U.S.-China tech fight opens new front in Ethiopia | MI5 chief accuses Facebook of giving ‘free pass’ to terrorists | Why Australia banned the world’s biggest telecoms firm
A U.S.-backed consortium beat out one financed by China in a closely watched telecommunications auction in Ethiopia—handing Washington a victory in its push to challenge Beijing’s economic influence around the world. The East African country said Saturday it tapped a group of telecommunications companies led by the U.K.’s Vodafone Group PLC to build a nationwide, 5G-capable wireless network. The group had won financial backing for the multibillion-dollar project from a newly created U.S. foreign-aid agency. The Wall Street Journal
Facebook has given terrorists a “free pass” by allowing stronger encryption on its network, the head of MI5 has said in his first criticism of Mark Zuckerberg’s company. Ken McCallum said that the social media giant’s plans to install end-to-end encryption would block hundreds of counterterrorism investigations by the Security Service. The Times
Upgrading Australia’s communications network meant our national security experts had to get to grips with tech titan Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government. A ban would infuriate Chinese leaders. The alternative was worse. The Sydney Morning Herald
Australian Strategic Policy Institute Report: Australia is Falling Behind, Now Last in National Investment
The Qubit Report
Australia is falling behind in the global quantum technology race despite its history of leadership in the field, according to a new Australian Strategic Policy Institute report, which calls for a “step change” in policy settings and investment. The policy recommendations include making quantum technology a key plank in a national technology strategy, a call for a new minister for critical and emerging technologies, and a new national quantum initiative involving states and the private sector.
Read our report, 'An Australian Strategy for the Quantum Revolution'
Establishing a semiconductor cradle in the Northern Territory
Two major infrastructure projects, HyperOne and Project Echo, in conjunction with the Northern Territory government’s ‘Terabit Territory’ plan, have set Darwin on its way to becoming Australia’s national digital hub and the linchpin of telecommunications connecting the United States with the region. These projects are expected to provide Darwin with a powerful foundation on which to develop its cyber capability—with the goal of becoming home to Australia’s first science industrial park, manufacturing semiconductor chips.
U.S.-China Tech Fight Opens New Front in Ethiopia
The Wall Street Journal
A U.S.-backed consortium beat out one financed by China in a closely watched telecommunications auction in Ethiopia—handing Washington a victory in its push to challenge Beijing’s economic influence around the world. The East African country said Saturday it tapped a group of telecommunications companies led by the U.K.’s Vodafone Group PLC to build a nationwide, 5G-capable wireless network. The group had won financial backing for the multibillion-dollar project from a newly created U.S. foreign-aid agency.
The global chip shortage is here for some time
The chip drought is the result of the covid-19 pandemic interacting with an industry that is notoriously prone to cycles of boom and bust. It is likely to persist for months, if not years.
Huawei? No way! Why Australia banned the world’s biggest telecoms firm
The Sydney Morning Herald
Upgrading Australia’s communications network meant our national security experts had to get to grips with tech titan Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government. A ban would infuriate Chinese leaders. The alternative was worse.
TikTok takes down hundreds of Australian videos in misinformation crackdown
False claims about Covid vaccines – including that the Australian prime minister faked getting his jab – were among some of the hundreds of Australian videos TikTok removed from its platform as part of a misinformation crackdown.
Bitcoin’s Obstacles Mount Amid China Cryptocurrency Warning
Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies slumped after the People’s Bank of China conveyed a statement reiterating that digital tokens can’t be used as a form of payment.
Embattled Chinese Property Tycoon Turns to Electric Cars. Cue $87 Billion Valuation.
The Wall Street Journal
Evergrande founder Xu Jiayin hasn’t sold any vehicles yet and his real-estate empire is groaning with debt.
China’s Weibo Social Media Bans BTS Fan Accounts As ‘Butter’ Single Blows Up YouTube
Weibo, a Chinese government-controlled social media service, is banning prominent accounts for fans of the South Korean pop group BTS…The Chinese government has been waging a campaign for years against K-pop and Chinese imitators of the style, claiming that the image of young men wearing cosmetics and sporting delicate beauty and high fashion threaten the future of the nation.
ByteDance staff and investors shocked as founder steps back
Since the end of 2020, China has been reining in its tech giants using antitrust and other regulations. Zhang’s resignation follows that of ecommerce giant Pinduoduo’s founder Colin Huang in March, whose departure also came as a surprise. Earlier that month, Ant Group’s chief executive Simon Hu also stepped down, months after their record-breaking dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong was cancelled by Beijing. “The government is weakening the central authority of all the leaders of the tech giants,” said Feng Chucheng, partner at Beijing-based consultancy Plenum.ai.
