Connect with us

Internet

Apple Lends Manufacturing Help as Nasal Swab Maker COPAN Diagnostics Ships 15 Million Kits

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 22 February 2021

Apple said on Monday nasal swab maker COPAN Diagnostics has shipped 15 million COVID-19 sample collection kits to hospitals in California, Texas and other US states, bolstered by manufacturing help from the tech giant.

Apple awarded $10 million (roughly Rs. 72 crores) to the Murrieta, California-based company in May last year and sent engineers to help revamp the production process at a time when shortages of testing supplies had slowed efforts to track the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The iPhone maker had initially aimed to help COPAN go from making several thousand kits per week to 1 million kits a week, with the firms also looking to create at least 50 new jobs in Southern California.

Apple did not say on Monday whether the 1-million-kit-per-week goal had been hit, but said COPAN had increased its production by nearly 4,000 percent, opened a new facility and hired 250 employees.

“The driver behind that was that everybody wanted to make a difference within a time frame where we could make a difference,” Normal Sharples, COPAN’s chief executive, said in a statement.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

Internet

Alphabet Said to Be in Talks With Spanish Publishers to Bring Google News Back

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 23 February 2021

Alphabet’s Google is negotiating individual licensing deals with a divided Spanish news industry that could allow the US tech giant’s news service to resume in the country, three sources close to the matter told Reuters.

Google News, which links to third party content, closed in Spain in late 2014 in response to legislation which meant it had to pay a mandatory collective licensing fee to re-publish headlines or snippets of news.

Now the thorny issue is back on the table as Spain prepares to implement the 2019 European Union copyright directive by June. While that requires Google, Facebook, and others to share revenue with publishers, the government could allow the companies to negotiate individual deals with content providers.

Spain’s Culture Ministry said the government was working on a draft bill, but declined to give further details.

Google News will only be back in Spain if publishers have the right to sign individual agreements under a new law, a Google Spain spokeswoman said, adding that a paid licence should not be mandatory.

Facebook faced a backlash from publishers and politicians last week after blocking people in Australia from accessing and sharing news, escalating a dispute with the government there over a planned law that would require it to share revenue with content providers.

The EU rules, however, do not force online platforms to pay for links posted to their news site by publishers, the main grievance for Facebook in Australia, so their implementation could pave the way for a series of deals.

“Google is in talks with Spanish editors about the possibility of taking part in the Google News Showcase programme,” a source familiar with the process said, referring to the proposed new name for the service.

Two other sources said some preliminary agreements had already been reached, pending details of the new legislation.

Status quo

Google recently agreed to pay $76 million (roughly Rs. 550 crores) to a group of 121 French news publishers, infuriating many other local outlets, which deemed the deal unfair and opaque.

Some Spanish publishers represented by the AMI media association, such as El Mundo owner Unidad Editorial, are in favour of maintaining the current system which gives publishers the right to levy licensing fees through a collective management entity.

AMI general director Ramon Alonso said the model allows for a transparent and fair negotiation with Google and others, and prevents the exclusion of some publishers.

But others, including CLABE that represents 162 associates with around a thousand news outlets including leading digital brands such as El Espanol or Eldiario.es, say they can reach a better deal on their own and should be free to choose.

“We are trying to ensure that these agreements benefit as many companies in the sector as possible,” said Juan Zafra, CLABE secretary general.

The Independent Regional Press Association (AIE), a founding member of AMI, said in a letter published in all of its outlets on Monday that it had been “seriously harmed” by the existing model, which brought no income from content and made Spain “a global digital exception”.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and European media groups on Monday urged EU regulators to require online platforms to seek arbitration in disagreements over how to share revenues with news publishers.


© Thomson Reuters 2021

Continue Reading

Internet

Microsoft, EU Publishers Seek Australia-Style News Payments From Big Tech Platforms

Avatar

Published

on

By Associated Press | Updated: 23 February 2021

Microsoft is teaming up with European publishers to push for a system to make big tech platforms pay for news, raising the stakes in the brewing battle led by Australia to get Google and Facebook to pay for journalism.

The Seattle tech giant and four big European Union news industry groups unveiled their plan Monday to work together on a solution to “mandate payments” for use of news content from online “gatekeepers with dominant market power.”

