Displaying items by tag: Policy

Radiation concerns temporarily halt 5G activity in Brussels

Written on Thursday, 18 April 2019 08:46

5G plans in Brussels have been put on hold until radiation levels as a consequence of the new technology are measured accurately.

Brussels has the strictest telecom radiation regulations globally. The Belgian government is concerned that 5G technology is unable to measure radiation from 5G antennas.

The Belgian Institute of Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) recommended last year that the country should loosen their grip on the limits they have set in order to allow the region to capitalize on 5G technology. As a result, ministers approved of this and increased the indoor limit to 9 volts per meter (v/m) and the outdoor limit to 14.5 v/m.

Orange has unveiled its plan to rollout 5G in Brussels this year and to make it commercial by next year.

The Minister for Housing, Quality of Life, Environment and Energy in the Government of the Brussels Capital Region, Celine Fremault, has decided to halt any further activity with regards to 5G deployment. Fremault is worried that the MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) antennas needed for 5G technology are unable to accurately measure the level of radiation emitted which would mean that there is a risk of the technology not being within legal limits.

She said that while she recognizes the benefits that come with 5G technology, “The people of Brussels are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit. We cannot leave anything to doubt.”

She added, “I cannot welcome such technology if the radiation standards, which must protect the citizen, are not respected, 5G or not.”

Additionally, Belgian operators are currently facing more challenges pertaining to the 5G rollout as the government has decided to delay the spectrum auction. It has been speculated that while it has been postponed to 2020, it may be postponed even further as ministers have not been able to reach an agreement on 5G licenses and how they should proceed with the auction.

Switzerland on the other hand, has begun its 5G rollout. Swisscom recently published a ‘fact check’ on 5G technology in order to avoid “misinformation”.

Christian Neuhaus, a Swisscom spokesman commented on the issue by stating that, “The frequencies are the same as what we’ve been using for years. They’ve been analyzed in thousands of studies and not one has managed to prove scientifically that there’s a serious risk to health.”

Published in Telecom Operators

On Thursday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British Police at the embassy of Ecuador in London.

Published in Government

On Saturday, the Australian government pledged to introduce new laws on social media executives in light of the latest terrorist attack in New Zealand.

The new law would be imposed on social media executives of big tech companies which could lead up to a three-year prison sentence if they fail to remove extremist material from their platforms.

This new legislation is to be discussed in parliament next week.

Facebook has said that it removed around 1.5 million videos which comprised of the livestreamed massacre which took play on March 15 in Christchurch mosque in New Zealand. It was a 17-minute video which was filmed by the terrorist himself going on a rampage and killing 50 innocent people. This video was almost immediately available online and Facebook quickly took the video down several hours after the attack.

“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take evry possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison met with several tech companies on Tuesday some of which included Facebook, Twitter and Google. At the meeting, Australia stated that it would advise other G20 countries to do the same and hold social media firms accountable.

At the meeting, Facebook said that it was “committed to working with leaders and communities” in order to “help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism.” However, the tech company refused to give any further comments.

Attorney General Christian Porter said that the new legislation would make it a criminal offence if social media platforms fail to discard “abhorrent violent material” such as murder, rape and terror attacks.

The fines for such an offence are expected to be worth billions of dollars.

Porter stated, “Mainstream media hat broadcast such material would be putting their licence at risk and there is no reason why social media platforms should be treated any differently.”

Nigel Phair, a cybersecurity expert, hinted that this new law could not possibly imprison social media executives. He stated that jail was reserved for “serious criminal matters” and that executives based in Australia were not company “decision makers”.

“Jails is for violent offenders, not marketing representatives in Australia of an American social media company.”
He said that the social media firms could have done more than what they pledged to do on Tuesday. He added, “They didn’t read the tea leaves back then, it’ll be different how they read the tea leaves now.”

Published in Apps

US judge places temporary ban on iPhone imports

Written on Thursday, 28 March 2019 08:07

On Tuesday, a US trade judge has called for a ban of some iPhone imports as Apple was found to have violated a Qualcomm chipmaker patent.

International Trade Commission administrative law specialist MaryJoan McNamara recommended a “limited exclusion order together with a cease and desist order” against the tech ginat.

Since the iPhone does not compeet with Qualcomm products, Apple will not be required to post a bond while US President Donald Trump and a panel of judges review the order.

Qualcomm released a statement which read: "We appreciate Judge McNamara's recognition of Apple's infringement of our hardware patent and that she will be recommending an import ban and cease and desist order.”

Apple has not replied to a request to post a comment on the matter as of yet.

The patent which is being investigated involves extending power and battery life. The issue at hand constitutes for one of the two complaints that Qualcomm officially issued against Apple to the commission.

