Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Malaysia’s new Twitter police issue warnings to critics of PM Najib Razak

February 10, 2016


Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. Getty Images

Digitally savvy Malaysian police have been taking to social media to issue warnings to critics of scandal-hit Prime Minister Najib Razak in an unusual online campaign that critics say is unlikely to work.

Najib is facing the biggest political crisis in his seven-year premiership over a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and over deposits of $681 million in his private bank account.

Najib, chairman of the 1MDB advisory board, has denied any wrongdoing and says he did not take any money for personal gain.

Attorney General Apandi Ali last week closed investigations of Najib and said the $681 million was a donation from a Saudi Arabian benefactor and most of it had been returned.

That has not stopped Malaysians taking to social media to voice their exasperation.

A caricature of Najib with a clown face and the words “in a country full of corruption, we are all seditious”, was widely shared recently.

The police responded within hours, with an online warning to the artist who drew it, Fahmi Reza, telling him they were watching his Twitter account and he should use it “prudently and in line with the law”, he said.

“The ruling elite of this country has always been intolerant to dissent. They’re always afraid of losing their throne,” Fahmi said.

“But the people have changed. The culture of protest and resistance is growing stronger.”

Fahmi was not the first person to be warned over social media comment as the police for the first time make use of Twitter to identify people who are being watched and caution them about repercussions.

“Action will be taken against individuals who spread false information,” is a typical warning to appear on Twitter, often accompanied by the Twitter handle of the person it is being directed at.

Responding to criticism of the attorney general’s decision to drop the investigations of Najib, police told another Twitter user: “Investigations will be carried out on the posts made by the owner of this Twitter account”.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that the Twitter account issuing the warnings was an official Malaysian cyber unit account but she declined to comment on specific warnings, such as the one issued to Fahmi.

She referred queries to the head of the police cyber unit but he declined to make any immediate comment. The Home, or interior, Ministry which is in charge of the unit, did not respond to a request for comment.


Najib has taken steps that critics say are aimed at stemming opposition.

He sacked a deputy prime minister who was critical of him, replaced a former attorney-general and authorities have suspended some media and blocked websites.

Asked to comment on criticism of suppression of dissent, Minister of Communications Salleh Said Keruak said police and the communications regulator were enforcing the law.

“It is not a crackdown. We are just doing the ordinary enforcement,” he said, adding that authorities had taken action in nearly 3,000 cases last year under a telecommunications and multimedia act.

Human Right Watch said last month that Malaysia’s human rights situation had deteriorated sharply in 2015, as the government stepped up a campaign of harassment and repression.

The government did not respond directly to that report but it denies violating rights.

Fahmi responded to his warning by reposting the clown and with a new sketch of the police with hashtag #BigBrotherIsWatchingYou.

No further action was taken against him while other artists expressed solidarity by sharing the clown sketch with the hashtag #KitaSemuaPenghasut, or “we are all seditious” in Malay.

Najib’s Facebook page has over the months been flooded with criticism and calls on him to resign.

A former cabinet minister, Rafidah Aziz, said in a Facebook post on Monday that cracking down online would not work.

“It is so very naive to think that shutting down blogs and intervention in social media will actually stop people from talking,” she said.

Salleh said the authorities took the law seriously.

“It is an offence … to upload any comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person,” Salleh said.


Obama’s New Cybersecurity Plan Sticks to the Most Basic Basics — And it is not a law

February 9, 2016

Obama’s New Cybersecurity Plan Sticks to the Most Basic Basics


ENABLE TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION. Update your systems. Maybe get someone who knows what they’re doing to handle your security needs. It’s all the standard advice you’d give a tech novice. It also happens to be the foundation of President Obama’s new Cybersecurity National Action Plan, a long-overdue, comprehensive approach to keeping our country’s digital corridors safe.

CNAP encompasses a number of measures, which vary by degrees in financial backing and plausibility. Even if all of the proposal’s planks come to pass—it is, after all, a proposal, not a law—it’s less an encouraging glimpse of our ironclad future than it is a reminder of just how insecure our government’s information highways and byways are today. Still, at least the administration is addressing the basics.

