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Press review EX - 31 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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China's manufacturing activity expanded at a slower pace in March, official data showed on Friday, raising doubts about the strength of a post-COVID factory recovery amid weaker global demand and a property market downturn. The services sector was stronger, with activity expanding at the fastest pace in nearly 12 years after the end of China's zero-COVID policy in December boosted transportation, accommodation and construction.

Hong Kong fund aims to bet $100 million on city’s crypto push Bloomberg Sarah Zheng A new Hong Kong-based fund plans to raise $100 million this year to invest in digital asset startups, as the city seeks to become a regional fintech hub. The fund led by Ben Ng, a venture partner at the Asian private equity firm SAIF Partners, and longtime tech investor Curt Shi has secured at least $30 million in funding commitments. Those who joined the first close for ProDigital Future Fund after a half-year fundraising period included Sunwah Kingsway Capital Holdings Ltd. and Golin International Group Ltd., Shi said in an interview.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou steps closer to U.S.-China tech-war front line as chairwoman The Wall Street Journal Dan Strumpf Eighteen months ago, she was a high-profile symbol of a bigger tech battle between China and the U.S. Now, she is set to take the helm of a Chinese telecommunications company at the leading edge of the country’s push to break free from dependence on America for key technologies. Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer at Huawei Technologies Co., is set to begin a six-month rotation as company chairwoman after presenting annual results on Friday in Shenzhen, China.

How China aims to counter US ‘Containment’ efforts in tech Bloomberg For Xi, who has stressed national security more than any of his predecessors, becoming self-reliant in critical tech is an imperative. But throwing cash at the problem hasn’t exactly paid off so far. The government could end up wasting lots of money investing in companies and initiatives that fail to deliver, potentially destabilizing the world’s No. 2 economy.

Finacial Times


The possibility of a meeting or a telephone conversation between the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi and the Chinese leader Xi Jinping is not excluded. This issue was discussed between Kiev and Beijing. This was reported by Rbc-Ukraine with reference to the declaration of the Permanent Representative of China to the EU, Fu Cun, quoted by the Financial Times.

The Chinese military has announced it is "ready to step up cooperation and communication" with the Russian military and "regularly organize joint sea and air patrols".

Xinhua News Agency

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said on the 30th that China strongly condemns the United States for organizing Tsai Ing-wen's "transit" to the United States, in defiance of solemn representations and repeated warnings. China will continue to monitor developments closely and vigorously defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China Military Online

Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, spokesman for China's Ministry of National Defense, introduced the Chinese military's participation in defense and security cooperation within the SCO this year at a regular press conference on Thursday. According to Tan, a working group from China's national defense ministry recently visited India to attend meetings between international military cooperation departments under the defense ministries of SCO member states. They actively supported the guiding principles of the 20th National Congress of the CPC, elaborated on the Global Security Initiative in depth, and provided insights on promoting defense cooperation of the SCO.

The Eurasian Times

China claims to have developed a compact power source that could drastically reduce the size of a high-power microwave weapon capable of downing Starlink satellites.

This device can produce up to 10 gigawatts of power, with a frequency of 10 pulses per second. The Chinese media report said that the high-intensity energy produced by this device could generate microwave beams that are potent enough to damage drones, airplanes, and even satellites.

The team responsible for developing the new device is led by Shu Ting, associated with the College of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at the National University of Defense Technology in Changsha, Hunan province.


Chinese Premier Li Qiang met on Wednesday with Ban Ki-moon, chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), as well as some members of the BFA board of directors, and representatives of the BFA council of advisers as well as strategic partners, in Boao, Hainan Province.

Li said that the theme of this year's BFA annual conference, which is "An Uncertain World: Solidarity and Cooperation for Development amid Challenges", fully reflects the current situation and the requirements of human society for progress and development.

  • Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main topics this week:

  1. Summit for Democracy: As was the case for its previous iteration, this year’s Summit for Democracy has prompted angry reactions from Chinese diplomats and state media. “Democracy” was the most frequently used key phrase in Chinese tweets last week, with the overarching idea being that the summit was divisive and that a hypocritical United States had no legitimacy in holding such an event.

  2. TikTok hearing: The Chinese network monitored on Hamilton 2.0 came to TikTok’s defense as the social media company’s CEO testified at a hearing on Capitol Hill last Thursday. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the hearing a “xenophobic witch hunt”, while diplomats labeled US lawmakers “out of touch [and] paranoid” and claimed the hearing illustrated broader US hostility to international businesses.

  3. Honduras–Taiwan relations: Honduras’ decision to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and establish formal relations with the People’s Republic of China featured prominently in Chinese messaging last week. Chinese diplomats highlighted Taiwan’s isolation and promised that China would be a more advantageous partner for Honduras. State media claimed that the switch enjoyed broad support from Hondurans and made the United States “mad”.

  4. China courted Utah lawmakers, locals in influence campaign: The Chinese government has actively cultivated relationships with Utah officials, politicians, and local communities, leading state lawmakers to delay legislation Beijing opposed and to strike critical language from resolutions, according to an Associated Press investigation. Managing Director David Salvo said, “China has long waged malign influence campaigns on the local level in democracies around the globe, including in our Five Eye allies Australia and Canada. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) relies on a network of local proxies, including elected officials, not simply to cultivate friendly diplomatic and economic ties, but to amplify CCP propaganda, gain leverage over decisionmakers, and promote policies that can be detrimental to US national security. Utah legislators who advocated for delaying a ban on the Confucius Institutes at state universities, for example, were essentially legitimizing the presence of a CCP propaganda organ in US academia. With China hawks dominating both US political parties in Washington, China may pursue more malign influence campaigns at the state and local level instead.”



The sophisticated understanding of the nuances of the U.S. defense strategy debate exhibited in these pieces is impressive but not surprising. The Chinese scholars clearly understand the central trajectory and lines of thought among those active in this discussion. I was personally struck by one author’s especially insightful observation about my own work and its development over time.

The Epoch Times

James Gorrie

Strategic ambiguity” has been the longstanding policy of the United States with regard to defending it against Chinese aggression from across the Taiwan Strait. In keeping with the term, the actual meaning of strategic ambiguity is, well, ambiguous.

China Tech Threat

“At this critical point, our nation must pursue a whole-of-government approach to dealing with the China threat, with urgent action at the local, state, and federal levels,” Florida State Representative David Borrero outlined in a Miami Herald op-ed. He correctly highlights Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order as the sort of bold

The FTC should investigate OpenAI and block GPT over ‘deceptive’ behavior, AI policy group claims CNN Brian Fung An AI policy think tank wants the US government to investigate OpenAI and its wildly popular GPT artificial intelligence product, claiming that algorithmic bias, privacy concerns and the technology’s tendency to produce sometimes inaccurate results may violate federal consumer protection law.

TikTok’s behind-the-scenes help in Washington: Former Obama, Disney advisers The Wall Street Journal Kirsten Grind and Erich Schwartzel David Plouffe and Jim Messina, veterans of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and Zenia Mucha, the former longtime communications chief of Walt Disney Co., are advising TikTok in its fight against efforts to ban it in the U.S, according to people familiar with their roles.

White House posts video created using an app owned by TikTok's parent company NBC News Molly Roecker and Carol E. Lee As President Joe Biden threatens to potentially ban TikTok in the U.S. over national security concerns, he embraced another popular app owned by the same Chinese company. Last week the White House’s official Instagram account posted a flashy video of Biden and former President Barack Obama.

Nominee for new Pentagon cyber leader not expected until later this year The Record by Recorded Future Martin Matishak The Pentagon won't nominate someone to fill a new, congressionally mandated cyber adviser post until near the end of 2023, a senior defense official said Thursday. The Record reported on Wednesday that the Defense Department was hiring the RAND Corporation to examine how to establish a new assistant secretary of Defense for cyber policy, which was created in last year’s bipartisan defense policy bill. Lawmakers want the position — sooner rather than later — in order to raise the importance of the cyber mission throughout the department and to be able to have a single, senior civilian official accountable for it.

