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posted by Fnord666 on Monday December 02, @04:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the get-real dept.

Starting December 1st, China now requires telecom operators to collect face scans for new phone users.

In September, China's industry and information technology ministry issued a notice on "safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online", which laid out rules for enforcing real-name registration.

The notice said telecom operators should use "artificial intelligence and other technical means" to verify people's identities when they take a new phone number.

A China Unicom customer service representative told AFP that the December 1 "portrait matching" requirement means customers registering for a new phone number may have to record themselves turning their head and blinking.

Online social media reactions on Weibo (a Chinese Twitter-like service) showed both support and opposition to the move.

Oversight of social media has ramped up in recent years as part of the Chinese government's push to "promote the healthy, orderly development of the Internet, protect state security and public interest".

It seems likely that reaction to future measures will be uniformly positive.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday November 29, @01:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the for-some-values-of-terrorist dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard says Mexico would not tolerate any move that violates the country's sovereignty.

US President Donald Trump has announced that the United States wants to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups for their role in trafficking narcotics and people, prompting a speedy request for talks by Mexico.

"They will be designated ... I have been working on that for the last 90 days. You know, designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process," Trump said in an interview  with former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that aired on Tuesday.

Soon afterwards, Mexico's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it would quickly seek a high-level meeting with US State Department officials to address the legal designation, as well as the flow of arms and money from the US to organised crime in Mexico.

"The foreign minister will establish contact with his counterpart, Michael R. Pompeo, in order to discuss this very important issue for the bilateral agenda," the ministry said.

Once a particular group is designated as a terrorist organisation, it is illegal under US law for people in the United States to knowingly offer support.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 27, @01:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the only-have-to-win-once dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Senate takes another stab at privacy law with proposed COPRA bill

Perhaps the third time's the charm: a group of Senate Democrats, following in the recent footsteps of their colleagues in both chambers, has introduced a bill that would impose sweeping reforms to the current disaster patchwork of US privacy law.

The bill (PDF), dubbed the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA), seeks to provide US consumers with a blanket set of privacy rights. The scope and goal of COPRA are in the same vein as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May 2018.

Privacy rights "should be like your Miranda rights—clear as a bell as to what they are and what constitutes a violation," Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who introduced the bill, said in a statement. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) also co-sponsored the bill.

The press release announcing the bill also includes statements of support from several consumer and privacy advocacy groups, such as Consumer Reports, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology, and the NAACP.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 25, @06:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-a-wicked-web-we-weave-when-first-we-practice-to-deceive dept.

We had two Soylentils write in with news about Chinese spy operations and a defection in Australia.

Australia Investigating Alleged Chinese Plot to Install "Spy MP"

Australia investigates alleged Chinese plot to install spy MP

Australian intelligence officials have confirmed they are investigating allegations of a plot to plant a Chinese spy in the nation's parliament. The allegations - first aired by local network Nine - assert that a suspected Chinese espionage ring approached a Chinese-Australian man to run as an MP.

[...] On Sunday, Nine's 60 Minutes programme reported that suspected Chinese agents approached a luxury car dealer, Nick Zhao, ahead of Australia's general election - which took place in May. They allegedly offered him A$1m (£520,000; $680,000) to fund his run for a Melbourne seat as a candidate for the ruling Liberal Party, of which Mr Zhao was already a member.

Mr Zhao gave information about the alleged approach to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) last year, Nine reported. He was found dead in a hotel room in Melbourne in March. His death has prompted a coroner's inquiry.

Nine has also reported that a man claiming to be a Chinese spy has applied for asylum in Australia, in an unrelated case.

Chinese Spy Decided to Defect to Australia

Chinese spy Wang Liqiang alleges Beijing ordered overseas murders, including in Australia.

A man claiming to have worked as a secret Chinese operative for five years says Beijing has directed overseas assassinations, including on Australian soil.

Government sources have confirmed to the ABC[*] Wang "William" Liqiang has detailed the sensational allegations as he seeks political asylum.

Nine Newspapers have reported Mr Wang is in hiding in Sydney after recently providing a sworn statement to Australia's domestic spy agency ASIO outlining Beijing's covert operations.

One senior official, speaking to the ABC on the condition of anonymity, said the challenge for security agencies was to now "separate fact from fiction" while assessing Mr Wang's disclosures.

In the statement Mr Wang provided ASIO[**] last month, he reportedly states: "I have been personally involved and participated in a series of espionage activities".

