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International press review Extrema Ratio June 7, 2023

Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, military, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law & national security.


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Extrema Ratio

Il dipartimento di palazzo Chigi che valuta la Golden Power ha ascoltato in audizione Pirelli e Camfin sul nuovo patto dei soci cinesi di Sinochem in Pirelli, dopo aver già sentito i rappresentanti di Pechino. I pericoli sono giganteschi e rientrano nella strategia economica predatoria di Pechino per il dominio globale.

Military

Breaking Defence

Now that Italy has formally lifted its embargo on arms transfers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, experts said that Riyadh could be in the market for some Italian defense platforms, especially naval systems and air defenses.


Saudi Arabian and Italian flags. (Getty)

The Defence Post

Leonardo showcased upgrades to its 200-kilogram AWHero helicopter drone for multi-purpose maritime operations in Italy.


AWHero helicopter drone. Photo: Leonardo via Twitter

The Defence Post

Multiple Russian and Chinese military jets entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone on Tuesday, Seoul’s military said, prompting the air force to dispatch fighter planes in response.

Four Russian and four Chinese military aircraft entered the zone off South Korea’s east and south coasts around lunchtime Tuesday, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

Breaking Defence

Estonia-based Milrem Robotics led the $39 million project involving twelve other entities from seven countries.

Global Time

The Hill

China is taking aggressive new actions in the Taiwan Strait, escalating Beijing’s routine harassment in the international waterway at a low point in diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington.

Voice of America

outh Korea scrambled its fighter jets after Chinese and Russian military aircraft entered its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the south and east of the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday — an incident that followed two recent encounters …

USNI News

When the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group returns from deployment this week, it will mark the beginning of a shift in how amphibious forces deploy globally – shifting naval resources away from the Middle East to the Western Pacific.

The three ships in the Makin Island ARG and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit joined in exercise after exercise in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, demonstrating a high op-tempo in the Defense Department’s priority theater since the withdrawal of Afghanistan.

“We are the first ARG/MEU [from the U.S.] that has stayed in INDOPACOM in over 20 years,” Col. Samuel Meyer, the commanding officer of the 13th MEU, told USNI News in a recent phone interview.


USS Makin Island (LHD 8) sits moored to the pier at U.S. Naval Base Guam for a regular scheduled port visit on May 14, 2023. US Navy Photo

USNI News

A key lesson from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the value of having pre-positioned war supplies in Europe and exercising in the region regularly, the U.S. Transportation Command commander said on Tuesday.

USNI News

Russian and Chinese bombers flew a joint mission over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on Tuesday – marking their first joint bomber flight since November – during a summit between the U.S., India, Japan and Australia.

Meanwhile, the Russian Pacific Fleet sortied from Vladivostok on Monday for a series of exercises that will continue through June 20. At the same time U.S., Russian and Chinese warships are involved in a joint multilateral exercise in the Makassar Strait under the aegis of the Indonesian Navy.


A Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear off Japan. Japanese MoD Photo

Janes

Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) unveiled what it described as unique hypersonic ballistic missile that cannot be intercepted by existing missile defences on 6 June.

The IRGC claimed the Fattah missile that was unveiled during an event attended by President Ebrahim Raisi has a range of 1,400 km, is highly manoeuvrable, and can hit its target accurately at a speed of Mach 13–15.

Janes

French shipbuilder OCEA has despatched the first two of 20 FPB 98 MKI patrol boats on order for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

Video imagery captured by a Turkish independent ship spotter showed the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged merchant cargo ship, M/V Gaja, transiting northbound through the Bosphorus Strait from Saint-Nazaire, in western France, loaded with two FPB 98 MKI patrol boats in the early morning hours of 23 May. The merchant ship arrived later the same day at the Port of Constanţa in Romania.

China Military

The Chinese and Russian militaries completed the tasks of the second phase of the sixth joint strategic air patrol in the western airspace of the Pacific Ocean on June 7, according to a written statement released by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday.


