In the News

Mar 11, 2020

Having confirmed that it has been using Clearview AI facial recognition technology for some time, the RCMP now says it will limit it to “limited and specific circumstances,” A spokesperson says the focus will be on “exigent circumstances for victim identification” in cases of suspected sexual exploitation of children or where a threat of grievous bodily harm or a threat to life is considered imminent.”

Mar 10, 2020

Nearly 16 years after the 9/11 Commission released its report on the 2001 attacks on the U.S., the commission’s advice on how to counter terrorism financing evidently has been largely “forgotten”, according to a paper released 10 March by the Royal United Services Institute. Targetting policymakers, law enforcement and the private sector, it urges a more informed and dynamic response to an evolving threat.

Mar 09, 2020

Italy's already sweeping initiatives against Covid-19 were broadened 09 March to include a nationwide ban on public gatherings. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who previously had quarantined the country’s northern region, said the move is necessary to protect the most vulnerable at a time when deaths from the coronavirus had jumped by 97 in one day to a total of 463.

Mar 09, 2020

No fewer than 161 firearms, 145 of which were loaded, including 62 with a round chambered, were found in passengers’ baggage at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina in one two-week period last month. Also confiscated were at least two 3D-printed guns, which 20 states are trying to outlaw despite a proposed federal policy shift which could increase online availability of designs.

Mar 09, 2020

A spherical robot initially designed for NASA as a Mars rover has found new life as an amphibious surveillance and reconnaissance platform developed by Connecticut GuardBot Inc. Tested by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the modular sentinels are equipped with a range of sensors and range in diameter from about two metres down to 16.5cm.

Mar 08, 2020

The head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, Scott Jones, says it's working on a level of data encryption to enhance government information in the fact of reported increases in privacy breaches and software attacks. “We want encryption when it's being processed so you don't have to decrypt it to do it, and that's something called homomorphic encryption,” he says. “That’s the Holy Grail.”

Mar 08, 2020

Up to 16 million residents in parts of central and northern Italy have been placed under quarantine in an effort to contain a Covid-19 outbreak. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the country.

Mar 08, 2020

A U.S. grand jury has indicted Charles K. Edwards, former acting inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, and Murali Yamazula, his former subordinate, in connection with the theft of proprietary software and databases containing government employees’ personal information for the purpose of defrauding the government.

Mar 08, 2020

Pentagon officials are “quite likely” to have overlooked a material error in Microsoft’s bid on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure multi-billion-dollar cloud data storage project, according a federal judge who has placed a hold on work in response to an Amazon injunction request. Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith issued the ruling Feb. 13 but her reasons have only now been released by the court.

Mar 08, 2020

A reported 40 per cent of Android device users worldwide are said to be vulnerable to hacking because they are no longer protected by security updates though the Google operating system. Devices from a range of original equipment manufacturers were assessed and the main conclusion was that older models were generally more at risk.

Mar 08, 2020

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he and his British counterpart, Ben Wallace, have agreed to “further” reduce Huawei’s presence in 5G telecom infrastructure, but Esper is not elaborating. Britain has agreed to limited Huawei involvement while the U.S. remains vehemently opposed on security grounds, and it remains unclear that the two administrations had struck an actual deal.

Mar 08, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security is planning another “biometric technology rally” with a view to having developers collectively test and accelerate emerging automated biometrics. Two earlier events tested tools individually but this year’s evidently will focus on identifying collaborative groups which would lead the DHS efforts.

Mar 05, 2020

Canadian Armed Forces base commanders have been given detailed “pre-pandemic planning” orders for how to address the new coronavirus domestically and overseas. Among other things, commanders can cancel large gatherings in the event of a Covid-19 spike and other precautions include reviews of all non-essential travel.

Mar 04, 2020

Having initially denied that it was using facial recognition technology, the RCMP recently confirmed that it had been using it for some time. The program evidently has accumulated large amounts of personal images from social media and in confirming that it has been using the technology, the RCMP said “some municipal police” also use it.

