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Paul Merrell

Beijing Strikes Back in US-China Tech Wars | The Diplomat - 0 views

  • China’s new draft anti-terror legislation has sent waves across the U.S. tech community. If there is a brewing tech war between U.S. and China over government surveillance backdoors and a preference for indigenous software, China’s new draft terror law makes it clear that Beijing is happy to give the United States a taste of its own medicine. The law has already drawn considerable criticism from international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for its purported attempts to legitimize wanton human rights violations in the name of counter-terrorism. Additionally, China has opted to implement its own definition of terrorism, placing  “any thought, speech, or activity that, by means of violence, sabotage, or threat, aims to generate social panic, influence national policy-making, create ethnic hatred, subvert state power, or split the state” under the umbrella of the overused T-word. The problematic human rights issues aside, the draft anti-terror law will have important implications for foreign tech firms within China. According to Reuters’ reporting on the draft anti-terror law, counter-terrorism precautions by the Chinese government would essentially require foreign firms to “hand over encryption keys and install security ‘backdoors’” into their software. Additionally, these firms would have to store critical data — certainly data on Chinese citizens and residents — on Chinese soil. The onerous implications of this law could have lead to an immediate freeze to the activities of several Western tech companies in China, the world’s second largest economy and a booming emerging market for new technologies.
  • On the surface, the most troublesome implication of this law is that in order to comply with this law, Western firms, including non-technical ventures such as financial institutions and manufacturers, will be forced to give up a great deal of security. In essence, corporate secrets, financial data — all critical data — would be insecure and available for access by Chinese regulators. The new law would also prohibit the use of secure virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around these requirements.
  • The U.S. diplomatic response to Beijing’s new draft law is perhaps best captured in the fact that a whopping four cabinet members in the Obama administration, including Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, wrote the Chinese government expressing “serious concern.” China, for its part, seemed unfazed by U.S. concerns. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the press that she hoped the United States would view the new anti-terror precautions in “in a calm and objective way.” Indeed, following Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding the extent of the United States’ surveillance of private firms both within and outside the United States, Beijing likely views U.S. concerns as hypocritical. One U.S. industry source told Reuters that the new law was ”the equivalent of the Patriot Act on really, really strong steroids.”
Paul Merrell

Apple Suffers "Doomsday" Plunge In iPhone Shipments Across China | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives called the decline of iPhone sales in China a "doomsday type" like decline. Ives said the fall was an "unprecedented" drop and was "not surprising given the essential lockdown that most of China saw" in February. Wedbush expects Chinese demand to come back online in the second half of the year. * * * We've explained that economic paralysis in China started in early February and continues to this day. Alternative data first showed us the incoming economic crash developing in early February, only to be confirmed weeks later. Twin shocks plague the Chinese economy, which is a supply shock with manufacturers operating at less than full capacity, along with a demand shock, where consumers have been confined to their homes in forced quarantine, unable to spend.  So, on Monday morning, when new data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) reveals Apple smartphone sales in China were halved in February, this really shouldn't surprise ZeroHedge readers, considering they've been well informed about what would happen next. 
  • And it wasn't just Apple with plunging activity, all mobile phone brands operating in China saw shipments halved over the month.  CAICT said 6.34 million devices were shipped last month, down 54.7% from 14 million in the same month the previous year. This was the lowest level of February shipments since 2012, when the CAICT data first became available.  Android brands, including Huawei and Xiaomi, accounted for most of the drop, collectively saw shipments at 5.85 million units for the month, compared to 12.72 million units last year. Apple shipped 494,000 last month, down from 1.27 million in February 2019.
Paul Merrell

China Pressures U.S. Companies to Buckle on Strong Encryption and Surveillance - 0 views

  • Before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits President Obama, he and Chinese executives have some business in Seattle: pressing U.S. tech companies, hungry for the Chinese market, to comply with the country’s new stringent and suppressive Internet policies. The New York Times reported last week that Chinese authorities sent a letter to some U.S. tech firms seeking a promise they would not harm China’s national security. That might require such things as forcing users to register with their real names, storing Chinese citizens’ data locally where the government can access it, and building government “back doors” into encrypted communication products for better surveillance. China’s new national security law calls for systems that are “secure and controllable”, which industry groups told the Times in July means companies will have to hand over encryption keys or even source code to their products. Among the big names joining Xi at Wednesday’s U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum: Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft.
  • The meeting comes as U.S. law enforcement officials have been pressuring companies to give them a way to access encrypted communications. The technology community has responded by pointing out that any sort of hole for law enforcement weakens the entire system to attack from outside bad actors—such as China, which has been tied to many instances of state-sponsored hacking into U.S systems. In fact, one argument privacy advocates have repeatedly made is that back doors for law enforcement would set a dangerous precedent when countries like China want the same kind of access to pursue their own domestic political goals. But here, potentially, the situation has been reversed, with China using its massive economic leverage to demand that sort of access right now. Human rights groups are urging U.S. companies not to give in.
Paul Merrell

