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  1. Last 7 days
    1. RSF is concerned by the appointment of Eddie Cheung as the head of Radio Television Hong Kong

      RSF dissaproves the decision Eddie Cheung’s appointment as the head of Radio Televison Hong Kong (RTHK). He was a former territory’s representative to the European Union, known for his involvement in a smear campaign against international media. He is filling the role of another political commissar, Patrick Li, who was also a bureaucrat without previous media experience, with a strong pro-Beijing commitment.

      While serving as the Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the EU, he signed about 58 public letters in which he accused some of major European media of ‘unfounded allegations’ on Hong Kong’s policies.

      RSF revealed the systematic censorship and information control by the Chinese regime in Mainland China and Hong Kong in their report titled The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China. The analysis showed that these actions pose a great threat to press freedom and democracy on a global level.

      While once being an example of well implemented press freedom, Hong Kong had a downfall from 80th in 2021 to 148th this year according to the RSF World Press Freedom Index.

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    1. Finland parliament’s website hit by DDoS launched by Russian hackers

      Yesterday, the external websites of the Finnish parliament were inaccessible for a couple of hours due to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack launched by pro-Russian hackers. They explained the reason for this attack as a response to Finland’s aspiration towards joining NATO. This hacker group called NoName057(16) took the responsibility for the attack on their Telegram channel.

      In the post, the hackers said that ‘We decided to pay a ‘friendly’ visit to neighboring Finland, whose authorities are so eager to join NATO.’ The DDoS attack happened on the same day US president Joe Biden signed ratification documents regarding Washington’s support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

      The Finnish parliament replied to this event with this statement: ‘A denial-of-service attack is directed against the Parliament’s external websites. […] The Parliament takes steps to limit the attack together with service providers and the Cybersecurity Center.’

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    1. Since the fall of Kabul Afghanistan suffers from a serious lack of press freedom and women journalists are impacted the most

      Since the fall of Kabul and the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the impact on media is unquestionable. During the past year, journalism in Afghanistan has been decimated. RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire emphasizes: ‘Media and journalists are being subjected to iniquitous regulations that restrict media freedom and open the way to repression and persecution. The authorities must undertake to end the violence and harassment inflicted on media workers, and must allow them to do their job unmolested.’

      When it comes to the slaughtering of press freedom in Afghanistan, women journalists are subjected to it the most. According to RSF’s survey, in the past year, they disappeared in 11 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Out of 2,756 women journalists and media workers who were employed in 2021, only 656 are working today. This downfall resulted in the percentage of 76.19% of women journalists who are no longer working in their homeland. Statistically, 84.6% of female media workers are working in the Kabul region, while recently women TV presenters were being made to cover their faces while presenting on camera. The excuses for harassing female workers are primarily accusations of ‘immorality or conduct contrary to society’s values.’

      The overall statistical report on press freedom in Afghanistan shows that both men and women have lost their jobs since the regime change. 7098 journalists are no longer employed which includes 54.52% of men. The number of media outlets also dropped, with 39.59% of them lost.

      This media situation is a reflection of Taliban governance, with the impact of the draconian regulations and the inability to respect Afghanistan’s press freedom law.

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    1. RSF warns of violence against Iraqi reporters during protests

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is warning of and condemning the harassing of opposition media in Iraqi Kurdistan. RSF’s Middle East desk said that the brutality against journalists shows a complete refusal for toleration of political pluralism and a desire to suppress this popular protest.

      The violence is used as a tool for dispersing not only protesters, but also the journalists who cover it. RSF has gained the information from Metro Center, an NGO that defends journalists’ rights in Iraqi Kurdistan, that there are a total of 78 violations against 60 journalists, including searching, detaintment, prevention from covering protests, and equipment confiscation.

      These protests are called by the New Generation leader, Shaswar Abdalwahid in order to demand elections and to denounce “corruption, poverty and unemployment.” Consequently, out of the 26 journalists who were detained shortly, at least ten work for NRT, a TV channel owned by Abdalwahid.

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    1. Diplomats are also managers but they are rarely trained in management skills.

      Junior diplomats have often to manage local staff. Heads of missions have to manage complete mission from human resources to financial issues.

      This article reflects on unique role of Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) which has to manage diplomatic mission. This role becomes particularly complex and, often, difficult is the head of mission is political appointee as it is often the case in the US diplomacy.

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    1. A new U.S. Strategy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa outlines the US priorities in the growing competition for Africa with, in particular, China.

      Digitalisation plays an important role as an 'accelerator' of sustainable development.

      The U.S. strategy focuses on a few issues on digital ecosystem aimed at building open, reliable, Interoperable, and secure Internet.

      • digitalisation of financial services and records;
      • building infrastructure: undersea cables, expanding of a number of data centres.
      • investing in digital business in Africa
      • cole for Open RAN technology for telecom infrastructure relates to Huawei monopoly and proprietary technology
      • digital democracy and fight against digital authoritarianism
      • fight against disinformation and gender-based online harassment
      • establish standards for responsible conduct in cyberspace.
      • building skills and knowledge through training and courses in science, technology, engineering, and math.
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  2. Aug 2022
    1. Belarusian journalists face threats in a repressive regime

      Since Alexander Lukashenko’s controversial reelection in August 2020, Belarusian journalists have faced various threats, which forced them to adapt in order not to be silenced.

      RSF’s partner, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), noted that around 400 journalists have fled to neighboring countries, such as Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania. The ones who stayed in their homeland, face difficulties on a regular basis, using the encrypting messaging app Telegram as a main tool.

      Starting from 2020 the Belarusian authorities have changed certain laws to the extent of legally infringing freedom of the press. Living in this atmosphere, Belarusian journalists have been the subjects of around 500 arrests, fines, censorship, threats, searches, prison sentences, mistreatment, torture, and reprisals against loved ones, as RSF states. Even exiled journalists live in fear of being kidnapped, thus deciding to work anonymously.

