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Do Kwon: Fugitive crypto mogul believed caught in Montenegro

Police believe they have arrested Do Kwon, the crypto boss accused of a multibillion-dollar fraud.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 24 Mar 2023 | 8:24 am

What to Know About the TikTok Security Concerns

TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew faced an extensive grilling from U.S. lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Thursday, amid a new wave of concerns about the app’s ties to China and the security of U.S. citizens’ data.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing came after the Biden Administration indicated it may ban the app outright in the U.S. if its Chinese owner, Bytedance, refused to sell its stake in TikTok to an American company.

TikTok, which has 150 million users in the U.S. alone, has emerged as one of the most contentious elements in the U.S.’s deepening rivalry with China. The Biden Administration, along with lawmakers on both sides of the House and Senate, say they are concerned about the implications of Americans’ data being accessed by the Chinese state, which could present a national security risk. China’s national security law requires companies to turn over customer data if requested by Beijing.
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Watch: TikTok CEO Testifies Before the House Energy and Commerce Committee

The controversy over TikTok is driving yet another wedge between the U.S. and China. Beijing said Thursday it would oppose any effort by Washington to force a sale of the app, suggesting that such a move could lead Chinese investors to retract their investments from the U.S. economy.

Ever since before the Trump Administration first threatened to ban TikTok in 2020, the company has denied accusations that it has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and that U.S. citizens’ data are at risk. It says it has since invested $1.5 billion dollars in a project to ensure sensitive user data is kept on U.S. soil, cannot be accessed from Beijing, and is subject to U.S. government audits. “TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government,” Shou said in written testimony ahead of Thursday’s hearing. “Nor would TikTok honor such a request if one were ever made.”

His efforts have done little to dispel concerns in Washington. While the congressional hearing on Thursday was reminiscent of earlier grillings on the hill of tech CEOs, with lawmakers often using props—large printouts or TikTok videos displayed on a big screen—to make their points, the unity of condemnation coming from both sides of the political aisle was remarkable. “We do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values,” Cathy Rodgers, the Republican chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said. “TikTok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation. Your platform should be banned.”

Here’s what to know about the debate over TikTok.

What is TikTok accused of?

The Biden Administration and the U.S. intelligence community are reportedly concerned about Americans’ data falling into Chinese hands because of the belief that this data could help China conduct influence operations aimed at the American public. TikTok’s demonstrable ability to amplify content directly to millions of users, including many children and teens, appears to have American officials worried that the Chinese state could compel TikTok to covertly influence the U.S. public.

Read More: Why the U.S. and Other Countries Want to Ban or Restrict TikTok

In 2019, the Guardian reported that TikTok had instructed its moderators to censor videos mentioning topics seen as controversial by the CCP, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and Tibetan independence. TikTok has said those guidelines are no longer in use, and in late 2022 videos of anti-government protests in China spread widely on the app.

“Our intelligence community has been very clear about China’s efforts and intention to mold the use of this technology using data in a worldview that is completely inconsistent with our own,” the U.S. deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco told the Wall Street Journal last month.

The director of the National Security Agency, Paul Nakasone, said earlier this month he was “concerned” about TikTok’s ability to influence the U.S. cultural conversation. “It’s not only the fact that you can influence something, but you can also turn off the message, as well, when you have such a large population of listeners,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

These fears have not only been stoked by politicians and the national security community, but also TikTok’s competitor Meta, which has sought to portray the platform as a danger to American children deserving of a ban, the Washington Post reported. Meta first launched Instagram Reels, a clone of TikTok, in 2020 when it appeared the Trump Administration may have been on the brink of banning the app.

Do the security concerns about TikTok hold water?

It’s impossible to say with certainty, because they are predictions about the future. But as well as there being little evidence (publicly available, at least,) that TikTok has engaged in narrative control on behalf of the CCP, there is also no evidence to show that TikTok has a clandestine connection to the Chinese state. “I’ve been trying for years to find any links to the Chinese state,” the journalist Chris Stokel-Walker, who has written a book about TikTok’s rise, wrote in BuzzFeed News this week. “I’ve spoken to scores of TikTok employees, past and present, in pursuit of such a connection. But I haven’t discovered it. I can’t say that link doesn’t exist … But none of us has found the smoking gun.”