China expands Internet backbone to improve speeds, reliability | ITworld - 0 views

  • Even as China cuts access to some foreign online services, it is laying more fiber optic cables to improve its connection to global Internet networks.
  • China recently added seven new access points to the world’s Internet backbone, adding to the three points that connect through Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced on Monday. More good reads Google partners up for $60M undersea fiber link between Florida and Brazil Meet the 12 wealthiest people in social media China disrupts some websites linked to US content delivery network To expand its Internet backbone networks, China laid over 3,000 kilometers worth of fiber optic cable, and invested 2.9 billion yuan (US$477 million) in its construction. Driving the project were the country’s three state-owned telecom operators, which provide most of China’s Internet broadband.
Paul Merrell

China Just Launched the Most Frightening Game Ever - and Soon It Will Be Mandatory - 0 views

  • As if further proof were needed Orwell’s dystopia is now upon us, China has now gamified obedience to the State. Though that is every bit as creepily terrifying as it sounds, citizens may still choose whether or not they wish to opt-in — that is, until the program becomes compulsory in 2020. “Going under the innocuous name of ‘Sesame Credit,’ China has created a score for how good a citizen you are,” explains Extra Credits’ video about the program. “The owners of China’s largest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the U.S. credit score — but, instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line.”
  • In the works for years, China’s ‘social credit system’ aims to create a docile, compliant citizenry who are fiscally and morally responsible by employing a game-like format to create self-imposed, group social control. In other words, China gamified peer pressure to control its citizenry; and, though the scheme hasn’t been fully implemented yet, it’s already working — insidiously well.
  • The system is run by two companies, Alibaba and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people’s social ties and activities and what they say. In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance. Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them.” And, in what appears likely the goal of the entire program, added, “Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create.”
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  • As Creemers described to Dutch news outlet, de Volkskrant, “With the help of the latest internet technologies, the government wants to exercise individual surveillance. The Chinese aim […] is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen.”
Paul Merrell

What are rare earth metals & why they are China's 'nuclear option' in trade war with US... - 0 views

  • The escalating US-China trade conflict has raised concerns about the measures each side could use in their fight, including Beijing’s option to restrict exports of rare earth metals. The economic measure is dubbed as one of Beijing’s nuclear options in its battle with Washington due to the fact that China is the top producer of rare earth metals and holds the largest reserves.
  • The United States relies on China, the leading global supplier, for about 80 percent of its rare earths.
  • China controls around 85-95 percent of all the rare earths’ production and supply. Last year, the country produced about 78 percent of the global volume of rare earths.
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  • The metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and so on.During the past 20 years, there has been an explosion in demand for many items that require rare earth metals. There were very few cell phones in use then but the number has risen to over seven billion in use today. Rare earths’ use in computers has grown almost as fast as the number of cell phones.Many rechargeable batteries are made with rare earth compounds. Demand for the batteries is being driven by demand for portable electronic devices such as cell phones, readers, portable computers, and cameras.Rare earths are also used as catalysts, phosphors, and polishing compounds for air pollution control, illuminated screens on electronic devices, and much more. All of those products are expected to experience rising demand.
  • He explained that China could cripple global industry, especially emerging technologies, if it were to ban exports of rare earth materials. There are very few options in sourcing those essential technology metals from anywhere else, the analyst said. “Of course, China does not necessarily want to do this, because, it plays a long game – and it does not want the West to develop alternatives.”
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

China's Top Mobile Company Complains About Counterfeits | Techdir [# ! :D Note...] - 0 views

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    # !...China 'complaining' about counterfeits... # ! :( http://www.businessinsider.com/most-counterfeit-goods-are-from-china-2013-6
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    ...China 'complaining' about counterfeits... # ! :(
Paul Merrell

Google China | Censorship - 0 views

  • BEIJING, China — Google has finally made its move, shifting searches from China to Hong Kong more than two months after threatening to quit China over hacking and censorship. But the big questions remain unanswered, in particular Beijing’s next move and how the internet giant’s shift will affect access to information for the world’s biggest net population.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