Qualcomm shares went up by 2.4 per cent while Apple’s shares were down by at least 1 per cent  as soon as the ruling was released.

The California-based tech giants have been involved in a long-term battle over patents and royalties which have taken to the courts and other administrative bodies on a global scale.

Last week, Qualcomm won a case against Apple over patented technology which was found to be used in iPhones and won $31 million. These chips were found to have been used on the iPhone 7, 8 and X.

Other patents at issue were “flashless booting” which allows for devices to connect to the internet quickly as soon as they are switch on and allows smartphone apps to move data online in an efficient manner.

In addition to this, another patent would be using rich graphics in games whilst still maintaining battery life.

Apple sued Qualcomm a couple of years ago over payments for a preliminary ruling which involved Qualcomm owing Apple around $1 billion in patent royalty rebate payments which has not been paid yet. The judge’s decision is still to be determined.

Published in Government

EU to ignore Huawei ban suggestion from US

Written on Tuesday, 26 March 2019 08:55

The 28 EU members have been asked to share some data to assess any risks involved with the rollout of 5G technology in Europe, according to Reuters.

The Reuters report stated that Andrus Ansip, head of the European Commission, is set to make the recommendations on Tuesday.

Ansip plans to use the processes which are outlined in the directive on network and information systems from 2016 and has also very recently passed the Cyber Security Act.

For the past couple of years, the US has been trying to dissuade its allies from benefitting Chinese businesses, namely Huawei. The US and Huawei have been at odds recently with regards to 5G deployment. Washington has claimed that Huawei’s products could be used to spy on other countries by the Chinese government which they have no solid proof of. Huawei sued the US on 7 March.

Many countries have not reacted to the claim. However, Australia and New Zealand have barred the use of Huawei gear.

With the UK leaving the EU soon, it is still uncertain whether they will follow the European Commission’s suggestion. Last month at a conference in Brussels, the head of the UK’s National Cybersecurity Centre, Ciaran Martin, said that any threat posed by Huawei was manageable.

“Because of our 15 years of dealing with the company and 10 years f a formally agreed mitigation strategy which involves detailed provision of information, we have a wealth of understanding of the company,” said Martin.

He continued, “We also have strict controls for how Huawei is deployed. It is not in any sensitive networks, including those of the government. Its kit is part of a balanced supply chain with other suppliers. Our regime is arguably the toughest and most rigorous oversight regime in the world for Huawei.”

On 9 April, an EU-China summit will take place where discussions surrounding this topic will be held alongside other relevant topics pertaining to the Chinese economy.

Published in Government

Security researcher Victor Gevers has uncovered a database of 1.8 million women in China who have their names, addresses, marital status, education levels, and phone numbers listed however the most troubling part of this database is the fact that women of a certain age group were also categorized as “breed ready”.

Gevers has said that anyone with an IP address has access to this database. This comes after his discovery of the Chinese database that leaked 300 million private messages last week.

“We don’t know who is behind this database and what the intention was… that is the part that worries us the most,” said Gevers. Most of the women in the database were located in Beijing.

Gevers reported the database on Twitter and had it closed down by 4am ET on Monday. 

Some of the women are linked to their Facebook profiles and as Facebook is banned in China, they must have accessed it through the use of a VPN.

“In China, they have a shortage of women. So an organization started to build a database to start registering over 1.8 million women with all kinds of details like phone numbers, addresses, education, location, ID number, marital status, and a “BreedReady” status?” he tweeted.

Also, around 90 per cent of the women on that list were listed as single and were between the ages of 15 and 95. The “BreedReady” women were categorized,  the youngest status was given to 18 year olds and the oldest with the status was 39.

The purpose of this database still remains uncertain however, many internet users said that it may have been the Chinese government’s effort to track the fertility of Chinese women as China’s birth rate has hit an all-time low.

China’s National Statistics Bureau found that only 15 million children were born in 2018 which was 2 million less than the previous year.

Published in Government

New York regulators are investigating Facebook’s gathering of intimate data about consumers’ menstrual cycles and body weight through smartphone applications.

Facebook has confirmed that New York’s Department of Financial Services set them a letter about the data sharing issue.

The New York based regulator asked the social media giant to provide a list of all the companies that were involved in sending them the data over the past three years.

According to the source, requests to provide information on agreements with Facebook were sent to a number of application developers.

A Wall Street Journal report from February 22 showed that after testing over 70 smartphone apps, approximately 11 were disclosing ‘highly sensitive’ information to Facebook to use for target ads. These ads would be able to reach users who are not Facebook members.

The intimate data that was collected by the apps showed personal information with regards to body weight, height, ovulation cycles, heart rate, pregnancy status and home shopping.

It was found that around 6 of the 15 most popular health and fitness apps shared personal information with Facebook.

A Facebook spokesperson stated:  

"It's common for developers to share information with a wide range of platforms for advertising and analytics.