Still, TikTok has a long list of very real privacy scandals under its belt. In December 2022, the company admitted that employees had spied on reporters using location data, in an attempt to track down the source of leaked information. Those employees were fired, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance said. TikTok also reportedly planned to surveil the locations of specific U.S. citizens using location data from their devices, Forbes reported last October.

Read More: TikTok Has Started Collecting Your ‘Faceprints’ and ‘Voiceprints.’ Here’s What It Could Do With Them

TikTok also engages in what some observers have called invasive tracking measures against ordinary users. These tactics include prompting users to let TikTok harvest their phone contacts lists, as a way of connecting users who already know each other on the app. Even if you refuse to give TikTok access to your contacts, it will still prompt you to follow people who have your number in their phone contacts lists.

But these growth-hacking measures are hardly any worse than what other homegrown social media companies like Meta do. And the systemic issue behind those more benign privacy violations isn’t TikTok’s relationship with China. It’s the fact that the U.S. has no comprehensive privacy legislation, allowing social media apps to operate in an effective Wild West when it comes to collecting and monetizing user data. “If you think the U.S. needs a TikTok ban and not a comprehensive privacy law regulating data brokers, you don’t care about privacy, you just hate that a Chinese company has built a dominant social media platform,” Eva Galperin, the director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote on Twitter.

“While Congress has been up in arms about TikTok, it has failed to pass even the most basic comprehensive privacy legislation to protect our data from being misused by all the tech companies that collect and mine it,” Julia Angwin, the founder of investigative tech news site The Markup, wrote in a New York Times opinion piece. “When you dig into the national security allegations against TikTok, it is telling that most of the charges could just as easily be levied against the U.S. tech giants.”

Source: Tech – TIME | 24 Mar 2023 | 7:56 am

TikTok’s Moderator Reverses Vow to Exit ‘Egregious’ Content

Teleperformance, the company used by TikTok and others to police their feeds for illegal and harmful content, has backtracked on a 4-month-old pledge to workers that it would give up reviewing extreme posts.

It made the decision to maintain the practice after conducting internal audits and third-party reviews, “with a special focus on its people management and workplace practices,” Teleperformance said in a statement late Wednesday. Shares fell as much as 7.8% in Paris on Thursday, to a four-month low.

The change of plan highlights the challenges online platforms face in protecting their users from disturbing content, a function that’s typically offloaded to contractors. While AI systems can help reduce moderators’ exposure to extreme material, they aren’t good enough to completely eliminate the need for human review.
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The Paris-based contractor said in November it would exit the “highly egregious part of the trust and safety business,” after a report that employees were subject to occupational trauma from monitoring disturbing images of violence, suicide and animal cruelty.

Read More: Behind TikTok’s Boom: A Legion of Traumatized, $10-A-Day Content Moderators

But Teleperformance continued to ask employees in Tunisia to review posts that included child sexual abuse, animal abuse, gore and violence, people familiar with the matter said in a Bloomberg News report on Monday. Chief Financial Officer Olivier Rigaudy had said that the company was continuing to honor existing contracts, and that it was also struggling to define “highly egregious” which has different connotations in different cultures and under disparate legal systems.

“Teleperformance is now convinced that it is in the best interest of the billions of people that are online every day that Teleperformance continues to serve the content moderation needs of its clients in full and not exit any part of the business,” it said in the statement.

Stifel analyst Simon Lechipre said in a note that Teleperformance’s U-turn “sends a confusing message overall” that “could be taken negatively by some investors.”

Nicole Manion at UBS agreed, saying that investors “may be concerned” both about exposure of content moderators to highly egregious content and the “reversal of the previous announcement that was seen to provide clarity on their position on this issue.”

Teleperformance said it made the decision after seeking third-party reviews of its practices from some of its clients, consulting firm Korn Ferry and audit company Bureau Veritas SA.

