Archive for the ‘china’ Category

Judge will rule by midnight tonight if TikTok can stay in app stores

September 27th, 2020
Judge will rule by midnight tonight if TikTok can stay in app stores

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

TikTok will be gone from app stores tomorrow morning unless a federal judge acts to block the Trump administration's ban on the app before midnight tonight.

Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court for DC said today that he will determine whether to grant or reject TikTok's request for an injunction on the ban before the deadline hits at the stroke of 12.

In a hearing on Thursday, Nichols gave the administration until Friday afternoon either to delay or defend the ban. The administration chose to file a response defending the ban but did so under seal, so the filings are not available to the public.

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Posted in bans, bytedance, china, national security, Policy, tiktok, Trump, White House | Comments (0)

Microsoft boots apps used by China-sponsored hackers out of Azure

September 25th, 2020
A motherboard has been photoshopped to include a Chinese flag.

Enlarge / Computer chip with Chinese flag, 3d conceptual illustration. (credit: Steve McDowell / Agefotostock)

Fortune 500 companies aren’t the only ones flocking to cloud services like Microsoft Azure. Increasingly, hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government are also hosting their tools in the cloud, and that’s keeping people in Redmond busy.

Earlier this year, members of the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center suspended 18 Azure Active Directory applications after determining they were part of a sprawling command-and-control network. Besides the cloud-hosted applications, the members of the hacking group Microsoft calls Gadolinium also stored ill-gotten data in a Microsoft OneDrive account and used the account to execute various parts of the campaign.

Microsoft, Amazon, and other cloud providers have long touted the speed, flexibility, and scale that comes from renting computing resources as needed rather than using dedicated servers in-house. Hackers seem to be realizing the same benefits. The shift to the cloud can be especially easy thanks to free trial services and one-time payment accounts, which allow hackers to quickly get up and running without having to have an established relationship or even a valid payment card on file.

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Posted in azure, Biz & IT, china, gadolinium, hackers, microsoft, Policy | Comments (0)

156 countries commit to fair COVID-19 vaccine access, but US won’t join

September 22nd, 2020
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Enlarge / World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. (credit: Getty | Fabrice Cof)

A total of 156 countries—representing about 64 percent of the world’s population—have committed to pooling resources to help develop, buy, and equitably distribute two billion doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.

“This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, which is co-leading the effort along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

So far, 64 high-income countries have signed on to the effort, as well as 92 low- and middle-income countries, which would be eligible for support in procuring vaccine doses. Gavi CEO Seth Berkley said in a WHO press conference on Monday that he expects 38 more countries to sign up in the coming days.

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Posted in china, COVAX, COVID-19, Infectious disease, pandemic, Policy, public health, russia, SARS-CoV-2, science, us, vaccine, WHO | Comments (0)

Everything we know so far about Oracle not actually buying TikTok

September 21st, 2020
A casually dressed young woman shrugs while holding the logos of two competing companies.

Enlarge / ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

It was a weird weekend to end a weird summer for one of the country's most poular social media apps, TikTok. First, in August, the Trump administration threatened to ban TikTok unless it found a US buyer. Then last weekend, one-time dark horse Oracle emerged victorious in a federally mandated contest to acquire TikTok. Except, it turns out, Oracle isn't actually acquiring TikTok at all—and Oracle and TikTok's current parent company, ByteDance, disagree on who is going to be in charge.

If you're confused, you're in good company. Here's our attempt to lay out everything we know about TikTok, Oracle, and their mysterious deal so far.

What is TikTok? Who owns it?

TikTok is an extremely popular short-form video app used worldwide. The app appeared in its current incarnation after its parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance, acquired US startup Musical.ly in 2017 and integrated it with its existing TikTok product under the TikTok name.

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Posted in bans, china, explainers, Policy, tiktok, trade war, Trump, trump administration, Wechat, White House | Comments (0)

Impending WeChat ban won’t actually ban users from WeChat, DOJ says

September 17th, 2020
There's no ban on WeChat in the US right now, the DOJ says, which is true—but that's supposed to change, somehow, in the immediate future, and nobody knows how.

Enlarge / There's no ban on WeChat in the US right now, the DOJ says, which is true—but that's supposed to change, somehow, in the immediate future, and nobody knows how. (credit: Budrul Chukrut | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

Three days before a ban on the use of China-owned app WeChat in the United States is supposed to take effect, the Trump administration still hasn't said what specifically is being banned—only that individuals will not be penalized for using the app, despite the alleged threat it presents to national security.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross does "not intend to take actions that would target persons or groups whose only connection with WeChat is their use or downloading of the app to convey personal or business information between users, or otherwise define the relevant transactions in such a way that would impose criminal or civil liability on such users," attorneys for the Department of Justice wrote in a court filing (PDF).

Users of WeChat may find services "directly or indirectly impaired" by whatever measures the administration does end up imposing, the filing continued, but "use and downloading of the app for this limited purpose will not be a defined transaction."

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Posted in bans, china, executive orders, keystone cops, Policy, Wechat | Comments (0)

Hammer drops on hackers accused of targeting game and software makers

September 17th, 2020
A large seal of a white, Classical Revival-style office building is flanked by flags.

