Posts with «us international news» label

Beijing bans Chinese companies from using Micron chips in critical infrastructure

China’s cybersecurity regulator has banned Chinese firms from buying chips from US memory manufacturer Micron Technology. Per Reuters, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said Sunday it found that the company’s products pose “significant security risks” to critical Chinese information infrastructure, including state-owned banks and telecom operators. The ban comes after China announced a review of Micron imports in late March in a move that was seen at the time as retaliation for sanctions Washington has imposed on Chinese chipmakers in recent years.

Idaho-based Micron is the largest memory manufacturer in the US. The Chinese market accounts for about 10 percent of the firm’s annual revenue, though the majority of companies importing Micron products into China are manufacturers making devices for sale in other parts of the world. According to The Wall Street Journal, the CAC’s ban does not apply to non-Chinese firms in China. “We are evaluating the conclusion and assessing our next steps,” Micron told the outlet. “We look forward to continuing to engage in discussions with Chinese authorities.” The CAC did not say what Micron products would be affected by the ban, nor did it share details on what security concerns it had with the company's chips.

The ban is the latest development in an escalating feud over semiconductor technology between the US and China. In recent months, the Biden administration has moved to restrict its rival's access to advanced chipmaking equipment. In January, US, Dutch and Japanese officials agreed to tighten export controls on lithography machines from ASL, Nikon and Tokyo Electron. As The Journal notes, China has been trying to find ways to hit back at the US. Micron was an easy target given that most Chinese companies can turn to suppliers like South Korea’s SK Hynix to make up for any shortfall left by a ban.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Finnish newspaper hopes to pierce Russian propaganda with a ‘CS: GO’ map

A Finnish newspaper is celebrating World Press Freedom Day today by walking the walk. Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s biggest daily paper, created a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive map containing a secret room. Inside the hidden blood-red chamber, players find real-world multimedia storytelling about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — sneaking some much-needed journalism into a country inundated with propaganda.

The developers that the newspaper worked with on the map left some clues for Russian players to find it. First, it takes place in an unnamed battleground location imitating “a Slavic city.” Additionally, the map’s name, de_voyna, is a reference to the Russian word “voyna,” which translates to “war.” (That description is prohibited in Russia when describing the invasion; Putin's government insists on calling it a “special military operation”).

Helsingin Sanomat / Valve

The obscured room also has several hints to help Russian players find it: It’s located near an eternal flame monument (a burning car), a traditional practice commemorating WWII (or “the Great Patriotic War” as it’s known in Russia) that will be familiar to Russians. A light also hangs above the entrance, another breadcrumb indicating the dark passageway may differ from others nearby. Finally, players can spot the room by moving the camera around after an in-game death.

After walking down the stairway entrance, players see a darkly lit room with red lights hanging from the ceiling, casting a foreboding crimson tone over the space. Next, players see a headline on the wall opposite the entrance, reading: “Counterstrike of the Free Press.” Nearby, a map reveals civilian targets hit by Russian armies. Additionally, three walls are covered with images from real-life news stories showing some of Russia’s atrocities: the Bucha massacre (where the Russian military executed Ukrainian civilians in the street and buried them in a mass grave), a story of a man whose family was killed by a Russian cruise missile and a count of the estimated 70,000 Russian soldiers killed in the war. Finally, a Russian-language radio voice-over tells each story when moving closer to a news item.

Helsingin Sanomat / Valve

The unnamed (to avoid harassment or worse) game designers that Helsingin Sanomat worked with had experience designing hundreds of CS: GO maps. They pitched in “to be able to be involved in making such a map with a humanitarian purpose connected to the real world,” they told the publication. “Russia’s senseless aggression on Ukraine has killed tens of thousands of civilians, including children. The least we can do is to bring Putin’s war crimes and Russian propaganda to light.”

Helsingin Sanomat editor-in-chief Antero Mukka toldReuters that his paper didn’t ask for publisher Valve’s permission to include the map since the game encourages user-created content. “If some young men in Russia, just because of this game, happen to think for a couple of seconds what is going on in Ukraine then it's worth it,” he said.

If you want to assist with the cause, Helsingin Sanomat recommends playing the de_voyna map, which should help increase its in-game visibility. Although it’s hard to imagine the locale remaining playable for long after Putin’s government learns about it, it’s an inspiring — and highly creative — way of defying the authoritarian regime’s free-press restrictions.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Meta dismantles a China-based network of fake accounts ahead of the midterms

Meta has taken down a network of fake accounts from China that targeted the United States with memes and posts about “hot button” political issues ahead of the midterm elections.The company said the fake accounts were discovered before they amassed a large following or attracted meaningful engagement, but that the operation was significant due to its timing and because of the topics the accounts posted about.