Mar 04, 2020

The Russian polar icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn has set a record by going further north under its own power to complete a supply run to a multinational expedition adrift in the high Arctic. The expedition is designed to improve scientific understanding of climate change which evidently is accelerating sea-ice melt.

Mar 04, 2020

A push by masses of people trying to cross the Turkish border was met 04 March with tear gas and stun grenades fired by Greek authorities fired tear gas and stun grenades. The attempted influx followed Turkey’s announcement that its border with Europe would be wide open.

Mar 04, 2020

The U.S. administration’s latest move to divert billions of dollars from defence programs to continue construction of a border wall with Mexico is being met by a lawsuit by 19 state government. Filed in federal court 03 March, it contends that the diversion is “contrary to Congress’s intent and in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

Mar 04, 2020

The Bank of Canada reduced its overnight lending rate 04 March to 1.25 per cent from the 1.75 per cent rate which had prevailed since October 2018, when it was increased from 1.50 per cent. The reduction is part of an international effort to blunt the economic impact of the Covid-19 virus and follows similar action by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Mar 03, 2020

As part of an international effort to blunt the economic impact of the Covid-19 virus, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced 03 March that it had reduced its benchmark lending rates for overnight or short-term institutional loans by a half-point to a 1-1.5 per cent range.

Mar 03, 2020

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says that neither the European Union nor China, having benefitted from their evolving relationship, seeks confrontation or an adversarial relationship going forward. However, in an “insights paper” published 03 March, SIPRI cautions that increasing connection between military and non-military dimensions of security have prompted EU states to develop new ways of addressing potential threats to transport and digital communications networks.

Mar 03, 2020

Software engineer Joshua Schulte, a former CIA coder accused of sending much of the agency’s computer hacking arsenal to Wikileaks, is being portrayed by trial prosecutors as “prepared to do anything” to betray his employer. Meanwhile, his defence counsel contends that Schulte is being scapegoated for a breach that exposed cyberweapons and spying techniques. 

Mar 02, 2020

Two former Conservative cabinet ministers generally considered the front-runners in the party’s leadership race, say they are prepared to force a vote of no-confidence in the House of Commons, which could force another general election if the Liberal government was unable to secure the support of other parties. Former defence minister Peter MacKay disclosed his intentions on social media while former veterans affairs minister Erin O’Toole echoed that in an email. A third contender, Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu, vice-chair of the party's aerospace caucus, also has said she would put forward a motion of no-confidence.

Mar 02, 2020

The Director General of the World Health Organization said 02 March that while he remains confident that the outbreak of Covid-19 can be contained at national levels, the global situation is “uncharted territory.” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said it is “unwise” to implement mitigation measures without testing the effectiveness of containment strategies.

Mar 02, 2020

The U.S. administration’s campaign against Huawei being involved in the next-generation communications networks is prompting questions about whether the push is over security or trade issues. A senior lecturer at Harvard says that when the White House tries “to play both ends of that”, it undermines relations with allies.

Mar 02, 2020

Even as the World Health suggests that efforts to combat Covid-19 are still in the “containment phase”, a Canadian infectious diseases specialist is saying that the corona virus cannot be contained. Dr. Isaac Bogoch at Toronto General Hospital says that while public health efforts have been helpful, “it will continue to spread throughout the world.”

Mar 02, 2020

The fourth quarter of 2019 saw the Canadian economy nearly at a standstill and with little signs of recovery due to the global spread of the Covid-19 virus. Real GDP was an annualized 0.3 per cent in the latest three months, albeit subject to revision when current-quarter data are published by Statistics Canada. Growth for 2019 overall was up by a preliminary 1.6 per cent compared with 2.0 per cent in 2018.

Mar 01, 2020

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it will consult with the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions on new guidelines for protecting health-care workers against the novel coronavirus. Interim guidelines set out precautions, including protective equipment, but nurses’ unions say that they are less stringent than in some other jurisdictions.

Mar 01, 2020

The B.C. government confirmed an eighth coronavirus case 29 February, the same day that officials in neighbouring Washington announced that the state’s first Covid-19 death. Meanwhile, three new cases in Toronto area brought Ontario’s total to 11 and one case has been reported in Quebec.

