US companies are reportedly bypassing Trump’s Huawei ban

Several U.S. tech companies have found a way around President Trump’s ban on selling products to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and have successfully sold millions of dollars worth of products to the company. The Commerce Department put a ban into effect in May, which effectively restricts the U.S. from exporting necessary tech parts to Huawei and its subsidiaries. Since then, American companies including Intel and Micron have been able to sell products to Huawei by capitalizing on their offices overseas that make the products, thus not selling items that are technically American-made.

NSA collected US phone records without authorization—again

The National Security Agency has once again collected records about U.S. calls and text messages that it wasn’t authorized to obtain. In a second such incident, the NSA wrongly collected the numbers and time stamps of calls and text messages in October of last year—though it reportedly didn’t obtain the content of the conversations.

Federal agencies left private data open to cyberattacks for a decade

Multiple federal agencies kept up an outdated security system over the past decade that left Americans’ personal information vulnerable to theft, according to a damning new Senate report out Tuesday. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found the failures came from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Education, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and the Social Security Administration.

The rise (and threat) of the deepfake

Lifelike renderings of presidents, along with thousands of similar deepfakes posted on the internet in the past two years, have alarmed many observers, who believe the technology could be used to disgrace politicians and even swing elections. Democracies are gravely threatened by the speed at which disinfo can be created and shared, before the tiresome work of verification is performed. Before it was debunked, a digitally altered video showing Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing to slur drunkenly through a speech was widely shared on Facebook and YouTube last month—and retweeted by President Trump, who has not deleted it. The director of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, Eileen Donahoe, wants political leaders and candidates of all stripes to pledge not to use deepfakes against their opponents and to disavow any deepfakes put out on their behalf.

WaPo: Hackers are taking cities hostage. Here’s a way around it.

“Ransomware attacks on municipalities are on the rise. Last year, it was Atlanta, which spent $2.6 million to recover rather than pay the demanded $51,000. Before that, it was suburbs of Dallas and of Birmingham, Ala., and localities in North Carolina and New Mexico. Last month, hackers crippled Baltimore, which is still working to restore its systems without paying the $100,000 or so the hackers demand. And then there are places that decide to pay, such as the Florida town that decided to fork over a whopping $600,000 to the bad guys last week, desperate to de-paralyze its computer systems and restore essential services to its residents.”

Charles Arthur: Alarming and unnecessary…Facebook’s new cryptocurrency must be resisted

“The problem is, Mark Zuckerberg can’t be deposed by anybody, not even his board. I’m worried that the future involves being forced to use Facebook in order to make everyday transactions, and that the privacy promises will evaporate. Our banking system isn’t perfect – hello, 2008 – but it’s a lot better regulated than Facebook ever has been. Libra doesn’t sound like freedom.”

WaPo: Deepfakes are dangerous — and they target a huge weakness

“Deepfakes may just be the most technologically advanced manifestation of a much bigger problem. Trust is eroding, social media is accelerating the disintegration by allowing lies to spread at unseen speeds, and the leader of this country is joining our enemies in taking advantage of it. Government should invest in developing technology to detect deepfakes, and it should push platforms to do the same, as well as to label content that impersonates people in a manner invisible to the human eye.”

Deepfakes: ‘We are outgunned’

AI researchers are working tirelessly to defuse the most challenging political weapon to date—technologically falsified videos that could undermine candidates and mislead voters during the 2020 presidential campaign. House Intel Chair Adam Schiff says, “I don’t think we’re well prepared at all. And I don’t think the public is aware of what’s coming.” There also are fears that deepfakes could lead to people denying legitimate videos. “As a consequence of this, even truth will not be believed,” says Nasir Memon, a computer science professor at NYU.

UK signs Julian Assange’s US extradition order

The United Kingdom has signed an extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces charges in the US under the Espionage Act. US prosecutors initially charged Assange with a single count of computer intrusion, but last month added 17 new counts, including controversial charges under the Espionage Act for encouraging, receiving and publishing national defense information in concert with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

Huawei appears to be hurting following US action

Shao Yang, Huawei’s chief strategist, suggested that the company would have become the number one smart phone producer in the world this year if it was not for “unexpected” circumstances. It is believed that Yang is referring to U.S. action taken against Huawei, including the placement of Huawei on the U.S. exports blacklist and banning its sale in the very lucrative, U.S. market.

