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New Cold War? Reading the tech leaves at Munich

New Cold War? Reading the tech leaves at Munich

Are the US and China headed for a new Cold War over technology? Judging by what we heard a few days ago at the Munich Security Conference, a major trans-Atlantic gathering for world leaders and wonks, you'd certainly think so. US, European, and Chinese officials at the event all weighed in with strong words on the US campaign against Chinese 5G giant Huawei and much more. Here are the main insights we gleaned from the proceedings:


The US is getting more ideological. US officials are increasingly casting competition with China over 5G networks not just as an issue of job losses, or even of national security, but as an outright ideological struggle. Just look at the comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who warned against the "Sinification" of 5G and said that the US campaign to get allies to ban Huawei was "not about an economic advantage," but rather about "autocracy versus democracy." Taken together with similar language from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the dangers posed by Huawei, Pelosi's remarks reflect a bi-partisan hardening of Sinophobe attitudes in Washington.

China isn't flinching. At Munich, China's foreign minister blasted what he called US "lies," and said the US just wants to suppress China's "inevitable" rise and "rejuvenation." That tough talk, couched in world historic and latter day anti-imperialist terms, comes as Beijing accelerates its push for self-sufficiency in advanced technologies like semiconductors (which it still imports largely from abroad). In response to US pressure, Huawei has started designing 5G equipment and handsets that don't rely on American hardware or software. Whether China is able to be fully self-sufficient is an open question, but Beijing's ideological commitment here is similar to Washington's.

Europe wants to go its own way. Europe is wary of China's technology ambitions, sure, but European leaders are also increasingly wary of relying on the US. French President Emmanuel Macron called for Europe to remain "sovereign" when it comes to technology, defense, and other important issues. Rather than focus exclusively on China, the EU and member states like France and Germany want to regulate Big Tech across the board and promote "European" alternatives in areas like cloud computing and Big Data regulation.

To that end, Margrethe Vestager, the EU's lead on technology and competition policy, will present the bloc's new strategy for tackling digital issues like AI, facial recognition and Big Data. Any new policies that slap extra regulations on US tech firms or try to chip away at Silicon Valley's market leadership could further roil relations with Washington.

Bottom line: With the two main contenders increasingly dug in for ideological reasons, and Europe set on charting its own course, the Tech Cold War is likely to get worse before it gets better.

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.

The enormous scale of the coronavirus pandemic was captured earlier this week as the global death toll surpassed 1 million people. As the weight of the grim milestone sunk in, the New York Times noted that COVID-19 has now killed more people this year than the scourges of HIV, malaria, influenza, and cholera — combined. While some countries like Germany and South Korea are models in how to curb the virus' spread through social distancing and mask wearing, other countries around the world have recently seen caseloads surge again, raising fears of a dreaded "second wave" of infections. Here's a look at countries where the per-capita caseload has spiked in recent days.

Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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