US federal government is using data from push notifications to track contacts | China can use TikTok to ‘radically reshape’ global opinion | Google launches Gemini, upping the stakes in the global AI
Good morning. It's Thursday 7th December.
The Daily Cyber & Tech Digest focuses on the topics we work on, including cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference & disinformation.
Government investigators in the United States have used push notification data to pursue people of interest, Sen. Ron Wyden said in a letter Wednesday to the Justice Department, revealing for the first time a way in which Americans can be tracked through a basic service provided by their smartphones. The Washington Post
Former Australian security adviser John Garnaut has told US Congress that governments underestimate President Xi Jinping’s ambitions to interfere in elections, warning that TikTok alone had the potential for “radically reshaping” global public opinion. Australian Financial Review
Google took its next leap in artificial intelligence Wednesday with the launch of project Gemini, an AI model trained to behave in human-like ways that’s likely to intensify the debate about the technology’s potential promise and perils. Associated Press
Nissan investigates cyberattack in Australia and New Zealand
The Record by Recorded Future News
Japanese carmaker Nissan has reported a cybersecurity incident involving its systems in Australia and New Zealand. In a statement on Wednesday, the company said that it is working with security researchers “to investigate the extent of the incident and whether any personal information has been accessed.” Nissan has also notified the relevant security authorities in each country.
AFP says its intervention saved Aussie businesses $30m from cyber crime in just one year
Federal Police disrupting ransomware attacks saved Australian businesses $30m last year and they say time is of the essence. The AFP says businesses should report cybercrime to law enforcement early, amid concern some businesses and individuals were dealing with breaches alone.
Senate to probe tech sector’s ‘sovereign capability’
Parliament will investigate “sovereign capability in the Australian tech sector” over six months next year after David Pocock had the issue referred to the Senate’s finance committee on Wednesday.
China can use TikTok to ‘radically reshape’ global opinion: Garnaut
Australian Financial Review
Former Australian security adviser John Garnaut has told US Congress that governments underestimate President Xi Jinping’s ambitions to interfere in elections, warning that TikTok alone had the potential for “radically reshaping” global public opinion.
China hopes Microsoft will play constructive role in China-US cooperation on AI
China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with Microsoft President Brad Smith on Wednesday, and exchanged views on Microsoft's development in China, Sino-US economic and trade relations and other issues, the Chinese commerce ministry said. China hopes Microsoft can play a constructive role in China-US cooperation in artificial intelligence and other areas, the ministry quoted Wang as saying, adding that China welcomes multinational companies to continue to do business in the country.
Chinese carmakers rush to build own semiconductor supply chains
Shunsuke Tabeta and Tomoko Wakasugi
More of China's biggest automakers have moved to procure more semiconductors from domestic sources as Beijing seeks to build a supply chain immune to U.S. trade restrictions. Among them is Great Wall Motor, which says it has started making power semiconductors in a "breakthrough of a technological barrier" that marks "a new step forward."
Federal government is using data from push notifications to track contacts
The Washington Post
Government investigators in the United States have used push notification data to pursue people of interest, Sen. Ron Wyden said in a letter Wednesday to the Justice Department, revealing for the first time a way in which Americans can be tracked through a basic service provided by their smartphones.
Facebook, Instagram promote minors’ accounts to child predators, New Mexico alleges in lawsuit
New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez is suing Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg over allegations the company’s platforms — Facebook and Instagram — promoted underage accounts to purported child predators. The state attorney general’s office says its undercover investigation found Meta allowed its platforms to “become a marketplace for predators in search of children upon whom they prey.” The investigation involved creating decoy accounts pretending to be children 14 years and younger.
South & Central Asia
Apple moves towards India-made iPhone batteries in push away from China
Qianer Liu and John Reed
Apple wants batteries for its latest generation of iPhones to be made in India, as part of the US tech giant’s efforts to diversify its global supply chain and move manufacturing out of China.
UK watchdog warns companies over AI use and privacy
Britain's data protection watchdog warned companies to consider people's privacy rights whenever they use artificial intelligence, or face not just fines but losing the public's trust in the technology. The country's Information Commissioner, John Edwards, said at a speech on Wednesday that companies must protect their customer's personal information in all circumstances when they are using AI.
Iran says it sent a capsule capable of carrying animals into orbit as it prepares for human missions
Iran said Wednesday it sent a capsule into orbit capable of carrying animals as it prepares for human missions in coming years. A report by the official IRNA news agency quoted Telecommunications Minister Isa Zarepour as saying the capsule was launched 130 kilometers into orbit. Zarepour said the launch of the 500-kilogram capsule is aimed at sending Iranian astronauts to space in coming years. He did not say if any animals were in the capsule.
