FCC’s Carr Renews Call for a National Security Ban on TikTok

Brendan Carr, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, is continuing his efforts to have TikTok banned, telling the Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. in his strongest language to date that the viral short-form video app is, as a result of consumer adoption, becoming a part of the nation’s critical information infrastructure, and thus presents a national security risk due to Chinese ownership. TikTok is reportedly back in negotiations with the CFIUS, an interagency committee that reviews foreign investment, about a change of ownership that would smooth the path to ongoing U.S. operations. Continue reading FCC’s Carr Renews Call for a National Security Ban on TikTok

New Era Begins for Twitter as Elon Musk Acquires Company

Elon Musk took control of Twitter on Thursday, completing the historic $44 billion acquisition of the social micro-blogging platform. After some housekeeping — including carrying a sink into the company’s San Francisco headquarters for a cheeky video-op (“let that sink in!”) and firing top executives including CEO Parag Agrawal — the recalcitrant tech magnate began settling into his new role. Updating his bio to reflect his chosen title of “Chief Twit,” he tweeted off a letter assuring advertisers that Twitter will not “become a free-for-all hellscape” with no content moderation. Continue reading New Era Begins for Twitter as Elon Musk Acquires Company

U.S. Aims to Slow China Tech Progress with Chip Restrictions

The Biden administration is acting to limit China’s rapid military progress by banning shipments of advanced chips and the production tools needed to make them. This is in response to signs that China is using AI and supercomputing to develop hypersonic weapons and systems that may be able to crack highly encrypted messaging. The new rules, which extend to foreign companies using relevant U.S. technology, have already begun taking effect. But companies including Intel, Samsung, TSMC and SK Hynix have reportedly received limited exemptions allowing them to continue shipping to some factories there. Continue reading U.S. Aims to Slow China Tech Progress with Chip Restrictions

TikTok Parent ByteDance Sees Losses Rise but Shows Profit

An expansion push for short-form video service TikTok has proven costly for parent ByteDance, which saw losses triple to more than $7 billion in 2021, according to an internal document leaked from the private company. ByteDance revenue grew by almost 80 percent in 2021, to $61.7 billion, and the company did manage to eke out an operating profit for Q1 2022, reports say, a significant benchmark. TikTok crossed the one billion subscriber threshold in less than five years — faster than any other social media firm. The company’s latest stock buyback plan puts its market valuation at $300 billion. Continue reading TikTok Parent ByteDance Sees Losses Rise but Shows Profit

Proposed Legislation Drafted to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

With efforts to fill the vacant FCC seat and tilt the commission back to a Democratic majority, the Senate is poised to try an alternate path to realizing the party’s longtime goal of restoring net neutrality rules. Championed by Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act proposes to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, which would open up companies including AT&T and Verizon to stricter FCC oversight. Internet service providers would be prevented from blocking or throttling content, while pricing and privacy would also receive scrutiny. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Drafted to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

TikTok Promises Government That User Data Will Remain Safe

In the wake of an FCC commissioner’s call to have TikTok banned from the Apple and Android stores, company CEO Shou Zi Chew issued a letter assuring senators that the China-based company is doing all it can to “remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data.” Responding to questions from nine Republicans — including ranking Senate Commerce Committee member Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) — Chew reiterated the claim that TikTok maintains American user data on servers controlled by the U.S. company Oracle, with plans for third-party audits. The dust-up follows an incendiary report by BuzzFeed News. Continue reading TikTok Promises Government That User Data Will Remain Safe

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

Chip Manufacturing Delays Threaten Next-Gen Smartphones

The global semiconductor shortage that has plagued the supply chain for the past two years is threatening to affect advanced chips for next-generation smartphones as well as impacting the data centers critical to powering their apps. High-performance chips with tiny transistors had to a large extent sidestepped the scarcities that impacted the auto industry, appliances and basic consumer electronics. Now everything from production volume to manufacturing equipment has analysts worried about whether the world’s top smart chip manufacturers — TSMC and Samsung Electronics — will be able to keep up with customer demand. Continue reading Chip Manufacturing Delays Threaten Next-Gen Smartphones