Mar 01, 2020

The British government says nothing is “off the table” in its plan to contain the spread of Covid-19. Home Secretary Matt Hancock says a “battle plan” includes the potential closure of schools, a ban on large gatherings, and less use of public transport.

Mar 01, 2020

Satellite imagery suggests that China’s emissions of nitrogen dioxide by industry and internal combustion engines have been declining, possibly related to a manufacturing slowdown as part of China’s stop the spread of Covid-19. As the epicentre of the viral outbreak, China itself has reported nearly 80,000 cases, but it has spread to more than 50 other countries.

 

Feb 29, 2020

Texas Republican John Ratcliffe, a member of the House of Representatives since 2015 and generally regarded as one of the most conservative members of Congress, has been nominated again by President Donald Trump as Director of National Intelligence. He was first proposed last July but withdrew amidst concerns about his qualifications for coordinating 16 intelligence agencies.

Feb 29, 2020

Thirteen Canadians and two local employees at a Canadian charity in Ethiopia are being detained after they were accused of practising medicine without licence and using dated medications. The Alberta-registered charity, Canadian Humanitarian, confirmed the development on its website 29 February, saying that it had complied with all protocols.

Feb 27, 2020

Scientists in a number of countries trying to identify the origins of the latest corona virus, Covid-19, are questioning Chinese suggestions that the vector was an endangered species which is still considered a delicacy. Chinese geneticists had identified the ant-eating pangolin as a probable source but a re-examination of their data, coupled with three other pangolin studies, suggests the findings, while not discounting pangolins completely, are inconclusive.

Feb 27, 2020

Christopher Krebs, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, is receptive to concerns that widespread use of Social Security numbers leaves millions of Americans vulnerable to data theft. He suggested during a cybersecurity conference that there are more secure alternatives to the nine-digit identifier. A study five years indicated then that up to 80 per cent of registrants had already been hacked.

Feb 26, 2020

A special advisory committee comprising federal, provincial and territorial officials has been tasked with preparing a long-term plan for containing COVID-19 in the event that initial responses don’t stop the corona virus from spreading. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo told a parliamentary committee 26 February that while Canada is in a “good position” with only 12 diagnoses so far, it is critical to prepare for “what might happen weeks and months from now.”

Feb 26, 2020

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says stringent measures are being taken to guard against the spread of the Covid-19 corona virus and that they could include a ban on large public gatherings. Meanwhile, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, has suggested that the growing global list of diagnoses “suggest it’s likely that this virus will cause a pandemic.”

Feb 25, 2020

Former Defence Minister and now Conservatives Party leadership contender Peter MacKay said 25 February that if he eventually was able to form a government, he would not permit Huwei 5G communications technology to be used in Canada. His statement, in which he also said Britain would eventually reverse its decision to permit limited 5G use, came during a wide-ranging interview.

Feb 25, 2020

The U.S. Congress is being lobbied by a coalition of advocacy groups to “restore the balance of national security powers” between itself and the White House “All Americans have a stake in decisions to go to war, bypass ordinary laws through emergency declarations or sell weapons to foreign regimes,” they say. “However, the system of checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution is broken.”

Feb 25, 2020

“The Government of Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure our economic future,” Premier Jason Kenney said 24 February. “We will not back down.” The former federal cabinet minister said this included legislation to protect “critical infrastructure” by imposing stiff penalties on anyone trying to blockade energy projects or rail links.

Feb 24, 2020

The U.S. House intelligence committee has been warned that Russia is interfering in the presidential election campaign in an attempt to have Donald Trump re-elected. The president’s allies reportedly countered that his administration has been tough on Russia and strengthened European security. Meanwhile, Russian state media say Trump has benefitted the Kremlin.

Feb 24, 2020

As more confirmed diagnoses of potentially fatal respiratory problems caused the latest corona virus continue to emerge around the world, there are growing concerns about a possible COVID-19 pandemic. Most infections and deaths have been confirmed in China but the outbreak has spread elsewhere in Asia as well as to North America, Europe and the Middle East. The WHO officially named the Coronavirus as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) on 11 Feb 2020.