— With assistance from Henry Ren.

Source: Tech – TIME | 24 Mar 2023 | 6:11 am

The Anti-Drone Arms Race: Inside the Fight to Protect the World’s Skies

On the top floor of a squat Singapore industrial estate, wedged between a railway depot and water reclamation plant, is a young security firm that’s shooting for the stars. Well, shooting for anything beneath the stars that shouldn’t be there, technically speaking. TRD is one of the world’s leading purveyors of anti-drone technology—a burgeoning industry worth some $1.1 billion last year and projected to grow to $7.4 billion by 2032.

“Anti-drone is the hot topic right now,” says TRD CEO Sam Ong, a former officer in the Singapore Armour Corps, where he specialized in tank technology. “Unmanned warfare is taking center stage, especially in the Ukraine war.”
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Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has raised the profile of drone warfare, with some 600 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from both sides estimated to take flight above the beleaguered country every day. The potential for UAVs to tip the geopolitical needle was spotlighted by the downing of a U.S. military drone by a Russian fighter last week—the full consequences of which have not yet become apparent.

But the threat from drones is far broader. Commercial drones are typically sold with preset “geofencing” that prevent their flight near sensitive locations—however, these guardrails are easily hacked. In recent years, drones have smuggled drugs across borders and into prisons; disrupted countless sporting events; and attempted to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. In June, a kamikaze drone struck Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, sparking a large blaze. UAVs have proven a regular menace at airports. (Closing Dubai International Airport for a drone incursion, for example, costs $100,000 every minute.) Drone threat intelligence firm DroneSec recorded 2,554 major illicit drone incidents in 2022—a 60% year-over-year rise.

Ultimately, today’s proliferation of cheap UAVs means anything worth guarding by a regular fence—whether power plant, university, prison, or private residence—also requires protection from the skies above. Actually doing so, though, is not so easy. When North Korea sent five drones over its southern border in December, South Korean Airforce jets and attack helicopters chased them fruitlessly for five hours, firing over 100 rounds, but they all returned home unharmed. One of the South Korean jets crashed, however, prompting President Yoon Suk-yeol to bemoan his military’s readiness was “greatly lacking.”

Enter firms like TRD—the initials stand for “tiny red dot,” a self-deprecating nickname for Singapore—which Ong founded in 2011. It deploys either fixed, vehicle-mounted or hand-held Orion “drone-slayer” devices that interfere with drones’ internal navigation and force them to either drop or veer off-course. Business is booming; TRD saw revenue of $30 million last year with Ong aiming for $150 million by 2026, with offices and representatives across Southeast Asia, the Gulf, Europe and the Americas.

But technology is just one aspect of this contest. Regulations covering counter-drone technology vary greatly between legal jurisdictions. Police in the Netherlands are even training eagles to swoop on aberrant drones. Currently, the U.S. has few restrictions on the flight of drones over private property, while the deployment of anti-UAV systems is severely curtailed. This is a boon for drone delivery start-ups, but comes with a tradeoff for privacy and law enforcement

“The law is just really not clear about your rights in relation to aircraft flying above your property,” says Robert Heverly, an associate professor at Albany Law School, and an expert on U.S. drone regulations. “Something is going to need to be sorted out by the courts.”

Aircraft Displays And Exhibits at the Singapore Airshow
SeongJoon Cho—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesAn attendee tries out a TRD Orion-H Drone Slayer at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

While actually shooting down a drone is known as a “hard kill” solution, firms like TRD specialize in “soft kill” options. There are typically three techniques: “jamming,” which involves cutting the drone’s GPS signal, so it gets disorientated and lands or goes home; “spoofing,” or feeding the drone a false GPS signal so it deviates course; and “protocol manipulation,” where you hack the drone and control it rather than the original operator.

Jamming is by far the simplest of the trio and the industry standard. Currently, TRD systems are employed at Singapore’s Changi Airport—voted the world’s best by Skytrax for the 12th time this year—to prevent any pesky drones interfering with flight patterns. TRD was also enlisted to protect dignitaries at last year’s APEC summit in Bangkok and previously during Pope Francis’s visit to Myanmar in 2017.

