Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
1. The most successful intel op ever? According to the Washington Post, a CIA intelligence assessment has concluded that the Russian cyber espionage campaign against organizations and individuals affiliated with the Democratic party was intended to increase the odds of Donald Trump winning the presidency. To support their claim, the CIA reportedly believes Russian intelligence accessed Republican National Committee networks but chose not to disclose compromising information, Donald Trump’s policy positions were more suitable to Russian interests, and that sowing chaos in the U.S. electoral process was payback for perceived U.S. meddling in Russia’s 2011 parliamentary elections. There were indications earlier in the week that the CIA’s judgement was not shared by the entire intelligence community though they seem to have come around. The president-elect, however, has not. Nevertheless, the assessment, along with reports that Russian President Putin may have personally been involved, rekindled the debate of how the United States should respond. In a press conference, President Obama promised a response, but noted that it might not be publicized and questioned whether a naming and shaming approach would work with Russia, like it seems to have done with China. I’ve argued that non-cyber means are probably the best form of response, and that it should be made public, particularly if the White House wants it to have a deterrent effect on others.
2. Get this fake news out of here. Facebook has announced new measures to limit the spread of false news stories and information among its 1.8 billion users. The new measures, announced Thursday, supplement efforts Facebook has already undertaken to reduce the advertising revenue individuals can collect by spreading false but clickbait-infused stories. The social media giant will now make it easier for users to report items as fake and will partner with fact checking organizations to determine the validity of flagged stories. The new measures are being rolled out to a subset of users and, should they prove successful, will be rolled out to a broader audience over time.
3. UNESCO committee adopts guidelines for cultural funding in the digital environment. A UNESCO committee that oversees the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions agreed to a set of draft guidelines to help states party to the convention implement it in the digital age. Although the final guidelines have yet to be made public, a previous iteration of the draft requires that states update their respective laws "to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions in the digital environment." The spread of online content platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Google have sparked worries in some countries that new media distribution models will increase cultural uniformity, favor U.S. content over local content, and undermine local cultural protection laws. In response, some countries are hoping to require U.S. giants contribute to the production of local content, either through national laws or international agreements.
4. Yahoo compromised, again. Yahoo announced that approximately one billion accounts were compromised in 2013. That is on top of the 500 million accounts that were compromised in 2014, which Yahoo announced in September shortly after Verizon announced its intent to buy the company for $4.83 billion. If you’re still using Yahoo at this point, you will want to change your password and don’t use the same one across multiple accounts.