Israel advocacy groups outspend pro-Palestinian groups on social media
Advocacy organizations supporting Israel in its war with Hamas have spent roughly 100 times more on advertising via Meta’s social media platforms in the last month compared to groups aligned with Palestinians and Arabs, according to an analysis by POLITICO.
Ex-Twitter exec claims in lawsuit he was fired for raising security concerns
A former executive at Twitter Inc, now called X Corp, has filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired after Elon Musk acquired the company for objecting to budget cuts that would prevent the company from complying with a U.S. government settlement over its security practices. Alan Rosa, who was Twitter's global head of information security, filed the lawsuit late Tuesday in New Jersey federal court alleging breach of contract, wrongful termination and retaliation, among other claims.
Twitch Will Shut Down Its Streaming Platform in South Korea
The New York Times
Twitch, the popular video streaming service, will shut down its services in South Korea next year, the company said on Tuesday, after struggling for years with the “prohibitively expensive” costs of operating in the country. The platform was one of the most popular platforms for gamers in South Korea, even as it competed with domestic services like AfreecaTV and giants like YouTube, analysts say. The service, owned by Amazon, draws about 35 million visitors a day worldwide, according to the company.
Google launches Gemini, upping the stakes in the global AI race
Michael Liedtke and Matt O’Brien
Google took its next leap in artificial intelligence Wednesday with the launch of project Gemini, an AI model trained to behave in human-like ways that’s likely to intensify the debate about the technology’s potential promise and perils.
a16z funded AI platform generated images that “could be categorized as child pornography,” leaked documents show
OctoML, a Seattle-based startup that helps companies optimize and deploy their machine learning models, debated internally whether it was ethical and legally risky for it to generate images for Civitai, an AI model sharing and image generating platform backed by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, after it discovered Civitai generated content that OctoML co-founder Thierry Moreau said “could be categorized as child pornography,” according to internal OctoML Slack messages and documents viewed by 404 Media.
AMD rolls out new chips, aiming for Nvidia’s AI crown
The Wall Street Journal
Advanced Micro Devices is starting to roll out its newest chips for artificial intelligence, the company said on Wednesday, presenting Nvidia with perhaps its toughest challenge yet in the race to supply semiconductors that undergird the AI boom. The chips are expected to become widely available as manufacturers of servers incorporate them into their systems and cloud-computing companies including Microsoft and Oracle begin to offer access to them.
Meta to introduce watermarking feature for some AI products
Meta Platforms will add invisible watermarking to its text-to-image generation product imagine with Meta AI chatbot in the coming weeks to enhance transparency, the Facebook-parent said on Wednesday. The social media firm rolled out products infused with artificial intelligence for consumers, including bots that create photo-realistic images and smart glasses that answer questions, in late September.
How nations are losing a global race to tackle A.I.’s harms
The New York Times
Adam Satariano and Cecilia Kang
When European Union leaders introduced a 125-page draft law to regulate artificial intelligence in April 2021, they hailed it as a global model for handling the technology. E.U. lawmakers had gotten input from thousands of experts for three years about A.I., when the topic was not even on the table in other countries. The result was a “landmark” policy that was “future proof,” declared Margrethe Vestager, the head of digital policy for the 27-nation bloc. Then came ChatGPT.
Five ways A.I. could be regulated
The New York Times
Cecilia Kang and Adam Satariano
Though their attempts to keep up with developments in artificial intelligence have mostly fallen short, regulators around the world are taking vastly different approaches to policing the technology. The result is a highly fragmented and confusing global regulatory landscape for a borderless technology that promises to transform job markets, contribute to the spread of disinformation or even present a risk to humanity.
Can we manage the risks of general-purpose AI systems?
Tech Policy Press
Anthony Barrett, Jessica Newman, Brandie Nonnecke, Dan Hendrycks, Evan Murphy and Krystal Jackson
In the flurry of AI-related summits, executive orders, speeches, and hearings across the world over the past few months, one common sentiment stood out: how do we harness the benefits of powerful, but flawed, AI systems while minimizing the risks? Policymakers are hoping to pass legislation to mitigate the risks of commercial AI products and services to better protect the public. In the United States, this idea was echoed explicitly in Congressional Office of Management and Budget guidance, which urges “Federal agencies to strengthen their AI governance and innovation programs while managing risks from the use of AI, particularly when that use affects the safety and rights of the public.”
China’s data management: Putting the party state in charge
Rebecca Arcesati and Jeroen Groenewegen-Lau
China has methodically increased control over data flows since 2014, building out its regulatory and institutional framework. With the country accounting for as much as 23 percent of transnational data flows, and AI increasingly transforming traditional business models, Beijing’s stringent data localization requirements have sweeping implications for global trade, investment, and innovation.
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