      RSF is giving Belarus 153rd place out of 180 countries in their 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

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    1. RSF welcomes a series of presidential pardons in Egypt with the warning about more than 20 journalists are still detained

      RSF is praising the release of seven prisoners in Egypt at the end of last month. Nevertheless, these releases come as a government’s part of a five-year ‘National Strategy for Human Rights’ started in September 2021. Its aim is to promote reforms that should result in an increase of freedoms for Egyptians, including press freedom. The United States is donating Egypt $1.3 billion in military aid each year and another $130 million is conditioned on respect and implementation of human rights, thus encouraging the Egyptian government to give presidential pardons.

      RSF notes that despite these releases, around 20 journalists are still in jail. Some of them are the bloggers “Mohamed Oxygen” and Alaa Abdel Fattah, a freelance photographer Alia Awad, and four Al Jazeera journalists – Rabie El-Sheikh, Ahmed El-Nagdy, Bahaa Ed-Din Ibrahim, and Hesham Abdel Aziz. Fattah and several of his fellow detainees were even considering ‘group suicide’ as they were not on the list of pardoned prisoners.

      Al-Manassa, an independent Egyptian news website, has been inaccessible in Egypt since last month, while more than 500 other websites have been blocked from online access since 2017, which includes the RSF.

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    1. Five years since the launching of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

      Five years ago, on this day, the United States have launched the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a joint project of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

      In six years of documentation, this database for press freedom violations in the United States has documented nearly 1000 assaults of journalists and 300 arrests od detainments, above 50 border stops and 250 reports of damaged equipment. More than 100 analyses regarding press freedom issues were published.

      This year, the site went through a major redesign. It has new data visualization capabilities and increased speeds for downloading data. The Traker gives both live view of aggression against the media while capturing trends over time. That is how the Tracker can give information that by the time the former president Trump was banned from Twitter, he posted 2520 tweets degrading journalists and the media.

      With Tracker as a press freedom watchdog, state of press freedom in the U.S. will be monitored and served more easily in the future.

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    1. Iraqi journalists were attacked by security while covering Baghdad protests

      On July 30, three journalists who work for the privately owned Al-Mayadeen news broadcaster were attacked and injured during protests in Baghdad’sn Green Zone by supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, according to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) information.

      Flash-bang grenades were thrown by the security forces and they hit Al-Mayadeen’s videographer Zaid Khaled Jomaa and Baghdad bureau chief and reporter Abdulah Badran. The third victim of the attacks was videographer Abdullah Saad who was shoved to the ground by riot police officers, being left with injured leg and ankle.

      CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa senior researcher, Justin Shilad, alarms that Iraqi authorities must protect journalists that are covering protest and allow them to report about political situation in Iraq freely and safely. He also noted that Iraqi journalists are doing essential work in life threatening circumstances in order to inform the public, thus authorities need to provide them work without fear.

      CPJ has received information that the three journalists often face risks when they report and Iraqi security forces regularly fail to differentiate protesters from journalists. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior had no comment on CPJ’s email.

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    1. Several Taiwanese government websites hit with cyberattack on the eve of Pelosi’s visit

      A couple of hours before U.S. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was expected to visit Taiwan, several Taiwanese government websites were down.

      This cyberattack was reported shortly before Pelosi’s plan to visit Taiwan, with its controversial relations with China, claiming it as its own. Therefore, the Chinese government threatened to act if the visit happens.

      On Tuesday evening, the official websites of Taiwan’s government and its presidential office were blocked from use. It was confirmed by the office spokesperson that the president’s site was hit by an overseas malware attack. It was restored after 20 minutes.

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    1. Man with rifle arrested near Iranian-American journalist’s home

      An Iranian-American journalist and women's rights activist, Masih Alinejad, was a potential target to a man who was found near her home in New York with a loaded rifle. Fortunately, he was arrested and Alinejad expressed her shock to learn what happened.

      She is known for promoting videos of women violating Iran’s head covering law to her millions of social media followers. It was said that the same journalist was a target of a Tehran-backed kidnapping plot last year. What she had to say about this to Reuters was: ‘What the Iranian regime did, first trying to kidnap me and now sending someone here trying to kill me, it's a pattern. It's a continuation of their way of oppressing dissidents inside and outside Iran...I'm not scared of them and I'm going to continue my fight against gender apartheid. Because I didn't do anything wrong, I'm not a criminal, my crime is just giving voice to voiceless people.’

      Tehran has dismissed all allegations of involvement in the kidnapping.

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    1. UNICEF’s new analysis: ‘Protecting Children in Cyberconflicts’

      In this rapid analysis, UNICEF made 5 important questions: How are AI technologies and the use of cyber operations changing the nature of conflict? Who are the actors in cyberconflict? What types of risks do offensive cyber operations pose to children? What legal and other provisions exist to protect children from harm caused by cyberconflict and where are the gaps? What should organizations working for and with children do to strengthen protections in cyberconflict? The ones we will focus on in this update are the last three questions. Firstly, it is important to focus on question number 3 - What types of risks do offensive cyber operations pose to children? As UNICEF experts highlighted the most important ones are:

      Behavioral surveillance, profiling, and targeting of children during conflict operations. Behavioral engineering as a potential pathway to child recruitment into and use by armed forces and non-state armed groups. Information operations and their impact on children. Health and biotech sectors. Education sector (‘Large-scale, multi-vector attacks could increasingly infect myriad layers of schools’ digital systems…’). Critical industrial control systems in urban environments. Cyber threats to humanitarian datasets and services critical to child well-being and protection.

      Question number 4 focuses on - What legal and other provisions exist to protect children from harm caused by cyberconflict and where are the gaps? UNICEF notes that attributing responsibility for child rights violations while protecting sensitive information from digital manipulation and theft is crucial. ‘Many analysts would argue that the combination of IHL, international criminal law, human rights law, and child rights law are adequate to address the emerging issues posed by cyberconflict and the technology it involves. Nevertheless, several key challenges persist.’

