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Huawei 5G Ban: Canada’s Opposition Parties Urge Trudeau Government to Ban Telecom, Say China Is Threat

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By Reuters | Updated: 19 November 2020

Canada’s opposition on Wednesday called on Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to get tougher on China, including by officially banning Huawei’s 5G technology from being used in the country.

Opposition parties passed a non-binding motion put forward by the Conservatives calling China a threat to Canadian interests and values, and urging the government to draft a plan to “combat China’s growing foreign operations” in Canada.

“We call on the Liberal government to finally grow a spine and make a decision on Huawei’s involvement in Canada’s 5G network,” Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said.

5G networks offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than 4G networks and are expected to power everything from telemedicine and remote surgery to self-driving cars.

Trudeau heads a minority government that depends on one of three opposition parties to pass legislation and stay afloat. Last month, the prime minister appeared to seek an early vote, without success, but many in Ottawa now expect a snap election next year.

The arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a US arrest warrant two years ago put Canada in the middle of the US-China trade war, and Ottawa continues to struggle to respond to Beijing’s aggressive tactics.

After Meng’s arrest, China arrested two Canadian citizens for alleged spying, and they have been imprisoned ever since. China also cut off imports of canola. Meng is fighting extradition to the United States.

Trudeau’s government has put on hold any decision on whether to allow Huawei 5G technology, even though Ottawa’s main allies in the intelligence-sharing Five-Eyes group, the United States, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, have all taken steps to ban Huawei.

With US-China relations at their worst in decades, Washington has been pushing governments around the world to squeeze out Huawei, arguing it would hand over data to the Chinese government for spying. Huawei denies it spies for China.

Trudeau repeated that his government was awaiting a recommendation from the country’s intelligence agencies.

“Huawei has always supported, and continues to support, the government’s evidence-based review of potential 5G providers,” Huawei Canada Vice President Alykhan Velshi said in a statement, adding the company “has never received a complaint” from Canada about a security breach.

The opposition motion, which passed 179-146, called on the government within 30 days to officially ban Huawei 5G and come up with a plan to counter Chinese operations aimed at intimidating Chinese nationals living in Canada.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Jio, Google Join Hands in Cloud Partnership in Boost to 5G Plans

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By Reuters | Updated: 24 June 2021

Alphabet’s Google is forging a cloud partnership with Reliance Jio, helping the country’s biggest wireless carrier with tech solutions for its enterprise and consumer offerings as it plans to launch 5G services.

The tie-up lends Jio the expertise of a global tech giant as it expands digital services to small and medium businesses as well as hundreds of millions of individual customers. And it gives Google the unmatched scale of Reliance whose new-age businesses range from telecoms to e-commerce.

Jio is part of tycoon billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s oil-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries.

“It’s a broad partnership, it involves multiple pieces of Alphabet working together,” Thomas Kurian, Chief Executive Officer at Google Cloud, told Reuters in an interview ahead of Reliance’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday.

“Our own partnership spans multiple parts of Jio not just the communications business… but also health, retail and other things. And it allows us to bring our technology to many consumers in India in a broad-scale basis as well as to many businesses that are served by Reliance.”

While Google is working with other telecoms firms on 5G around the world, the scale of the Jio-Google cloud partnership is among the biggest for the California-headquartered company globally, said Kurian.

He declined to share the terms of the cloud contract with Jio.

Jio established a 10-year alliance with Microsoft in 2019, aiming to build data centres across India that will be hosted on Azure cloud in a bid to offer services to the country’s booming start-up economy.

Jio disrupted India’s telecoms market in 2016 when it launched with cut-price data plans and free voice services. It forced several competitors out of the market and is now India’s biggest mobile carrier with more than 422 million customers.

Google last year invested $4.5 billion (roughly Rs. 33,370 crores) in Jio’s parent Jio Platforms, a move that landed the US tech giant a rare board seat alongside rival Facebook which has also pumped $5.7 billion (roughly Rs. 42,270 crores) into the digital unit.

