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FBI, Pentagon helped research facial recognition for street cameras, drones | Online abuse ‘hitting younger girls’ | Plan to forge a better Britain through science and technology unveiled
Good morning. It's Wednesday 8th March.
The FBI and the Defense Department were actively involved in research and development of facial recognition software that they hoped could be used to identify people from video footage captured by street cameras and flying drones, according to thousands of pages of internal documents that provide new details about the government’s ambitions to build out a powerful tool for advanced surveillance. The Washington Post
Girls are experiencing more online abuse, at increasingly younger ages, Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has told a UN conference, as she called on the tech giants to build in more safety features to their platforms rather than leave governments and regulators to react to harm being done. The Australian
The Prime Minister and Technology Secretary today launched the government’s plan to cement the UK’s place as a science and technology superpower by 2030. UK Government
Southeast Asia the ‘new China’ for supply chains: business group
China leads the world in 37 out of 44 critical technologies, with Western democracies falling behind in the race for scientific and research breakthroughs, according to a report released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank earlier this month.
The first 72 hours: How an attack on Taiwan could rapidly reach Australia
The Sydney Morning Herald
Peter Hartcher and Matthew Knott
Within 72 hours of a conflict breaking out over Taiwan, Chinese missile bombardments and devastating cyberattacks would begin pummelling Australia. For the first time since World War II, the mainland would be under attack. Meanwhile, 150,000 American troops would descend on the Top End seeking refuge from the immediate conflict zone. These are the scenarios Peter Jennings, a former deputy secretary for strategy in the Defence Department, says the nation needs to prepare for.
The daring ruse that exposed China’s campaign to steal American secrets
The New York Times
Although China publicly denies engaging in economic espionage, Chinese officials will indirectly acknowledge behind closed doors that the theft of intellectual property from overseas is state policy.
FBI, Pentagon helped research facial recognition for street cameras, drones
The Washington Post
The FBI and the Defense Department were actively involved in research and development of facial recognition software that they hoped could be used to identify people from video footage captured by street cameras and flying drones, according to thousands of pages of internal documents that provide new details about the government’s ambitions to build out a powerful tool for advanced surveillance.
Twelve U.S. senators back giving Commerce secretary new powers to ban TikTok
A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators will introduce legislation on Tuesday that would give Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo new powers to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats, Senator Mark Warner said.
US sees China propaganda efforts becoming more like Russia’s
Nomaan Merchant and Matthew Lee
China has long been seen by the U.S. as a prolific source of anti-American propaganda but less aggressive in its influence operations than Russia, which has used cyberattacks and covert operations to disrupt U.S. elections and denigrate rivals.
Cyber command chief: Election interference is not going away
U.S. Cyber Command Director Gen. Paul Nakasone on Tuesday said that election interference from nation-state threat actors is still an ongoing issue that the U.S. must continue to address.
One leader for Cyber Command, NSA has ‘substantial benefits,’ report says
The Record by Recorded Future
The head of U.S Cyber Command and the National Security Agency testified Tuesday that the two entities should continue to share a leader, citing the conclusions in a recent high-level review that has yet to be shared with the public.
There’s a new US national security obsession — biotech
When the US last week added several units of BGI Group, a Chinese genetic sequencing firm, to its entity list restricting technology transfer, the primary justification was that the company had been “contributing to monitoring and surveillance”, including of ethnic minorities. Yet the human rights implications of China’s domestic surveillance state aren’t Washington’s only concern. The new regulations also state that BGI’s programmes of “collection and analysis of genetic data a significant risk of diversion to China’s military”.
Internal documents show Mexican army used spyware against civilians, set up secret military intelligence unit
The Record by Recorded Future
Dina Temple-Raston and Will Jarvis
Two digital rights groups, Mexico's R3D and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, have just released an update to their “Ejército Espía” (“Spying Government”) report from late last year. In October 2022, they revealed that the Mexican army bought spyware and deployed it against at least two Mexican journalists and a human rights advocate between 2019 and 2021. While they had compelling circumstantial evidence, there was no smoking gun. The newly-released internal classified documents appear to prove it.
Spying by Mexico’s armed forces brings fears of a ‘military state’
The New York Times
Natalie Kitroeff and Ronen Bergman
Mexico’s armed forces spied on a human rights defender and journalists who were investigating allegations that soldiers had gunned down innocent people, documents show, providing clear evidence of the military’s illegal use of surveillance tools against civilians.
Canada roiled by leaked intelligence reports of Chinese election ‘meddling’
A flurry of leaked intelligence reports has reignited allegations that China interfered in Canada’s recent federal elections, kicking off a fierce debate over possible responses to Beijing’s meddling.
