Connect with us

News desk

UK PM Sunak promises action against Chinese cyberattacks

Published

on

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK would act against any Chinese cyberthreats
Share this:

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday the UK would do what was necessary to protect itself from a cyberattack by China, as Beijing-linked hackers were expected to be accused of recent security breaches.

Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden is due to make a statement about the hackings of the electoral commission and parliament at 3:30 pm (1530 GMT). 

Sanctions are expected to be imposed on those allegedly behind the hacks.

Sunak talked tough on China when he made his bid to become leader of the ruling Conservative party in 2022 but has since moderated his stance while in office.

He said on Monday the government had “invested significantly” in capabilities and tools to protect the country, calling China “an economic threat to our security and an epoch-defining challenge”.

“We will always do what is required to keep our country safe,” he told the BBC broadcaster.

The electoral commission breach in August 2021 saw the personal details of about 40 million UK voters compromised.

Four MPs who have repeatedly called for tougher action against China were also called in for a security briefing after the attacks.

Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, one of those targeted, said Beijing should be labelled a threat to the UK.

“We must now enter a new era of relations with China, dealing with the contemporary Chinese Communist Party as it really is, not as we would wish it to be,” he told a news conference on Monday.

“Today’s announcement should mark a watershed moment where the UK takes a stand for values of human rights and the international rules-based system on which we all depend.”

– Denial –

Duncan Smith was one of several UK MPs sanctioned by China in 2021 because of his criticisms of alleged human rights abuses of the Uyghur minority and a squeeze on rights in Hong Kong.

He said the UK had been subjected to “harassment, impersonation and attempted hacking” from China for some time.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian on Monday dismissed the allegations, saying Beijing had been “resolute” in curbing and striking down “all kinds of malicious cyber-activities”. 

“The issue of tracing cyber-attacks is highly complex and sensitive,” he added.

“When investigating and determining the nature of cyber-incidents, there should be ample objective evidence, instead of smearing other countries without factual basis, let alone politicising cyber-security issues.”

The UK has for several years been increasingly at loggerheads with Beijing over crackdowns on civil and human rights in China and the former British colony Hong Kong.

Ties have been strained further by the UK blocking access to Chinese companies in key British infrastructure projects, including in the nuclear and IT fields.

Last year a UK parliamentary researcher was arrested under the Official Secrets Act on accusations of spying for China.

In 2022, the UK domestic intelligence service, MI5, said that a female Chinese government agent had been “engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, engaging with members here at parliament”.

In July this year, parliament’s intelligence and security committee accused China of targeting the UK “prolifically and aggressively” and complained that the government did not have the “resources, expertise or knowledge” to deal with it.

China has consistently denied accusations of espionage and other wrongdoing.

Share this:

News desk

Meta ‘supreme court’ takes on cases of deepfake porn

Published

on

By

Meta's independent oversight board can make recommendations regarding the social media giant's deepfake porn policies but it is up to the tech firm to actually make any changes
Share this:

Meta’s oversight board said Tuesday it is scrutinizing the social media titan’s deepfake porn policies, through the lens of two cases.

The move by what is referred to as a Meta “supreme court” for content moderation disputes comes just months after the widespread sharing of lewd AI-generated images of megastar Taylor Swift on X, formerly Twitter.

The Meta board picked its two cases, regarding images shared on Instagram and Facebook, to “assess whether Meta’s policies and its enforcement practices are effective at addressing explicit AI-generated imagery,” it said in the release.

The board can make recommendations regarding the social media giant’s deepfake porn policies but it is up to the tech firm to actually make any changes.

The first case taken up by the Meta Oversight Board involves an AI-generated image of a nude woman posted on Instagram.

The woman pictured resembled a public figure in India, sparking complaints from users in that country.

Meta left the image up, later saying it did so in error, the board said.

The second case involves a picture posted to a Facebook group devoted to AI creations.

That image depicted a nude woman resembling “an American public figure” with a man groping one of her breasts, the board said in a release.

The board did not name the woman, who it said was identified in a caption on the synthetic image at issue.

Meta removed the image for violating its harassment policy, and the user who posted the content appealed the decision, according to the board.

People were invited to submit comment, particularly on the gravity of harms posed by deepfake pornography and the harm it does to women who are public figures.

Deepfake porn images of celebrities are not new, but activists and regulators are worried that easy-to-use tools employing generative AI will create an uncontrollable flood of toxic or harmful content.

The targeting of Swift, one of the world’s top-streamed artists whose latest concert tour propelled her to the top of American fame, shined a spotlight on the phenomenon, with her legions of fans outraged at the development.

