FCC’s Carr Says TikTok Should Be Banned from App Stores

TikTok is facing blowback from the Federal Communications Commission, with one member asking Apple and Google to remove the social video platform from their app stores. FCC commissioner Brendan Carr warned in a joint letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai that “TikTok is not what it appears on the surface. It’s not just an app for sharing funny videos and memes,” but a sophisticated surveillance tool “that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.” As a division of China’s ByteDance, TikTok is “required by Chinese law” to share data with the PRC government. Continue reading FCC’s Carr Says TikTok Should Be Banned from App Stores

Facebook Adjusts Algorithms, Messenger, to Take on TikTok

Facebook is trying to make its feed operate more like TikTok’s, according to recent reports that indicate the company recently directed employees to adjust the platform’s algorithms to prioritize popular posts, regardless of their source, over its traditional approach of serving posts from friends or accounts followed. Parent company Meta Platforms is also said to be reuniting Facebook with the Messenger app in order to align its message functionality with that of TikTok. Combined with an increased emphasis on short-form video with Reels on Facebook and Instagram, the changes reflect TikTok’s threat to Meta’s social media dominance. Continue reading Facebook Adjusts Algorithms, Messenger, to Take on TikTok

ByteDance on Hiring Spree for Expansion of Its Pico VR Unit

ByteDance appears ready to make a splash in the U.S. virtual reality market and is expanding the presence of its Pico VR unit on the West Coast, as per recent job listings. The Beijing-based ByteDance purchased Pico in August 2021, and now has more than 40 open positions posed for operations in San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. According to Pico’s website, the company makes “best in class” wireless VR headsets, and in addition to the U.S. has operations in Europe, China and Japan. Many of the current job listings are for a content division called Pico Studios. Continue reading ByteDance on Hiring Spree for Expansion of Its Pico VR Unit

Apple Said to Be Exploring Production Options Outside China

During Apple’s Q2 conference call a few weeks ago, CEO Tim Cook admitted China’s new COVID-19 lockdowns would result in supply chain disruptions causing as much as $8 billion in lost sales this year. Although Cook tried to emphasize Apple’s supply chain as “truly global,” with manufacturing in the U.S. and elsewhere, the company’s reliance on China could be problematic, and reports are surfacing that sources at the company are saying Apple is now on the hunt for production locations outside China, with India and Vietnam, where Apple already has small manufacturing operations, mentioned as candidates. Continue reading Apple Said to Be Exploring Production Options Outside China

Tencent Reports a Significant Profit Decline on Flat Revenues

Chinese tech and entertainment conglomerate Tencent Holdings posted a 23 percent first quarter profit decline on earnings that inched up only 0.1 percent, its worst results since publicly listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004. China’s COVID-19 resurgence and the ensuing regulatory crackdown of the past year were cited as factors. The world’s largest video game developer said that it is refocusing on quality product as Beijing telegraphs it will limit the number of titles release in the coming months. Authorities suspended video game licenses and put time restrictions on game streaming in an effort to protect the nation’s youth. Continue reading Tencent Reports a Significant Profit Decline on Flat Revenues

Didi Exits NYSE for Hong Kong, China Tightens Tech Control

China is making an investment statement as it attempts to take control of its financial future and set new yen-centric standards for international monetary exchange. Much is being read into Didi Chuxing delisting itself Friday from the New York Stock Exchange, where it raised billions of dollars, capping at $39 billion for the Beijing version of Uber. The message is: with money of its own and a knack for finding more, the world’s No. 2 economy feels it no longer needs Wall Street and says it will relist on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. Continue reading Didi Exits NYSE for Hong Kong, China Tightens Tech Control

U.S. to Limit Exporting Surveillance Tech to Certain Countries

The U.S. government has announced its plans to work with other nations to put restrictions on the export of surveillance tools to authoritarian countries such as China. The Biden administration says it would gather allies and start an initiative to regulate the export of surveillance tools. The initiative is planned to be discussed during a virtual gathering, Summit for Democracy, on December 9-10. Representatives from more than 100 democratic nations will be participating. The primary objective of the summit is to crack down on authoritarian governments from using cyber tools to violate fundamental human rights. Continue reading U.S. to Limit Exporting Surveillance Tech to Certain Countries