Dozens of universities affected by campus ticketing software cyberattack The Record by Recorded Future Jonathan Greig Students at dozens of the biggest universities and colleges in the U.S. and Canada have been affected by a cyberattack targeting an online ticketing platform. A spokesperson for the platform — AudienceView — told Recorded Future News that it suffered a cyberattack in mid-February that only affected customers using its Campus product which is used for athletics, performing arts and student life ticketing. “In mid-February, certain individuals’ information may have been subject to unauthorized access and acquisition. In response, we moved quickly to remove the identified malware from our Campus product and reviewed the potentially impacted data,” the spokesperson said.

Bipartisan US lawmakers introduce bill aimed at Google, Facebook ad clout Reuters Diane Bartz A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced a bill on Thursday aimed at cutting Google and Facebook's clout in online advertising, an early sign that lawmakers will press on with efforts to rein in Big Tech in the new congress. The bill targets Alphabet's Google and Meta's Facebook, as well as and Apple, according to Senator Mike Lee's office. The bill would prohibit big digital advertising companies, with Google the biggest, from owning more than one part of the stack of services that connect advertisers with companies with space for advertisements.

US semiconductor index hits highest in nearly a year on hopes for industry turn Reuters Chuck Mikolajczak The Philadelphia semiconductor index hit its highest level in nearly a year on Thursday, as optimism grows that a sales downturn in the industry has reached its nadir, in part due to a surge in artificial intelligence technology. The index climbed 1.6%, adding to a gain of more than 3% on Wednesday, and it is now on track for its biggest two-day percentage gain in nearly two months, hitting its highest level since April 6 after a flurry of updates from several chipmakers including Intel, Micron Technology and Germany's Infineon.

Meta defeats photo app's antitrust case in US court Reuters Mike Scarcella A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms Inc that alleged its Facebook social media business drove a now-defunct photo software application startup out of business in violation of federal antitrust law. U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn, New York, federal court said in her 67-page order that Phhhoto Inc had failed to timely bring its claims under relevant U.S. antitrust law that sets a four-year window and under New York state competition provisions that have a three-year statute of limitation.

US court sanctions Google in privacy case, company's second legal setback in days Reuters Mike Scarcella A U.S. court has sanctioned Google LLC for a second time in recent days, after a judge in a decision unsealed on Wednesday said the Alphabet Inc unit took too long to comply with a ruling last year in a data-privacy class action. The order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen in San Jose, California, stems from a class action claiming Google unlawfully tracked its users while they were using the company's Chrome browsers in private, or "incognito," mode.

Apple wins U.S. appeal over patents in $502 mln VirnetX verdict Reuters Blake Brittain Apple Inc convinced a U.S. appeals court on Thursday to uphold a patent tribunal's ruling that could imperil a $502 million verdict for patent licensing company VirnetX Inc in the companies' long-running fight over privacy-software technology. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that invalidated the two patents VirnetX had accused Apple of infringing.

  • The US government should use the Summit for Democracy to commit to investing in a new platform for decentralized global democracy exchanges, where youth activists, election officials, local legislators, and other grassroots defenders of democracy can meet and exchange ideas, Senior Vice President of Democracy Laura Thornton writes in The Hill.

  • Congress and state legislatures should take 13 steps to secure the 2024 election, Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine and Issue One’s Gideon Cohn-Postar write in a new report.

  • United States bans government use of commercial spyware: On Monday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order prohibiting US government agencies from using commercial spyware tools, which have been employed by both democracies and autocracies around the world to surveil human rights activists, journalists, and dissidents. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman told the Dispatch, “The spyware executive order is a tremendous move for the United States in setting an example on the responsible use of technology globally. Commercial spyware tech has been a popular tool for despots worldwide, and it has even been abused in democratic societies. When coupled with recent announcements on surveillance technologies and international democratic action on this issue, this executive order and the policies and processes surrounding it represent a strong show of global leadership to counter the misuse of technology.”


