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Apple Announces End-to-End Encrypted iCloud Backups, Security Keys Support for Apple ID, More

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Apple will not be able to help users recover photos, notes, voice memos, and about 20 other types of data if they forget their password.
By Reuters | Updated: 8 December 2022

Apple plans to allow users to more tightly lock down photos and notes stored on its iCloud service and require a physical security key when logging in from a new device, it said on Wednesday.

The forthcoming options, along with another security measure for Apple’s iMessage chat program, are particularly aimed at celebrities, journalists, activists, politicians, and other high-profile individuals heavily targeted by hackers, the company said.

The iPhone maker said that though it was not aware of breaches to iCloud servers or iMessage exchanges, hacking attempts are increasing.

According to Apple, iCloud currently protects 14 sensitive data categories with end-to-end encryption technology. These include passwords in iCloud Keychain and Health data. The company has announced support for end-to-end encrypted backups, which will bring the total number of data categories protected to 23, including iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photos.

US users will be able to activate the free Advanced Data Protection for iCloud storage by the end of the year. When turned on, Apple cannot help users recover photos, notes, voice memos and about 20 other types of data if they forget their password. It will expand globally next year.

The option to require plugging a security fob into a new device to access an Apple account is expected to roll out next year. Rival Alphabet’s Google already supports such hardware keys, which are certified by industry body FIDO and cost about $25 (roughly Rs. 2,000).

On iMessage, conversations between users who enable the new Contact Key Verification next year would receive automated alerts about unrecognised devices potentially snooping on the exchange. Users can manually verify their communication is secure by matching up security codes, too. Secure chat services such as Signal offer comparable features.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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US Said to Stop Granting Export Licences for 4G, AI, Wi-Fi, Cloud Technology for China’s Huawei: All Details

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US officials are said to be creating a new formal policy of denial for shipping items to Huawei that would include items below the 5G level.
By Reuters | Updated: 31 January 2023 10:03 IST

The Biden administration has stopped approving licenses for US companies to export most items to China’s Huawei, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Huawei has faced US export restrictions around items for 5G and other technologies for several years, but officials in the US Department of Commerce have granted licenses for some American firms to sell certain goods and technologies to the company. Qualcomm, in 2020, received permission to sell 4G smartphone chips to Huawei.

A Commerce Department spokesperson said officials “continually assess our policies and regulations” but do not comment on talks with specific companies. Huawei and Qualcomm declined to comment. Bloomberg and the Financial Times earlier reported the move.

One person familiar with the matter said US officials are creating a new formal policy of denial for shipping items to Huawei that would include items below the 5G level, including 4G items, Wi-Fi 6 and 7, artificial intelligence, and high-performance computing and cloud items.

Another person said the move was expected to reflect the Biden administration’s tightening of policy on Huawei over the past year. Licenses for 4G chips that could not be used for 5G, which might have been approved earlier, were being denied, the person said. Toward the end of the Trump administration and early in the Biden administration, officials had still granted licenses for items specific to 4G applications.

American officials placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in 2019 restricting most US suppliers from shipping goods and technology to the company unless they were granted licenses. Officials continued to tighten the controls to cut off Huawei’s ability to buy or design the semiconductor chips that power most of its products.

But US officials granted licenses that allowed Huawei to receive some products. For example, suppliers to Huawei got licenses worth $61 billion (roughly Rs. 5 lakh crore) to sell to the telecoms equipment giant from April through November 2021.

In December, Huawei said its overall revenue was about $91.53 billion (roughly Rs. 7.5 lakh crore), down only slightly from 2021 when US sanctions caused its sales to fall by nearly a third.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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China’s Smartphone Sales Plunged to Lowest in a Decade in 2022, Vivo Top-Selling Brand: Report

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The total number of devices shipped was 286 million, down from 329 million in 2021.
By Reuters | Updated: 30 January 2023

China’s smartphone sales endured a record fall in 2022, tumbling 13 percent to their lowest level in a decade as COVID controls and a slowing economy sapped consumer appetite, data from third-party research firms showed.

The total number of devices shipped was 286 million, down from 329 million in 2021. It was the lowest sales volume since 2013 and the first time since then that annual sales have dropped below 300 million, IDC said in a report.

Strict COVID-19 controls weighed heavily on the Chinese economy last year but Beijing started dismantling the restrictions in December, boosting consumption.

“The strict pandemic control policy has resulted in historically high household savings as consumer spending became conservative,” said Lucas Zhong, who tracks China’s smartphone sector for research firm Canalys.

Android handset maker Vivo was the top-selling brand in 2022, with a market share of 18.6 percent, according to IDC. Its total shipments fell 25.1 percent year-on-year.

Huawei Technologies spin-off Honor ranked as the second best-selling brand, with shipments growing more than 34 percent, albeit from a low base.

