Britain Bans China’s Huawei from New 5G Network

The British government has banned China’s Huawei telecommunications equipment company from playing a limited role in Britain’s new high-speed mobile phone network.Britain’s Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said the country’s telecommunications operators have until 2027 to remove Huawei’s equipment that is currently used in Britain’s 5G network.Britain’s decision could have wide-ranging implications for relations between the two countries and signals that Huawei may be losing support in the West. Dowden said the ban was imposed after the U.S. threatened to cancel an information-sharing deal due to concerns Huawei’s equipment could allow the Chinese government to penetrate British networks.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed in January to give Huawei a limited role in Britain’s high-speed network, but the decision sparked a diplomatic disagreement with the U.S. 

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Google Plans to Invest $10 Billion in India

Google announced it will invest $10 billion in India in an effort to make the internet more “affordable and useful” to the more than one billion people living there. “This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement Monday. The money, to be spent through a new Google for India Digitization Fund over the next five to seven years, will invest in India’s technology sector.  FILE – Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a visit to El Centro College in Dallas, Oct. 3, 2019.”We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments,” said Pichai. This new investment represents Google’s biggest commitment to India yet. These investments focus on increasing access to the internet throughout India, as well as aiding businesses with the transition to online operations.  Much of this will be accomplished through a focus on using apps and new software platforms. Google aims to use this move to enlarge internet access beyond English and into more local languages throughout India. Google also hopes to use its investments for the public good, working to improve areas as broad as education, agriculture and health. “As we make these investments we look forward to working alongside Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and the Indian government, as well as Indian businesses of all sizes to realize a shared vision for a Digital India,” Pichai said. “Our goal is to ensure that India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation but leads it.” 
 

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Top White House Adviser Expects Tough Action on TikTok, WeChat

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Sunday he expected President Donald Trump to act firmly against the TikTok and WeChat applications, amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.Trump last week had said he is considering banning the wildly-popular TikTok app as a way to punish China over the coronavirus pandemic.In an interview with Fox News, Navarro argued that “what the American people have to understand is all of the data that goes into those mobile apps that kids have so much fun with… goes right to servers in China, right to the Chinese military, the Chinese Communist Party.”He said these apps can be used to steal intellectual property. “So expect strong actions on that” by Trump, Navarro warned.Fast-growing video-sharing app TikTok belongs to the Chinese group ByteDance and has nearly one billion users worldwide.TikTok has sought to distance itself from its Chinese owners, pointing out it has an American CEO and consistently denying allegations that it shares data with Beijing.WeChat, owned by Tencent, is the main messaging application in China with more than one billion users.
 Navarro also accused TikTok’s new boss Kevin Mayer, former head of Disney’s streaming platforms, of being an American puppet.On Friday Amazon said it mistakenly sent workers an email telling them to dump the TikTok mobile application from their cell phones because of security concerns.An Amazon spokesperson later told AFP “there is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”Democratic campaign teams for the U.S. presidential election have been asked to avoid using TikTok on personal devices and, if they do, to keep it on a non-work phone.The research firm eMarketer estimates TikTok has more than 52 million U.S. users, having gained about 12 million since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. TikTok is especially popular with young smartphone users. 

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Touchless: How the World’s Busiest Airport Envisions Post-COVID Travel 

