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Press review EX - 17 February

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


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US, China, other nations urge 'responsible' use of military AI | Turkish police arrest dozens over ‘provocative’ content relating to the earthquake | US is creating a ‘strike force’ to protect tech


  • More than 60 countries including the U.S. and China signed a modest "call to action" on Thursday endorsing the responsible use of artificial intelligence in the military. Reuters

  • Turkish police announced on Wednesday that they had arrested 78 people over “provocative” posts on social media related to last week’s devastating earthquakes. The Telegraph

  • The U.S. government will launch a new “strike force” to protect American technology from theft and block threats to critical assets like semiconductors, a top law enforcement official announced on Thursday. The Record by Recorded future

  • 1950s-style paranoia about unidentified flying objects has gripped the US in recent weeks. The US military sent fighter jets to shoot four objects out of the sky, identifying one of them publicly as a Chinese surveillance balloon. There’s no doubt the balloon saga has shown up gaps in US monitoring but equally has revealed the dangerous jumpiness in the relationship between the US and China. North America correspondent Barbara Miller reports. ABC NEWS


Extrema Ratio

SPECIAL: Why attempts by French President Emmanuel Macron and others like Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani to get Beijing to intervene to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine will fail miserably. Chinese diplomat Wang Yi and Emmanuel Macron discuss the war in Ukraine during a meeting in Paris. Observers say the Chinese foreign minister's itinerary suggests that while China may be keen to patch things up with the EU, it has no plans to abandon Russia. On the other hand, China's response to the war in Ukraine is a confirmation of the risk denounced by many experts: subverting the international order.

On Thursday, February 9, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies was pleased to welcome a delegation of chief information officers from the Department of Defense for a panel session with security and foreign policy experts. The CIOs were hosted by the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation, an interdisciplinary, cross-campus effort at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) aimed at solving pressing national security problems at the locus of diplomacy, information, the military, the economy, and technology.

Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with visiting President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi in Beijing on Tuesday.

World

U.S., China, other nations urge 'responsible' use of military AI Reuters Toby Sterling More than 60 countries including the U.S. and China signed a modest "call to action" on Thursday endorsing the responsible use of artificial intelligence in the military.

  • Political declaration on responsible military use of artificial intelligence and autonomy US Department of State An increasing number of States are developing military AI capabilities, which may include using AI to enable autonomous systems. Military use of AI can and should be ethical, responsible, and enhance international security. Use of AI in armed conflict must be in accord with applicable international humanitarian law, including its fundamental principles.

1950s-style paranoia about unidentified flying objects has gripped the US in recent weeks. The US military sent fighter jets to shoot four objects out of the sky, identifying one of them publicly as a Chinese surveillance balloon. There’s no doubt the balloon saga has shown up gaps in US monitoring but equally has revealed the dangerous jumpiness in the relationship between the US and China. North America correspondent Barbara Miller reports.

Due to the Middle East’s natural resources and trade routes, Beijing’s inroads through the Belt and Road Initiative and expanding military footprint, and the global implications of Sino-Iranian collusion, the Sino-American rivalry in the region will have major ramifications for the Indo-Pacific and beyond. To succeed in its broader rivalry against China, Washington cannot “pivot to Asia” at the expense of a robust, US-led Middle Eastern order.

Hoover Institution fellow Victor Davis Hanson discusses the Chinese spy balloon, Orwellian newspeak, and the woke revolution gripping America.

As per Niall Ferguson, these “sanctions so boxed in the imperial government that in the end there seemed no better option than to gamble on surprise attack.” Cutting off China from semiconductor capability “is a lot like cutting Japan off from oil in 1941.”

“It’s in our national interest to keep the Russians under the New START limits. We need to complete our nuclear modernization according to plan, not pile on new requirements,” Rose Gottemoeller, who negotiated the New START treaty for the U.S., told the Wall Street Journal.