China

Reuters

Citigroup's (C.N) CEO Jane Fraser said the bank will continue to expand its business in China during her first visit to the country this week as the U.S. firm's chief, amid Beijing's push to attract more foreign …

STMicroelectronics and Sanan Optoelectronics to advance Silicon Carbide ecosystem in China STMicroelectronics and Sanan Optoelectronics to create a Joint Venture (‘JV’) for high-volume 200mm SiC device manufacturing JV will support rising demand for …

Samoa’s Ministry of Health received a donation of medical equipment and devices from the Chinese Medical Team as of today, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at the MOH Pharmaceutical Warehouse, Moto’otua. On behalf of the Government of Samoa, Atoa …

Hong Kong’s legal bid to ban protest song challenges Google The Wall Street Journal Newley Purnell Government officials in the financial center are seeking a court order to block the dissemination online of a popular pro-democracy song, the first major legal challenge to U.S. tech companies such as Google over politically sensitive content on their platforms. While the legal action doesn’t name any specific companies, Google has been swept up in a controversy over the song as authorities move to stifle dissent using a national security law imposed by China in the city almost three years ago. The government’s application for the court order includes links to 32 videos on Google’s YouTube related to the song.

Channel News Asia

Before travelling to China, US CEOs have been seeking advice about how Beijing's expansion of its counter-espionage law could affect them, according to the head of a US trade association who declined to be identified, citing the sensitive nature of …

CNBC

China’s exports fell in May for the first time since February, adding to concerns that growth in the world’s second-largest economy could be faltering.

Exports fell 7.5% year-on-year to $283.5 billion, customs data showed Wednesday, far worse than the 0.4% decline predicted by a Reuters poll.

Forbes

For the longest time, the China payments market was an oligopoly of the privileged three: first the state-owned UnionPay, and then as the country transitioned to mobile payments, Alipay and Tenpay. U.S. card giants like VisaV+0.6%, MastercardMA+2.5% and American ExpressAXP+2.6% as well as PayPalPYPL+0.8% could only look on with envy and frustration as Beijing kicked the can down the road on boosting market access – which was supposed to have been complete by 2006 per the conditions it agreed to upon accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Reuters

Some of China's distressed property developers face the risk of being delisted, which would reduce their options for restructuring and make them more vulnerable to liquidation, S&P Global Ratings said on Wednesday.

Former ByteDance executive claims Chinese Communist Party accessed TikTok’s Hong Kong user data The Wall Street Journal Georgia Wells A former executive at ByteDance, the parent company of the hit video-sharing app TikTok, alleges in a legal filing that a committee of China’s Communist Party members accessed the data of TikTok users in Hong Kong in 2018—a contention the company denies. The former executive claims the committee members focused on civil rights activists and protesters in Hong Kong during that time and accessed TikTok data that included their network information, SIM card identifications and IP addresses, in an effort to identify and locate the users.

Chinese PC maker says new CPU was made with 'support of Intel' Nikkei Asia Zhang Erchi and Kelsey Cheng Chinese computer manufacturer Powerleader Computer System is fending off allegations that its new central processing unit is an old Intel chip in disguise, saying it was developed with support from the U.S. chipmaking giant. But in the product's marketing materials published by Powerleader, there was no mention of any deal with Intel, which was widely viewed as the company's attempt to frame the CPU as primarily a domestic effort.

USA

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called for more defense spending, including support for Ukraine, one day after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) came out against exceeding the spending caps set by his debt-limit deal. McConnell said the defense budget is “simply insufficient given the major challenges that our nation faces.” He cited “growing threats from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorists emboldened by America’s retreat from Afghanistan.” Anthony Adragna, Connor O’Brien, Joe Gould, and Nancy Vu report for POLITICO.

  • Senior U.S. and Chinese officials had “candid” and “productive” discussions on Monday, according to read-outs from both Washington and Beijing. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Affairs Sarah Beranmetwith Chinese officials in Beijing “as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and build on recent high-level diplomacy between the two countries.” Jennifer Hansler reports for CNN.

  • The United States and India are expected to reach a deal during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington this month to manufacture jet-fighter engines in India. The deal, which would see General Electric engines being built for India’s Tejas jet fighter, is a vital part of India’s effort to boost its domestic defense industry. Rajesh Roy and Doug Cameron report for the Wall Street Journal.

  • The Biden administration is pressing Saudi Arabia to lift travel bans on some U.S.-Saudi citizens in a bid to recenter human rights, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Saudi Arabia this week, U.S. officials said. According to human rights activists, at least three U.S. citizens cannot leave Saudia Arabia because of travel bans. U.S. officials said the Saudis resisted their efforts to secure some human-rights concessions in parallel with Blinken’s three-day visit, which began yesterday. Dion Nissenbaum reports for the Wall Street Journal.

