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Friday Cyber News, November 16 2018

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 11/10 - 11/16:

1. The story of the week is Facebook's incredibly misguided internal response to the discovery of Russian misinformation campaigns on the platform, which included arguments over when and what to tell board members, the use of a Republican opposition-research firm [a relationship that was not dissolved until after the NY Times story broke, to Facebook's discredit, though FB denies accusations of anti-semitism] to smear "activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros," and positions taken to spite social-media rivals (from promoting employees' use of Android to spite Apple, to supporting anti-sex-trafficking legislation when other tech companies were reluctant.) Facebook has also been criticized this week for not keeping a closer eye on device-makers who were given access to user data, and policy-makers are starting to believe that Facebook "cannot be trusted to regulate itself" and requires "thoughtful regulation". [NY Times; The Hill; Engadget; NY Times; The Hill; WSJ]

2. International agreement on general cybersecurity principles was achieved via the signing of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace on Monday by "more than 50 nations, 130 private sector groups and 90 charitable groups and universities", but not the United States, Russia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Israel, or China. [Axios]

3. Letting internet-connected devices be implanted in our bodies--from pacemakers to insulin pumps to brain implants--leaves unanswered some important questions about end-user license agreements (can a company "brick" a device that's inside of you?), patent law (can a patent suit lead to terminating support for a device?), and bankruptcy. [WSJ] 

4. Leaked information about clinical trial results is showing up on Facebook groups and Twitter threads, posted by patients and families while the trials are still ongoing, causing doctors to reconsider how to counsel patients and design studies, including shortening washout periods and facilitating online discussions themselves. [Nature]

5. While "synthetic media"--a more palatable term for deepfakes--are producing more realistic AI results for motion capture, they are also hopefully changing long-held cultural assumptions about the veracity of images better than the Cottingley fairies. [New Yorker]

6.​ Expecting issues like quantum computing and encryption to evolve over timescales longer than two- or four-year election-driven cycles, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee approved a report this week calling for a "Cybersecurity Moonshot" council that would study and provide guidance on these types of issues. Despite media criticism that "moonshot" is the wrong metaphor for cybersecurity--which is more of a process than a destination--the idea of a council focused on longer-term cyber threats is a good one. [Axios]

7. More votes to count isn't usually a good thing for Florida, but necessity being the mother of elections, Florida's Bay County accepted 158 ballots via email and fax, despite no state statutes permitting email voting, in response to the effects of recent hurricanes that made reaching the polls more difficult for many citizens. [Tampa Bay Times]

8. Eschewing privacy concerns, Chinese telecom company ZTE is building a digital national ID card and mobile payments system for Venezuela that will allow Maduro's government to more tightly monitor citizens' movements, financial transactions, and personal data. The US has previously imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela over human rights issues. [Reuters] 

9. Eavesdropping tech is being ranked and critiqued by Mozilla's guide to smart devices for holiday shoppers concerned with privacy policies, device encryption, and a crowdsourced measure of how creepy the device is (the Echo currently rates as "very creepy"). [Mozilla]

10. Take heart, anyone who has grown interested in cybersecurity later in their career: Yoshitaka Sakurada is Japan's minister in charge of cybersecurity strategy, and he's never used a computer (or even, judging by recent responses to parliamentary questions, a USB drive). Don't ever say this field isn't open to non-traditional paths. [Guardian]

Thanks for reading,

Stanford Cyber Initiative

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