Chinese Committee Is Drafting Plans to Replace Foreign Tech

China is furthering its protectionist goals by accelerating a plan to replace non-native technology with local suppliers. Reports surfaced this week that Beijing’s Information Technology Application Innovation Working Committee (ITAIWC) will be vetting and approving everything from cloud services to semiconductors for sensitive sectors like banking and government data centers, a market projected to be worth $125 billion by 2025. The secretive, government-backed committee formed under Xi Jinping in 2016 will also have a decisive role in setting industry standards and training personnel to operate approved hardware and software. Continue reading Chinese Committee Is Drafting Plans to Replace Foreign Tech

China Says No Video Games for Kids During the School Week

China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) announced a regulation that bans young people under the age of 18 from playing online video games between Monday and Thursday and, on the other days of the week and holidays, limits game play between 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM. Authorities blame “video game addiction” for distracting younger people from school and family responsibilities. The rule states that all video games must connect to an anti-addiction system operated by the GAPP. Continue reading China Says No Video Games for Kids During the School Week

ByteDance Pauses its IPO After Meeting with Chinese Officials

Beijing-based ByteDance, parent company of social video app TikTok, which was valued at $180 billion in December, indefinitely put plans on hold for a public offering. The company had been considering an IPO in the United States or Hong Kong but its founder and CEO Zhang Yiming changed his mind after meeting with China’s cyberspace and security regulators who reportedly told him to focus on data-security risks and other issues. Another reason for holding off is that the company did not have a chief financial officer at the time. Continue reading ByteDance Pauses its IPO After Meeting with Chinese Officials

Hong Kong Laws Could Drive Out Facebook, Twitter, Google

In Hong Kong, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau is slated to enact data protection laws against doxing — making personal information public to enable harassment — which was used during the 2019 protests. Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter privately warned authorities that the new rules could put their staff at risk of criminal prosecutions, and if enacted, they may shut down their services. Punishment would be a fine of up to 1 million Hong Kong dollars (U.S. $128,800) and up to five years in prison. Continue reading Hong Kong Laws Could Drive Out Facebook, Twitter, Google

Trump’s Latest Order Gives ByteDance 90 Days to Sell TikTok

President Trump issued another executive order, this one setting a 90-day deadline for Beijing-based ByteDance to sell its U.S. TikTok operations. Trump has repeatedly cited national security as his rationale, but ByteDance denies it allows China access to TikTok data. This recent order specifies that ByteDance must destroy all data from U.S. TikTok users, inform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) when it has done so and re-certify this on a weekly basis. Last week’s order banned TikTok in the U.S. in 45 days. Continue reading Trump’s Latest Order Gives ByteDance 90 Days to Sell TikTok

FCC Formally Names Huawei, ZTE National Security Threats

The Federal Communications Commission has officially designated Huawei Technologies and ZTE, two Chinese telecommunication firms, as national security threats. Last year, the FCC voted to add both companies to the Entity List and barred them from using U.S.-manufactured semiconductors. Now, U.S. carriers cannot use the Universal Service Fund to purchase or maintain products from the two companies. The Fund, managed by the FCC, is an $8.3 billion government subsidy program to expand Internet access in rural and other underserved areas.

Continue reading FCC Formally Names Huawei, ZTE National Security Threats

Chinese Cities Invest in National Campaign for Advanced Tech

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will invest at least $1.4 trillion in the next five years in advanced technologies; more than a dozen Chinese municipalities this year pledged 6.61 trillion yuan ($935 billion) to achieve this goal, for projects on artificial intelligence, data centers and mobile communications. The country’s BeiDou navigation network will be complete this month when the final satellite goes into orbit. Premier Li Keqiang said the campaign is the Communist Party’s top priority. Continue reading Chinese Cities Invest in National Campaign for Advanced Tech

China Launches Test of DCEP Digital Currency in Four Cities

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank, introduced a digital currency known as DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment), which it said will share some features of bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra. It’s being internally tested in four large cities — Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Beijing satellite city Xiong’an — aimed at improving its functionality and, in part, to prepare for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The PBOC started its digital currency research in 2014. Continue reading China Launches Test of DCEP Digital Currency in Four Cities