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Amazon given contract to store data for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ

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Amazon given contract to store data for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ

The UK’s spy agencies have given a contract to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host classified material in a deal aimed at boosting the use of data analytics and artificial intelligence for espionage.

GCHQ had supported the procurement of a high-security cloud system, which would be used by its sister services, MI5 and MI6. Other government departments, such as the Ministry of Defence, would also use the system during joint operations.

The agreement, estimated by industry experts to be worth £500m to £1bn over the next decade, was signed this year with Amazon.com’s cloud service unit AWS, the Financial Times first reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

The contract with Amazon is likely to ignite concerns over sovereignty because the UK’s most secret data will be hosted by a single US tech company.

GCHQ told news agencies it would not comment on reports about its relationships with tech suppliers. AWS declined to comment on the report.

In February, British spies at GCHQ said they had fully embraced artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover patterns in global data to counter hostile disinformation and catch child abusers.

GCHQ has been using basic forms of AI, such as translation technology, for years but is stepping up its use, partly in response to the use of AI by hostile states and partly due to the data explosion that makes it effective.

Gus Hosein, the executive director of Privacy International, told the FT there were many things parliament, regulators and the public needed to know about the deal.

“This is yet another worrying public-private partnership, agreed in secret,” he said. “If this contract goes through, Amazon will be positioned as the go-to cloud provider for the world’s intelligence agencies. Amazon has to answer for itself which countries’ security services it would be prepared to work for.”

On Monday, the GCHQ director, Jeremy Fleming, told a conference the number of ransomware attacks had doubled across the UK in 2021, compared with last year.

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35 illegal tax collectors facing prosecution in Benue

The Acting Chairman of the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), Emmanuel Agena, has revealed that 35 persons involved in illegal tax collection in the state are currently facing prosecution.

Agena announced that the agency has set an ambitious target to generate over N16 billion in revenue for the year 2024 following the successful surpassing of its N14 billion target in 2023.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Agena expressed concern over the activities of illegal tax collectors in the state, noting that many of them were supported by influential personalities.

He stated that his administration at the BIRS had put an end to the era of patronage by politicians, aiming to significantly reduce illegal tax collection activities.

The BIRS boss also condemned a recent incident in which a truck carrying palliatives from Adamawa to Anambra State was hijacked by youths in Aliade, Gwer East.

He disclosed that three suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident.

“A truck was intercepted and the driver beaten while the windscreen of the vehicle broken and over N200,000 was stolen.

“Three persons have been arrested and are in police custody. They will be moved to DSS for thorough investigation.

“We aim to flush out or reduce illegal tax collectors to the barest minimum. Already, 35 people who engaged in illegal tax collection were arrested and facing prosecution.

“This has been a big challenge. We have constituted a team headed by the director of Tax collection. Prominent people in the state are involved in encouraging these boys,” he stated.

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Nigeria’s Inflation rate hits 33.20% in March- NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics NBS says Nigeria’s inflation rate jumped to 33.20% in March 2024 compared to February 2024 headline inflation rate which was 31.70%.

A report released by the NBS on Monday, April 15, reads

“Looking at the movement, the March 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 1.50% points when compared to the February 2024 headline inflation rate.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.16% points higher compared to the rate recorded in March 2023, which was 22.04%. On a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in March 2024 was 3.02%, which was 0.10% lower than the rate recorded in February 2024 (3.12%).

“This means that in the month of March 2024, the rate of increase in the average price level is less than the rate of increase in the average price level in February 2024.”

 

The inflation report by the NBS followed the hike of Nigeria’s interest rate from 22.75% to 24.75% by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The March inflation rate was released at a time when measures by the apex bank to strenghten the naira against foreign exchange have seen some positive results.

The naira has appreciated against the dollar in recent weeks, gaining over 40%, from about N1,900/$ to about N1,100/$1 now.

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NAFDAC seals popular Supermarket in Ibadan

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) has sealed a popular groceries and cosmetics supermarket, Pinnacle in Dugbe area of Ibadan over sale of fake products.

The supermarket, usually a beehive of activities was now a shadow of itself as the gate leading to the premises was shut with an inscription directing customers to its branch at Challenge.

Management of the supermarket cited technical issues as reason for its closure.

An inside source who pleaded for anonymity however revealed that problem started on Tuesday, 2nd April , 2024 when NAFDAC surveillance team stormed the mall to enforce total shutdown of the premises, thereby forcing shoppers out of the supermarket.

“The NAFDAC team came inside the mall and told us to close, even though people were many inside who wanted to do shopping but they couldn’t because the technical issue started and they all went away in disappointment”, the source said.

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