With COVID-19 ravaging the aviation industry, airlines and airports worldwide are reining in costs and halting new spending, except in one area: reassuring pandemic-wary passengers about travel.”Whatever the new normal (…) it’s going to be more and more around self-service,” Sean Donohue, chief executive of Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport (DFW), told Reuters in an interview.The airport is working with American Airlines – whose home base is DFW – to roll out a self-check-in for luggage, and all of its restrooms will be entirely touchless by the end of July with technology developed by Infax Inc. They will have hands-free sinks, soap, flushing toilets, and paper towel dispensers, which will be equipped with sensors to alert workers when supplies are low.”One of the biggest complaints airports receive are restrooms,” Donohue said.Dallas is piloting three technology options for luggage check-ins: Amadeus’s ICM, SITA, and Materna IPS.DFW has become the world’s busiest airport, according to figures from travel analytics firm Cirium, thanks in part to a strategy by large global carrier American to concentrate much of its pandemic flying through its Texas hub.Last year DFW rolled out biometric boarding — where your face is your boarding pass — for international flights and is taking advantage of the lull in international traffic to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to use the VeriScan technology for arriving passengers too, he said.Delta Air Lines opened the first U.S. biometric terminal in Atlanta in 2018, and some airports in Europe and Asia also use facial recognition technology. It has spurred some concerns, however, with a U.S. government study finding racial bias in the technology and the European Union earlier this year considered banning it in public places over privacy concerns.The Dallas airport is also testing new technology around better sanitization, beginning with ultraviolet technology that can kill germs before they circulate into the HVAC system.But it has also deployed electrostatic foggers and hired a “hit team” of 150 people who are going through the terminals physically sanitizing high-touch areas.”Technology is critical because it can be very efficient,” Donohue said, but customers “being able to visualize what’s happening is reassuring as well.” DFW has invested millions of dollars above its cleaning and sanitation budget since the pandemic broke out, while suspending about $100 million of capital programs and reducing its second-half operating costs by about 20% as it addresses COVID-19’s steep hit to the industry, which only months ago was preparing for growth.Nearly 114,000 customers went through DFW on July 11, an improvement from a 10,000 per day trough in April, but still just about half of last year’s volumes.The airport has also been testing touchless technology for employee temperature checks, but is not currently planning hotly-debated checks for passengers, barring a federal mandate for which there has yet to be any inclination by the U.S. government.Michael Davies, who runs the New Technology Ventures program at London Business School, said technology will be one of many changes to the airport experience going forward, with fewer overall travelers who will be seeking more space and spending less time dining and shopping.”You put these things together and this feels in some interesting ways very much like back to the golden age of air travel,” said Davies. 

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US Convicts Russian Hacker in 2012 Data Breach

A jury in San Francisco convicted Russian citizen Yevgeny Nikulin after a series of hacks and cyberthefts eight years ago that targeted major U.S. social-media companies such as LinkedIn and Dropbox.The District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday said Nikulin would be sentenced September 29.Nikulin, 32, faces up to 10 years in prison for each count of selling stolen usernames and passwords, installing malware on protected computers, as well as up to five years for each count of conspiracy and computer hacking.According to U.S. prosecutors, Nikulin in 2012 stole the usernames and passwords of tens of millions of social media users to access their accounts. Some of that data was put up for sale on a Russian hacker forum.Nikulin, who last year was examined by court-ordered psychologists amid concerns about his mental health, had pleaded not guilty to the charges.His lawyer, Arkady Bukh, vowed to appeal the verdict, which he called a “huge injustice.”    Nikulin was detained in the Czech Republic in October 2016 and extradited to the U.S. 17 months later.The move angered Moscow, which had asked Czech authorities to extradite Nikulin to his home country, citing him as a suspect in a $2,000 online theft in 2009.Nikulin’s trial started in California in early March but was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic a week later, when nearly all in-person court hearings were postponed across the United States.

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Amazon Says Email to Employees Banning TikTok Was a Mistake 

