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Huawei May Have Lesser Involvement in 5G Networks in The UK

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Image: AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Image: AP)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked officials to make plans to reduce China’s involvement in British infrastructure to zero by 2023.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: May 23, 2020, 11:52 AM IST

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to reduce Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Johnson has asked officials to make plans to reduce China’s involvement in British infrastructure to zero by 2023. Johnson is expected to use less reliance on China as a means to boost trade talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in the aftermath of Britain’s departure from the European Union, according to reports.

Downing Street declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier on Friday, The Times reported that Johnson has instructed civil servants to make plans to end Britain’s reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other strategic imports.

Beijing is being criticised for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China. Beijing denies U.S. allegations it has not been transparent about the outbreak. “He (Johnson) still wants a relationship with China but the Huawei deal is going to be significantly scaled back. Officials have been instructed to come up with a plan to reduce Huawei’s involvement as quickly as possible,” a source was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.

The development would be a change of direction for Britain, which in late April confirmed it would allow Huawei to have a role in building its 5G phone network. Britain decided in January to allow Huawei into what the government said were non-sensitive parts of the network, capping its involvement at 35%. The United States has raised security concerns about Huawei equipment and warned that allies that use it in their networks risked being cut off from valuable intelligence sharing feeds.




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Mark Zuckerberg is Worried About China’s Influence on The Internet; Many Would Agree With Him

Mark Zuckerberg is Worried About China’s Influence on The Internet; Many Would Agree With Him

Zuckerberg said that the 2018 overhaul of the privacy policy in the EU also meant Facebook had to reform its approach to data privacy around the world.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 9:24 AM IST

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is worried about the influence China is having in terms of regulating the internet and fears other countries might follow a similar example. In fact, he has urged western countries to counter China’s model with a democratic approach. He says the Chinese approach is “really dangerous”. China’s censorship of content on the internet and the fact that many global tech platforms are banned in the country, including Facebook, is often referred to as ‘The Great Firewall’.

“What I worry about is, right now I think there are emerging two very different frameworks underpinned by very different sets of values,” Zuckerberg said in a livestreamed discussion with EU official Thierry Breton. This is not the first time Zuckerberg has warned about the Chinese influence and the Chinese way of regulating the internet. He said it is the responsibility of the western countries to have a clear data privacy framework in place.

Zuckerberg in fact praised the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which implemented changes for how tech companies and social media platforms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter collect and handle user data in the EU region. He also said that the 2018 overhaul of the privacy policy in the EU also meant Facebook had to reform its approach to data privacy around the world.

In October last year, Zuckerberg had not held back in criticizing TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance. While speaking at the Georgetown University on free speech, he had criticized TikTok for what he called “mentions of these protests are censored, even in the U.S.” referring to the censorship around the anti-China or pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “Just to be blunt about it, I think there is a model coming out of countries like China that tend to have very different values than Western countries that are more democratic,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook only recently got a 20-member oversight board which has the power to correct or overrule the social media platform’s content moderation policies, including instances of hate speech and misinformation, if it feels the need to do so. The board will start hearing cases later this summer.




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France to Allow Some Huawei Equipment in its 5G Network Rollout

Image for Representation
(Image: Reuters)

Image for Representation
(Image: Reuters)

The French cybersecurity agency has decided to approve the use of Huawei gear, but only for what they described as non-core parts of the network.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: March 13, 2020, 1:07 PM IST
  • Edited by: Chhavianshika Singh

France will authorise the use of some of Huawei’s equipment in the rollout of its 5G network, two sources close to the matter told Reuters, despite the US calling to exclude the Chinese telecom giant from the West’s next-generation communications. The French cybersecurity agency, ANSSI, is due to tell telecom operators which equipment they are allowed to use for the deployment of their 5G network in France but has not made public any decision.

The two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said ANSSI had decided to approve the use of Huawei gear, but only for what they described as non-core parts of the network, as these pose less significant security risks. “They don’t want to ban Huawei, but the principle is: ‘Get them out of the core mobile network’,” one of the two sources said. A spokeswoman for ANSSI declined to comment.

Core mobile networks carry higher surveillance risks because they incorporate more sophisticated software programs that process sensitive information such as customers’ personal data. French authorities’ decision over Huawei’s equipment is crucial for two of the country’s four telecoms operators, Bouygues Telecom and Altice Europe’s SFR, as about half of their current mobile network is made by the Chinese group.

State-controlled Orange has already chosen Huawei’s European rivals, Nokia and Ericsson, which the US operators have favoured over Huawei. Up to now, sources close to the French telecoms industry have said they fear Huawei will be barred in practice even if no formal ban is announced.

BRITAIN’S FOOTSTEPS

By granting a partial authorisation to Huawei, France would follow Britain’s footsteps, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson granted Huawei a limited role in the country’s 5G network. Neighbouring Germany is also struggling to reach consensus on the way forward. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives back tougher rules on foreign vendors but have stopped short of an outright ban on Huawei.

