President Donald Trump last month used his office to ignite an international business crisis that s plunged into doubt the future of one of the world s most popular social media platforms — a decision that s now led to the apparent benefit of a major political backer. As Oracle seeks US approval for a landmark partnership with the short-form video app TikTok, experts say questions will intensify over Trump s political relationship with Oracle chairman and co-founder Larry Ellison. One of the richest men in the world, Ellison has built extensive bridges with Trump. He has vocally expressed support for the President and reportedly hosted a major fundraiser for him this year where donors who paid $100,000 were offered a chance to golf with Trump. Nor will the scrutiny be limited to Ellison; Oracle CEO Safra Catz shares close ties with Trump as well. She has donated more than $130,000 to Trump s reelection efforts this year, according to Federal Election Commission data. Catz served on Trump s presidential transition team in 2016 and was at one point considered for a position inside the administration. Both Catz and Ellison have served on Trump s industry working groups devoted to economic revival. Oracle didn t respond to requests for comment. The White House declined to comment. Trump raised eyebrows last month when he publicly supported the prospect of a deal involving TikTok and Oracle. At the time, Oracle and Microsoft had been competing to acquire TikTok, with Microsoft viewed widely as the frontrunner. Oracle, experts said, lacked experience in consumer services and offers no products in the social media sphere. But on Sunday evening, sources told CNN that TikTok s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, had sided with Oracle over Microsoft. Oracle and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed the proposed deal on Monday. In a statement, TikTok said it believed the proposal would "resolve the Administration s security concerns." Administration officials have complained for months that TikTok represents a risk to national security, due to its current ownership by a Chinese firm. TikTok has rejected those claims, saying it stores all US users data outside of China and that the information isn t subject to Chinese law; cybersecurity experts have said there is no evidence that TikTok has been compromised by Chinese intelligence. Oracle s proposed partnership with TikTok must still be reviewed by the US government. And it remains unclear if those discussions will be resolved before a Trump administration ban against TikTok takes effect on Sept. 20, though Mnuchin said the government will be studying the deal this week. Asked directly whether Ellison s ties with Trump were a factor in the proposed deal talks, a person familiar with the negotiations insisted that it was "a business decision, not a political one." But outside analysts said it is impossible to disentangle one from the other, given Trump s personality. Trump has a track record of injecting himself into ostensibly neutral public policy processes. For example, Trump appeared to intervene in a multi-billion-dollar cloud contract decision many expected Amazon to win; ultimately, and after a quiet pressure campaign by Oracle, the Pentagon awarded the deal to Microsoft. In another closely scrutinized case, Trump vowed to block AT&T s acquisition of Time Warner (which is now WarnerMedia, CNN s parent company). The announcement took experts by surprise because antitrust reviews of mergers are expected to occur independently of presidential influence. As the Oracle-TikTok negotiations progressed, some reports highlighted how Microsoft has savvily built its own relationships with the Trump administration. Yet Microsoft s connections were no match for Ellison s, said Eric Schiffer, chairman of the Patriarch Organization, a tech-focused private equity firm. "Microsoft has done everything they could possibly do except show up at a rally with a MAGA hat to win this," Schiffer said. "There s no question that the conventional wisdom was that Microsoft was strategically positioned, having made great political inroads into the administration and having played the politics with Trump fairly well compared to most corporations. But not as well as Larry." Other experts said that while Ellison s ties to Trump may have given Oracle an edge, the proposal at the end of the day must still adequately resolve the US government s national security concerns. Sources have described the proposal as stopping short of an outright sale of TikTok to Oracle, a detail that could conflict with Trump s Aug. 14 executive order that called for a full divestiture, said Harry Broadman, a partner at Berkeley Research Group and former member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the government body that vets certain deals that could give a foreign investor control of a US business. "Yes, Larry Ellison is friends with Trump, and maybe that will mean something, I don t know," Broadman said. "But there are executive orders out there, and people will be looking to see how this comports with what the executive orders say." Whether the Oracle deal passes security muster depends heavily on the specifics of the agreement, said Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer at Facebook. "A deal where Oracle takes over hosting [of TikTok s data] without source code and significant operational changes would not address any of the legitimate concerns about TikTok, and the White House accepting such a deal would demonstrate that this exercise was pure grift," Stamos tweeted.
TikTok is making the corporate technology company Oracle its business partner in the United States. It s a deal that would tick a lot of boxes for the beleaguered short-form video app, including what is potentially its biggest hurdle of all: getting President Donald Trump on its side. There are still a lot of unknowns about the agreement. TikTok declined to comment about the deal, while Oracle (ORCL) and TikTok s Chinese parent company ByteDance have not responded to requests for comment. A source familiar with the matter told CNN Business that the partnership was meant to satisfy the Trump administration s national security concerns about TikTok — Trump has demanded the app be sold, or else shut down in the United States — and it was not described as an outright sale. But California-based Oracle is a notable partner, given cofounder Larry Ellison s ties to the Trump administration. He s one of the few Silicon Valley tech moguls to back Trump. The billionaire hosted a campaign fundraiser for Trump in February and in April joined a White House advisory group working to revive America s economy. The US president has already indicated he would support a deal between Oracle and TikTok. "I think Oracle is a great company and I think its owner is a tremendous guy, a tremendous person," Trump said late last month after the Financial Times reported that Ellison was "seriously considering" a deal with TikTok. "I think that Oracle would be certainly somebody that could handle it." Political considerations TikTok resorted to Oracle "mainly out of political considerations," said Shirley Yu, visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and founder of an eponymous company that assesses strategy, business, and political risk for companies working in China. "Oracle s Ellison is a much closer ally to President Trump than Microsoft [cofounder] Bill Gates. In order for a no-sale option to be considered by the White House, Oracle stands the best chance," she said. James Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, pushed back against the notion that Oracle s apparent victory was driven by Ellison s cozy ties to Trump. (The frontrunner, Microsoft (MSFT), said Sunday that it lost its bid for the app.) "Oracle has done a good job lobbying the White House on cloud and their record in security. That probably helped them. I don t think it s Trump rewarding his friends," said Lewis. Instead, Oracle might win by default. The deal on the table does not appear to involve TikTok s coveted artificial intelligence algorithm, according to Chinese state-run media CGTN, who cited anonymous sources saying that ByteDance will not give the app s "source code" to any US buyers. The broadcaster also pointedly mentioned that ByteDance was not selling TikTok s US operations. ByteDance s ability to retain the app s technology could make the tie-up more palatable to Beijing regulators, according to Cameron Johnson, adjunct faculty instructor at New York University in Shanghai and partner at consulting firm Tidal Wave Solutions. But that may have killed the Microsoft deal, according to Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities. "We believe Microsoft would only buy TikTok with its core algorithm which the Chinese government and ByteDance was not willing to budge," he said in a note to investors Monday morning.Last month, Beijing introduced new rules governing the sale of certain kinds of technology to foreign buyers. Government officials updated an export control list to include data processing, speech and text recognition — the kind of tech that is used by TikTok. China might see the Oracle partnership "as a win-win," said Johnson. "They won t give up the key ingredients [of TikTok], they re not forced to give everything away and they get an infusion of cash for a big Chinese tech company." Hosting TikTok s US data Like Microsoft, TikTok could be a big get for Oracle, depending on how the terms of the partnership shake out. "Microsoft, they have games and LinkedIn, but Oracle has nothing in the social space," Johnson said. Oracle s chops when it comes data and cloud security could also help allay fears in Washington. The 43-year-old company is a major player in cloud infrastructure and data storage solutions. Cloud services accounted for 74% of the company s $9.4 billion in revenue for the three months that ended in August. The Trump administration alleges that TikTok poses a national security concern because it gathers vast swaths of data from American users, which could be accessed by the Chinese Communist Party. TikTok has denied those allegations. The company has said its data centers are located outside of China and that none of that data is subject to Chinese law. Reporting suggests that Oracle won t be able to buy TikTok outright, but given its expertise in data and cloud security, it could become the US host of TikTok data. "Oracle has incredible data and cloud security," said Johnson, so the US national security establishment may determine that "as long as [US data] is here, it s fine." "Based on early reports and how they are characterizing this as not an outright sale and calling Oracle a trusted tech partner, this has likely turned into a deal about Oracle s cloud, and storing US-based TikTok users data in Oracle s data center," said Brad Haller, a director in the mergers and acquisitions practice at national consulting firm West Monroe. The deal still needs to gain approval from the Trump administration.
