithms are dangerous. Here’s why.
MIT Technology Review
Frances Haugen’s testimony at the Senate hearing raised serious questions about how Facebook’s algorithms work—and echoes many findings from our previous investigation. During her testimony, Haugen repeatedly came back to the idea that Facebook’s algorithm incites misinformation, hate speech, and even ethnic violence. “Facebook…knows—they have admitted in public—that engagement-based ranking is dangerous without integrity and security systems but then not rolled out those integrity and security systems in most of the languages in the world,” she told the Senate today. “It is pulling families apart. And in places like Ethiopia it is literally fanning ethnic violence.”
Zuckerberg Responds to Claims That Facebook Prioritizes Profit as ‘Just Not True’
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed a recent series of negative stories about the company for the first time by saying accusations that it puts profit over user safety are “just not true.” “It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted,” he wrote in a note to employees on Tuesday that he also posted publicly.
Mark Zuckerberg writes note to employees
"The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.”
Facebook hides data showing it harms users. Outside scholars need access.
The Washington Post
Whether the problem is disinformation, hate speech, teenagers’ depression or content that encourages violent insurrection, governments cannot institute sound policies if they do not know the character and scale of these problems. Unfortunately, only the platforms have access to the relevant data, and as the newest revelations suggest, they have strong incentives not to make their internal research available to the public. Independent research on how people use social media platforms is clearly essential.
Five Surprising Things Whistleblower Frances Haugen Said During Facebook Testimony
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testified before the Senate Commerce Committee's consumer protection subcommittee on Tuesday and detailed some revelatory information she had gathered during her time at the company.
How to Fix Facebook
The New York Times
This is the most important moment in the history of Facebook. Hyperbole, perhaps, but only a little. A former product manager at Facebook, Frances Haugen, captivated U.S. senators at a hearing on Tuesday with a nuanced diagnosis that the company needs to be saved from itself — for the good of all of us.
Facebook Knew It Was Fueling QAnon
The shocking revelations about how Facebook mishandled the rise of QAnon—as well as other militarized social movements—are revealed in one of eight whistleblower complaints filed by former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week and published by CBS on Monday evening.
Facebook Needs ‘Serious’ Talks With Policy Makers, Bickert Says
Facebook still needs to have a “serious conversation” with lawmakers and regulators about a standard set of rules for policing online content, said Monika Bickert, the social network’s vice president of content policy. The executive pushed back against claims made in a congressional hearing by a whistle-blower, a former Facebook employee, that the company prioritizes profit over safety, saying that was “not true.”
This tech millionaire went from covid trial funder to misinformation superspreader
MIT Technology Review
After boosting unproven covid drugs and campaigning against vaccines, Steve Kirsch was abandoned by his team of scientific advisers—and left out of a job.
The Neglected Agency at the Center of Biden’s China Strategy
On Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai called out China’s “lack of adherence to global trading norms” and vowed that the United States would respond by developing trade policies that protect U.S. markets against unfair economic practices and benefit American workers. Tai made it clear that economic tools like tariffs and export controls are central to the administration’s approach. Yet the Department of Commerce still lacks the resources and authorities it needs to accomplish its mission.
Rep. Katko introduces bill that would prioritize security for key US critical infrastructure
The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee introduced legislation Tuesday directing the Homeland Security Department’s cyber wing to identify U.S. digital infrastructure that, if attacked, would severely debilitate national security, economic security or public safety.
US tech needs to do a great deal better when it comes to democracy
Tech companies need to start behaving in a way that is consistent with the values they state so often. The US has fallen for the “democratising power of tech” narrative for too long. By failing to develop a strong governance agenda for issues ranging from AI and data to semiconductors and social media, policymakers also risk getting fooled once again.
Russian hackers haven't backed off, administration official acknowledges
The Washington Post
The effects of ransomware are still ravaging companies and businesses around the United States. Ransomware groups are still hitting critical infrastructure, like hospitals and agriculture cooperatives, even though Biden said he gave Putin a list of critical infrastructure sectors that should be off-limits.
Insiders in Apple's healthcare organization say its leaders suppress concerns and mislead executives
In August, Insider reported that Apple was scrapping an internal project called HealthHabit, which was designed to make Apple devices a vital link between patients and doctors. It's a symptom of what insiders say are deeper organizational problems that have left the health group without clear direction and struggling to mesh Apple's hardware-oriented culture with the practices of the medical business.
NSA director expects to be facing ransomware attacks 'every single day' in five years
National Security Agency (NSA) Director Paul Nakasone predicted Tuesday that the rate of ransomware attacks will not slow down in the next five years, and said efforts to counter those threats must remain constant as well.