      Question number 5 - What should organizations working for and with children do to strengthen protection in cyberconflict? It is necessary to engage with normative policy development processes. UNICEF sees OEWG (Open-Ended Working Group) as an important platform for dialogue for States to develop norms to strengthen children's rights protection from cyber attacks. It is important to further strengthen understanding of the potential risks to children of cyberconflict as well. What also is an obligation of States is the reinforcement of normative and legal frameworks to strengthen child protection during cyberconflict and translating them into action. The last two that were mentioned were the strengthening of monitoring and investigation mechanisms and defining corporate responsibility in cyberconflict.

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    1. Australian reporter left Afghanistan after Taliban forced her to withdraw reports on forced marriages

      Lynne O’Donnell, an Australian journalist for Foreign Policy Magazine, said this week that the Taliban threatened to put her in jail if she did not withdraw stories criticizing the organization.

      She spent several years in Afghanistan as a resident correspondent before the U.S. retreated her from the country last year. She then returned within the last week to report on the Taliban practices of forced marriages with teenage girls.

      After writing some tweets and articles about the topic, Taliban officials started to pressure O’Donnell, influencing what she wrote. She stated that the tweets written on Tuesday were made by the Taliban: ‘l apologize for 3 or 4 reports written by me accusing the present authorities of forcefully marrying teenage girls and using teenage girls as sexual slaves by Taliban commanders. This was a premeditated attempt at character assassination and an affront to Afghan culture.’

      The concerned journalist left Afghanistan after these happenings, claiming it was inevitable: “If I did not, they said, they’d send me to jail. At one point, they surrounded me and demanded I accompany them to prison. Throughout, a man with a gun was never far away.”

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    1. Title: Data centres need more space in Frankfurt

      Frankfurt is the major European data hub, with more than 60 data centres covering 64 hectares.

      One of the main reasons for this high concentration of data centres is the proximity of the main Internet exchange hub in Frankfurt, which processes most of the European internet traffic.

      Fast expansion of data hubs triggered reaction of local authorities. In the new urbanist plan, they would like to restrict space for data centres. As you can see from the enclosed article, this proposal triggered a reaction from the German Datacenter Association arguing, among others, that the restriction for the growth of data centres could endanger digitalisation processes in Germany.

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  3. Jul 2022
    1. Internet business model based on advertising is under the strain after 'golden' time during the shift to online at pandemics time. In 2021, online advertising growth was 38% compared to average growth of 21%.

      There are the following reasons why online advertising growth won't continue:

      • online advertising is becoming mature industry with saturated offer.
      • growing pressure on privacy and data protection reduces use of tools for targeted advergising.
      • Apple's change to the privacy setting on Iphones that prevents tracing of effect of advertising compaign affected many companies. For example it reduced Meta/Facebook annual revenue for $20 billion (8%).

      Meta/Facebook and smaller companies are most affected by slow down in online advartising. Google is doing well as it builds advertising around search engine, more traditional approach to online advertising.

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    1. The enormous economic power of tech companies that threatens market competition triggered the US Congress initaitive on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. This act is proposed in bi-partisan mode, but it does not enjoy, yet, overwhelming support.

      The Act is championed by Senator Amy Kobuchar from the Democratic Party.

      The main provision of the proposed act is that online platforms with more than 50 million monthly active users or 100,000 U.S.-based monthly active users would be blocked from putting their products and services ahead of a different business if it materially harms competition.

      In this respect, the Act aims to 'mimic' approach from the EU's Digital Market Act.

      The voting on this Act will be also test of the power of tech companies to block the US Congres legislation that may harm their interests.

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    1. Title: DeepMind uses AI to predict the structure of almost all proteins. Text: DeepMind, in partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute, has released predicted structures for nearly all catalogued proteins known to science. The announcement comes a year after the two partners released and open-sourced AlphaFold – an artificial intelligence (AI) system used to predict the 3D structure of a protein – and created the AlphaFold Protein Structure Database to share this scientific knowledge with the researchers. The database now contains over 200 million predicted protein structures, covering plants, bacteria, animals, and other organisms. It is expected to help researchers advance work on issues such as neglected diseases, food insecurity, and sustainability.

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    1. Saudi prince’s meeting with Macron despite Khashoggi murder and imprisonment of 27 journalists

      The meeting between the French president Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is supposed to be held tomorrow in Paris on 28 July. What seems to be the concern of RSF (Reporters Without Borders) is that 4 years passed since journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered. 27 journalists and bloggers are currently detained in Saudi Arabia, thus RSF asks Macron to negotiate with Mohammed bin Salman to release them.

      It is worrying that the prince of Saudi Arabia is engaging in international relations promoting truth and justice. The involvement of Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi’s murder has been confirmed by the UN special rapporteur Agnès Callamard and a CIA report in 2021.

      RSF put the Saudi Arabian prince on their list of predators of press freedom, due to waves of arrests of journalists starting from his appointment in 2017 and his brutal response to the freedom of speech.

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    1. Frequent violence against media in Greece

      In the past three years, there were 11 attacks against Greek journalists and media accused of spreading government propaganda. The latest attack was on a building in Athens that houses Real FM news radio and the weekly RealNews on 13 July. An anarchist group calling themselves ‘Thousands of Night Suns’ confirmed the involvement on 20 July, dedicating this attack to two anarchist activists, and blaming Real for supporting political propaganda.

      It is crucial that the Greek government speeds up the implementation of the interministerial memo on journalists’ safety and the European Commission’s September 2021 recommendations. Despite what Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says about the need for conviction of perpetrators, most attacks on press freedom remain unpunished.

      Journalists in Greece are not exposed only to violent attacks of this kind, being a target of organised crime. That is why Greece is placed the lowest in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index out of all EU countries, being 108th out of 180.

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    1. Intensification of cyberwar between Iran and Israel

      Three of Iran's state-owned biggest steel companies stopped working after facing cyberattacks in late June. These biggest steel companies were attacked by a hacking group who admitted it on social media as a response to ‘the aggression of the Islamic Republic.’