Nintendo is leaning hard into nostalgia this year, and its latest retro gadget takes it all the way back to 1980. The Japanese gaming company announced it would re-release Game & Watch, the handheld sensation that put Nintendo on the map 40 years ago. First introduced in 1980 and produced until 1991, Game & Watch was a series of handheld games -- 59 in all -- that Nintendo sold before the Game Boy took over the world. Unlike the Game Boy, the black-and-white Game & Watch games could only play a single game each.The new Game & Watch, made to look like the original with all its 80s styling, is decidedly more modern -- it has a color LCD screen and a rechargeable battery with a USB-C connector. It will play three games: "Super Mario Bros.," "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels" and "Ball (the Mario version)." Like every Game & Watch device that came out after 1981, the new one can also become an alarm clock with the tap of a button. This time, the clock features 35 different screen-saver scenes of Mario interacting with the clock.Although Game & Watch wasn t Nintendo s first video game attempt, it was its first successful one, paving the way for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985 and the Game Boy in 1989. The Game & Watch isn t as celebrated as some of Nintendo s other game systems, but it was the first system to feature the + shaped directional pad, first found on the 1982 "Donkey Kong" Game & Watch. Its success also gave some legitimacy to handheld gaming, which was a niche that video game manufacturers were unsure of in the 1970s. Nintendo has dipped into the Game & Watch nostalgia bucket before by releasing a version last decade and putting Mr. Game & Watch -- the anonymous character who appears in many of the early Game & Watch games -- into its "Super Smash Bros." games. The company has been on a re-release tear lately. In recent years, it sold classic versions of the NES and Super Nintendo, complete with a couple dozen games and the original controllers. Now, Nintendo is in full celebration mode: It s the 35th anniversary of Mario. The company announced a ton of Mario fun, including a new battle royale game and the re-release of "Super Mario 64," "Super Mario Galaxy" and" Super Mario Sunshine." Now it s Game & Watch s turn in the spotlight. The 40th anniversary edition of the Game & Watch will go on sale November 13 for a limited time.
Huawei has announced plans to pre-install its own Harmony operating system on its smartphones from next year. The Chinese company said it would also offer the software to other manufacturers to use as an alternative to Android. Huawei is currently the world s second bestselling handset-maker, after a brief time in the top spot. But others have tried and failed to challenge Google and Apple s dominance. Google s Android accounted for 85.4% of smartphones shipped last year, according to research company IDC, and Apple s iOS the remaining 14.6%. And those figures reflect the fact Samsung s Tizen, Amazon s FireOS, Microsoft s Windows Phone, and Canonical s Ubuntu have all failed to make headway on handsets. Huawei s move has been prompted by the fact it can no longer offer Google s apps and services on its latest devices, because of a US trade ban - although the restriction does not prevent it from offering Android itself. Within China - where consumers do not use the Google Play store and many of Google s services are blocked - this limitation has not caused Huawei problems. But in other countries, demand for its most recent phones has been weak because Google s tools are popular. One expert said the fate of the new operating system might depend on how many other technology companies Huawei convinced to come on board. "This move will be supported by the Chinese government because it fits into its wider Made In China 2025 strategy," Marta Pinto, from IDC, said. "But it will only take off elsewhere if other Chinese vendors, such as Xiaomi and Oppo, adopt it. "Even then, it will still be a challenge in geographies like Western Europe and Latin America, where so many people and businesses rely on Google s products." Two systems Huawei announced its plan at the start of a three-day developer conference near the city of Shenzhen. The original version of Harmony OS was unveiled a year ago, when it was pitched for use in smartwatches, TVs and other smart home gadgets. But the company now intends to release a fresh version - Harmony OS 2.0 - that can be tested on handsets from December, ahead of a formal launch in October 2021. In parallel, it will shortly release EMUI 11 - a version of its mobile phone user interface based on Android 11. After October, some of its smartphone models will be offered with Harmony OS. But it will continue to offer EMUI as an alternative. Recode apps Part of Huawei s challenge is it will need developers to code their apps specifically for Harmony if the software is to run natively and thus get the best performance. The company has indicated it will be relatively easy to recode apps already written for Android. But this has proved a sticking point for other failed operating-system challengers. Developers either decided the extra work was not worth it or did not make it a priority, meaning the apps typically lacked the latest features available on Android and iOS. Added catalyst "Huawei has the engineering talent, the ambition, and a home market advantage," Ben Wood, from the consultancy CCS Insight, said. "And if the Chinese government got fully behind Harmony and made support for it a condition for other companies to offer their products and services in the country, that would provide an added catalyst for Huawei to establish a third smartphone platform. "But in terms of global aspirations, history shows it s still a very difficult thing to achieve." Huawei faces other immediate concerns. From 15 September, the company will be unable to get more of its Kirin processor chips manufactured, because of further US trade restrictions. Samsung and SK Hynix will no longer be able to to sell it memory chips. And it has been reported Samsung and LG will be unable to continue selling it OLED displays for its smartphone screens. Huawei has indicated it has built up stockpiles of components to get through the immediate future. But the fate of its consumer division may rest on Washington changing its position after the US presidential election.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A tiny baby gorilla has been born at the zoo in New Orleans. Keepers don’t yet know the sex of the critically endangered western lowland gorilla born Friday to 13-year-old Tumani and father Okpara, Audubon Zoo spokeswoman Katie Smith said in an email. “Tumani is demonstrating excellent mothering behaviors and the entire troop is doing exceptionally well,” Smith said. She said keepers first saw the baby during their morning check Friday. Gorilla babies weigh about four pounds (1.8 kilograms) at birth, and photos and video from the zoo show 13-year-old mom Tumani cuddling her tiny newborn. Photos show the baby held in her arms without using her hands. “All gorilla mothers vary on how they carry their infants. Some even carry football style,” Smith wrote. “In the beginning, she was keeping it close to her mouth … to clean. She is carrying it differently now. She is supporting it more on its backside and keeping it low so that it can nurse.” Although the birth was about two weeks after what the zoo had put as the last likely due date, keepers weren’t worried, Smith said, since the dates were based on observed matings. Once keepers knew Tumani was pregnant, she was trained to carry a baby using a “doll” made from firehose canvas. Native to central Africa, western lowland gorillas were declared critically endangered in 2007 because of habitat loss as well as deaths caused by the Ebola virus and hunters who killed them illegally for their meat. The baby is at least the fourth western lowland gorilla born at a US zoo this year. A female was born Jan. 18 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle announced the birth of a male in March, and the Toledo Zoo announced another male’s birth in August. It’s Audubon’s first gorilla birth in nearly 25 years. The zoo’s firstborn gorilla is Praline, who is 24 years old and still at the zoo, where the troop also includes a third female, Alafia. The zoo says its entire primate area will be closed while Tumani and the entire troop bonds with the baby. The zoo says the white patch helps mother gorillas keep track of infants and helps other gorillas recognize it as a baby. The patch will fade when the great ape is three to four years old, according to the zoo’s news release.