Feb 24, 2020

Satellite imagery showing extensive Antarctica snow melt over several days in early February has been released by NASA. The images uphold observed surface temperatures which have reached record levels.

Feb 24, 2020

Despite denials by senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, frontline staff evidently are still targeting Iranian-born Canadian citizens flying out of Canadian airports and at major land-crossings.

Feb 24, 2020

The RCMP is investigating reports by a pulp-and-paper company in Richmond, B.C., that its systems have been infiltrated by malware. A spokesperson for Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corp. says communications and some production capability have been affected. 

Feb 24, 2020

Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien and three provincial ombudsmen will investigate Canadian use of facial-recognition technology supplied by New York-based Clearview AI. Their probe is in response to reports that the company collects and uses personal data without consent, a potential breach of Canadian privacy laws.

Feb 24, 2020

A former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst faces up to 10 years in prison for sharing classified information with two journalists in 2018. Henry Frese has pled guilty. One of the journalists was his girlfriend at the time, a national security reporter for the CNBC business network. 

Feb 24, 2020

A Chinese citizen has pleaded guilty to taking photographs of a U.S. Navy base in Florida. His arrest is similar to the cases of three other Chinese nationals caught photographing the base in Key West.

Feb 24, 2020

At least one element of the European Union’s recently-published draft principles for regulating artificial intelligence falls short of what the U.S. proposes, says Michael Kratsios, a senior White House technology officer. He says the EU white paper “in some ways clumsily attempts to bucket AI-power technologies as either high-risk or not compared with a broader spectrum approach.

Feb 21, 2020

The Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, has been added to the European Union’s blacklist of tax havens. The EU says the three islands, which have no income, capital gains or corporates taxes, lack “appropriate measures” for preventing tax abuse, but Premier Alden McLaughlin says the territory has approved many reforms sought by the EU.

Feb 19, 2020

Growing reliance on the public cloud as a core element of public- and private-sector transition to an increasingly digital world worries Eric Trexler, vice-president of global governments and critical infrastructure at Texas-based Forcepoint, a company partly owned by Raytheon which develops and markets cybersecurity software. While the trend is expected to give agencies more data storage flexibility, he says it also amounts to an “attractive bullseye” for cyberattackers.

Feb 18, 2020

Two fiery derailments 06 February in Saskatchewan have prompted a Transport Canada directive that speed limits for trains with 20 or more cars carrying dangerous goods must be halved, to 32 kilometres an hour in metropolitan areas and to 40km/h elsewhere.

Feb 18, 2020

BAE Systems completed its maiden flight of a high-altitude solar-powered aircraft with a 35-metre wingspan. The unmanned platform is designed to fly at an altitude of about 51,000m with a time aloft of more than a year at lower cost than satellites. The project is being underwritten by Britain and Australia., where the first flight took place at the Woomera Test Range.

Feb 18, 2020

Germany is moving to protect cyber technologies as national assets, enabling it to side-step European Union regulations which othersie require procurements to be open to bids from prospective suppliers in all member states. Artificial intelligence, electronic warfare, networked operations, cryptology and defence-related information and communications technologies are deemed crucial to national security and hence are exempt.

Feb 17, 2020

Continuing a long-running fight with the European Union over subsidies to their aircraft manufacturing sectors, the U.S. plans to hike its tariff on Airbus and aircraft parts to 15 per cent next month. The action targets EU members where Airbus parts are made: Britain, France, Germany and Spain. The EU has long insisted that the U.S. subsidizes Boeing, Airbus’ main competitor in the global commercial aircraft market.

Feb 17, 2020

Chinese telecom giant Huawei is being charged by the U.S. with new offences, including stealing trade secrets and violation sanctions against North Korea. Huawei says the charges are without merit and based mainly on civil disputes already settled in court.

Feb 17, 2020

Concerns that Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been mistreated during their detention in China since December 2018 are being dismissed as overblown by China’s ambassador to Canada. Cong Peiwu insists their legal rights are protected and that media coverage of their situation is “just hype up of stories.”