France is likely to follow instructions given by European Union’s industry chief Thierry Breton, who said in interviews that telecoms operators should not select “risky vendors” for strategic sites such as capital cities, military bases and nuclear plants, a separate telecoms industry source said. Without ever citing Shenzhen-based Huawei, Breton has said a “risky vendor” was a company that heavily relies on a foreign state or a state that could compel it to disclose clients’ data.

ANSSI was initially due to give the first results of the screening of the 5G telecoms gear about a month ago. The cybersecurity agency’s decision was delayed because it asked operators additional questions in December, the same telecoms source said. But it also has had intense exchanges with its overseeing authority, France’s prime minister office, as well as its British and German peers, to find a common approach toward Huawei, one of the two sources close to the matter said. The Chinese group said last month that it planned to build its first European manufacturing plant in France as it seeks to ease concerns stoked by US charges that Beijing could use its equipment for spying, which it denies.

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Facebook Sued for $9 Billion in Unpaid Taxes by US Internal Revenue Service

Image for Representation

(Image: AFP Relaxnews)

Image for Representation

(Image: AFP Relaxnews)

The US IRS filed a lawsuit against Facebook claiming that the tech giant had undervalued the royalty it received to reduce its domestic tax bill.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: February 20, 2020, 2:06 PM IST
  • Edited by: Chhavianshika Singh

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sued Facebook for $9 billion in unpaid taxes, alleging that the social networking giant undervalued the intellectual property it sold to the subsidiary, thereby dodging billions in taxes. The IRS lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco court, claimed that Facebook “undervalued the royalty amount between 2010 and 2016, which cut the company’s domestic tax bill as the royalties are ultimately reported as income”.

Several tech giants save billions from taxes by keeping their money in Ireland because of the country’s low corporate tax rates. In a statement given to The Verge, Facebook’s Berti Thomson said the company “stand[s] behind” the 2010 transaction. Facebook told the court that it valued only $6.5 billion in 2010 but the IRS begged to differ, saying the social media giant “knowingly undervalued itself while selling off its intellectual property to a new company based in Ireland to avoid paying US corporation tax”.

Facebook claimed the IRS’ valuation was based on a “2020 perspective and not a 2010 perspective”. The company allegedly “sold” the rights to its software and trademarks to a subsidiary based in Ireland and that company pays Facebook in the US “royalties”. This allowed Facebook to pay an Irish tax rate of 12.5 per cent rather than 35 per cent corporate tax rate in the US (since reduced to 21 per cent), reports The Registrar.

Facebook is not alone that dodges US corporate tax. In 2016, the European Union (EU) ordered Apple to pay $15.4 billion in back taxes to Ireland. In September, Google said it would pay more than $1 billion after a French investigation into its tax practices.

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Huawei Set to Face 'Strict' 5G Rules in Europe, States EU Official

Huawei has been facing stiff opposition from USA, which is urging its allies to not conduct business with the Chinese electronics and technology behemoth

Representative image of Huawei's logo, in front of one of its facilities. (Photo: Reuters)
Representative image of Huawei’s logo, in front of one of its facilities. (Photo: Reuters)
The EU will not ban Chinese telecom giant Huawei or any other company in Europe, a top official said on Tuesday, despite intense pressure from Washington to shun the firm over spying fears. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will officially unveil recommendations to member states on Wednesday, but commissioner Thierry Breton told MEPs that Brussels will choose tight scrutiny over any blanket ban.

“It is not a question of discrimination, it is a question of laying down rules. They will be strict, they will be demanding and of course we will welcome in Europe all operators who are willing to apply them,” he said. The EU, while never explicitly naming the Chinese giant, is struggling to find a middle way to balance Huawei’s huge dominance in the 5G sector with security concerns pressed by Washington.

The proposal is part of a so-called “toolbox” of recommendations that will guide the EU’s 27 post-Brexit member states as they build crucial 5G networks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also expected on Tuesday to risk Washington’s anger with a similar decision to trust strict rules instead of a ban on Huawei. A ban on Huawei would ultimately be up to an individual member state, but the commission’s middle road recommendation gives cover to European capitals to resist pleas from Washington.

Huawei is one of the world’s leading network technology suppliers, and one of the few — along with European telecom companies Nokia and Ericsson — capable of building 5G networks. The United States sees the company as a potential threat to cybersecurity and fears it would facilitate cyber espionage by the Chinese government, to which it is said to have close links.

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EU Wants a Common Charger For All Smartphones But Apple is Not Impressed

iPhone maker Apple on Thursday pushed back against EU lawmakers’ call for a common charger, warning the move could hamper innovation, create a mountain of electronic waste and irk consumers. Apple’s comments came a week after lawmakers at the European Parliament called for a common charger for all mobile phones and amended a draft law to say the ability to work with common chargers would be an essential requirement for radio equipment in the bloc.

A move to a common charger would affect Apple more than any other companies as its iPhones and most of its products are powered by its Lightning cable, whereas Android devices are powered by USB-C connectors.

“We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole,” Apple said in a statement.

It said regulation was not needed as the industry is already moving to USB-C through a connector or cable assembly. “We hope the (European) Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry’s ability to innovate,” Apple said.

