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Press review EX - 27 March

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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National Security

Agenda Digitale

G e N Iuvinale

Gli stretti legami con Pechino della piattaforma integrata per la trasmissione dei dati logistici LOGINK, usata in 20 porti in tutto il mondo, dovrebbero destare una seria preoccupazione nei governi nazionali, Italia compresa. L’allarme lanciato dagli Usa.

Un recente studio dell’U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission ha acceso i i riflettori sui rischi derivanti dall’uso diffuso della piattaforma integrata per la trasmissione dei dati logistici denominata LOGINK, National Transport and Logistics Public Information Platform che potrebbe essere utilizzata dal Partito Comunista Cinese (PCC) per espandere il suo potere e la sua influenza nel mondo e porre seri rischi commerciali e strategici per le Nazioni.

La piattaforma potrebbe anche minacciare la sicurezza dei dati degli utenti e consentire alla Cina di modellare le relative norme di governance in modi contrari agli interessi degli Stati occidentali. Attraverso una partnership strategica con l’International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA), LOGINK è attualmente presente anche in Italia, segnatamente nei porti di La Spezia e Marina di Carrara.

China

Huawei makes breakthroughs in design tools for 14nm chips -media Reuters David Kirton, Josh Horwitz and Brenda Goh Huawei has made breakthroughs in electronic design automation tools for chips produced at and above 14-nanometre technology, Caijing reported on Friday, citing a speech by a senior executive.

China to introduce early 6G mobile applications by 2025, putting the country on track to rolling out commercial services by 2030 South China Morning Post Ben Jiang and Bien Perez China Unicom, the country’s third-largest wireless network operator, expects to complete technical research and launch early applications for 6G technology by 2025, boosting hopes of rolling out the next-generation mobile technology by the dawn of the next decade.

In China, embattled TikTok chief seen as hero defying bullying U.S. The Washington Post Vic Chiang and Lily Kuo On Friday, Chinese internet users, commentators and officials rallied around Chew, who before Thursday’s hearing was little known to the Chinese public. State media described the hearings as a farce and an “embarrassment” for the United States, and China’s Foreign Ministry said the process amounted to the “unreasonable suppression” of TikTok.

Reuters

Alibaba (9988.HK) founder Jack Ma has returned to China, ending a more than year-long stay overseas that was viewed by industry as reflecting the sober mood of China's private businesses and troubled policymakers trying to spur the economy.

The return of China's best-known entrepreneur may help to quell the concerns of the country’s private-sector businesses after a bruising two-year regulatory crackdown. His public reemergence provides support for the government's softening tone toward the private sector as leaders try to shore up an economy battered by three years of COVID curbs.

RFA staff

A Chinese coast guard ship and a Vietnamese fisheries patrol boat apparently had a tense encounter during the weekend in the South China Sea, coming as close as 10 meters to each other, according to data from Marine Traffic, a ship-tracking website.

The data, based on the ships’ automatic identification system (AIS) signals, shows that the China Coast Guard ship, CCG5205, and Vietnam’s Kiem Ngu 278 came “crazy close” to one another at around 7 a.m. on Sunday local time (midnight UTC), said a researcher based in California.

USA

Marcus Weisgerber

This "unfunded list" comes on top of the $9.1 billion the Pentagon requested for "Pacific deterrence" in its 2024 spending proposal.

US House speaker says lawmakers to move forward with TikTok bill Reuters Kanishka Singh and Leah Douglas U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Sunday lawmakers will move forward with legislation to address national security worries about TikTok, alleging China's government had access to the short video app's user data.

  • Why Chinese apps are the favorites of young Americans The Wall Street Journal Shen Lu, Karen Hao and Raffaele Huang Four of the five hottest apps in the U.S. in March were forged in China. Algorithms are often cited as their secret sauce. An often overlooked facet is how cutthroat competition for users at home has given Chinese firms a leg up over Western rivals.

