WeChat is good for business, but not elections | Google to invest up to $1 billion in India's Bharti Airtel | Myanmar junta set to pass draconian cyber security law
Australian politicians should ditch their WeChat accounts before the federal election to head off any political interference from China, an influential Australian think tank has warned. Financial Review
Alphabet Inc's Google will invest up to $1 billion in India's Bharti Airtel as the U.S. technology giant expands its hold in India, sending shares of the telecom operator as much as 6.6% higher on Friday. Reuters
Myanmar’s military junta is reportedly on the brink of passing its long-threatened cybersecurity law, which in its latest form would outlaw virtual private networks (VPNs), throttle access to social media networks, and force internet companies to hand over user data to the military. The Diplomat
WeChat is good for business, but not elections
Australian politicians should ditch their WeChat accounts before the federal election to head off any political interference from China, an influential Australian think tank has warned. But business users can continue to use Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat and TikTok, as long as they keep in mind they are using platforms that are both surveilled and censored by the Chinese Communist Party, said Fergus Ryan, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The Wire China
China’s new Xinjiang detention camps have been well-documented by investigative research and satellite imagery. For instance, scholars from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), identified more than 380 “re-education centers (职业技能教育培训中心),” as CCP propagandists call them, over 60 of which have been expanded this past year. ASPI describes them as part of the largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority group since World War II. They are, however, only one element in the Party’s overall campaign to preemptively neutralize potential Muslim separatist sentiment and incipient terrorism by detaining hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, sometimes for nothing more that manifesting deep religious sentiments or active support for their own indigenous culture.
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre’s Xinjiang Data Project uses open source data to document the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing program of human rights abuses and tech-enhanced authoritarianism in Xinjiang, and explores its global implications. You can view the project here.
GoFundMe freezes $160,000 until organisers of Convoy to Canberra protests detail spending plan
GoFundMe has frozen access to more than $160,000 in funds raised by supporters of a convoy of trucks and cars converging on Canberra to protest COVID-19 vaccines and public health measures. After vehicles began arriving in the national capital on Monday morning, Australian Federal Police were forced to defend the front doors of Parliament House, as hundreds of people who were part of the larger protest moved towards the public entrance. The Convoy to Canberra rally is being led by groups who are against mandatory vaccinations and includes the so-called Sovereign Citizens movement, with many trucks, vans and cars travelling thousands of kilometres from interstate to join the rally.
NSW Planning dept creates new cyber security function, CISO role
NSW’s Department of Planning and Environment has created a new information security function as part of an ongoing cyber security uplift. The new function, which sits within the department’s digital information office, was revealed in a job advertisement for a chief information security officer earlier this month.
Cyber resilience first: A must for regulators, executives and boards
Despite the Australian Securities and Investments Commission being hit by a cyber-attack just over a year ago, along with several other high profile ransomware attacks in the last few years, many local organisations – both public and private – remain vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated and ever-proliferating cyberattacks. The immense challenge posed by cyberattacks and ransomware will only get harder in 2022, forcing governments, industry bodies, organisations of all kinds and sizes, regulators, and policy makers to either act decisively or face severe ramifications, such as loss of revenue or the removal of those found to be complacent.
China: Media freedom declining at 'breakneck speed'
Media freedom in China is declining at "breakneck speed", according to a report by a group representing foreign journalists in the country. The report by the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) of China said journalists there face physical assaults, hacking, online trolling and visa denials.
China issues draft rules for fakes in cyberspace
China's cyberspace regulator issued draft rules on Friday for content providers that alter facial and voice data, the latest measure to crack down on "deepfakes" and mould a cyberspace that promotes Chinese socialist values.
Read our report ‘China’s cyber vision: How the Cyberspace Administration of China is building a new consensus on global internet governance’ here.
Who is Hubble Technology?
The Wire China
The supply chains of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei have been crippled by U.S. sanctions over the past couple of years. Now it’s fighting back at home, thanks in part to an investment spree carried out by its wholly-owned fund, Hubble Technology Venture Capital.
How Facebook is morphing into Meta
The New York Times
Sheera Frenkel, Mike Isaac and Ryan Mac
Shifting a 68,000-person social networking company toward the theoretical metaverse has caused internal disruption and uncertainty.
Meta pauses new users from joining analytics tool CrowdTangle
Facebook's parent company Meta Platforms Inc has paused new users from joining its social media tracking tool CrowdTangle due to staffing constraints. Meta, which disbanded the CrowdTangle team last year, has been under pressure to provide greater transparency into its platforms. CrowdTangle founder and CEO Brandon Silverman left Facebook last year. The tool is used by organizations and individuals to follow, analyze and report on public content available on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit.
Facebook owner Meta to lift veil off its metaverse business
Since October, Facebook has renamed the company, articulated a vision of the internet where people can digitally connect through virtual-reality avatars or teleport to see places like ancient Rome, and helped trigger the metaverse investment craze. When the company, now Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O), reports fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, investors will get a new window into the financial impact of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's current passion. Meta plans to break out the results of its augmented and virtual-reality hardware unit, Reality Labs, for the first time, an investment the company previously warned would cause a $10 billion hit to 2021 profit and would not be profitable "any time in the near future."