      After that, Israel’s defense secretary ordered an investigation into the leaked video which showed the damage to the steel plants. This incident was soon followed by the Israeli Security Agency’s statement (Shin Bet) that a May cyber operation by Iran was set to be out of the cyber domain . With these two incidents, it is clear that the cyber conflict between these two countries has become more public in the previous 2 years.

      Israel and Iran shifted to a public forum and their objective has changed from defense targets to violating critical infrastructure and civilian lives. With larger public exposure, the greater the risks of extending beyond cyberspace with the influence of other areas of this conflict as well.

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    1. Yurii Shchyhol warns of a new ongoing World Cyber War

      Yurii Shchyhol, the head of the Ukrainian State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection, warns there might be an ongoing World Cyber War since the start of Russia’s invasion. Russian cyberespionage and cyberattacks since 24 February weren’t targeted only at Ukraine. Their intervention has been recorded in 42 countries across six continents, mostly from NATO and countries which supported Ukraine during this period.

      Shchyhol has stated for Politico that the world has been awakened and that countries are more willing to intensely cooperate with each other on these issues. He also advised: ‘But what we need are not further sanctions and further efforts to curb cyberattacks, we also need for global security companies to leave the market of the Russian Federation. Only then can we ensure the victory will be ours, especially in cyberspace.’

      In this interview, it was said that there is strong assistance from the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency as all of Russia's attacks are ‘an ongoing, continuous war, including the war in cyberspace.’ What Shchyhol also warns us is that despite the two-month stagnation of Russian cyber attacks, what they’re doing is just a part of their tactic in order to collect resources for another attack - which will likely be on a global level.

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    1. Russian journalists’ union close to being disbanded

      The Russian prosecutor’s office brought on a 350-page complaint against the independent Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union (JMWU), to disband it. The union learned about the complaint on 13 July. The complaint proposes that some of the employees are foreign agents while some were accused of systematically harming the state and society with their actions.

      The reasons behind the complaint are mainly due to the fact that the JMWU publicly opposed the war in Ukraine, defended Russian journalists who were prosecuted, and criticized media censorship in their country. They also signed the ‘Perugia Declaration for Ukraine’, which confirmed their support for Ukrainian journalists.

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    1. India's Supreme court ordered releasing of a journalist over a controversial tweet

      An Indian journalist, Mohammed Zubair, has been given the release on bail over the accusations of a “highly provocative” tweet in 2018, by India's Supreme Court. The tweet was supposedly aimed at straining ties between Hindus and Muslims. Regardless of the accusations, the tweet itself had no evidence of causing harm to the religious sentiment of Hindus.

      When he was granted bail, the court said that keeping Zubair in custody had no legal power. As a vocal critic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Zubair and his colleagues accused the federal government of giving the police orders in silencing journalists and critics undermining the freedom of the press and speech.

      In this atmosphere, it is important to note that India is ranked 150th on the 180-country World Press Freedom Index.

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    1. Myanmar freelancer sentenced to three-years of jail by the state military court

      Nyein Nyein Aye, a Myanmar freelancer and journalist, was sentenced to a three-year prison sentence for the spread of ‘false news.’ She was also accused of causing fear and agitating crimes against a government employee. While Nyein worked for various media outlets, one of them: Mizzima News, was banned by the junta.

      Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk implied that this arrest is followed by the big wave of arrests of journalists after the February 2021 coup. He also noted that these sentences behind closed doors by military courts are similar to a factory production line. RSF’s press freedom barometer shows that she is the 24th journalist to receive a prison sentence out of the 67 media workers currently held in Myanmar’s prisons.

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    1. Biden’s message at the Arab summit on freedom of the press and democratic rights

      U.S. president Joe Biden said in his speech at the Arab summit in Saudi Arabia that the United States will keep its close partnership with the Middle East while urging leaders who attended the summit to advance human rights as a powerful source of economic and social changes. With that being said, freedom of the press and democratic rights are highlighted. He urged the necessity of releasing journalists.

      Biden sent a message to the leaders saying: ‘Accountable, accountable institutions that are free from corruption and act transparently and respect the rule of law are the best way to deliver growth, respond to people's needs, and I believe ensure justice.’

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    1. Pakistani reporters are being harassed by the government army

      Since Shehbaz Sharif took over as a Pakistani prime minister in April, there have been a dozen reports of army-related agencies harassing the media, as RSF cautioned. Critical journalists have been a target of a major army campaign to intimidate their work, parallelly destabilizing Pakistan’s democracy.

      This serious decline in press freedom was bolstered with the latest case on 9 July when BOL news anchor, Sami Ibrahim, got attacked by three people. The next day, he posted a YouTube video, saying that the attack was planned to prevent him from filming the scene, and the attackers later left in a vehicle with clear signs of being state-owned.

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    1. Cyberwar games: Cyber Europe 2022

      One of the largest cyber crisis simulations organised by The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) has just been completed. With over 800 cybersecurity experts from 29 European countries and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), it involved specialists from EU agencies and institutions as well.

      This year, the exercises involved a scenario of a simulated attack on European healthcare infrastructure and they tested how participants’ respond to incidents in coordination with EU institutions. They involve the ability of close work with CERT-EU and ENISA in order to reinforce the resilience of the healthcare sector against cyber attacks in the EU with complex business continuity and crisis management situations.

      These lessons will be published in ENISA’s ‘after-action report.’

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    1. Costa Rica's public health system hit by Hive ransomware

      The Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), i.e. Costa Rica’s public health service was hit by Hive ransomware and forced to shut its systems down. The ransomware was deployed on at least 30 out of 1,500 government servers, CCSS told local media.

      Cybersecurity experts suggested that Hive might be working with Conti to help Conti rebrand.

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    1. Italian police thwart Eurovision cyberattack by pro-Russian hacker groups

      Italian police thwarted hacker attacks by pro-Russian hacker groups Killnet and Legion during the 10 May semi-final and 14 May final of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Turin, Italy. Russia was excluded from the competition due to what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine, while Ukraine went on to win the contest.