According to Nine Newspapers, Mr Wang has provided new details about the kidnapping of five booksellers who specialised in works critical of Chinese leaders based in Hong Kong, starting in 2015, and their rendition to mainland China.

He is also reported to have said spies from Beijing were infiltrating Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, influencing Taiwan's elections and "operating with impunity in Australia", according to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

[*] ABC: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
[**] ASIO: Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

NB: Australia is part of Five Eyes intelligence community which also includes Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Also at Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and MSN.

Can't wait to see the spin that China puts on this. And, the spin that US media puts on it should be even better!

Original Submission #1, Original Submission #2

posted by martyb on Thursday November 21, @09:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the courting-disaster? dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

China says its courts trump Hong Kong's on face mask ruling

China's top legislature has insisted Hong Kong courts had no power to rule on the constitutionality of legislation under the city's Basic Law, as it condemned a decision by the high court to overturn a ban on face masks worn by pro-democracy protesters.

The statement on Tuesday came a day after the high court ruled that the face mask ban - introduced through colonial-era emergency laws - was unconstitutional.

[...] "Whether the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region comply with the Basic Law of Hong Kong can only be judged and decided by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress," Yan Tanwei, a spokesman for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said in a statement.

"No other authority has the right to make judgments and decisions," he added.

[...] Protests started in June with rallies that brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets in a largely peaceful call for the withdrawal of a now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

They have since evolved into a series of demands for greater democracy and freedoms as well as an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality. Protesters worry China is encroaching on the freedoms given to Hong Kong when the United Kingdom returned the territory to China under what was known as "one country, two systems" in 1997.

[...] China has repeatedly warned that it would not allow the city to spiral into total chaos, heightening concerns that Beijing might deploy troops or other security forces to quell the unrest.

"The Hong Kong government is trying very hard to put the situation under control," China's ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, said on Monday.

"But if the situation becomes uncontrollable, the central government would certainly not sit on our hands and watch. We have enough resolution and power to end the unrest."

[...] Protesters had been using masks to hide their identities in public. The proposal was widely criticised by supporters of the anti-government movement, who saw it as a risk to demonstrators.

Hong Kong's High Court ruled on Monday that colonial-era emergency laws, which were revived to justify the mask ban, were "incompatible with the Basic Law", the mini-constitution under which Hong Kong was returned to China.

Will China run out of patience with Hong Kong protests?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday November 17, @09:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-luck-with-that dept.

Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956__

The House and Senate finally agree on something: Robocalls – TechCrunch

In these times of political strife, it’s nice that despite our differences we can still band together as a nation in the face of a catastrophe that affects us all equally. I speak, of course, of robocalls, and it seems that the House and Senate have put their differences aside for the present in order to collaborate on a law combating this scourge.

[...] As often happens in Congress, two competing versions of the bill emerged to address this issue, and both passed in their respective chambers earlier this year. Now the leaders of the committees involved have announced an “agreement in principle” that will hopefully allow them to pass a unified version of the bill.

The “Pallone-Thune TRACED Act” owes its name to its primary sponsors — Rep. Pallone (D-NJ) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) — and the earlier and superior acronym from the House act, Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence.

“Our agreement will require telephone carriers to verify calls and allow robocalls to be blocked in a consistent and transparent way, all at no extra charge to consumers. The agreement also gives the FCC and law enforcement the ability to quickly go after scammers,” said Rep. Pallone in a statement accompanying the news.

The bill text is expected to be finalized in a matter of days, and it will hopefully make it onto the legislative calendar in a hurry.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 16, @12:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the we-can-hear-you dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Phone intercepts show rebels accused of shooting down the plane had 'close ties' with Russia before the 2014 attack.

A series of phone intercepts released by a team investigating the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine show ties between Moscow and the pro-Russian rebels accused of shooting down the aircraft were "much closer" than originally believed, investigators said.

The Dutch-lead Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said calls between officials in Moscow and pro-Russian rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine, who are facing trial over the incident, intensified before the crash in July of 2014, raising questions over Russia's involvement in providing the missile used to down the plane.

"There was almost daily telephone contact between the leadership of the DPR and their contacts in the Russian Federation," JIT said in a statement on Thursday, using the acronym of the Donetsk People's Republic rebels. The calls mostly took place over secure phones provided by Russian security forces, it said.

All 298 people on board died when MH17 was shot out of the sky over the territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday November 12, @09:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

The view among the national security officials was unanimous: Military aid to Ukraine should not be stopped. But the White House's acting chief of staff thought otherwise.

