New ASPI report into COVID disinformation and conspiracies | US DoD releases list of companies with ties to Chinese Military | America's first false arrest from facial recognition

Follow us on Twitter. The Daily Cyber Digest focuses on the topics we work on, including cyber, critical technologies & strategic issues like foreign interference.

  • This new report presents a case study for better understanding the ways in which platform algorithms, pre-existing conspiracy content and established conspiracy communities are contributing to the explosive spread of conspiratorial narratives during Covid-19. ASPI ICPC

  • The Defense Department is making public for the first time a list of Chinese companies that are operating in the U.S. and are tied to the Chinese military. The list includes Huawei, Hangzhou Hikvision, China Railway Construction Corporation, and China Telecommunications Corporation. Axios

  • The ACLU has filed a complaint against the Detroit Police Department for what the group says is the first documented instance in the U.S. of someone being falsely arrested based on AI. NPR

ASPI ICPC

Covid-19 Disinformation & Social Media Manipulation
ASPI
@elisethoma5 @AlbertYZhang
This new report presents a case study for better understanding the ways in which platform algorithms, pre-existing conspiracy content and established conspiracy communities are contributing to the explosive spread of conspiratorial narratives during Covid-19. Against the backdrop of the global Covid-19 pandemic, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has become the subject of a diverse and rapidly expanding universe of conspiracy theories.

This report takes a close look at a particular variant of the Gates conspiracy theories, which is referred to here as the ID2020 conspiracy. Like many conspiracy theories, that narrative builds on legitimate concerns, in this case about privacy and surveillance in the context of digital identity systems, and distorts them in extreme and unfounded ways. Among the many conspiracy theories now surrounding Gates, this one is particularly worthy of attention because it highlights the way emergent events catalyse existing online conspiracy substrates across across platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and through Google search recommendations.

In times of crisis, these digital structures—the online communities, the content, the shaping of recommendation algorithms—serve to channel anxious, uncertain individuals towards conspiratorial beliefs. This report focuses primarily on the role and use of those digital structures in proliferating this conspiracy.

How dangerous is the boogaloo?
ASPI Strategist
@elisethoma5
The boogaloo is not a single, organised group. Nor is it a coherent ideology. It’s perhaps best understood as a meme, or idea, transitioning into a movement.. The meme may have originated on the imageboard 4chan, but boogaloo groups and content have since spread across the major social media platforms and many fringe platforms as well. By far the most activity takes place on Facebook, where the largest boogaloo groups have thousands of members.

Questacon Annual Report
Questacon
Questacon also hosted the inaugural Indigi-Cyber Camp for Kids. The Indigi-Cyber Camp, a collaboration between the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a local Aboriginal business leader and 2018 ACT Australian of the Year Dion Devow, and SecuriDay security professionals. The cyber security workshop was attended by 15 Indigenous students and their families from the local region.

Why CSIS believes Canada is a ‘permissive target’ for China’s interference
Global News
In June, Alex Joske, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, released a report aimed at helping international journalists identify and demystify United Front networks.

ASPI’s Tom Uren quoted by NSW Senator after testifying in front of the Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media.

The World

The US-China Battle Over the Internet Goes Under the Sea
Wired
@jshermcyber
The DOJ’s opposition to Facebook and Google’s 8,000-mile cable to Hong Kong highlights how physical infrastructure is as contentious as the virtual world.

China

China rebuffs EU warning on hacking hospitals
Politico Europe
@laurenscerulus
Chinese diplomats on Wednesday rebutted the European Union's signal to Beijing that the bloc "cannot tolerate" cyberattacks on hospitals, as cybersecurity experts raised questions about evidence to back the claim.

USA

Defense Department produces list of Chinese military-linked companies
Axios
@BethanyAllenEbr
The Defense Department is making public for the first time a list of Chinese companies that are operating in the U.S. and are tied to the Chinese military. The list, obtained by Axios, includes Huawei, Hangzhou Hikvision, China Railway Construction Corporation, and China Telecommunications Corporation.

WikiLeaks Founder Charged in Superseding Indictment
US Department of Justice
A federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment today charging Julian P. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, with offenses that relate to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.

Tech companies slam Trump's executive order restricting H-1B visas
CNN
@Iyengarish @b_fung
Silicon Valley is pushing back against President Donald Trump's latest immigration curbs.

Man Says He Was Falsely Arrested After Facial Recognition Mistake
NPR
@bobbyallyn
The ACLU has filed a complaint against the Detroit Police Department for what the group says is the first documented instance in the U.S. of someone being falsely arrested based on AI.