Apple has announced that it will hold an event next week, where many expect it could reveal the design of the latest iPhone or other new products. The event will be streamed on its website next Tuesday, September 15. Apple typically holds its new product launch event in early September at its headquarters. The company s Worldwide Developer Conference in June was also held online-only because of the coronavirus pandemic. Apple (AAPL) did not immediately return a request for comment. The company has been widely expected to unveil an iPhone 12 with 5G capabilities this fall — the first iPhone to connect to the new, ultra-fast wireless network. Analysts expect the 5G iPhone to generate a "supercycle" of device upgrades, potentially prompting millions of people to buy the new device. But iPhone fans may not want to get their hopes up too high for next week. There have been questions for months about whether supply chain issues caused by the pandemic would delay the release of the new iPhone. Apple has already said new iPhones will be shipped slightly later than usual this year. "Last year, we started selling iPhones in late September," Apple CFO Luca Maestri said during the company s most recent earnings call. "This year, we project supply to be available a few weeks later." Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said he expects the iPhone 12 reveal to come later this month or in early October, with four versions of the iPhone 12 hitting shelves by mid-October. That suggests the company may take the somewhat unusual step of announcing the new iPhone and other new products in two separate events, and that customers may have to wait a bit longer than a week to see the latest phone. The company s September product event typically also includes the latest designs for other products, such as the iPad and the Apple Watch. Last year, Apple also revealed details on its Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade services. "We believe [the September 15] event will primarily be focused on the next Apple Watch models and potentially a new lineup of iPads," Ives said in an email to CNN Business. Apple may also unveil at the event both lower- and higher-end Apple Watches, a smaller HomePod speaker and the first-ever Apple branded over-the-ear headphones, according to Synovus Trust Company senior portfolio manager Daniel Morgan.
Shares in Chinese chipmaker SMIC plummeted nearly 23% in Hong Kong on Monday on fears that it could become the latest casualty of the US-China tech war. The US Department of Defense and other US agencies are reportedly considering banning exports to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., according to Reuters and other news outlets. The chipmaker could be added to a list of companies that the US government considers to be undermining American interests. SMIC s relationship to the Chinese military is under scrutiny, according to the Reuters report, which cited an unnamed US official and two former officials briefed on the matter. The plunge in SMIC stock wiped 31 billion Hong Kong dollars ($4 billion) off its market value. Companies on the US list face significant challenges obtaining vital technology because American firms are banned from selling to them without first obtaining a license to do so. Escalating restrictions on Chinese tech firm Huawei, which was added to the list last year, threaten to cripple its global business, for example.The Department of Defense declined to comment on the reports. SMIC, China s biggest semiconductor maker, said on Monday that it was "in complete shock." The company "manufactures semiconductors and provides services solely for civilian and commercial end-users and end-uses," SMIC said in a statement filed to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. "We have no relationship with the Chinese military." SMIC added that it is "open to sincere and transparent communication" with US government agencies "in hope of resolving potential misunderstandings." Sanctions against SMIC would be the latest move in an ongoing battle between Washington and Beijing over who controls the technologies of the future. In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has threatened to ban popular Chinese apps like TikTok, owned by ByteDance, and WeChat, owned by Tencent (TCEHY), from operating in the United States. He has ordered ByteDance to sell TikTok and suggested that the Treasury Department should get a cut of the deal. China responded by introducing new rules that could allow Beijing to veto any such deal. In May, Washington restricted the ability of Huawei s chip design company to work with Taiwanese firm TSMC, the world s biggest contract manufacturer of semiconductors. Last month, it further cut off Huawei s access to other chipmaking companies. Most major semiconductor manufacturing companies, including TSMC and SMIC, rely on US machines and technology. Beijing pushed back on the restrictions, characterizing the United States as a "bully" that is abusing national power.Sanctions on SMIC would hurt China s chipmaking ambitions. The country wants to build a cutting edge semiconductor manufacturing industry, but that takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Adding SMIC to the trade blacklist would throw up "significant new barriers to China s semiconductor development," Paul Triolo, head of geotechnology at Eurasia Group, wrote in a note last week. China has earmarked more than $200 billion trying to get the country s chip manufacturing industry to develop faster and more advanced semiconductors, according to Triolo. "Yet it has so far achieved limited results," he said, adding that SMIC "remains three to five years behind industry leaders Intel (INTC), Samsung (SSNLF), and TSMC (TSM)." The global supply chain of semiconductors means that restrictions against Chinese companies often end up hurting US firms as well. Sanctioning SMIC, for example, would also "further undercut the revenue of US semiconductor manufacturing equipment companies that supply Chinese manufacturers, sapping the funds available to be reinvested into the [research and development] necessary to develop subsequent generations of semiconductors and related manufacturing equipment," Triolo said.In July, SMIC raised nearly $7 billion in a secondary listing on Shanghai s Star Market, China s answer to the Nasdaq. Shares popped more than 200% in their Shanghai debut, indicating Chinese investors were eager to buy into the country s leading chipmaker. On Monday, shares in SMIC were hammered both in Hong Kong, where they plunged nearly 23%, and in Shanghai, where they fell more than 11%. SMIC s Hong Kong-traded shares are still up more than 50% for the year. Shares in TSMC closed down 0.7% in Taiwan. Samsung stock rose 1.6% in Seoul.
