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U.S. Panel Warns Against Purchasing Tech From China

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The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission gave a warning of dangers to the US government and private sector from a reliance on global supply chains linked to China, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of information technology equipment. 

It appears that China’s aggressive push to dominate the high-tech industry by 2025 already is a sore point with Washington and a contributing factor in trade tensions that have seen the world’s two largest economies slap billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on each other’s products this year. 

The US also has had long-running concerns about state-backed cyber theft of corporate secrets, something that China agreed to stop in 2015. But the bipartisan commission highlights the potential security risks to the United States by China’s pre-eminence in the so-called Internet of Things, or IoT.

China’s role as an economic and military competitor to the United States creates enormous economic, security, supply chain, and data privacy risks for the United States,” the report says.

The commission, is warning that the potential impact of malicious cyberattacks through such systems will intensify with the adoption of ultra-fast 5G networks that could quicken data speeds by up to 100 times.  

Their report says “The lax security protections and universal connectivity of IoT devices creates numerous points of vulnerability that hackers or malicious state actors can exploit to hold US critical infrastructure, businesses, and individuals at risk,”

The United States has already restricted government procurement from Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE, which deny their products are used for spying by China’s authoritarian government. 

In June, the Defense Department suspended the purchase of all commercial, off-the-shelf drones until a cybersecurity risk assessment strategy was established. In 2017, US customs authorities alleged that drones produced by Chinese company DJI, which has dominated the US and Canadian drone markets, likely provided China with access to US critical infrastructure and law enforcement data. DJI denied the allegation. 

The commission is calling for Congress to push for assessments by US government agencies on their supply chain vulnerabilities.

China’s World’s First AI News Anchor

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China’s Xinhua News Agency has debuted an artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor on Wednesday as the state-run media organization seeks to bring a “brand new” news experience to the world.

A report posted on YouTube by New China TV features a life-like, English-speaking “AI anchor” modeled after one of Xinhua’s actual presenters named Qiu Hao.

Explaining he is programmed to read texts typed into his system, the digital presenter said he would deliver the news without interruption.

“I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” it said.

According to the South China Morning Post, Xinhua said its new AI anchors have officially become members of the Xinhua News Agency reporting team and will work with other anchors to bring authoritative, timely and accurate news information in both Chinese and English.

It was also hinted that AI anchors may one day “challenge” their human counterparts because of their ability to work 24 hours a day provided human editors keep inputting text into the system.

 

Gaming Giant Using Facial Recognition To Combat Gaming Addiction

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Chinese internet giant Tencent began trialling a facial recognition age-check system to limit the amount of time kids spend playing its Honor of Kings online game. As a result of the Chinese government’s growing restrictions on video games, Tencent is verifying players’ ages by matching their faces to government records. The time allotted to children is based on their ages. The government has cited over-gaming – especially Honor of Kings, which grossed almost USD 2 billion last year – as causing widespread myopia, lack of focus in school, and even a national security risk by distracting its soldiers!

The World Health Organization officially classified ‘gaming addiction’ as a mental disorder; the nation of France banned smartphones in school.

Mishandled CIA Communications System Helped Blow Cover of Chinese Agents

New report has described how a catastrophic failure on the part of the Central Intelligence Agency, combined with the Chinese government’s steadily more sophisticated internet monitoring capabilities, led to the dramatic collapse of an American intelligence network in China and the executions of dozens of spies and their associates. The incident is just one example of how authorities in Beijing are overseeing the creation of an ever more effective police state, complete with technology and tactics straight out of a certain genre of near-future science fiction movie.

It is considered as one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically broke up the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies. But since then, a question has loomed over the entire debacle.

Foreign Policy revealed how Chinese state security officials were able to completely demolish a CIA-run intelligence operation over the course of two years, beginning in 2010.  The New York Times first broke the news of the debacle in 2017, but its sources either did not disclose or did not know exactly what had happened or the true scale of China’s response. In May 2018, U.S. officials charged former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee with conspiracy to commit espionage over the affair, nearly five months after indicting him for retaining classified information.

The CIA turned to the FBI to help uncover the source of the leak, according to the report. That investigation helped turn up Lee, who allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars to deliver information to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, which oversees both foreign and internal intelligence operations.

Xinjiang, where Uighurs, a non-Chinese Turkic ethnic group that is predominantly Muslim, make up the bulk of the population, has been an ideal setting to test out new equipment and concepts of operation far from both Han Chinese and outside observers.