  • The United States, Philippines, and Japan held their first trilateral coast guard maneuvers yesterday. The exercises occurred amid growing unease over China’s maritime conduct in the region. The exercises involved more than 500 coast guard personnel and included search and rescue and counter-piracy scenarios. Reuters reports.

Defence News

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee wants to pass a supplemental spending bill this year to address threats from China, he told reporters Tuesday, while also suggesting the next Ukraine aid package would come in “at a much smaller level” than before.

The proposition from Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., comes amid a flurry of proposals from defense hawks on Capitol Hill to bypass the $886 billion military spending top line laid out in the debt ceiling deal that President Joe Biden signed into law over the weekend. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., appeared to throw cold water on additional defense spending bills on Monday.

S.E.C. accuses Binance of mishandling funds and lying to regulators The New York Times Matthew Goldstein, Emily Flitter and David Yaffe-Bellany The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday accused Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, of mishandling customer funds and lying to American regulators and investors about its operations, in a sweeping case that has the potential to remake the landscape of power and wealth within crypto. The S.E.C.’s lawsuit was the second time this year that federal regulators have accused Binance of evading laws designed to protect investors in the United States.

  • US sues Binance and founder Zhao over 'web of deception' Reuters Hannah Lang, Jonathan Stempel and Tom Wilson U.S. regulators sued Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao on Monday for allegedly operating a ‘web of deception,’ piling further pressure on the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange and sending bitcoin to its lowest in almost three months. The Securities and Exchange Commission complaint, filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., listed 13 charges against Binance, Zhao and the operator of its purportedly independent U.S. exchange. The SEC alleged that Binance artificially inflated its trading volumes, diverted customer funds, failed to restrict U.S. customers from its platform and misled investors about its market surveillance controls.

  • Binance suit could ease Washington's crypto crackdown Axios Crystal Kim A top U.S. financial regulator's lawsuit against crypto's biggest strongman could eventually lead to a détente that lends the industry the legitimacy it seeks in Washington. Rooting out all of the crime in crypto might be a fool's errand — but perhaps U.S. officials' overarching goal is to pick off its biggest and worst offenders. The lawsuit is one part of a pair of developments — this one sensational, the other mundane — that could change how crypto is seen in the U.S.

S.E.C. accuses Coinbase of breaking market rules The New York Times Matthew Goldstein, Ephrat Livni and Emily Flitter The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency trading platform in the United States, on Tuesday, claiming that the company broke securities law by not registering as a broker. The nation’s top securities regulators filed the lawsuit a day after it sued Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency trading exchange, for mishandling customer funds and lying to American regulators and investors about its operations.

Venture-Capital firm Sequoia to separate China business as political tensions rise The Wall Street Journal Jing Yang and Eliot Brown Venture-capital powerhouse Sequoia will separate its China and other Asia operations from its U.S. business, as it navigates an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape and escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington. Sequoia told its investors Tuesday that it will split into three independent partnerships that would be distinct firms with separate brands.

Robert Kennedy Jr., with Musk, pushes right-wing ideas and misinformation The New York Times Reid J. Epstein, Alyce McFadden and Linda Qiu Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a scion of one of the country’s most famous Democratic families, on Monday dived into the full embrace of a host of conservative figures who eagerly promoted his long-shot primary challenge to President Biden. For more than two hours, Mr. Kennedy participated in an online audio chat on Twitter with the platform’s increasingly rightward-leaning chief executive, Elon Musk. Mr. Kennedy, a long-shot Democratic presidential candidate with surprisingly high polling numbers, said he wanted to close the Mexican border and attributed the rise of mass shootings to pharmaceutical drugs.

U.S. Senate leader schedules classified AI briefings Reuters Doina Chiacu Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday he has scheduled three briefings for senators on artificial intelligence, including the first classified briefing on the topic. In a letter to colleagues on Tuesday, the Democratic leader said senators need to deepen their understanding of artificial intelligence.

Americas

  • Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, will go on trial this month on charges of abusing his power to make baseless attacks against Brazil’s election systems. He would be ineligible to run for office for eight years if convicted. Jack Nicas report for the New York Times.

