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A US / European Rift Over 5G?

A US / European Rift Over 5G?

Speaking of trans-Atlantic rifts, we've written previously about the US pushback against Huawei, arguably the world's most geopolitically significant technology company. The Trump administration has been trying to convinceits European allies to ban the Chinese tech giant from their next-generation 5G information networks, citing national security risks. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even warned of consequences for countries that don't toe Washington's line on the issue.


Nevertheless, the US anti-Huawei push appears to be faltering. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Germany was leaning towards allowing the Chinese group to play some role in its 5G network plans. And over the weekend, The Financial Times said the UK government thinks the security risks of using Huawei gear are manageable.

So, why are US allies reluctant to ban Huawei? There are a few factors at play:

Shifting US arguments: At first, the US warned that the Chinese government could use Huawei equipment to spy on Western governments or sabotage their critical infrastructure. But skeptics counter that there's no evidence China has ever used Huawei for espionage and that critical infrastructure is already vulnerable in many other ways. So the US shifted its argument to focus on accusations that Huawei has stolen other firms' intellectual property while also making a broader argument that partnering with tech companies subject to influence by authoritarian governments is just a bad idea. That may be, but these shifting arguments from Washington provoke skepticism from allies.

A growing industry counter-narrative: The global mobile telecommunications industry was caught off guard by the US's anti-Huawei campaign. The US has long pressured its own telecom companies to avoid Huawei gear, but many network operators in other countries rely on the firm, and a global campaign against the company wasn't on the policy radar a year ago. Now that businesses are tallying the cost of removing Chinese gear from their networks, they're asking why such a drastic step is necessary. Building new 5G networks without Huawei is certainly possible, but doing so will be more expensive and take longer – adding a significant burden for companies that were already planning one of the most expensive and complex technology projects ever.

Pressure from China: Beijing isn't taking the threat against Huawei lying down. The Chinese government says Washington is just making up excuses to stunt China's rightful technological rise. And if the US and China are making their cases to countries around the world, China has clout: many European countries rely heavily on the company for their existing mobile networks. In regions like Latin America, Africa, and parts of Asia Beijing has leverage with governments that rely increasingly on Chinese firms for trade, investment, and infrastructure.

Put it all together, and it's easy to see why some European countries might prefer a subtler approach – let Huawei into their networks, but under close scrutiny. So far there are no signs that the US is willing to back down from its hardline stance. If big European economies refuse to bend to the US pressure, it could erode the transatlantic relationship even further.

Microsoft released a new annual report, called the Digital Defense Report, covering cybersecurity trends from the past year. This report makes it clear that threat actors have rapidly increased in sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest targets. For example, nation-state actors are engaging in new reconnaissance techniques that increase their chances of compromising high-value targets, criminal groups targeting businesses have moved their infrastructure to the cloud to hide among legitimate services, and attackers have developed new ways to scour the internet for systems vulnerable to ransomware. Given the leap in attack sophistication in the past year, it is more important than ever that steps are taken to establish new rules of the road for cyberspace: that all organizations, whether government agencies or businesses, invest in people and technology to help stop attacks; and that people focus on the basics, including regular application of security updates, comprehensive backup policies, and, especially, enabling multi-factor authentication. Microsoft summarized some of the most important insights in this year's report, including related suggestions for people and businesses.

Read the whole post and report at Microsoft On The Issues.

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

First of all, what is going on in the Caucuses?

Well, it's a war. You'd never know it from following American press, because of course, we're only talking about Trump and the elections. But Armenia and Azerbaijan are actively fighting each other. Over 100 are dead so far, including civilians. There is a lot of fog of war misinformation going on. Reuters piece that seems that there are some mercenaries, including Syrian mercenaries on the ground that were in Azerbaijan that were paid for by Turkey. The Armenians, as of today, are claiming that Turkish fighter jet downed an Armenian war plane. Ankara is saying, no, they didn't. The Iranians are being accused of transferring military equipment to Armenia. The Iranians are saying, no, they didn't.

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Mexico reckons with abortion rights: Scores of people joined protests in Mexico's capital on Monday, demanding the legalization of abortion in the majority Roman Catholic country. The demonstrations coincided with International Safe Abortion Day, which aims to ensure women around the world have access to safe sexual and reproductive health services. In Mexico, which has a female population of at least 65 million, the procedure is banned outside Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca (which moved to legalize the procedure last year), though it's legal in instances of rape. More than half of all pregnancies in Mexico are estimated to be unintended, leading many women to seek (botched) illegal abortions that often lead to complications requiring serious medical care. Protesters clashed with police — with some women even hurling Molotov cocktails — as confrontations became increasingly heated throughout the day. Many attendees were clad in green scarfs, which have become the symbol of the pro-choice movement in parts of Latin America in recent years. Some analysts say that the recent death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a women's right icon, has put renewed global focus on abortion rights — and women's rights more broadly.

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