German 5G Rules Avoid Huawei Ban; US Warns on Intel Sharing

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Germany has released draft security guidelines for next generation wireless networks that stop short of banning Huawei, as the U.S. warned again it would reconsider intelligence sharing with allies that use the Chinese company’s equipment.The Federal Network Agency issued rules on Tuesday laying out conditions for suppliers for new 5G networks.They include certifying critical components and ensuring trustworthiness of manufacturers, without singling out Huawei for exclusion.The U.S. has been lobbying allies in Europe to shun Huawei over worries its equipment might aid Chinese electronic spying, claims the company has repeatedly denied.The top U.S. cybersecurity diplomat, Rob Strayer, told reporters the U.S. government would have to reassess how it shares intelligence with countries like Germany if they use untrusted technology in the new networks. 

US Tech Firms Drawn Into Hong Kong Protesters Standoff With China

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With Hong Kong anti-government protests ongoing, tech companies in the U.S. are being drawn into the crisis. The standoff between China and protesters has led some U.S. tech firms to curtail services. Michelle Quinn reports

On Amazon’s List of Principles: Regulate Facial Recognition Tech

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Amazon is endorsing the idea of government regulation of facial recognition technology, as part of a wide-ranging statement of its principles on a range of social and political issues.The U.S. tech giant, which has come under scrutiny by antitrust enforcers and has been criticized over its use of facial recognition software, set out its positions in a statement posted late Thursday on its corporate website.Some of those stances, such as its endorsement of a raise in the federal minimum wage, were previously disclosed by Amazon.The statement also reiterated recent comments by Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos on efforts to battle climate change.Facial recognitionOn facial recognition, Amazon said it believes that “governments should act to regulate the use of this technology to ensure it’s used appropriately.”The company noted that it offered its own set of guidelines for facial recognition that “protects individual civil rights and ensures that governments are transparent in their application of the technology.”Thursday’s statement said governments “should work quickly to put in place a regulatory framework” for the technology, which has been used increasingly around the world amid criticism on privacy and civil liberties concerns.Human rights, privacyAmazon also said it supports diversity and rights of persons of any gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion and sexual orientation and “strongly” endorses immigrant rights and immigration reform.The company said it will back U.S. federal privacy legislation “that requires transparency, access to personal information, ability to delete personal information, and that prohibits the sale of personal data without consent.”Minimum wage, taxesThe federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour in the U.S. “is too low and should be raised,” Amazon said, noting that it has promised to pay a minimum of $15 an hour and has encouraged others to follow suit.Amazon, which critics say has paid little or no income taxes in recent years, said it endorses a review of the international tax system.“Corporate tax codes in any country should incentivize investment in the economy and job creation,” the company said.“In addition, tax codes, particularly between countries, should be coordinated to have neither loopholes that permit artificially lower tax rates nor overlaps that cause higher tax rates or redundant taxation, because these distort company behavior in ways that don’t benefit consumers or the economy.”

African Women in Tech Look to Artificial Intelligence

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Artificial intelligence took center stage as African female technology experts met at Women in Tech Week in Ghana to promote women’s involvement in the field. When Lily Edinam Botsyoe was studying computer science at a university in Ghana, students wrote programming codes on a whiteboard because there were not enough computers. This made it difficult to apply the coding skills they were learning, she says, and the problem continues today.”We have students coming out of schools having the theoretical background — which is very important because you can’t actually appreciate something practical if you don’t have the theory. But, the industry-ready skills is lacking because they didn’t have the hands-on experience,” Botsyoe said.She wants to see more resources for students, especially for girls and women, to get practical experience in technology in Ghana and across Africa.
 
