Former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse blasts company’s work in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

 

Former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse blasts company’s work in China

‘Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price’

Former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse slammed the tech giant for valuing profits more than human rights in an essay published Thursday.

LaJeunesse, Google’s former head of international relations, and a current Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine, wrote on Medium that Google’s phrase, “Don’t be evil” had become “nothing more than just another corporate marketing tool.”

He said that executives at Google were choosing to work with countries like China and Saudi Arabia, despite human rights violations committed by those countries.

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He also accused Google of pushing him out of the company in April, after 11 years at the company, according to a report from The Washington Post.

“I didn’t change,” LaJeunesse told The Post. “Google changed,”

Democratic Senate candidate and former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse is pictured. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

LaJeunesse’s Medium post, “I Was Google’s Head of International Relations. Here’s Why I Left,” explained how Google entered the Chinese market in 2006 but it decided to stop cooperating with the Chinese government and leave the market in 2010.

However, LaJeunesse said that in 2017 he found out about several troubling projects, including the “Dragonfly” project, a secretly developed, censored Search product for China and potential deals between Cloud executives and the government of Saudi Arabia.

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And at the end of the year, he said he was “completely surprised” to hear that Google had established its Google Center for Artificial Intelligence in Beijing.

After hearing about all the troubling projects, LaJeunesse, who had been in the international relations head role since 2012, attempted to create a formal “Human Rights Program” for the entire company, but he said that executives brushed him off

“As someone who had consistently advocated for a human rights-based approach, I was being sidelined from the on-going conversations on whether to launch Dragonfly,” LaJeunesse wrote. “I then realized that the company had never intended to incorporate human rights principles into its business and product decisions.”

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“Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price,” he added.

In an emailed statement, a Google spokesperson told FOX Business the company has an unwavering commitment to support human rights organizations and efforts.

“That commitment is unrelated to and unaffected by the reorganization of our policy team, which was widely reported and which impacted many members of the team,” the spokesperson said. “As part of this reorganization, Ross was offered a new position at the exact same level and compensation, which he declined to accept.”

In his essay, LaJeunesse blamed the change of senior executive leadership at Google and the company’s products that it developed with the governments of China and Saudi Arabia

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Ultimately, LaJeunesse wrote that government oversight is the best solution.

“No longer can massive tech companies like Google be permitted to operate relatively free from government oversight,” he said. “As soon as Google executives were asked by Congress about Project Dragonfly and Google’s commitment to free expression and human rights, they assured Congress that the project was exploratory and it was subsequently shut down.”

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LaJeunesse said the executives and shareholders cannot be entrusted with the responsibility they have taken on because of how ubiquitous their technology has become.

“The role of these companies in our daily lives, from how we run our elections to how we entertain and educate our children, is just too great to leave in the hands of executives who are accountable only to their controlling shareholders who — in the case of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Snap — happen to be fellow company insiders and founders,” he added.

This story was updated to include a comment from Google. 

 

 

High school students find hidden cameras in Minnesota hotel rooms during school trip

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

High school students find hidden cameras in Minnesota hotel rooms during school trip

A staff member at Madison East High School in Wisconsin was placed on leave “as a precautionary measure,” the district said.
By Juan Anguiano and Minyvonne Burke

Wisconsin high school students on an out-of-state school trip in Minnesota said they found hidden cameras in their hotel rooms, sparking a police investigation.

A staff member at Madison East High School who accompanied the students on the three-day trip earlier this month was placed on leave “as a precautionary measure” and in accordance with district protocol, a spokesperson for the Madison Metropolitan School District said in a statement.

A district official said in a letter to parents that Minneapolis police were notified of the cameras after students reported finding the devices in their rooms at the Minneapolis Hyatt Regency while attending a conference.

School officials were notified of the cameras on Dec. 8.

“Out of respect for the students and families affected, and in the interest of preserving the integrity of the police investigation, I am unable to share many details with you at this time,” the interim principal, Brendan Kearny, said in the letter. “I want you to know that we will continue to do everything we can to protect our students and to see that anyone responsible for harming them is held accountable.”

The hotel said it searched its property for hidden cameras but did not find any devices besides the ones located in the high schoolers’ rooms.

“As confirmed by local authorities at this time, it does not appear that anyone associated with the hotel is involved in the situation,” Hyatt said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department said the hotel gave authorities the electronic devices and investigators are analyzing them “to see what their capabilities are.”

So far, no arrests have been made.

Iran Confirms Detention of 3 Australians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran Confirms Detention of 3 Australians

Tuesday, 17 September, 2019 – 09:30
FILE PHOTO: Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne speaks during a news conference at Australian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran’s judiciary on Tuesday confirmed the detention of three Australian citizens.

