Weekly Round-Up


1. Guyana to launch maritime patrols of their border with Venezuela.


Guyana is launching maritime patrols along its border with Venezuela aimed at drug interdiction, in a joint operation with the United States. This comes as energy multinationals ramp up production of crude oil in Guyana’s Essequibo province, much of which is claimed by Venezuela. The patrols are designed to assert Guyana’s sovereignty over its territorial waters and pushback against Venezuela’s expansionist claims, which are currently being debated in the International Court of Justice. President Irfaan Ali welcomed the initiative noting that it would “enhance our ability to protect our borders.”



2. Nigerian Navy embarks on exercise aimed at tackling maritime crime.


The Nigerian Navy has deployed six warships and sixty gunboats in an operation aimed at tackling, piracy, oil smuggling and other forms of maritime crime. The operation will take place over four states: Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi and Rivers. The aim of the exercise is to train Nigeria’s military personnel and measure the preparedness of their fleets as part of an ongoing program of professionalisation of the country’s armed forces.



3. Measures to curb the Covid-19 pandemic have caused a spike in food insecurity in Uganda.


Food insecurity is drastically increasing in the wake of lockdown measures taken to curb Covid-19 in Uganda. A survey conducted by the Food Rights Alliance and Twaweza East Africa has found that 26% of people have seen their income cut to a point where they are no longer able to afford their basic daily food needs, threatening widespread malnutrition. Government food packages were intended to help those worst effected but only reached 12% of the population and as little as 7% in rural areas. Stockpiling of food by those who maintained incomes has exacerbated the situation. Potential long term solutions to the problem include better distribution of existing food supplies, investing in the modernisation of the agricultural industry and bringing more women into the agricultural labour force.



4. Singapore to become first country to incorporate facial verification technology into their national identity scheme.


New facial verification technology provided by British firm iProov will allow Singaporeans to securely access private and government services. The technology, which has been tested in banking, ensures "that the person is genuinely present when they authenticate, that you're not looking at a photograph, or a video, or a replayed recording, or a deepfake" according to Chief Executive Andrew Bud.


Facial verification technology differs significantly from emerging facial recognition technology by acting on user consent. A user would be aware that they were verifying themselves, and get something in return such as access to a bank or mobile phone. Facial recognition brings with it a deeper social debate as the technology scans a crowd and specifically identifies people based on their biometric data. As each technology becomes more widespread debates over their application and consequences for privacy and anonymity will invariably grow.



5. Chinese drones present security risk for Australians.


A consultation paper released this month by the Australian government has warned that there are “deficiencies” in Australia’s capability to defend against the “malicious use of drones”. The main risk that the paper identified was the possibility for unauthorised use of drones produced by Chinese manufacturers. DJI, a Chinese drone producer, makes 70% of the worlds commercial and consumer drones. This is worrying for Australian officials as the Chinese Communist Party is known to be able to exert a large amount of influence over private companies. As a result, there is a possibility that DJI drones could be used to spy on Australians by harvesting sensitive data, intellectual property and even camera footage. In extreme cases, there are fears that drones could be hijacked to be used as kinetic weapons. DJI has responded by saying these claims are unfounded and that “DJI customers can fly their drones without any internet connection, and they always have control of how their photos, videos and flight information is collected, stored and transmitted.”


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