"We require the other app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us, and we prohibit app developers from sending us sensitive data. We also take steps to detect and remove data that should not be shared with us."

The investigation comes at the peak of the debate over online privacy and at a time when Facebook is still attempting to regain the trust of the masses following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

According to the Journal, the ‘highly sensitive information’ is sent to Facebook immediately after it is entered into the app.

Facebook is able to collect data through the Software Development Kit (SDK), which is a set of programs used to create apps and it often includes a set of open software tools.

These apps have used Facebook’s SDK to build their software in exchange for data which Facebook uses for advertising purposes.

A Facebook spokesperson has said that the data transmission does violate the company’s business agreement and that Facebook has taken measures to stop the apps from disclosing such personal information.

Published in Apps

Uber’s new CEO has jetted into London for negotiations with the city’s transport regulator following the TFL’s (Transport for London) decision to suspend the license of the global ride-hailing service. The TFL deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and refused to renew its license.

The decision by the TFL left Uber reeling, as the UK, and in particular London is a massive market for the US firm. It was the latest setback in a long line of controversies and blows endured by Uber who have in recent months had allegations of sexual harassment within its work environment labelled at them.

In addition to this, Uber has faced countless legal battles in different markets all over the world – and pressure from stakeholders forced former CEO and founder Travis Kalanick to resign. TFL stated that it didn’t renew Uber’s license due to the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences – and also highlighted safety issues in relation to Uber’s vetting process on its drivers.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is also chairman of the TFL, told Uber that it would serve the organization better to actually attempt to address the concerns raised by the transport regulator, instead of hiring a team of PR experts and lawyers.

However, it has emerged that Uber’s new CEO, former Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi has arranged a face-to-face meeting with TFL commissioner Mike Brown who is tasked with the responsibility of running TFL’s day-to-day operations. It was further disclosed that Khan, a member of the Labor Party had sanctioned the meeting.

While Uber’s license was suspended with immediate effect on September 30th, its 40,000 drivers can still pick up fares until an appeal process has been exhausted, and that is likely to take up to several months.

Uber’s CEO facing a tough task to restore order to a firm which has been battered by a host of controversies, and his job hasn’t been helped by the calling of a board meeting in San Francisco which will look at curbing the influence of former CEO Kalanick.

Many expect Uber to resolve the issue with the TFL and claimed that Khosrowshahi made a good start by penning an open letter to Londoners in which he acknowledged that the company had made mistakes, before vowing to adopt a new approach to penetrate new markets globally.

It has been reported that Uber will learn its fate when a judge will rule on its appeal when it is officially submitted on October 13th. Uber’s competitors have wasted no time in attempting to gain its business. London’s second-biggest private hire firm Addison Lee said on Friday it was planning to increase its driver numbers in London by up to a quarter.

Published in Apps

Indian officials have resisted advances from US technology giant Apple to move some of its production to the country – but they did state that they are in the process of reviewing its overall manufacturing policy.

According to reports, Apple sent a letter to the Indian government in which it expressed its desire to assemble iPhone devices and move production to India –and subsequently requested financial incentives from the authorities in order to do so.

However, Indian officials rejected their advances and refused to give in to Apple’s demands for special concessions. The government recently launched a ‘Made in India’ initiative in an effort to attract foreign investors.

Indian Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he and his colleagues would keep an ‘open mind’ ahead of negotiations next week with Apple executives. It is believed an official told Reuters that the government intends to make policies for the industry and not individual companies.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said yesterday India would keep an “open mind” in negotiations next week at a meeting with Apple executives. An official told Reuters the government should make policies for the industry, not individual companies.

The smart-phone giant sought a number of concessions, including a 15-year wavier of customs duties on imported iPhone components, and new and second-hand manufacturing equipment.

It has also been reported that three government departments, revenue, industry and IT are reviewing Apple’s requests for concessions to assemble iPhone’s in India. Officials have conceded that due to the country’s high import duties – it severely impacts the competitiveness of manufacturers looking to export.

Apple CEO Tim Cook visited India last May and met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and the issued of Apple assembling iPhone’s and moving production to the country were raised.

Complicating a move to local production is the country’s local sourcing rules, which require foreign firms with single-brand retail outlets to source 30% of the sales value of their components from India within five years of starting operations.

In June 2016 the government reversed a decision not to ease local sourcing rules for Apple and granted the iPhone maker a three year waive on the requirement, which clears the way for it to open Apple Stores in the country.

The reversal is part of a major reform package of the country’s foreign direct investment policies announced by the head of the country’s central bank.

India is the world’s second largest smart-phone market, where growth outpaced the global market in Q3 as demand for mobile broadband connectivity soars and operators rapidly expand their 4G network coverage.

Published in Government