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

Kuaishou, Rival to ByteDance’s Douyin, Plans Hong Kong IPO

Although the Ant Group suspended its high-profile IPO last week, Kuaishou Technology, a popular short-video and streaming media platform founded in 2011, is moving ahead. According to sources, the company, whose platform competes with ByteDance’s Douyin (TikTok in China), aims to raise about $5 billion and reach a valuation of about $50 billion by filing for an initial public offering in Hong Kong as soon as January 2021. The company was founded by engineers Su Hua, formerly at Google China, and Cheng Yixiao, a Hewlett Packard veteran. Continue reading Kuaishou, Rival to ByteDance’s Douyin, Plans Hong Kong IPO

Alibaba Spinoff Ant Group Preps for a Record $34 Billion IPO

With the goal of disrupting the banking business in China and making it easier for small businesses to get loans, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma created Ant Group. Now, the Alibaba spinoff is set to raise $34 billion by selling shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai in what is expected to be the largest initial public offering (IPO) on record. After the IPO, the company will be worth around $310 billion. At its size, Ant is a target for Chinese regulators at the same time that some government funds are Ant shareholders. Continue reading Alibaba Spinoff Ant Group Preps for a Record $34 Billion IPO

Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

Alibaba Group, China’s most valuable company with a market capitalization of $800+ billion, is paying $3.6 billion to gain more control of Sun Art Retail Group, which operates 480+ large supermarket stores. As in the U.S. and elsewhere, COVID-19 has seen many consumers shift to online shopping for food and other essentials. In 2017, Alibaba acquired a 36 percent stake in Sun Art for about $2.9 billion. With the latest purchase, Alibaba will own about 72 percent of the company and is positioned to compete with Walmart. Continue reading Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

Unsecured Databases Leak 235 Million Social Media Profiles

On August 1, security research firm Comparitech, led by Bob Diachenko, discovered a massive data leak of nearly 235 million Instagram, TikTok and YouTube user profiles. The leak was due to an unsecured database, which is quickly becoming a widespread cause of similar breaches. An audit of the dark web found about 15 billion stolen logins from 100,000 such unsecured database breaches. The data leak discovered by Diachenko and his team was spread across several datasets, including two of 100 million each of Instagram users. Continue reading Unsecured Databases Leak 235 Million Social Media Profiles

With Trump Approval, Microsoft to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Unit

After weeks of negotiations and following a phone call between President Trump and Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, the company stated it will purchase TikTok’s U.S. operations. Microsoft will work to seal the deal — which will also include Canada, Australia and New Zealand — with ByteDance by September 15. Stating appreciation for Trump’s “personal involvement,” Microsoft added that U.S. users’ data would be transferred to and remain in the country. Trump earlier said he would ban TikTok from the U.S. Continue reading With Trump Approval, Microsoft to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Unit

Security Regulation Causes Tech Firms to Rethink Hong Kong

Since China imposed its new national security law in Hong Kong, numerous technology companies — especially startups — are making plans to leave the city, just as it was developing into a significant regional fintech hub. One reason is that clients and suppliers are concerned that their data and Internet services will be under the surveillance of Chinese authorities. While the startups are already packing up, the bigger technology companies, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, are mulling over their next move. Continue reading Security Regulation Causes Tech Firms to Rethink Hong Kong

TikTok Still Under Scrutiny by U.S. Government, Corporations

Amazon recently instructed its employees to delete TikTok, the short-video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, then quickly reversed the decision, saying the first email — which stated that concerns about “security risks” — had been distributed in error. But Amazon’s worry reflects that of the Trump administration, which has called some Chinese apps “a threat to national security.” TikTok grew out of U.S. company Musical.ly, and ByteDance’s acquisition prompted the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to review the deal. Continue reading TikTok Still Under Scrutiny by U.S. Government, Corporations

Google Shutters Initiative to Provide Cloud Services in China

Google ended its Isolated Region initiative to offer cloud services in China and other so-called sovereignty sensitive markets that strictly regulate companies whose services include collecting or processing personal data. Begun in 2018, the Isolated Region initiative would have complied with rules in China that require Western companies providing data or networking to form joint ventures with Chinese companies. The business would also be sequestered from Google’s existing cloud services including data centers. Continue reading Google Shutters Initiative to Provide Cloud Services in China

FTC and DOJ to Probe TikTok Violation of Child Privacy Rules

Chinese app TikTok has had a tumultuous few weeks. After being banned in India due to political tensions between that country and China, TikTok ceased its activities in Hong Kong in response to its concerns about the mainland’s imposition of a natural security law. In the U.S., the Trump administration is considering limiting the app’s access to its users. Now, sources say the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are probing allegations that TikTok has violated a 2019 agreement on children’s privacy. Continue reading FTC and DOJ to Probe TikTok Violation of Child Privacy Rules

Big Tech Firms Cease Processing User Data From Hong Kong

When China imposed a National Security Law in Hong Kong on June 30, tech companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dubai’s Telegram Group ceased processing requests for user data from that city in protest. A Facebook spokesperson said the company believes “freedom of expression is a fundamental human right.” Facebook-owned WhatsApp paused reviews “pending further assessment,” including consulting with human rights experts, of the Chinese law. In addition, TikTok stated it will stop offering its social media app in Hong Kong. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Cease Processing User Data From Hong Kong

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

Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Despite a decline in iPhone sales, Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent in its fiscal Q2 (ending March 28) to $58.3 billion, with profit falling about 3 percent to $11.25 billion or $2.55 a share. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple projected more than $63 billion, but the numbers still exceeded analysts’ expectations of almost $55 billion in revenue. Due to an uncertain economy in the wake of the pandemic, Apple would not project Q3 sales, the first time it declined to do so since it began offering such guidance in 2003. Continue reading Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

U.S. Moves to Hinder China Telecom and Links to Hong Kong

The Trump administration wants to revoke licenses used by China Telecom’s U.S. subsidiary to act as a common carrier, connecting domestic and international networks. The U.S. Department of Justice, leading the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, requested that the FCC permanently rescind these licenses. The administration stated that China’s technology interests are a threat to U.S. security. Citing the same concerns, U.S. gave Google permission to open a high-speed Internet link to Taiwan but not Hong Kong. Continue reading U.S. Moves to Hinder China Telecom and Links to Hong Kong