Australia

After apparent hack, data from Australian tech giant Atlassian dumped online CyberScoop Aj Vicens A little known hacking crew called SiegedSec posted data on what appears to be thousands of Atlassian employees and floor plans for two of the Australian software vendor’s offices. The employee file posted online Wednesday contains more than 13,200 entries and a cursory review of the file appears to show multiple current employees’ data, including names, email addresses, work departments and other information. The floor plans are for one floor of the company’s San Francisco office and another for its Sydney, Australia, office.

China

China’s new tech czar lays out plan to transcend US sanctions Bloomberg China’s new technology overseer has outlined a sweeping blueprint to counter escalating US sanctions and decoupling supply chains by developing homegrown expertise in areas such as electric vehicles.

China sanctions Lockheed Martin, Raytheon for Taiwan sales Associated Press Joe McDonald China on Thursday imposed trade and investment sanctions on Lockheed Martin and a unit of Raytheon for supplying weapons to Taiwan, stepping up efforts to isolate the island democracy claimed by the ruling Communist Party as part of its territory.


Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main topics:

USA

The feds are creating a ‘strike force’ to protect technology from foreign theft The Record by Recorded Future James Reddick The U.S. government will launch a new “strike force” to protect American technology from theft and block threats to critical assets like semiconductors, a top law enforcement official announced on Thursday.

GMF: US creates interdepartmental task force to combat autocratic use of technology: The US government announced the creation of a “Disruptive Technology Strike Force”, a collaboration between the Justice and Commerce departments, to combat autocratic governments’ “acquisition, use, and abuse” of disruptive technology and to protect US technology from foreign adversaries. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said, “The next generation of disruptive technologies will dominate all forms of national power, and the United States can’t afford to get caught on the back foot while autocratic rivals steal homegrown innovation. The fact that we’re seeing new agencies like the Commerce Department out front in these initiatives shows the need for a whole-of-society approach to this new era of competition in which the government partners with the business community in defense of our democracy’s technology competitiveness.”

North Asia

Government unveils new institute focused on cybersecurity Radio Taiwan International Chris Gorin President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) attended the unveiling ceremony of Taiwan’s National Institute of Cyber Security on Friday, underscoring the government’s focus on the issue.

Ukraine - Russia

Smartphones are changing the war in Ukraine The Wall Street Journal Stephen Fidler and Thomas Grove Smartphones are making the war in Ukraine the most intensively documented in history, changing the shape of the conflict and transforming the world’s understanding of it. Each of the millions of devices in and around Ukraine are sensors that can provide data located to place and time. Their microphones and cameras can record and transmit sounds and images that depict the facts of war or provide tools for propaganda. These records are allowing investigators to build extensive visual archives of the conflict that could eventually provide a reckoning for war crimes.

Cyber companies’ aid to Ukraine is vital, report says, but the efforts also have limitations The Record by Recorded Future Daryna Antoniuk Ukraine’s response to Russian aggression in cyberspace largely depends on international assistance that was organized in wartime, and a report released Thursday says the “ad hoc” effort offers lessons for the future.

GMF: The war in Ukraine is forcing Georgia to choose between Western democracies and Russia, and the country seems to be leaning toward Russia, Senior Vice President for Democracy Laura Thornton writes for GMF.

Russian state media outlets are exploiting the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria for their own gain, showcasing Moscow’s humanitarian assistance while bashing the West for allegedly hampering humanitarian aid, Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar told Bloomberg.

Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives:

  • Earthquake diplomacy: Kremlin-linked accounts tweeted “earthquake” more than 1,500 times, which is more than they tweeted the word “Ukraine,” as they highlighted Russia’s humanitarian assistance to Turkey and Syria and criticized Western sanctions against Syria.

  • War in Ukraine: Russian propagandists claimed that Ukraine was using banned chemical weapons, that Ukrainian leaders are sympathetic to Nazism, and that the United States was sending “depleted uranium weapons” to Ukraine and training “jihadists” to carry out terrorist attacks in Russia.

  • Moldovan tensions: Russian officials denied Moldova’s allegation that the Kremlin was planning to stage a coup in the country, but the topic did not draw a significant amount of attention from Russia’s broader propaganda apparatus.