North Asia

Southeast Asia

MCMC mulls blocking Telegram messaging app New Straits Times The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission is weighing its options against messaging app Telegram, including blocking the platform. Its chief compliance officer, Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin, said this could be necessary in order to offer protection to users of the app, as well as to safeguard national sovereignty. He said this was because cyber crime activities on Telegram had recorded a drastic leap and are now in the top five tier, compared to 11th between 2019 and 2020.

Combatting the threat of cyber-enabled IP theft T20 India Gatra Priyandita, Teesta Prakash and Bart Hogeveen Limited understanding of the damage posed by cyber-enabled IP theft to national economies impedes international cooperation and efforts to raise political priority. Furthermore, domestic and regional industries that develop and commercialise high-value IP in the form of IP rights, trade secrets, and sensitive business information require the attention of policymakers. This Policy Brief proposes that the G20 member states should build the capacity of individual states to detect, prevent, and respond to sophisticated cyber intrusions.

  • Combatting the threat of cyber-enabled IP theft Observer Research Foundation Gatra Priyandita, Teesta Prakash and Bart Hogeveen Countries are already struggling to establish a level of cybersecurity resilience to bounce back from ‘regularised’ forms of cybercrimes. They struggle even more in dealing with sophisticated cybersecurity threats actors that rely on support from state actors. On the one hand, this poses a threat to national independence and economic security. Even more significantly, if this phenomenon remains unaddressed, it would undermine global trust and confidence in a safe and secure digital environment, thus affecting governments, industries, research, development and innovation, and human security.

Ukraine - Russia

  • Thousands of people are being evacuated downstream of the Kakhovka dam that has collapsed in Russian-held Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 80 towns and villages may be flooded. Some have said the incident poses a catastrophic flooding risk to the city of Kherson. Alex Binley and Paul Adams report for BBC News.

  • Ukraine and Russia have traded blame over which side destroyed the Kakhovka dam. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of blowing up the hydroelectric power plant from the inside. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that the damage was “a deliberate sabotage by the Ukrainian side” to deprive Crimea of water. “…this sabotage is related to the fact that the Ukrainian armed forces, having started the offensive two days ago, are not achieving their goals now,” Peskov added. Samantha Schmidt, Isobel Koshiw, Natalia Abbakumova, and Serhii Korolchuk report for the Washington Post.

  • A deliberate explosion inside the Kakhovka dam most likely caused its collapse yesterday, according to engineering and munitions experts. Experts said structural failure or an attack from outside the dam were possible but less plausible explanations. Ihor Syrota, head of Ukrhydroenergo, the state hydroelectric company, said, “A missile strike would not cause such destruction because this plant was built to withstand an atomic bomb.” James Glanz, Marc Santora, and Richard Pérez-Peña report for the New York Times.

  • A drone attack in Moscow last week appeared to target the homes of Russian intelligence officers, a senior U.S. official and a congressional staffer with knowledge of the matter said. At least one of the apartment buildings hit in the drone strikes has ties to Russia’s SVR, the Foreign Intelligence Service, according to Strider Technologies, a strategic intelligence startup. Ken Dilanian, Dan De Luce, Courtney Kube, and Carol E. Lee report for NBC News.

  • Paramilitary organization Wagner group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin dismissed Russia’s claims to have inflicted heavy losses on Ukraine when Kyiv attempted offensive action. Russia’s defense ministry claimed Ukraine suffered over 3,700 casualties. Prigozhin said the claim was “simply wild and absurd science fiction.” This is the latest row between Wagner and the Russian armed forces. Matt Murphy reports for BBC News.

  • The United States received intelligence from a European ally last year that Ukraine was planning an attack on the Nord Stream pipelines three months before they were hit, three U.S. officials told CNN. Natasha Bertrand, Alex Marquardt, and Haley Britzky report for CNN.

  • Lawyers for Ukraine told the U.N. International Court of Justice yesterday that Russia bankrolled a “campaign of intimidation and terror.” The claims are part of a case brought by Kyiv concerning Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the arming of rebels in eastern Ukraine years before Russia’s full-scale invasion. Ukraine wants Moscow to pay reparations for attacks and crimes in the region, including for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which was shot down by Russia-backed rebels in July 2014. Mike Corder reports for AP News.

