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Surveillance: Germany To Work With Apple And Google On ‘Contact Tracing’

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After tensions escalated last week between Germany and Silicon Valley over the type of technology used to trace coronavirus infections, the European nation changed its decision Sunday, choosing to go with “an approach supported by Apple and Google along with a growing number of other European countries,” according to a Reuters report.

Germany is just one of the European Union (E.U.) nations attempting to develop apps to “contact trace” coronavirus patients in an effort to combat the spread of the virus.

Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn issued a joint statement Sunday indicating that they would adopt a “decentralized” approach to digital contact tracing, which would no longer allow health authorities to take control over tracing the data that is collected.

“This app should be voluntary, meet data protection standards and guarantee a high level of IT security,” they stated. “The main epidemiological goal is to recognize and break chains of infection as soon as possible.”

Bluetooth-based smartphone contact tracing allows for the determination of the proximity and length of contact between people. Then, if a person tests positive for COVID-19, their recent contacts would be told to call a doctor, get tested, and/or self-isolate.

According to the Reuters report, “Apple and Alphabet’s Google, whose operating systems run 99% of smartphones, have promised tweaks in May that would accommodate the decentralized approach. A trial version is due out next week.”

Meanwhile, an open letter signed by hundreds of scientists that was published last Monday warned that if contact tracing data were to be centralized, it would allow “unprecedented surveillance of society at large.”

Germany is the most populous nation in the E.U. with more than 83 million residents. There are currently 158,758 people infected with the novel coronavirus in Germany and 6,126 people have died.

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International

Report: North Korean ballistic missile fired by Russia into Ukraine contained components sourced from U.S.

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A new report from Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a U.K.-based investigative organization, determined that a North Korean ballistic missile which was fired by Russia into Ukraine contained “numerous” electronic components sourced from the U.S. and Europe.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on the findings, noting approximately 75% of the 290 components analyzed in the missile originated from U.S.-based companies, and an additional 16% of components came from European firms, according to the CAR report.

The electronic components came from 26 countries in total and were largely utilized in the missile’s navigation system, according to the report. It isn’t clear how the components ended up in North Korea’s possession, as the country is strictly sanctioned by a bulk of the international community, but it’s possible other foreign companies, acting as middlemen, bought the components and then diverted them to the communist country.

However, the fact that North Korea was able to acquire so many American electronic component parts suggests “that the country has developed a robust acquisition network capable of circumventing, without detection, sanction regimes that have been in place for nearly two decades,” according to the report.

CAR documents “weapons at the point of use and track their sources back through the chains of supply.”North Korea gathered the components, assembled the missile and shipped it to Russia, all within a relatively short time period, according to the report. The missile was recovered by CAR on Jan. 2, and the investigators determined it could not have been manufactured before March 2023.

The U.S. government and intelligence agencies are working to stop sensitive American intellectual property from ending up in the hands of several foreign adversaries. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have strengthened their relationship since Russia first invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“Due in part to our export and sanction controls, Russia has become increasingly isolated on the world stage, and they’ve been forced to look to like-minded states for military equipment,” White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing in January. “One of those states is North Korea.”

 

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