Black and brown tech workers share their experiences of racism on the job
LA Times
@JmBooyah @SamAugustDean
A Black career IT professional put himself forward for a promotion but was instead asked to help recruit another candidate, who was white.

The Tide is Turning Toward Trusted 5G Vendors
US Department of State
The tide is turning against Huawei as citizens around the world are waking up to the danger of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state. Huawei’s deals with telecommunications operators around the world are evaporating, because countries are only allowing trusted vendors in their 5G networks.

The NSA is piloting a secure DNS service for the defense industrial base
Cyber Scoop
@shanvav
In an effort to better protect the U.S. defense industrial base from malware-based threats, the National Security Agency has launched a pilot program on securing Domain Name System use for U.S. defense contractors. The NSA’s cybersecurity directorate has been working on the pilot, called secure DNS, for six weeks, the directorate’s chief, Anne Neuberger, said during a virtual event Thursday.

Social Media Giants Support Racial Justice. Their Products Undermine It.
The New York Times
@kevinroose
Shows of support from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube don’t address the way those platforms have been weaponized by racists and partisan provocateurs.

Trump administration sees no loophole in new Huawei curb
Reuters
@alexalper @karen_freifeld
The U.S. government sees no loopholes in a new rule aimed at crimping global chip sales to China’s Huawei and will “aggressively” crack down on any bid to disobey the intent of the curb.

TikTok Teens Are Obsessed With Pizzagate
The Daily Beast
@willsommer
The Comet Ping Pong conspiracy theory has been widely discredited, but it lives on with Gen Z.

Twitter puts warning on Trump tweet for 'threat of harm' against DC protesters
CNN
@donie
"We've placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group," Twitter said.

North Asia

Japanese supercomputer Fugaku crowned the world's most powerful
Sydney Morning Herald
China and the United States are locked in a contest to develop the world's most powerful computers. Now a massive machine in Japan has topped them both.

Southeast Asia

Singtel and Starhub-M1 consortium finalise vendors for 5G coverage
Straits Times
Technologies from Sweden's Ericsson and Finland's Nokia will power the core of Singapore's two nationwide 5G networks here, forming the backbone of its digital economy.

South Asia

Chinese hackers attempted 40,000 cyber attacks on Indian web, banking sector in 5 days
India Today
Hackers based in China have attempted 40,000 cyber attacks on Indian banking and information technology sector over the past 5 days.

Why does govt want ‘country of origin’ flagged on procurement portal? How will you be impacted?
Indian Express
Decision comes after the Aatmanirbhar Bharat push and the tensions with China, which is a source of many commonly used goods. There is also a move to extend this requirement to private e-commerce platforms.

UK

The UK’s contact tracing app fiasco is a master class in mismanagement
MIT Technology Review
@jamesrbuk
The failed rollout of Britain's covid-19 app will damage digital contact tracing efforts worldwide—but its troubles were the result of clear, specific errors.

Europe

French contact-tracing app StopCovid has been activated 1.8 million times but only sent 14 notifications
Tech Crunch
@romaindillet
France released StopCovid three weeks ago. Over the past three weeks, 1.9 million people downloaded the app on the App Store or Play Store. Out of those 1.9 million people, 1,814,048 users opened the app and activated StopCovid.

Microsoft chief says EU 'most influential' on tech rules
Techxplore
Microsoft president Brad Smith on Tuesday said Europe was the global leader on setting rules for big tech, two years after the EU implemented the GDPR, its landmark data privacy law.

EU pushing ahead with digital tax despite U.S. resistance, top official says
Politico Europe
@PoliticoRyan
The European Union’s powerful antitrust and Covid-19 bailout enforcer says the EU will push ahead with a regional digital services tax even if the U.S. sticks to its efforts to block a global deal.

Facebook Loses Antitrust Decision in Germany Over Data Collection
The New York Times
@satariano
In a closely watched case, Facebook lost an appeal related to charges that it has violated competition laws by abusing its dominance in social media.

Misc

In media agency shakeup, conservative groups push for Falun Gong-backed internet tools
Axios
@BethanyAllenEbr
In the wake of a leadership change at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), a small group of religious freedom advocates is trying to secure millions of dollars in funding for two internet censorship circumvention tools developed by supporters of the Falun Gong, a controversial religious group banned in China.

Facebook executive admits to ‘trust deficit’ on call with advertisers
Financial Times
Social media group hit by mass boycotts over political content moderation.

Research

Tech Factsheets for Policy Makers - 5G
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The introduction and integration of 5G poses opportunities and risks, both of which are important to consider from a public sector and private sector standpoint.

Share