The End of Democratic Capitalism?

from NewCo Shift A clash of fundamentally competing economic philosophies broke into the mainstream news this weekend, with the fate of democratic capitalism hanging in the balance. And while it’s likely too early to call a winner, the trends are certainly not looking good for democracy as we understand it in the west.* First, the news. Bowing to Chinese law, Apple will be storing the keys to its Chinese customers’ data inside China?—?subjecting that information to Chinese legal oversight, a system which, as Yonatan Zunger points out, is markedly distinct from that of the United States, where Apple had heretofore protected […]

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The Post-TPP Future of Digital Trade in Asia

from EFF On March 8, trade representatives from eleven Pacific rim countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Australia are expected to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The agreement has been slimmed down both in its content—22 items in the text have been suspended, including the bulk of the intellectual property chapter—and also in its membership, with the exclusion of the United States which had been the driver of those suspended provisions. What remains in the CPTPP is the agreement’s Electronic Commerce (also called digital trade) chapter, which will set […]

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China To Build Giant Facial Recognition Database To Identify Any Citizen Within Seconds

from SCMP The goal is for the system to able to match someone’s face to their ID photo with about 90 per cent accuracy. The project, launched by the Ministry of Public Security in 2015, is under development in conjunction with a security company based in Shanghai. The system can be connected to surveillance camera networks and will use cloud facilities to connect with data storage and processing centres distributed across the country, according to people familiar with the project. However, some researchers said it was unclear when the system would be completed, as the development was encountering many difficulties […]

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China Is Quietly Reshaping the World

from The Atlantic The Pakistani town of Gwadar was until recently filled with the dust-colored cinderblock houses of about 50,000 fishermen. Ringed by cliffs, desert, and the Arabian Sea, it was at the forgotten edge of the earth. Now it’s one centerpiece of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, and the town has transformed as a result. Gwadar is experiencing a storm of construction: a brand-new container port, new hotels, and 1,800 miles of superhighway and high-speed railway to connect it to China’s landlocked western provinces. China and Pakistan aspire to turn Gwadar into a new Dubai, making it a city […]

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Justices Weigh Immunity for Corporations in Human Rights Cases Abroad

from NYTs The Supreme Court, which has already placed strict limits on lawsuits brought in federal court based on human rights abuses abroad, seemed open on Wednesday to barring such suits entirely when the defendants are corporations. The case concerned Arab Bank, which is based in Jordan and operates in about 30 countries. It has been accused of processing financial transactions through a branch in New York for groups linked to terrorism. The plaintiffs in the case seek to hold the bank liable for attacks by Hamas and other groups in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. Jeffrey L. Fisher, […]

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Small Businesses In Sweden Try To Adapt To A World Without Cash

from WaPo Sweden is serious about becoming a cashless society. How serious? Even the Abba Museum no longer accepts cash. Now that is serious. Some researchers are predicting that cash there will be a “very marginal payment form” by 2020. Things are definitely trending in that direction. According to this BBC report, less than 20 percent of retailers now use cash. That’s half what it was just five years ago. Everywhere from public transit to tourist attractions — yes, even the Abba Museum — have also gone cashless. Since the government and banking officials announced their plans to reduce bank notes […]

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Europe Is Developing Offensive Cyber Capabilities. The United States Should Pay Attention.

from Net Politics It is no surprise that the United States and its European allies are looking to integrate offensive cyber capabilities as part of their military operations. Last year, the Pentagon boasted about dropping “cyber bombs” on the self-declared Islamic State group. France and the United Kingdom have built similar capabilities, as have smaller European states, such as Denmark, Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, as NATO members rush to build their capabilities, they will quickly have to confront challenging trade-offs. Cyberweapons—or specifically the vulnerabilities they exploit—tend to be single use weapons: once a defender or vendor identifies a […]

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Want to Keep Hackers Out of Gadgets? Try International Law

from Wired IMAGINE THIS SCENARIO: You’re on vacation in the beautiful Austrian Alps, heading out for breakfast, but your room’s door won’t open. The hotel uses electronic locks that are connected to a network, making it easier to manage the hotel, while also getting rid of the obsolete analog locks. Only this time, the convenience provided by these electronic locks is a double-edged sword: The technology also enables cyber criminals to hack the locks and demand ransom, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, in return for unlocking the door. While this scenario sounds hypothetical, last month a fully booked four-star hotel […]

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How Iran Is Building Its Censorship-Friendly Domestic Internet

from BackChannel In the early spring of 2011, Iranian authorities made a series of bombastic public statements about government plans to strengthen their control over information. What emerged is the enduring specter of a “halal Internet”?—?a network cleansed of immorality and disconnected from the global Internet. Over the next several months, the political and religious establishment began to aggressively challenge the morality and security of the Internet, calling instead for a network that promoted the strict religious values promoted by the Islamic Republic. The then-Deputy Vice President for Economic Affairs described the vision for a national Internet as “a genuinely halal network, aimed at Muslims […]