“Two of them had taken pictures in military areas and the third (was detained) for spying for a third country,” Fars news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili as saying.

“The court will decide whether this person (detained for spying) is guilty or not.”

Esmaili did not identify the detained people and gave no details about when they had been arrested.

Australia’s foreign ministry had said it was providing consular assistance to the families of three Australians detained in Iran after Britain’s Times newspaper reported that two British-Australian women and the Australian boyfriend of one of them had been detained in Iran.

Perth-based travel-blogging couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin, who has been documenting their journey from home to Britain on social media, were first revealed as two of those arrested.

Later, the third Australian was identified by her family as Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert who specializes in Middle Eastern politics with a focus on Gulf states.

Britain said on Wednesday that it had raised concerns with the Iranian ambassador over the number of dual-nationality citizens detained in Iran and the conditions in which they were being held.

Saudi’s: Shin Bet Breaks Up Iranian Espionage Network in Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ ALAWSAT)

 

Shin Bet Breaks Up Iranian Espionage Network in Israel

Thursday, 25 July, 2019 – 08:30
Israeli security forces stand in Jerusalem’s Old City, March 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Shin Bet intelligence agency said Wednesday that it busted an Iranian espionage network that aimed to recruit operatives in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip “for the benefit of Iranian intelligence.”

The Shin Bet cooperated with Israeli police, the army and other security bodies in this regard.

According to a statement issued by the agency, the network was based in Syria under Iranian guidance and was led by a Syrian operative nicknamed ‘Abu Jihad.’ It attempted to recruit people via preliminary contacts based on fictitious Facebook profiles and later messaging apps.

“Using social networks to recruit people is a method known to intelligence elements including those affiliated with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The affair joins other recent events in which terrorist elements (including those from Hamas and Hezbollah) have established contacts with Israeli Arabs and Palestinians over the internet in order to recruit them for intelligence gathering and terrorist activity,” revealed the statement.

The Shin Bet added that those who have been recruited were asked to collect information on military bases, sensitive security installations, VIPs, police stations and hospitals, in order to prepare targets for terrorist attacks in Israel at the behest of Iran.

The statement went on, “The internet activity was identified and monitored by the Israeli intelligence community at the outset by closely monitoring both the handlers abroad and people in Israel and West Bank who expressed willingness to cooperate with them.

Beginning in April 2019, an extensive operation was launched against operatives in Israel and the West Bank including several Israeli citizens who are suspected of having been in contact with Iranian operatives.

The Shin Bet said that the investigation revealed the connection with the Syria-based handlers developed to the level of passing information and directives to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, both civilian and military.

However, “the operations have shown that the absolute majority of Israeli citizens refused to cooperate with those who contacted them,” the Shin Bet added.

About Iran Shooting Down That U.S. Drone

About Iran Shooting Down That U.S. Drone

 

This is just a short commentary about Iran shooting down a U.S. drone. President Trump seems to be all upset about Iran doing that but should he or we be upset about it?  By what I have been able to read on this issue I would like to bring two points to light. First is the cost of that drone, said to be $222.7 million dollars, thats crazy expensive, there are countries that don’t have a GDP that big. To me it seems that the maker of the drone is laying the screws to the American taxpayer. But second, by the material being put out to the public so far it seems that this drone was over Iranian land cruising and spying at 60,000 feet. If Iran, Russia, China or any other country did this spying over U.S. property we would be very pissed about it and maybe even threatening military payback for this ‘crime’. If this drone was over Iranian territory they had every right to shoot it down. Who the hell do we (the American government) think we are talking crap about retaliation when it was us that was in the wrong? I know that the Iranian government is a friend to no one and that their government is a pariah on the human race but we still have no ‘legal’ right to be flying over their land. What did we expect from their military, to look up, smile and wave while flipping the drone the Bird?

Spying Airbnb Host Detained And Fined

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Spying Airbnb host detained and fined

An Airbnb host from Qingdao in Shandong Province was given a 20-day detention and fined 500 yuan (US$74) after a guest found a hidden webcam in his bedroom, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday.

The guest told the newspaper he booked the house at the end of March. “When I booked, it cost about 1,700 yuan (US$250) for three nights, and the host was labeled as ‘excellent’ by the site and has many positive comments by customers.” He said he hadn’t met the host, only communicating via WeChat.

Because he is engaged in information security, the guest added, he made it a habit of checking rooms for security flaws. For example, if it was possible to open a locked door from the outside.

When he and his party arrived at the house around 10pm on May 1 his suspicions were aroused.

“There were three motion sensors in the porch and two bedrooms, but the whole house was not equipped with a smart home system.”

Motion sensors are used in smart home networks in order to know if someone is in the house when it should be empty or to start smart devices.