Taiwan’s military is bolstering its preparation for a possible future war with China by planning an unprecedented military drill at a civilian airport this coming July, the official Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

The military aircraft emergency landing and takeoff drill will be staged at Taitung Fengnian Airport on the southeast coast of Taiwan.

The scenario is that Taiwan’s military airports and airstrips would be severely damaged in attacks by mainland China, forcing fighter-jets to land at civilian airports or on highways, the CNA quoted an unnamed military source as saying.

North Asia

Ministry of Defense Japan

On Mar 31, the “Hotline between Japanese and Chinese Defense Authorities” which had been coordinated towards operational status by spring this year, has now completed its equipment/line settings on Japanese and Chinese side, and has become operational.

Japan’s Prime Minister quizzed by ChatGPT in parliament Bloomberg Marika Katanuma and Jon Herskovitz OpenAI’s ChatGPT made its debut in Japanese parliamentary deliberations, with the premier fielding questions from an opposition lawmaker that were drawn up with the help of the chatbot.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi announced Friday his plan to visit Beijing this weekend for talks with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang, where he will push for the early release of a Japanese businessman recently detained in China for alleged espionage.

Hayashi said at a news conference that he will also make a four-day trip to Brussels from Monday to attend a foreign ministerial meeting of NATO countries and their partners, at which they are likely to reaffirm their unified stance over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Referring to the planned two-day visit to the Chinese capital from Saturday, Hayashi said he will “explain our nation’s position” on pending bilateral issues between Tokyo and Beijing.

Japan said it will expand restrictions on exports of 23 types of leading-edge chipmaking technology, as the United States ratchets up efforts to limit China’s access to key semiconductor knowhow.

About 10 Japanese companies including leading gearmaker Tokyo Electron would need to get licenses to ship a broader-than-expected array of equipment used to transform silicon into chips, spanning cleaning, deposition, annealing, lithography, etching and testing.

Tokyo’s move follows months of lobbying by the U.S. to get Japan to join it in tightening shipments of semiconductor tools to China. Japan and the Netherlands had agreed in principle to join the U.S., but have sought to chart a middle road between the two superpowers.

South Korea to pass its own ‘Chips Act’ amid US-China friction Bloomberg Jeong-Ho Lee and Sohee Kim South Korea’s parliament is expected to approve a bill Thursday to boost the country’s powerhouse semiconductor industry by giving firms tax breaks to spur investments. The legislation known as the “K-Chips Act” would increase the tax credit to 15% from the current 8% for major companies investing in manufacturing facilities, while smaller and medium size firms would see the tax break go to 25%, up from the 16% now. The measure is expected to boost domestic investment for South Korean tech companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc and has support from the conservative and progressive political blocs.

South & Central Asia

Google: India tribunal upholds $160m fine on company BBC An Indian appeals court has upheld a $160m fine imposed on Google by the country's antitrust regulator in a case related to Android's market dominance. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal said the Competition Commission of India (CCI) findings were correct and Google was liable to pay the fine. But it set aside four of 10 antitrust directives imposed on the firm. More than 95% of Indian smartphones use the Android system.

Ukraine - Russia

Secret trove offers rare look into Russian cyberwar ambitions The Washington Post Craig Timberg, Ellen Nakashima, Hannes Munzinger and Hakan Tanriverdi Russian intelligence agencies worked with a Moscow-based defense contractor to strengthen their ability to launch cyberattacks, sow disinformation and surveil sections of the internet, according to thousands of pages of confidential corporate documents

  • ‘Vulkan files’ leak reveals Putin’s global and domestic cyberwarfare tactics The Guardian Luke Harding, Stiliyana Simeonova, Manisha Ganguly and Dan Sabbagh Thousands of pages of secret documents reveal how Vulkan’s engineers have worked for Russian military and intelligence agencies to support hacking operations, train operatives before attacks on national infrastructure, spread disinformation and control sections of the internet.