U.S. President Barack Obama answers a reporter’s question after delivering a statement on the economy in the press briefing room at the White House in Washington February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Step 1: Stay Up to Date

One of the most expensive parts of the CNAP proposal may also prove to be the most effective. At the very least, it’s the most overdue: The administration wants to dedicate $3.1 billion to modernizing its legacy software and equipment. It will also create the role of Chief Information Security officer to oversee those changes. This person will report to Tony Scott, the government’s appointed Chief Information Officer, and be responsible for “developing, managing, and coordinating cybersecurity strategy, policy, and operations across the entire Federal domain,” according to a fact sheet sent out by the White House’s Office of the Press Secretary.

“We have a broad surface area of old, outdated technology that’s hard to secure, expensive to operate, and on top of all that the skill sets needed to maintain those systems are disappearing rather rapidly,” says Scott.

Scott wasn’t specific on the exact types of legacy systems that will be upgraded, but it’s reasonable to assume that the program includes finally ditching Windows XP, a zombie operating system that Microsoft stopped officially supporting in April of 2014. The US Navy paid $9.1 million last year to continue to receive security patches from Microsoft, and it’s not the only arm of the government still dependent on an operating system that’s several generations out of date. (In this, the US government is no different from over 11 percent of total PC users who are stalled out on a very vulnerable Windows XP).

The government is essentially taking it upon itself to be the nation’s nagging, tech-savvy friend.

The fund will be meted out to agencies in increments, says Scott, to encourage incremental development. That’s to ensure that they continue to hit key milestones, rather than simply throwing a lump sum at their problems without knowing if and when they’ll see results.

Step 2: Go Beyond the Password

Another common sense initiative? Two-factor authentication, both for government employees and for citizens. Scott says that over 80 percent of government employees currently use two-factor, and that the extra security layer will be extended to Americans who interact with the government’s digital services. Part of CNAP will also include a campaign to increase awareness of two-factor authentication in the private sector, whether it’s through your Google account or your Venmo payment.

In this, the government is essentially taking it upon itself to be the nation’s nagging, tech-savvy friend, beating the authentication drums as so many pundits and publications have before them. What’s less clear is why anyone would listen to Uncle Sam if they weren’t already listening to their actual uncle, but at the very least government involvement may normalize two-factor to the point that has a shot of becoming mainstream.

Step 3: Be Competent, Generally

The last significant plank in the CNAP platform? To make sure cybersecurity is being handled by with competence at every level, in case you were under the assumption that it already is.

“Today our model is, every agency, and in fact in some cases, sub-agency, is building their cyber defenses pretty much on their own. What that really means is there’s varying levels of expertise, varying levels of capability,” says Scott. “A small agency with limited resources, frankly, has the same challenges as a very large agency that might have significantly more resources. That’s just a bad model for trying to defend against these critical adversaries.”

Friends don’t let friends set up their own firewalls, as true in the government as it is in everyday life. To that end, CNAP proposes not just to invest in scalable security architecture but to create a new generation of cybersecurity professionals. It’s going to put $62 million toward programs, grants, and scholarships to make sure that enough people have learned the requisite skills to become a cybersecurity expert. It would introduce a loan forgiveness program for students with the right abilities who join the federal workforce.

Just Common-Sense Advice

What’s striking about all of these measures is that they’re not much different than the advice you’d give your neighbor, or any acquaintance with a casual interest in keeping themselves just a little bit safer. That’s encouraging, in that we’re finally getting the basics right. It’s also a little bit sobering, because it—along with yesterday’s leak of nearly 30,000 FBI and DHS employees’ contact information—is a reminder that no matter how many systems are in place, the government, just like a company or a household, is never more than one poorly placed click from being compromised.

“We know that in many instances there are vulnerabilities that are inherent in our system,” says cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel. “There are also vulnerabilities due to the users of those systems and the way that they operate. Daniel also, though, sees CNAP as being able to at least mitigate the problem in critical ways–if not solve it.

Go Beyond the Password

. “There are also vulnerabilities due to the users of those systems and the way that they operate. Daniel also, though, sees CNAP as being able to at least mitigate the problem in critical ways–if not solve it.

“I think if you look, holistically, at what CNAP is trying to do, it’s trying to reduce the risk of all of those vectors across the board, and enable us to deploy better technologies to reduce the risk of spear-phishing, to better architect our systems so that the networks are more segmented, so that if somebody does get in they don’t get as far,” says Daniel. “It’s going to place better protections on our high-value assets, so that if they do get into something they can’t do as much with it.”