Ong is currently in talks to install anti-drone technology on a Middle Eastern sultan’s yacht and along Saudi Arabia’s long, porous border. That would ostensibly protect its key infrastructure from threats such as Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are currently battling a Saudi-led military coalition, and have used drone attacks against airports and oil facilities in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. Ong has also been in discussion with the U.S. government about deploying TRD systems in Ukraine. “They asked [how we could help] and are evaluating what we have,” he says.

Deployment of anti-UAV systems can be politically sensitive. Back in 2015, as tourists flocked to newly reopened Myanmar following democratic reforms, Ong was asked to help protect the capital’s Shwedagon Pagoda—the nation’s most sacred Buddhist site—from the swarm of amateur drones buzzing its gilded stupa. It was TRD’s maiden project, whose success prompted a contract with the Myanmar police force to supply hand-held Orion anti-drone guns, ostensibly to safeguard VIPs. A photo of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi giving a speech has pride of place in Ong’s office.

However, since Myanmar’s military coup of 2021, Suu Kyi languishes in prison and both the nation’s military and its democratic resistance have wielded drone attacks on each other. On Oct. 28, one rebel group claimed that a modified drone killed five government soldiers by dropping four primed M9 rifle grenades. Meanwhile, TRD’s government contracts led democracy activists to accuse the firm of helping the junta carry out human rights abuses.

Ong says that he has ceased all business with Myanmar state organs following the coup and turned down a contract to install an anti-drone system at Yangon’s civilian airport. He doesn’t even carry out maintenance work on previously supplied stock. “We do not do business with any country that is under U.N. sanctions,” he says. “For TRD, our motto is ‘making life safer.’”

Carl de Souza—AFP/Getty Images A security agent walks with an anti-drone gun during President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s inauguration ceremony in Brasilia, on January 1, 2023.

How to keep Americans safe from UAVs is a headache for policymakers. In the U.S., operators of all but the smallest drones require a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) license, though enforcement is lax. Powerful hobby drones, such as those produced by Shenzhen-based DJI, can be bought online with just a couple of clicks. It’s then relatively simple to mount these with sensors, payloads, or simply a grenade for a rudimentary kamikaze attack.

“Despite the low cost of the drone, if you hit a power plant, or if you hit an oil tanker, the return is extremely high,” says Ong. There’s also an extra propaganda element. Traditional suicide bombers don’t usually get the opportunity to both film and post their attack. But a kamikaze attack drone typically comes with an embedded camera to livestream its assault. “The psychological effect acts as a multiplier,” says Ong. “And you create fear in the defender.”

However, neither American private property owners nor at-risk businesses, such as sports stadiums, have powers to deploy counter-UAV technology. Not even state or local authorities can. Under U.S. law, drones are considered small aircraft and to interfere with their flight would carry similar penalties as messing with a commercial jetliner. There is good reason: imagine that a farmer gets peeved by a large drone worrying his animals and takes aim with a shotgun, winging it. That drone could spin out of control and end up crashing into a populated area or tearing into a commercial flight path. Using anti-drone spoofing, likewise, could potentially cause a UAV to take a dangerous diversion and is a violation of federal law.

In 2018, Congress gave the Department of Justice and entities under it certain authorities to use counter-drone technology. All that private citizens or state officials can do is request that DoJ entities use anti-UAV systems on their behalf, but there’s a lengthy process for designating assets as needing protection. Last April, the White House issued a Domestic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan in an effort to spur legislation that would allow state, local, territorial and tribal authorities to be able to use counter-UAV technologies. “But right now, they don’t have that authority,” says Heverly.

This is partly to protect the interests of companies like Flytrex, which is one of five drone delivery firms currently operating with FAA approval, and has four stations operating in North Carolina and Texas which deliver food; an Uber Eats of the sky. Flytrek completed more than 21,000 deliveries to paying customers last year. The rules of operators of commercial drone fleets are similarly stringent to those for an air carrier: both pilots and aircraft must submit to regular inspection, as do their training and maintenance regiments.