  • Russian state media has reached hundreds of millions of TikTok users, including through dozens of unlabeled accounts, opening users up to Russian disinformation and suggesting that the platform’s labeling process has been neither comprehensive nor effective, Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar finds in a new investigation. Read AP’s exclusive coverage of the piece here.

  • Depleted uranium: Russian propagandists continued to bash UK plans to give Ukraine ammunition that contains depleted uranium, which London said was standard. Kremlin-linked accounts called it an escalation and a “desperate act” that would lead to surges in cancer and birth defects and eventually destroy Ukraine’s economy. They also used the issue to justify Moscow’s decision to move tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.

  • Nord Stream: After the UN Security Council voted to reject a Russian request to investigate the Nord Stream pipeline bombings, Russian diplomats argued that the vote would only fuel suspicion, and Russian President Vladimir Putin reasserted his belief that the United States carried out the attack. State media also lifted up right-wing commentators in the United States and Chinese officials who were sympathetic to Moscow’s argument against Washington.

  • Leaked documents reveal extent of Russia’s cyber operations: Russian intelligence teamed up with a Moscow-based contractor to train hackers, scan Western infrastructure for cyber vulnerabilities, control the internet, surveil social media, and spread disinformation at scale, according to thousands of leaked documents verified by officials from five Western intelligence agencies. Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar told the Dispatch, “This is a rare leak, which speaks to the level of frustration and dissent within Russia’s intelligence apparatus. The documents underscore that Russia sees cyber and disinformation as interconnected tools and that Moscow is willing to use those tools against perceived enemies at home and abroad. The leaks also prove that Russia has put considerable resources behind plans to do just that. This reporting marks yet another reason for democracies around the world to invest in means to counter Russia’s online offensives.”


Meta reportedly considering Europe political ads ban The Guardian Kalyeena Makortoff Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, is reportedly considering a company-wide ban on political advertising in Europe amid fears it could struggle to abide by new EU campaigning laws. Policymakers in Brussels are proposing rules that would force online tech groups including Facebook and Google to divulge information about political adverts, including how much they cost, who paid for the content and how many people have viewed them. Those proposals have caused concern among Meta executives, who are worried about how wide the definition of political ads might be and how hard it may be to comply with the rules, according to the Financial Times.

  • Meta to let users opt out of some targeted ads, but only in Europe The Wall Street Journal Sam Schechner and Jeff Horwitz Meta Platforms Inc. is planning to let European users of Facebook and Instagram opt out of certain highly personalized ads as part of plans to limit the impact of a European Union privacy order, according to people familiar with the planning. Under the plan, Meta, beginning Wednesday, will allow EU users to choose a version of its services that would only target them with ads based on broad categories, such as their age range and general location—without using, as it does now, data such as what videos they watch or content they click on inside Meta’s apps, the people said.

  • French protests: Kremlin-linked accounts showcased scenes of police brutality during recent French protests, called French President Emmanuel Macron a dictator, claimed China was more democratic than France, and asked when Macron was going to send weapons to the protesters in an apparent jab at French support for Ukraine.


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in China on an official visit on Friday March 31. He will try to get Xi Jinping to support Ukraine. This was reported by RBC-Ukraine with reference to El Pais.

El Paìs

The Spaniard, the first European to see the Chinese leader after the trip to Moscow, is trying to drag him towards the European positions.

Breaking Defence

Finland will officially become the 31st member of NATO.

Late this evening in Ankara, Turkey’s parliament approved Finland’s application to the international organization, bringing the Nordic nation to the verge of alliance membership, according to multiple reports. After Hungary’s vote earlier in the week, only formalities in the way of Helsinki formally entering the organization in the coming weeks.