Roughly five hours after an internal email went out to employees telling them to delete the popular video app TikTok from their phones, Amazon appeared to backtrack, calling the ban a mistake. “This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok,” Amazon emailed reporters just before 5 p.m. Eastern time. Spokeswoman Jaci Anderson declined to answer questions about what happened. The initial internal email, which was disseminated widely online, told employees to delete TikTok, a video app increasingly popular with young people but also the focus of intensifying national-security and geopolitical concerns because of its Chinese ownership. The email cited “security risks” of the app.  An Amazon employee who confirmed receipt of the initial email but was not authorized to speak publicly had not seen a retraction at the time of Amazon’s backtrack.  Amazon is the second-largest U.S. private employer after Walmart, with more than 840,000 employees worldwide, and moving against TikTok would have escalated pressure on the app. It is banned on employee phones by the U.S. military and the company is subject to a national-security review of its merger history. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that the government was “certainly looking” at banning the app.  FILE – This Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, shows the icon for TikTok in New York.Chinese internet giant ByteDance owns TikTok, which is designed for users outside of China; it also makes a Chinese version called Douyin. Like YouTube, TikTok relies on its users for the videos that populate its app. It has a reputation for fun, goofy videos and is popular with young people, including millions of American users. But it has racked up concerns such as censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government; the threat of sharing user data with Chinese officials; and violating kids’ privacy. TikTok said earlier in the day that Amazon did not notify it before sending the initial email around midday Eastern. That email read, “The TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email.” To retain mobile access to company email, employees had to delete the TikTok app by the end of the day. “We still do not understand their concerns,” TikTok said at the time, adding that the company would welcome a dialogue to address Amazon’s issues. A spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment Friday evening. TikTok has been trying to appease critics in the U.S. and distance itself from its Chinese roots, but finds itself caught in an increasingly sticky geopolitical web. It recently named a new CEO, former Disney executive Kevin Mayer, which experts said could help it navigate U.S. regulators. And it is stopping operations in Hong Kong because of a new Chinese national security law that led Facebook, Google and Twitter to also stop providing user data to Hong Kong authorities.  Pompeo said the government remained concerned about TikTok and referred to the administration’s crackdown on Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE. The government has tried to convince allies to root Huawei out of telecom networks, saying the company is a national-security threat, with mixed success; Trump has also said he was willing to use Huawei as a bargaining chip in trade talks. Huawei has denied that it enables spying for the Chinese government. “With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” Pompeo said, and added that if users downloaded the app their private information would be “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” A U.S. national-security agency has been reviewing ByteDance’s purchase of TikTok’s precursor, Musical.ly. Meanwhile, privacy groups say TikTok has been violating children’s privacy, even after the Federal Trade Commission fined the company in 2019 for collecting personal information from children without their parents’ consent. Amazon may have been concerned about a Chinese-owned app’s access to employee data, said Susan Ariel Aaronson, a professor at George Washington University and a data governance and national-security expert. China, according to the U.S. government, regularly steals U.S. intellectual property. Part of Amazon’s motivation with the ban, now apparently reversed, may also have been political, Aaronson said, since Amazon “doesn’t want to alienate the Trump administration.” Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, are frequent targets of President Donald Trump. Bezos personally owns The Washington Post, which Trump has referred to as “fake news” whenever it publishes unfavorable stories about him. Last year, Amazon sued the U.S. government, saying that Trump’s “personal vendetta” against Amazon, Bezos and the Post, led it to lose a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon to rival Microsoft. Meanwhile, federal regulators as well as Congress are pursuing antitrust investigations at Amazon as well as other tech giants. TikTok has content-moderation policies, like any social network, but says its moderation team for the U.S. is led out of California and it doesn’t censor videos based on topics sensitive to China and would not, even if the Chinese government asked it to. As for sharing U.S. user data with the Chinese government, the company says it stores U.S. user data in the U.S. and Singapore, not China; that its data centers are outside of China; and it would not give the government access to U.S. user data even if asked. Concerns about China are not limited to the U.S. India this month banned dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok, because of tensions between the countries. India cited privacy concerns that threatened India’s sovereignty and security for the ban. India is one of TikTok’s largest markets and had previously briefly banned the app in 2019 because of worries about children and sexual content.   

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Memo: Amazon.com Bans TikTok from Employees’ Phones, Cites ‘Security Risks’

Amazon.com Inc has requested employees remove the TikTok video sharing app from their mobile devices by July 10 over “security risks,” according to a memo to employees seen by Reuters. “Due to security risk, the TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email. If you have TikTok on your device, you must remove it by 10-Jul to retain mobile access to Amazon email. At this time, using TikTok from your Amazon laptop browser is allowed,” according to the email. Amazon.com representatives did not immediately return requests for comment. “While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialog so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community,” TikTok responded in a statement. Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, among the fastest growing digital platforms in history, is facing heavy scrutiny outside China. India banned TikTok and other Chinese apps in June. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this week Washington was considering banning TikTok in the United States. Asked if Americans should download it, he told Fox News: “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Two Republican senators in March introduced a bill aimed at banning federal employees from using TikTok on their government-issued phones, amid growing national security concerns around the collection and sharing of data on U.S. users with China’s government. Last year the United States Navy banned TikTok from government-issued mobile devices, saying the short video app represented a “cybersecurity threat.” Last November, the U.S. government launched a national security review of TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co’s $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app Musical.ly, Reuters first reported last year.  

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