US, China reach cyberespionage agreement | ITworld - 1 views

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    "e U.S. and China have reached their first ever cybercrime and cyberespionage agreement, but the deal is quite general and how it will translate into actions is still unclear."
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    "e U.S. and China have reached their first ever cybercrime and cyberespionage agreement, but the deal is quite general and how it will translate into actions is still unclear."
Paul Merrell

t r u t h o u t | China Suicides: Is Apple Headed for a Consumer Backlash? - 0 views

  • Beijing, China - As Apple released the iPad today across Europe and Japan, a key supplier in China continued fortifying factory buildings with anti-suicide nets and bracing against a growing tide of public criticism about working conditions after 10 apparent employee suicides this year — including one this week hours after the company chief visited.   While tentative calls have emerged in China for boycotts of Apple products and other items made by electronics giant Foxconn, what remains entirely unclear is the impact this will have on the electronics manufacturing industry at large. The massive Foxconn plant, possibly the largest factory in the world, has been under the microscope for years over poor working conditions. In the past six months, renewed concerns have hit other electronics suppliers as well.
  • Now, with an apparent suicide cluster well underway at a key Apple supplier, labor activists have begun to wonder if that tide might be about to turn in the same way it did for international apparel and shoe companies in the 1980s and 1990s. “I think there is a tendency for consumers of iconic products like iPhones to stick their head in the sand when it comes abusive labor practices,” said Geoffrey Crothall of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin. “Their iPhone reflects who they are, or rather the image of themselves they wish to present to the world, and they don't want that image tarnished.”
Paul Merrell

Patriotism Erupts Across China As Consumers Ditch Apple For Huawei | Zero Hedge - 1 views

  • The escalating trade war is starting to damage Apple's brand in China, according to a new survey of Chinese consumer trends.  The brand consultancy Prophet surveyed 13,500 Chinese consumers and discovered that a wave of nationalism is sweeping across the country, deterring many from using US brands.  Apple plunged in the company's latest brand-relevance index, published Wednesday, which asked respondents which brands they liked the most. Apple crashed to No.24 in the index, falling from No. 11 last year. Before the trade war began, Apple was No. 5. Rivals like Huawei soared in the index to the No. 2 spot, just behind Chinese payment service Alipay.
Paul Merrell

China's quantum satellite enables first totally secure long-range messages - 2 views

  • In the middle of the night, invisible to anyone but special telescopes in two Chinese observatories, satellite Micius sends particles of light to Earth to establish the world’s most secure communication link. Named after the ancient Chinese philosopher also known as Mozi, Micius is the world’s first quantum communications satellite and has, for several years, been at the forefront of quantum encryption. Scientists have now reported using this technology to reach a major milestone: long-range secure communication you could trust even without trusting the satellite it runs through. Launched in 2016, Micius has already produced a number of breakthroughs under its operating team led by Pan Jian-Wei, China’s “Father of Quantum”. The satellite serves as the source of pairs of entangled photons, twinned light particles whose properties remain intertwined no matter how far apart they are. If you manipulate one of the photons, the other will be similarly affected at the very same moment.
  • It is this property that lies in the heart of the most secure forms of quantum cryptography, the entanglement-based quantum key distribution. If you use one of the entangled particles to create a key for encoding messages, only the person with the other particle can decode them.
  • Secure long-distance links such as this one will be the foundation of the quantum internet, the future global network with added security powered by laws of quantum mechanics, unmatched by classical cryptographic methods. The launch of Micius and the records set by the scientists and engineers building quantum communication systems with its help have been compared to the effect Sputnik had on the space race in the 20th century. In a similar way, the quantum race has political and military implications that are hard to ignore.
Paul Merrell

Chinese State Media Declares iPhone a Threat To National Security - Slashdot - 0 views

  • "When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden came forth last year with U.S. government spying secrets, it didn't take long to realize that some of the information revealed could bring on serious repercussions — not just for the U.S. government, but also for U.S.-based companies. The latest to feel the hit? None other than Apple, and in a region the company has been working hard to increase market share: China. China, via state media, has today declared that Apple's iPhone is a threat to national security — all because of its thorough tracking capabilities. It has the ability to keep track of user locations, and to the country, this could potentially reveal "state secrets" somehow. It's being noted that the iPhone will continue to track the user to some extent even if the overall feature is disabled. China's iPhone ousting comes hot on the heels of Russia's industry and trade deeming AMD and Intel processors to be untrustworthy. The nation will instead be building its own ARM-based "Baikal" processor.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