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China’s Mobile Revolution (pt. 1)

from The Startup In February 2016, I went to China to celebrate Lunar New Year with my relatives. Having emigrated to North America over 14 years ago, I’ve always been amazed by China’s continuous transformation. As my life in the West became interweaved with services provided Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, Youtube, and Amazon, I realized that my relatives in China couldn’t access any of these services (with the exception of Uber and Amazon in some cities). This is due to China’s Great Firewall, which blocked off most Western Internet technologies. Though I had read about the rise of WeChat, Alibaba […]

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What Do Globally Competent Students Look Like?

from Medium All of our futures are increasingly linked to the challenges of the global community. The world’s population is predicted to grow from our current 7.3 billion to 8.5 billion in 2030 and to nearly 10 billion by 2050. Such population growth will affect a host of global issues including pollution, disease management, and depletion of energy, food and water resources. For students to participate effectively in this changing world, they must understand it. The 21st century student will sell to the world, buy from the world, work for international companies, compete with people from other countries, manage employees from […]

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With Tensions Rising, Asia Should Not Delay Settling South China Sea Disputes

from Yale Global Online The US military is challenging China’s claims to 90 percent of the South China Sea that includes some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. “The unpredictability of the American presidential election now heightens the risk because inevitably it will come with ramped-up anti-China campaign rhetoric,” reports BBC journalist Humphrey Hawksley. The United States and countries in Asia are divided internally over whether intervention is the correct approach considering that the nations of East Asia are tightly interconnected through trade and economic ties, and the country that instigates conflict could expect condemnation. The governments of the region could […]

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Shutting France Down Over Uber

from The Atlantic Traffic in a number of French cities slowed to a crawl Tuesday as taxi drivers across the country protested against Uber and other “non-traditional” car services. Dispatches from around France included reports of burning tires, the setting of roadblocks on major thoroughfares, and a campaign for cab drivers to “drive slow.” More here.

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First Known Hacker-Caused Power Outage Signals Troubling Escalation

from ars technica Highly destructive malware that infected at least three regional power authorities in Ukraine led to a power failure that left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity last week, researchers said. The outage left about half of the homes in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine without electricity, Ukrainian news service TSN reported in an article posted a day after the December 23 failure. The report went on to say that the outage was the result of malware that disconnected electrical substations. On Monday, researchers from security firm iSIGHT Partners said they had obtained samples of the malicious code […]

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How Do Sunni and Shia Islam Differ?

from NYTs Saudi Arabia’s execution of the Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr could escalate tensions in the Muslim world even further. In the Shiite theocracy Iran, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, would face “divine vengeance” for the killing of the outspoken cleric, which was part of a mass execution of 47 men. Sheikh Nimr had advocated for greater political rights for Shiites in Saudi Arabia and surrounding countries. Saudi Arabia had accused him of inciting violence against the state. Here is a primer on the basic differences between Sunni and Shia Islam. More here.

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Behind the European Privacy Ruling That’s Confounding Silicon Valley

from NYTs On Tuesday, when Max Schrems won a landmark privacy case in the European Court of Justice, Edward J. Snowden told him on Twitter that he had “changed the world for the better.” Penny Pritzker, the United States commerce secretary, had a different opinion, saying the decision “puts at risk the thriving trans-Atlantic digital economy.” The brouhaha, however, had little evident effect on the apparently imperturbable Mr. Schrems. “I expected this,” said Mr. Schrems, a 28-year-old graduate student in law at the University of Vienna who, for the formal reading of the decision, wore jeans and an untucked button-down […]

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China’s Dangerous Digital Agenda

from Project Syndicate When the Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba listed on the New York Stock Exchange late last year, it became the world’s 17th largest publicly traded company overnight, with a market capitalization of $230 billion – larger than Amazon, eBay, or Facebook. Europe, however, seems to have missed the news. Indeed, instead of responding to China’s digital rise, the European Union has remained fixated on the global success of American platforms like Amazon, Facebook, and Google, even threatening punitive actions against them. A couple of months after Alibaba’s IPO, the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to prevent online companies like […]

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Could This Video Save China?

from The Atlantic Hundreds of millions of people in China have watched this 103-minute-long video just in the past week. There’s never been anything close to its success in the English-language Internet world. Everyone in the China-policy community is aware of it and discussing it. I’m mentioning it here for several reasons. First, it’s just now available in a version with English subtitles for the whole length. The crowd-sourced translation effort is its own fascinating tale—you can see the crowd-sourcing page, mainly in Chinese, here—but for the moment the point is that English speakers can follow the whole thing, below. […]

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Mutual Suspicion Mars Tech Trade With China

from NYTs At an elegant guesthouse here recently, China’s top Internet regulator entertained ambassadors and diplomats with platters of tempura and roast on a spit, unusual lavishness in an era of official austerity in China, to celebrate the Chinese New Year. But the graciousness came with a warning: Foreign companies had to behave if they wanted to stay in China’s $450 billion technology market. In Washington on the same day, more than two dozen American tech industry executives and trade association officials gathered at an emergency meeting at the pre-Civil War building of the Office of the United States Trade Representative. […]

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