Facebook has prevented a French man with an incurable illness from streaming his own death on the social media site, according to a company statement. Alain Cocq, 57, from Dijon in eastern France, has a rare incurable medical condition that causes his arteries to stick together. He estimates he will only have days to live after stopping all medication, food and drink, which he planned to do on Friday evening. Cocq had intended to broadcast his dying days on the platform, to raise awareness about France s laws on assisted dying. In a statement Saturday Facebook said the live stream was prevented to avoid promoting self-harm. "Our hearts go out to Alain Cocq for what he s going through in this sad situation and everyone who is personally affected by it," the company said in the statement. "While we respect Alain s decision to draw attention to this important issue, we are preventing live broadcasts on his account based on the advice of experts that the depiction of suicide attempts could be triggering and promote more self-harm." Cocq previously lobbied President Emmanuel Macron to allow him to die by "active medical assistance" but was unsuccessful. Euthanasia is illegal in France. French law also dictates that deep and continuous sedation, which can hasten a person s death and render them unconscious until they die, is not legal unless under specific circumstances set out by the 2016 Claeys-Leonetti Law, which also requires a person s death to be imminent. But French citizens do have the right to stop medical care, and under French law there is no prosecution for suicide.Cocq, who is confined to a wheelchair and founded an organization to improve the lives of disabled people, wrote a letter to Macron dated July 20 asking the President to allow him to die "with dignity," describing his "extremely violent suffering." "I would like to make it clear to you that on this day I find myself in a situation of having on sound mind, confined in a dysfunctional body, crippled by suffering," he wrote in the letter, which has been seen by CNN. "Would you withstand, Mr President, having your intestines emptied into a pouch, having your bladder emptied into a pouch and that you are fed by a pouch, that a third party must bathe you, to be crippled by unbearable pain?" Cocq wrote in the letter. Cocq urged Macron to review French laws that prevent health care professionals from hastening the deaths of their dying patients with medicine. "I simply ask to leave with dignity, with active medical assistance, because my dysfunctional body prevents me from doing so surrounded by my family and my friends," he wrote. "Some use the term active euthanasia or assisted suicide, but for me the term most suitable is end of life with dignity with active medical assistance, " he wrote. Writing in response, President Macron said he was "moved" by Cocq s letter and admired the "remarkable willpower" he had shown in fighting "incessant battles" with the illness. However, he said he could not comply with the request because he is "not situated above the law" and could not ask someone "to overstep our present legal framework."In an interview with CNN on Friday, Cocq said that he expected Macron would not be able to comply with his request but that he appreciated the "compassion" he had shown him in his letter. "Today, I am full of plenitude. I took the decision to end my life on June 26, which is when I asked my medical assistant to type the letter I later sent to the President." "It was a brutal decision, but I can tell you I haven t felt that good in a long time," he told CNN. "I know I am about to endure pain like I ve never endured before, for about five to seven days," he said. Of the attempt to live-stream his death via video he said on Friday: "I am not doing this for voyeurism. I want to inform people about something we all know but refuse to talk about. Pain." "I chose to show this pain," he said. "The basis of a democracy is that citizens have a free choice. Death should be democratic." Cocq also said that, as a Christian, he did not believe what he was doing was anti-religious. "God is love, and God will not let his people suffer unnecessarily," he said. It s unclear whether anyone assisting him would be prosecuted or whether authorities are planning to intervene. CNN has reached out to the Elysee and the health ministry for comment. Sophie Medjeberg, vice president of "Handi mais pas que!" (More than just disabled), is a friend of Cocq. She told CNN she believed French people were "ready" for a debate about assisted dying. "He started talking about it about two years ago. It took me time to understand it, to accept it. I am also ill, as I am myself suffering from multiple sclerosis," she said. "I cried yesterday, but Alain is the one who cheered me up. He is very serene in his initiative," Medjeberg said. Speaking to CNN, Philippe Lohéac, executive director of the French association for the right to die with dignity (ADMD), criticized France s assisting dying laws, claiming they do not "take into consideration sick people whose life has become a nightmare, whose life has become nothing but survival." He said the law needed to be changed so people could choose how they died.
Apple will delay the implementation of new privacy controls that curb advertisers ability to track its device users across the internet. The privacy controls, part of Apple s iOS 14 software update, will not be mandatory for developers until 2021, the company said Thursday. They require apps to obtain permission from users before collecting data to better serve them targeted ads. "We want to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes, and as a result, the requirement to use this tracking permission will go into effect early next year," Apple said in a statement. The ability to seek user permission will be available to developers before then but not mandatory, the company said. Apple first announced iOS 14 in June, with a full rollout of the new operating system expected this fall.The new privacy requirements threaten to upend parts of the online ad ecosystem, with Facebook warning last month that its advertising business would take a hit once iOS 14 is implemented. It said at the time that the update may render one of its services "so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future." Facebook declined to comment on Apple s decision to delay the new changes. Apple has made user privacy a key feature of its marketing in recent years, even releasing an ad earlier on Thursday that touted the iPhone s privacy protections.
Would you fork over $1,999 for a smartphone? Samsung hopes many people will. The South Korean smartphone maker s latest device, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, is the most expensive smartphone in Samsung s current lineup and will go on sale Sept. 18, the company said Tuesday. The folding smartphone will be available for pre-order starting Sept. 2. The Z Fold 2, first revealed in August, is Samsung s newest device with a foldable display — a 6.2-inch front screen and a 7.6-inch inner screen when the device is unfolded. The company is touting its "ultra-thin glass" and upgrades to the hinge mechanism between the two displays that it claims will make the phone more durable. Samsung is also adding new VIP benefits to help make the Z Fold 2 s hefty price tag a bit more palatable, giving customers who buy the phone access to Michelin star restaurants as well as several golf and country clubs around the United States. Samsung s first iteration of the folding smartphone, the $1,980 Galaxy Fold, was delayed by several months last year after early reviewers flagged that it constantly flickered and the folding screen broke too easily. The phone finally launched last fall. "We closely listened to user feedback to ensure we were bringing meaningful improvements to the hardware, while also developing new innovations to enhance the user experience," TM Roh, Samsung s president and head of mobile communications, said in a statement Tuesday. The Z Fold 2 s glass display is a step up from the original flexible display that Samsung debuted with the Galaxy Fold, and the plastic screens on previous folding devices such as Motorola s much-maligned RAZR smartphone. It also has more screen space in general — the first Galaxy Fold had a 4.6-inch front screen and a 7.3-inch screen when open. The folding displays on the Z Fold 2 will be coupled with software features introduced in previous models that Samsung says enable users to multitask more effectively, including the ability to have multiple apps — or multiple files from the same app — open simultaneously. Users can, for instance, have a video on one half of the folded screen while scrolling through email on the other. They can also drag and drop text between multiple open apps. Google s Android operating system, which all Samsung smartphones use, has adapted much of its functionality to the folding devices. The screen on the front of the device also adds new camera capabilities, such as the ability to see a photo someone is taking of you. A new feature that lets the Z Fold 2 record hands-free video while it s set up on a flat surface appears to be geared towards popular short-form video apps like TikTok, with Samsung saying it s for users "jumping in on the latest social dance or showing off your cooking skills." Not all apps will immediately be optimized for the folding screen, though several popular ones such as YouTube and Outlook are, thanks to partnerships with Google (GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT). Samsung says it is working with app developers to ensure more services can be adjusted to the flexible display. The original Galaxy Fold also required apps to be tailored to its display, with Samsung saying at the time it had worked with Android developers to "optimize hundreds of apps for the device." The company is also offering "one-time device protection." If the folding smartphone s display is damaged within a year of purchase, customer s can purchase a replacement display for $149. Samsung hopes that the Z Fold 2, along with its new Note 20 series and other devices it revealed last month, will be enough to propel it back to the top of the global smartphone market — a distinction it lost to Chinese rival Huawei earlier this year.