The network consisted of 81 Facebook accounts, eight Facebook Pages, two Instagram accounts and a single Facebook Group. Just 20 accounts followed at least one of the Pages and the group had about 250 members, according to Meta.

The fake accounts posted in four different “clusters” of activity, Meta said, beginning with Chinese-language content “about geopolitical issues, criticizing the US.” The next cluster graduated to memes and posts in English, while subsequent clusters created Facebook Pages and hashtags that also circulated on Twitter. In addition to the US, some clusters also targeted posts to people in the Czech Republic.

During a call with reporters, Meta’s Global Threat Intelligence Lead Ben Nimmo said the people behind the accounts “made a number of mistakes” that allowed Meta to catch them more easily, such as only posting during working hours in China. At the same time, Nimmo said the network represented a “new direction for Chinese influence operations” because the accounts posed as both liberals and conservatives, advocating for both sides on issues like gun control and abortion rights.

“It's like they were using these hot button issues to try and find an entry point into American discourse,” Nimmo said. “It is an important new direction to be aware of.” The accounts also shared memes about President Joe Biden, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Utah Senator Mitt Romney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to Meta.

Meta also shared details about a much larger network of fake accounts from Russia, which it described as the “most complex Russian-origin operation that we’ve disrupted since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.” The company identified more than 1,600 Facebook accounts and 700 Facebook Pages associated with the effort, which drew more than 5,000 followers.

The network used the accounts to boost a series of fake websites that impersonated legitimate news outlets and European organizations. They targeted people in Germany, France, Italy, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, and posted in several languages.

“They would post original articles that criticized Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, praised Russia and argued that Western sanctions on Russia would backfire,” Meta writes in its report. “They would then promote these articles and also original memes and YouTube videos across many internet services, including Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, Twitter, petitions websites Change[.]org and Avaaz[.]com, and even LiveJournal.”

Meta notes that “on a few occasions” the posts from these fake accounts were “amplified by Russian embassies in Europe and Asia” though it didn’t find direct links between the embassy accounts and the network. For both the Russia and China-based networks, Meta said it was unable to attribute the fake accounts to specific individuals or groups within the countries.

The takedowns come as Meta and itspeers are ramping up security and anti-misinformation efforts to prepare for the midterm elections in the fall. For Meta, that means largely using the same strategy it employed in the 2020 presidential election: a combination of highlighting authoritative information and resources, while relying on labels and third-party fact checkers to tamp down false and unverified info.

Russia's war on Ukraine began with a satellite internet cyberattack

Russia's alleged cyberattack campaign against Ukraine appears to have continued up to the very minutes before the invasion. Reutersreports the US, UK and European Union have formally blamed Russia for a large-scale cyberattack that disrupted Viasat's satellite internet service an hour ahead of the February 24th assault. The hacking efforts permanently destroyed "tens of thousands" of satellite terminals, Viasat said, while the UK noted that the attack affected central European internet users and wind farms in addition to the Ukranian military and some civilian customers.

The accusations come in response to "new UK and US intelligence" linking Russia to the cyberattack, according to the UK's Foreign Office. Russia hadn't responded to the claims as of this writing, but has historically denied cyberattacks regardless of evidence.

The hack targeting Viasat likely had its intended effect. Ukraine cybersecurity official Victor Zhora disclosed in March that the anti-satellite effort led to a "huge loss" in communications at the very start of the war. With that said, Ukraine has been better-prepared in at least some instances. It claims to have fended off an attack against an energy provider in April, for example. While this latest attribution won't dissuade Russia from conducting more attacks, it might signal that Ukraine and its allies are more aware of how to defend themselves online.

DJI suspends sales in Russia and Ukraine to prevent its drones from being used in combat

DJI has temporarily suspended sales and all business activities in both Russia and Ukraine "in light of current hostilities," the dronemaker has announced. As Reuters reports, that makes it the first major Chinese company to halt sales in Russia after the country started its invasion of Ukraine in February. Unlike their peers in the West, most Chinese companies have chosen to continue their operations in the country. 

A DJI spokesperson told Reuters that it's not making a statement about any country by pulling out of Russia and Ukraine — it's making a statement about its principles. "DJI abhors any use of our drones to cause harm, and we are temporarily suspending sales in these countries in order to help ensure no-one uses our drones in combat," the spokesperson told the news organization. 

This move comes a month after Ukrainian politician Mykhailo Fedorov called on DJI to stop selling its products in Russia. The country's Minister of Digital Transformation posted an open letter for the dronemaker on Twitter that says Russia is using DJI products to navigate its missiles "to kill civilians." It also says Russia is using an extended version of DJI's AeroScope drone detection platform to gather flight information. 