They said they will “take inspiration” from proposed legislation in Australia to force tech platforms to share revenue with news companies and which includes an arbitration system to resolve disputes over a fair price for news.

Facebook last week blocked Australians from accessing and sharing news on its platform, in response to the government’s proposals, but the surprise move sparked a big public backlash and intensified the debate over how much power the social network has. Google, meanwhile, has taken a different tack by cutting payment deals with news organisations, after backing down from its initial threat to shut off its search engine for Australians.

The EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, expressed support for Australia, in the latest sign Facebook’s move has backfired.

“I think it’s very regrettable that a platform takes such decisions to protest against a country’s laws,” Breton told EU lawmakers. “It’s up to the platforms to adapt to regulators, not the other way around,” he said, adding that what’s happening in Australia “highlights an attitude that must change.” Breton is leading the EU’s sweeping overhaul of digital regulations aimed at taming the power of the big tech companies, amid growing concerns their algorithms are eroding democracy.

Microsoft is joining forces with two lobbying groups, the European Publishers Council and News Media Europe, along with two groups representing European newspaper and magazine publishers, which account for thousands of titles. The company has expressed support for Australia’s plans, which could help increase market share of its Bing search engine.

European Union countries are working on adopting by June revamped copyright rules set out by the EU executive that allow news companies and publishers to negotiate payments from digital platforms for online use of their content.

But there are worries about an imbalance of bargaining power between the two sides and the group called for new measures to be added to the upcoming overhaul of digital regulations to address the problem.

Publishers “might not have the economic strength to negotiate fair and balanced agreements with these gatekeeper tech companies, who might otherwise threaten to walk away from negotiations or exit markets entirely,” the group said in a joint statement. Google and Facebook have resisted arbitration because it would give them less control over payment talks.

Facebook did not reply to a request for comment. Google said it already has signed hundreds of partnerships with news publishers across Europe, making it one of journalism’s biggest funders and noted on Twitter that it’s working with publishers and policymakers across the EU as member countries adopt the copyright rules into national legislation.

Continue Reading

Internet

Chinese Spyware Code ‘Jian’ Was Copied From America’s National Security Agency, Researchers Say

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 22 February 2021

Chinese spies used code first developed by the US National Security Agency to support their hacking operations, Israeli researchers said on Monday, another indication of how malicious software developed by governments can boomerang against their creators.

Tel Aviv-based Check Point Software Technologies issued a report noting that some features in a piece of China-linked malware it dubs “Jian” were so similar they could only have been stolen from some of the National Security Agency break-in tools leaked to the internet in 2017.

Yaniv Balmas, Checkpoint’s head of research, called Jian “kind of a copycat, a Chinese replica.”

The find comes as some experts argue that American spies should devote more energy to fixing the flaws they find in software instead of developing and deploying malicious software to exploit it.

The NSA declined comment. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

A person familiar with the matter said Lockheed Martin – which is credited as having identified the vulnerability exploited by Jian in 2017 – discovered it on the network of an unidentified third party.

In a statement, Lockheed said it “routinely evaluates third-party software and technologies to identify vulnerabilities.”

Countries around the world develop malware that breaks into their rivals’ devices by taking advantage of flaws in the software that runs them. Every time spies discover a new flaw they must decide whether to quietly exploit it or fix the issue to thwart rivals and rogues.

That dilemma came to public attention between 2016 and 2017, when a mysterious group calling itself the “Shadow Brokers” published some of the NSA’s most dangerous code to the Internet, allowing cybercriminals and rival nations to add American-made digital break-in tools to their own arsenals.

How the Jian malware analysed by Checkpoint was used is not clear. In an advisory published in 2017, Microsoft suggested it was linked to a Chinese entity it dubs “Zirconium,” which last year was accused of targeting US election-related organizations and individuals, including people associated with President Joe Biden’s campaign.

Checkpoint says Jian appears to have been crafted in 2014, at least two years before the Shadow Brokers made their public debut. That, in conjunction with research published in 2019 by Broadcom-owned cyber-security firm Symantec about a similar incident, suggests the NSA has repeatedly lost control of its own malware over the years.

Checkpoint’s research is thorough and “looks legit,” said Costin Raiu, a researcher with Moscow-based antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab, which has helped dissect some of the NSA’s malware.

Balmas said a possible takeaway from his company’s report was for spymasters weighing whether to keep software flaws secret to think twice about using a vulnerability for their own ends.

