U.S., China Reportedly Working on Deal That Would Save ZTE

Less than a month ago, the U.S. Commerce Department sanctioned U.S. firms from supplying components to Chinese firm ZTE, claiming that the telecom equipment company had violated terms of a settlement regarding sales to Iran and North Korea. By last week, ZTE had closed its operations and, now, in a surprise intervention, President Donald Trump is stepping in to prevent ZTE’s bankruptcy, tweeting that he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping. ZTE had made a request for a stay of the sanctions order, and the Commerce Department is reviewing it. Continue reading U.S., China Reportedly Working on Deal That Would Save ZTE

Facebook Establishes Team to Integrate Privacy into Products

In the wake of criticism over data privacy issues and in anticipation of the European Union’s stricter data regulations, Facebook has formed a new team devoted to privacy. The 300-person team, headed by product director David Baser, is tasked with integrating stronger privacy features into all Facebook products. The first such tool is Clear History, which the company introduced at last week’s F8 conference. This feature allows users to opt out of Facebook collecting and matching their browsing history to their profile. Continue reading Facebook Establishes Team to Integrate Privacy into Products

T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint on Sunday announced they have entered into a merger agreement for an all-stock transaction. The $26 billion merger would reduce the U.S. wireless market to three major players and give Japan’s SoftBank (Sprint’s majority owner since 2012) a greater presence in the U.S. If approved, the newly combined company would keep the name T-Mobile, and would be run by current T-Mobile U.S. CEO John Legere and T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert. The $146 billion entity would be controlled by T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Consumers Support the Regulation of Technology Companies

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of Congress made it clear that U.S. legislators are concerned about the power wielded by big technology companies, and believe that such companies may need to be reined in with regulations. Now, according to a survey from market research firm HarrisX, we learn that about 53 percent of Americans think the federal government should regulate big technology companies — even though only 31 percent believe the government is capable of doing so. Continue reading Consumers Support the Regulation of Technology Companies

With New Federal Law, Supreme Court Drops Digital Data Case

Following arguments in February, the case of United States v. Microsoft, No. 17-2, ended in a draw, or, as the court said, “no live dispute remains between the parties.” Federal prosecutors wanted to force Microsoft to turn over digital data stored outside the U.S., but a new federal law, agreed both sides, made the case — based on whether a 1986 law applied to digital data — moot. During arguments, some justices had suggested that Congress, and not the court, should define privacy in a new digital world. Continue reading With New Federal Law, Supreme Court Drops Digital Data Case

FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

The FCC voted unanimously to push forward a new rule that would prevent federally subsidized telecommunications carriers from buying gear from “suppliers deemed to pose a risk to American national security.” A second vote will make the rule final. The rule is aimed at Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. The day previous to the vote, the government blocked ZTE from using U.S.-made components, saying it “failed to punish employees who violated American sanctions against North Korea and Iran.” Continue reading FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

New Legislation Increases Government Access to Online Data

Congress quietly passed controversial legislation last week that was folded into the massive $1.3 trillion spending deal signed by President Trump. The CLOUD Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act) enables U.S. investigators to access information stored on overseas cloud servers. New legislation could bring an end to the ongoing battle between law enforcement and major tech players. However, a number of civil liberty and privacy rights groups believe the law could also make it easier for other governments to spy on dissidents and collect data on U.S. citizens. Continue reading New Legislation Increases Government Access to Online Data

Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

Google and the Department of Defense are exploring the use of artificial intelligence to identify objects in drone footage. The tech giant has been working with the Pentagon’s Project Maven, an initiative focused on big data and machine learning. According to sources, when the pilot project became an object of discussion at Google, some employees were angry that the company was working with the military on surveillance tech for drone operations. Google’s Eric Schmidt admitted that the tech community is concerned that the military-industrial complex will use Google’s research to kill innocent people. Continue reading Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

YouTube, targeting content that promotes conspiracy theories as well as state-sponsored content, says it will begin to label all videos coming from state-funded broadcasters. That may even include the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), but in fact is intended to target such bad actors as RT, the Russian state news organization identified by U.S. intelligence as the Kremlin’s main international propaganda unit. Last year, YouTube reportedly had 5.5 million views across 20 channels of RT content. Continue reading YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

Facebook, Google and Twitter Talk About Russian Interference

Facebook, Google and Twitter faced Congress in the past weeks to answer questions about how Russian companies and troll farms spread deceptions and inaccuracies before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The digital tech companies were also asked if there was evidence of collusion between the Russian actors and the Trump campaign, and Google was asked specifically about its commercial dealings with a Russian broadcaster that, say federal intelligence agencies, is a Kremlin propaganda outlet. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Twitter Talk About Russian Interference

With New Tax Legislation, Apple to Repatriate $252B in Cash

Apple plans to leverage the recently passed tax legislation, said to be the most important in 30 years, by bringing $350 billion back to the United States over the next five years. Of that, $252 billion in cash was held abroad; Apple keeps 94 percent of its total cash outside the U.S. A provision in the new tax code allows a one-time repatriation of corporate cash held in other countries. The move is consistent with Apple’s long-time stance that it wouldn’t bring the cash back until the tax code changed. Continue reading With New Tax Legislation, Apple to Repatriate $252B in Cash

SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

According to a knowledgeable source, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to invest about $500 million more in satellite broadband provider OneWeb. That brings SoftBank’s total investment in the company to about $1.5 billion. OneWeb is a U.S. startup focused on providing Internet connectivity worldwide that is faster than current space-based or terrestrial systems. OneWeb founder/executive chairman Greg Wyler reports that the company is currently designing and looking for suppliers for its next-generation satellites. Continue reading SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

New SEC Cyber Unit Takes on Cryptocurrency and ICO Fraud

At the Securities and Exchange Commission, chairman Jay Clayton made it clear that there is “very little distinction” between Bitcoin and traditional stocks, suggesting that the SEC believes Bitcoin is subject to securities laws and is willing to act against alleged fraud in an ICO, or initial coin offering. In fact, the SEC new cyber unit did just that for the first time, charging Canada-based cryptocurrency company PlexCorps with violating security laws by selling up to $15 million in an ICO. Clayton said future suits are possible. Continue reading New SEC Cyber Unit Takes on Cryptocurrency and ICO Fraud

FCC Expected to Repeal Net Neutrality Rules in a Few Weeks

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai has proposed to end net neutrality, which was put in place by the Obama administration. With the repeal of net neutrality, Internet service providers would be able to block access, slow down or speed up access to websites as well as charge more for high quality streaming. Pai’s intent to repeal net neutrality is seen as a victory for telecom giants such as AT&T and Verizon and a loss for Internet titans such as Amazon and Google. The FCC also aims to prevent states from imposing their own net neutrality laws. Continue reading FCC Expected to Repeal Net Neutrality Rules in a Few Weeks

FCC Reverses Decades-Old Media Cross-Ownership Rules

As expected, the Republican-led FCC voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to reverse the media cross-ownership ban. Now, an individual company will be permitted to own TV and radio stations and a newspaper in the same town. Changes to the rules, which were originally created to prevent individual entities from holding an unwanted amount of power over local news and information, also makes it possible to increase the number of TV stations that a single company can own in a given market. The deregulation was largely supported by broadband, cable and media companies, while opposed by consumer advocates concerned about the future of local news and diversity of expression. Continue reading FCC Reverses Decades-Old Media Cross-Ownership Rules