June-July 2020

HACKING CORONAVIRUS VACCINE DATA: A NEW INTELLIGENCE WEAPON OF RUSSIA?

Author: Risyad

In the  mid-July, The UK, US, and Canadian officials discovered hacking activities on coronavirus vaccine development projects by allegedly Russian-sponsored hackers. The officials said that the criminals, working for Advanced Persistent Threat 29 (APT29) or “Cozy Bear”, have been caught attacking pharmaceutical businesses and academic institutions involved in vaccine development that they believed as an attempt to steal intellectual property and information about potential vaccine candidates. APT29 itself is widely believed to be linked to the Russian intelligence services and has been involved in a high number of cyberattacks in recent years, including the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.[1]

Usually, the Russian intelligence activities in the western countries are known for its conventional, KGB-style techniques, e.g. poisoning and planting sleeper agents. But recently the Russian is reported to use hacking as a new intelligence technique, started by the hacking of DNC’s email to discredits Hillary Clinton and supports Donald Trump. Therefore, if the accusation regarding vaccine hacks is true, hacking will officially gain its status as Russia’s new intelligence “weapon” in the information era.

Reference:

[1] Matt Burgess, “Russia has been caught hacking into coronavirus vaccine projects,” WIRED, 16 July 2020, retrieved on 26 July 2020, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/russia-hack-coronavirus-vaccine.

 


FACEBOOK BOYCOTT BY COMPANIES: WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Author: Zarifa Emily

In early July 2020, large corporations including Coca-Cola, Hershey, Unilever, Starbucks, and Honda have stopped their spending on Facebook and Instagram ads for at least a month, following the call by the advocacy group Stop Hate for Profit, a coalition of civil rights group led by The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Colors of Change, and The Anti-Defamation League. The campaign claims that Facebook often promotes posts containing violence and racism, including but not limited to Donald Trump’s recent post on Black Lives Matter protest, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Given this, the boycott is asking Facebook to hire an executive-level manager with the civil right expertise and to submit to independent audits of their policies on hate speech. The goal of the campaign #StopHateforProfit is also to ask businesses to suspend advertising with Facebook until there is ‘significant action’ that Facebook takes in dealing with their posts.

The boycott marks two important things; first, advertising contributed 99.6% of Facebook’s overall revenue in 2019.  Most of the companies that are joining the boycott today are among the biggest spenders on Facebook ads, for example, Starbucks spent $95 million on the platform last year. In early July, shares of Facebook dropped 8% as a result of the advertising cutbacks. It shows that the financial loss is so apparent that it might incentivize Facebook to fulfill the demand of the campaign #StopHateforProfit rather than risking another financial loss.

Second, this marks a small victory for civil rights activism. The success in garnering support from corporations shows that corporations can start becoming a vehicle and ally for political movements. The growing list of companies joining the bandwagon of boycotting Facebook shows that they already have the awareness and willingness to push Facebook for more enforcement in the area of hate speech.

Reference:

All the Companies Quitting Facebook. (2020, June 29). Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/29/business/dealbook/facebook-boycott-ads.html

Schomer, A. (2019, July 26). Facebook’s ad revenue growth slowed in Q2 – here’s where its future growth will come from. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://www.businessinsider.com/facebooks-ad-revenue-continues-deceleration-2019-7?r=US

 


A “VIRTUAL BERLIN WALL” BETWEEN THE US-CHINA TECH COLD WAR

Author: Fraka

You may have seen the first episode of the US-China tech cold war where the U.S. administration barred Chinese telecom giant firms, Huawei for using its technology on their products. As an example, the U.S. tech like Google cannot be found anymore on Huawei’s smartphones. The U.S. administration under Trump also declared to ban all Huawei’s 5G technology to operate in the U.S. The tension between the U.S. and China has been escalating even further since then. So, what would happen next?

We could probably have another “Berlin Wall” virtually regarding their tech cold war. The U.S. made another strict restriction over export control and disrupted the global chains of semiconductor. They will block every company in the world who produce semiconductors for Huawei and its entities that use machinery and software US-made. This could make two different hemispheres where the U.S. and China take charges in each of them. The impacts are very tangible. We could see that the U.K. has taken the side of the U.S. by banning Huawei’s 5G technology and have it removed by 2027. Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea also barred Huawei’s 5G technology and started to develop their own technology.

This current episode likely shows how this tech cold war would drive the future of technology and the state of the global chain. We are thrilled to see how far the impacts from this cold war could give and the situations that we would have in the future.

 


EVEN BEANS BECAME POLITICAL IN AMERICA

Author: Quinta Allaya Emirsyah

There is nothing more political than food. Food is a reflection, maybe the most direct and obvious reflection of who we are, where we come from, what we love.” –Anthony Bourdain

For decades, Goya Foods has been a staple for many Latino families across United States and abroad. With the famous canned red kidney beans as their trademark product, this Hispanic-owned company is the perfect depiction of achieving the “American Dream” since it was founded by a Spanish immigrant, Don Prudencio Unanue, in 1936. Majority of their POC consumers grew up with a sense of cultural attachment to the brand. However, they were left disappointed when Goya Foods’ CEO, Robert Unanue, publicly praised the controversial President Donald Trump in July 2020.

It all started when Unanue delivered a speech at a White House event in which President Trump signed the Executive Order on the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, a policy to enhance Hispanic Americans’ access to educational and economic opportunities. However, given his previous crude remarks about the race such as “We’re building a wall between here and Mexico,” and “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” people were quick to point that it was just a facade to entice Hispanic voters on the upcoming presidential election. In his speech, Unanue spoke highly of the president, even commending him as a great leader. As a result of his tone-deaf remark, people start boycotting Goya Foods products – replacing them with other brands to make Hispanic cuisine and trending hashtags such as #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya on social medias.

Only adding insult to injury, Unanue stated that the public backlash was a “suppression of speech” and he did not intend to apologize. However, the boycott over Goya Foods is justifiable since their Hispanic American patrons are often marginalized under the Trump administration. At the end of the day, as one of America’s biggest CEOs, he should understand that his actions always reflect the brand that he leads.