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Just because Twitter is banned in mainland China doesn’t mean Beijing won’t use it to influence public opinion around the world. Zoom responds to criticism. And a Senate committee quietly approved a bill on commercial surveillance. This is CyberScoop for Friday, June 12.

Another Chinese bot network

Twitter says it removed 23,750 accounts linked to Chinese-backed propaganda campaigns. Much of the activity was aimed at undermining pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the coronavirus pandemic and discrediting Chinese dissidents, researchers found. The Hong Kong tweets praised law enforcement in the semi-autonomous region, frequently advocated for the rule of law and described demonstrators as “thugs.” The removed accounts made up the effort's core, the company said, while another 150,000 sought to amplify the content from the now-eliminated accounts. Jeff Stone has more numbers.

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Zoom says sorry

Video conferencing service Zoom has apologized for yielding to Chinese government pressure and suspending U.S.-based user accounts who commemorated the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China. “Going forward Zoom will not allow requests from the Chinese government to impact anyone outside of mainland China,” the company said. Zoom added that it's developing technology that will allow it to selectively remove participants from meetings on the service. But that’s little comfort for users in the mainland. Sean Lyngaas has the details.

Spyware rules are quietly tucked in a big bill

The Senate Intelligence Committee quietly approved a measure that would require intelligence officials to submit a report to Congress on the threats posed by foreign governments’ use of commercially available surveillance software. A report from the Director of National Intelligence would include information on how the U.S. can reduce spyware threats, including through export controls, diplomatic pressure, trade agreements, and work with the technology and telecommunications sectors to secure consumer software. The bill also looked at foreign adversaries’ telecommunications companies, Chinese disinformation and cyber-operations, and U.S. cybersecurity defenses. Shannon Vavra breaks it down.

'A state of constant dread'

A Russian-speaking espionage group with a fixation on Ukraine has developed new email hacking tools, anti-virus firm ESET found. The data is a snapshot of the relentless and conspicuous behavior from Gamaredon in recent years. The group surfaced around the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, and has hardly taking a break from phishing Ukrainians since. “One hypothesis is that they are doing that to create a state of constant dread in their targets,” said ESET’s Jean-Ian Boutin. Sean Lyngaas has the story.

Fifteen guilty pleas in a cyber fraud case

Here's one to keep an eye on: Fifteen people have pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracies and other crimes in a multi-million dollar cyber fraud case, U.S. prosecutors announced. The case revolves around a Romanian crime ring accused of advertising fraud and money laundering. One of the defendants is also charged with hacking into U.S. companies’ electronic systems and stealing card payment data. At least a dozen of the suspects have been extradited from Eastern Europe. Here's the news.

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