Supreme Court Blocks Texas Law Moderating Social Speech

The Supreme Court has blocked a Texas law banning major social media platforms from exercising editorial discretion to remove posts that violate community guidelines. Voting on the unsigned Supreme Court order was 5 to 4. Big Tech lobbying groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association requested the emergency halt. Their application was filed after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in May issued a stay that effectively reinstated the law. In December, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman hit pause on the legislation, HB 20, on First Amendment grounds. Continue reading Supreme Court Blocks Texas Law Moderating Social Speech

Broadcom Targets Software with $61 Billion VMware Purchase

Broadcom announced it will acquire VMware in a cash-and-stock transaction that values VMware at $61 billion. The deal, which expands semiconductor supplier Broadcom into enterprise software, is among the top technology transactions of all time, right behind Microsoft’s pending $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard and Dell’s 2016 acquisition of EMC for $67 billion. Broadcom will also assume $8 billion of VMware debt. The news sent shares of Broadcom up 2 percent and VMware more than 1 percent early Thursday. VMware enterprise products optimize client-side servers as well as cloud servers. Continue reading Broadcom Targets Software with $61 Billion VMware Purchase

The U.S. and European Union Strategize Global Tech Policies

The U.S. and European Union are seeking to establish joint policies that advance cooperation and democratic approaches to trade, technology, and security on both sides of the Atlantic. The second meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) — May 15-16 in Saclay, near Paris — emphasized how Washington, Brussels and other free-market democracies should develop a joint response to the challenges presented by dictatorships and their controlled economies. In addition to semiconductor supply chain issues, topics including China’s digital clout, export controls for technology IP and human rights were discussed. Continue reading The U.S. and European Union Strategize Global Tech Policies

Twitter Accepts Musk’s $44 Billion Offer to Acquire Company

Twitter’s board has accepted billionaire Elon Musk’s offer to purchase the social media company for $44 billion, a financial value that reflects his April 14th offer of $54.20 per share. “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” said Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, who earlier revealed a desire to make Twitter a private company. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.” Continue reading Twitter Accepts Musk’s $44 Billion Offer to Acquire Company

Apple Faces U.S. Legislation, Dutch Fines for App Store Fees

The legislative tide seems to be turning against Apple and its App Store, marking what some note is a shift in attention previously trained on Meta Platforms and its alleged child endangerment through Facebook and Instagram, Amazon’s behavior toward its retailers, and Alphabet’s advertising controls on Google. The Apple attack is building worldwide, as Dutch antitrust watchdog Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on Monday fined Apple $5.7 million over what it says are abusive payment requirements that prohibit developers from using third-party platforms for dating app fees. Continue reading Apple Faces U.S. Legislation, Dutch Fines for App Store Fees

Biden Administration Intends to Contain TikTok Security Risk

The Commerce Department is taking steps to shore-up federal rules against potential security risks from foreign-owned social platforms like ByteDance’s TikTok, expanding federal oversight to include apps that might be used by “foreign adversaries to steal or otherwise obtain data,” a recent filing in the Federal Register stipulates. The proposed rule allows the commerce secretary to designate certain foreign apps as security risks and force software connected to the Internet to submit to third-party auditing. Such audits could include monitoring logs that show user data as well as the parsing of source code. Continue reading Biden Administration Intends to Contain TikTok Security Risk

Chinese Drone Maker DJI Suspected of U.S. Data Harvesting

China’s SZ DJI Technology, a leading global producer of unmanned aerial vehicles, has come under scrutiny as a national security threat. The Shenzhen-based company is suspected of turning unwitting Americans into surveillance operatives by harvesting data about U.S. infrastructure from their drones. Last week, the Biden administration imposed a U.S. investment ban against DJI and seven other companies for enabling China’s military-industrial complex. Although the Treasury Department says human rights violations are behind the ban, reports say the FCC wants DJI’s products completely removed from the U.S. market. Continue reading Chinese Drone Maker DJI Suspected of U.S. Data Harvesting