Indicted Chinese exile controls Gettr social media site, ex-employees say The Washington Post Joseph Menn An exiled Chinese tycoon indicted in New York earlier this month in a billion-dollar fraud case controls the conservative social media platform Gettr and used it to promote cryptocurrencies and propaganda, former employees have told The Washington Post.

Utah is first US state to limit teen social media access BBC Azadeh Moshiri Utah has become the first US state to require social media firms get parental consent for children to use their apps and verify users are at least 18. The governor said he signed the two sweeping measures to protect young people in the state.

Apple CEO praises China's innovation, long history of cooperation on Beijing visit Reuters Brenda Goh Apple CEO Tim Cook on Saturday used his first public remarks on his visit to China to praise the country for its rapid innovation and its long ties with the U.S. iPhone maker, according to local media reports.

US, Canada plan North American chip corridor, starting with IBM expansion Reuters Stephen Nellis The United States and Canada said on Friday they would work together to create a bilateral semiconductor manufacturing corridor, as International Business Machines signaled its intent to expand in Canada.

FBI, CISA investigating cyberattack on Puerto Rico’s water authority The Record by Recorded Future Jonathan Greig The agency that manages Puerto Rico’s water supply has called in the FBI to investigate a cyberattack that occurred last week.

FBI dismantles cybercrime forum boasting data connected to breach affecting US lawmakers The Hill Jared Gans The FBI has dismantled a cybercrime forum that boasted having data connected to security breaches affecting U.S. lawmakers and millions of citizens.

The pressing threat of Chinese-made drones flying above U.S. critical infrastructure CyberScoop Brian Harrell and Travis Moran Cost-effective quadcopters — or multirotor drones — have become popular with infrastructure and public safety organizations, especially as developments in miniaturization have enabled smaller, less expensive fleets of drones without sacrificing capability. China has moved to capitalize on the miniaturization movement and the demand for compact, economical, high-performance drones. China dominates the global market for commercial drones, with a majority produced by DJI, or Da Jang Innovations, a technology company started in 2006 in Shenzhen, China, by young technology entrepreneur Frank Wang.

China Tech Threat

The more than $5 million the State of Maine has already spent on dangerous Chinese technology from Lenovo was a concern raised throughout a Maine committee hearing on legislation to prohibit state contracts with companies owned or operated by the Chinese government. Maine leaders should move the bill quickly through

Americas

Lula to seek Chinese semiconductor technology, investment in Beijing Reuters Lisandra Paraguassu Brazil will seek Chinese technology and investment to develop a semiconductor industry in the South American country despite U.S. attempts to discourage association with China in this area, a senior presidential adviser told Reuters.

North Asia

Japan export curbs pay off for South Korean chip materials makers Nikkei Asia Kotaro Hosokawa Earnings at South Korean suppliers of chipmaking materials more than doubled over four years as Japanese restrictions on exports of vital supplies spurred chipmakers like Samsung Electronics to buy locally. Investors and industry watchers will be looking to see whether these suppliers can sustain their growth now that Tokyo has ended the additional trade curbs amid a thaw in bilateral relations.

Relief as South Korean semiconductor giants dodge ‘worst-case scenario’ in US proposal on chip output South China Morning Post Park Chan-kyong South Korea’s two major semiconductor chip makers may get some relief from the United States’ proposed changes to the Chips and Science Act aimed at curbing investment in China, allowing Korean firms some wiggle room in production, analysts have said.

South & Central Asia

Twitter blocked 122 accounts in India at the government’s request Rest of World Samriddhi Sakunia Twitter blocked 122 accounts belonging to journalists, authors, and politicians in India this week in response to legal requests from the Indian government. On March 23, the government issued a request for 29 more Twitter accounts to be blocked, as per data on the Lumen database — a collaborative archive which collects legal complaints and requests for removal of online material.

Europe

French parliament votes for biometric surveillance at Paris Olympics TechCrunch Natasha Lomas European Union lawmakers are on track to ban the use of remote biometric surveillance for general law enforcement purposes. However that hasn’t stopped parliamentarians in France voting to deploy AI to monitor public spaces for suspicious behavior during the 2024 Paris Olympics.