Apple’s tech rebound

Foxconn, an electronics industry company, is making it clear that should the trade war between the U.S. and China worsen, forcing Apple to move its supply chain out of China, Foxconn is large enough to fill in and help Apple.

Smaller companies join push against big tech

“Oracle and the Handpulled Noodle would seem to have little in common. One is a multibillion-dollar software company in Silicon Valley with tens of thousands of employees all over the world. The other is a small Harlem spot that serves Chinese comfort food and is known for its tasty dumplings. But they both say Google is unfairly hurting their businesses, and they have a new audience in Washington eager to hear about it.”

Watch out, Boeing

Raytheon and United Technologies are merging to create Raytheon Technologies. Combined, the two companies are believed to have over $74 billion in sales per year, trailing only Boeing’s $101 billion.

Regina Rini: Deepfakes are coming. We can no longer believe what we see.

“So far, this technology doesn’t seem to have been used in American politics, though it may have played some role in a political crisis in Gabon earlier this year. But it’s clear that current arguments about fake news are only a taste of what will happen when sounds and images, not just words, are open to manipulation by anyone with a decent computer.”

Moving away from Huawei

Huawei smartphones and devices will no longer come with Facebook apps, like Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp pre-installed. Users will be able to download the apps themselves, but this move by Facebook is the latest move by Silicon Valley to move away from Huawei.

Google warns Trump administration that Huawei block threatens national security

Google executives reportedly told government officials that they risk compromising U.S. national security if they push ahead with strict export restrictions on Huawei, and have asked to be exempted from restrictions on trade with the company. Google fears it would not be allowed to update its Android operating system on Huawei smartphones under the ban, meaning the Chinese company would develop its own version of the software which could be more susceptible to hacking.

Chase Johnson: Big tech’s threat to democracy

“If a monopolistic tech company decided to fully embrace its capacity to spy on its users and leverage that data to a personal or political end, the consequences for democracy could be catastrophic. Americans got a taste of what an influence attack looks like during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. So long as big tech remains largely unregulated, future influence attacks on American elections will become only more potent.”

Boeing’s uphill battle

A study from the Atmosphere group out of San Francisco reveals how much consumer confidence Boeing has lost following the 737-MAX crashes. In a study of 2,000 people who flew within the last month, only 14% who fly on the 737-MAX within 6 months of its return to service and only 20% would fly on the 737-MAX within its first year back in service.

US tech helps China to spy on its citizens

China’s surveillance state has found an odd ally, U.S. tech firms and universities. Without even realizing it, Americans collaborating with China on research projects on anything from artificial intelligence to DNA research, are helping China spy on its citizens.

Justice Department preparing antitrust probe into Google

The probe, which the department’s antitrust division has reportedly been preparing for weeks, is expected to examine Google’s practices “related to search and other businesses,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Google was previously under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission but that antitrust investigation was closed in 2013.

Pompeo warns Germany on consequences of buying Huawei

Speaking after a meeting with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin on Friday, Pompeo warned that the U.S. might have to withhold data on citizens or on national security if it didn’t have confidence in the networks Germany was using. “They will take their own sovereign decisions, (but we) will speak to them openly about the risks … and in the case of Huawei the concern is it is not possible to mitigate those anywhere inside of a 5G network,” he said.

Technology makes voting faster but less secure

Electronic poll books, also known as e-poll books, move the voting check-in process from a big book of names that a poll worker must flip through to a tablet or laptop computer. It’s certainly a lot faster. But unlike with equipment used to cast and count ballots, there are no federal regulations or even voluntary guidelines for how e-poll books need to work or how secure they need to be. And that’s a problem.

Chinese-made drones may be spying on us

It might sound kind of paranoid, but it’s reality. The Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose serious risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen. Since drones are now commonly used by electric utilities, oil companies, and even the Interior Department, the security of the nation’s power grid is a chief concern.

Huawei to US district court

Huawei is not taking its ban in the U.S. and its placement on the U.S. exports “blacklist” very well, and is taking the issue to court. Huawei says that the U.S. is assuming its guilt and not its innocence and intends to say that U.S. efforts to block Huawei are unconstitutional.

Google: A white-collar sweatshop

High-tech companies have long promoted the idea that they are egalitarian, idyllic workplaces. And Google, perhaps more than any other, has represented that image, with a reputation for enviable salaries and benefits and lavish perks. But the company’s increasing reliance on temps and contractors has some Google employees worried.