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Sunday Paper - Supporting Strong Encryption, Facebook' Political Ad Policy, CES and vegan food, Music Shuffling versus Album Listening

There is a disconnect between the USA Congress, FBI, DOJ and industry regulatory bodies on encryption. The minute there is a data breach, Congress wants answers and results. That same congress along with the FBI is scaring people into supporting backdoors in everything while the Defense Department argues that robust encryption is necessary for national…

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The security implications of China’s AI Strategy

Understanding China's AI Strategy by Gregory C. Allen (

In the second half of 2018, I traveled to China on four separate trips to attend major diplomatic, military, and private-sector conferences focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI). During these trips, I participated in a series of meetings with high-ranking Chinese officials in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leaders of China’s military AI research organizations, government think tank experts, and corporate executives at Chinese AI companies. From these discussions – as well as my ongoing work analyzing China’s AI industry, policies, reports, and programs – I have arrived at a number of key judgments about Chinese leadership’s views, strategies, and prospects for AI as it applies to China’s economy and national security. Of course, China’s leadership in this area is a large population with diversity in its views, and any effort to generalize is inherently presumptuous and essentially guaranteed to oversimplify. However, the distance is large between prevailing views in American commentary on China’s AI efforts and what I have come to believe are the facts. I hope by stating my takeaways directly, this report will advance the assessment of this issue and be of benefit to the wider U.S. policymaking community.

Gregory C. Allen at the Center for a New American Security has produced a report with analysis and insights into China's AI strategy with national and cyber-security implications for the commercial, government, and military sectors.

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Ignorance Is No Defense

As The AI Cold War Looms, Has Time Finally Been Called On China’s Spy Industry? by Zak Doffman (Homeland Security)

So, back to that national collection agency building in June. On this occasion, the focus is facial recognition to protect public spaces against terrorist attack. But it could just as easily be ‘lawful intercept’, cybersecurity, data warehousing, ITC infrastructure. The agency is running a process, an evaluation, against a specified requirement. After months of testing, a Chinese company makes the shortlist. It has shipped test servers inside the wire, onto the network. It has thrown engineering resource into the mix. It has committed months of investment.


When it looks like the contract is about to veer towards one of the non-Chinese options, the agency’s program manager takes the Western vendors to one side. “It doesn’t really matter what happens with the rest of the test,” he says, trying to be helpful. “The Chinese have said they won’t be beaten on price. They’ll pretty much give it away if they have to. You can’t compete.”


Within the surveillance industry, this is now commonplace in South East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, even parts of Europe. The SOP is broadly the same. Free trials and equipment. Unbeatable pricing. Seemingly unlimited numbers of Chinese engineers in matching polo shirts, flown across to support deployments. The numbers shouldn’t add up. Except they do. It isn’t meant to be commercial. It’s meant to be a national security strategy. And it has been immensely effective.


Hikvision is the world’s largest surveillance equipment manufacturer. Like ZTE, Dahua, Hytera, it has grown rapidly both at home and abroad. Huawei is much larger and more diverse than the others. Surveillance just one of its areas of focus. The usual arguments center on whether the companies are state-owned or state-controlled. That misses the point. Promoting the country’s national security is a duty across the board. Huawei is not state-owned, it insists that it’s not state-controlled. But it is a ‘national champion’, carrying obligations to support the government in return for public sector contracts, financing support, state protection.


The warnings against buying Huawei devices or deploying Hikvision or Dahua or ZTE or Hytera security equipment are certainly not new. But the latest twist in this long-running tale is AI. China has built itself an AI surveillance hothouse that is second to none. Staggering investment rounds. Access to seemingly endless state procurements of facial recognition, citizen monitoring, dystopian surveillance. The brute force oppression of the Uighur population in Xinjiang Province and the urban electronically enforced zero-tolerance policing in the major cities further east are testaments to organization and determination.

It's a brilliant strategy.

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