Alibaba’s Winning Cloud Formula Is Coming Under Pressure
The Wall Street Journal
@jingyanghk @lizalinwsj @QiZHAI
Pressure is mounting on Alibaba’s cloud-computing division after years of breakneck expansion, as competition in the industry intensifies and political issues hurt the Chinese company’s ability to win business overseas and government contracts at home.
Leaked Emails Show Crime App Citizen Is Testing On-Demand Security Force
Crime and neighborhood watch app Citizen has ambitions to deploy private security workers to the scene of disturbances at the request of app users, according to leaked internal Citizen documents and Citizen sources. The plans mark a dramatic expansion of Citizen's purview.
FBI employee indicted for stealing classified info on FBI cybersecurity work
A federal grand jury has charged an FBI employee for stealing classified documents and keeping them in her home between 2004 and 2017, the FBI announced Friday. The employee, Kendra Kingsley, allegedly took documents that detailed the FBI’s sources and methods the FBI uses to counter cyber threats, as well as those it uses in its counterterrorism and counterintelligence work, according to the indictment.
Facebook won’t take down an ad that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s office says could lead to harassment and death threats
The Washington Post
Facebook has refused to remove a widely viewed attack ad that links Rep. Ilhan Omar to Hamas, even after her aides told the tech giant the message is inaccurate, hateful and threatened to subject her to death threats.
Senators roll out bipartisan data privacy bill
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is back with a bill to protect consumer data privacy when collected by large tech platforms like Facebook and Google. Klobuchar (D-MN) has teamed up with a bipartisan group of senators, including Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Richard Burr (R-NC), to reintroduce the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act. The privacy legislation would force websites to grant users greater control over their data and allow them to opt out of data tracking and collection.
How Should the U.S. Respond to China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy?
As the administration of President Joe Biden reviews the Trump administration’s posture towards China, policy responses to MCF are likely to attract scrutiny. Should the U.S. continue the past administration’s approach to MCF, or is a recalibration in order?
The Technology 202: Online disinformation has changed. Now the DNC is updating its response unit.
The Washington Post
Online disinformation has drastically evolved since the days when politicians’ biggest concerns on social media were Russian troll farms. Now the Democratic National Committee is overhauling its counter disinformation unit to better respond to what it views as the more pressing digital threat: Republican politicians and right-leaning publications with large followings. This team will now be housed within the committee’s communications department to rapidly track and respond to purported falsehoods spreading online.
Taiwan accuses China of spreading fake news about Covid outbreak
A Taiwanese official has accused China of spreading fake news about the Covid-19 outbreak on the island, saying this was why the government was publicising and refuting instances of false information circulating online…A security official watching Chinese activity in Taiwan said this week the Taipei government believed Beijing was engaged in cognitive warfare to “create chaos” and undermine public trust in how the pandemic is being handled.
The Chaebolization of Big Tech Has Made Its Way to America
The New York Times
When Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, meets with President Biden at the White House on Friday, many will watch with North Korea on their minds. But Mr. Biden may be consumed with something else. Demand for electronics during the coronavirus pandemic and concerns over the global supply in the U.S.-China “trade war” have caused a shortage of semiconductors, those magical bits of silicon or gallium arsenide that power nearly every digital aspect of our lives.
The equities of telco cyber exploitation: 5G and the Huawei ban
Observer Research Foundation
The Indian government has commenced the trials of 5G technology, but the Chinese company Huawei is notably absent from the list of approved vendors. The Indian strategic community is almost unanimously supportive of the decision, concerned about the emerging Chinese hegemony around 5G standards and architecture. Although think tanks and experts have delved into some of the technical intricacies of 5G, the commentary remains largely polemical and rooted in the complicated verbiage of Sino-Indian geopolitics.
South & Central Asia
Centre Asks Twitter To Remove ‘Manipulated Media’ Tag From Toolkit Tweets
Hours after Twitter labelled tweets of BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra and others on the alleged toolkit prepared by Congress as ‘manipulated media’, the Central government has asked the social media platform to remove the tag as the matter is under investigation, news agencies PTI and ANI reported.