Weighing Big Tech’s Promise to Black America
Last year, Netflix made a pledge that represents the tech industry’s best shot at redressing the nation’s racial inequality. How seriously should we take it?
How AT&T helped build far-right One America News
@johnshiffman Elizabeth Culliford @LindaSoReports @jasonszep
One America News, the far-right network whose fortunes and viewership rose amid the triumph and tumult of the Trump administration, has flourished with support from a surprising source: AT&T Inc, the world's largest communications company.
Surveillance Tools, DNA Screening Equipment Part of Cambodia’s New Security Deal With China
Voice of America
Cambodia will receive new biometric surveillance and DNA screening equipment as part of its latest deal reinforcing law enforcement cooperation with China, prompting a leading human rights group to call for the government to come clean about its plans for the technology.
Singapore passes ‘most powerful’ foreign interference law amid fears of ever-shrinking space for dissent
The Washington Post
Singapore’s Parliament has passed a law aimed at countering foreign interference that is potentially so powerful rights groups and legal experts worry it could crush public debate in a city-state where authorities are already frequently accused of curbing civil liberties. The law, approved late Monday after a 10-hour session, would allow authorities to compel Internet service providers and social media platforms to provide user information, block content and remove applications used to spread content they deem hostile.
Uber faces legal action over ‘racially discriminatory’ facial recognition ID checks
Ride-hailing giant Uber is facing a legal challenge over its use of real-time facial recognition technology in a driver and courier identity check system that it uses in the UK. The App Drivers & Couriers Union announced the legal action Tuesday, alleging that Uber’s biometric identity checks discriminate against people of color. The union said it’s taking the action after the unfair dismissal of a former Uber driver, Imran Javaid Raja, and a former Uber Eats courier, Pa Edrissa Manjang, following failed checks using the facial recognition technology.
UK publishes safety-focused rules for video-sharing platforms like TikTok
Video-sharing platforms that offer a service in the U.K. have to comply with new regulations intended to protect users and under-18s from harmful content such as hate speech and videos/ads likely to incite violence again protected groups. Ofcom, the country’s comms, broadcast and — in an expanding role — internet content regulator, has published the guidance for platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, Vimeo and Twitch today.
Whistleblower breaks Facebook secrecy wall, MP says
Facebook's "wall of secrecy" is being demolished, thanks to whistleblowers such as Frances Haugen, MP Damian Collins has said. Her revelations, coupled with the company's "inaccurate evidence" to politicians, meant regulators must act, he said. Mr Collins leads a group of MPs working on a law that will give the UK's media regulator powers over social media.
IMF chief says Europe can avoid debt crisis, hard to think of Bitcoin as money
Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, speaking remotely to an event hosted by Bocconi University in Italy, said she regards digital currencies backed by central banks to be the most reliable form of digital money and that it is difficult to think of Bitcoin and other crypto assets as money.
The EU’s approach to artificial intelligence
The International Institute for Strategic Studies
In April 2021, the European Commission released proposed legislation that would regulate all uses of artificial intelligence (AI) within the European Union. The draft law is far more comprehensive in nature than any under consideration by China or the United States – the countries that are home to most AI research and development globally – and appears to be an attempt by Brussels to influence the development of AI technology by leveraging its regulatory expertise and the market power of EU member states
U.S.-EU tech control talks raise hopes and concerns
The launch last week of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council is, potentially, a big deal. The EU’s readiness to proceed, despite French efforts to delay the meeting, shows the importance both sides attach to this initiative, and for good reason: The centrality of new technologies to our future, defining both the quality of our lives and the way that the world is run, demands a thoughtful and coordinated approach to their use.
After the honeymoon, how to make the EU-US relationship work
From Afghanistan to the AUKUS alliance, the brief honeymoon between the European Union and U.S. President Joe Biden’s America looks to be over. But it’s important to remember, after the overinflated optimism that followed the end of the Trump years, that transatlantic relations have always had their frictions and frustrations, their ups and their downs — and we’re ready for a rebound once again.
European Parliament backs ban on remote biometric surveillance
The European Parliament has voted to back a total ban on biometric mass surveillance. AI-powered remote surveillance technologies such as facial recognition have huge implications for fundamental rights and freedoms like privacy but are already creeping into use in public in Europe. To respect “privacy and human dignity”, MEPs said that EU lawmakers should pass a permanent ban on the automated recognition of individuals in public spaces, saying citizens should only be monitored when suspected of a crime.