Facebook (FB) is warning its users in Australia that it will prevent them from sharing local and international news if the country moves forward with new legislation that would force the company to pay media outlets for the use of their news content. "This is not our first choice — it is our last," Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, wrote in a blog post Monday. "But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia s news and media sector." The move marks another dramatic escalation of tension in Australia over the proposed law, which was announced in July. Last month, Google (GOOGL) also expressed its opposition to the legislation, using its search engine homepage in Australia to warn local users that it would harm their ability to search and lead to "consequences" for YouTube users.The proposal would allow certain media outlets to bargain either individually or collectively with Facebook and Google — and to enter arbitration if the parties can t reach an agreement within three months, according to regulators. That process would involve an independent arbitrator looking at offers from both sides and settling the matter within 45 business days. Both tech firms argue that the legislation is unfairly skewed toward publishers, and would force them to pay news companies while the tech firms contend they already do plenty to support them. Easton, for example, said that Facebook s decision this week came after it had already tried to work with regulators on ways to work more closely with media outlets. "We already invest millions of dollars in Australian news businesses and, during discussions over this legislation, we offered to invest millions more," he wrote. "We had also hoped to bring Facebook News to Australia, a feature on our platform exclusively for news, where we pay publishers for their content." Those proposals were "overlooked," he said. Regulators, on the other hand, say the move is needed to level the playing field for the news media in Australia. Since January 2019, more than 200 newsrooms across the country have reduced service, closed temporarily or permanently shut down, according to estimates from the Australian Newsroom Mapping Project, which is run by the Public Interest Journalism Initiative, a local nonprofit group. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg responded to Facebook s announcement Tuesday, saying the reforms would help "create a more sustainable media landscape." "Australia makes laws that advance our national interest. We don t respond to coercion or heavy handed threats wherever they come from," he said in a statement. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also fired back at Facebook s latest announcement, saying in a statement that "Facebook s threat today to prevent any sharing of news on its services in Australia is ill-timed and misconceived." For now, Google and Facebook are the only tech companies that would be subject to the new regulation. But other platforms may be added in the future, according to regulators.The outcome of the proposal is likely to be closely watched across the globe. Other countries have previously passed legislation to try and force internet giants to pay publishers — albeit with limited effect. Easton said Monday that "the proposed law is unprecedented in its reach and seeks to regulate every aspect of how tech companies do business with news publishers." "We are left with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits," said Easton. "Unfortunately, no business can operate that way." If Facebook goes ahead with its decision to restrict news on its platforms, it will not affect the company s other offerings for users in Australia, he added. The legislation went through a public consultation phase last month. It will next have to be finalized and put forward to parliament, where lawmakers will vote on whether to pass it.
Cloudflare, a internet service that is supposed to keep websites up and running, was down itself Sunday, taking dozens of websites and online services along with it. Hulu, the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Feedly, Discord, and dozens of other services reported connectivity problems Sunday morning. Cloudflare said the problem was with a third-party "transit provider," and its service was becoming increasingly stable over the course of the day.which displays reports of internet and service outages, showed that reports of internet connectivity came in across the United States and Europe Sunday morning. Services like Cloudflare are designed to prevent direct denial of service attacks, in which massive networks of computers send malicious traffic to websites to take them offline. The services also help keep sites running smoothly when traffic spikes during shopping seasons or when a site hosts a viral video. Cloudflare did not respond to a request for comment.
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has quit as the Chinese-owned video sharing app faces enormous backlash from President Donald Trump. "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 said in a memo to employees that was obtained by CNN Business. "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."TikTok hired Mayer, a former top Disney executive, less than four months ago to run the app, which is the first owned by a Chinese company to gain significant traction in western countries. In addition to his CEO responsibilities, Mayer became chief operating officer of ByteDance, TikTok s parent company. Since then, though, TikTok has come under fire from the US government, and Trump has threatened to ban the app if it isn t sold by ByteDance. "We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin s role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision," a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. Even before Trump issued executive orders calling for TikTok s ban, the company was rethinking its corporate structure. The Wall Street Journal reported in early July that ByteDance was considering establishing a headquarters for the video app outside of China or a new management board to distance the service from the country. A TikTok spokesperson told CNN Business at the time that it was "evaluating changes." Mayer s departure is a "huge setback for the company," said Edith Yeung, who spent years investing in Chinese companies with venture capital firm 500 Startups. She is a partner with Race Capital, investing mostly in US firms. "[A] leader cannot jump ship in the most critical time for a company," she added. According to Trump s executive orders, TikTok poses a national security threat because the app collects a lot of data on users, which "threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans personal and proprietary information." The move against TikTok is part of an escalating US-China tech war that has already ensnared other Chinese apps and tech firms, such as Tencent-owned WeChat and Huawei.TikTok has sued the Trump administration over the initial executive order, calling it "heavily politicized." The company said Trump s order illegally rests on emergency powers law in ways that do not apply to TikTok. The company has also said that it stores data on its US users in the United States and in Singapore, and that it would refuse any request by the Chinese government for US user data. TikTok has 100 million users in the United States. The company has explored selling its US business, which industry experts say is worth between $40 billion and $50 billion, to Microsoft and reportedly to Oracle as well. Microsoft said it is exploring a deal to buy TikTok s operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the US business. "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," Mayer said in the memo to employees. "I ve always been globally focused in my work, and leading a global team that includes TikTok US was a big draw for me." ByteDance launched the Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin, in 2016. The international version debuted the following year and has grown to become one of the most popular social media apps in the world. As of July, TikTok said it had nearly 690 million global monthly active users. That still trails Facebook s 2.7 billion monthly active users, but the app is also considerably younger than its US rival. By August 2020, TikTok said it had surpassed two billion global downloads. Vanessa Pappas, the former YouTube executive who joined TikTok last year to become general manager of North America, Australia and New Zealand, will serve as interim head for TikTok globally, according to Mayer s memo. If Mayer had stuck it out, "he would be running one of the biggest social media companies in the world," Yeung said, though she added that "no American would blame him for quitting." "I wish he would hang in there," she said. "He could change the course of China-US tech history. Oh well."
