Six In The Morning Tuesday 19 March 2024


Is TikTok really a danger to the West?

By Joe Tidy, Cyber Correspondent

China has attacked a bill going through US Congress that could ultimately see TikTok banned in the States, calling it unjust.

It is the latest move in a years-long row over safety fears about the app which is owned by a Chinese company.

Officials, politicians and security staff in many Western countries have been banned from installing it on work phones.

So what are the three biggest cyber concerns about TikTok, and how does the company respond to them?

1. TikTok collects an ‘excessive’ amount of data

TikTok says the app’s data collection is “in line with industry practices”.

Critics frequently accuse TikTok of harvesting huge amounts of data. A cyber-security report published in July 2022 by researchers at Internet 2.0, an Australian cyber-company, is often cited as evidence.

‘Red alert’: last year was hottest on record by clear margin, says UN report

Records being broken for greenhouse gas pollution, surface temperatures and ocean heat

The world has never been closer to breaching the 1.5C (2.7F) global heating limit, even if only temporarily, the United Nations’ weather agency has warned.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed on Tuesday that 2023 was the hottest year on record by a clear margin. In a report on the climate, it found that records were “once again broken, and in some cases smashed” for key indicators such as greenhouse gas pollution, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, Antarctic sea ice cover and glacier retreat.

Andrea Celeste Saulo, secretary general of the WMO, said the organisation was now “sounding the red alert to the world”.

Democracies under threat around the globe

With 63 democracies now outnumbered by 74 autocracies, a new Bertelsmann Foundation report highlights a global shift away from democratic governance, exacerbated by recent geopolitical events and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hard facts are sobering: According to a new study, the quality of democracy has deteriorated over the past 20 years in 137 countries that are considered developing or emerging economies. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation’s “Transformation Index,” there are now 63 democracies compared to 74 autocracies. In other words, states that tend not to have free elections or a functioning constitutional state.

In the last two years alone, shaped by a new geopolitical climate, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and the coronavirus pandemic, elections in 25 countries have been less free and fair than they were before, according to the study, which also found that in 39 countries freedom of expression and freedom of the press has been increasingly restricted.

In major shift, BOJ decides it will end negative interest rates

By SHIMPEI DOI/ Staff Writer

March 19, 2024 at 17:57 JS

The Bank of Japan announced March 19 it will end negative interest rates and review other ultra-loose monetary policies that have been in place for more than a decade to buoy the stagnant economy.

At a news conference following a two-day policy board meeting, BOJ Governor Kazuo Ueda said the 11-year-long “monetary easing in different dimensions,” adopted by his predecessor, Haruhiko Kuroda, “has fulfilled its role.”

The BOJ “assessed the virtuous cycle between wages and prices” and decided that the price stability target of 2 percent can be sustainably and stably achieved, it said in a statement.

How Israeli settlers are expanding illegal outposts amid Gaza war

In the secluded hills south of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, Abu al-Kabash used to wake up daily to his prized possession: a grove of pomegranate and fig trees that towered over the six different kinds of aloe plants enveloping his home.

That is all gone.

Since Israel started its war on Gaza following Hamas’s October 7 attacks, assaults on Palestinians by Israeli settlers became so violent that the 76-year-old farmer had to abandon the land passed down to him from his father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

“It was a choice between life or death,” Abu al-Kabash said.

A dissident in Europe is enraging Beijing. Now Chinese police are coming for his social media followers

For more than a decade, Lee has been able to circumvent China’s internet controls to go on Twitter, now known as X, without getting into trouble with the authorities.

The Chinese lawyer stayed away from politically sensitive topics and rarely engaged with other users, treating the platform mainly as an archive to back up his postings on heavily censored Chinese social media.

He has continued tweeting even as Beijing intensifies efforts to control free speech beyond its Great Firewall of internet censorship, interrogating, detaining and jailing Chinese Twitter users who criticize leader Xi Jinping and his government.