How TikTok is turning a generation of video addicts into a data goldmine

Question: what do men and Excel have in common? Answer: they’re always automatically turning things into dates when they’re not. To younger people – that is, anyone under the age of 20 – Microsoft’s spreadsheet program, a tool as essential to accountants as saws are to carpenters, is the contemporary equivalent of mom jeans, handwritten thank-you notes and cravats: stuff that oldies care about. How come, then, that the hashtag #excel has had 3.4bn views on a certain social media platform and that one Excel expert on that platform has…

US sanctioned China’s top facial recognition firm over Uyghur concerns. It still raised millions

SenseTime, China’s largest facial recognition startup, has come under increasing scrutiny by the US government for its alleged role in the surveillance of Uyghurs. Over the past two years, the US has used sanctions to escalate pressure on the company, first by adding it to the government’s entity list, which restricts US exports to the company, and this December, by banning US investment in the firm. But those sanctions have thus far had little effect on the company’s bottom line. SenseTime recently made its debut on the Hong Kong stock…

UK spy chief suggests Beijing risks ‘miscalculation’ over west’s resolve

China is at risk of “miscalculating through over-confidence” over Taiwan, said the MI6 head, Richard Moore, in a statement clearly intended to warn Beijing to back off any attempt to seize control of the island. Giving a rare speech, Britain’s foreign intelligence chief said in London that China was at risk of “believing its own propaganda” and that the country had become “the single greatest priority” for MI6 for the first time in its history. Moore did not mention Taiwan explicitly, but the status of the country, whose independence is…

Chinese province targets journalists and students in planned surveillance system

Security officials in one of China’s largest provinces have commissioned a surveillance system they say they want to use to track journalists and international students among other “suspicious people”, documents reviewed by Reuters showed. A 29 July tender document published on the Henan provincial government’s procurement website details plans for a system that can compile individual files on such persons of interest coming to Henan using 3,000 facial recognition cameras that connect to various national and regional databases. A 5m yuan ($782,000) contract was awarded on 17 September to the…

Chinese effort to gather ‘micro clues’ on Uyghurs laid bare in report

Authorities in the Chinese region of Xinjiang are using predictive policing and human surveillance to gather “micro clues” about Uyghurs and empower neighbourhood informants to ensure compliance at every level of society, according to a report. The research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) thinktank detailed Xinjiang authorities’ expansive use of grassroots committees, integrated with China’s extensive surveillance technology, to police their Uyghur neighbours’ movements – and emotions. The findings shed further light on the extraordinary scope of the Chinese Communist party’s grip on the largely Muslim and purportedly…