Britain on Friday said it had struck a deal to join an 11-country trans-Pacific trade pact which includes Japan and Australia as it looks to deepen ties in the region and build its global trade links after leaving the European Union. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Britain had agreed to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in a move his office said was the biggest trade deal since Brexit.

The Japan Times

The U.K. will join an 11-nation Indo-Pacific free-trade bloc, becoming the first new member since its creation, in a bid to strengthen economic ties with new partners following divorce from the European Union.

As the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) meets to approve membership for the United Kingdom, Taiwan could be next, Japanese media reported Thursday (March 30).

Taipei applied to join the 11-member trade alliance in September 2021, less than a week after China. This caused concern the communist country might try to interfere and block Taiwan’s access.

The Japanese evening paper Yukan Fuji and its web edition Zakzak headlined “United Kingdom joins CPTPP, next Taiwan” above a report about President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) ongoing visit to the United States.

Liberty Times Net

Japanese media reported that 11 members of the "Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership" (CPTPP), including Japan, have agreed to join the UK. to discuss the possibility of allowing the UK to join After the UK joins, which country will join again? Some observers are looking at Taiwan.


Jailbreak in Mauritania leads to internet shutdown The Mail & Guardian Louisa Mugabo Late on Sunday 5 March, four prisoners escaped from the central prison in Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania, killing two soldiers in the process. Authorities described the prisoners as jihadist terrorists. The next day, internet connectivity was cut for customers of all three major mobile providers — Mattel, Chinguitel and Moov Mauritel — supposedly to prevent the escapees from communicating.

Middle East

A.I., brain scans and cameras: The spread of police surveillance tech The New York Times Paul Mozur and Adam Satariano In the Middle East, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies have become part of everyday policing. At a police conference in Dubai in March, new technologies for the security forces of the future were up for sale. Far from the eyes of the general public, the event provided a rare look at what tools are now available to law enforcement around the world: better and harder-to-detect surveillance, facial recognition software that automatically tracks individuals across cities and computers to break into phones.

Gender & Women in Tech

TikTok is addictive for many girls, especially those with depression The Washington Post Donna St. George Nearly half of adolescent girls on TikTok feel addicted to it or use the platform for longer than they intend, according to a report that looks at social media as a central facet of American girlhood. TikTok leads the way in total time on its platform, with girls who use it logging more than 2.5 hours a day, according to researchers from Brown University and the nonprofit Common Sense Media. While most girls described the effects of social media on people their age as positive, about 1 in 4 who use TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat experience negative social comparisons and feel pressure daily to show the best versions of themselves.


Bill to regulate crypto sector introduced to Australian parliament The Australian Financial Review Jessica Sier Australian cryptocurrency exchanges could receive a licensing regime under a new bill introduced to the parliament by opposition Senator Andrew Bragg on Wednesday, following a week in which US regulators launched legal action against the world’s two largest crypto exchanges, Binance and Coinbase.

AirTree founder sees geopolitical risk in Musk’s AI pause The Australian Financial Review Tess Bennett and John Davidson Daniel Petre, a co-founder of AirTree Ventures, said the pace of progress between GPT3.5 to GPT-4 had “freaked people out”, but a six-month moratorium on AI training proposed by AI experts, researchers and industry leaders, including Elon Musk, was not the solution.

Government on alert as cyber gangs hit Wunan Foundation and Booth Transport company The Australian Ellen Whinnett The Australian government is monitoring yet another series of cyber attacks, after a respected indigenous charity and a national transport firm were hit by a ransomware gang. The Wunan Foundation in Kununurra, WA, and Booth Transport, based out of Melbourne, have both fallen victim to a gang using LockBit 3.0 ransomware, which encrypts victims’ data until a ransom is paid.


