News Roundup: Huawei hits out at “ill-informed” US politicians
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News Roundup: Huawei hits out at “ill-informed” US politicians

A roundup of the week’s technology news including Amazon pharmacy, Salesforce on the border, and Windows 95 Mobile.

 

Huawei hits out

The trade tit for tat between the US and China continues. Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Treasury Department is planning to block firms with Chinese ownership from buying US companies with “industrially significant technology.”

ZTE is apparently close to revealing its new-look board in an effort to comply with US demands, while senators are asking President Donald Trump to keep the ban on the company in place.

Huawei rotating CEO Eric Xu called Congressman Jim Banks and Senator Marco Rubio “quite closed-minded and ill-informed” after they called for an inquiry into whether the company steals American research through partnerships with universities.

“It seems that their bodies are in the information age, but their minds are still in the agrarian age,” he said. “Their behavior shows not just an ignorance of how science and innovation works today, but also their own lack of confidence.”

Over in Australia, the Huawei’s country chairman John Lord defended his company after MPs called to bar it from the being part of the country’s 5G rollout. He said the company was the most “audited, inspected, reviewed and critiqued global ICT player in the world.”

“We are proud that after every kind of inspection, audit, review, nothing sinister has been found. No wrongdoing, no criminal action or intent, no ‘back door’, no planted vulnerability, no ‘magical kill switch’.”

 

Salesforce on the border

Last week Microsoft came under fire for its relationship with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the wake of unpleasant scenes at the border. This week Salesforce had a similar internal revolt. Over 600 Salesforce employees signed a petition calling for the company to end its work with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over its “inhumane” activities. In reply CEO Marc Benioff said he was “opposed to separating children from their families at the border” and “proud” of his employees for their support of families at the border, but won’t end the contract.

 

Facebook’s internet drones grounded

Facebook has killed off Project Aquila. After working for four years on using giant fixed-wing drones to beam internet down to people in remote areas, the social media company announced in a blog that it was ending development of the project. The blog said the company would continue working with the likes of Airbus in the future.

 

Security

  • California just passed strict new privacy laws.
  • Despite promising repeatedly that it doesn’t listen on people, Facebook recently filed a patent for ‘ambient audio recording’ to figure out what TV adverts you’re watching.
  • The NSA has 8 secret ‘peering’ buildings which let it tap AT&T’s network traffic.
  • Venezuela has blocked access to TOR.
  • AI can now track people through walls using Wi-Fi signals.
  • It’s really easy to hack ships.

Brian Brackeen, CEO of facial recognition company Kairos said this that “using commercial facial recognition in law enforcement is irresponsible and dangerous.”

“In the hands of government surveillance programs and law enforcement agencies, there’s simply no way that face recognition software will be not used to harm citizens,” he wrote in an op-ed for TechCrunch. Both IBM and Microsoft this week announced efforts to improve facial recognition.

M&A

Amazon has acquired PillPack and officially moved into the pharmacy business. The company is also working on creating a network of independent delivery fleets, which the likes of UPS are probably thrilled about.

AT&T has bought AppNexus and Ping Identity has snapped up API monitoring startup  Elastic Beam,

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene said the company “wouldn't have minded” buying GitHub, and hopes Microsoft doesn’t interfere with the code repository too much.

“I hope they can leave them completely neutral,” she said. “I think that would be the thing to do after paying $7.5 billion.”

Honda is retiring the ASIMO robot. Goodbye, little buddy. Though you were a pioneer you were overtaken by creepy robot dogs.

 

Open source

Facebook has open sourced Sonar, a debugger for mobile apps on iOS and Android.

 

Windows 95 Mobile

Ever wondered what a smartphone with a Windows 95 aesthetic would look like? No, me neither. But now you can see it anyway! YouTube channel 4096 created a video showing what such a monstrosity might look like, featuring lots of grey and a Clippy personal assistant.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech from driverless cars, AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

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