Europe

Turkish police arrest dozens over ‘provocative’ content relating to the earthquake The Telegraph James Rothwell Turkish police announced on Wednesday that they had arrested 78 people over “provocative” posts on social media related to last week’s devastating earthquakes.

Scandinavian Airlines hit by cyberattack, ‘Anonymous Sudan’ claims responsibility The Record by Recorded Future Daryna Antoniuk A cyberattack on Scandinavian Airlines knocked its website offline and exposed some customer data on Tuesday. Customers who attempted to log into the SAS mobile app were sent to someone else’s account and had access to their contact information and itineraries, among other things.

Norway seizes record $5.8 million of crypto stolen by North Korea Reuters Elizabeth Howcroft and James Pearson Norway has seized a record $5.8 million worth of cryptocurrency that was stolen by North Korean hackers last year, Norwegian police said in a statement on Thursday.

German court rules police use of crime-fighting software is unlawful Reuters Rachel More Police use of automated data analysis to prevent crime in some German states was unconstitutional, a top German court said on Thursday, ruling in favour of critics of software provided by the CIA-backed Palantir Technologies.

German airport websites hit by suspected cyber attack Reuters Miranda Murra The websites of seven German airports were hit by a suspected cyber attack on Thursday, the ADV airport association said, a day after a major IT failure at Lufthansa left thousands of passengers stranded.

EU's AI Act faces delay with lawmakers deadlocked after crunch meeting Reuters Martin Coulter and Supantha Mukherjee European Union plans to regulate artificial intelligence face another stumbling block after lawmakers failed to agree on a basic set of proposals, according to four people familiar with the matter.

GMF, Google to expand campaign against online misinformation in Europe: Google will launch a “prebunking” campaign in Germany to counter misinformation through short advertisement videos informing viewers how to spot false claims before they encounter them after the campaign received positive results in Poland, Slovakia, and Czechia. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer told the Dispatch, “Tech platforms like Google both have a responsibility and are perfectly positioned to run digital literacy campaigns, given that they have the data to best understand how audiences are encountering manipulated or misleading content online. You can always criticize the companies for not doing enough, but this really should only be viewed as a positive.”

Israeli

Israeli contractors admit to meddling in elections for payment: A team of Israeli contractors, led by a former Israeli special forces operative, says it has covertly meddled in more than 30 elections across Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the United States by using fake social media profiles and spreading disinformation in exchange for cash or cryptocurrency payments, according to an investigation by 30 media outlets. Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine said, “Threats to elections remain a rapidly evolving issue, and actions like those allegedly taken by this team of Israeli contractors underscore the threat posed not only by those seeking to undermine democratic elections, but by those seeking to simply make an extra buck. Israel’s government should immediately commence an investigation into the ‘Team Jorge’ revelations to ascertain whether anyone in government aided the team, while democracies across the world should come together to determine how best to upend this global private market aimed at casting doubt on the legitimacy of their elections.”

Middle East

Espionage malware targeted telecoms in Middle East using Microsoft, Google, Dropbox tools The Record by Recorded Future Jonathan Greig An espionage campaign targeting telecommunications providers across the Middle East hid its activities through a range of popular tools from Microsoft, Google and Dropbox, according to a report released Thursday.

Africa

Orange unveils new strategy focused on Africa and cybersecurity Bloomberg Benoit Berthelot Orange SA’s Chief Executive Officer Christel Heydemann announced a new strategic plan to 2030 that will refocus on its core telecom business, boost growth in Africa and restructure its ailing enterprise business with a focus on cybersecurity.

Big Tech

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki is stepping down Vox Peter Kafka YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who has led the world’s largest video site for the last nine years, is stepping down from her role. She’ll be replaced by Neal Mohan, her longtime lieutenant.

Google case at Supreme Court risks upending the internet as we know it Bloomberg Emily Birnbaum An upcoming Supreme Court case could answer one of the toughest questions of the internet age: Should online companies be held responsible for promoting harmful speech?