Ambani has previously said Jio, which also counts Qualcomm and Intel among its backers, would “pioneer the 5G revolution” in India in 2021.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Internet

India’s New E-Commerce Rules Considered ‘Cause for Concern’ by US Lobby Group, Email Shows

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By Reuters | Updated: 24 June 2021

A top lobby group that is part of the US Chamber of Commerce believes India’s proposed new e-commerce rules are a cause for concern and will lead to a stringent operating environment for companies, according to an email reviewed by Reuters.

India this week spooked online retailers like Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart by outlining plans to limit “flash sales”, reining in a private label push and mandating them to have a system to address grievances.

The Washington-headquartered US-India Business Council (USIBC), of which Amazon and Walmart are members, described the rules as concerning in an internal email, saying some provisions were in line with New Delhi’s stance on other big digital companies.

India’s draft plan “includes several concerning policies, including significant limits on platforms’ ability to organise sales and handle grievances,” USIBC said in an email to its members.

USIBC has in the past urged India not to tighten a separate set of rules governing foreign investment in companies like Amazon and Flipkart, an issue that has often soured trade relations between India and United States.

USIBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new rules – open for consultation until July 6 – are expected to have an impact across the board in an online retail market forecast to be worth $200 billion (roughly Rs. 14,84,650 crores) by 2026.

They will also apply to Indian firms like Tata’s BigBasket and Reliance Industries’ JioMart, but the proposal comes after Indian retailers for years complained that market leaders Amazon and Flipkart used complex business structures to bypass India’s foreign investment law, hurting small businesses.

The companies deny any wrongdoing.

India’s new proposed rules have raised concerns they will force Amazon and Flipkart to review their business structures, industry sources and lawyers have told Reuters.

The USIBC email noted that India’s proposals “preclude (e-commerce) platforms from owning vendors”.

Amazon specifically holds an indirect stake in two of its top sellers and a Reuters investigation in February cited Amazon documents that showed it gave preferential treatment to a small number of its sellers.

India’s rules also will force e-commerce companies to reveal the country of origin of a product and suggest alternatives to ensure a “fair opportunity for domestic goods”.

Some of the new provisions align with India’s similar federal policies “for social and digital media companies … and will result in a more stringent e-commerce regime,” USIBC said in its email.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Internet

Hackers Shouldn’t Be Paid Ransoms, FBI Director Christopher Wray Pleads With Public Companies

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By Reuters | Updated: 24 June 2021

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday pleaded with public companies and other hacking victims to avoid paying ransom, saying he fears it will only embolden cyber criminals to ramp up future attacks.

“In general, we would discourage paying the ransom because it encourages more of these attacks, and frankly, there is no guarantee whatsoever that you are going to get your data back,” Wray testified before a US Senate appropriations panel.

The Justice Department has disclosed it managed to help the Colonial Pipeline recover some $2.3 million (roughly Rs. 17.07 crores) in cryptocurrency ransom it paid to hackers – an attack that led to widespread shortages at gas stations on the East Coast.

The FBI was able to recover those funds because it had a private key that it was able to use to unlock a Bitcoin wallet holding most of the money. It was unclear how the FBI managed to access the key. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 24.3 lakhs IST on June 24.

Bitcoin seizures by the federal government are relatively uncommon, but authorities have been stepping up their expertise in tracking the flow of digital money.

Wray said on Wednesday that the FBI is seeing increasingly sophisticated types of ransomware attacks and that cyber thieves have been demanding larger sums of money.

“We’ve seen the total volume of the money paid I think triple over the last year or so,” Wray said.

He said companies and municipal governments who become victims of ransomware attacks should consider going to the FBI as soon as possible, and not wait.

“When they do, there’s all kinds of things that we can do,” Wray said.