To help exercise social control, China has put into place one of the most elaborate surveillance architectures in the world, complete with omnipresent cameras connected to monitoring stations running advanced facial recognition software, checkpoints with paramilitary police, and a system of systems all tied to a government-issued identification card that includes a “score” of how much a threat an individual poses to the state. Authorities have also begun implementing mass biometric data collection, including blood and DNA samples, to go along with other official information on file. All this can limit a person’s ability to buy goods and services or get a job.

The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

An archway with no less than seven cameras in front of the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgarin in Xinjiang.

After a spate of knife attacks in Xinjiang by alleged separatists, Chinese officials instituted a policy where cutlery vendors must physically laser-etch a QR code linked the buyer’s ID into the blade.

In July 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that some 11,500 Uighurs that the Chinese government had approved to go on the Hajj, the sacred Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, had to carry special cards with a GPS tracker inside on a lanyard around their necks. Ostensibly for their own safety in the event of some sort of crisis, this system would obviously be able to monitor their every movement and it seems likely that anyone who decided to leave it behind would, if nothing else, take a serious hit on their social scorecard.

The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

A security guards man a checkpoint with a metal detector and an ID scanning system in a shopping mall in Xinjiang’s Kashgarin.

 Recently added in Xinjiang itself are small drones shaped like birds with realistically flapping wings, according to a June 2018 report from the South China Morning Post. These “Doves” can fly for thirty minutes and carry a small, color video camera and an ability to transmit the feed down to an individual on the ground. It reportedly has a GPS antenna and could be able to fly a pre-programmed route or operate under line-of-sight control.

The Chinese are “applying a very, very broad attempted solution to what they see as an ideological danger,” James Millward, who teaches Chinese history at The Georgetown University, told The Atlantic earlier in August 2018. “In Xinjiang, the definition of extremism has expanded so far as to incorporate.

Northwestern Polytechnical University

China’s “Dove” drone, a product of the country’s Northwestern Polytechnical University.

 

Imaginechina via AP

Chinese police officers and dogs, all with cameras, in Tiananmen Square.

China’s Police are now wearing Google Glass-style headsets with similar recognition capabilities to spot repeat offenders for crimes as minor as jaywalking. In the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, public restrooms use facial recognition software to give out only a specific amount of toilet paper per person. Even the police dogs have cameras.

 

 

Chinese Bust Online Cryptocurrency Betting Ring

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Chinese police have broken up an illegal World Cup gambling ring hosting more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) worth of cryptocurrency bets, in the first major sports betting crime involving digital money in the country. The gambling platform ran on the dark web, which isn’t indexed by traditional search engines. During the eight months of the gambling platform’s operation, the site attracted 330,000 registered users from numerous countries, and built an army of over 8,000 agents who earned commissions for recruiting new members through a pyramid scheme.

AI Is Changing The Economy & The Way We Do Business

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Artificial intelligence can help researchers identify diseases before they happen, reducing treatment costs. Whether it is advanced data analytics or an increased use of robots in surgery, AI can be a set of tools that can assist or help doctors provide care. AI tools can also help to halt the rise of healthcare costs in several ways: they can assist surgeons in complicated surgeries; and reduce human errors by assisting in diagnoses. The predictive capabilities of AI can also help to manage re-admissions – and even the spread of epidemics – more efficiently.

Artificial intelligence, in particular machine learning, can also help in the back office with insurance claims. Using past claim data, the algorithms can quickly work through claims. The technology is not only being tested in Japan, but is also being trialed by the private sector – for example, insurance provider Prudential Singapore.

China is the leading nation when it comes to deploying AI in the context of city planning and management. Hangzhou, a city of nine million people, has built a “city brain” which ‘runs’ the government on a huge amount of data collected from sensors and cameras.

 

Phone Scammers Stealings Millions From Chinese Community

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 Since December, 21 members of New York City’s Chinese community have lost a total of $2.5 million, according to the New York Police Department, with individuals reporting losses ranging from $1,800 to $1.4 million, according to Voices of NY. Some have lost their life savings.

The caller IDs make it seem like it’s coming from a local number, but investigators say it’s actually coming from a location in China.
The FTC reminded people never to send money to anyone who asks you to do so over the phone.

“Never give your Social Security number, your bank or credit card number, or other sensitive information to anyone who calls and asks for it,” the commission said.

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