China’s drones and your data


The Department of Homeland Security is warning that Chinese-made drones may be allowing China to steal sensitive data. The U.S. Army had already banned Chinese-made drones in 2017, saying that the drones shared sensitive data with the Chinese government.

Google suspends some business with Huawei


Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing. This is a major blow to the Chinese tech company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.

Away with you, Huawei


On the surface, it would seem that blacklisting Huawei and other Chinese businesses is a good thing. After all, Huawei is widely suspected of being a cover for Chinese espionage. But it’s not that simple. In addition to probably leading to Huawei’s destruction, the move could also depress the business of American chip giants like Qualcomm and Micron Technology, and potentially disrupt the global rollout of 5G wireless networks.

Brian Klaas: Deepfakes are coming. We’re not ready.


“If 2016 was the election of “fake news,” 2020 has the potential to be the election of “deepfakes,” the new phenomenon of bogus videos created with the help of artificial intelligence. It’s becoming easier and cheaper to create such videos. Soon, those with even a rudimentary technical knowledge will be able to fabricate videos that are so true to life that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether the video is real.”

San Fran bans facial recognition tech


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday enacted the first ban by a major city on the use of facial recognition technology by police and all other municipal agencies. Matt Cagle, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, summed up the broad concerns of critics Tuesday. Facial recognition technology, he said, “provides government with unprecedented power to track people going about their daily lives. That’s incompatible with a healthy democracy.”

Israeli spyware installed in phones through WhatsApp


WhatsApp admitted a major cybersecurity breach that has enabled targeted spyware to be installed on phones through voice calls. The security vulnerability affects both iPhone and Android devices, with malicious code (allegedly) from Israel’s NSO Group, transmitted whether or not a user answers an infected call.

Myanmar plane lands without front wheels


A Myanmar pilot was forced to improvise after his aircraft’s landing gear failed, safely putting the jet on the runway with no front wheels on Sunday, an official said. The miracle landing, in which none of the 89 passengers were hurt, was the second instance of a malfunctioning flight in Myanmar in less than a week.

Crippling ransomware attacks targeting cities


Targeted ransomware attacks on local U.S. government entities — cities, police stations, and schools — are on the rise, costing localities millions as some pay off the perpetrators in an effort to untangle themselves and restore vital systems. The tally by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future found that at least 170 county, city, or state government systems have been attacked since 2013, including at least 45 police and sheriff’s offices.

Jeff Bezos expands his vision of space travel


Jeff Bezos has set his sights on the moon and unveiled a new moon lander that he calls, “Blue Moon”. Bezos’ Blue Origin space exploration company may be one of the private companies that could deliver American astronauts back to the moon in the coming years.

Facebook allows the Trump campaign to run false ads with no repercussions


Popular Information identified hundreds of Trump campaign Facebook ads targeting women in Texas that violated Facebook’s ad policies. After the non-profit contacted Facebook, the company acknowledged those ads violated its rules and took them offline. However, the campaign keeps employing the exact same tactics, and the few ads that do get taken down barely leave a dent in the massive “alternative fact” machine.

China Mobile denied by FCC


China Mobile’s bid to provide U.S. telecommunications services was denied by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC voted unanimously to keep China Mobile out of the U.S. over national security concerns.

Twitter suspends over 160,000 accounts for terrorism content


Twitter is making progress on tackling online terrorism content on its platform as it suspended over 166,000 accounts in the second half of last year. Together with other large tech companies, Twitter is under pressure from regulators and governments all over the world to remove extremist content more rapidly or face more heavy-handed legislation.

Facebook co-founder: It’s time to break it up


“Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.”

Huawei CFO set to appear in Canada court


Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is set to appear in a Canadian court on Wednesday to begin what is expected to be a long legal battle against the United States’ request that she be extradited to face fraud charges. The case that has escalated tensions between China and the United States, who are already in the middle of contentious trade dispute.

Facebook talked privacy, Google built it


Google introduced a set of tools spanning a range of its products to provide users with more control over their data and make it more difficult to track their online activities. And while Mark Zuckerberg was making a big deal about how “the future is private,” Sundar Pichai said ‘the present is private.’

Google’s Sundar Pichai: Privacy should not be a luxury good


“It’s a trust we match with a profound commitment to responsibility and a healthy dose of humility. Many words have been written about privacy over the past year, including in these pages. I believe it’s one of the most important topics of our time…Even as we make privacy and security advances in our own products, we know the kind of privacy we all want as individuals relies on the collaboration and support of many institutions, like legislative bodies and consumer organizations.”

Tom Wheeler: Fast technology vs. slow democracy


“By taking action to meet the problems of the industrial era…the nation’s leaders turned technology-driven challenges into American success stories. At the heart of such success was the creation of new public interest rules reflecting new business and technology realities. The resulting policies seem second nature to us today: antitrust enforcement, consumer protection, and worker protection. These new rules did not restructure the economy nor inhibit innovation, but they did put guardrails in place to temper the instinct to excess that is inherent in unsupervised capitalism. The result was unprecedented economic growth for all. Today, we need a similar reconsideration and restructuring of the rules of economic behavior.”

WaPo: China’s high-tech repression threatens human freedom everywhere


“Far from hiding this totalitarianism of the 21st century, Beijing is seeking to export it to other countries. That’s one reason what is happening in Xinjiang ought to be disturbing to anyone concerned about preserving basic freedoms as technology rapidly evolves. There are concrete steps that can be taken, from banning the sale to China of equipment that can be used in this repression, to sanctioning its architects — including Xinjiang party boss Chen Quanguo. Legislation pending in Congress, including the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, is a start; it should be taken up and passed.”