Joe Rogan apologizes, Spotify publishes content policy in pesponse to Neil Young outcry
The Wall Street Journal
Joe Rogan, responding to Neil Young’s objections to his podcast and host Spotify, said his show has grown “out of control” and pledged to be more balanced and informed about controversial topics and guests.
Spotify’s platform rules and approach to COVID-19 can be read here.
Profits over politics: AWS and Microsoft execs warn of China’s AI threat while growing AI hubs inside China
The two biggest U.S. cloud companies are expanding their artificial intelligence and cloud services in China despite warnings of China’s AI threat from their own executives.
How the FTC is reshaping the antitrust argument against tech giants
The Wall Street Journal
For years, activists, lawmakers, lobbying groups, think tanks and most Americans have agreed something should be done about giant tech companies’ power. With minor exceptions, no one has figured out how to do it. Now, U.S. competition regulators at the Federal Trade Commission are getting creative. They’re zeroing in on an issue that has been less prominent in the past: how Big Tech dominance harms not consumers, but the businesses that sell goods and services on those tech platforms.
Cyberattacks increasingly hobble pandemic-weary US schools
For teachers at a middle school in New Mexico’s largest city, the first inkling of a widespread tech problem came during an early morning staff call. Cyberattacks like the one that canceled classes for two days in Albuquerque’s biggest school district have become a growing threat to U.S. schools, with several high-profile incidents reported since last year. And the coronavirus pandemic has compounded their effects: More money has been demanded, and more schools have had to shut down as they scramble to recover data or even manually wipe all laptops.
Myanmar junta set to pass draconian cyber security law
Myanmar’s military junta is reportedly on the brink of passing its long-threatened cybersecurity law, which in its latest form would outlaw virtual private networks (VPNs), throttle access to social media networks, and force internet companies to hand over user data to the military.
A year after Myanmar coup, growing surveillance threatens lives
A group of young men were recently stopped at a security checkpoint in Yangon and asked to hand over their mobile phones. After being questioned about social media apps on their phones, one was fined for using a virtual private network (VPN). The crackdown on VPNs, which anonymise a user’s Internet Protocol address and help bypass firewalls, is the latest attack on digital rights in Myanmar - alongside internet shutdowns and growing surveillance - since a military coup on Feb. 1, 2021.
South & Central Asia
Google to invest up to $1 billion in India's Bharti Airtel
Abhirup Roy and Chandini Monnappa
Alphabet Inc's Google will invest up to $1 billion in India's Bharti Airtel as the U.S. technology giant expands its hold in India, sending shares of the telecom operator as much as 6.6% higher on Friday.
India parliament opens amid furore over Pegasus 'lies'
India's parliament opened amid a political storm over fresh allegations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government bought Israeli-made Pegasus spyware to snoop on its critics.
State to be advised to establish military cyber command
The Irish Times
A large, well-resourced military cyber command, capable of defending and deterring online attacks against the State, should be urgently established, the Commission on the Defence Forces is to recommend to the Government this week. The “Information Command”, which would number up to 300 personnel, would be part of the Defence Forces and under the command of a general.
US pushes to change EU’s digital gatekeeper rules
The United States is pressing the EU to revise rules targeting digital giants to make them focus less on American companies and ensure they will also cover tech firms from outside the U.S., according to a new paper distributed to Brussels officials and seen by POLITICO. The move, which aims to change the so-called Digital Markets Act, highlights Washington's concern about plans to rein in the biggest tech companies as the U.S. government is targeting Brussels officials in the midst of ongoing talks in the Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council, a high-level transatlantic discussion group. In addition to the scope of the plans, the Biden administration also cites security concerns regarding Brussels' efforts.
The role of cyber “elves” against Russian information operations
The George Marshall Fund of the United States
Guerrillas of brave elves taking down hordes of dark trolls in an ideological conflict over the future of humanity. This is not the beginning of a fantasy novel but a somewhat accurate description of everyday realities in cyberspace across Europe. The “elves”—a group of cyber activists fighting pro-Kremlin propaganda and disinformation campaigns—are a growing yet little-known phenomenon. Having started in 2014 as less than 20 individuals in Lithuania, the movement expanded to 13 Central and Eastern European countries, and it counted about 4,000 volunteers by 2021. Given the size and the pace of growth of the elves, together with their successful yet unadvertised missions, it would be unwise to overlook or underestimate this movement.
Researchers detail Russia-linked group's cyber-espionage tactics in Ukraine
Researchers at Symantec say they have identified some of the specific tactics used by a Russia-linked hacking operation that Ukraine’s government outed in November of last year.
Events and Podcasts
#ProactiveLAC: A digital future for regional recovery
A virtual conversation on the role of public-private partnerships and policy actions in increasing digital connectivity across Latin America and the Caribbean. Thursday February 17, 2022 - 9am ET
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.
ICPC Data Analyst
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has an outstanding opportunity for talented Data Analysts to join its growing centre. ASPI’s ICPC undertakes complex research on some of the most challenging issues at the intersection of technology and public policy. How do we develop international norms to deter information operations and coercive diplomacy, how should we build international cooperation on the development of emerging critical technologies, what is the right balance between regulation and innovation? We deliver empirical research that is policy-relevant and we’re looking for people who can help us analyse data at scale.