Aggiornamento: 14 mar
Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law, national security.
Ron DeSantis says America should stop protecting Ukraine | Micronesia’s President Writes Bombshell Letter on China’s ‘Political Warfare’ | Dutch to restrict semiconductor tech exports to China | Chinese AI groups use cloud services to evade US chip export controls | G-7 eyes joint effort to turn e-waste into rare earths, other metals
Micronesia’s President Writes Bombshell Letter on China’s ‘Political Warfare’. FDD
The Netherlands' government said it plans new restrictions on exports of semiconductor technology to protect national security, joining the U.S. effort to curb chip exports to China. The announcement marked the first concrete move by the Dutch. Reuters
Chinese artificial intelligence groups are skirting export controls to access high-end US chips through intermediaries, revealing potential loopholes in Washington’s blockade of cutting-edge technology to the country. AI surveillance groups targeted by US sanctions have found ways to obtain restricted technology. Financial Times
G-7 major economies are bolstering cooperation on urban mining, a process that turns electronic waste into a source of rare-earth elements and other industrially important rare metals as they seek to reduce dependence on major producers like China. Nikkei Asia
Ron DeSantis says America should stop protecting Ukraine, the New York Times reported Monday evening. The Florida governor's capitulation to Vladimir Putin's brutal invasion puts him in league with what conservative writer Kimberley Strassel called the "G.O.P.'s surrender caucus," which includes former President Donald Trump, who declared last week he had no problem letting Russia "take over" parts of Ukraine. DeSantis delivered his isolationist position in a statement Monday evening on conservative firebrand Tucker Carlson's TV show.
"While the U.S. has many vital national interests," which include "securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness with our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party," the Harvard-trained former lawyer said "becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them."
His anti-Ukraine position aligns him with Trump and the far-right GOP, which makes sense as DeSantis is widely expected to announce his presidential candidacy soon. Other top Republicans, like Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, and Nikki Haley, e.g., are strong public supporters of Ukraine, its territorial integrity, and its democratic independence. Not so with DeSantis, who previously supported Ukraine's defense against Russia when it was more politically convenient—as a June 2015 interview with CNN shows. Read more at the Times, here.
‘A surreal experience’: former Biden ‘disinfo’ chief details harassment POLITICO Heidi Przybyla The Biden administration’s Disinformation Governance Board lasted a few weeks last spring before the board itself was dissolved by the administration following an outcry by GOP lawmakers that it was going to censor the free speech of conservatives. But that was just the beginning of intense public and online harassment spurred by conservative media attacks and emblemized by the self-styled citizen-journalist who repeatedly stalked her, doxxing and recording her without her consent.
The US Air Force (USAF) has contracted US information technology company Persistent Systems to provide mobile ad hoc networking (MANET) capability to the service's security forces, tasked with protecting major intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fields and installations in the continental United States (CONUS).
Catholic group spent millions on app data that tracked gay priests The Washington Post Michelle Boorstein and Heather Kelly A group of conservative Colorado Catholics has spent millions of dollars to buy mobile app tracking data that identified priests who used gay dating and hookup apps and then shared it with bishops around the country. The project’s aim is to “empower the church to carry out its mission” by giving bishops “evidence-based resources” with which to identify weaknesses in how they train priests.
High schoolers made a racist deepfake of a principal threatening black students VICE David Gilbert Three high school students just north of New York City posted videos on TikTok that appeared to show a nearby middle school principal and a member of law enforcement making virulently violent and racist remarks about Black students. These deepfakes were significantly altered to appear like these individuals, shouting a string of racist slurs, including calling Black students “monkeys” and saying they would be sent back to Africa.
Eyeing China, Pentagon asks Congress to boost funds for Pacific forces POLITICO Lara Seligman and Lee Hudson The Pentagon is asking Congress to significantly increase funding for the U.S. military’s presence in the Pacific, signaling the Biden administration’s increasing sense of urgency toward countering China’s aggressive behavior in the region. Alongside President Joe Biden’s budget request for next year, the Pentagon will submit a new $15.3 billion plan to fund Pacific forces.
US Chamber of Commerce calls for AI regulation iTnews The US Chamber of Commerce has called for regulation of artificial intelligence technology to ensure it does not hurt growth or become a national security risk, a departure from the business lobbying group's typical anti-regulatory stance. The Chamber report argues policymakers and business leaders must quickly ramp up their efforts to establish a "risk-based regulatory framework" that will ensure AI is deployed responsibly.
US intel assesses shifting Chinese, Russian interference strategies: The US intelligence community predicts that China’s interference operations will increasingly target local-level actors and Russia’s interference campaigns will use more proxy organizations, websites, and individuals that appear unconnected to the Kremlin. Deputy Director David Salvo told the Dispatch, “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s assessment demonstrates that China has almost certainly been learning from Russia’s playbook to interfere in democracies beyond its borders. As has been thoroughly documented, Moscow has been microtargeting segments of the American electorate with information manipulation for years–from Cold War days through traditional media to the 2016 presidential election through social media. China’s attempts to influence key parliamentary races in the most recent Canadian federal election also shows that the Chinese Communist Party is already adopting a local strategy to interfere in democratic elections. There’s every reason to anticipate China will behave similarly in the United States in 2024.”