In addition, MediaMarkt, a German chain of stores selling electronics across Europe, removed DJI's products from its shelves after receiving "information from various sources that the Russian army is using products and data from the Chinese drone supplier DJI for military activities in Ukraine." DJI denied that it was actively supporting the Russian military not just by providing hardware, but also by providing flight data and called the accusations "utterly false." 

In 21 days of the war, russian troops has already killed 100 Ukrainian children. they are using DJI products in order to navigate their missile. @DJIGlobal are you sure you want to be a partner in these murders? Block your products that are helping russia to kill the Ukrainians!

— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) March 16, 2022

A few days ago, DJI issued a statement to condemn the use of its products to cause harm. It said it does not market or sell its products for military use and that its distributors have all agreed not to sell products to customers who'll clearly use them for military purposes. "We will never accept any use of our products to cause harm, and we will continue striving to improve the world with our work," the company wrote.

Google blocks Russian parliament YouTube channel

Google has blocked Russia’s Duma TV YouTube channel, according to Reuters. On Saturday, the company said it had “terminated” the channel, which airs meetings of Russia’s lower house of parliament, for a violation of the platform’s terms of service.

"If we find that an account violates our Terms of Service, we take appropriate action,” a Google spokesperson told the outlet. “Our teams are closely monitoring the situation for any updates and changes." The company added it was committed to complying with sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The suspension quickly drew the ire of Russian officials, with a spokesperson for the country's foreign ministry warning YouTube had “signed its own warrant." Russia’s Roskomnadzor telecom regulator condemned the move and ordered Google to restore Duma TV’s YouTube access immediately. "The American IT company adheres to a pronounced anti-Russian position in the information war unleashed by the West against our country," the agency said.

The response from Russian authorities suggests YouTube could become the latest Western internet service to face restrictions within the country. Shortly after the war in Ukraine began on February 24th, Russia moved to block access to Twitter. In March, it then cut off Facebook and Instagram – but not WhatsApp due to the chat app's popularity among Russian citizens. It subsequently found the Meta-owned services guilty of “extremist” activity after the company said it would temporarily allow calls of violence in Ukraine and a handful of other countries.

Twitter won’t let government-affiliated accounts tweet photos of POWs

Twitter is once again tightening its rules to address how its platform is handling the war in Ukraine. The company said Tuesday that it will no longer allow official government or government-affiliated accounts to tweet photos of prisoners of war “in the context of the war in Ukraine.”

The policy will apply to photos published "on or after April 5th," according to an update in Twitter's rules. Government accounts sharing such images will be required to delete them, said Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Head of Site Integrity. “Beginning today, we will require the removal of Tweets posted by government or state-affiliated media accounts which share media that depict prisoners of war in the context of the war in Ukraine,” Roth said.

“We’re doing so in line with international humanitarian law, and in consultation with international human rights groups. To protect essential reporting on the war, some exceptions apply under this guidance where there is a compelling public interest or newsworthy POW content.”

Beginning today, we will require the removal of Tweets posted by government or state-affiliated media accounts which share media that depict prisoners of war in the context of the war in Ukraine.

— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) April 5, 2022

In a blog post, the company added that in cases in which there is a “compelling public interest” for a government account to share photos of prisoners of war, it would add interstitial warnings to the images.

While the new rules apply to official government and government-affiliated accounts, Twitter noted that it will take down POW photos shared by anyone with “with abusive intent, such as insults, calls for retaliation, mocking/taking pleasure in suffering of PoWs, or for any other behavior that violates the Twitter rules.”

Additionally, Twitter is taking new steps to limit the reach of Russian government accounts on its platform. Under a new policy, the company will no longer “amplify or recommend government accounts belonging to states that limit access to free information and are engaged in armed interstate conflict,” Roth said. “This measure drastically reduces the chance that people on Twitter see Tweets from these accounts unless they follow them.”

It’s not yet clear if or how Twitter plans to enforce this policy for contexts other than the war in Ukraine. In a blog post, the company left open the possibility that it would apply the rules to situations “beyond interstate armed conflict” but didn’t elaborate.

What does this mean?

We won’t recommend these accounts, and we won't amplify them across the Home Timeline, Explore, Search, and in other places on Twitter. This measure drastically reduces the chance that people on Twitter see Tweets from these accounts unless they follow them.

— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) April 5, 2022

“Attempts by states to limit or block access to free information within their borders are uniquely harmful, and run counter to Twitter’s belief in healthy and open public conversation,” the company wrote. “We’re committed to treating conversations about global conflicts more equitably, and we’ll continue to evaluate whether this policy may be applied in other contexts, beyond interstate armed conflict.”

The changes are the latest way Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced Twitter to adapt its content moderation rules as tries to suppress Russia-backed disinformation. The company has already taken steps to limit the visibility of Russian state media outlets and turned off advertising and recommendations in both Russia and Ukraine. Russia has blocked Twitter since March 4th.