“It is alarming,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, when asked about the images at the time.

“Sadly we know that lack of enforcement (by the tech platforms) disproportionately impacts women and they also impact girls who are the overwhelming targets of online harassment,” Jean-Pierre added.

Share this:
Continue Reading

News desk

Samsung returns to top of the smartphone market: industry tracker

Published

on

By

Smartphone market tracker International Data Corporation expects Samsung and Apple will continue to dominate when it comes to high-end smartphones but that pressure will increase from Chinese rivals making more budget priced handsets
Share this:

Samsung regained its position as the top smartphone seller, wresting back the lead from Apple as Chinese rivals close the gap on both market leaders, industry tracker International Data Corporation (IDC) reported Monday.

South Korea-based Samsung overtook Apple as worldwide smartphone shipments grew nearly 8 percent in the first quarter of this year to 289.4 million, IDC said, citing its preliminary data.

It was the third consecutive quarter of growth in the global smartphone market, signalling that a recovery from a slump in the sector is underway, according to IDC.

IDC Worldwide Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers team vice president Ryan Reith expected top smartphone companies to gain share and small brands to struggle for position as recovery progresses.

Samsung shipped 60.1 million smartphones in the first quarter of this year, claiming nearly 21 percent of the market, according to IDC figures.

Apple shipped 50.1 million iPhones, garnering just over 17 percent of the market in the same period, IDC reported.

Apple smartphone shipments were down 9.6 percent in a quarter-over-quarter comparison, while Samsung shipments slipped less than one percent, according to the market tracker.

Meanwhile, China-based Xiaomi saw shipments grow about 33 percent to 40.8 million and Transsion about 85 percent to 28.5 million, taking third and fourth positions in the overall smartphone market, IDC reported.

“While Apple managed to capture the top spot at the end of 2023, Samsung successfully reasserted itself as the leading smartphone provider in the first quarter,” Reith said.

IDC expects Samsung and Apple to maintain their hold on the high end of the smartphone market while Chinese competitors seek to expand sales, according to Reith.

Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team, said: “There is a shift in power among the Top 5 companies, which will likely continue as market players adjust their strategies in a post-recovery world.

“Xiaomi is coming back strong from the large declines experienced over the past two years and Transsion is becoming a stable presence in the Top 5 with aggressive growth in international markets.”

Share this:
Continue Reading

News desk

Hong Kong conditionally approves first bitcoin and ether ETFs

Published

on

By

Hong Kong's securities regulator granted conditional approval for city's first spot-bitcoin and ether exchange traded funds
Share this:

Hong Kong’s securities regulator on Monday granted conditional approval to start the city’s first spot-bitcoin and ether exchange-traded funds (ETFs), firms involved said, positioning it as a leader in Asia for the use of cryptocurrencies as investment tools.

ChinaAMC (HK), the city’s unit of China Asset Management, said in a statement it had received regulatory approval from Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (SFC) for the provision of virtual asset management services.

The company is “actively deploying resources in the development of spot Bitcoin ETF and spot Ethereum ETF”, it said. 

This will be done in partnership with BOCI-Prudential Trustee Limited, a joint venture of the fund management arm of Bank of China (HK) and the British multinational insurance firm.

Two other fund managers — the Hong Kong units of Harvest Fund Management and Bosera Asset Management — also said they had received conditional approvals from the SFC, Bloomberg reported.

The SFC declined to comment on individual applications.

OSL Digital Securities will provide custody services to China AMC and Harvest to ensure trading safety, the licensed digital assets platform announced Monday. 

“This collaboration marks a critical advancement in the financial landscape of the region, heralding a new chapter in digital asset investments,” OSL said in a statement. 

Hong Kong has been trying to edge ahead as a regional digital asset hub as its international financial centre status has been dented by political turmoil in recent years and China’s economic downturn.

The latest move came three months after the United States gave the green light to ETFs pegged to bitcoin’s spot price, making it easier for mainstream investors to add the unit to their portfolio.

Hong Kong is also widely considered an experimental field for including cryptocurrencies as mainstream investment tools — which are banned in mainland China.

“The financial hub is looking to establish itself as a competitor in the space competing with Dubai and Singapore as regulators open up crypto markets to institutional demand,” said James Harte, an analyst from Tickmill. 

He added that Bitcoin futures were down “around 7 percent at the lows of the day before sentiment reversed on” Hong Kong’s news. 

Last December, the city’s SFC said it was ready to allow retail investors to buy funds that are 100 percent invested in some of the digital assets, triggering the first wave of applications from fund managers. 

Share this:
Continue Reading

Featured