That sounds grand in theory, but until any of it gets put into practice it’s hard to get too enthusiastic. This is a president nearing the end of his second term, after all, with a Congress that delights in opposition. It’s an initiative that has noble ambitions but few details attached, especially when it comes to cyberattack response.

Maybe that, then, is why it’s not as discouraging as it should be just what kind of shape our cybersecurity is in. Hopefully it’s about to get better. It almost certainly can’t get any worse.


Obama unveils national cybersecurity action plan and budget

February 9, 2016

President Barack Obama’s administration is using a mix of budget proposals, executive orders and appointments to new positions to ramp up the country’s cybersecurity footprint.

By Greg Otto

President Barack Obama announced a national cybersecurity action plan Tuesday, substantially increasing the requested amount of federal funding dedicated to cybersecurity, creating a new federal information security chief and proposing a significant increase in efforts to expand the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.

The administration is proposing a 35 percent increase in cybersecurity funding in its budget proposal, up to $19 billion from last year’s allocation of $14 billion.

The budget request is part of a cybersecurity plan that will have short- and long-term goals aimed at strengthening networks inside and outside government against hackers, protecting privacy, and raising Americans’ awareness of digital security measures.

“The cyberthreat continues to outpace our current efforts,” said Michael Daniel, White House cybersecurity coordinator, during a call with reporters Monday.  “As we continue to hook more and more of our critical infrastructure up to the Internet and as we build out the Internet of Things, cyberthreats only become more frequent and more serious. If we do not begin to address the fundamental cybersecurity challenges we face effectively, we risk cybersecurity and the Internet becoming a strategic liability for the U.S.”

Officials said a big portion of the expanded budget request is aimed at further modernizing federal IT systems, building off last year’s Cybersecurity Implementation Plan.

Obama is proposing a $3.1 billion Information Technology Modernization Fund that will be used to expedite the replacement of antiquated federal systems that are costly to maintain and a growing cybersecurity liability.

“Over the last year, I have directly observed the need to modernize our information systems across the federal government,” said Tony Scott, federal chief information officer, during the media call. “We have a broad surface area of old, outdated technology that’s hard to secure, expensive to operate and on top of all of that, the skill sets need to maintain those systems are disappearing rather rapidly.”

The fund would operate out of the General Services Administration, with agencies needing to hit certain modernization benchmarks to continue receiving funds. Scott said the fund will also encourage agencies to use governmentwide shared services instead of building their own solutions from scratch.

Scott also announced the administration will be hiring a chief information security official within the next 60 to 90 days. The new CISO, who will report to Scott, will be responsible for overseeing cybersecurity policies within all federal civilian agencies, while working in collaboration with top-level Defense Department and intelligence agency counterparts.

“In reality, the CISO role is a policy coordinating role across the federal government,” Scott said Monday. “One of the things that’s unique about OMB, given the name, is that it has management and budget responsibilities. Those are two powerful things that can shape and influence practice in each agency.”

Outside of the federal government, Obama established a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, which will be made up of private sector cybersecurity experts who will make recommendations on how the public and private sector can better use and promote worthwhile cybersecurity practices.

A new cybersecurity awareness campaign aimed at increasing the use of multifactor authentication will also launch, with help from the National Cyber Security Alliance, Dropbox, Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

A fact sheet issued by the White House also focused on improving cybersecurity education and training nationwide, highlighting the budget’s $62 million plan to establish a cybersecurity corps reserve, core curriculum and student loan forgiveness programs for those who work in cybersecurity for the federal government. The proposal is in addition to the $4 billion that has been attached to the president’s Computer Science for All plan.

Additionally, Obama is signing an executive order Tuesday creating a Federal Privacy Council, bringing together privacy officials from across the federal government to ensure agencies are meeting federal privacy guidelines.

Scott compares it to the federal CIO Council, which offers a forum where agency tech execs can share ideas and best practices, and agree common standards. “I expect the privacy council will do the same thing,” he said. “It’s building on many things that have already gone on to make sure there is consistency policy and application across the federal government.”

The considerable increase in cybersecurity funding comes after a year that saw a number of government agencies, offices and officials fall victim to breaches and federal watchdog reports deem tools already in place aswoefully behind the times.

