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Press review EX - 3 February

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


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Two more government departments ban TikTok | Bellingcat chief forced to leave Vienna following security threats | Elon apologizes for tweeting Paul Pelosi conspiracy theory


  • The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry confirmed in answers to parliament that their employees were forbidden from downloading TikTok on work devices, joining the Departments of Defence and Home Affairs. The Sydney Morning Herald

  • Bulgarian investigative journalist and director of the Bellingcat investigative reporting group Christo Grozev is being forced to relocate from Austria, his home of nearly 20 years, due to the alleged threat posed to him by the Russian security services, the Viennese daily Falter reported on Wednesday. The Moscow Times

  • As the Twitter CEO tries to sweet talk Washington, he apologized for a since-deleted retweet which spuriously claimed Pelosi met his assailant at a gay bar. Gizmodo


World

How Can a ‘Digital Emblem’ Help Protect Medical Facilities Against Cyber Operations? Lawfare Tilman Rodenhäuser, Mauro Vignati Cyber operations have become a reality of armed conflict. More and more states are developing military cyber capabilities, and thus the number and severity of these cyber operations will almost certainly grow. In this digitized environment, medical facilities enjoy specific protections under the law of armed conflict

The website that wants you to kill yourself—and won't die Mother Jones Ali Breland The story of Kiwi Farms is far from over. Despite being dropped by Cloudflare, Kiwi Farms could still gain a stable foothold. Even if it doesn’t, the site and its users have defined internet culture for years to come. To understand that legacy requires going back to the beginning. And like so many internet origin stories, it starts with an angry young man.

Australia

Two more federal government departments ban TikTok The Sydney Morning Herald Nick Bonyhady The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry confirmed in answers to parliament that their employees were forbidden from downloading TikTok on work devices, joining the Departments of Defence and Home Affairs.

Guardian Australia staff details compromised in cyberattack The Sydney Morning Herald Nick Bonyhady Information on 140 workers including salaries and addresses may have been accessed by hackers who attacked the media outlet late last year.

South Australian council forced to dispel ‘bizarre’ claims of Elon Musk using mind-control chips The Guardian Tory Shepherd Spread of ‘rightwing conspiracies’ about Salisbury’s smart infrastructure scheme prompts councillors to pass extraordinary motion.

Could virtual autopsies replace invasive post-mortem procedures? ABC News Matilda Marozzi In many cases, "virtual autopsies" can be performed by forensic pathologists to determine a cause of death, says the VIFM deputy director Richard Bassed.

China

China’s Qin Gang urges open tech ties, Taiwan caution in meeting with Japan's top diplomat South China Morning Post Orange Wang China has appealed to Japan to defend free and open bilateral tech ties, a request that comes after Japan and the Netherlands agreed to join in US restrictions on exporting chip-making equipment to China.

China Invests $546 Billion in Clean Energy, Far Surpassing the U.S. Scientific American Sara Schonhardt Nearly half of the world's low-carbon spending took place in China, according to a recent analysis from market research firm BloombergNEF. The country spent $546 billion in 2022 on investments that included solar and wind energy, electric vehicles and batteries.

USA

Leaders of Self-Driving-Truck Company Face Espionage Concerns Over China Ties The Wall Street Journal Kate O’Keeffe, Aruna Viswanatha, Heather Somerville The Justice Department has been urged by representatives of a U.S. national-security panel to consider economic-espionage charges against leaders of TuSimple Holdings Inc., an American self-driving-truck company with ties to China, according to people familiar with the matter.


We Already Have 18 Intelligence Agencies. We Still Need 1 More. POLITICO Jonathan Panikoff The U.S. cannot adequately address its national security challenges related to China, which are increasingly driven by technology, without the help of a potentially surprising partner: the Department of Commerce.

Infowars’ Alex Jones Says He Lives ‘in Hell,’ Texts Show Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch Michael Edison Hayden and Megan Squire Alex Jones described himself as living “in hell,” being part of “a sick joke,” and sinking down into a “black hole” in previously private text messages given to Hatewatch.


Senator Calls on Apple and Google to Ban TikTok in App Stores The New York Times Sapna Maheshwari Michael F. Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, cited national security, adding to bipartisan pressure on the Chinese-owned video app.