Trudeau announces multiple investigations into foreign election interference
With his government under fire over claims that China meddled in the 2019 and 2021 votes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced multiple investigations into foreign election interference and the appointment of a special rapporteur.
South Korea says U.S. Chips Act subsidies have too many requirements
The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. Chips Act is dangling billions of dollars in subsidies in front of the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturers, but South Korea says there are too many strings attached.
Huawei looks to Middle East and Southeast Asia for growth as headwinds in West gather strength
South China Morning Post
With Huawei Technologies Co expected to face more headwinds in Europe with a potential German ban on its products and the cancellation of its plan to build a research facility in the UK, the Chinese telecoms giant will likely turn its attention to other regions, analysts say.
South & Central Asia
India’s crypto industry is imploding
Rest of World
T. Bijoy Idicheriah
WeTrade and WazirX’s NFT marketplace are just two among many casualties of the Indian government’s decision to bring crypto and virtual digital assets under its tax ambit.
New EU-US data pact may come too late for Facebook -regulator
A new pact to facilitate the safe transfer of EU citizens' personal data to the United States might not come into force in time to avoid a suspension of Facebook's transatlantic data flows, the U.S. firm's lead European regulator said on Tuesday.
Germany reviews security risks posed by China’s 5G technology
Laura Pitel, Yuan Yang and Anna Gross
Germany is reviewing the use of Chinese components in its 5G network as Berlin scrutinises its ties with Beijing in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Plan to forge a better Britain through science and technology unveiled
The Prime Minister and Technology Secretary today launched the government’s plan to cement the UK’s place as a science and technology superpower by 2030.
Thousands of fake avatars linked to disinfo ops taken down – and that’s a problem
Two weeks after a global network of journalists revealed a disinformation-for-hire group operating thousands of fake online personas as part of influence campaigns for private and political clients worldwide, Twitter removed all the different accounts linked to an Israeli group known as “Team Jorge” last Friday.
Gender & Women in Tech
Online abuse ‘hitting younger girls’
Girls are experiencing more online abuse, at increasingly younger ages, Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant has told a UN conference, as she called on the tech giants to build in more safety features to their platforms rather than leave governments and regulators to react to harm being done.
At Elon Musk’s ‘brittle’ Twitter, tweaks trigger massive outages
The Washington Post
Since taking over Twitter, CEO Elon Musk has laid off more than two-thirds of the company’s staff, embarking on aggressive cost-cutting and shedding workers in part by compelling them to a commit to an “extremely hardcore” workplace or leave the company. The massive layoffs led to widespread concerns about Twitter’s ability to retain core functions, as critical engineering teams were reduced to one or zero staffers.
Facebook parent delivers mixed response to suggestions on controversial VIP program
The Wall Street Journal
Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. said it would work to implement many of an outside advisory group’s recommendations to reform a system for VIP users called “cross check,” but rejected important provisions intended to enhance transparency and prevent political favoritism.
On Facebook, visual misinfo widespread, highly asymmetric across party lines
Tech Policy Press
A new study based on a massive dataset of posts collected from Facebook pages and groups in the runup to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election finds that visual misinformation is widespread across the platform, and that it is highly asymmetric across party lines, with right-leaning images five to eight times more likely to be misleading.
Powerful Meta large language model widely available online
A set of sophisticated large language models developed by Facebook parent company Meta — and intended to be accessed only by authorized researchers — were made available for download on Friday, releasing to the public the most powerful such AI model yet and increasing the likelihood that the technology might be misused.
Will Meta’s massive leak democratise AI – and at what cost?
Last week, Meta announced LLaMA, its latest stab at making a GPT-style “large language model”. If AI is the future of tech, then big tech companies need to control their own models or be left behind by the competition.
A documentary: By ChatGPT
As a test user for Bing AI, I've experienced search powered by ChatGPT. Never has "knowledge is power" felt so true. Add some actual information to a technology that knows how to sound human, and you are really (virtually) talking. It helped me plan dinner for 17, improve my workout, and book some sightseeing. Its choice of links was surprising, and its guidance was not gospel, but it seemed reasonable, and useful.
The privacy loophole in your doorbell
As networked home surveillance cameras become more popular, Larkin’s case, which has not previously been reported, illustrates a growing collision between the law and people’s own expectation of privacy for the devices they own — a loophole that concerns privacy advocates and Democratic lawmakers, but which the legal system hasn’t fully grappled with.
Events & Podcasts
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.
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