RT Deutsch Finds a Home with Anti-Vaccination Skeptics in Germany
Alliance for Securing Democracy
YouTube’s decision last week to remove RT’s German-language channels for violating the platform’s coronavirus misinformation policy sparked an outcry from Moscow, with the foreign ministry claiming that the move was “fully in line with the logic of the information warfare unleashed against Russia.” The ban, which came about after RT Deutsch attempted to circumvent a short-term suspension by posting to an affiliated channel (a clear violation of YouTube’s terms of service), was nonetheless framed by the Kremlin and its media outlets as “a declaration of media war” and “a media version of Barbarossa”—a reference to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
The Netherlands is conducting DNA research together with China: ‘Fundamental error’
World Today News
Research by RTL Nieuws together with Follow the Money shows that there is a web of connections between Dutch DNA scientists and Chinese researchers who have contacts with the police in that country.
Russia to seek hefty Facebook fine even after content was deleted
@alexmarrow57 Gleb Stolyarov
Russia said on Tuesday that Facebook had complied with its demands to delete some banned content, but that Moscow would still seek to fine the social media group 5-10% of its annual turnover in Russia due to repeated legal violations.
Russia says Facebook outage shows why it needs internet sovereignty
Russian social networks reported a spike in activity during Monday's global Facebook outage which Moscow officials said showed that Russia was right to develop its own sovereign internet platforms and social networks.
UAE to launch probe targeting asteroid between Mars, Jupiter
The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday announced plans to send a probe to land on an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter to collect data on the origins of the universe, the latest project in the oil-rich federation’s ambitious space program. A successful landing would see the UAE join an elite club of the European Union, Japan and the United States, which have completed the feat on either an asteroid or a comet. The probe would remain behind on the asteroid, transmitting back to Earth information on the composition of the asteroid as long as its batteries remain charged.
Dubai ruler hacked ex-wife using NSO Pegasus spyware, high court judge finds
The ruler of Dubai hacked the phone of his ex-wife Princess Haya using NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus spyware in an unlawful abuse of power and trust, a senior high court judge has ruled.
Google confirms $1B investment into Africa, including subsea cable for faster internet
Google said that it would be investing $1 billion to support “digital transformation” across Africa. This will include landing a subsea cable into the continent to enable faster internet speeds, low-interest loans for small businesses, equity investments into African startups, skills training and more.
A ‘potentially disastrous’ data breach hits Twitch, the livestreaming site.
The New York Times
Twitch, the live-video site popular with gamers, said on Wednesday that it had endured a data breach that security researchers believe may have provided sweeping insight into the platform’s computer code, security vulnerabilities and payments to its content creators.
Twitch source code and business data leaked on 4chan
An unknown individual has leaked the source code and business data of video streaming platform Twitch via a torrent file posted on the 4chan discussion board earlier today. The leaker said they shared the data as a response to the recent “hate raids” —coordinated bot attacks posting hateful and abusive content in Twitch chats— that have plagued the platform’s top streamers over the summer.
Twitch Hack of 135 GB of Data Includes How Much Its Biggest Streamers Make
An anonymous poster on 4Chan published 135 gigabytes of what appears to be internal data stolen from Twitch, including exactly how much money the platform’s biggest streamers make on Twitch.
Bitcoin Eyes $50,000 for First Time Since El Salvador Rollout
Bitcoin is making a push back to $50,000 for the first time since El Salvador’s checked rollout of the largest cryptocurrency as legal tender at the start of September. After dropping as low 3.2% to $46,933 in earlier trading, Bitcoin edged up 1.6% to $49,237 as of 2:32 p.m. in New York trading.
Investors Spent Millions on 'Evolved Apes' NFTs. Then They Got Scammed
Cryptocurrencies are riddled with a dazzling array of scams. Rug pulls, a term for when developers take the money and run, are common. And NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, aren’t immune to that old trick, as thousands of investors of a project called Evolved Apes found out on Friday.
Telegram founder says over 70 mln new users joined during Facebook outage
Messaging app Telegram gained over 70 million new users during Monday's Facebook outage, its founder Pavel Durov said on Tuesday, as people worldwide were left without key messaging services for nearly six hours.
A Policy Framework for Responsible Limits on Facial Recognition Use Case: Law Enforcement Investigations
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum’s governance framework for the responsible use of facial recognition in law enforcement investigations addresses the need for a set of concrete guidelines to ensure the trustworthy and safe use of this technology. It includes a set of principles that defines in practical terms what constitutes the responsible use of facial recognition in law enforcement investigations and a self-assessment questionnaire detailing the requirements that law enforcement agencies must respect to ensure compliance with the principles for action.
Events and Podcasts
Securing Cyberspace with Jen Easterly
The Washington Post
Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), joins Washington Post Live to talk about the government’s role in protecting from future cyberattacks.
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.