As the conclusion of the call, Daniel said this plan will “measurably and demonstrably improve” the country’s cybersecurity footing but warned it will not completely stop attacks from occurring.

“This is a continuing threat of varying degree,” he said. “I think no matter how good we get, we will never stop all intrusions.”

Contact the reporter on this story via email at, or follow him on Twitter at @gregotto. His OTR and PGP info can be found hereSubscribe to the Daily Scoop for stories like this in your inbox every morning by signing up here:

Stocks Fall Sharply as Banks, Tech Sectors Take a Beating

February 8, 2016

The Associated Press


Feb 8, 2016, 1:36 PM ET

Steep losses in financial, technology and other companies sent U.S. stocks sharply lower in afternoon trading Monday. The decline followed drops in Europe and set the market on course for its second big loss in a row. Crude oil prices slumped again.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 347 points, or 2.2 percent, to 15,857 as of 1:18 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 41 points, or 2.2 percent, to 1,838. The Nasdaq composite dropped 122 points, or 2.8 percent, to 4,240.

THE QUOTE: “Traders are worried that the financial market weakness that we’re experiencing is going to lead to weakness in the real economy,” said Jim McDonald, chief investment strategist at Northern Trust Wealth Management.

TURBULENT MARKET: Several factors have investors in a selling mood this year, including falling crude oil prices and the economic slowdown in China and elsewhere. Traders will be monitoring several big company earnings this week to see what management teams say about their prospects for future earnings.

SECTOR VIEW: All 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index lost ground. Banks and other financial companies fell the most, 3 percent. Consumer discretionary, technology and materials stocks also fell sharply.

BIG DROP: Natural gas companies Chesapeake Energy and Williams Cos. topped the list of decliners in the S&P 500. Chesapeake slumped $1.07, or 35 percent, to $1.99. The stock halted trading briefly earlier in the day as investors dumped the stock amid speculation the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. Chesapeake issued a statement around midday saying it currently has no plans to pursue bankruptcy. Williams slid $5.49, or 31.92, to $11.66.

FICKLE ABOUT FINANCIALS: Credit Suisse Group AG and Goldman Sachs Group were down sharply in afternoon trading. Goldman lost 6.3 percent, the biggest drop in the Dow. The stock shed $9.88 to $146.56. Credit Suisse slid 5 percent on news that the bank’s new CEO has asked for his bonus to be cut following a report of a huge fourth-quarter loss and plans for 4,000 job cuts. The stock fell 75 cents to $14.20.

ROUGH QUARTER: Cognizant Technology Solutions sank 6.7 percent after forecasting earnings and revenue that were well below what analysts were expecting. The stock shed $3.95 to $54.59.

IN TROUBLE: Harman International Industries was down 5 percent on news that a former executive at the car audio and video systems’ maker has been charged with insider trading by federal prosecutors. The stock lost $3.76 to $66.93.

GOING PRIVATE: Apollo Education Group vaulted 18.5 percent after agreeing to be acquired by a consortium led by investment firm The Vistria Group. The firm aims to take the for-profit college operator private. The stock gained $1.28 to $8.24.

DEAL ACTION: GoPro climbed 13 percent after the high-definition camera company signed a patent licensing deal with Microsoft Corp. for file storage technology. GoPro added $1.31 to $11.27.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Among Europe’s main indexes, Germany’s DAX fell 3.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 dropped 3.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares slid 2.7 percent. In Asia, many markets were closed for the Lunar New Year holidays. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.1 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was flat.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 93 cents, or 3 percent, to $29.96 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 74 cents or 2.2 percent, to $33.32 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.75 percent from 1.84 percent late Friday. The euro was up at $1.1172 while the dollar fell to 115.53 yen.


Stocks Headed Downward on Monday, February 8, 2016

February 8, 2016

By Zacks Equity Research

Benchmarks ended in the red amid a sharp fall in technology stocks on Friday. Tech shares dropped after LinkedIn released poor guidance numbers which in turn had a broad-based impact on key indexes. Drop in the shares of the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet and Netflix) also weighed on the tech-based index, Nasdaq. Additionally, mixed U.S. jobs data and continued plunge in oil prices dragged the benchmarks southward. The Nasdaq declined to its lowest level since 2014. The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq registered their biggest weekly decline in four weeks.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) declined 1.3% or 211.61 points, to close at 16,204.97. The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) decreased nearly 1.9% to close at 1,880.05. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 4,363.14, falling almost 3.3%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) increased 7.1%, to settle at 23.38. A total of around 9.4 billion shares were traded on Friday, in line with the last 20-session average. Decliners outpaced advancing stocks on the NYSE. For 75% stocks that declined, only 23% advanced.