India’s decision on Huawei, ZTE may have been shaped by “espionage acts” globally
The Economic Times
Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury
India’s decision to bar Chinese telecom equipment makers Huawei and ZTE from 5G trials is because they have allegedly been involved in espionage activities in Europe, Africa and the Pacific region over the last few years, ET has learnt.
MI5 chief Ken McCallum accuses Facebook of giving ‘free pass’ to terrorists
Facebook has given terrorists a “free pass” by allowing stronger encryption on its network, the head of MI5 has said in his first criticism of Mark Zuckerberg’s company. Ken McCallum said that the social media giant’s plans to install end-to-end encryption would block hundreds of counterterrorism investigations by the Security Service.
Millions 'unwittingly tracked' by phone after vaccination to see if movements changed
A report revealed that data from one in ten peoples' phones were tracked in February.
FBI involved in international response to HSE cyber attack
The cyberattack which forced the Health Service Executive’s systems offline has prompted an international response involving the FBI and European governments. The Irish health service is the largest public body to fall victim to cybercriminals in recent weeks. Private firms in the pharmaceutical, energy and logistics sectors here have also been targeted by hackers.
A Ryanair Flight Carrying An Opposition Journalist Is Forced To Land In Belarus
Authorities in Belarus ordered a Ryanair flight to make an emergency landing in the capital city of Minsk, after reports that a bomb was on board the aircraft. Officials then boarded the plane and arrested Roman Protasevich, the former editor and founder of an opposition blog and social media channel…Protasevich founded the blog and Telegram channel Nexta, which has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, and played a key role in organizing anti-government protests last fall. He currently lives in Lithuania, where the Ryanair flight was headed, but is wanted in Belarus on multiple charges
Europe’s Digital Future
In recent years, the European Union has unveiled a series of ambitious legislative and regulatory packages to rein in problems endemic to the new digital economy. Can leading the world in tech governance help to establish Europe's place in the twenty-first century?
FSB NKTsKI: Foreign ‘cyber mercenaries’ breached Russian federal agencies
Foreign hackers have breached and stolen information from Russian federal executive bodies, the Russian government said in a report published last week. The attacks were identified in 2020.
Could the ransomware crisis force action against Russia?
MIT Technology Review
Moscow’s blind eye toward cybercriminals has made escalating attacks inevitable, say experts. But changing the approach is easier said than done.
Oversight Board @OversightBoardThe Board has overturned Facebook’s decision to remove a comment intended to criticize the Turkish government. https://t.co/H73F0307Os
Google’s New Dermatology App Wasn’t Designed for People With Darker Skin
Google on Tuesday unveiled a dermatology app that it says can recognize 288 different skin conditions from pictures, and there’s something very Google about it. The deep learning system the app is based on was originally trained and tested on a dataset that—like the company itself—vastly underrepresents people with dark skin tones.
Google launches AI health tool for skin conditions
Google is taking one of the most significant steps yet by a big tech company into healthcare, launching an AI-powered tool that will assist consumers in self-diagnosing hundreds of skin conditions.
Apple’s head of software admits Macs have an unacceptable amount of malware
Apple’s head of software, Craig Federighi, said in court on Wednesday that Apple is not pleased with the amount of harmful software, or malware, on its operating system for Mac computers, MacOS.
I sold all my cryptocurrency – and you should too: endless growth is not sustainable
The Sydney Morning Herald
What started off promising as the “people’s currency” and a middle finger to governments and central banks has since turned into one big joke.
Let’s make sure our personal data works for us – not against us – after the pandemic
The Covid crisis has shown that consensual information-sharing does not have to erode our democratic rights.
The Good Web: Democratic Values, Practices, and Procedures
Alliance for Securing Democracy
In December 2020, ASD held a security and geopolitics workshop as part of the Good Web project entitled “Democratic Values and the Internet.” Participants included experts in cyber policy, cybersecurity, foreign policy, law, human rights, and internet freedom, and they had regional expertise on Europe, the United States, India, and China.
Events & Podcasts
ICPC Analyst or Senior Analyst - Cyber & technology
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has a unique opportunity for an exceptional cyber-security or technology focused analyst or senior analyst to join its centre in 2021. Please note that interviews have commenced for this position and will continue until the end of June. This role will focus on policy relevant cybersecurity analysis, informed public commentary and either original data-heavy research and/or technical analysis. Analysts usually have around 7-15 years work experience. Senior analysts usually have a minimum of 15 years relevant work experience and tend to be involved in staff and project management, fundraising and stakeholder engagement.