Enlarge / The Department of Justice seal as seen during a press conference in December 2019. (credit: Samuel Corum | Getty Images)

For more than a decade, hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government have brazenly pursued advanced cyber intrusions on technology companies, with a particular focus on those that market software, such as CCleaner, role-playing games, and other types of games. On Wednesday, US authorities fired back, charging seven men allegedly backed by the Chinese government for carrying out a string of financially motivated hacks on more than 100 US and overseas organizations.

US prosecutors said the men targeted tech companies with the aim of stealing software-signing certificates, customer account data, and valuable business information, all with the tacit approval of the Chinese government. Working for front companies located in China, the defendants allegedly used the intrusions into game and software makers for money laundering, identity theft, wire and access device fraud, and to facilitate other criminal schemes, such as ransomware and cryptojacking schemes.

Legal protection

According to one of three indictments unsealed on Wednesday, defendant Jiang Lizhi boasted of his connections to China’s Ministry of State Security and claimed it provided him with legal protection “unless something very big happens.” Jiang’s business associate, Qian Chuan, allegedly spent the past 10 years supporting Chinese government projects, including development of a secure cleaning tool to wipe confidential data from digital media.

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Posted in apt41, Biz & IT, china, game makers, hackers, hacking, Policy, software, winnti | Comments (0)

Trump ban on Chinese drone parts risks worsening wildfires

September 3rd, 2020
Photo taken on Aug. 28, 2020 shows the wreckage at the site where a wildfire swept through in Vacaville of Solano County in northern California.

Enlarge / Photo taken on Aug. 28, 2020 shows the wreckage at the site where a wildfire swept through in Vacaville of Solano County in northern California. (credit: Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images)

The US interior department’s decision not to buy more drones with Chinese parts has made it more difficult to fight wildfires, according to an internal departmental memo, which lays bare one cost of the Trump administration’s crackdown on Chinese technology.

The memo, which was written by the department’s Office of Aviation Services earlier this year, found that by the end of the year, the department will have carried out only a quarter of the controlled burning it might otherwise have done had it gone ahead with planned drone purchases.

The US is experiencing one of its worst years for wildfire outbreaks thanks to hot weather and a lack of firefighters. And while none of those appear to have happened on federal land, government insiders warn the de facto ban on buying drones with Chinese components risks making the situation worse.

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Posted in china, drones, Policy, Tech, Trump | Comments (0)

TikTok CEO quits as company reportedly plans sale to Microsoft, Walmart

August 27th, 2020
TikTok logo next to inverted US flag.

Enlarge / TikTok's US operations may soon be part of every cool teen's favorite conglomerates, Microsoft and Walmart. (credit: SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer, who only began the job on June 1, is heading right back out the door again as the company plans a sale under pressure from the White House.

"In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for," Mayer wrote in an email to TikTok employees late Wednesday. "Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company."

Mayer praised employees' efforts, saying that "there is no doubt that the future [of TikTok] is incredibly bright." But at the same time, he added, "I understand that the role that I signed up for—including running TikTok globally—will look very different as a result of the US Administration’s action to push for a sell off of the US business."

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Posted in Biz & IT, Business, china, Gaming & Culture, kevin mayer, Policy, tiktok, Trump, trump administration, White House | Comments (0)

TikTok sues Trump admin., says ban is unconstitutional and political

August 24th, 2020
TikTok logo next to inverted US flag.

Enlarge / TikTok's US operations may soon be part of every cool teen's favorite code conglomerate, Microsoft. (credit: SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, filed suit today in federal court arguing that President Donald Trump's efforts to ban the app or force a sale to a US firm are not grounded in facts but instead are part of an "anti-China political campaign."

An executive order curtailing TikTok's US operations "is not rooted in bona fide national security concerns," TikTok argues in its complaint (PDF). "Independent national security and information security experts have criticized the political nature of this executive order, and expressed doubt as to whether its stated national security objective is genuine," the company adds.

TikTok's complaint seeks to prevent the president and the Department of Commerce from "impermissively banning" the app, alleging that the authority under which the order was enacted (the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or IEEPA) was a "gross misappropriation" and "a pretext for furthering the President's broader campaign of anti-China rhetoric in the run-up to the US election."

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Posted in bytedance, china, Donald Trump, Policy, politics, tiktok, trade war, Trump, trump administration, White House | Comments (0)

China trade war could push iPhone contractor Foxconn to build in Mexico

August 24th, 2020
China trade war could push iPhone contractor Foxconn to build in Mexico

Enlarge (credit: Samuel Axon)

For years, iPhones (or their boxes) have said that they were "designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China." But thanks to an escalating trade war between the US and China, that might not be true in the coming years. Reuters reports that two of Apple's biggest manufacturing contractors, Foxconn and Pegatron, are working to expand their facilities in Mexico with an eye toward eventually building iPhones there.

Foxconn's plans aren't final, Reuters reports. Apple hasn't signed off on the idea and declined to comment to Reuters. But Foxconn is reportedly looking to make a final decision this year.

Foxconn already has a significant presence in Mexico. Five Foxconn factories in Mexico make televisions, servers, and other products. But building iPhones could represent a major expansion of Foxconn's activities in the Latin American country.

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Posted in china, Donald Trump, Foxconn, iphone, mexico, Policy | Comments (0)