Shares of LinkedIn Corp (LNKD) fell 43.6%, its highest decline ever after releasing weak 2016 guidance. For the first quarter, the company expects revenues around $820 million, much lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $868 million. The company expects full-year revenues in the range of $3.60 billion to $3.65 billion. This is lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.920 billion.


LinkedIn’s weak outlook had a negative impact on technology shares. The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) dropped 2.8% and was the second biggest loser among the S&P 500 sectors. Key stocks from the sector including Apple Inc. (AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Facebook, Inc. (FB) and Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) decreased 2.7%, 3.5%, 5.8% and 3.6% respectively.


Separately, Hanesbrands Inc.’s (HBI)lower-than-expected earnings results weighed on consumer discretionary stocks. Hanesbrands was the biggest decliner among S&P 500 components. Fourth-quarter earnings per share of 44 cents missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 46 cents. Also, the quarterly revenues slipped 7.4% to $1.4 billion, and missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.5 billion. Shares of Hanesbrands fell 15.1% following the release of earnings numbers.


The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) declined 3.2%, emerging as the biggest decliner among the S&P 500 sectors. Its key components, including Netflix, Inc. (NFLX),, Inc. (AMZN), The Walt Disney Company (DIS), The Home Depot, Inc. (HD) and McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) decreased 7.7%, 6.4%, 1.6%, 3.9% and 4.4% respectively.


Meanwhile, a mixed job reports hurt investor sentiment and raised concerns about a possible Fed rate hike this year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. economy generated a total of 151,000 jobs in January, missing the consensus estimate of 195,000. The tally was also significantly lower than December’s job number of 262,000. However, the unemployment rate declined from 5% in December to 4.9% in January, the lowest level witnessed since 2008. The jobless rate was also lower than the consensus estimate of 5%.


Moreover, average hourly earnings gained almost 0.5% in January from previous month’s figure to $25.39 per hour, higher than the consensus estimate of a 0.3% rise. Average hourly earnings witnessed a 2.5% rise from the year-ago figure.


Separately, concerns regarding oversupply and reduced possibilities of any production cuts continued to weigh on oil prices. While, the WTI crude slumped 2.7% to $30.89 per barrel, Brent crude fell 1.2% to $34.06 a barrel.


For the week, the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq declined 1.6%, 3.1% and 5.4% respectively. Markets ended the week in the red following significant decline in some of the key sectors, continued plunge in oil prices and weak economic data.


Worse-than-expected manufacturing, services, construction spending and factory order data affected the key indexes. Further, gradual decline in possibilities of production cuts by major oil producers dragged down energy shares and eventually the broader markets.


Meanwhile, discouraging quarterly earnings results from major companies including Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), Ralph Lauren Corporation (RL) and ConocoPhillips (COP) dampened the investor sentiment further.


However, strong earnings report from Aetna Inc. (AET), Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) and Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) had a positive impact on benchmarks. Additionally, a weak dollar boosted material and industrials sectors, the two key S&P 500 sectors which ended in the green for the week.

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Malaysia’s Uproar Over Government Corruption, Prime Minister Becomes a Social Media Clown Show

February 8, 2016


After inspiring a flood of caricatures of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in clown face, graphic artists from the Grupa yesterday introduced another round of fun – this also at the PM’s expense.

This time, followers of Grupa – or Grafik Rebel Untuk Protes & Aktivisme – are invited to “catch Najib” through an animated GIF file uploaded onto the group’s Facebook page.

In the GIF best viewed on mobile devices, three caricatures of Najib stream down the page, inviting social media to hit pause at the right time.

In the group’s trademark dark humour, the ‘right time’ is when all three caricatures of the PM – one holding RM2.6 billion, another holding a box labelled 1MDB, and another holding a buxom woman’s hand – are behind bars.

“Please help! Help catch this man!” the caption on the GIF reads.

