What’s Happening Out East?

Grind for February 3rd, 2019
“Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Access Denied

The Headline

Chinese government blocks Microsoft’s search engine

The Grind

In yet another move to restrict the freedoms of the Chinese people, Beijing this week cut off access to the search engine Bing.

“Chinese Internet users first started noticing problems on Wednesday with the site, when it was inaccessible inside China’s so-called Great Firewall,” reports NPR’s Shanghai correspondent Rob Schmitz.

The Details

Internet users in China are already blocked from using Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Users who find their way around the ban often find their posts or accounts deleted.

And while Bing accounts for only 2% of China’s search results, the implications here are significant.

“Blocking virtually your entire population from being able to search the non-China web can only hold them back,” argues The Economist’s Simon Rabinovitch. “Harm might not be immediately obvious but it will be there over time.”

The most popular search engine in China is Baidu, which controls about 70% of the market, followed by Shenma, a mobile-only option that represents about 16% of the market.

Both search engines censor results in favor of China’s Communist government.

Something Smells Fishy

The Headline

Japanese government to improve cybersecurity by hacking private devices

The Grind

Starting next month, the Japanese government will start hacking citizens’ devices as part of a five-year program intended to boost cybersecurity capabilities ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The massive hacking operation, which will be conducted by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), is expected to affect up to 200 million devices.

The Details

The NICT obtained legal permission last year to hack any IoT device, including webcams, and has promised to safeguard all information it collects.

Anyone whose device is successfully hacked will receive a message from the government suggesting they update their digital security.

As you can imagine, Japanese citizens are more than a little uncomfortable about the prospect of their government legally hacking into their photos and videos.

As it stands, it will be up to individuals to make sure their information is protected.

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