      Killnet denied the attack on ESC, but then declared cyberwar on 10 countries in the same Telegram post. In a separate video, the group stated that these 10 countries are ‘the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and Ukraine.’

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    1. HEADLINE How future of TikTok can determine the future of the integrated Internet?

      EXCERPTS TIKTok saga will shape the future of the Internet. If TikTok is banned in the USA as a security risk, it could lead towards further disintegration of the Internet. In the same time, Chinese side has to be ready to accept higher scrutiny of TikTok algorithms and business models. By monitoring this policy issue we will monitor the future of integrated Internet.

      SUMMARY

      TikTok controversy, as the Economist put it, s a test of whether global business and the global internet can remain intact as us-China relations deteriorate.

      Context for pressure on TikTok is geopolitics and forthcoming elections in the USA. There is a concern that TikTok could be used to influence eletions.

      Is privacy protection real risk since most of TikTok data can be scraped as public data.

      The real risk that concers US is a possibility of manipuating domestic audience by company which is in Chinese ownership. For examplea quarter of American users consider TikTok to be a news source.

      TikTok algorithms that could be used for manipulation are developed mainly in Beijing.

      TikTok can address the risk of shutting down by having data held by Oracle, as already happened during Trump administration, letting third parties inspect its algorithms, including showing the source code and allowing ongoing inspection.

      According to the Economist: 'TikTok should be ultimately responsible to an independent board of its own, with members from outside China.'

      China is likely to oppose this request for supervision of TikTok's algorithms. However, by doing so, China may make this companies shut down by Western authorities. It will be one of the key decisions and trade-offs with far-reaching consequences for global Internet that China will have to make.

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    1. OEWG agrees on modalities of stakeholder participation

      The OEWG reached agreement to apply modalities for the participation of stakeholders as proposed by the Chair on 20 April, through a silent procedure. NGOs both with and without ECOSOC status should inform the OEWG Secretariat of their interest to participate. If no state raises an objection to the Chair, NGOs will be invited to participate as observers in the formal sessions, make oral statements during a dedicated stakeholder session, and submit written inputs to be posted on the OEWG’s website. The modalities will be read out at the OEWG’s third substantive session for the formal record.

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    1. Five Eyes authorities issue warning against Russia-backed cyberattacks on critical infrastructure

      We’ve reported before that US authorities have been warning against imminent cyberattacks from Russia. This time, it’s the cybersecurity authorities from the Five Eyes – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, plus the USA – who are warning of the risk that cyberattacks are being planned against critical infrastructures in Ukraine and beyond.

      The warning comes in a joint cybersecurity advisory, which refers to US intelligence that the Russian government may be exploring options for potential cyberattacks.

      The advisory also notes that cybercrime groups that have recently publicly pledged support for the Russian government ‘have threatened to conduct cyber operations in retaliation for perceived cyber offensives against the Russian government or the Russian people.’ The same threat exists for countries and organisations helping Ukraine.

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    1. DDoS attack takes Israeli government websites down

      Several government websites in Israel – including the websites of the ministries of interior, defence, and justice – were unavailable for over an hour on 14 March. The incident was caused by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against a communications provider, according to the country’s National Cyber Directorate. Access to the affected websites was restored later in the day.

      No statements were made regarding attribution of the attack, although some media sources pointed to a possible Iranian involvement.

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    1. Digital Security Lab launching

      Reporters Without Borders (RWB) is an international non-profit public interest organization in France which has defended the promotion of freedom of information since 1985.

      On 18 July, RWB will present its newly founded Digital Security Lab: a digital forensic laboratory that will help combat the threats of online surveillance. Based in Berlin, the Digital Security Lab is designed to analyze the devices of journalists who suspect they are under any digital surveillance. Journalists are a target of many threats that can affect their devices or personal social accounts for malicious reasons. This requires a rigorous and united response, and that is why any journalist will be able to contact the Digital Security Lab if they suspect they are the target of digital espionage because of their work.

      Journalists often receive sophisticated phishing messages, and Digital Security Lab experts will search for clues with the analysis of suspicious messages to find out if they are for sent spying purposes. The team will also examine installed programmes and will check for other data traces that might offer traces about previous activities and spying technologies.

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    1. Turkish court jails 16 Kurdish journalists over alleged terrorist links

      A Turkish court has jailed 16 Kurdish journalists for "belonging to a terrorist organisation" and their close cooperation with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Diyarbarkir. They were also accused of spreading terrorist propaganda and since 2016 several hundred HDP members have already been detained. Nazim Bilgin, the president of the Journalists' Association of Turkey warns that: "We are living in the darkest days of our country as far as press freedom is concerned." It is also alarming that Turkey has jailed more reporters than most other countries in the previous decade, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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    1. Relatives of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh accused the U.S. of trying to erase Israel’s responsibility for her death

      Relatives of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank in May, showed their deep disappointment in President Joe Biden in a letter released over his administration’s response to her death.

      They accused the U.S. of trying to deny Israel’s responsibility for her death, saying in an official statement that Israeli fire most likely killed her but that the May 11 shooting in the West Bank was an accident. The family sent a request to Biden for meeting with them when he visits the region, which The White House declined to comment on, alongside with the matters of the letter.

      Palestinian eyewitnesses who claimed they saw she was shot by Israeli forces gained support from a reconstruction made by The Associated Press, investigations by CNN, New York Times, and The Washington Post as well as monitoring by the U.N. human rights office.

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    1. Ukraine state agency publishes cyberattacks statistics

      The State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection (SSSCIP) of Ukraine published statistics about the number, targets, and type of cyberattacks since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

      The government and local authorities, defence, finance, commercial organisations, and the energy sector, in that order, were the main targets of the 796 recorded cyberattacks. Information gathering, malicious code, infiltration attempts, and availability were important cyberattack strategies.