The GIF comes after police warned that those found guilty of ridiculing leaders could face one year in prison or a fine of RM50,000 under Section 223 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

Not cowed, Grupa followers are invited to take a screenshot of their success in nabbing the caricatures, and share how many tries it took them.

The GIF has been shared on Facebook more than 1,800 times within the first 10 hours of uploading at Grupa’s page and more than 700 times on the anti-establishment Facebook page ‘Curi-curi Wang Malaysia’.

About 300 people have commented under the GIF, with screenshots showing they managed to catch the running caricatures, as at 11.30pm yesterday.

“I tried 10 times, but missed as they were so slippery with lots of crony protection!” one exasperated social media user said on ‘Curi-curi Wang Malaysia’.

Another Facebook user quipped: “Caught them, but then they were released by the AG.”

But not everyone is amused.

“Not funny guys, show some respect,” one person remarked on the Grupa page over another animated GIF of what looked like Najib in a jester suit.

Najib has been cleared of wrongdoing in relation to the RM2.6 billion (US$681 million) found in his personal bank accounts.

Attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali said Najib received a donation from the Saudi royal family and returned US$620 million. He did not say what the PM did with the remaining US$61 million, or what the donation was for.

Graphic artists have over the past week uploaded caricatures of Najib in clown face in solidarity with artist Fahmi Reza (photo), who is under police watch after he uploaded his sketch online.

The sketch, part of an anti-Sedition Act campaign, features Najib in clown face and carries the words ‘Kita Semua Penghasut’ (We are all seditious).

Fahmi received the warning via Twitter from the Police Cyber Investigation Response Centre special unit.

Pro-BN NGO Gerakan Merah also lodged a police report on Fahmi’s sketch, alleging that it could influence the rakyat to hate Najib.

Defiantly, a stream of caricatures of Najib in clown face continues to fill the page, which is making headlines worldwide.

The identities of the 50 graphic designers said to make up Grupa remain shrouded.

“We choose to remain anonymous at the public level not because of fear, but because this project is not about us as individual designers, but about the causes that we are highlighting, and the movement we are trying to build as a collective through Grupa,” the group said.

Thai junta pressures Facebook, Line to censor online posts — Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra charged for violating the Computer Crime Act

January 31, 2016

Reuters | Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:51am EST

Thailand’s military government will try to persuade media companies Facebook and Line to comply with court orders to remove content it considers harmful to peace and order, a senior official said Sunday.

The junta-appointed NRSA advisory council plans to meet executives from the two companies in the next three months, council member Major General Pisit Paoin told Reuters.

The government has been granted court orders for the removal of content that damages the country and the monarchy and affects peace and order, which companies have rarely complied with. The firms would be asked to in future respond quickly to such rulings, he said.

Thailand’s junta has faced repeated criticism for what rights groups say is a deepening slide into authoritarianism since the army took power in May 2014.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha

Its previous attempts to get social media platforms to take down political postings have been largely ineffective, although the country has blocked thousands of websites hosting lese majeste content.

Numbers of people arrested under the laws against criticizing the monarchy have also risen sharply.

Thai representatives for Facebook and Google could not immediately be reached for comment.

Thai authorities made a similar request over content on Jan. 22 to technology giant Google, which owns the YouTube video sharing platform, Pisit said.

Authorities have also increasingly cracked down on criticism of the junta.

Yingluck Shinawatra greets well-wishers and supporters as she arrives at the supreme court on Tuesday.

YingluckShinawatra greets well-wishers and supporters. Photograph: Wallace Woon/EPA

A former politician from the Pheu Thai party of deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was charged on Friday for violating the country’s Computer Crime Act for sharing on line a video mocking junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

(Reporting by Pairat Temphairojana and Aukkarapon Niyomyat. Writing by Aubrey Belford; John Stonestreet)

White House Raises Encryption Threat in Silicon Valley Summit

January 8, 2016

By Jenna McLaughlin

Top Obama administration officials are holding a summit meeting on counterterrorism on Friday in Silicon Valley with top tech executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook. The White House delegation includes Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “The goal here is to find additional ways to work together to make it even harder for terrorists or criminals to find refuge in cyberspace,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at a news briefing.

The highly controversial topic of encryption is very much on the agenda, according to excerpts from a White House briefing distributed to participants of the summit, obtained by The Intercept. Read the excerpts below.