Hackers faked Putin TV speech of attack on Russia, Kremlin says Bloomberg An emergency TV and radio broadcast apparently from President Vladimir Putin announcing that Ukraine had invaded Russia was the result of a hacking attack, the Kremlin said Monday. Putin ‘definitely’ made no appeal to the nation and the hacked broadcast shown on several networks has been eliminated, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the state-run Tass news service. There was no indication of who may have been involved and of how the broadcast appeared to include the president’s voice and image.

Hacks against Ukraine’s emergency response services rise during bombings WIRED Lily Hay Newman Data from Cloudflare’s free digital defense service, Project Galileo, illuminates new links between online and offline attacks. In Ukraine, for example, Cloudflare found that emergency response services in numerous cities that are enrolled in Project Galileo—including those that perform search and rescue; offer medical care; and distribute supplies like food, water, and medicine—face spikes of malicious traffic concurrent with Russian bombings.

Europe

  • The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is polling 17-19% nationwide, a record high for the party that now vies with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats for second place in some surveys. AfD’s calls to stop migration and curb what it sees as a costly green agenda has resonated in the east of Germany, where it is on track to win three state votes. Germany’s domestic spy agency has branded the AfD’s youth wing “extremist.” The spy agency’s head also accused the AfD of helping spread Russian propaganda about the Ukraine war. Sarah Marsh reports for Reuters.

The New York Times

When Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France recently made separate but friendly visits to China, it sparked considerable dismay among their fellow leaders in Europe and Washington.

The European Commission is investigating the flow of allegedly fraudulent biofuels into the EU following a complaint from Germany, sources told Reuters, as a Commission spokesman said the bloc was determined to tighten oversight …

France warns against killing a European ChatGPT POLITICO Laura Kayali France has a message: Don’t kneecap a potential future European ChatGPT with too much regulation. The European Parliament’s position on the EU's Artificial Intelligence Act — a piece of legislation currently under negotiation — is too stringent and risks doing just that, France’s Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot told POLITICO in an interview Monday. As an example, he pointed to Google's decision not to launch its chatbot Bard in the EU: ‘The objective is not to see non-European dialogue systems set up in Europe, but rather to see European ones develop. However, we must take these signs into account and avoid taking Europe out of the technology history.’

Is it real or made by AI? Europe wants a label for that as it fights disinformation NBC News The European Union is pushing online platforms like Google and Meta to step up the fight against false information by adding labels to text, photos and other content generated by artificial intelligence, a top official said Monday. Officials in the E.U., which also is bringing in a separate set of rules this year to safeguard people from harmful online content, are worried that they need to act faster to keep up with the rapid development of generative AI.

UK

  • Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will seek to raise the U.K.’s economic relationship with the United States to the same level as their defense and security cooperation in a bid to counter global threats. Sunak arrives in Washington today and will meet President Biden, U.S. business leaders, and members of Congress. Reuters reports.

The Guardian

he UK security minister, Tom Tugendhat, has said China has closed its reported “police service stations” at sites across Britain, and that an investigation did not reveal any illegal activity by the Chinese state at these sites.

UK to strip Chinese surveillance cameras from sensitive government sites Financial Times Yuan Yang and Lucy Fisher The UK Cabinet Office will tell central government departments to remove all surveillance equipment made by Chinese companies including Dahua and Hikvision from sensitive sites in an attempt to limit potential intelligence-gathering by Beijing. Announcing the decision on Tuesday, the Cabinet Office said the government was ‘committing to publish a timeline for the removal of surveillance equipment produced by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law from sensitive central government sites.’

Microsoft searching for solutions over UK block on Activision deal -president Paul Sandle The president of Microsoft said he was looking for solutions to try to get British approval for the software giant's $69 billion acquisition of ‘Call of Duty’ maker Activision Blizzard. British competition authorities blocked the biggest ever deal in gaming in April, in a shock decision which Microsoft has since appealed. President Brad Smith said he was hopeful the outcome could change.

‘Action needed’ for UK to survive global tech race The Times/Sunday Times Katie Prescott Britain is in danger of losing its position as a global leader in technology because of the government’s failure to deliver a long-term strategy for the sector, an influential business group has claimed. It claims that, with changes, the technology sector could add £200 billion to the economy every year by the middle of the decade. At present, it contributes £150 billion as one of the nation’s most ‘valuable economic assets’. Antony Walker, deputy chief executive of the trade association, said that if nothing altered and there was no coherent policy framework, the net result would be ‘negative’ for Britain over time.