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma could be about to pull off a record-breaking IPO for the second time. Ant Group, the financial affiliate of Ma s e-commerce company Alibaba (BABA), filed this week to list its shares in Hong Kong and on Shanghai s Star Market, China s Nasdaq-like tech board. The company is reportedly seeking to raise $30 billion, according to the Financial Times and Reuters, citing people close to the process or with knowledge of the matter. Ant Group did not disclose how much it hoped to raise, and a spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. But the company could be worth more than $200 billion, according to analysts at brokerage firm Bernstein, and if it rakes in $30 billion, it would become the largest IPO in history. Alibaba, which has a 33% stake in Ant, raised a record $25 billion when it debuted on Wall Street in 2014. That number has only been surpassed by Saudi Aramco, which raised $29.4 billion in its Riyadh IPO in December 2019.The documents Ant filed to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday did not mention the price range of the new shares, nor the expected date of the IPO. But they did offer a look under the hood at one of the world s most valuable tech companies. The company reported revenue of 72.5 billion yuan ($10.5 billion) for the six months ended in June, up 38% from the same period a year earlier. Profit for the period was 21.9 billion yuan ($3.2 billion). Ant owns Alipay, one of the most popular payment apps in China, and also offers online financial services such as loans, investments and credit scoring systems. Alipay has 711 million monthly active users, Ant reported, and processed some 118 trillion yuan ($17 trillion) worth of transactions in the 12 months ended in June. The Hangzhou-based company s decision to IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai comes as relations between the United States and China are rapidly deteriorating.An escalating tech war between Washington and Beijing has resulted in sanctions and threats against big Chinese tech companies. President Donald Trump recently issued executive orders that would ban transactions with TikTok and WeChat, apps owned by Chinese companies ByteDance and Tencent. Trump also ordered ByteDance to sell TikTok s operations in the United States. TikTok has sued the Trump administration over the threatened ban, calling the order "heavily politicized." Tencent has said it is reviewing the WeChat order. The Trump administration has also indicated that it could even go after Alibaba. Ant Group cited the executive orders and the potential for more US sanctions as risks to its business. Restrictions that may be imposed by the United States in the future "may materially and adversely affect our ability to acquire or use technologies, systems, devices or components that may be critical" to Ant Group s business, the company warned. Recent US sanctions against Huawei, for example, have cut off the Chinese tech firm s access to semiconductors and advanced chips. Analysts called the move a "lethal blow" and a "death sentence" for Huawei.
Facebook is planning legal action after the Thai government forced it to block a group deemed critical of the country s monarchy. The social media company said it was "compelled" by the Thai government to prevent users in Thailand accessing Royalist Marketplace — a group with 1 million members featuring posts about the Thai royal family. Facebook said the government had deemed the content "to be illegal." "Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people s ability to express themselves," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business. "We work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request." News of the group being blocked was first reported by Reuters.Facebook (FB) said it has been under pressure from the Thai government to restrict some types of political speech in the country, with the government threatening criminal proceedings against Facebook s representatives in Thailand. Thailand s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, which Facebook said it has been in discussions with, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Under Thai law, defaming the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent can mean a 15-year jail sentence. The law has increasingly been used as a political tool, as ordinary Thai citizens — as well as the government — can bring charges on behalf of the King. Despite that, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in the country s capital, Bangkok, in recent days, with some demanding reform of the country s monarchy. Royalist Marketplace was started by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an exiled Thai dissident based in Japan. Pavin did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN, but told Reuters that Facebook was "cooperating with the authoritarian regime to obstruct democracy and cultivating authoritarianism in Thailand." It s the latest clash between Facebook and authorities around the world. The company is also facing parliamentary scrutiny in India, after a report last week by the Wall Street Journal revealed that a politician from India s ruling party was allowed to remain on the platform despite flouting Facebook s hate speech rules. In the United States, Facebook s decision to label some posts by President Donald Trump and take down posts by his campaign have sparked further controversy.
Tired of standing in line? Wait a bit longer, and you may never have to again. Everyone from Amazon (AMZN) to Silicon Valley startups are trying to eliminate lines in retail stores. Amazon has opened 24 of its Amazon Go stores, which use cameras and artificial intelligence to see what you ve taken off shelves and charge you as you walk out. Some startups such as San Francisco-based Grabango are closely mimicking Amazon s approach of using AI-powered cameras mounted in ceilings to identify what you ve removed from a shelf and then charge you for those items.But others are trying an entirely different route to skipping the checkout: smart shopping carts. These companies have added cameras and sensors to the carts, and are using AI to tell what you ve placed in them. A built-in scale weighs items, in case you have to pay by the pound for an item. Customers pay by entering a credit card, or by using Apple Pay or Google Pay. When a customer exits the store, a green light on the shopping cart indicates that their order is complete, and they re charged. If something goes wrong, the light turns red, and a store employee is summoned.The startups behind the smart carts, including Caper and Veeve, say it s much easier to add technology to the shopping cart than to an entire store. Amazon s Go stores rely on hundreds of cameras in the ceiling. The shelves also include sensors to tell when an item is removed. So far, Amazon has focused on small format stores of about 2,000 square feet or less.Ahmed Beshry, co-founder of Caper, believes the technology to run Go is too expensive to use in a large-format grocery store. Amazon reportedly considered expanding to thousands of the Go stores. But it s only opened a couple dozen so far, possibly adding credence to the point that they re expensive to operate. Two of the stores are currently closed for renovations. Amazon declined to comment for this story. Neither Caper AI nor Veeve have said how much their smart shopping carts will cost, making it difficult to compare the different formats. Shariq Siddiqui, CEO of Veeve, said he s finding increased interest from retailers given Amazon s steady expansion of Go since opening the first store in Seattle in 2018. "We re always happy when Amazon is doing something," Siddiqui said. "They force retailers to get out of their old school thinking."Veeve is testing several of its shopping carts in an unnamed Seattle retailer. It s announcing a larger deployment in early 2019, and Siddiqui says the company is in talks with two of the country s 10 largest retailers. Siddiqui said the shopping carts will eventually offer customers real-time coupons. When a customer puts, say, peanut butter in their cart, they may be offered a 10% discount on jelly. But there are still kinks to work out in the technology. Caper, which has small pilots in Canada and New York City, is currently having customers scan items on a barcode scanner built into the cart, before placing them in it. The process helps to teach the AI system to identify the store s items. Anytime a business uses artificial intelligence and cameras, it raises questions about customer privacy and the impact on jobs. Beshry notes that the cameras in his shopping cart point down into the cart, so only a customer s hand and part of their arm will be captured on camera. Siddiqui said he envisioned grocery store cashiers shifting to roles where they freely float around stores and answer customers questions, a format similar to the Apple Store.
