One of the facial recognition databases that the Chinese government is using to track the Uyghur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region has been left open on the internet for months, a Dutch security researcher told ZDNet. The database belongs to a Chinese company named SenseNets, which according to its website provides video-based crowd analysis and facial recognition technology. Yesterday, Victor Gevers, a well-known security researcher that made a name for himself in the past few years by finding leaky MongoDB databases did what he does best and found one of SenseNets' MongoDB databases that had been left exposed online without authentication. Gevers told ZDNet that the database contained information on 2,565724 users, along with a stream of GPS coordinates that came in at a rapid pace. The user data wasn't just benign usernames, but highly detailed and highly sensitive information that someone would usually find on an ID card, Gevers said.
In July 2009, deadly riots broke out in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, China. Nearly 200 people died, the majority ethnic Han Chinese, and thousands of Chinese troops were brought in to quell the riots. An information battle soon followed, as mobile phone and internet service was cut off in the entire province. For the next 10 months, web access would be almost non-existent in Xinjiang, a vast region larger than Texas with a population of over 20 million. It was one of the most widespread, longest internet shutdowns ever.
BEIJING – China's far-northwestern region of Xinjiang has revised legislation to provide a legal basis for internment camps where up to 1 million Muslims are being held amid mounting international criticism. New clauses adopted by the regional government officially permit the use of "education and training centers" to reform "people influenced by extremism." Chinese authorities deny that the internment camps exist but say petty criminals are sent to vocational "training centers." Former detainees in the centers say they were forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the Communist Party in what they describe as political indoctrination camps. "It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang," said James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University.
The US government averted another shutdown when Donald Trump instead opted to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall dreams--a wall which raises huge privacy and security concerns and will cause more problems than it solves. As the country digested the national emergency, cybersecurity workers were still scrambling to clean up the security nightmare wrought by the longest shutdown in history. Amid all the border wall news this week, you'd be forgiven for missing that the president also signed an executive order creating the American AI Initiative. In an op-ed for WIRED, White House deputy assistant to the president for technology policy Michale Kratsios explained why AI strategy is a security issue. Speaking of AI, to combat the growing threat of deep fakes, a new tool uses the blockchain to monitor video for tampering and manipulation.
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday seeking to punish China over its "human rights abuses" of the majority-Muslim Uighur population in the country's west, a move that drew immediate anger from Beijing. Legislation introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives seeks to toughen U.S. President Donald Trump's administration's response to what the lawmakers say are gross violations of human rights in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The bill urges U.S. authorities to impose targeted sanctions on members of China's government, the ruling Communist Party and state security apparatus, as well Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo and other officials "credibly alleged to be responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang and elsewhere." China's Uighurs have faced unprecedented surveillance in recent years, and the United Nations has determined that up to 1 million Uighurs have been rounded up in detention camps. Washington must hold government and Communist Party officials "responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity, including the internment in'political reeducation' camps of as many as a million Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities," Sen. Marco Rubio, a chief sponsor, said in a statement.