Threats of the Foreign Influence Act - Assessments from Washington. Senior Vice President for Democracy Laura Thornton interviewed on VOA News
"This will be the last nail in the coffin" - the foreign agents bill is discussed in Washington. Senior Vice President for Democracy Laura Thornton interviewed on VOA News
David Panuelo, the president of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has written a letter to FSM leaders providing extraordinary details on Beijing’s political warfare and grey zone activity in the country – and outlining a potential agreement to switch FSM’s diplomatic recognition from China to Taiwan.
Panuelo has a track record among world leaders of being exceptionally astute, open, and direct in his analysis of China’s behavior and actions.
Parliamentary vote puts him on track to be among most powerful leaders since Mao.
Chinese AI groups use cloud services to evade US chip export controls Financial Times Eleanor Olcott and Qianer Liu Chinese artificial intelligence groups are skirting export controls to access high-end US chips through intermediaries, revealing potential loopholes in Washington’s blockade of cutting-edge technology to the country. AI surveillance groups targeted by US sanctions have found ways to obtain restricted technology by using cloud providers and rental arrangements with third parties, as well as purchasing the chips through subsidiary companies in China.
Baidu hurries to ready China’s first ChatGPT equivalent ahead of launch The Wall Street Journal Raffaele Huang and Karen Hao A week away from the March 16 launch of Baidu Inc.’s ChatGPT equivalent, employees at China’s biggest search-engine operator said they are racing to meet the deadline with the chatbot still struggling to perform some basic functions. To develop the AI-powered chatbot, dubbed Ernie Bot, hundreds of people have been working around the clock. Other teams have been asked to lend their staff and their powerful computer chips, which Chinese companies can no longer buy because of US sanctions.
In 2007, the year Apple first started making iPhones in China, the country was better known for cheap labor than for technological sophistication. At the time, Chinese firms were unable to produce almost any of the iPhone’s internal components, which were imported from Germany, Japan, and the United States. China’s overall contribution to the devices was limited to the labor of assembling these components at Foxconn’s factories in Shenzhen—what amounted to less than four percent of the value-added costs.
The Manila Times
ABSOLUTELY not, even if we give the Americans 10, even a hundred more of our military installations that they can use as their bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) for a war they'll fight in Asia.
Already, China has responded to our giving the US four more of our military bases by escalating their presence in the disputed areas.
The Philippine Coast Guard has reported that several Chinese vessels — a Navy and Coast Guard ships with 40 "Chinese militia vessels" — have anchored in the past several days 8 to 15 kilometers off our Pag-asa Island, which it said "was well within that island's territorial waters."
China’s messaging has had a convergence with Russia’s during the war in Ukraine, with Chinese state-backed media and officials downplaying Russian war crimes and giving prominence to Russian voices, Research Analyst Etienne Soula told RFE/RL. Read our report on Russia and China’s disinformation about Ukraine here.
Disinformation Wars: China, Russia Cooperating on Propaganda More Than Ever, Says Report. Research Analyst Etienne Soula quoted in RFE/RL
China In Eurasia Briefing: What's Beijing's Next Move On Ukraine? Research Analyst Etienne Soula quoted in RFE/RL
China supports Russia in information warfare. It adopts Kremlin interpretations and targets Africa. Research Analyst Etienne Soula quoted in Česká televise
Internet outage has Taiwan worried about threat from Chinese sabotage The Washington Post Meaghan Tobin and Vic Chiang The undersea internet cables that serve the Matsu island chain — part of Taiwan but at points only a few miles from China — were severed just over a month ago. There is no evidence that the action was intentional, according to Chunghwa Telecom. But analysts and local officials have said the frequent cable breaks caused by Chinese vessels amount to purposeful harassment that keeps Taiwan’s government and telecom companies scrambling to provide basic services.
Dutch to restrict semiconductor tech exports to China, joining US effort Reuters Toby Sterling, Karen Freifeld and Alexandra Alper The Netherlands' government on Wednesday said it plans new restrictions on exports of semiconductor technology to protect national security, joining the U.S. effort to curb chip exports to China. The announcement marked the first concrete move by the Dutch, who oversee essential chipmaking technology, toward adopting rules urged by Washington to hobble China's chipmaking industry and slow its military advances.
Danish public broadcaster advises staff against using TikTok BBC Joe Tidy Denmark's public-service broadcaster has advised staff not to have TikTok on their work phones, because of security concerns. DR said the decision followed a security review and warnings from Denmark's Centre for Cyber Security. Journalists needing access to the app for research must now ask for permission to use what staff are calling special "TikTok phones".
ECB will hold cyber attack stress test for banks next year Bloomberg Nicholas Comfort The European Central Bank will test lenders next year on their ability to recover from a successful cyber attack as tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine push the issue further up the list of priorities for regulators. The ECB will “devote quite a significant amount of time and resources” to the thematic stress test on cyber resilience.