TikTok said Saturday it plans to go to court to challenge a Trump administration executive order that seeks to ban the short-form video app from operating in the United States unless ByteDance, its Chinese parent company, finds an American buyer."To ensure that the rule of law prevails and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the Executive Order through the judicial system, TikTok said in a statement to CNN, adding that the legal challenge could come as soon as this coming week. TikTok added that while it had tried to work with the US government on a solution to its national security concerns, what it encountered instead was "a lack of due process as the Administration paid no attention to facts and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses." ByteDance formally announced Sunday that it will sue the US government to challenge the Trump administration executive order. "In order to ensure that the rule of law is not abandoned, and to ensure that the company and users are treated fairly, we will safeguard our rights and interests through litigation," ByteDance said in a statement released on the company s official WeChat account. The White House did not immediately respond to CNN s request for comment. The Department of Justice declined comment. Microsoft (MSFT) said earlier this month that it was pushing forward with talks to acquire TikTok s US operations, following a conversation between CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald Trump. Since then Larry Ellison s Oracle (ORCL) has emerged as a potential rival suitor, and last week Trump indicated he would support such a bid. "I think Oracle is a great company and I think its owner is a tremendous guy, a tremendous person," Trump said Tuesday. "I think that Oracle would be certainly somebody that could handle it. The Trump administration has argued that TikTok s ties to China could result in US users data being transferred to the Chinese government. TikTok has rejected those claims, saying it would refuse to give American data to China even if it were asked. Cybersecurity experts say there is a theoretical risk of Americans data falling into the wrong hands, but that there is no evidence to suggest it has occurred and that many US tech companies, which collect similar data, are just as much a target for spying.
Ride-hailing firm Lyft says it is suspending operations in California after a judge ordered it to treat drivers as employees. Both Lyft and Uber were told they must classify their drivers as employees and not contractors by Friday. Lyft has now said its services in California will stop at 23:59 local time on Thursday (06:59 GMT on Friday). Uber has warned it will have to do the same if a stay is not granted by an appeals court before the deadline. But Uber has yet to make any formal announcement. "This is not something we wanted to do, as we know millions of Californians depend on Lyft for daily, essential trips," Lyft said in a statement posted online. What happened? Both firms have always argued their drivers are self-employed contractors. But a California law that came into effect earlier this year, known as AB5, extended classification as an employee to workers in the "gig economy". The judge s ruling that the law applied to both Uber and Lyft means the firms need to provide drivers with extra benefits, such as unemployment protection. Both companies filed an appeal to the judgement - and asked for a stay on its enforcement while the courts dealt with the appeal. Unless the stay was granted, both companies had 10 days to undertake what they saw as a significant overhaul of their business in California. They both warned that they could be forced to pull services from the state after 23:59 local time Thursday. What did the firms say? Lyft claims that four out of five of its drivers do not want to be classified as employees. Both argue that flexibility is valued by those who choose to work for them. The two firms had been emailing customers and sending app push notifications to try to drum up support for their side of the argument. Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, meanwhile, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times, arguing that his firm was not truly against paying the costs of things like health insurance. Instead, he argued that the choice between being a full-time employee and a "gig" worker was a problem itself, and laws needed to be changed. He argued for a system where companies pay benefits based on a rate per hour worked. But he has also said that the company can only offer full jobs to a tiny fraction of its workforce. In a podcast interview with Vox Media, he summed up the problem as: "We can t go out and hire 50,000 people overnight." Lyft echoed that sentiment, telling the court that it "cannot make the changes the injunction requires at the flip of a switch". The companies do have some outside support. Some drivers do not want to be classed as employees, and the mayors of San Diego and San Jose - one Democrat and one Republican - joined forces to warn that shutting down the services "virtually overnight" would hurt one million residents in the state. What happens next? There is a potential way out for the ride-sharing firms in the coming months. A ballot that will be put to vote in November, at the same time as the US presidential election, would grant Uber and Lyft an exemption from the law. It is known as proposition 22. "Your voice can help," Lyft wrote in its blog post about suspending services. "Prop 22, proposes the necessary changes to give drivers benefits and flexibility, while maintaining the rideshare model that helps you get where you need to go," it said. Both companies, along with other supporters such as food delivery app DoorDash, are reported to have spent millions of dollars in lobbying and campaigning for the law. Labour groups, meanwhile, are set firmly against it, arguing it will save the companies vast sums of money at the expense of drivers. It is possible that a shutdown of services could last until at least November, when the issue may be decided by the outcome of proposition 22.
Taiwan is preparing to ban iQiyi (IQ) and Tencent (TCEHY) from operating streaming video services on the island, the latest in a series of moves by governments around the world against Chinese tech giants. Tencent Video and iQiyi have been "operating illegally" in Taiwan by partnering with local broadcasters and distributors to provide their video content through streaming services, according to a government notice published online Tuesday. To put a stop to that, Taiwan s National Communications Commission announced new rules that would prohibit Taiwanese individuals and companies from providing services to mainland Chinese streaming operators and distributing their content, according to the notice. The regulator s decision is provisional pending a 14-day public comment period. The rules are set to take effect on September 3. Tencent declined to comment, while iQiyi did not immediately respond to questions from CNN Business.Taiwan is a self-governing democracy which Beijing continues to view as part of its territory. With a population of around 24 million people, the damage to the Chinese companies will be limited. But the proposed ban is further evidence of the growing backlash against China s tech champions in global markets. Relations between Beijing and Taipei have been souring ever since the election of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, who was perceived by the Chinese government as being in favor of the island s formal independence. Washington has also moved closer to Taiwan. US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar s historic visit last week was intended to convey President Donald Trump s support for the democratic island. Taipei also finds itself in an increasingly precarious position in the US-China tech war, as the world becomes ever more dependent on Taiwanese company TSMC for the most advanced semiconductors. Tencent Video and iQiyi both offer services that are similar to Netflix (NFLX). They stream licensed content, and also produce original television shows and movies that have become popular with Mandarin-speaking audiences. In earnings reports last week, Tencent said its video service had 114 million subscribers and iQiyi reported nearly 105 million. The vast majority of those subscribers are in mainland China, according to analysts. Trump earlier this month threatened to ban Tencent s popular messaging app WeChat and TikTok, the wildly popular video sharing platform owned by China s ByteDance. Trump last week also ordered ByteDance to divest interest in TikTok s US operations within the next 90 days.Earlier this week, the Trump administration further restricted Huawei s access to advanced semiconductors, a move analysts called "a lethal blow" to the Chinese tech firm s smartphone and telecommunications equipment business. British officials last month cited the disruption to Huawei s supply chain as a key reason it banned the company from the United Kingdom s 5G network. The Indian government in recent months has also banned TikTok and WeChat, as well as dozens of other popular Chinese apps. Government officials often cite national security concerns for the restrictions, although companies such as Huawei and ByteDance have repeatedly denied that their apps pose a national security risk. Financial regulators are also taking a much closer look at Chinese companies listed on global markets. US regulators are probing iQiyi after a short-seller in April accused the company of vastly overstating its subscriber numbers and revenue. iQiyi pushed back on the allegations at the time, asserting in a statement that "the report contains numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements and misleading conclusions and interpretations."
