Hillicon Valley: Key QAnon influencer 'GhostEzra' identified

Hillicon Valley: Key QAnon influencer 'GhostEzra' identified
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Happy Friday! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

At the end of a busy news week, a key member of the QAnon community has potentially been identified. 

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Meanwhile, a major new data privacy law was put in place in China that could have far-reaching implications for Big Tech companies, and Apple made the decision to close their office doors until January. 

SPOTTED: Researchers at the intelligence firm Logically have identified a key member of the QAnon community who has used his significant platform to spread antisemitic conspiracies.

In a new report released Friday, the researchers identified the person behind “GhostEzra” as Robert Smart of Boca Raton, Fla. 

GhostEzra has recently emerged as one of the most influential figures in far-right online spaces, amassing well over 300,000 Telegram channel subscribers since the beginning of the year.

The channel frequently spars with other QAnon influencers, something that has distinguished it from the other voices trying to fill the void left when the shadowy figure Q stopped posting on image boards last fall.

Read more here.

CHINA’S NEW DATA PRIVACY LAW: China’s top legislative body on Friday passed a new data privacy law that places limits on companies’ collection of personal user data, the latest action in the government’s ongoing efforts to tighten restrictions on tech giants operating in the country. 

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress approved the Personal Information Protection Law, which is expected to officially go into effect on Nov. 1, according to The Wall Street Journal

The China law, which is similar to the online privacy protection framework under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, states that companies must have a valid interest in obtaining personal information and that the use of the data should be restricted to the "minimum scope necessary to achieve the goals of handling" data, Reuters reported.

Read more here

PUSH IT BACK (AGAIN): Apple is reportedly delaying its plans for employees to return to their offices until January, joining the growing list of companies adjusting return plans over concerns about COVID-19 cases and the highly contagious delta variant. 

Apple sent a memo to staff notifying them of the delay from a previously announced timeline to return in the fall, Bloomberg News reported

In the memo sent by human resources and retail head Deirdre O’Brien, staff are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated but the company has yet to require vaccinations or testing, according to the Bloomberg report. 

Other tech giants have made similar adjustments, including Facebook, which announced last week that employees will not be required to return to offices until January based on rising COVID-19 cases and the delta variant. 

Read more about the update

A HELPING HUMANOID: Tesla announced Thursday that it is planning to build a humanoid robot to perform physical tasks and will likely have a prototype ready next year. 

The robot, dubbed the "Tesla Bot," will reportedly have a screen on the face to display "useful information," CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskPrince William urges focus on saving planet instead of space travel Democrats' electric vehicle push sparks intense lobbying fight Blue Origin is taking William Shatner to space — but can it distract from internal criticism? MORE said, according to CNN. The concept, which was announced during the company's AI Day presentation, is part of the tech giant's plan to advance automation. 

"It's basically going to start dealing with work that is boring, repetitive and dangerous," said Musk. "What is the work that people would least like to do?"

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Read more about the announcement

An op-ed to chew on: 'Strikingly sophisticated' Taliban thrive on Twitter while Trump still banned

Lighter click: Plot twist

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

How the Apple lobbying machine took on Georgia, and won (Politico / Emily Birnbaum)

Big Tech Thought It Had A Billion Users In The Bag. Now It’s Being Forced To Make Hard Choices To Get Them. (BuzzFeed News / Pranav Dixit)

Facebook, other platforms scramble to secure user accounts in Afghanistan (CyberScoop / Tonya Riley)