In addition to using technology to recruit and radicalize, terrorists are using technology to mobilize supporters to attack and to plan, move money for, coordinate, and execute attacks. The roles played by terrorist leaders and attack plotters in this activity vary, ranging from providing general direction to small groups to undertake attacks of their own design wherever they are located to offering repeated and specific guidance on how to execute attacks. To avoid law enforcement and the intelligence community detecting their activities, terrorists are using encrypted forms of communications at various stages of attack plotting and execution. We expect terrorists will continue to use technology to mobilize, facilitate, and operationalize attacks, including using encrypted communications where law enforcement cannot obtain the content of the communication even with court authorization. We would be happy to provide classified briefings in which we could share additional information.

Key Questions: We are interested in exploring all options with you for how to deal with the growing threat of terrorists and other malicious actors using technology, including encrypted technology, to threaten our national security and public safety. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to address this problem and that each of you has very different products and services that work in different ways. Are there high-level principles we could agree on for working through these problems together? And are there technologies that could make it harder for terrorists to use the internet to mobilize, facilitate, and operationalize? Or easier for us to find them when they do? What are the potential downsides or unintended consequences we should be aware of when considering these kinds of technology-based approaches to counter terrorism?


A number of organizations in the government, as well as some in private industry and academia, have researched techniques to detect and measure radicalization. Some have suggested that a measurement of level of radicalization could provide insights to measure levels of radicalization to violence. While it is unclear whether radicalization is measureable or could be measured, such a measurement would be extremely useful to help shape and target counter-messaging and efforts focused on countering violent extremism. This type of approach requires consideration of First Amendment protections and privacy and civil liberties concerns, additional front-end research on specific drivers of radicalization and themes among violent extremist populations, careful design of intervention tools, dedicated technical expertise, and the ability to iteratively improve the tools based on experience in deploying them. Industry certainly has a lot of expertise in measuring resonance in order to see how effective and broad a messaging campaign reaches an audience. A partnership to determine if resonance can be measured for both ISIL and counter-ISIL content in order to guide and improve and more effectively counter the ISIL narrative could be beneficial.


The United States recognizes the need to empower credible non-governmental voices that would speak out against ISIL and terrorism more broadly both overseas and at home. However, there is a shortage of compelling credible alternative content; and this content is often not as effectively produced or distributed as pro-ISIL content and lacks the sensational quality that can capture the media’s attention. Content creation is made difficult by ISIL’s brutal rule and near total control of communications infrastructure in its territory in Iraq and Syria, which can make it dangerous for citizens to speak out or provide video or images. Further, many of the leading and credible voices that might counter ISIL lack the content-generation and social media prowess that would be required to counter ISIL online. There is also a need for more credible positive messaging and content that provides alternatives to young people concerned about many of the grievances ISIL highlights.

In parallel with ongoing U.S. Government efforts, we invite the private sector to consider ways to increase the availability alternative content. Beyond the tech sector, we have heard from other private sector actors, including advertising executives, who are interested in helping develop and amplify compelling counter-ISIL content; and we hope there are opportunities to bring together the best in tech, media, and marketing to work with credible non-government voices to address this shared challenge.



Can social media help fight terrorists? The feds think so.

The federal government will make a show of force in Silicon Valley on Friday. A bevy of top government officials, including FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, plan to meet with top Valley companies including Facebook fb , Twitter twtr , and Apple aapl to discuss how social media platforms can help combat terrorists.

The summit calls to mind the saying about what happens when an unstoppable force (the tech industry) meets an immovable object (the United States government). Law-enforcement, national security, and intelligence officials are increasingly annoyed with tech concerns for not doing their part in what once was called the “war on terror.” Social-media platforms have become prime distribution channels for propaganda and recruitment for organizations like the Islamic State. The feds think Silicon Valley should do more; the tech companies are fearful of being seen as collaborating with Washington in a post-Snowden environment.

Students of history might take note that it’s rare to beat the U.S. government, which knows a thing or two about defending its turf. Still, several issues are at play. Social media is one. Another that may present common ground is the government’s desire to tap the Valley’s expertise in developing terrorism-fighting technology.

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Reuters reported Thursday that encryption is not on the agenda for Friday’s meeting. If so, it could be that Washington understands an intramural quarrel is brewing over encryption and the use of customer data. The battle lines there find Apple and Microsoft msft , privacy purists who make their money selling hardware to consumers and software to businesses, respectively, on one side. On the other are Google goog and Amazon AMZN 0.81% , whose businesses are built on mining their customers’ data in the name of serving them up valuable information.