“Maybe it’s more important to patch this thing and save the world,” Balmas said. “It might be used against you.”

© Thomson Reuters 2021

Continue Reading

Internet

Bitcoin Slips Sharply From Record High of $58,354 Within a Day

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 22 February 2021

Bitcoin fell sharply on Monday after surging to a record $58,354 (roughly Rs. 42 lakh) a day earlier, as a selloff in global equities curbed risk appetite.

The most popular cryptocurrency rallied over the weekend to record levels, almost doubling year-to-date. It hit a market capitalisation of $1 trillion (roughly Rs. 72,46,360 crores) on Friday.

Bitcoin’s gains have been fueled by signs it is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies, from Tesla and Mastercard to BNY Mellon.

It fell as much as 6 percent on Monday, and was last trading down 4.4 percent at $54,941 (roughly Rs. 39.8 lakhs). Rival cryptocurrency Ether fell 7 percent to $1,798 (roughly Rs. 1.3 lakhs) after also hitting a record high on Saturday.

Traders said the move was largely technical, and not tied to any particular news catalyst.

“We did finally see some momentum gathering over the weekend, but weekend rallies haven’t been sustainable lately,” said Joseph Edwards of Enigma Securities, a cryptocurrency broker in London.

“We do tend to think that there’s a good chance of a down week and small correction coming in off of this, although it does little to dull medium-term prospects.”

Tesla boss Elon Musk, whose tweets on Bitcoin have added fuel to the cryptocurrency’s rally, said on Saturday the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum seemed high.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

Continue Reading

Internet

Future-Reliance Deal: Supreme Court Said to Bar Final Tribunal Ruling on $3.4-Billion Deal

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 22 February 2021

India’s Supreme Court barred on Monday a final ruling by a tribunal reviewing Future Group’s $3.4 billion (roughly Rs. 24,640 crore) sale of retail assets until the top court hears objections from aggrieved partner Amazon, three sources said.

Amazon appealed to the Supreme Court this month against Future Group’s sale to market leader Reliance Industries, accusing its partner of violating contracts by agreeing to the sale.

The outcome of the tussle involving two of the world’s richest men, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Reliance’s Mukesh Ambani, could reshape India’s pandemic-hit shopping sector and decide if Amazon can blunt Reliance’s dominance of retail.

Three people familiar with Monday’s proceedings said the Supreme Court ordered that while the tribunal can continue to review the deal and oversee the approval process, it could not pass a final order while the court hears Amazon’s concerns.

“This is a good thing for Amazon,” said one of the sources, who has direct knowledge of events.

Indian stock exchanges and the antitrust watchdog have already cleared the deal, which now awaits clearance by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), in line with regulatory procedures.

A second source said Future had only asked the NCLT to let it to call meetings to seek shareholder approvals of the deal. That process will continue, and Future will later seek final approval from the tribunal, the source added.

Amazon declined to comment, while Future Group and Reliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sources sought anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to media.

In its Supreme Court appeal, Amazon will argue that an arbitration order in October that put the Future-Reliance deal on hold remains valid, Reuters has reported.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

Continue Reading

Internet

Future-Reliance Deal: Supreme Court Issues Notice on Amazon’s Plea on Court Order to Maintain Status Quo

Avatar

Published

on

By Press Trust of India | Updated: 22 February 2021

The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from Future Retail and others on Amazon’s plea against the Delhi High Court direction to maintain status quo on the Future-Reliance deal.

A bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai issued notices to Future Retail, Chairperson Kishore Biyani and others and sought their replies.

The apex court said the proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal will go on and but will not culminate into any final order on amalgamation of Future Retail with Reliance.

While issuing notice distinct to Future Retail and others, the bench says that reply to the appeal of Amazon be filed in three weeks and rejoinder after two weeks thereafter and the Amazon’s appeal will be listed for hearing after five weeks.

Last month, Amazon had approached the Delhi High Court seeking enforcement of the interim order of the Emergency Arbitrator (EA) at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) that had restrained Future Retail from going ahead with the deal with Reliance.

Last month, Amazon had approached the Delhi High Court seeking enforcement of the interim order of the Emergency Arbitrator (EA) at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) that had restrained Future Retail from going ahead with the deal with Reliance.

Continue Reading

Trending