A study by Copenhagen Economics commissioned by Apple showed that consumer harm from a regulatory-mandated move to a common charger would cost at least 1.5 billion euros, outweighing the 13 million euros in associated environmental benefits.

The European Commission, which acts as the executive for the EU, has been pushing for a common charger for more than a decade.

In 2009 it got four companies including Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia to sign a voluntary memorandum of understanding to harmonize chargers for new models of smartphones coming into the market in 2011. The voluntary approach is not working and it is time to look into legislation, Commission officials said.

“A delegated act based on the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) is one of the options to be considered since it empowers the Commission to take a certain type of regulatory measures in this field,” one of the officials said. Another option was to pass legislation on the issue.

“…given the limitation in the scope of RED and of its empowerment, any action through the ordinary legislative procedure and/or through other instruments, such as implementing measures under the Eco-design Directive should be further explored and thoroughly assessed,” the official said. The Commission will publish a study around the end of the month or early February on the impact of a common charger.

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Microsoft Disagrees With EU And Sundar Pichai on Temporary Ban of Face Recognition Tech

The EU’s proposal for a temporary ban on facial-recognition technology won backing from Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai but got a cool response from Microsoft President Brad Smith. While Pichai cited the possibility that the technology could be used for nefarious purposes as a reason for a moratorium, Smith said a ban was akin to using a meat cleaver instead of a scalpel to solve potential problems.

“I think it is important that governments and regulations tackle it sooner rather than later and give a framework for it,” Pichai told a conference in Brussels organised by think-tank Bruegel. “It can be immediate but maybe there’s a waiting period before we really think about how it’s being used,” he said. “It’s up to governments to chart the course” for the use of such technology. Smith, who is also Microsoft’s chief legal officer, however cited the benefits of facial recognition technology in some instances such as NGOs using it to find missing children. “I’m really reluctant to say let’s stop people from using technology in a way that will reunite families when it can help them do it,” Smith said. “The second thing I would say is you don’t ban it if you actually believe there is a reasonable alternative that will enable us to, say, address this problem with a scalpel instead of a meat cleaver,” he said.

Smith said it was important to first identify problems and then craft rules to ensure that the technology would not be used for mass surveillance. “There is only one way at the end of the day to make technology better and that is to use it,” he said. The European Commission is taking a tougher line on artificial intelligence (AI) than the United States that would strengthen existing regulations on privacy and data rights, according to a proposal paper seen by Reuters. Part of this includes a moratorium of up to five years on using facial recognition technology in public areas, to give the EU time to work out how to prevent abuses, the paper said.

Pichai urged regulators to take a “proportionate approach” when drafting rules, days before the Commission is due to publish proposals on the issue. Regulators are grappling with ways to govern AI, encouraging innovation while trying to curb potential misuse, as companies and law enforcement agencies increasingly adopt the technology. There was no question AI needs to be regulated, Pichai said, but rulemakers should tread carefully. “Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities. This is especially true in areas that are high risk and high value,” he said.

Regulators should tailor rules according to different sectors, Pichai said, citing medical devices and self-driving cars as examples that require different rules. He said governments should align their rules and agree on core values. Earlier this month, the U.S. government published regulatory guidelines on AI aimed at limiting authorities’ overreach, and urged Europe to avoid an aggressive approach. Pichai said it was important to be clear-eyed about what could go wrong with AI, and while it promised huge benefits there were real concerns about potential negative consequences.

One area of concern is so-called “deepfakes” – video or audio clips that have been manipulated using AI. Pichai said Google had released open datasets to help the research community build better tools to detect such fakes. The world’s most popular internet search engine said last month that Google Cloud was not offering general-purpose facial-recognition application programming interfaces (APIs) while it establishes policy and technical safeguards.

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EU is Considering Banning Facial Recognition in Public Places And Bolster Data Rights

This comes amid a global debate about the systems driven by artificial intelligence and widely used by law enforcement agencies.

EU is Considering Banning Facial Recognition in Public Places And Bolster Data Rights
Representative image.

The European Union is considering banning facial recognition technology in public areas for up to five years, to give it time to work out how to prevent abuses. The plan by the EU’s executive – set out in an 18-page white paper – comes amid a global debate about the systems driven by artificial intelligence and widely used by law enforcement agencies. The EU Commission said new tough rules may have to be introduced to bolster existing regulations protecting Europeans’ privacy and data rights.

“Building on these existing provisions, the future regulatory framework could go further and include a time-limited ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces,” the EU document said. During that ban, of between three to five years, “a sound methodology for assessing the impacts of this technology and possible risk management measures could be identified and developed.” Exceptions to the ban could be made for security projects as well as research and development, the paper said.

The document also suggested imposing obligations on both developers and users of artificial intelligence and that EU countries should appoint authorities to monitor the new rules. The Commission will seek feedback on its white paper before making a final decision, officials said. EU digital and antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager is expected to present her proposals next month. The U.S. government earlier this month announced regulatory guidelines on artificial intelligence technology aimed at limiting authorities’ overreach and urged Europe to avoid aggressive approaches.