Europe

Bellingcat Chief Forced to Leave Vienna Following Security Threats The Moscow Times Bulgarian investigative journalist and director of the Bellingcat investigative reporting group Christo Grozev is being forced to relocate from Austria, his home of nearly 20 years, due to the alleged threat posed to him by the Russian security services, the Viennese daily Falter reported on Wednesday.

Africa

A pro-Russian social media campaign is trying to influence politics in Africa NPR Shannon Bond The network, dubbed "Russosphere," is connected to a far-right Belgian political activist who was involved in overseeing contested Russian-backed referenda in Crimea and Donbas in 2014, according to researchers at Logically, a company that tracks online misinformation and disinformation.

Middle East

A new crypto threat to government launches POLITICO Ben Schreckinger The anarchist project calls itself DarkFi. Representatives of the group say its members are spread across parts of Europe and the Middle East. Though they frame the software as a tool for shielding users from government-imposed violence, law enforcement officials say the proliferation of enhanced encryption is making it harder to catch drug dealers, terrorists and human traffickers.

A Couple Danced in Tehran’s Streets. Now They Are in Prison. The New York Times Cora Engelbrecht Iranian authorities sentenced a young couple to five years in prison after they posted a video of themselves dancing in the streets at the height of the country’s protests.

Big Tech

Elon Apologizes for Tweeting Paul Pelosi Conspiracy Theory Gizmodo Mack DeGeurin As the Twitter CEO tries to sweet talk Washington, he apologized for a since-deleted retweet which spuriously claimed Pelosi met his assailant at a gay bar.

Dissecting Elon Musk’s Tweets: Memes, Rants, Private Parts and an Echo Chamber The New York Times Sheera Frenkel, Martín González Gómez and Ella Koeze Since he created his account in June 2009, Mr. Musk has posted more than 21,000 times. In recent years, that has meant posting all hours of the day, most days of the week.

Meta Posts $4.2 Billion Restructuring Charge The New York Times Mike Isaac The company, which is in the midst of shifting to become a metaverse business, also forecast revenue would beat Wall Street predictions.

TikTok gets new product head from Douyin in latest ByteDance reshuffle South China Morning Post Coco Feng Fiona Zhi Ying moved from vice-president of Douyin to head product development at TikTok, as ByteDance tries to further monetise its massive user base.

TikTok’s Transparency Campaign Echoes Effort by Huawei to Ease Security Concerns The Wall Street Journal Georgia Well and Stu Woo TikTok is trying to win Washington’s trust with a playbook recalling the unsuccessful strategy that another Chinese-owned company, Huawei, took in the U.S. and swaths of Europe.

Artificial Intelligence

OpenAI to Offer New Version of ChatGPT for a $20 Monthly Fee The New York Times Cade Metz Subscribers will receive round-the-clock access to the chatbot, faster responses and access to new features, OpenAI said.

Microsoft rolls out ChatGPT-powered Teams Premium Reuters Chavi Mehta Microsoft on Wednesday rolled out a premium Teams messaging offering powered by ChatGPT to simplify meetings using the AI chatbot that has taken Silicon Valley by a storm.

ChatGPT sets record for fastest-growing user base - analyst note Reuters Krystal Hu ChatGPT, the popular chatbot from OpenAI, is estimated to have reached 100 million monthly active users in January, just two months after launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history, according to a UBS study on Wednesday.

Leaked Messages Show How CNET's Parent Company Really Sees AI-Generated Content Futurism Jon Christian Directors at the company expressed a profoundly cynical anxiety: that Google would notice the dismal quality of the AI’s work — and cut off the precious supply of search results that Red Ventures depends on for revenue.

Misc

RIP Twitter bots: A list of some of the world's favorite accounts Semafor Diego Mendoza Twitter on Wednesday announced that it would no longer offer free access to application programming interface (API) services, effectively marking the death of thousands of bot accounts by next week.

Nuclear War Simulator Steam Bit Mirror Nuclear war simulator is a detailed realistic simulation and visualization of large-scale nuclear conflicts with a focus on humanitarian consequences.

Research

Controlling the innovation chain MERICS Jeroen Groenewegen-Lau and Michael Laha Inspired by the idea of the innovation chain, Beijing is accelerating its efforts to optimize and align every step of the innovation process.

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