That was the testimony of Laura Cooper, a Defense Department official, whose deposition was released Monday in the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

"My sense is that all of the senior leaders of the US national security departments and agencies were all unified in their - in their view that this assistance was essential," she said. "And they were trying to find ways to engage the president on this."

Cooper's testimony was among several hundred pages of transcripts released Monday, along with those of State Department officials Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson.

Cooper told investigators that, in a series of July meetings at the White House, she came to understand that Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was holding up the military aid for the US ally.

[...] When she and others tried to get an explanation, they found none.

[...] She said it was "unusual" to have congressional funds suddenly halted that way, and aides raised concerns about the legality of it. The Pentagon was "concerned" about the hold-up of funds and "any signal that we would send to Ukraine about a wavering in our commitment", she said.

Cooper told investigators that she was visited in August by Kurt Volker, the US special envoy to Ukraine, who explained there was a "statement" that the Ukraine government could make to get the security money flowing.

[...] "Somehow, an effort that he was engaged in to see if there was a statement that the government of Ukraine would make," said Cooper, an assistant defence secretary, "that would somehow disavow any interference in US elections and would commit to the prosecution of any individuals involved in election interference."

For a handy reference to the documents that have been released concerning this, npr has posted Trump Impeachment Inquiry: A Guide To Key People, Facts And Documents:

Written words are central to the Ukraine affair. The significance of the whistleblower's original complaint and the White House's record of its call with Ukraine are debated, but the text is public. Here are the documents to refer to as the inquiry proceeds:

Texts and memos

Enlarge this image

The whistleblower's complaint has largely been corroborated by witness testimony, public statements and media reports. See how the document checks out — with a detailed annotation of the text.

Testimony released by Congress following closed depositions

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Thursday November 07, @04:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the people's-choice dept.

Ranked-choice voting adopted in New York City, along with other ballot measures

New York City will move to a system of ranked-choice voting, shaking up the way its elections are run after voters approved a ballot question to make the change.

The city will be by far the biggest place in the U.S. to put the new way of voting to the test, tripling the number of people around the country who use it.

A ballot question proposing the shift for New York primaries and special elections was approved Tuesday by a margin of nearly 3-1. It's now set to be in effect for New York's elections for mayor, City Council and other offices in 2021.

Under the system, voters will rank up to five candidates in order of preference, instead of casting a ballot for just one. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the last place candidate is eliminated and their votes are parceled out to the voter's second choice, a computerized process that continues until one candidate has a majority and is declared the winner.

Ranked-choice voting is now in use or approved in 18 other cities around the country, including San Francisco, Minneapolis and Cambridge. The state of Maine also uses it. Backers say the system discourages negative campaigning, and forces candidates to reach out to more voters rather than relying on a narrow base. It's also designed to allow voters to pick their true favorite, without worrying about throwing away a vote on someone who can't win.

Previously: Maine Supreme Court Approves Ranked-Choice Voting for 2018 Elections
Maine Debuts Ranked-Choice Voting

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday November 06, @10:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the getting-roughed-up dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Chinese state media has urged authorities to take a "tougher line" against protesters in Hong Kong who vandalised state-run Xinhua news agency and other buildings at the weekend, saying the violence damaged the city's rule of law.

[...] In an editorial, state-backed China Daily newspaper criticised the "wanton" attacks by "naive" demonstrators, adding, "They are doomed to fail simply because their violence will encounter the full weight of the law."

Police fired tear gas at black-clad protesters on Saturday and Sunday in some of the worst violence in the Asian financial hub in weeks, with metro stations set ablaze and buildings vandalised.

Violence also erupted on Sunday after a man with a knife attacked several people and bit off part of the ear of a pro-democracy politician. Two of the victims are reportedly in critical condition, according to reports.

The past five months of anti-government protests in the former British colony represent the biggest popular challenge to President Xi Jinping's government since he took over China's leadership in late 2012.

Protesters are angry at China's perceived meddling with Hong Kong's freedoms, including its legal system, since the Asian financial hub returned to Chinese rule in 1997. China denies the accusation.

The widely-read Global Times tabloid on Sunday condemned the protesters' actions targeting Xinhua and called for action by Hong Kong's enforcement agencies.

"Due to the symbolic image of Xinhua, the vandalizing of its branch is not only a provocation to the rule of law in Hong Kong, but also to the central government and the Chinese mainland, which is the rioters' main purpose," it said.

On Friday, after a meeting of China's top leadership, a senior Chinese official said it would not tolerate separatism or threats to national security in Hong Kong and would "perfect" the way it appointed the city's leader.

Original Submission