Today, Botsyoe is a system tester and works to mentor other women in coding and artificial intelligence.    Botsyoe presented at the Women in Tech Week in Accra, along with her colleague, data scientist Aseda Addai-Deseh.They explained to participants what artificial intelligence is, how it works and, most importantly, how it can be used and developed by African women. Such uses include helping a community overcome a lack of health professionals, or increasing agricultural yields with automated farming.For Addai-Deseh, the potential for AI in Africa is boundless.  “Africa is the next market because there are so many problems here to be solved, and when you have so many problems, you have so many opportunities,” she said.Addai-Deseh says while more Africans are taking notice of AI, the majority of the industry is in North America, Europe and Asia, and is largely male.  She wants to see more investment into developers across the continent — especially in women.AI concernsReal estate agent Maya Yiadom was watching the two women’s presentation.While excited about AI’s potential, she is also concerned about technology replacing jobs in Africa, where many nations already suffer high unemployment.”Work as we know it is going to change and I’m not sure, millions, possibly billions of us already, how are we going to survive?” Yiadom said.The focus on artificial intelligence at the Women in Tech Week comes six months after U.S. technology giant Google opened an AI lab in Ghana — the first in Africa.  Developers at the lab will focus on creating products for education, health and agriculture to solve problems in Africa.
 

Arrested Japanese Stalker Used Pupil Image Reflections

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A man arrested on suspicion of stalking a female pop idol used the reflections of her pupils in photos she shared on social media and Google Street View to find where she lived.
 
Tokyo police declined comment on the specifics of the investigation but confirmed Friday that 26-year-old Hibiki Sato was arrested Sept. 17 on suspicion of indecent behavior in connection with stalking and causing injuries to the 20-year-old woman.
 
The police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as is often policy at Japanese bureaucracies, said the case was related to the reports about a stalker and pupil images.
 
Police described Sato as an “avid fan.” 
 
Public broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media reported this week that details in the woman’s selfies were used to identify the train station she frequented. They said Sato looked at other images she shared, such as her apartment, to figure out where she lived.
 
Police say he hurt her and committed indecent acts, such as groping her after accosting her from behind and knocking her down.
 
Japan has many young female performance groups.Selfie warningTokyo Shimbun, a metropolitan daily which reported on the stalking case, warned readers that even casual selfies may show surrounding buildings that will allow people to identify the location of the photos.It also said people shouldn’t make the V-sign with their hand, which Japanese often do in photos, because fingerprints could be stolen.    
 
Cyberstalking has been a problem for years, with criminals and perpetrators of domestic violence using hacking, clandestine activation of microphones and cameras, and other methods to track their victims.
 
It’s unclear how prevalent the use of high-resolution photos to locate potential victims might be.   
 

African Women in Tech Working to Close Digital Divide

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Women from across Africa are meeting at the annual Women in Tech Africa Week, hoping to bring more women into the tech industry and combat inequalities in technology use and access, especially for economic empowerment.Francesca Opoku remembers having to physically send workers to deliver messages or documents when she started her small social enterprise in Ghana 10 years ago. Today, she works to keep up with fast-developing technology to grow her business that produces natural beauty products. She also trains women she works with in financial literacy, such as using simple mobile technology to manage their money.”As a small African business, as you are growing and as you aspire to grow globally and your tentacles are widening, the world is just going techy,” Opoku said. “Business in the world is going techy. It’s especially relevant in small business. It’s the best way to make what you are doing known out there.”She was at the launch of Women In Tech Africa in Accra, with events in six other countries including Germany, Kenya and Zimbabwe. Opoku said she wants to learn more about how she can use technology to make her business grow and to ensure she is not left behind in the technology divide.Across Africa, this divide means women are 13% less likely to own a mobile phone and 41% less likely to use mobile internet than men.Women In Tech Africa founderWomen In Tech Africa founder Ethel Cofie speaks at the opening of the annual Women in Tech event in Accra. (S. Knott/VOA)Ethel Cofie, founder of Women In Tech Africa, an NGO that started in 2015, said addressing this gap is crucial. Her network of 5,000 women across 30 African countries is pushing the conversation about women in technology and leadership.”There is a huge gender gap, and that is part of the conversation,” Cofie said. “When we are out here showing the world we actually exist, are doing things, what it does is, it provides avenues for us to support other women. One of the things Women in Tech has done is work with the Ghanaian Beauticians Association and Ghana traders associations. Even though these women are not necessarily as educated, they also need to be able to use tech to build their businesses.”Cofie says the digital gap between men and women in Africa is a consequence of poverty and economic disparities. Men usually have higher incomes, and better access to mobile phones and internet data.EducationIncreasing digital access starts with education. At the G-7 summit this year, members pledged to work with developing countries to promote inclusion, equity and access for girls and women to quality education, including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).Faiza Adam, a network engineer, started Girly Tech this year to inspire underprivileged Ghanaian girls into STEM careers. She’s training young girls in web development, programming and robotics in Accra.”Imagine where girls don’t embrace tech, then in five years to come, we have only males who are in the tech space — there is no diversity,” Adam said. “So, in the decision making, they tend to use the male, male, male ideas instead of female. So, when we have inclusion, or there is diversity — I bring my idea, and the guy also brings his idea from the male perspective — we come together and solve societal problems.”Cofie and Adam both say more women in tech will mean more problems solved in their own communities. But Cofie adds that half the battles — like the gender divide — could be overcome with the right policies in place.
 