The very notion of a powerful delegation of federal political appointees descending on Silicon Valley must be jarring for an industry built on leave-us-alone libertarian political ideals. Technology types at times come off as woefully ignorant of how much they benefit from the largesse and firm hand of the U.S. government. Representatives of their government undoubtedly plan to remind them on Friday.




Red Flag for Stocks: Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook Tumble

January 4, 2016


By Corrie Driebusch
Market Watch


The biggest gainers in the S&P 500 in 2015 are slumping Monday, worrying some traders. If these reliable winners start flailing, it could bode poorly for the broader indexes for the new year, they say.

Last year, Inc.AMZN -6.73% easily contributed the most points to S&P 500, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, and heavyweights Microsoft Corp.MSFT -2.64%, Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc.FB -3.15% were the next three biggest contributors. In 2015, Amazon shares more than doubled, Microsoft gained 19%, Alphabet added 47% and Facebook shares rose 34%, while the S&P 500 declined 0.7%.

[EARLIER: 5 Best Performers in the S&P 500 in 2015]

On Monday, all four are lagging the broader market. Amazon, which also received an analyst downgrade, tumbled 5.5% in recent trading, while Microsoft fell 3.2%, Alphabet declined 2.9% and Facebook lost 3.3%.

The S&P 500 was recently down 2.1%.

“Weakness in the beginning of the year certainly stands out—it shows maybe there’s a lack of confidence that those names can continue to perform this year,” says Brett Mock, managing director at brokerage JonesTrading. “They were the narrow leadership last year and people obviously hung onto those positions to year-end, and I think a lot of people were sort of hiding in those names.”

The thinking is if these names can’t maintain their gains, the broader market may struggle in 2016.

Another big winner last year was Netflix IncNFLX -4.71%, which rose 134% in 2015, but is also struggling on the first day of trading in 2016 partly due to an analyst downgrade. Its shares are off 6.9%.

On the other hand, energy-related names such as Exxon Mobil Corp.XOM -1.18% and Kinder Morgan Inc. were the biggest detractors from the S&P 500 in 2015. Kinder Morgan is outperforming the broader market Monday, up 1.1%, but Exxon Mobile is falling, down 1.8% in recent trading.


Microsoft to warn email users of suspected hacking by governments

December 31, 2015


Microsoft Corp said on Wednesday it will begin warning users of its consumer services including email when the company suspects that a government has been trying to hack into their accounts.

The policy change comes nine days after Reuters asked the company why it had decided not tell victims of a hacking campaign, discovered in 2011, that had targeted international leaders of China’s Tibetan and Uighur minorities in particular.

According to two former employees of Microsoft, the company’s own experts had concluded several years ago that Chinese authorities had been behind the campaign but the company did not pass on that information to users of its Hotmail service, which is now called

In its statement, Microsoft said neither it nor the U.S. government could pinpoint the sources of the hacking attacks and that they didn’t come from a single country.

The policy shift at the world’s largest software company follows similar moves since October by Internet giants Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and most recently Yahoo Inc.

Google Inc pioneered the practice in 2012 and said it now alerts tens of thousands of users every few months.

For two years, Microsoft has offered alerts about potential security breaches without specifying the likely suspect.

In a statement to Reuters, Microsoft said: “As the threat landscape has evolved our approach has too, and we’ll now go beyond notification and guidance to specify if we reasonably believe the attacker is ‘state-sponsored’.”

In a blog post published late Wednesday, Microsoft said: “We’re taking this additional step of specifically letting you know if we have evidence that the attacker may be ‘state-sponsored’ because it is likely that the attack could be more sophisticated or more sustained than attacks from cybercriminals and others. (here)

The Hotmail attacks targeted diplomats, media workers, human rights lawyers, and others in sensitive positions inside China, according to the former employees.

Microsoft had told the targets to reset their passwords but did not tell them that they had been hacked. Five victims interviewed by Reuters said they had not taken the password reset as an indication of hacking.

Online free-speech activists and security experts have long called for more direct warnings, saying that they prompt behavioral changes from email users.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Martin Howell and Richard Pullin)


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