France to ban TikTok on work phones of civil servants -minister Reuters GV De Clercq France will ban the use of Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok on the work phones of civil servants, Civil Service Minister Stanislas Guerini said on his Twitter account.

How Albania became a target for cyberattacks Foreign Policy Ayman Oghanna Albania is suffering in the face of continuing cyberattacks, digitally devastating the country’s critical computerized public and private infrastructure. Hackers gained continuous access to Albanian government servers in 2021, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, harvesting data, before using ransomware and launching a destructive “wiper” attack destroying public data using disk wiping malware in July 2022.

LawFare

In 2023, it is now possible for any government or private company to get access to your most intimate secrets. How? By paying a company to hack into your phone. Since the early 2010s, news of private companies that sell spyware and other offensive cyber tools has become commonplace. The spread of tools through these “cyber mercenaries” is a risk to both human rights and national security: Authoritarian governments use these tools not just to spy on the United States and its allies, but also to surveil journalists and activists in the name of national security, which has led to the detention, torture, or even assassination of those targeted.

UK

UK National Crime Agency reveals it ran fake DDoS-for-hire sites to collect users’ data The Record by Recorded Future Alexander Martin Britain’s National Crime Agency revealed on Friday that it had set up a number of fake DDoS-for-hire sites to infiltrate the online criminal underground. It said that users who registered for the sites were not given access to cybercrime tools but instead had their data collated by investigators.

Lloyd’s of London says its controversial cyberwar exclusions could hit profits The Record by Recorded Future Alexander Martin The chief executive of Lloyd’s of London warned last week that it could suffer a short-term hit to its income as a result of its controversial cyberwar exclusions. Lloyd’s, which is not an insurer itself but a corporate body and market for insurance underwriters, was criticized last year after developing several exclusions allowing insurers to reject claims in the event of state-sponsored cyberattacks.

Middle East

The strange case of an Israeli computer lab flagged by the U.S. Haaretz Oded Yaron and Ben Samuels The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday it planned to add an Israeli company, CNG Labs, to its red-flag list, hindering its ability to do business with American counterparts. This follows an earlier decision by Israel to confiscate the company’s processors on the grounds that it did not have an export license.

NZ & Pacific Islands

NZ: Government considering new spying crimes to prosecute foreign agents Stuff Thomas Manch The Government is considering new “foreign interference” crimes to better prosecute foreign agents. Officials are unwilling to discuss the detail of changes to the Crimes Act being considered, but the Ministry of Justice has for a past year been looking at “gaps” in the law that “could curtail our ability to respond to harmful interference”.

Reuters

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, seeking closer ties with Western democracies in the face of Chinese pressure, welcomed a large Czech delegation to the island on Monday, a boost for Taipei after once-loyal ally Honduras switched allegiance to Beijing.

Although the number of countries that retain formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan has dwindled to just 13 after the move by Honduras on Sunday, U.S. allies such as the Czech Republic have been bolstering support for the democratic island even as they also only officially recognise China.

World

U.S. and China wage war beneath the waves – over internet cables Reuters Joe Brock In February, American subsea cable company SubCom LLC began laying a $600-million cable to transport data from Asia to Europe, via Africa and the Middle East, at super-fast speeds over 12,000 miles of fiber running along the seafloor. That cable is known as South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 6, or SeaMeWe-6 for short. It will connect a dozen countries as it snakes its way from Singapore to France, crossing three seas and the Indian Ocean on the way. It is slated to be finished in 2025. It was a project that slipped through China’s fingers.

Australia

Pezzullo spells out new cyber MoG The Mandarin Julian Bajkowski Department of home affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo has moved swiftly to recast the upper echelons and regulatory machinery of his expansive agency in the wake of the recent Optus and Medibank ransomware attacks, revealing a new Cyber and Infrastructure Security Group is to be stood up from 1 May 2023.