European Union Finds Ransomware Is Top Cybercrime

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The European Union’s 2019 cybercrime report said the number of online attacks is going down but criminals are targeting more data and profits.The European Union’s law enforcement agency developed the report that shows that ransomware remains the top cybercrime threat. Ransomware attacks block access to vital data and are described as being targeted, more profitable for the attackers and causing greater economic damage to private and public entities.The report, called the Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment, cited the 2019 “GermanWiper” ransomware as an example of the harm it can bring. That ransomware replaced the files of German companies, making them unrecoverable.The report identified concerns of governments becoming victims to ransomware attacks. Local governments in the United States, like the cities of Atlanta and Baltimore, have fallen victim to it.  According to the report “every state in the U.S. has been hit with an attack, with the exception of Delaware and Kentucky.”The IOCTA said the United States has seen more damage from ransomware than the European Union, but that could change as cybercrime “evolves.”Europol also highlighted online sexual exploitation of children.  A report says cybercriminals can use the internet to access sexually explicit content of minors. It says a growing number of juveniles have been sharing sexual pictures or videos with peers, which could be stolen and reposted.Cybercriminals can also make content themselves. The report targeted deepfakes as being used to create videos of children using their own material. Deepfakes create false images and have been used to produce explicit content from celebrity websites. A comedian used Artificial Intelligence to generate a deepfake of former U.S. president Barack Obama.Other developments in cybercrime like decentralized, unregulated internet marketplaces and phishing scams that steal personal data, remain concerns for Europol because of their potential to continue to evolve even as law enforcement works to prevent it.”Some threats of yesterday remain relevant today and will continue to challenge us tomorrow,” said Europol’s Executive Director, Catherine De Bolle.  

China Criticizes Apple for App that Tracks Hong Kong Police

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Apple became the latest company targeted for Chinese pressure over protests in Hong Kong when the ruling Communist Party’s main newspaper criticized the tech giant Wednesday for a smartphone app that allows activists to report police movements.HKmap.live, designed by an outside supplier and available on Apple Inc.’s online store, “facilitates illegal behavior,” People’s Daily said in a commentary.“Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?” the newspaper said.Beijing has pressed companies including Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways to take the government’s side against the protests, which are in their fourth month.Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.HKmap.live allows users to report police locations, use of tear gas and other details that are added to a regularly updated map. A version is also available for smartphones that use the Android operating system.Asked whether the Chinese government had asked Apple to remove the HKmap.live from its online store, a foreign ministry spokesman said he had no information about that.“What I can tell you is that these radical, violent crimes in Hong Kong have seriously challenged the legal system and social order in Hong Kong, threatened the safety of Hong Kong residents’ lives and property, and undermined the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” said the spokesman, Geng Shuang.“Anyone who has a conscience and justice should resist and oppose instead of supporting and indulging those actions,” Geng said at a regular news briefing.The demonstrations began over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include other grievances and demands for greater democracy.Criticism of Apple followed government attacks starting last weekend on the National Basketball Association over a comment by the general manager of the Houston Rockets in support of the protesters. China’s state TV has canceled broadcasts of NBA games.“Apple jumped into this on its own and mixed together business with politics and commercial activity with illegal activities,” People’s Daily said.The newspaper warned Apple might be damaging its reputation with Chinese consumers.Brands targeted in the past by Beijing have been subjected to campaigns by the entirely state-controlled press to drive away consumers or disruptive investigations by tax and other regulators.“This recklessness will cause much trouble for Apple,” People’s Daily said. “Apple needs to think deeply.”