AI should be licensed like medicines or nuclear power, Labour suggests The Guardian Kiran Stacey The UK should bar technology developers from working on advanced artificial intelligence tools unless they have a licence to do so, Labour has said. Ministers should introduce much stricter rules around companies training their AI products on vast datasets of the kind used by OpenAI to build ChatGPT, Lucy Powell, Labour’s digital spokesperson, told the Guardian.

Middle East

  • Iran reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia. The reopening comes seven years after the rivals severed diplomatic ties. The two countries agreed to restore ties in a China-brokered deal three months ago. David Gritten reports for BBC News.

Africa

  • Sudan’s warring military factions agreed to indirect talks in efforts that may revive a ceasefire sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Reuters reports.

Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya top African countries with highest cyber threats – Report Vanguard News Biodun Busari A report has revealed that Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya are facing the highest online threats in the African continent, according to a Russian multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider company, Kaspersky. The three countries featured prominently in the global top 100 for online threats, adding that Nigeria currently ranks 50th worldwide for online threats, South Africa ranks 82nd, and Kenya is 35th on the global list.

Big Tech

Microsoft to pay $20m for child privacy violations BBC Max Matza Microsoft will pay $20m to US federal regulators after it was found to have illegally collected data on children who had started Xbox accounts. The Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with the company on Monday, which also includes increased protections for child gamers. Among other violations, the FTC found that Microsoft failed to inform parents about its data collection policies. The FTC said Microsoft violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by not properly getting parental consent and by retaining personal data on children under 13 for longer than necessary for accounts created before 2021.

  • Microsoft will pay $20M to settle U.S. charges of illegally collecting children's data ABC News Microsoft will pay a fine of $20 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it illegally collected and retained the data of children who signed up to use its Xbox video game console. The agency charged that Microsoft gathered the data without notifying parents or obtaining their consent, and that it also illegally held onto the data. Those actions violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, the FTC stated.

Twitter's new CEO Linda Yaccarino logs first day in role Reuters Maria Ponnezhath Twitter's new Chief Executive Officer Linda Yaccarino has begun her role at the social media company, she tweeted late on Monday, about a month after Elon Musk named her as the new CEO. Yaccarino, the former advertising chief at NBCUniversal, is taking over Twitter at a time when the social media platform has been trying to reverse a plunge in ad revenue.

Twitter’s U.S. ad sales plunge 59% as woes continue The New York Times Ryan Mac and Tiffany Hsu Elon Musk recently said Twitter’s advertising business was on the upswing. ‘Almost all advertisers have come back,’ he asserted, adding that the social media company could soon become profitable. But Twitter’s U.S. advertising revenue for the five weeks from April 1 to the first week of May was $88 million, down 59 percent from a year earlier, according to an internal presentation obtained by The New York Times. The company has regularly fallen short of its U.S. weekly sales projections, sometimes by as much as 30 percent, the document said.

Big Tech rolls back misinformation measures ahead of 2024 Axios Sara Fischer Ahead of the 2024 election cycle, the world's largest tech companies are walking back policies meant to curb misinformation around COVID-19 and the 2020 election. Social media platforms are arguing that the risk of harm no longer outweighs the benefits of political dialogue, drawing concerns from lawmakers and consumer advocacy leaders. YouTube last week confirmed that it will reverse its election integrity policy to leave up content that says fraud, errors or glitches occurred in the 2020 presidential election.

Apple debuts its next big product, a virtual reality headset The New York Times Kellen Browning Apple lived up to months of expectations on Monday when it introduced new high-tech goggles that blend the real world with virtual reality. The $3,500 device, called the Vision Pro, will offer ‘augmented reality’ and introduce ‘spatial computing,’ Apple said. But conspicuously absent from the company’s carefully choreographed announcement were the words ‘virtual reality,’ underscoring the challenges the tech giant is likely to face in marketing the device to a mass audience.

About ducking time: Apple to tweak iPhone autocorrect function Reuters Stephen Nellis and David Gaffen One of the most notable happenings at Apple's event for developers on Monday is likely the iPhone maker's tweak that will keep its autocorrect feature from annoyingly correcting one of the most common expletives to ‘ducking.’ ‘In those moments where you just want to type a ducking word, well, the keyboard will learn it, too,’ said Craig Federighi, Apple's software chief.

