Senate Passes $250 Billion Bill to Foster Manufacturing, Tech

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in a 63-32 vote this week that allocates $250 billion for technology R&D to counter foreign competition, primarily from China. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) intends to boost research investment, build semiconductor manufacturing capacity and focus on AI development. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will also play a more significant role. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) stated the bill is “about investing in that innovation economy of the future.” It still needs to pass the House. Continue reading Senate Passes $250 Billion Bill to Foster Manufacturing, Tech

Countries Plan to Invest in New Chip Manufacturing Facilities

Due to a global semiconductor shortage, the United States, European Union countries and Japan are planning to spend billions of dollars to build chip fabrication plants (“fabs”). These countries also face the fact that more than two-thirds of the world’s chips are made in Taiwan. China is offering subsidies to its domestic chip industry, as industry-leaders Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung Electronics plan to build U.S.-based fabs, potentially aided by significant U.S. government subsidies. Continue reading Countries Plan to Invest in New Chip Manufacturing Facilities

Biden Orders an Evaluation of Semiconductor Supply Chains

In response to a worrying shortage in chips, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to conduct a 100-day review of the supply chains for semiconductors for various products, large-capacity batteries for electric vehicles, pharmaceuticals, and rare-earth elements crucial to technology and defense. Biden is also seeking $37 billion in funding to “supercharge” chip manufacturing and urged a separate one-year review of supply chains of six “broader sectors” including food production and technology. Continue reading Biden Orders an Evaluation of Semiconductor Supply Chains

Semiconductor Trade Group Seeks Major Federal Investment

The Semiconductor Industry Association is lobbying for federal funding to the tune of $37 billion to subsidize a new chip factory among other efforts. The trade group’s lobbying effort is aimed at keeping the U.S. ahead of China and other countries that already benefit from government subsidies. Among the SIA’s other proposals are aid for states looking to draw in investments in the semiconductor industry and more funding in research. The coronavirus and growing tensions with China are motivating Congress to act. Continue reading Semiconductor Trade Group Seeks Major Federal Investment

Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Byte, a video-sharing app created by Dom Hofmann, debuted Friday and hit No. 1 for free iOS apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store. Byte, which targets rival ByteDance’s TikTok, is a reboot of the former Vine video-sharing service Hofmann co-founded in 2012 and sold to Twitter that year. Twitter couldn’t find a way to make Vine profitable and shuttered it in 2016. In its short life, Vine became a “cultural touchpoint” as users took on the creative challenge of the six-second format. Byte is also the top free iOS app in Canada. Continue reading Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

U.S. Investigates TikTok App Based on Security Concerns

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is conducting a national security review of Chinese company ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly, in November 2017, for $800 million to $1 billion. ByteDance merged Musical.ly, an app popular among teens for making karaoke videos, with its similar service TikTok. Over the past year, TikTok has been downloaded 750+ million times, and U.S. lawmakers are concerned about its growing influence. One source said the U.S. has evidence TikTok sends data to China. Continue reading U.S. Investigates TikTok App Based on Security Concerns

TikTok Draws Concerns of U.S. Lawmakers, Growth Slows

Chinese short video app TikTok has had a total of 1.45 billion installs since debuting two years ago. It’s been installed 564 million times this year, and parent company ByteDance is considered the world’s largest startup, with a valuation of $75 million according to CB Insights. But, according to Sensor Tower data, Q3 2019 is the first quarter TikTok has seen a slowdown of user downloads, 4 percent from last year, to 177 million first-time users. U.S. lawmakers want to know if the app is a national security risk. Continue reading TikTok Draws Concerns of U.S. Lawmakers, Growth Slows

Technology Chief Executives Lobby for Federal Privacy Law

Congress just received an open letter on behalf of the Business Roundtable, an association comprised of the chief executives of the U.S.’s biggest companies. Signed by 51 tech company executives, the letter asks legislators to create a federal law on data privacy, thus avoiding the patchwork-quilt of state laws now being passed. Amazon, AT&T, Dell, IBM, Qualcomm, SAP, Salesforce, Visa, Mastercard, JPMorgan Chase, State Farm and Walmart are just some of the companies whose chief executives signed the letter. Continue reading Technology Chief Executives Lobby for Federal Privacy Law

U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Following a deal made by President Trump, the U.S. Commerce Department has given the go-ahead to Chinese telecom company ZTE to resume its commercial relations with U.S. suppliers. ZTE was told the ban would be lifted once the company placed $400 million into an escrow account and paid a $1 billion fine, part of the penalty the Department had imposed on ZTE for breaking an earlier agreement to not sell to Iran and North Korea. ZTE’s failure to make good on this agreement led the Commerce Department to ban U.S. companies from selling to the Chinese company. Continue reading U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Federal Government Makes Deal to Put ZTE Back in Business

The Trump administration has reportedly reached an agreement that would keep Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE in business. The deal requires that ZTE pay a major fine, make management changes, and place U.S. compliance officers at the company. ZTE had earlier announced it would cease operations after the White House banned it from buying U.S. tech components in response to ZTE violating U.S. sanctions against North Korea and Iran. The new agreement would permit ZTE to resume its business with Qualcomm and other U.S. companies. Continue reading Federal Government Makes Deal to Put ZTE Back in Business

Congress Passes BOTS Act to Halt Electronic Ticket Scalping

Aimed at suppressing an $8 billion secondary ticket market, Congress passed a bill outlawing bots, computer programs scalpers use to buy the best tickets and resell them at increased prices. The Better Online Ticket Sales Act, or BOTS Act, passed the House with bipartisan support, following its passage in the Senate, and now goes to President Obama for his signature. The BOTS Act would make it illegal to bypass ticketing websites’ security measures. The Federal Trade Commission would be granted authority to enforce the law. Continue reading Congress Passes BOTS Act to Halt Electronic Ticket Scalping