U.S. Examines Ways to Compete in 5G, Japan Joins the Race

The Trump administration is considering strategies for edging out Huawei and China’s 5G dominance. It has already unsuccessfully urged Cisco Systems to purchase Ericsson or Nokia and reportedly discussed providing those two companies tax breaks and export-bank financing or helping to take one of them private. Also proposed is a plan to support “mix and match” network technology to smooth the path for U.S. startups to develop new 5G technology. Japan’s NTT and NEC are also making a play for a bigger role in 5G. Continue reading U.S. Examines Ways to Compete in 5G, Japan Joins the Race

DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

The Justice Department recommended, in a 25-page report, that lawmakers repeal portions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which has given website operators broad immunity for what people post on their services. The proposed repeal would take away that immunity, forcing social media platforms and similar sites to be responsible for the videos, words, images posted by their users, while assuring that their moderation is consistent. The DOJ’s recommendation will have to be enacted by Congress. Continue reading DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

FCC Backs Ligado Plan to Develop L-Band Spectrum for 5G

In opposition to the Pentagon, Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai backed Ligado Networks’ plan to develop the L-band spectrum of airwaves for cellular service. In his draft order, Pai stipulated “certain conditions” that would protect against interference with Global Positioning System technology. Opponents say the company’s usage would interfere with military operations and weather forecasting bandwidth. Ligado, originally known as LightSquared, went bankrupt in 2012 when its business plans were rejected. Continue reading FCC Backs Ligado Plan to Develop L-Band Spectrum for 5G

China Battles for Dominance in Tech Sectors, Standardization

The U.S. has long been dominant in technology, but China, the world’s second largest economy, has made huge investments in several sectors, threatening American hegemony. The Trump administration is battling that with tariffs and export controls and is currently considering ways to hinder China from making its own high-end semiconductors. That’s one of the technologies at stake, in addition to 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and autonomous vehicles. China also aims to control international tech standards. Continue reading China Battles for Dominance in Tech Sectors, Standardization

House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 278 to 136 for the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, to extend provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This legislation established rules for surveillance and information collection “between foreign powers or agents of foreign powers suspected of espionage or terrorism.” Although the House is led by Democrats, the vote was bipartisan, with 152 Democrats and 226 Republicans approving the act. The measure will now go to the Senate, on recess next week. Continue reading House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

Law Could Stoke Battle Between Congress and Silicon Valley

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham and senator Richard Blumenthal plan to introduce a law that could interfere with Big Tech’s ability to provide end-to-end encryption. The Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2019 (EARN IT Act) targets the distribution of child sexual abuse material on platforms such as Facebook and Google, making them liable for state prosecution and civil lawsuits for user-posted content currently protected by Section 230. Continue reading Law Could Stoke Battle Between Congress and Silicon Valley

Justice Department Charges Huawei With Racketeering, Theft

The Justice Department issued a federal indictment, which was unsealed in the Eastern District of New York, accusing Huawei Technologies and its affiliates of a “pattern of racketeering activity” as well as stealing trade secrets from six U.S. firms. The six firms were not named, but a source identified them as Cisco Systems, CNEX Labs, Fujitsu, Motorola Solutions, Quintel Technology and T-Mobile. Among the reportedly stolen information were source code and manuals for wireless technology. Continue reading Justice Department Charges Huawei With Racketeering, Theft

WhatsApp Chief Pledges to Safeguard Messaging Encryption

WhatsApp head Will Cathcart revealed that the app now has more than two billion active users; numbers were last released two years ago. Cathcart also emphasized that he will continue to defend the messaging app’s encryption, noting that, “for all of human history, people have been able to communicate privately with each other … and we don’t think that should go away in a modern society.” Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp for $21.8 billion, finds encryption a barrier to recuperating its investment. Continue reading WhatsApp Chief Pledges to Safeguard Messaging Encryption

Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, major tech players such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft asked lawmakers for regulations they once fought. Facing antitrust probes and pushback on AI, privacy and encryption among other issues, these companies believe laws are inevitable and want to have a role in creating them. They also fear a patchwork quilt of global laws. Most recently, the Justice Department sparred with Apple over its request for help to unlock the iPhones of the Saudi Arabian naval trainee who killed three people in Florida. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

According to six sources, in response to FBI concerns, Apple dropped the plan to allow iPhone users to encrypt backups in its iCloud service. Although this took place two years ago, it is just now being reported. Stress between Apple’s stance on privacy and law enforcement’s push to have access to its phones re-emerged a few weeks ago when a Saudi Air Force officer killed three Americans at Naval Air Station Pensacola. U.S. attorney general William Barr and President Donald Trump urged Apple to unlock the killer’s two iPhones. Continue reading Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Naval air station in Pensacola, Florida that was later declared an act of terrorism, Attorney General William Barr requested that Apple provide access to the two iPhones used by the killer. He later complained that Apple has thus far provided no “substantive assistance.” The Saudi Arabian assassin, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was training with the U.S. military but had earlier posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadist screeds on social media. Continue reading Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

Facebook Advances Encryption Plans For Messaging Apps

Although U.S. Attorney General William Barr has advocated against encryption, Facebook is advancing its plans to add the technology to all its messaging platforms. Barr wants Facebook to allow at least some government access to those platforms, in the name of public safety. WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart and Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky responded to Barr that, “undermining encryption in their products for law enforcement would create a ‘backdoor’ vulnerability that malicious actors also could leverage to harm users.” Continue reading Facebook Advances Encryption Plans For Messaging Apps

Government Expected to Take a Closer Look at Tech Giants

U.S. tech giants are expected to become targets of in-depth antitrust investigations to determine if any companies have become too large and may be stifling competition. According to sources, federal agencies have agreed to distribute the investigative responsibilities. The Justice Department reportedly has authority over looking into Apple and Google, while the Federal Trade Commission will have oversight of Amazon and Facebook. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee plans to examine competition in digital markets and the growing power of the tech industry. Continue reading Government Expected to Take a Closer Look at Tech Giants