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    1. Ukraine warns of massive cyberattack targeting telecommunications operators

      The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) has warned about widespread cyberattacks targeting telecommunications providers. The CERT-UA claims it had learned about the mass distribution of emails with the subject 'LIST of links to interactive maps' among Ukrainian media entities. The emails contain malicious attachments and may begin downloading CrescentImp malware if opened

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    1. European mayors fooled into calls with fake Kyiv mayor

      The mayors of several European cities held meetings via video link with a person they thought was the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, only to find out they were deceived by a deepfake of Klitschko.

      The office of Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey tweeted Friday night that his conversation with the alleged mayor of Kyiv was ended after his comments raised suspicion.

      A screenshot of the tweet by the office of Berlin Mayor. Source: PNP.de Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, the mayor of Madrid, likewise cancelled a video call when he suspected he was not speaking with his Kyiv colleague. Meanwhile, Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony said in a Facebook post that he had also recently been targeted and had ended the call following 'several strange, suspiciously provocative questions’. Meanwhile, Michael Ludwig, the mayor of Vienna, was convinced he had talked with Klitschko and even tweeted that they had a video chat. The tweet was deleted after the official account of the Austrian capital published a statement that Ludwig appeared to be the victim of a ‘serious case of cybercrime’.

      Questions arose whether the fake Klitschko was a deepfake. German investigative journalist Daniel Laufer found an earlier interview with Klitschko on YouTube that served as the digital source material for the scam. Had a deepfake been used, Laufer argues, the video frames would have been altered in ways that no longer matched the YouTube recording. Apparently this might have been an edited version, not a more-sophisticated deepfake.

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    1. Russian hackers accused of launching attacks against targets in Lithuania and Norway

      Several public and private sector websites in Lithuania were temporarily down on Monday following a cyberattack reportedly carried out by a Russian-backed hacking group. The Lithuania National Cyber Security Centre (NKSC) warned of an 'intense ongoing' Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against the Secure National Data Transfer Network, as well as governmental institutions and private companies. Killnet, a pro-Russian group, claimed responsibility for at least some of the attacks, claiming it was in reprisal for Lithuania blocking the delivery of certain products to the Russian outpost of Kaliningrad.

      Meanwhile, in Norway, a DDOS attack targeted a secure national data network, affecting several private and public institutions. According to Norwegian officials, Russian hackers were likely behind the cyberattack, although there was minimal damage, with 'no sensitive information taken’.

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    1. This analysis does not follow logically with many non-sequiturs. It is difficult to understand the main arguments, including the following points:

      First, the most confusing argument was the one that the EU should not "subscribe to the Internet its values", even if these values are democratic and progressive. What should the EU do then?

      Since time immemorial, the core values of countries (and other social organisations) have been applied via regulations. For example, the societal value of protecting human lives is applied by regulation against killing human beings. The article does not mention the US-led Declaration on the Future of the Internet which calls for digital governance and regulation inspired by values.

      Second, the article promotes 'the Internet’s own values' to be the opposite of EU's. How different are these values from the core EU’s values of openness, inclusion, etc. ?

      Third, the author also opposes the EU's request to use technology to filter out online child sexual exploitation. Why not? It is actually happening by tech platforms already. What's wrong with the EU codifying legally this practice of tech companies.

      Fourth, the article complains that EU's processes are not inclusive and driven by business interests. Yes, tech companies and other business actors lobby heavily in Brussels as they do in other regulatory capitals. They are just one of the actors, which cannot capture regulation. The EU is often criticised for slowness and inefficiency caused exactly by inclusive processes involving member states, parliaments and other actors. Even at a basic level of logic, this argument doesn't follow. Why would the EU adopt regulations that could hurt big tech interests (data/AI, competition policy, etc.) if the big tech was able to capture EU's regulations?

      Fifth, China appears in this title with very little substantiation on the "China trap" in the text. It is not clear how, for example, GDPR can bring EU into 'China trap'. The Internet is regulated in many countries, including the USA. There are many EU's concerns in digital geopolitics with China, but it is not the EU's regulation.

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  4. Jun 2022
    1. Title: How to link digitalisation and UN Security Council?

      Excerpt: US ambassador identifies 3 areas of digitalisation of UN Security Council: getting more data and information; apps for humanitarian aid; helping peacekeeping missions

      Cybersecurity is often in news. But, there are many more impacts of digitalisation on security of modern society from food and climate, to supply chains and peacekeeping.

      This holistic impact of digitalisation on modern society is behind the US push for higher relevance of digitalisation on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

      In the Economist article, the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield identifies three steps for strenghtening links between digitalisation and security at the UN UN Security Council:

      Firstly, DATA gathered form satelites to smart tractors can help more informed and proactive actions ahead of climate, food and political crisis.

      Secondly, DIGITAL TOOLS can help in hnadling crisis from distribution of humanitarian assistance to helping those in the need of assistance.

      Thirdly, DIGITAL PEACE can be strenghtend via use of social media, GPS monitoring and other tools in the UN peacekeeping missions.

      As cross cutting activities, the article calls for wider access to the Internet, digital literacy and development of new apps and tools for crisis management and humanitarian assistance.

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    1. US Cyber Command chief confirms USA conducted offensive cyber operations in support of Ukraine

      Commander of the US Cyber Command General Paul Nakasone confirmed that the USA conducted offensive cyber operations in support of Ukraine. ‘We’ve conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum: offensive, defensive, [and] information operations,’ the general stated, but did not elaborate further.

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    1. Will the EU ban providing cloud services to Russia?

      The EU is considering a ban on providing cloud computing services to Russia as part of a new round of sanctions, an EU official told Reuters.

      Although the EU announced in a public press release that the sixth sanctions package would include a restriction on the provision of cloud services, cloud technologies were not included in the final decision. As later explained by the press officer for the EU Council, the reference to the ban on cloud services in the first statement was 'a fabric error'.

      The cloud service restriction was not recommended by the European Commission, according to an EU official familiar with sanctions decisions. Nonetheless, such a prospect was not ruled out.

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    1. Russia unveils internet traffic backup plan

      Russia is prepared to face eventual internet disconnection by Europe, stated Maksut Shadayev, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media. The plan is for Russian internet providers to redirect traffic through international exchange points in Asia, and Rostelecom has the necessary capabilities, Shadayev explained. Traffic exchange points in Europe are still open for Russian internet providers.