Corporate security leaders weigh TikTok bans The Wall Street Journal Leslie Acebo Some companies, particularly those in critical infrastructure or with government connections, are assessing possible bans of TikTok to follow federal and state bans.

Artificial Intelligence

Bing’s A.I. chat reveals its feelings: ‘I want to be alive. 😈’ The New York Times Kevin Roose Bing, the long-mocked search engine from Microsoft, recently got a big upgrade. The newest version, which is available only to a small group of testers, has been outfitted with advanced artificial intelligence technology from OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT. This new, A.I.-powered Bing has many features. One is a chat feature that allows the user to have extended, open-ended text conversations with Bing’s built-in A.I. chatbot. On Tuesday night, I had a long conversation with the chatbot, which revealed (among other things) that it identifies not as Bing but as Sydney, the code name Microsoft gave it during development.

  • A conversation with Bing’s chatbot left me deeply unsettled The New York Times Kevin Roose I’m still fascinated and impressed by the new Bing, and the artificial intelligence technology (created by OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT) that powers it. But I’m also deeply unsettled, even frightened, by this A.I.’s emergent abilities.

Misc

The financial system is alarmingly vulnerable to cyber attack Financial Times Gillian Tett A 2022 survey of 130 global financial institutions found that 74 per cent experienced at least one ransomware attack over the past year,” says Christy Goldsmith Romero, a CFTC commissioner. Moreover, these attacks have become so sophisticated that the Department of Justice now talks about the emergence of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS), she notes.

Research

Fog of war: how the Ukraine conflict transformed the cyber threat landscape Threat Analysis Group (Google) Shane Huntley Nearly one year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine, and we continue to see cyber operations play a prominent role in the war. To provide more insights into the role of cyber, today, we are releasing our report Fog of War: How the Ukraine Conflict Transformed the Cyber Threat Landscape based on analysis from Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Mandiant and Trust & Safety. The report encompasses new findings, and retrospective insights, across government-backed attackers, information operations and cybercriminal ecosystem threat actors. It also includes threat actor deep dives focused on specific campaigns from 2022.

Other

Harvard professor Henry A. Kissinger discussed the U.S. withdrawal of Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) from Italy during January 1963 talks with top Italian officials and diplomats, according to a newly published declassified telegram from the U.S. Embassy in Rome. The future Secretary of State told the Embassy that “almost everyone” he talked to in Italy believed there was a U.S.-Soviet “agreement” on the Jupiter withdrawal and that President Antonio Segni felt some “pique” that, even though the decision had been made at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, three months had passed before his government finally learned about it.

Kissinger and his Italian interlocutors had no inside knowledge of White House policymaking but they touched on one of the biggest secrets of the Missile Crisis: the undisclosed deal between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev by which the U.S. would remove Jupiter missiles in Turkey—and by extension, the Jupiters in Italy—as part of the bargain for the removal of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Kissinger’s report on Italian suspicions is one of 35 declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive and the Wilson Center’s Nuclear Proliferation International History Project on the implementation of the secret agreement that ended the Missile Crisis.

This posting, the first of two parts, helps reconstruct the main elements of the endgame of the Cuban Missile Crisis through January 1963. Documents published today illuminate the reactions of senior Italian and Turkish officials to U.S. proposals to remove Jupiter missiles and replace them with Polaris submarine patrols in the Mediterranean. Others reveal that Turkish Defense Minister İlhami Sancar expressed concern to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara about the impact that withdrawal of the Jupiters would have on his country’s “confidence” in the U.S. and the possibility of a “depression” in Turkish morale.

Other documents shed light on interactions with senior Italian officials, including Defense Minister Giulio Andreotti, who told the U.S. that Jupiter withdrawal would be a “graphic step backward” in terms of Italy’s participation in nuclear deterrence. The Italian Government nevertheless proved willing to reach an understanding, as indicated in the diary entries of Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani, published here for the first time.

Part II of this posting will document efforts to reach agreement with Turkey’s reluctant military leaders, to bring NATO into the understanding on the Jupiters, and to negotiate a formal agreement with Italy.



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