Category Archives: Business

economy and business news

US Tech Competition With China Draws Bipartisan Support

This week a U.S.-government backed commission of technology experts completed a three-year review of the country’s artificial intelligence capabilities, urging the development of a new national technology strategy to stay competitive with China.The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) has been studying how artificial intelligence and machine learning can address U.S. national security and defense needs. It recommended spending billions of dollars more on research, diversifying the American industrial supply chain for microchips and other high-tech products, and reforming immigration policies to attract talented researchers and workers.Some of those steps are under way. Republican and Democratic lawmakers are now focusing more on ways to address technological competition with China, following years in which officials say China carried out corporate espionage and forced technology transfers to rapidly advance its technological capabilities.Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., talks to reporters on Jan. 28, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.On Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation aiming to help the U.S. government develop more technology partnerships with allies to counter China’s rise in artificial intelligence, 5G, quantum computing and other areas.The bill, led by Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, a former technology entrepreneur, would create a new interagency office within the State Department focusing on coordinating tech strategies with other democratic nations. It would also create a $5 billion fund supporting research projects between government and private companies.In this image from video, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged a bipartisan effort to draft a bill investing in disruptive new technologies to challenge China.Also last week, President Joe Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 12, 2018.Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told VOA Mandarin he believes the bill will receive broad bipartisan support.“On the broad issue of China, supply chain is one element of it. But we are working on the broader issue of how do we both compete with China and how do we confront China,” Menendez said, “I think there’s plenty of room where there should be a common ground that we can come together.”He added that he has been discussing America’s China policy with Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and the State Department is conducting its own comprehensive evaluation on current China policies.“There’s a whole of government review vis-a-vis China, which I applaud,” Menendez told VOA.Similar efforts are ongoing in the U.S. Congress, where several Republican legislators are pushing the White House to maintain former President Donald Trump’s hardline posture on China.Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla, speaks during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on July 29, 2020 in Washington.Representative Greg Steube, a Florida Republican, introduced the Keep Huawei on the Entity List Act on Wednesday, which would continue export controls and keep China’s telecommunication firm Huawei on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s entity list.“Huawei is one of the most powerful tools that the Chinese Communist Party can use for espionage and potential destruction against the United States,” Steube said in a statement.James Lankford, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, said that he and his colleagues have been talking with the White House about keeping some of the Trump-era policies on China.“We want to make it very clear. And that policy shouldn’t be thrown aside just because they have the name Trump in front of them,” he told VOA. “If there were good policies, and they were good policies, and they should remain.”Artificial intelligence for the futureThe artificial intelligence report recommends that the Department of Defense must have the foundations in place by 2025 for widespread adoption of artificial intelligence systems.The commission also addressed the ethics of using AI-enabled and autonomous weapons. For now, it said the Defense Department has adequate protections in place so that such weapons do not require a global ban and can continue to be used in accordance with international humanitarian law. It recommended establishing systems to build confidence in AI technology and keeping humans in the decision chain for deploying nuclear weapons.Lin Yang contributed to this report.

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Vietnam Tapping Hackers to Silence Critics, Experts Warn

An international advocacy group’s claim that the Vietnamese government has tapped hackers to target activists shows that the communist Southeast Asian state is widening the use of technology to quash its biggest opponents, experts believe. Ocean Lotus, a shadowy group suspected of working with the Vietnamese government, is “behind a sustained campaign of spyware attacks,” London-based Amnesty International said in a statement on February 24 following two years of research. It says the attacks surfaced in 2014 and targeted rights activists and the private sector, inside Vietnam as well as abroad. The hack attacks would signal a growing use of technology to muzzle strong vocal opponents of Vietnam’s officials, country observers say. Police already use internet trolls and authorities have been known to damage people’s Facebook accounts, said James Gomez, regional director of the Asia Centre, a Bangkok-based think tank. The FILE – Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesperson Ngo Toan Thang speaks to media in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 7, 2019.”This is groundless information,” deputy ministry spokesperson Ngo Toan Thang told a news conference in May, as quoted on the ministry’s website. “Vietnam strictly bans all cyber-attacks against organizations and individuals in any form.” The ministry’s English-language website does not address Amnesty International’s claims. Amnesty International’s Security Lab said in the February 24 statement it had found Ocean Lotus’s influence in phishing emails sent to two Vietnamese “human rights” advocates. One lives in Germany, the statement says, and the other was a Vietnamese nongovernmental organization in the Philippines. “The hacking group has been repeatedly identified by cybersecurity firms as targeting Vietnamese political dissidents, foreign governments and companies,” the statement adds.  Vietnam ‘cyber-troops’French journalism advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said in 2018 Vietnam had appointed 10,000 “cyber-troops” to fight online dissent. The journalism group called the deployment an “army of internet trolls” aimed at attacking independent media outlets. Authorities showed last year they can quickly shutter social media accounts registered in foreign countries.  After Vietnamese blogger Bui Thi Minh Hang livestreamed an interview with a woman whose 3-year-old child was exposed to tear gas, her posts quickly disappeared from Facebook and YouTube and she was arrested hours later. She lost access to her accounts.Vietnam Pressures Social Media Platforms to Censor Vietnam’s laws and requests for content removal are stifling free speech, bloggers and rights organizations say Jack Nguyen, a partner at the business advisory firm Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City, suggests that internet commentators stick to issues rather than targeting the state or the Communist Party. Pollution and drought are acceptable topics, he said, and it’s even OK to suggest policy changes. “Don’t criticize the party,” Nguyen said. “You can criticize some of the policies but don’t do anything that they can say that it’s counterrevolutionary.” 
 

