The censorship industry in China is big business. Read the rest
Earlier today, the China National Space Administration's Chang'e 4 landed a rover on the far side of the moon for the first time. Blocked from direct communication with the Earth, the lander and rover will depend on China's Queqiao communication satellite launched in May. From the New York Times:
“This is a major achievement technically and symbolically,” said Namrata Goswami, an independent analyst who wrote about space for the Defense Department’s Minerva Research Institute. “China views this landing as just a steppingstone, as it also views its future manned lunar landing, since its long-term goal is to colonize the moon and use it as a vast supply of energy.”
The place the probe is exploring, Dr. Goswami said, could become a future refueling base for missions deeper into space in the way “navies viewed coaling stations, for purposes of refueling and resupply.”
The instruments aboard the lander and the rover include cameras, ground-penetrating radar and spectrometers to help identify the composition of the area, which was formed by a meteorite. Scientists hope the rocks and dirt in the area will add to the understanding of the moon’s geology.
The lander will also conduct a biology experiment to see if plant seeds will germinate and silkworm eggs will hatch in the moon’s low gravity.
Just when you thought that the Chinese government's extensive surveillance of the country's citizens couldn't get any creepier or more intrusive, Xi Jingping slyly raises an eyebrow and asks the west to hold his Tsingtao:
From The Epoch Times:
In China’s latest quest to build an all-seeing surveillance state, schools have become part of the state’s monitoring apparatus.
Students at more than 10 schools in Guizhou Province, one of China’s poorest provinces, and the neighboring Guangxi region are now required to wear “intelligent uniforms,” which are embedded with electronic chips that track their movements.
The uniforms allow school officials, teachers, and parents to keep track of the exact times that students leave or enter the school, Lin Zongwu, principal of the No. 11 School of Renhuai in Guizhou Province, told the state-run newspaper Global Times on Dec. 20.
If students skip school without permission, an alarm will be triggered.
If students try to game the system by swapping uniforms, an alarm also will sound, as facial-recognition equipment stationed at the school entrance can match a student’s face with the chip embedded in the uniform.
Each of the "intelligent uniforms" contain two tracking chips which, according to the company that makes them, can withstand temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius and at least 500 runs through a washing machine -- so much for accidentally destroying the hardware. In addition to keeping track of the whereabouts of the kids that wear them for every moment of their school day, the uniforms' chip set can also tell when a child is nodding off during the school day and be used to make cashless purchases of school lunches and other educational necessities. Read the rest
The Marxist Society of Peking University were getting ready to celebrate Mao's 125th birthday when the university administration abruptly deposed its leader, Qui Zhanxuan, and replaced the Society's leadership and upper cadres with 32 ringers largely drawn from the Communist Youth League or the Chinese Communist Party. Read the rest
The employee uprising over Google's secret "Project Dragonfly -- a plan to release a censored, surveilling search engine for use in China -- has reportedly attained its goals: some of the engineers on the covert team Project Dragonfly team have been re-tasked to other projects, and the remainder have been denied access to the critical data-set that made the project possible. Read the rest
A judge in Canada today granted $10 million bail for Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of China electronics giant Huawei. She has to remain in the Vancouver area, where she has a home. The United States has requested her extradition. China is not happy. Huawai's response follows.
He Jiankui, the scientist who claimed to have produced the world’s first gene-edited babies using CRISPR technology, is missing. Reports indicate he has been detained by Chinese authorities. Read the rest
If you want an example of how big of a problem Chinese espionage is, you needn't look any further than the warnings that Canada and the United States have been throwing at corporations and governmental organizations about the use of gear built by tech companies with ties to the Chinese government.
Apparently, the issue extends beyond the use of smartphones and cellular networking hardware built by Huawei and ZTE: the US Government is thinking about conducting deep background checks on Chinese nationals coming to the United States in pursuit of their education. Spies! They're everywhere!
Read the rest
...the Trump administration is reportedly considering the possibility of imposing deeper background checks and additional vetting on all Chinese nationals wishing to study in the US. Citing “a US official and three congressional and university sources”, Reuters said on Thursday that the measures would apply to all Chinese students wishing to register in undergraduate and graduate academic programs in the US. The news agency quoted a “senior US official” as saying that “no Chinese student who’s coming [to the US] is untethered from the state […. They all have] to go through a party and government approval process”. Reuters reported that the proposed plan includes a comprehensive examination of the applicants’ phone records and their presence on social media platforms. The goal would be to verify that the applicants are not connected with Chinese government agencies. As part of the proposed plan, US law enforcement and intelligence agencies would provide counterintelligence training to university officials.