US, UK, eight others unite on cyber protections for dissidents, journalists, advocacy groups The Record by Recorded Future Joe Warminsky Cyberthreats against “civil society organizations, human rights defenders, dissidents, advocacy groups, journalists, and cultural institutions” have pushed 10 nations to create a forum for sharing ways to protect those groups and others. The members of the new Strategic Dialogue on Cybersecurity of Civil Society Under Threat of Transnational Repression are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the U.K. and the U.S.

Supply chain cyberattack with possible links to North Korea could have thousands of victims globally CyberScoop AJ Vicens Researchers with cybersecurity firm SentinelOne’s SentinelLabs team traced illicit activity flagged by its detection systems back to the installation software from a company called 3CX, which according to its website provides video conferencing and online communication products to companies such as Toyota, McDonalds, Pepsi and Chevron. In total, the company says it serves some 12 million customers globally.

Big Tech

Meta rolls out long-sought tools to separate ads from harmful content Reuters Katie Paul Meta Platforms Inc said on Thursday it is now rolling out a long-promised system for advertisers to determine where their ads are shown, responding to their demands to distance their marketing from controversial posts on Facebook and Instagram. The system offers advertisers three risk levels they can select for their ad placements, with the most conservative option excluding placements above or below posts with sensitive content like weapons depictions, sexual innuendo and political debates. Meta also will provide a report via advertising measurement firm Zefr showing Facebook advertisers the precise content that appeared near their ads and how it was categorized.

Binance hid extensive links to China for several years Financial Times Scott Chipolina Binance hid substantial links to China for several years, contradicting executives’ claims that the crypto exchange left the country after a clampdown on the industry in late 2017, according to internal company documents seen by the Financial Times. Chief executive Changpeng Zhao and others holding senior positions repeatedly instructed Binance employees to hide the company’s Chinese presence. This included an office in use until at least the end of 2019, and one Chinese bank that was used to pay some employee salaries.

Twitter is dying TechCrunch Natasha Lomas It’s five months since Elon Musk overpaid for a relatively small microblogging platform called Twitter. The platform had punched above its weight in pure user numbers thanks to an unrivaled ability to both distribute real-time information and make expertise available. Combine these elements with your own critical faculty — to weed out the usual spam and bs — and it could feel like the only place online that really mattered. Since Musk took over he has set about dismantling everything that made Twitter valuable — making it his mission to drive out expertise, scare away celebrities, bully reporters and — on the flip side — reward the bad actors, spammers and sycophants who thrive in the opposite environment: An information vacuum.

Alibaba weighs ceding control of some businesses over time Bloomberg Jane Zhang Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will consider gradually giving up control of some of its main businesses, after completing a major overhaul to create six new companies that may debut on public markets. China’s online commerce leader unveiled plans this week to split its $250 billion empire six ways, a historic restructuring that frees up divisions from e-commerce and media to the cloud to operate more autonomously and seek initial public offerings.

Elon Musk tried to meet with F.T.C. chair about Twitter but was rebuffed The New York Times David McCabe and Kate Conger Elon Musk tried engaging with the Federal Trade Commission as the agency intensified an investigation into Twitter’s privacy and data practices, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, in a sign of the billionaire’s hands-on approach to the inquiry. Mr. Musk, who owns Twitter, asked to meet with Lina Khan, the F.T.C.’s chair, but was rebuffed, according to the documents.

The campaign to save TikTok has been years in the making POLITICO Hailey Fuchs, Clothilde Goujard and Daniel Lippman The campaign to save TikTok has been years in the making. A POLITICO investigation revealed an effort by TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, dating back to at least 2018, long before concerns about TikTok’s Chinese ownership reached their current pitch. Interviews with more than two dozen people, including lobbyists and lawmakers, in the United States and Europe illuminated the architecture of a lobbying apparatus that has moved TikTok and its parent company closer to institutions of government, including European lawmakers, leaders of both American political parties and even the White House.