Here's what Apple unveiled at WWDC: Vision Pro, 15-inch MacBook Air, OS updates Reuters Yuvraj Malik Apple Inc unveiled its first augmented-reality headset, as well as a series of upgrades to its devices and software, at the company's annual developers conference on Monday. Apple's Vision Pro, pitted against Meta Platforms Inc's Quest line and PlayStation VR from Sony Group marks the iPhone maker's foray into a new product category since the Apple Watch was launched nine years ago.

Apple iPhones enter AI era with new language tools The Australian Financial Review John Davidson Apple iPhone users will be able to swap their contact details simply by waving their phones next to each other, as part of a major update to the phone’s software coming out in September, the company said. The new data-sharing option, known as NameDrop, is one of a slew of new features in the iOS 17 operating system that Apple announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California.

Artificial Intelligence

Fans use AI deepfakes to keep a slain Indian rapper’s voice alive Rest of World Yashraj Sharma One of South Asia’s most influential hip-hop figures, Moosewala was shot dead by gunmen on May 29, 2022. A whole year after his death, artificial intelligence is being used to generate a number of Punjabi tracks in his voice. Rest of World found at least 38 such tracks across SoundCloud and YouTube, some of which had over tens of thousands of views.

AI chatbots lose money every time you use them. That’s a problem. The Washington Post Will Oremus AI chatbots have a problem: They lose money on every chat. The enormous cost of running today’s large language models, which underpin tools like ChatGPT and Bard, is limiting their quality and threatening to throttle the global AI boom they’ve sparked. Their expense, and the limited availability of the computer chips they require, is also constraining which companies can afford to run them and pressuring even the world’s richest companies to turn chatbots into moneymakers sooner than they may be ready to.

How hackers can up their game by using ChatGPT The Wall Street Journal Cheryl Winokur Munk AI chatbots like ChatGPT are likely to drive an increase in the use and effectiveness of online fraud tools such as phishing and spear-phishing messages. In fact, it could already be happening. Phishing attacks around the world grew almost 50% in 2022 from a year earlier, according to Zscaler, a cloud-security provider. And, some experts say, artificial-intelligence software that makes phishing messages sound more believable are part of the problem. AI reduces or eliminates language barriers and grammatical mistakes, helping scammers impersonate a target’s colleagues, friends or relatives.

Google's AI to power virtual travel agent from Priceline Reuters Jeffrey Dastin Want a New York hotel near a Christmas market, a vegan restaurant, or another attraction? Look no further than artificial intelligence from Google at Priceline as early as this summer, the companies told Reuters. The online travel agency, part of Booking Holdings, aims to debut a more sophisticated chatbot for planning trips, as well as hotel suggestions that are like ‘a personal concierge’ tailored to users, said Martin Brodbeck, Priceline's chief technology officer.

‘The change in pace is crazy’: AI boosts climate information translation drive The Guardian Anna Turns A network of young volunteers that translates climate information into dozens of languages is being boosted by new artificial intelligence tools designed by Google. By trialling Google Cloud’s new AI-powered Translation Hub platform, Climate Cardinals has translated an additional 800,000 words into more than 40 languages. ‘It’s crazy. The change in pace was immediate – we’ve created the same volume of output in the first three months of this partnership that we had done in our first two years of operation,’ said Kianni, who is studying science, technology and society at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley. She said Climate Cardinals was developing its own online translation portal using the generative AI tool ChatGPT so people could easily translate their own resources.

Research

The state of AI governance in Australia University of Technology Sydney Lauren Solomon and Professor Nicholas Davis The report finds that both company directors and senior executives see huge opportunities for AI systems to improve productivity, process efficiencies, and customer service. But investment in AI systems and technical skills has not been matched by investment in AI system management and governance. Furthermore, corporate leaders report that they lack the awareness, skills, knowledge and frameworks to use AI systems effectively and responsibly.

 

The rise of the People's Republic of China represents the most significant foreign policy challenge of the 21st century. In all spheres, from the economy, to technology, to security and the environment, engaging with an increasingly dominant China is both necessary and inevitable.

Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? (Italian)

Gabriele and Nicola Iuvinale

ASE 2023

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