Feb 17, 2020

A respected Japanese academic who has researched his country’s relationship with China says that Japanese and western policies of engagement based solely on trade and business interests has failed. Junya Nishino says it is apparent that the hope that liberalized trade and investment would lead to a more democratic China has run up against the political reality that Beijing is not interested.

Feb 17, 2020

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is being urged by one of the sectors it to set up new protections for smartphone users targeted by a scam involving SIM (subscriber identify module) cards. The fraud involves hackers who use pirated information to set up a new account with a service provider which then can be used to gain access to banking and other applications linked to their phone.

Feb 17, 2020

Israel’s military has disclosed that it has foiled a move by Palestinian Hamas militants to hack into Israeli troops’ smartphones. It uncovered the plot several months ago but let it continue under surveillance until they shut it down.  Dozens of troops were targeted by Hamas agents posing as young women, enabling them to download malware.

Feb 17, 2020

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expects that Britain and the European Union will “rip each other apart” as each side strives for advantage in a post-Brexit era. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new government wants “friendly cooperation” but Le Drian, citing huge differences on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, says “everyone will defend their own interests.”

Feb 17, 2020

Seven variants of a malware program associated with North Korea prompted the U.S. intelligence community to issue a warning 17 February to the public and private sectors. The “Hidden Cobra” program evidently includes a remote-access trojan which would enable hackers to upload and download files as well as monitor victims’ microphones, clipboards and screens.

Feb 17, 2020

A planned British visit by an Australian parliamentary committee reportedly has been cancelled due to differences over Huawei’s role in Britain's 5G network but Britain says the change in plans is because Westminster has yet to establish a counterpart committee. Australia has banned the Chinese company outright and is said to be disappointed by its intelligence partner's decision to allow Huawei limited access.

Feb 17, 2020

Internet service providers would be compelled to share data with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under the terms of a bipartisan bill currently before a U.S. Senate committee. A related bill has been approved by its equivalent committee in the House of Representatives.

Feb 17, 2020

President Donald Trumps’ special envoy for international telecommunications policy, Robert Blair, has indicated that the U.S. won’t change its policy on intelligence-sharing with Britain despite the latter’s decision to allow Huawei access to British 5G networks. Trump had tried successfully to persuade Prime Minister Boris Johnson to exclude Huawei but Blair says “there will be no erosion of our overall intelligence sharing operation.”

Feb 17, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense has been blocked by a federal judge from going ahead with a $10-billion contract with Microsoft Corp. to provide cloud-based data storage. The injunction remains in effect until “further notice from the court” due to a legal challenge by Amazon, which argues that the DoD made numerous errors in awarding the contract. It also says President Donald Trump exerted undue influence through his frequent criticism of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Feb 17, 2020

Canada’s economic growth during the final quarter of 2019 is expected to be “significantly weaker” than expected, possibly even stagnant, according to Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux. His latest outlook indicates annualized real growth will have been 0.3 per cent compared with his officer’s earlier estimate of 1.6 per cent. Weakness in the resources and transportation sectors are given as the reasons for the rollback.

Feb 14, 2020

Researchers say they logged an unprecedented temperature of more than 20°C on an island off the northern most point of Antarctica 09 February. The continent itself saw a record 18.3° last week.

Feb 14, 2020

The personal information of at least 144,000 Canadians has been mishandled by federal departments and agencies in the past two years and not everyone affected by a privacy breach was told about it. The Canada Revenue Agency was the lead offender with more than 3,000 incidents affecting close to 60,000 taxpayers.

Feb 14, 2020

Rail freight and passenger traffic in most of the country has been shut down due to lines blockaded by First Nations groups and supporters who are disregarding court injunctions. The blockades are part of a widespread protest against a pipeline project in northern B.C. and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says “the rule of law” must apply.

Feb 14, 2020

U.S. Cyber Command wants to spend $11.6 million to procure systems which would enable its personnel to deploy abroad on “hunt forward” missions to block malicious cyber activity. The proposed project is proposed for 2021 within the Air Force envelope.

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