“Sometimes through other work we’ve done, we might have the decryption key and be able to help the company unlock their data without having to pay the ransom,” he added.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Internet

Elon Musk Says Starlink to Go Public Once Cash Flow Is More Predictable

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By Reuters | Updated: 24 June 2021

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk will list SpaceX’s space Internet venture, Starlink, when its cash flow is reasonably predictable, the billionaire entrepreneur said late on Wednesday.

“Going public sooner than that would be very painful,” Musk said in a tweet. “Will do my best to give long-term Tesla shareholders preference.”

He was responding to a question on Twitter, where a user asked: “Any thoughts on Starlink IPO we would love to invest in the future. Any thoughts on first dibs for Tesla retail investors?”

Last year, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell floated the idea of spinning off Starlink for an initial public offering.

Starlink, a planned network of tens of thousands of satellites in low-earth orbit, aims to offer fast Internet speeds globally.

Musk had said earlier that Starlink, currently based in Redmond, Washington, will be a crucial source of funding for his broader plans like developing the Starship rocket to fly paying customers to the moon and eventually trying to colonise Mars.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Internet

Amazon Restores Services After Multiple Users Face Outage

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By Reuters | Updated: 24 June 2021

Multiple users experienced a brief outage at Amazon’s platforms including Alexa and Prime Video late Wednesday before services were restored, according to outage monitoring website Downdetector.

More than 6,200 user reports had indicated issues with Amazon’s online store site, as of 1:48am GMT (7:18am IST), while about 1,700 users reported problems with Prime Video and more than 400 with Alexa, according to Downdetector.

Outage reports dropped significantly to double digits on the platforms in a little over an hour, Downdetector showed.

The issue affecting the sites was not immediately clear. Amazon did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Downdetector tracks outages by collating status reports from a series of sources, including user-submitted errors on its platform.

On June 23, Amazon and Google were pressed by US Senator Amy Klobuchar about how their smart home devices and virtual assistants will support competition and user privacy.

In a letter, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee said testimony last week by attorneys from the companies left her with concerns about their dominance of the fast-growing field.

She asked the companies which of their products will support – and which will not – a recently revamped industry alliance known as Matter. The group, which includes Apple, Ikea, and others, aims to allow home-automation gadgets such as Internet-connected lights and speakers from various companies to sync with one another.

“For what period of time do you commit to support the Matter interoperability project, and who at your companies is responsible for determining whether to extend the length of your commitment to Matter?” Klobuchar wrote to Amazon and Google.

She called on the companies by July 2 also to answer questions about data collection by voice assistants and how the information is used.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Apple to Face Hearing on App Store Developer Contracts Case on September 17 in France

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By Reuters | Updated: 24 June 2021

A French court has set September 17 as the date for hearing a case brought by the finance ministry against Apple over allegedly abusive contractual terms imposed by the tech giant for selling software on its App Store.

The case, judged by Paris’ commercial court, is unlikely to lead to a significant fine if Apple is found guilty, based on previous similar cases. But the court could compel the iPhone maker to change some of its App Store contractual terms.

A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment.

The case echoes a complaint by Fortnite creator Epic Games, which is engaged in multiple lawsuits across the world against Apple since a dispute over app payment commissions surfaced last year.

The ministry’s lawsuit comes after a three-year probe by the DGCCRF consumer fraud watchdog, which comes under the remit of Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who ordered the investigation.

In France, the law allows the finance minister to sue companies when abusive business practices are found in contracts.

France’s leading startup lobby France Digitale has joined the case, according to a court document seen by Reuters.

“We’re going to find ourselves in a ‘heads you lose, tails I win’ situation,” said Nicolas Brien, the head of the European startup network and chief executive of France Digitale.

“Either the commercial court condemns Apple, and it will be unprecedented … or Apple gets away with it, and it will be proof that current laws don’t allow the regulation of a systemic platform like Apple.”

Further hearings could follow and no date has been yet set for the court’s decision.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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