"Media: when oligarchs go shopping" - RSF's latest report | RSF - 0 views

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    "It was in Russia that the word "oligarchs" was first used to denote very rich businessmen. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has adopted the term to refer to billionaires who create or take over media empires to serve their business or political interests. There is a worldwide trend towards increasingly concentrated ownership of conglomerates that combine media outlets (TV channels, radio stations, newspapers and news websites) with banks, telecoms, property firms and construction companies. All this suits the rulers of countries such as China that espoused capitalism in order to better suppress democracy. "
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    "It was in Russia that the word "oligarchs" was first used to denote very rich businessmen. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has adopted the term to refer to billionaires who create or take over media empires to serve their business or political interests. There is a worldwide trend towards increasingly concentrated ownership of conglomerates that combine media outlets (TV channels, radio stations, newspapers and news websites) with banks, telecoms, property firms and construction companies. All this suits the rulers of countries such as China that espoused capitalism in order to better suppress democracy. "
Gary Edwards

Readium at the London Book Fair 2014: Open Source for an Open Publishing Ecosystem: Rea... - 0 views

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    excerpt/intro: Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Readium Foundation (Readium.org), an independent nonprofit launched in March 2013 with the objective of developing commercial-grade open source publishing technology software. The overall goal of Readium.org is to accelerate adoption of ePub 3, HTML5, and the Open Web Platform by the digital publishing industry to help realize the full potential of open-standards-based interoperability. More specifically, the aim is to raise the bar for ePub 3 support across the industry so that ePub maintains its position as the standard distribution format for e-books and expands its reach to include other types of digital publications. In its first year, the Readium consortium added 15 organizations to its membership, including Adobe, Google, IBM, Ingram, KERIS (S. Korea Education Ministry), and the New York Public Library. The membership now boasts publishers, retailers, distributors and technology companies from around the world, including organizations based in France, Germany, Norway, U.S., Canada, China, Korea, and Japan. In addition, in February 2014 the first Readium.org board was elected by the membership and the first three projects being developed by members and other contributors are all nearing "1.0" status. The first project, Readium SDK, is a rendering "engine" enabling native apps to support ePub 3. Readium SDK is available on four platforms-Android, iOS, OS/X, and Windows- and the first product incorporating Readium SDK (by ACCESS Japan) was announced last October. Readium SDK is designed to be DRM-agnostic, and vendors Adobe and Sony have publicized plans to integrate their respective DRM solutions with Readium SDK. A second effort, Readium JS, is a pure JavaScript ePub 3 implementation, with configurations now available for cloud based deployment of ePub files, as well as Readium for Chrome, the successor to the original Readium Chrome extension developed by IDPF as the
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    excerpt/intro: Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Readium Foundation (Readium.org), an independent nonprofit launched in March 2013 with the objective of developing commercial-grade open source publishing technology software. The overall goal of Readium.org is to accelerate adoption of ePub 3, HTML5, and the Open Web Platform by the digital publishing industry to help realize the full potential of open-standards-based interoperability. More specifically, the aim is to raise the bar for ePub 3 support across the industry so that ePub maintains its position as the standard distribution format for e-books and expands its reach to include other types of digital publications. In its first year, the Readium consortium added 15 organizations to its membership, including Adobe, Google, IBM, Ingram, KERIS (S. Korea Education Ministry), and the New York Public Library. The membership now boasts publishers, retailers, distributors and technology companies from around the world, including organizations based in France, Germany, Norway, U.S., Canada, China, Korea, and Japan. In addition, in February 2014 the first Readium.org board was elected by the membership and the first three projects being developed by members and other contributors are all nearing "1.0" status. The first project, Readium SDK, is a rendering "engine" enabling native apps to support ePub 3. Readium SDK is available on four platforms-Android, iOS, OS/X, and Windows- and the first product incorporating Readium SDK (by ACCESS Japan) was announced last October. Readium SDK is designed to be DRM-agnostic, and vendors Adobe and Sony have publicized plans to integrate their respective DRM solutions with Readium SDK. A second effort, Readium JS, is a pure JavaScript ePub 3 implementation, with configurations now available for cloud based deployment of ePub files, as well as Readium for Chrome, the successor to the original Readium Chrome extension developed by IDPF as the
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Does NSA Spying Leave the U.S. Without Moral High Ground in China Hack? - NationalJourn... - 0 views

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    "Was the breach of federal employee records all that different from U.S. surveillance programs? By Brendan Sasso Follow on Twitter"
Paul Merrell

What's Scarier: Terrorism, or Governments Blocking Websites in its Name? - The Intercept - 0 views

