Protego Press Round Up: April 23, 2019

While the political world is enthralled with the release of the Mueller report late last week, several important tech policy items may have been overlooked.  Be it privacy laws, social media’s issues, cyberwar and cyber threats, lots of news this past week, captured in this installment of the Protego Press Roundup.

In Case You Missed It: Voter data privacy laws are falling behind in the digital age. These rarely-enforced laws are critical to protecting the integrity of our elections, write Sarah Hunt and Veronika Velch. In The Future of Data Privacy, Hunt and Velch examine Canada’s recently passed legislation regulating how personal data about individuals can be bought and sold without informed consent and look at if these laws potentially provide a global framework.

Social Media and Terrorism:  Sri Lankan officials blocked social media services like Facebook and WhatsApp following deadly Easter Sunday bombings that killed nearly 300 people, in an effort to prevent the spread of misinformation. The move, first reported by internet monitoring group NetBlocks.  The move, however, was controversial. Some, including including Kara Swisher, may have first thought the block was “good.”  However, Facebook warned that Sri Lanka’s block of its services could prevent families trying to get in touch with their loved ones. And, digital rights and press freedom advocates warned the move echos actions by authoritarian-leaning countries to rein in social media when it challenged their ability to control information. Meanwhile, others, It may have also been ineffective, as thousands of Sri Lankans used VPNs to get around the block. Google trends recorded up to a 2000 per cent spike in searches related to the technology.

Russia’s Work With Cyber Criminals: The Russian government is increasingly partnering with cyber criminals in its online espionage efforts, Obama administration national security official John Carlin told “60 Minutes” Sunday. Carlin went on to say that “Increasingly, you cannot tell which is which when it comes to the criminal and the intelligence agency.”  The 60 Minutes episode focuses on why U.S.intelligence officials agree on is that Russia’s cyber espionage efforts constitute one of the greatest threats we face as a nation.

Social Media Conspiracies: In the wake of the Notre Dame fire, hoaxes and misinformation quickly spread, as online conspiracists baselessly tried to blame the fire on their political opponents. False claims surrounding the fire have found a home on sites like 4chan, Twitter, Reddit, and InfoWars. And a  “misguided algorithm” on YouTube was blamed for information about the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. to be included alongside live streams of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

TikTok Banned in India.  TikTok, the popular Chinese social networking app that lets users post videos of themselves set to music, has been banned in India, the company’s largest market.  Google and Apple pulled TikTok from the Play and the App stores in the country following orders from an Indian High Court, which said that the app exposed Indians to pornography and could expose children to sexual predators.  MediaNama provides an in-depth look at the Court’s ruling, and potential implications to tech companies in India.

Anti-Fake News As Military Simulation: Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced that this year the simulated invasion and computer-assisted counter measures will include the first ever exercises aimed at combatting disinformation and “fake news” online. The strategies reportedly involve using Taiwan’s computing capabilities to quickly analyze the online source and geographic location of potentially threatening information.

Huawei and US Enterprise:   U.S. energy regulators are pursuing a risky plan to share with electric utilities a secret “don’t buy” list of foreign technology suppliers, according to multiple sources. The move reflects the federal government’s growing concern that hackers and foreign spies are targeting America’s vital energy infrastructure. Joseph McClelland, director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Infrastructure Security, told a Department of Energy advisory committee last month that officials are working on “an open-source procurement list” for utilities to use when deciding where to source their software and equipment.

Meanwhile, American intelligence shown to Britain says that Huawei has taken money from the People’s Liberation Army, China’s National Security Commission and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, according to a UK source. The US shared the claims with Britain and its other partners in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance — Australia, New Zealand and Canada — earlier this year, with the UK entering the final stages of a wider review into its next generation mobile network rollout.

Additional Quick Hits:

Protego Press’ Co-Editor in Chief Renee Diresta links the Mueller report back to the Senate report focused on the IRA’s role in the 2016 election.

Sidewalk Labs,  is now trying to reinvent signage for smart cities. These signs aren’t to direct the flow of traffic, or to point the way to urban landmarks — they’re designed to let citizens know when they’re being monitored.

Are airlines using facial recognition to verify user identity vai data provided by the US Government?

Microsoft rebuffed a request from a US police agency to install its facial recognition software on officers’ car and body cameras.

A highly advanced hacker group, likely backed by a nation-state, has targeted 40 government and intelligence agencies, telecom firms and internet giants in 13 countries for more than two years.

100 car2go Mercedes were hijacked in Chicago crime spree