Muslim hacktivists target hospitals after fashion label’s ‘offensive’ dress The Australian Joanna Panagopoulos and Ellen Whinnett A religiously motivated hacktivist group has claimed responsibility for a cyber attack on Australian hospitals and healthcare centres, with several websites shut down on Friday night.

Mass Meta job cuts ignite online safety fears The Australian Sarah Ison Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, has written to Meta regarding the thousands of staff cuts it ­announced this month, seeking assurances the move won’t impact on the tech giant’s ability to effect­ively monitor abhorrent content and keep its platforms “safe and trustworthy” for Australians.

Big Tech

TikTok faces uncertain future after 5-hour congressional thrashing The Washington Post Cat Zakrzewski and Jeff Stein TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew tried to allay mounting national security concerns about the Chinese-owned video app but encountered open hostility Thursday in his first appearance before Congress, a five-hour thrashing that underscored the popular app’s precarious future in the United States.

  • TikTok admits it banned former NBA player critical of China The Washington Post Drew Harwell Enes Kanter Freedom, the former NBA player known for his outspoken political activism against China, was banned from TikTok for 12 days before being reinstated Thursday, when lawmakers were grilling the Chinese-owned company’s chief, the company confirmed Friday.

  • TikTok admits collecting location data Australian Financial Review Max Mason, Amelia Adams and Garry McNab An analysis of the code underpinning the TikTok app reveals that, contrary to the company’s previous claims, it collects a full suite of location data, which governments fear can ultimately allow the Chinese Communist Party to know exactly where people using the app are.

  • A TikTok ban may be just the beginning The Wall Street Journal Christopher Mims What if, at the dawn of Japan’s entry into the U.S. auto market, the U.S. government had simply banned the import of vehicles from that country? How different would America—and the global economy—be today? Such a scenario isn’t so different from what the U.S. is doing now to tech built by companies in China, first hardware and now software.

  • Popular apps with Chinese ties can gather more data than TikTok The Washington Post Joseph Menn As Congress weighs an unprecedented ban of the wildly popular Chinese-owned TikTok over supposed security concerns, millions of Americans are downloading Chinese-designed apps to their phones that pose greater privacy risks with no outcry from lawmakers or regulators.

  • The biggest decider of who backs a TikTok ban? If they use TikTok. The Washington Post Heather Kelly, Cristiano Lima, Emily Guskin and Scott Clement More Americans back a TikTok ban than oppose one, with a majority expressing concerns over the company’s links to China, underscoring that distrust of the foreign-owned app has spread beyond Washington, even as its domestic user base soars.

  • TikTok is part of China’s cognitive warfare campaign The Guardian Nita Farahany Translated Chinese military reports suggest that warfare is shifting from destroying bodies to paralyzing and controlling the opponent’s mind. Making the Biden administration’s call for TikTok’s Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the app or face a US ban just the start of a protracted Whac-A-Mole game in a broader strategy to combat cognitive warfare – with the human mind as the battlefield.

Artificial Intelligence

You can have the blue pill or the red pill, and we’re out of blue pills The New York Times Yuval Harari, Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin In 2022, over 700 top academics and researchers behind the leading artificial intelligence companies were asked in a survey about future A.I. risk. Half of those surveyed stated that there was a 10 percent or greater chance of human extinction (or similarly permanent and severe disempowerment) from future A.I. systems. Technology companies building today’s large language models are caught in a race to put all of humanity on that plane.

  • ChatGPT is about to revolutionize the economy. We need to decide what that looks like. MIT Technology Review David Rotman Whether it’s based on hallucinatory beliefs or not, an artificial-intelligence gold rush has started over the last several months to mine the anticipated business opportunities from generative AI models like ChatGPT. App developers, venture-backed startups, and some of the world’s largest corporations are all scrambling to make sense of the sensational text-generating bot released by OpenAI last November. But while companies and executives see a clear chance to cash in, the likely impact of the technology on workers and the economy on the whole is far less obvious.


Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale

2023

Stango Editore



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