Bret Stephens: Facebook’s unintended consequence


“The issue isn’t whether the people in question deserve censure. They do. Or that the forms of speech in which they traffic have redeeming qualities. They don’t…The deeper problem is the overwhelming concentration of technical, financial and moral power in the hands of people who lack the training, experience, wisdom, trustworthiness, humility and incentives to exercise that power responsibly.”

Boeing 737 slides off runway in Florida, 21 hurt


A Boeing 737 with more than 100 people on board overshot the runway at Jacksonville airport and crashed into the St. Johns River late Friday evening. There were 136 passengers and seven crew members aboard the aircraft, and all were safe and accounted for, officials said.

The downside of smart cities


While AI-powered smart city technology, currently in use in some Asian cities, provides insights into how a city is operating, the use of facial recognition and surveillance projects have come under heavy scrutiny from civil liberties advocates. What if they make their way here? “It’s not difficult to imagine the potential for abuse that would exist if a platform like this were brought to the U.S. with no civilian and governmental regulations or oversight,” said security researcher John Wethington.

Ignoring Navy’s advice, Trump reallocates funds wanted for cybersecurity


Donald Trump is still fighting the last century’s wars. A March report from the U.S. Navy said, “Navies must become information enterprises.” But on Tuesday, Trump reversed his decision to retire a 21-year-old nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, costing the Navy more than $20 billion it had planned to spend on advanced technologies.

UN calls for Julian Assange’s release from UK jail


UN experts have called for Julian Assange to be released from prison and accused the British government of breaching his human rights. Assange is technically only in jail for breaching the terms of his bail, and the UN working group on arbitrary detention believes a disproportionate sentence has been imposed upon the WikiLeaks founder.

Facebook settlement may include privacy oversight


Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission are negotiating a possible settlement that would require the company to create an independent privacy oversight committee and take other steps to safeguard users. The potential agreement between the company and the FTC is in addition to the $3 billion Facebook said it would set aside last week to cover settlements with U.S. regulators.

Putin signs law to isolate Russian internet


Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will tighten government control over the internet. The new law would provide for central control of all internet traffic, and remove the need for data to be sent to and received from overseas servers. This control would clearly introduce traffic monitoring and stark censorship of sites that could be visited by Russian users.

Facebook is preparing for a major overhaul


Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he’s rebuilding the world’s biggest social network around “privacy first.” The social media giant is trying to close out an era in which the social network became virtually synonymous with privacy failures and misinformation, but the effectiveness of this strategy is yet to be seen.

Boeing finds another 737 Max software problem


Boeing admitted Monday that a previously-undisclosed software problem stopped certain safety alerts from flashing up as expected. Said alerts could have warned pilots that the plane’s stall-prevention system, suspected to have been involved in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, was about to misfire.

Kalev Leetaru: The outsized impact of Twitter on democracy


“For Twitter to see the core underpinnings of democracy through the lens of ‘fake news’ is truly frightening and reminds us that it either doesn’t take its role in democracy seriously or that it takes it so seriously that it is afraid of reminding society how much power it truly wields over the future of the nation itself. In the end, as the Washington Post’s motto reminds us, ‘democracy dies in darkness.’ It is time for us to shed far more light on social media’s impact on democracy.”

Why doesn’t Twitter treat white supremacy like ISIS?


In short, because it means the company would have to ban some Republican politicians. A company official said when the platform aggressively enforces against content, it can also flag innocent accounts, and society generally accepts the benefit of banning, say, ISIS for inconveniencing others. But with white supremacy, Republican politicians could get swept up by the algorithms, and banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted as a fair trade-off. So it looks like we’re stuck with @realdonaldtrump.

Arjun Bisen: Disinfo is drowning democracy


“From India to Indonesia to Brazil, democracy is being compromised by online domestic disinformation campaigns from political parties seeking to gain an advantage. Democratic institutions have not been able to keep up and have instead deferred to tech firms, trusting them to referee online behavior. But this is a task far beyond the limited capabilities and narrow motivations of companies such as Facebook and Twitter. If the democratic recession is to end, democratic institutions need to create new rules and hold the responsible parties to account.”

Facebook breached Canada’s privacy laws


Even more trouble for Facebook. Canada’s federal privacy watchdog wants to take Facebook to Federal Court following an investigation that found the social media giant broke a number of privacy laws and failed to take responsibility in protecting Canadians’ personal information.

Global effort to stop spread of terror on social media


In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that she and French President Emmanuel Macron will lead a global effort to stop social media from promoting terrorism. Freedom watchdog groups worry they could enact laws and regulations that infringe on people’s privacy and freedom of expression, but Ardern says their efforts will uphold the principles of a free Internet.

UK will allow Huawei to build parts of its 5G network


Britain will allow Huawei a restricted role in building parts of its 5G network, seeking a middle ground in a bitter dispute between the United States and China over the next generation of communications technology. Huawei is under intense scrutiny after the United States told allies not to use its technology because of fears it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying.

Trump meets Jack Twitter


It’s not Tim Apple…it’s Jack Twitter! Actually Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, who met with Donald Trump at the White House today, just hours after Trump accused the social media company of “discriminatory” behavior toward conservative users. After the meeting, Trump tweeted, “Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!”