At a glance.
- Geolocation data in support of enforced social distancing.
- UN Broadband Commission emergency session offers pandemic emergency recommendations.
- Influence operations directed against Turkey.
Governments interested in geolocation data during enforced social distancing may now get it from Google.
In support of enforced social isolation, Google yesterday decided to make location data in the form of mobility reports available to governments, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to France 24, the data are being collected from one-hundred-thirty-one countries.
UN Broadband Commission recommends an emergency response to communication needs during the pandemic.
In an emergency virtual session the International Telecommunications Union's Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development (a United Nations advisory body) has adopted an Agenda for Action that outlines immediate measures that governments and other stakeholders can take "to shore-up digital networks, strengthen capacity at critical connectivity points like hospitals and transport hubs, and boost digital access and inclusivity, with the aim of strengthening collective response to the COVID-19 crisis now sweeping the world." The agenda has three pillars: "Resilient Connectivity, Affordable Access, and Safe Use for Informed and Educated Societies."
Influence operations among regional rivals.
The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab reports some nine-thousand inauthentic Twitter bots promoting a Saudi and Emirati line against Turkey’s activities in Libya. The bots, which Twitter has taken down, also sought to “politicize” the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not that they’re interested, really, in COVID-19. Rather it’s that coronavirus hashtags draw attention.
How do you recognize bot activity on Twitter? The Digital Forensic Research Lab points out a few indicators. For one thing, the so-called “egg avatar,” the grey circle enclosing a dark gray oval that stands in for a face, often says “bot,” especially when the botmasters lack the time, resources, or attention to detail that would be required to put up a stock photo of the account’s sock puppet. Repetition of content, verbatim, is also another tip-off. In this case the botmasters did somewhat better: “The accounts were posting similar content rather than verbatim or copy pasted content. The messages had the same political resonance, though.”