A recent investigation uncovers some disturbing truths about civilian surveillance, the Biden administration blames China for a recent email hack, and the ongoing global chip shortage has hit smartphones.
It’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Tuesday, July 20th, and I’m your host, Tom Li.
An investigation from a reporting group known as Forbidden Stories is blowing the whistle on spyware manufacturer NSO Group. According to a report from the Guardian, which is one of 17 news organizations that comprise the investigative group, NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware is being used by their clients to potentially spy on various journalists, human rights defenders, and even heads of state. One prominent name the Guardian has drawn attention to is Carmen Aristegui, a journalist that was targeted along with colleagues and even family members after an expose on corruption during a former Mexican Prime Minister’s term. The Guardian says they will continue to report on the story and report on others affected by the leak in the days to come, with the hopes of spurring dialogue on the issues of the spyware-on-demand industry and its effect on everyday civilians
AP is reporting that the U.S government, along with several of its allies, is blaming China for a March 2021 hack on Microsoft Exchange servers. The government is also accusing China of working with criminals on ransomware and other illegal “cyber operations”. The condemnation on Monday is likely to exacerbate tensions, according to the report, as the accusation comes mere days after the U.S. issued two separate warnings to U.S businesses. The warnings were related to China’s accused repression of Uyghur (pronounced wee-gr) Muslims as well as their crackdowns on the freedom movement in Hong Kong. As the EU and Britain also condemned the actions, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry deflected blame, saying that China “firmly opposes and combats cyber attacks and cyber theft in all forms” while dismissing the “groundless accusations.”
Lastly, the ongoing global chip shortage is starting to affect the smartphone industry, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Shipments have reportedly slowed considerably while the industry braces for price hikes for the first time in years. Additionally, companies such as Samsung have reportedly had to scale back production and delay upcoming releases. For much of 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal report, smartphone manufacturers have avoided disruptions due to the industry’s propensity to purchase key parts up to six months in advance. Over the past several weeks, however, stockpiles have begun to shrink considerably, causing issues across the industry to follow. The Wall Street Journal noted that the shortage is not expected to impact the U.S. as heavily, given its standing as the world’s most profitable smartphone market, however, it is unclear what effects it will have on the Canadian market.
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