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Facebook bans Myanmar military with immediate effect

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

Facebook on Thursday said it had banned the Myanmar military from using its Facebook and Instagram platforms with immediate effect, as weeks of mass demonstrations continue in the Southeast Asian country after the military seized power, Reuters reported.

“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) on Facebook and Instagram are too great.”

The army seized power this month after alleging fraud in a November 8 election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). The army then detained her and much of the party leadership, Reuters reported.

At least three protesters and one policeman have been killed in violence at rallies.

The U.S tech giant said it would also ban all “Tatmadaw-linked commercial entities” from advertising on its platforms.

Reuters reported that Facebook stated the decision to ban the Myanmar army came due to “exceptionally severe human rights abuses and the clear risk of future military-initiated violence in Myanmar”, as well as the army’s repeated history of violating Facebook’s rules, including since the coup.

Facebook said the ban covered the military and its sub-units, army controlled-media and the ministries of home affairs, defence and border affairs, which are under direct military control.

The military government could not immediately be reached for comment.

Facebook is widely used in Myanmar and has been one of the ways the junta has communicated with people, despite an official move to ban on the platform in the early days of the coup, Reuters reported.

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China vows “necessary measures” after US blacklists Chinese supercomputing companies

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(Last Updated On: April 9, 2021)

China’s foreign ministry said Friday it would take necessary measures to protect the legal rights of Chinese companies after the United States added Chinese supercomputing entities to an economic blacklist, Reuters reported.

This comes as the U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday that it was adding seven Chinese supercomputing entities to a U.S. economic blacklist for assisting Chinese military efforts.

The Commerce Department said the seven were “involved with building supercomputers used by China’s military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction programs.”

The department is adding Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi, and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou to its blacklist.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing will take “necessary measures” to protect its companies’ rights and interests.

“U.S. containment and suppression cannot hold back the march of China’s scientific and technological development,” he said at a daily news conference in Beijing on Friday.

Companies or others listed on the U.S. Entity List are required to apply for licenses from the Commerce Department that face tough scrutiny when they seek permission to receive items from U.S. suppliers.

“Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many – perhaps almost all – modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

The new rules take effect immediately but do not apply to goods from U.S. suppliers already en route.

During the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, the U.S. added dozens of Chinese companies to its economic blacklist, including the country’s top smartphone maker Huawei Technologies, top chipmaker SMIC and the largest drone manufacturer, SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd.

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Data of 500 million Facebook users may be leaked

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(Last Updated On: April 5, 2021)

The private information of more than 500 million Facebook users may have been compromised, and an unidentified leaker says they are offering the data for sale for virtually nothing, Reuters reported.

Alon Gal, the co-founder of an Israeli cybersecurity firm called Hudson Rock, says that the information appears to be the same set of Facebook-linked telephone numbers that has been circulating in hacker circles since January.

It’s being sold for a few dollars’ worth of digital credit on a well-known site for low-level hackers.

Reuters hasn’t been able to verify the information, but Gal and some journalists who have seen the data dump say they have been able to match phone numbers of people they know. He warns that Facebook users should be on the lookout for possible “social engineering attacks” in the coming months.

In a statement, Facebook said that the data was “very old” and related to an issue that it had fixed in August 2019.

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Russia fines Twitter $117,000 for not removing banned content

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(Last Updated On: April 2, 2021)

A Russian court fined Twitter a total of 8.9 million roubles ($116,800) on Friday over accusations that the service had failed to delete banned content.

Moscow said last month it had slowed the speed of Twitter inside Russia, and on March 16 threatened to ban the U.S. social media service outright over content that it said ranged from child pornography to drug abuse.

Twitter declined to comment on Friday. Last month it said it was worried about the Russian action’s impact on free speech, and denied that it allowed its platform to be used to promote any illegal behavior.

The Tagansky District Court in Moscow said in a series of statements that it had issued three separate fines against Google of 3.2 million roubles, 3.3 million roubles, and 2.4 million roubles.

It said the fines related to offenses committed on Jan. 22-24 this year, including “violating the procedure for removing information”, all under Russia’s Administrative Offences Code.

Those dates coincided with the build-up to an eruption of protests across Russia by crowds demanding the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Ahead of those protests, Russia had asked some social networks to stop the spread of posts encouraging minors to take part in unsanctioned rallies.

Russia has in recent months taken steps to exert more influence over foreign social media platforms.

Bills passed by the lower house of parliament in December last year allowed Russia to impose large fines on platforms that do not delete banned content and even to restrict access to U.S. social media giants if they “discriminate” against Russian media.

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