The United States has cut off Huawei s access to vital, advanced computer chips, striking a deadly blow to the Chinese tech champion. The US Commerce Department on Monday announced fresh sanctions that restrict any foreign semiconductor company from selling chips developed or produced using US software or technology to Huawei, without first obtaining a license to do so. Restrictions announced in May had already limited companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSM) from making and supplying Huawei with chips designed by HiSilicon, a subsidiary of the Chinese company. Monday s measures effectively extend that ban to all chip designers, such as Taiwan s MediaTek, whose shares plunged nearly 10% Tuesday.It is just the latest sign that President Donald Trump is ramping up pressure on Beijing, as the United States and China battle over who controls the technologies of the future. In the last three weeks, the Trump administration has threatened bans on popular Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat, and signaled that it could soon restrict Alibaba s operations in the United States. Washington has long alleged, without providing proof, that Huawei products threaten national security because they could be used to spy on Americans. Huawei, who did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication, has repeatedly denied that its gear and products pose a national security risk. Hopes dashed Paul Triolo, head of geotechnology at Eurasia Group called the latest US restriction "a lethal blow to China s most important technology company." It is "potentially [the] most serious effort by the US government to choke off the company s ability to obtain advanced semiconductors for all of its business lines," Triolo wrote in a note on Monday. Huawei relies on foreign-made semiconductors to power its 5G telecommunications gear. British officials cited the uncertainty to the company s supply chain as a key reason for banning Huawei from the United Kingdom s 5G network last month. The new US sanctions could also be the final nail in the coffin for Huawei s mobile phone business. Huawei s hope that it could rely on third-party chip designers to continue making smartphones "has been dashed," Edison Lee, an analyst with brokerage firm Jefferies, wrote in a note on Monday. Fallout for US firms US companies will also suffer. "These broad restrictions on commercial chip sales will bring significant disruption to the US semiconductor industry," said John Neuffer, president and CEO of Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group representing American chipmakers. Chip sales to China "drive semiconductor research and innovation here in the [United States], which is critical to America s economic strength and national security," Neuffer added in a statement. Qualcomm (QCOM) had reportedly been lobbying the US government to grant it a license to sell chips to Huawei, arguing that Huawei generates billions of dollars in sales for Qualcomm and helps the US firm fund development of new technologies, according to The Wall Street Journal. Micron (MICR), another US chipmaker, had obtained a license to supply some memory chips for Huawei s smartphones, after the company was barred from buying US tech and parts last year. But David Zinsner, Micron s senior vice president and chief financial officer, warned in an earnings call in June that the company was "seeing an impact from the recent restrictions imposed on Huawei." Other US tech companies could also become collateral damage in Washington s campaign against Huawei, according to Triolo, of Eurasia Group.The United States latest move against Huawei and recent threats against other Chinese tech firms means "a punitive move from Beijing against a leading US tech firm is highly likely," he said. Beijing on Tuesday pushed back against Washington s restrictions. "China firmly opposes the deliberate smear and suppression of Huawei and other Chinese companies by the United States," Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China s Foreign Ministry, told reporters. The United States "has generalized the concept of national security, abused national power, imposed various restrictive measures on Chinese companies such as Huawei, and bully without providing any evidence," Zhao added. Meanwhile, Huawei rival Apple (AAPL) could be hurt by the Trump administration s potential restrictions on WeChat. Apple s business in China is at risk, according to Lee of Jefferies. It remains unclear whether iPhones in China will be allowed to install WeChat or WeiXin (the Chinese version of the app) given "Trump s recent announcement to ban US companies from doing business with WeChat," Lee said. That would make Apple devices a lot less attractive in China, where WeiXin is known as a so-called super app, and is used to hail rides, message friends and family, pay electricity bills, order food delivery and much more.
Google is using its homepage to warn Australians that a proposed law designed to benefit the news media would harm their ability to search and lead to "consequences" for YouTube users. The company published an open letter on its website on Monday, warning users that the legislation would "hurt how Australians use Google Search and YouTube." In the memo, Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva claimed that the measure "could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia." She argued that under the proposed law, Google (GOOGL) would have to tell news companies how they could gain access to its users data, while also being "given information that would help them artificially inflate their ranking over everyone else." Regulators dispute those claims. Google posted a link to the letter on its local homepage on Monday, serving a warning to users in Australia. "The way you search with Google is at risk," the message read. "The products Aussies rely on will be hurt by new government regulation."A screenshot of a warning message from Google, posted on the company s homepage in Australia on Monday. Another executive warned in a separate blog post this week that the regulation would lead to "consequences" for users of YouTube, which is owned by Google. "YouTube may be obligated to give large news publishers confidential information about our systems that they could use to try to appear higher in rankings on YouTube, disadvantaging all other creators. This would mean you could receive fewer views and earn less," wrote Gautam Anand, head of YouTube s Asia Pacific business. Regulators are fighting back. In a statement on Monday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accused the company of spreading "misinformation" in its open letter. "Google will not be required to charge Australians for the use of its free services such as Google Search and YouTube, unless it chooses to do so," it said. "[And] Google will not be required to share any additional user data with Australian news businesses unless it chooses to do so." Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the regulator s statement. Rising tensions The latest exchange marks an escalation of animosity between the two parties. Last month, regulators released draft legislation that would let news publishers in the country negotiate compensation with Google and Facebook (FB) for sharing or displaying their stories. Both tech firms expressed their concern. The new law would allow certain media outlets to bargain either individually or collectively with Facebook and Google — and to enter arbitration if the parties can t reach an agreement within three months, according to the ACCC, which put out the proposed legislation. That process would involve an independent arbitrator looking at offers from both sides and settling the matter within 45 business days. Regulators say the move is needed to level the playing field for the news media in Australia. Since January 2019, more than 200 newsrooms across the country have reduced service, closed temporarily or permanently shut down, according to estimates from the Australian Newsroom Mapping Project, which is run by the Public Interest Journalism Initiative, a local nonprofit group. Facebook said last month that it was "reviewing the government s proposal to understand the impact it will have on the industry, our services and our investment in the news ecosystem in Australia." The company declined to comment further on Monday. Google has taken a more forceful approach. Silva has previously said that "the government s heavy handed intervention threatens to impede Australia s digital economy and impacts the services we can deliver to Australians." Her letter this week doubled down on those concerns.The outcome of the proposal is likely to be closely watched across the globe. Other countries have previously passed legislation to try and force internet giants to pay publishers — albeit with limited effect. The proposed law is currently undergoing a public consultation phase, after which it will be finalized and put forward to the Australian parliament. On Monday, the ACCC said it would "continue to consult on the draft code with interested parties, including Google."
The press thrives more with freedom, and innovates in a politically and intellectually healthy society. The press should be free, and has to work against all falsehood and deception. Therefore, the journalist is controlled by his conscience, his vision and his ideas, and laws can t prevent deception. A journalist is able to accuse people without insulting them. Law can t prevent him from doing this, but his concie