Jack Poulson is the former Google Research Scientist who quit the company's machine learning division over Project Dragonfly, the company's secret plan to build a censoring Chinese search engine designed to help the country's spies surveil dissident search activity. Read the rest
There's been quite a bit of bad ink surrounding Tesla electric vehicles this year: delays in production, growing rumors about subpar customer service, former employees blowing the whistle on dangerous, indifferent working conditions in Tesla assembly plants and logistical woes to name a few. According to The Washington Post, Tesla owners in China can add in-car state surveillance to the list.
Apparently, the Chinese government has demanded that Tesla vehicles purchased in China send a steady stream of information concerning the vehicle's whereabouts and who knows what else to the Chinese government, in real-time. It's some greasy, invasive bullshit that comes at a time when China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, has been cracking down on dissent, privacy and freedoms in the country.
At the very least, Tesla isn't alone: other makers of electric vehicles are being forced to make their customers' information available to the Chinese government as well.
From The Washington Post:
Read the rest
More than 200 manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and U.S.-listed electric vehicle start-up NIO, transmit position information and dozens of other data points to government-backed monitoring centers, The Associated Press has found. Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge.
The automakers say they are merely complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs.
But other countries that are major markets for electronic vehicles — the United States, Japan, across Europe — do not collect this kind of real-time data.
Liz Fong-Jones is a Site Reliability Engineer for Google's cloud division; she took to Twitter after reading today's story in The Intercept in which ex-Google security engineer Yonatan Zunger and three current, unnamed Google Security and Privacy staff describe how they were sidelined and deceived in the rush to ship Project Dragonfly, Google's secret, censored, surveilling Chinese search engine. Read the rest
Google's Project Dragonfly is a formerly secret project to build a surveilling, censored version of its search engine for deployment in China; it was kept secret from the company at large during the 18 months it was in development, until an insider leak led to its existence being revealed in The Intercept. Read the rest
According to documents obtained by the Canadian Press, the Canadian government has been warning against investing in technology served up by state-owned companies as it's highly likely that the hardware could be used as a conduit for corporate espionage.
From The Globe & Mail:
The RCMP organized two workshops last March — one in Calgary, the other in Toronto — to raise awareness about threats to critical systems, including espionage and foreign interference, cyberattacks, terrorism and sabotage, newly disclosed documents show.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service materials prepared for the workshops advise that “non-likeminded countries,” state-owned enterprises and affiliated companies are engaged in a global pursuit of technology and know-how driven by economic and military ambitions.
The papers surrounding the RCMP and CSIS' warnings were heavily redacted: there's no mention of any specific countries that want to take a peek at what Canuck corporations have to offer. However, we've still got a good idea about some of what they were talking about. According to The Canadian Press, the document had a chunk of text in it pulled from a US government report that China and other competing countries have been swiping "hundreds of billions of dollars" worth of intellectual property every year. Additionally, back in 2016, CSIS warned Canadians that maybe allowing Huawei Technologies to have any part in the building of Canada's 5G telecommunications network might be a really bad idea. According to a number of intelligence sources, Huawei's ties to the Chinese government run deep.
It's fun to be reminded that billion dollar concerns like tech and oil companies have just as much to worry about with phishing, sloppy security practices and other digital hazards as everyone else. Read the rest
For years, a secret Google team planned a Chinese search-engine that would censor search results and spy on users for the Chinese state authorities; when the existence of this plan was leaked, thousands of googlers objected to the plan, senior staff quit (then others followed), and things have only gotten worse since, with the company being outed for lying about the project when they claimed it was just a pilot program and nowhere near launch. Read the rest
China's war on jaywalking went to the next level last spring when AI-based facial recognition systems were integrated into some crosswalks, to punish jaywalkers by squirting them with water, sending them texts warning them about legal consequences of jaywalking, and/or publicly shaming them by displaying their pictures and names on large digital billboards. Read the rest
China-watchers observed the rise-and-rise of Chinese premier Xi Jinping with caution and sometimes alarm, but also held out some hope that despite his authoritarian tendencies and thin skin, Xi was genuinely committed to rooting out the rampant corruption that has plagued the country since its rapid industrialization under Deng Xiaoping: the creation of an untouchable elite and a hereditary princeling class immune to civil justice; looting by respected members of the business community; and a sense that the looters are exfiltrating their money, bypassing currency controls, and stashing the booty in apartments overseas, fueling both the Bitcoin and real-estate bubbles worldwide. Read the rest