Twitter pushes hate speech, extremist content into ‘For You’ pages The Washington Post Faiz Siddiqui and Jeremy B. Merrill Twitter is amplifying hate speech in its “For You” timeline, an unintended side effect of an algorithm that is supposed to show users more of what they want. According to a Washington Post analysis of Twitter’s recommendation algorithm, accounts that followed “extremists” — hate-promoting accounts identified in a list provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center — were subjected to a mix of other racist and incendiary speech. That included tweets from a self-proclaimed Nazi, for example, a user the account did not follow.

Elon Musk’s move to monetize Twitter’s blue check mark riles celebrities The Wall Street Journal Alexa Corse Twitter Inc.’s plan to remove legacy blue check marks for verified accounts heralds an end to a longtime social-media status symbol and is prompting complaints from some of the platform’s celebrity contributors concerned about potential impersonation. The departing system, in which Twitter verified notable accounts to confirm their authenticity by adding a blue check mark next to the user’s name, will give way starting April 1 to one in which users must purchase a subscription to be verified, the company has said. Twitter, which previously didn’t charge for verification, is only providing it now to those who pay $8 to $11 for a monthly subscription, depending on whether it is paid via mobile or web browser.

Google says Microsoft cloud practices are anti-competitive Reuters Foo Yun Chee Alphabet's Google Cloud has accused Microsoft of anti-competitive cloud computing practices and criticised imminent deals with several European cloud vendors, saying these do not solve broader concerns about its licensing terms. In Google Cloud's first public comments on Microsoft and its European deals its Vice President Amit Zavery told Reuters the company has raised the issue with antitrust agencies and urged European Union antitrust regulators to take a closer look.

Artificial Intelligence

Bing A.I. and the dawn of the post-search internet The New Yorker Kyle Chayka So much of the current Web was designed around aggregation. What value will legacy sites have when bots can do the aggregation for us? Instead of directing users to external sites, the new Bing can simply generate its own answers to any query. Google considers the tool to be an existential threat to its core business, for good reason.

Alphabet’s Google and DeepMind pause grudges, join forces to chase OpenAI The Information Jon Victor and Amir Efrati Software engineers at Google’s Brain AI group are working with employees at DeepMind, an AI lab that is a sibling company within Alphabet, to develop software to compete with OpenAI, according to two people with knowledge of the project. Known internally as Gemini, the joint effort began in recent weeks, after Google stumbled with Bard, its first attempt to compete with OpenAI’s chatbot.

Companies ax ‘ethical AI’ teams, just as the tech begins to take off The Washington Post Gerrit De Vynck and Will Oremus Twitch, Microsoft and Twitter are among firms that have laid off workers who studied the negative sides of AI. For much of the company’s 12-year history, women and people of color had argued the platform was biased. As part of its response, the company set up a responsible AI team to look specifically at the algorithms. But last week, the handful of people who made up the responsible AI team were laid off, part of a broader round of cuts that hit about 400 of the company’s 2,500 employees.

AI chatbots making it harder to spot phishing emails, say experts The Guardian Alex Hern and Dan Milmo Chatbots are taking away a key line of defence against fraudulent phishing emails by removing glaring grammatical and spelling errors, according to experts. The warning comes as policing organisation Europol issues an international advisory about the potential criminal use of ChatGPT and other “large language models”. Phishing emails are a well-known weapon of cybercriminals and fool recipients into clicking on a link that downloads malicious software or tricks them into handing over personal details such as passwords or pin numbers.


Malign creativity: How gender, sex, and lies are weaponized against women online Wilson Center Nina Jankowicz, Jillian Hunchak, Alexandra Pavliuc, Celia Davies, Shannon Pierson, Zoe Kaufmann In an analysis of online conversations about 13 female politicians across six social media platforms, totaling over 336,000 pieces of abusive content shared by over 190,000 users over a two-month period, the report defines, quantifies, and evaluates the use of online gendered and sexualized disinformation campaigns against women in politics and beyond.

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Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale ASE 2023 Amazon: 👇 Antonio Stango Editore 👇 To download the book index, preface and introduction:

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