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“Smart” home devices spark National Security risk



The rapid proliferation of Internet-connected “smart” devices in US homes and infrastructure has raised concerns about the security of households and national interests.

Lawmakers are now calling for enhanced security standards to counter the escalating threats posed by cybercriminals and hostile governments.

Recent events, including ransomware attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and JBS in 2021, as well as federal warnings about foreign attacks on the US power grid, have fueled public fears about cybersecurity. Moreover, instances of hackers exploiting devices like Ring cameras to spy on individuals, particularly children, have amplified these concerns.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, Chairman of the House Select Committee on China, is part of a growing contingent of policymakers focusing on the “Internet of Things” (IoT), encompassing non-computer devices with internet connectivity. These IoT devices include smart TVs, wearable fitness trackers, doorbell cameras, thermostats, and control systems for factories and power plants. Of particular concern is the widespread use of Chinese-made cellular modules that enable these devices to connect to the internet.

Lawmakers argue that if China were to gain widespread control of these modules, it could steal sensitive US data or disrupt critical infrastructure remotely. This could potentially involve causing power brownouts by manipulating AC units en masse or taking control of self-driving vehicles and medical devices, as former Vice President Dick Cheney once warned.

In a statement to The Post, Rep. Gallagher highlighted the security risks associated with Chinese-made modules, stating that they could create a backdoor for malign Chinese government actors to compromise devices critical to American infrastructure and safety.

Chinese made

Rep. Gallagher and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi have urged FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to investigate the use of Chinese-made cellular modules. They point out that the Chinese Communist Party has significantly supported this industry and identified Quectel and Fibocom as major producers of modules widely used in various US products, including smart cities, drones, and first responder body cameras.

Rosenworcel has requested that the Justice Department, FBI, and other federal agencies assess whether components from Quectel and Fibocom pose a national security threat.

Quectel has defended its products, stating that its IoT modules do not pose security or privacy risks, emphasizing its engagement with regulators and agencies to address concerns. Meanwhile, Fibocom has yet to respond to these inquiries.

FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington, a Republican, emphasizes the gravity of state-sponsored attacks on key infrastructure, advocating for ongoing engagement between at-risk companies or operators and regulators. Simington supports the FCC’s initiative to introduce a “US Cyber Trust Mark” label for smart devices adhering to widely accepted cybersecurity standards, with regular software updates post-release.

Simington believes that such a label, set to debut next year, represents the first step toward ensuring the security of smart devices for consumers. He emphasizes the importance of meeting consumer expectations for secure devices and preventing potential cybersecurity threats, underscoring the need for accountability and regulation in this rapidly expanding field of technology.

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COP28: Global effort to phase out fossil fuels



World leaders at COP28 have intensified their commitment to combat climate change by embarking on a bold initiative to phase out fossil fuels.

The United Nations climate talks, held in a virtual format due to ongoing pandemic concerns, saw representatives from nearly 200 countries coming together to address the urgent need for action on the climate crisis.

The decision to focus on ending fossil fuel use marks a significant departure from previous climate negotiations.

Countries have traditionally grappled with setting emissions reduction targets, but this year’s conference places a strong emphasis on the need to transition away from the reliance on coal, oil, and natural gas. Experts argue that this shift is critical to limiting global temperature rise and avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Key highlights of the COP28 agreement include setting ambitious deadlines for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, promoting renewable energy sources, and encouraging the development of green technologies.

The conference also established a fund to support developing nations in their transition away from fossil fuels, recognizing that these countries often face the greatest challenges in achieving sustainability.

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Russian police raid Moscow gay clubs



Russian authorities conducted raids on several gay clubs in Moscow, according to reports from various media outlets.

The raids have sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ+ community and have raised concerns about the ongoing crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia.

Eyewitnesses and clubgoers describe a heavy police presence during the raids, with officers reportedly detaining patrons and staff members.

The reasons behind these raids remain unclear, but they have ignited a fierce debate on social media and within human rights organizations.

International LGBTQ+ rights advocates are calling on the Russian government to address these actions and protect the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ individuals in the country.

The raids have also drawn attention to Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” law, which has been criticized for its potential to fuel discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people.

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UK delays Jeff Zucker’s Telegraph deal for inquiry



The UK government has decided to put a hold on the proposed acquisition of The Telegraph newspaper by media mogul Jeff Zucker’s conglomerate.

According to a recent report, this decision has been made in order to conduct further investigations into potential regulatory concerns surrounding the deal.

The move comes amidst growing concerns over media consolidation and its impact on media diversity and competition.

The government aims to ensure that the acquisition would not result in a concentration of media power that could potentially stifle independent journalism and diverse voices in the industry.

This decision has sparked debates about the balance between media ownership and the preservation of media plurality in the UK. Supporters of the deal argue that it could lead to much-needed investments in The Telegraph, while critics worry about the potential for Zucker’s conglomerate to wield too much influence over the media landscape.

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