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Learning a Dog’s Many Moods… With a Smart Collar

From a smart dog collar that can tell you your pet’s emotional state to toys that automatically move, the pet tech industry is growing, especially during the pandemic when many people staying at home have been adopting dogs and cats.  VOA’s Elizabeth Lee has more on the latest tech devices for pets.Camera:  Elizabeth Lee, Sam Verma   
Producer: Elizabeth Lee

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What Is Clubhouse and Why Did It Get So Popular?

There’s a new player in the social media webspace: it’s called Clubhouse. But unlike other social media platforms this one isn’t open to just anyone. Mariia Prus looked into why the platform got so popular so fast.
Camera: Oleksii Osyka

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US Judge Approves $650M Facebook Privacy Lawsuit Settlement

A federal judge on Friday approved a $650 million settlement of a privacy lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly using photo face-tagging and other biometric data without the permission of its users.U.S. District Judge James Donato approved the deal in a class-action lawsuit that was filed in Illinois in 2015. Nearly 1.6 million Facebook users in Illinois who submitted claims will be affected.Donato called it one of the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation.”It will put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated,” he wrote, calling it “a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.”Jay Edelson, a Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit, told the Chicago Tribune that the checks could be in the mail within two months unless the ruling is appealed.“We are pleased to have reached a settlement so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders,” Facebook, which is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, said in a statement.The lawsuit accused the social media giant of violating an Illinois privacy law by failing to get consent before using facial-recognition technology to scan photos uploaded by users to create and store faces digitally.The state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act allowed consumers to sue companies that didn’t get permission before harvesting data such as faces and fingerprints.The case eventually wound up as a class-action lawsuit in California.Facebook has since changed its photo-tagging system.

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Carter Center Targets Online Threats in Ethiopia

With internet access increasing in many emerging democracies, use of social media is changing the ways that candidates and voters interact.  It’s also changing how the non-profit U.S.-based Carter Center assesses elections. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, monitoring online disinformation and threats to prevent political violence is a new front in the center’s democracy initiatives and is a focus ahead of elections in Ethiopia.Camera: Kane Farabaugh    Producer: Kane Farabaugh

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Tech Executives Warn Full Extent of US Cyber Breach Still Unknown

U.S. lawmakers launched an investigation this week into the December 2020 SolarWinds hack that included a breach of many private and U.S. government computer systems. As VOA’s congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson reports, tech leaders are telling lawmakers the full scope of the breach is still not known.  Camera: Adam Greenbaum  Produced by: Katherine Gypson
  

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Tech Executives Warn Full Extent of US Cyber Breach Still Unkown

U.S. lawmakers launched an investigation this week into the December 2020 SolarWinds hack that included a breach of many private and U.S. government computer systems. As VOA’s congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson reports, tech leaders are telling lawmakers the full scope of the breach is still not known.  Camera: Adam Greenbaum  Produced by: Katherine Gypson
 

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ByteDance Agrees to $92 Million Privacy Settlement with US TikTok Users

ByteDance has agreed to a $92 million class-action settlement over data privacy claims from some U.S. TikTok users, according to documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Illinois. ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the short video app that has more than 100 million U.S. users, agreed to the settlement after more than a year of litigation. “While we disagree with the assertions, rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community,” TikTok said Thursday. The settlement still requires court approval. FILE – A man opens social media app TikTok on his cellphone, in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 21, 2020.The lawsuits claimed the TikTok app “infiltrates its users’ devices and extracts a broad array of private data including biometric data and content that defendants use to track and profile TikTok users for the purpose of, among other things, ad targeting and profit.” The settlement was reached after “an expert-led inside look at TikTok’s source code” and extensive mediation efforts, according to the motion seeking approval of the settlement. Separately, in Washington the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department are looking into allegations that TikTok failed to live up to a 2019 agreement aimed at protecting children’s privacy. 
 

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