Flytrex cofounder and CEO Yariv Bash says every effort is made to avoid becoming a target. Flytrek drones travel at around 300 feet and hover at 80 feet when making a delivery, dropping their package via a winch, meaning they are barely visible or audible to neighbors lounging in adjacent gardens. A proliferation of anti-UAV systems would be a significant problem—and not just for the firm. “If someone tries to jam us there’s also a good chance that he’ll also be jamming a low-flying commercial airplane above,” says Bash.

Flytrex Drone Food Delivery Service As Autonomous Last Mile Delivery Market Grows
Allison Joyce—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesFood is loaded into a Flytrex drone for delivery in Holly Springs, North Carolina, US, on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2023.

Drone and anti-drone systems are a constant technological cat and mouse, similar to virus and antivirus software. As soon as a new drone comes on the market, Ong orders his team to purchase it so they can see how well their systems cope and make necessary adjustments. Then you have the prevalence of DIY drones—cobbled together from parts ordered online—that may not behave according to any previously encountered. “I always ask clients, ‘how long for approval, tender, evaluation?’” says Ong. “Because in one year the system may be obsolete.”

The latest threats are swarm drone attacks—which overwhelm defenses with sheer numbers—as well as next generation UAVs that don’t use radio signals at all, but instead navigate via AI-powered visual recognition software. Other leading edge drones use inertial navigation systems based on gyroscopes and velocity meters, and so they don’t require external guidance via GPS.

“Drone and anti-drone is a competition,” says Ong, “You must be very fast and nimble.”

Source: Tech – TIME | 24 Mar 2023 | 4:29 am

Could the US government actually block people from accessing TikTok altogether?

The US government is threatening to ban TikTok - how would that work?

Source: BBC News - Technology | 24 Mar 2023 | 3:15 am

Watch Live: TikTok CEO Testifies Before the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Source: Tech – TIME | 24 Mar 2023 | 3:03 am

ChatGPT bug leaked users' conversation histories

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Source: BBC News - Technology | 23 Mar 2023 | 4:03 pm

Into the ‘lion’s den’: Questions the TikTok CEO will face from Congress today over a possible ban

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Source: BBC News - Technology | 23 Mar 2023 | 12:00 pm

Amazon, Valentino file joint lawsuit over shoes counterfeiting

Italian luxury brand Valentino and Internet giant Amazon have filed a joint lawsuit against New York-based Kaitlyn Pan Group for allegedly counterfeiting Valentino's shoes and offering them for sale online.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 19 Jun 2020 | 2:48 am

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Source: Reuters: Technology News | 19 Jun 2020 | 2:44 am

UK ditches COVID-19 app model to use Google-Apple system

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Source: Reuters: Technology News | 19 Jun 2020 | 2:42 am

Russia lifts ban on Telegram messaging app after failing to block it

Russia on Thursday lifted a ban on the Telegram messaging app that had failed to stop the widely-used programme operating despite being in force for more than two years.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 19 Jun 2020 | 1:54 am

Galaxy S9's new rival? OnePlus 6 will be as blazingly fast but with 256GB storage

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Intel: We now won't ever patch Spectre variant 2 flaw in these chips

A handful of CPU families that Intel was due to patch will now forever remain vulnerable.

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Neglecting some basic issues could leave your cloud computing project struggling.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 4 Apr 2018 | 10:34 pm

GDS loses government data policy to DCMS

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Europol operation nabs another 20 cyber criminals

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Business unaware of scale of cyber threat

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UK government secures public sector discounts on Microsoft cloud products to April 2021

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Amazon plans fix for Echo speakers that expose children to explicit songs

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Driverless 'Roborace' car makes street track debut

It is a car kitted out with technology its developers boldly predict will transform our cities and change the way we live.

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How to outsmart fake news in your Facebook feed

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Flying a sports car with wings

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Revealed: Winners of the 'Oscars of watches'

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