This website allows Westerners to talk to Russians about the war in Ukraine

With the Kremlin restricting access to online platforms like Twitter and Instagram in recent days, people in Russia are quickly losing access to information about the war in Ukraine that doesn’t come from the government. Enter Squad303, a website created by a group of Polish programmers to help people from around the world establish a dialogue with their Russian counterparts.

Spotted by The Wall Street Journal, the website randomly generates a number or email address for you to contact. It pulls from a database that contains 20 million cellphone numbers and approximately 140 million email addresses. Since the Squad303 went online on March 6th, its creators told The Journal that individuals from around the world have sent nearly 7 million text messages and 2 million emails in Russian, along with countless images and videos from the conflict.

“Our aim was to break through Putin’s digital wall of censorship and make sure that Russian people are not totally cut off from the world and the reality of what Russia is doing in Ukraine,” a spokesperson for told the outlet.

This is crazy. The person questioned me being American so I had to prove it. I’ve sent over 200 messages thanks to @squad3o3 to Russian cell phones. This one got me, it roughly translates to “it’s terrible in Russia” @xxNB65@YourAnonNews@xenasolo@ZelenskyyUa got a new friend🙏

— Mr. T aka Masta Chef/CireX14 (@titancrawford1) March 6, 2022

The website is named after the Royal Air Force’s famous 303 Fighter Squadron. It was one 16 units made up of Polish airmen that flew for the RAF during World War II. The 303 played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain, shooting down the largest number of Luftwaffe aircraft during the months-long campaign. In another historical allusion, the creators of Squad303 compared their project to Radio Free Europe, which began as a US-funded effort to broadcast news, information and analysis to Soviet satellite states during the Cold War.

Using the website, The Journal was able to talk to a 25-year-old law student from Moscow. They told the outlet they opposed the war but said they didn’t plan to protest against it for fear of retribution from the government. “Am I supposed to risk my education, my future?” the student said. “I know Putin is killing people in Ukraine, but it is not my fault, I am not killing anyone, and I am not supporting any wars.”

Even engaging in conversations like the one above is risky for Russians. Videos have recently emerged allegedly showing Russian police stopping commuters to screen the messages on their phones for signs of dissent.

Tinder users help Ukrainian refugees find shelter and support

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more than 2.5 million people have fled the country, making it Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. In trying to find shelter in neighboring countries like Romania, some Ukrainian refugees have turned to an unexpected place for help: Tinder.

The New York Times recounts the tale of one such individual, Anastasia Tischchenko. She and her friend Natalia Masechko posted their plight to the dating app when they fled their home of Ivano-Frankivsk, a city of approximately 230,000 located in western Ukraine, south of Lviv.

“I’m thinking there are a lot of honest people in the world, and some of them are on Tinder,” Tischchenko told The Times. She was right. Several people swiped right on her profile to offer help, including one man who put Tischchenko and Masechko in touch with a friend of a friend of a friend who found a monastery the two could sleep in while in Siret, a Romanian city on the southern border of Ukraine. “It was very inspiring,” she said. After their stay in Siret, Tischchenko traveled to Poland, while her friend Masechko stayed in Romania to help the next wave of refugees.

Like the war itself, the refugee crisis has hit a critical inflection point in recent days. On Friday, officials in Poland’s two largest cities, Warsaw and Krakow, said they were struggling to accommodate all the people arriving in the wake of the conflict. Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski warned the “situation is getting more and more difficult every day.” The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that as many as 4 million people could flee Ukraine due to the war.

YouTube is blocking Russian state media channels worldwide

YouTube says it will now block channels linked to Russia-backed media outlets worldwide. Last week, it blocked channels from the likes of RT and Sputnik in Europe following an EU directive. The updated policy takes effect immediately, though YouTube's systems will take a little time to fully block the channels.

2/ In line with that, we are also now blocking access to YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded media globally, expanding from across Europe. This change is effective immediately, and we expect our systems to take time to ramp up.

— YouTubeInsider (@YouTubeInsider) March 11, 2022

The service also said "denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events" is not allowed under its Community Guidelines. YouTube is taking down videos about the conflict in Ukraine that violate the rule. On Thursday, Twitter and Facebook removed posts from Russia's embassy in the UK that denied the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine.

YouTube has also deleted more than 1,000 channels and over 15,000 videos related to Russia's invasion ok Ukraine for violating various policies, such as those on hate speech, misinformation and graphic content. Google stopped all ad sales in Russia last week and it has now paused all YouTube monetization and payments in the country.

YouTube says it may take further action in Russia as the conflict continues. In addition, it's directing users to trusted sources of news regarding the invasion.