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Russia Accuses Facebook, Google of Election Interference

“This can be considered foreign meddling into Russia’s state sovereignty and interference with the country’s democratic process,” the watchdog said in a statement

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Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE - In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook's developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Many materials published on Facebook and Google resources can be considered interference in Russia’s internal affairs, said an official of the Russian Central Election Commission.

On Sunday, municipal and regional elections were held across Russia, with a total of 22 administrative centres electing city parliaments, and three regional capitals electing heads of municipalities, Sputnik news agency reported.

“Much of what is published there can be attributed to those materials that directly affect a person who is making a choice,” said Nikolai Bulayev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission.

“If there is an influence, I’m sure that this can be considered as interference in internal affairs,” Bulayev told reporters.

google
FILE – A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

On the day of the elections, Russia’s communication watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said that it had determined that several US Internet giants — Google, Facebook and Youtube — had featured politically charged advertisements on their platforms, which constituted foreign meddling in Russia’s electoral procedures.

“After monitoring various media platforms on the day of the elections, it has been determined that Google’s search engine, the Facebook social media platform and Youtube’s video hosting service featured political advertisements.

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“This can be considered foreign meddling into Russia’s state sovereignty and interference with the country’s democratic process,” the watchdog said in a statement.

The Russian parliamentary upper house’s Commission on Protecting State Sovereignty will look into possible foreign meddling in the country’s local elections in the second half of September, the commission’s chairman Andrei Klimov said on Sunday. (IANS)

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Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has blamed Apple’s operating system for the hacking of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, saying WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is unhackable.

Investigators believe that Bezos’s iPhone was compromised after he received a 4.4MB video file containing malware via WhatsApp – in the same way when phones of 1,400 select journalists and human rights activists were broken into by Pegasus software from Israel-based NSO Group last year.

In an interview to the BBC last week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg, said it wasn’t WhatsApp’s fault because end-to-end encryption is unhackable and blamed Apple’s operating system for Bezos’ episode.

“It sounds like something on the, you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything on the, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp,” Clegg told the show host.

Clegg compared the hack to opening a malicious email, saying that “it only comes to life when you open it”.

According to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone, after that the video file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data, including his intimate messages with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

According to Clegg, “something” must have affected the phone’s operating system.

“As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple was yet to comment on Facebook’s statement.

The NSO Group has denied it was part of Bezos’ hacking.

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WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages. But the piece of NSO Group software exploited WhatsApp’s video calling system by installing the spyware via missed calls to snoop on the selected users.

According to leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy, end-to-end encrypted apps (E2EE) do provide security, and messages or calls cannot be intercepted and decrypted en route without enormous computing resources.

“But once anyone can get to your handset, whether a human or a piece of software, the encryption doesn’t matter anymore. Because on your handset, it’s all decrypted,” Roy told IANS recently. (IANS)