  • Forcibly taking down websites deemed to be supportive of terrorism, or criminalizing speech deemed to “advocate” terrorism, is a major trend in both Europe and the West generally. Last month in Brussels, the European Union’s counter-terrorism coordinator issued a memo proclaiming that “Europe is facing an unprecedented, diverse and serious terrorist threat,” and argued that increased state control over the Internet is crucial to combating it. The memo noted that “the EU and its Member States have developed several initiatives related to countering radicalisation and terrorism on the Internet,” yet argued that more must be done. It argued that the focus should be on “working with the main players in the Internet industry [a]s the best way to limit the circulation of terrorist material online.” It specifically hailed the tactics of the U.K. Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), which has succeeded in causing the removal of large amounts of material it deems “extremist”:
  • In addition to recommending the dissemination of “counter-narratives” by governments, the memo also urged EU member states to “examine the legal and technical possibilities to remove illegal content.” Exploiting terrorism fears to control speech has been a common practice in the West since 9/11, but it is becoming increasingly popular even in countries that have experienced exceedingly few attacks. A new extremist bill advocated by the right-wing Harper government in Canada (also supported by Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau even as he recognizes its dangers) would create new crimes for “advocating terrorism”; specifically: “every person who, by communicating statements, knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general” would be a guilty and can be sent to prison for five years for each offense. In justifying the new proposal, the Canadian government admits that “under the current criminal law, it is [already] a crime to counsel or actively encourage others to commit a specific terrorism offence.” This new proposal is about criminalizing ideas and opinions. In the government’s words, it “prohibits the intentional advocacy or promotion of terrorism, knowing or reckless as to whether it would result in terrorism.”
  • If someone argues that continuous Western violence and interference in the Muslim world for decades justifies violence being returned to the West, or even advocates that governments arm various insurgents considered by some to be “terrorists,” such speech could easily be viewed as constituting a crime. To calm concerns, Canadian authorities point out that “the proposed new offence is similar to one recently enacted by Australia, that prohibits advocating a terrorist act or the commission of a terrorism offence-all while being reckless as to whether another person will engage in this kind of activity.” Indeed, Australia enacted a new law late last year that indisputably targets political speech and ideas, as well as criminalizing journalism considered threatening by the government. Punishing people for their speech deemed extremist or dangerous has been a vibrant practice in both the U.K. and U.S. for some time now, as I detailed (coincidentally) just a couple days before free speech marches broke out in the West after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Those criminalization-of-speech attacks overwhelmingly target Muslims, and have resulted in the punishment of such classic free speech activities as posting anti-war commentary on Facebook, tweeting links to “extremist” videos, translating and posting “radicalizing” videos to the Internet, writing scholarly articles in defense of Palestinian groups and expressing harsh criticism of Israel, and even including a Hezbollah channel in a cable package.
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  • Beyond the technical issues, trying to legislate ideas out of existence is a fool’s game: those sufficiently determined will always find ways to make themselves heard. Indeed, as U.S. pop star Barbra Streisand famously learned, attempts to suppress ideas usually result in the greatest publicity possible for their advocates and/or elevate them by turning fringe ideas into martyrs for free speech (I have zero doubt that all five of the targeted sites enjoyed among their highest traffic dates ever today as a result of the French targeting). But the comical futility of these efforts is exceeded by their profound dangers. Who wants governments to be able to unilaterally block websites? Isn’t the exercise of this website-blocking power what has long been cited as reasons we should regard the Bad Countries — such as China and Iran — as tyrannies (which also usually cite “counterterrorism” to justify their censorship efforts)?
  • s those and countless other examples prove, the concepts of “extremism” and “radicalizing” (like “terrorism” itself) are incredibly vague and elastic, and in the hands of those who wield power, almost always expand far beyond what you think it should mean (plotting to blow up innocent people) to mean: anyone who disseminates ideas that are threatening to the exercise of our power. That’s why powers justified in the name of combating “radicalism” or “extremism” are invariably — not often or usually, but invariably — applied to activists, dissidents, protesters and those who challenge prevailing orthodoxies and power centers. My arguments for distrusting governments to exercise powers of censorship are set forth here (in the context of a prior attempt by a different French minister to control the content of Twitter). In sum, far more damage has been inflicted historically by efforts to censor and criminalize political ideas than by the kind of “terrorism” these governments are invoking to justify these censorship powers. And whatever else may be true, few things are more inimical to, or threatening of, Internet freedom than allowing functionaries inside governments to unilaterally block websites from functioning on the ground that the ideas those sites advocate are objectionable or “dangerous.” That’s every bit as true when the censors are in Paris, London, and Ottawa, and Washington as when they are in Tehran, Moscow or Beijing.
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