Germany and the Netherlands signal weakening of Europe’s China tech ties Fortune David Meyer A day after it emerged that Germany is considering heavy restrictions on the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment in its 5G networks, the Netherlands confirmed it’s about to ban the export of more advanced chipmaking equipment to China.
Digital Bridge: RT en Español — WhatsApp’s boss — Going Dutch on chips. Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar quoted in Politico EU
Six RT en Español-backed channels have circumnavigated YouTube’s Russian state media ban and earned more than 38 million views, Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar finds in a new investigation.
Darktrace warns of rise in AI-enhanced scams since ChatGPT release The Guardian Mark Sweney The cybersecurity firm Darktrace has warned that since the release of ChatGPT it has seen an increase in criminals using artificial intelligence to create more sophisticated scams to con employees and hack into businesses.
The loss of the airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) capability provided by the Beriev A-50 ‘Mainstay' is hampering joint Russian and Belarusian air activity, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has determined. In its latest intelligence update posted on 9 March, the MoD said that the A-50U that was previously reported as attacked by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at Maschulishchy Air Base (also known as Minsk-Machulishche Air Base) in Belarus on 26 February had been flown out of theatre for repairs, and that its loss was affecting ongoing air operations.
African tech leaders to converge at the Africa Cloud & Security Summit The Star The Africa Cloud & Security Summit is set to bring together leading experts in cloud computing and cybersecurity for two days of insightful discussions and thought-provoking presentations. The event, organised by dx5 (formerly CIO Africa), will take place on March 16 and 17, promising to be a timely and important event for anyone interested in cloud computing and cybersecurity.
Following International Women’s Day, Tanzania is looking to close the gender gap in its digital sector Business Insider Africa Chinedu Okafor The Tanzanian government is looking to eliminate the gender disparity that exists in the country via an initiative called the National Digital Economy Strategy. This initiative includes policy reviews, ICT skill development, and the reduction of cyber tragedies affecting different groups.
G-7 eyes joint effort to turn e-waste into rare earths, other metals Nikkei Asia Satsuki Kaneko G-7 major economies are bolstering cooperation on urban mining, a process that turns electronic waste into a source of rare-earth elements and other industrially important rare metals as they seek to reduce dependence on major producers like China. A framework for smoother cross-border transfer of waste is also in the works. In 2025, an updated Basel Convention concerning electronic waste will enter into force.
Men on Pinterest are creating sex-themed image boards of little girls. The platform makes it easy NBC News Jesselyn Cook Aggregating individually innocuous images of minors into potentially sexually suggestive collections is a practice experts describe as awful, but in many cases, lawful, meaning platforms have no legal obligation to take action. Yet Pinterest isn’t just allowing this to happen on its website — its recommendation engine is making it easy. The company is inadvertently curating this content for adults who seek it out and potentially exposing the girls to pedophiles.
Optus and Telstra unite in cyber battle The Australian Financial Review Paul Smith Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin’s first public appearance at The Australian Financial Review's annual Business Summit - just after a high-level panel discussion featuring Telstra’s cyber boss Narelle Devine, Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo and advisory board member for Australia’s pending cyber strategy Mel Hupfeld - was a real eye-opener for those who have traditionally turned up for robust debate about fiscal policy.
AUKUS subs defend our sovereignty The Australian Financial Review Justin Bassi and Alex Bristow Along with investment in the advanced capabilities pillar of AUKUS (including cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum and undersea technology) and the requirements set out in the upcoming Defence Strategic Review, these measures will help to strengthen our ability to deter aggression and thereby avoid war, while preparing us to fight if necessary.
Government needs to go back to basics to build an Australian rare-earths industry The Strategist David Uren Australia’s ability to make meaningful inroads into the downstream processing and manufacturing of critical minerals is hobbled by the downsizing of the country’s established metals processing industry over the past two decades. The Australian government sees building a critical minerals industry as a matter of national economic sovereignty. Its ambition is that, first, precursor products will be manufactured in Australia, and then that Australia eventually becomes a significant producer of technologies like solar panels, permanent magnets and batteries.
Meta doesn’t want to police the metaverse. Kids are paying the price The Washington Post Naomi Nix Kids are flocking to Meta's flagship VP app, Horizon Worlds, which experts say is rife with bigotry, harassment and sexually explicit content.
FTC Twitter investigation sought Elon Musk’s internal communications, journalist names The Wall Street Journal Ryan Tracy The Federal Trade Commission has demanded Twitter Inc. turn over internal communications related to owner Elon Musk, as well as detailed information about layoffs—citing concerns that staff reductions could compromise the company’s ability to protect users.
ChatGPT comes to Microsoft’s enterprise-focused, Azure-powered managed service TechCrunch Kyle Wiggers Microsoft today announced that ChatGPT is generally available through the Azure OpenAI Service, the company’s fully managed, corporate-focused offering designed to give businesses access to OpenAI’s technologies with added governance and compliance features.
Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale
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