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    1. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: West risks 'direct military clash' over cyberattacks

      Russia warned that the West's cyberattacks against Russian infrastructure could lead to direct military confrontation.

      In a statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that 'The militarization of the information space by the West, and attempts to turn it into an arena of interstate confrontation, have greatly increased the threat of a direct military clash with unpredictable consequences.'

      The statement added that Washington was ‘deliberately lowering the threshold for the combat use’ of cyberweapons.

      The statement also attributes cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure and governmental institutions to the USA and Ukraine and warns: ‘Rest assured, Russia will not leave aggressive actions unanswered.’

      The warning came after Russia’s housing ministry website was hacked over the weekend and its traffic redirected to a ‘Glory to Ukraine’ sign.

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    1. Wikipedia appeals Russian order to remove Ukraine war information

      Wikipedia’s owner, the Wikimedia Foundation, has filed an appeal against a Moscow court decision which demanded that Wikipedia remove content related to the Ukraine war. Previously, Wikimedia was fined 5 million rubles (US$88,000) in a court decision for failing to remove the content in question. Wikimedia argues that people have a right to know the facts of the war and that removing information is a violation of human rights to knowledge access and free expression.

      Wikimedia stated that, while its website is accessible within Russia, the country has no authority over Wikipedia, which it describes as a global resource available in 300 languages. The Moscow court argued that the disinformation posted on Wikipedia represented a threat to Russian public order and that the foundation in fact operates in Russia.

      So far, the foundation has refused to comply with Russia's demands to delete the articles in question.

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    1. USA, UK, EU dismantle Russian hacking botnet

      A joint law enforcement operation involving the USA, the EU countries, and the UK has dismantled the infrastructure of a Russia-linked botnet known as RSOCKS stated the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

      The RSOCKS botnet has compromised millions of computers and devices worldwide, including IoT equipment like routers and smart garage openers.

      According to the DoJ, RSOCKS customers paid between US$30 and US$200 per day to channel malicious internet activity through hacked computers to mask or hide the source of the traffic.

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    1. Two African leaders warn about the future of multilateralism. They think that it is not fair that Africa pays for the geopolitical games of big powers.

      They argue that UN has to be reformed in order to protect small and developing countries from power games.

      Concretely speaking, they propose the reform of the UN Security Council.

      Excerpt/twitter: African leaders call for renewed UN to protect small and developin gcountries from geopolitical power games.

      Title: How to protect Africa from geopolitical power games

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    1. Title: Amr, UK microchips design company, becomes a key actor in digital geopolitics.

      Arm, UK\s microchips design factory, symbolises a shift in the semiconductor industry. Arm focuses on design chips which are becoming increasingly complicated. Amr's design is trend into chips by manufacturers worldwide, ending in mobile phones, drons and other devices. For example, Amr's design is behind 99% of smartphone chips.

      ARM tries to keep its unique position by remaining neutral actor in semi-conductor industry. By refusing recent buy-out offer by Nvida, Amr keeps its neutral positioin by remaining, asA Amr's boss Simon Segars put it 'Switzerland of the tech industry'.

      Another challenge for Amr will be risc-v chip architecture that lacks royalities and licence fees, the core of companies business model.

      Amr''s role wll play an important role in emerging geopolitics of microchps. Companies importance is so high that some UK politicans propsoed government to take controlling 'goden share' of Amr.

      Source: The Economist

      Twitter: AMR, a UK high-tech company is a key player in chips geopolitics. It focuses on the design and maintains its neutrality among large semiconductor manufacturers.

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    1. Ukrainians targeted with Cobalt Strike, CredoMap malware,

      ‘The APT28’ (aka Fancy Bear) hacking group supported by Russia is believed to be responsible for a recent spike in phishing campaigns that are spread by email, warns The Ukrainian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-UA Team)

      CERT-UA Team explained that emails warning of 'unpaid taxes' or 'nuclear terrorism' are intended to lure victims into opening the file contained in the email. They cautioned that opening the files might cause users to download the malicious software Cobalt Strike or CredoMap.

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    1. Meta loses appeal in Russian court over 'extremist activity' label

      Meta Platforms, Inc. lost an appeal in a Moscow court after being found guilty of 'extremist activity' in Russia in March.

      According to a Kommersant reporter in the courtroom, Meta's lawyer argued that refusing to block access to content and labelling state-controlled media were not activities that meet the definition of extremism.

      The court decision requires that whenever organisations or people publicly mention Meta, they need to disclose that Meta's operations are illegal in Russia.

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    1. Russian e-commerce firm Ozon starts selling goods via parallel imports mechanism

      The Russian-based e-commerce firm Ozon has started selling goods through a parallel imports mechanism on its platform, the company confirmed to Reuters.

      Ozon claims to offer a range of items to Russian customers, including smartphones and their components. It also aims to prevent the appearance of counterfeit products on its platform by requesting suppliers confirm the products' originality.

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    1. Microsoft: Russian state-backed hackers targeted Ukrainian allies

      Since the start of the Ukraine war, Russian state-backed hackers have engaged in network infiltration and espionage operations against 128 businesses in 42 countries that are allied with Ukraine, Microsoft claimed in a new report.

      While Russian hackers prioritised NATO governments, they have also launched attacks against think tanks, humanitarian organisations, IT companies, and critical infrastructure. Microsoft estimates that 29% of identified attacks were successful, with a quarter of those leading to data theft. Microsoft also asserts that Russia is conducting an information war to influence public opinion in favour of the conflict domestically and overseas.

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    1. Click here to view original web page at timesofindia.indiatimes.com

      Meta intensifies communication on the advantages of Metaverse by three video examples:

      • university lecture
      • virtual surgery
      • historical lesson

      Later this year, Meta will introduce its Cambria headset as the key tool for joining metaverse.