This discovery prompted him to further examine the entire house. He then noticed something unusual about the Wi-Fi router — one of the indicator lights looked different and he suspected it was a camera.

The camera lens hidden in a Wi-Fi router spotted by the Airbnb guest.

Excess wiring and a memory card were found in the router.

Opening it up, he found there was wiring inside than in normal routers. After consulting a WeChat group for advice he confirmed that the device had been converted when it was compared to similar models. “I took the router apart and when I turned the screw, I found it was very loose, which made me more sure about my suspicion because if it was original and unchanged, the screw would be tight.”

Inside, he found a memory card, which a normal router doesn’t need. “I called the police immediately after I saw the card.” The police took the card and other electronic devices away and the guest moved to another hotel. The next day he gave police a statement.

He told the newspaper that his work involved Internet security and part of a course on privacy protection was on how to find spy cameras.

He showed the newspaper’s reporter the administrative punishment issued by Laoshan police. The ruling said the host had illegally installed a pin-hole camera in a bedroom facing the bed. The host also didn’t have a legal permit to offer accommodation for rent.

Executed concurrently, the homeowner got 20-day detention with a 500 yuan fine and the homestay was shut down.

The guest said Airbnb had refunded his stay. Airbnb told the newspaper it had given a full refund after the guest reported the incident to them on the night of May 2 and had guaranteed to pay for his hotel room.

Airbnb said it had apologized and promised to follow up the incident. The company had a zero-tolerance approach to invasions of privacy and had permanently removed the property from its platform.

Airbnb requires hosts to disclose all surveillance devices in their listings, and prohibits any surveillance devices that observe the interior of certain private spaces (such as bedrooms and bathrooms) regardless of whether they’ve been disclosed.

Shanghai lawyer Spring Liu, a partner in the Duan & Duan Law Firm, told Shanghai Daily that under Chinese law e-commerce operators are supposed to verify the business qualifications of merchants to protect consumers’ rights and interests. In this case, Liu said, the platform should be held accountable if it had failed to verify the host or if it knew or should have known that the host had breached the privacy of customers but hadn’t taken any necessary measures to stop it. The local market authorities could launch an investigation and issues penalties if there were violations of the law.

The platform is registered in Beijing, according to the online National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System.

In March, The Atlantic magazine reported that Max Vest, who stayed with the host of a Miami Airbnb in January, had found two small, black, rectangular boxes facing the bed. They looked like phone chargers but when he got closer, he realized they were cameras and were recording. Airbnb refunded his money and removed the host from its site.

Google Bars Using Artificial Intelligence Tech in Weapons, Unreasonable Surveillance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Google Bars Using Artificial Intelligence Tech in Weapons, Unreasonable Surveillance

Friday, 8 June, 2018 – 09:45
FILE PHOTO: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Google announced Thursday it would not allow its artificial intelligence software to be used in weapons or unreasonable surveillance efforts under new standards for its business decisions in the nascent field.

The Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) unit said the restriction could help Google management defuse months of protest by thousands of employees against the company’s work with the US military to identify objects in drone video.

Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a blog post: “We want to be clear that while we are not developing AI for use in weapons, we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas,” such as cybersecurity, training, or search and rescue.

Pichai set out seven principles for Google’s application of artificial intelligence, or advanced computing that can simulate intelligent human behavior.

He said Google is using AI “to help people tackle urgent problems” such as prediction of wildfires, helping farmers, diagnosing disease or preventing blindness, AFP reported.

“We recognize that such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use,” Pichai said in the blog.

“How AI is developed and used will have a significant impact on society for many years to come. As a leader in AI, we feel a deep responsibility to get this right.”

He added that the principles also called for AI applications to be “built and tested for safety,” to be “accountable to people” and to “incorporate privacy design principles.”

The move came after potential of AI systems to pinpoint drone strikes better than military specialists or identify dissidents from mass collection of online communications has sparked concerns among academic ethicists and Google employees, according to Reuters.

Several technology firms have already agreed to the general principles of using artificial intelligence for good, but Google appeared to offer a more precise set of standards.

LeT operative stayed with terrorists in Kashmir, filmed Indian army camps:

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

LeT operative stayed with terrorists in Kashmir, filmed Indian army camps: Officials

During interrogation, Sheikh disclosed that he had stayed in Pulwama, moved to various places with the help of Malik and even photographed some Army and para-military camps, the officials claimed.

INDIA Updated: Dec 11, 2017 21:15 IST

Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Army soldiers share a lighter moment as they guard during a gunbattle at Pakharpore village, south of Srinagar, Kashmir, on Nov. 30, 2017.
Army soldiers share a lighter moment as they guard during a gunbattle at Pakharpore village, south of Srinagar, Kashmir, on Nov. 30, 2017. (AP)

Suspected Lashker-e-Taiba operative Abdul Nayeem Sheikh, who was arrested last month from Lucknow, had spent some time in trouble-torn south Kashmir and filmed some Army installations, officials said.

Sheikh, a resident of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, was on the radar of central intelligence agencies for quite sometime before he was nabbed with the help of Uttar Pradesh police in the last week of November.

The case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a central probe agency mandated to investigate all terror modules in the country.

The central security agencies, which interrogated Sheikh at length, had told the investigators about his accomplice, Tauseef Ahmed Malik, in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. He was placed under arrest by the NIA on December 9.

During interrogation, Sheikh disclosed that he had stayed in Pulwama, moved to various places with the help of Malik and even photographed some Army and para-military camps, the officials claimed.

Sheikh, who was wanted in connection with a 2014 terror case and was since on the run, told investigators that some important power projects and railway tracks in the Valley were surveyed, they said.

He had also visited some places in Himachal Pradesh, especially Kasol, which is frequented by Israeli nationals visiting India, according to the officials.

Security agencies have claimed that Sheikh was roped in for a recce mission similar to that undertaken by David Headley, a Pakistan-American, who is at present serving a prison sentence of 35 years at a US jail for his involvement in terror activities and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008.

They said Malik’s association with the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba also came to light during Sheikh’s interrogation.

Malik had shown to probe officials the places where Sheikh had stayed with the terrorists for over three months, they added.

NSA and the War on Our Privacy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

NSA and the War on Our Privacy

Saturday, 18 November, 2017 – 08:00

Since the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures began showing up in the Washington Post and the Guardian, the political debate over the American surveillance state has been stuck in the 20th century.

The public has feared a secretive, all-seeing eye, a vast bureaucracy that could peer into our online lives and track the numbers our smartphones dialed. Privacy as we knew it was dead. The era of Big Brother was here.

President Barack Obama responded to the Snowden leaks by commissioning a blue-ribbon panel that ended up concluding the way the National Security Agency did business often trampled on legitimate civil liberties concerns. The government did not need to store our metadata or the numbers, times and dates of our phone calls.

It turns out though that the questions prompted by Snowden were only part of the story. A recent expose from the New York Times tells a very different, and more frightening, tale. In this case, the proper analogy is not Big Brother, but an outbreak. A shadowy network of hackers, known as the shadow brokers, stole the NSA’s toolbox of cyber weapons it had used to peer into the computers of our adversaries. This network then offered subscribers the fruits of powerful cyber weapons that the U.S. government was never supposed to even acknowledge. The virus is no longer confined to the lab. It’s out in the wild.

And while the cyber weapons appear to be dated from 2013, the extent of the damage is still being assessed. The Times reports that the NSA still hasn’t found the culprits. NSA cyber warriors are subjected to polygraphs, and morale at the agency is low. Was there a mole? Was there a hack? The world’s greatest surveillance organization still doesn’t know.

Aside from puncturing the aura of the NSA as an all-seeing eye, the Times story also shows that today the greatest threat to our privacy is not an organization with a monopoly of surveillance power, but rather the disaggregation of surveillance power. It is not the citizen versus the state. Rather it is a Hobbesian state of nature, a war of all against all. Today, foreign governments and private hackers can use the same tools we all feared the U.S. government would use.

It’s enough to make you wish for a simpler time when the greatest threat to our privacy came from our own government.

Bloomberg

Virginia man charged with espionage for giving top-secret documents to China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

Virginia man charged with espionage for giving top-secret documents to China

A Virginia man has been charged with espionage for transmitting top-secret documents to Chinese officials.

Kevin Patrick Mallory, 60, was arrested Thursday at his home in Leesburg, Virginia, and appeared in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Mallory, a self-employed consultant and Army veteran, was charged with gathering or delivering defense information to aid a foreign government and for making material false statements under the federal Espionage Act.

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Mallory, a fluent Mandarin speaker, traveled to Shanghai in April, and was caught with $16,500 in two carry-on bags upon his return to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. He had failed to declare the cash.

Mallory was interviewed by the FBI in May, when he admitted he met with two people from a Chinese think tank, whom he suspected were Chinese intelligence agents. Mallory told the FBI the Chinese agents had given him a special communications device for transmitting documents.

He also told the FBI that the only documents he transferred were two unclassified blacked out security classification documents which he had written on U.S. policy matters, according to the affidavit.

Analysis of the transmitted materials revealed that two of the documents were classified as “secret,” while one of them was classified as “top secret.”

Analysis of the device through which the documents were transmitted revealed a handwritten index.

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Court records indicate that Mallory worked as a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service at the State Department.

He could face life in prison and the charges, if certain conditions are met, could make Mallory eligible for the death penalty, according to prosecutor John Gibbs.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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