      You can learn more here: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/gadgets-news/facebook-owner-meta-shows-future-applications-of-metaverse/articleshow/92280553.cms

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    1. Title: Metavere is coming with virtual celebrities in China

      Virtual celebrities are becoming popular in China instead of real-life ones. Virtual celebrities are avatars generated by computers and operated by anonymous humans.

      They sing, dance, and talk like real-life celebrities. Some of them like Carol from ByteDance have millions of followers.

      Companies are happy to use virtual celebrities as they cost much less than real ones and they can be controlled easily.

      The estimated value of the virtual-celebrity market in China is $16bn in 2021.

      But new problems emerge. According to the Economist coverage, the real person behind Carol's avatar complained about being 'bullied, overworked and underpaid' by ByteDance.

      Is this a glimpse of an emerging metaverse economy with more centralised control and fewer rights for human beings?

      As billions are invested into metaverse economy worldwide, companies, countries, and citizens should start discussing impact of metaverse on society from human well being to labour rights.

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  5. May 2022
    1. Statistical analysis of the Ukraine war: potentials and pitfalls

      Two Spanish scientists question the thesis of "two Ukraine": pro-West or pro-Russian. Their analysis is based upon a set of data on violent events in Ukraine since January 2021.

      Their analysis shows that conflicts can arise from many factors beyond simple East-West binary optics. Accordingly, the solution is not to split Ukraine in two.

      According to the authors, data lack is the greatest problem in this scientific method.As opposed to other fields, like engineering, obtaining reliable and high-quality data about social and political events is a major challenge.

      The greatest challenge to using statistical models and scientific methods in diplomacy will be finding timely, reliable and usable data.

      Source: Phys.Org

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    1. Undersea cables carry Internet traffic across continents. They are part of the critical information infrastructure of the modern world.

      Scientists started using these cables as a global network of sensors that monitor seismic and other changes at the seabed previously beyond the reach of the scientific community.

      As Wired indicated in the recent coverage Where there's cable, there's potential data.

      Geoscientist Philippe Jousset said 'You can interrogate any fibre under the sea, covering all of the Earth'.

      Undersea cables could be also used as early-earning tools for tsunami as they can detect any tectonic shifts on the seabed.

      Source: Undersea Cables are carrying scientific secrets.

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    1. Tech giants begin to support data sovereignty, and data localisation. Google has opened cloud servers in Spain for data localisation. This service will be offered in collaboration with Telefonica, the Spanish telecom giant.

      A new 'data sovereignty' business model was highlighted in Google's announcement: “Accelerating digital transformation also requires cloud services that meet regulatory compliance and digital governance requirements. In particular, highly regulated sectors like government, healthcare and financial services need additional controls to store data and run workloads locally.”

      You can find more information here.

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    1. Scientific sanctions on Russia may affect significantly research on climate change.

      As it is analysed by the Economist, the main setback on climate research will be on Artic and Siberia's permafrost:

      Permafrost research, crucial for understanding where climate projections will end up, is likely to suffer in particular. Two-thirds of Russia is covered by permafrost, and this frozen ground locks up huge amounts of organic material. As it melts and that organic material decays, greenhouse gases in the form of methane and carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. Without good data on these emissions, understanding about their contribution to climate change will decline.

      So far, as the Ukraine war escalates, there are no moves towards re-establishing scientifc cooperation between Russia and the West. The continuation of this situation will significantly affect Artic and climate science in both parts of the world.

      More information is available here: https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/russian-and-western-scientists-no-longer-collaborate-in-the-arctic/21809236

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    1. Titlte: Need for more innovation in South African diplomacy

      South African diplomacy need to be more innovative in order to adjust to the post-pademic era. It was the underlying message of President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa during the Annual conference of heads of missions of the Department of International Relations and Cooperations.

      As a practical step towards more innovative diplomacy, President Ramaphosa said 'We need to adapt to digital diplomacy and host targeted seminars to sell South Africa.'.

      The Annual Conference of South African diplomacy stressed three priority areas for innovation in diplomacy:

      1. to attract tourism, trade, and investment by using innovative tools and approaches.

      2. to strengthen people-to-people relations towards cultivating tolerance, and cultural understanding. The main focus should be on youth development programmes.

      3. to strengthen public diplomacy via the use of social media and other advanced tools and approaches.

      Source: City Press

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  6. Apr 2022
    1. Elon Mask owned 19-years-old devleoper Jack Sweeney 5.000 USD to stop tracking Mask's private flighs Sweeney asked for new Tesla car. Elon has not replied so far. Instead, according to some jokes on Twitter, he bought the platform for 44 billion USD.

      Sweeney's Twitter app smartly combines flight data from various sources to identify itinerey of flights of celebrities, including Elon Trump.

      For more info, you can visit https://www.protocol.com/elon-musk-flight-tracker

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    1. TITLE: How can we reduce the amount of debris and clashes that occur in outer space?

      Kamala Harris, US vice-president, announced a unilateral ban of anti-satellite weapons in California on 18 April.

      America, along with India, China, and Russia, has successfully 'killed' satellites. One satellite can be destroyed, causing 100.000 pieces of debris to fall on other satellites.

      It's becoming a serious problem, as outer space becomes increasingly crowded with private and military satellites orbiting the earth. SpaceX has been granted permission to launch over 12.000 satellites in the next years.

      With more and larger satellites and debris, it's becoming more likely, according to Kesseler syndrome that more debris will trigger more satellite collisions and, in turn, create more debris.

      The US government is moving to develop 'norms and responsible behaviour' in outer space that will be gradually adopted worldwide.

      ||Jovan||||nikolabATdiplomacy.edu||||sorina||

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    1. In the Lovy Insittute's article on changes of Australian diplomacy reform of internal 'cable system' is higlighted in as priority. This old technology cannot serve new digital era with fast access to timely information.

      Other proposals for the reform of Australian diplomacy include:

      • making Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) a central agency to coordinate national security strategy.
      • commitment for more flexible staffing in the fight for talents.

      See: Time to think bog on the future of Australian diplomacy

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