Apple was the third best-selling phone brand in 2022, tied with Oppo, moving up from fourth place in the previous year.

Apple’s overall sales fell 4.4 percent year-on-year, according to IDC, while all other rivals excluding Honor saw sales fall in the double digits.

Overall, the plunge in smartphone sales in China reflected the sector’s performance globally. In 2022, global smartphone shipments hit 1.2 billion, the lowest since 2013 and a year-on-year fall of more than 11 percent, according to IDC.

A separate report from Canalys published on Monday said that in the fourth quarter of 2022, Apple sold 16.4 million devices, down 24 percent year-on-year. This compared to a 37.3 percent shipments slump from Xiaomi and Honor’s 14.1 percent fall during the same quarter.

That marks the first time Apple shipments dropped year-on-year in China since early 2020, when the first wave of COVID-19 swept the country. The fall was caused by an earlier release of the latest iPhone series as well as by worker unrest at its major manufacturer Foxconn’s plant in the city of Zhengzhou that impacted its supply chain, Canalys said.

Still, Apple remained the top-selling phone maker in China in the quarter, hitting record-high market share, Canalys added.

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Apple Files Appeal Against Investigation Into Cloud Gaming and Mobile Browser Dominance by UK Watchdog

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The UK's competition regulator is investigating cloud gaming and mobile browsers on concerns about restrictions by Apple and Google.
By Reuters | Updated: 21 January 2023

Technology giant Apple has filed an appeal against an investigation by Britain’s competition watchdog into the dominance of its mobile browsers in the cloud gaming market.

Last November, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Britain’s competition regulator, launched a full investigation into cloud gaming and mobile browsers on concerns about restrictions by iPhone-maker Apple and Google.

U.S. tech giants, including Google’s owner Alphabet and Apple, are drawing increasing attention from competition regulators in Brussels, London and elsewhere.

Lawyers representing Apple said in a notice filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Friday that the CMA’s investigation should be reviewed. In its argument, lawyers said that the CMA had missed timing requirements linked to the launch of an investigation.

“Apple seeks 1) an Order that the MIR Decision is quashed. 2) a declaration that the MIR Decision and market investigation purportedly launched by reference to it are invalid and of no legal effect,” the filing with the Appeal Tribunal showed.

Responding to the appeal, the CMA said on Friday it would defend its position and continue to progress its work in line with the statutory timetable.

“We opened this investigation to make sure that UK consumers get a better choice of mobile web services and that UK developers can invest in innovative mobile content and services,” the CMA said in an emailed statement.

There is due to be a preliminary hearing on the matter on Tuesday, according to the Competition Appeal Tribunal website.

Back in November 2022, the CMA said responses to its consultation from June revealed “substantial support” for a fuller investigation into the matter and how Apple restricts cloud gaming through its app store.

“Many UK businesses and web developers tell us they feel that they are being held back by restrictions set by Apple and Google,” said Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, in a statement at the time.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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Apple Files Appeal Against Investigation Into Cloud Gaming and Mobile Browser Dominance by UK Watchdog

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The UK's competition regulator is investigating cloud gaming and mobile browsers on concerns about restrictions by Apple and Google.

By Reuters | Updated: 21 January 2023

Technology giant Apple has filed an appeal against an investigation by Britain’s competition watchdog into the dominance of its mobile browsers in the cloud gaming market.

Last November, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Britain’s competition regulator, launched a full investigation into cloud gaming and mobile browsers on concerns about restrictions by iPhone-maker Apple and Google.

U.S. tech giants, including Google’s owner Alphabet and Apple, are drawing increasing attention from competition regulators in Brussels, London and elsewhere.

Lawyers representing Apple said in a notice filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Friday that the CMA’s investigation should be reviewed. In its argument, lawyers said that the CMA had missed timing requirements linked to the launch of an investigation.

“Apple seeks 1) an Order that the MIR Decision is quashed. 2) a declaration that the MIR Decision and market investigation purportedly launched by reference to it are invalid and of no legal effect,” the filing with the Appeal Tribunal showed.

Responding to the appeal, the CMA said on Friday it would defend its position and continue to progress its work in line with the statutory timetable.

Lawyers representing Apple said in a notice filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Friday that the CMA’s investigation should be reviewed. In its argument, lawyers said that the CMA had missed timing requirements linked to the launch of an investigation.

“Apple seeks 1) an Order that the MIR Decision is quashed. 2) a declaration that the MIR Decision and market investigation purportedly launched by reference to it are invalid and of no legal effect,” the filing with the Appeal Tribunal showed.

Responding to the appeal, the CMA said on Friday it would defend its position and continue to progress its work in line with the statutory timetable.

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CCI’s Google Order Will Bring ‘Cataclysmic Change’: Indian Internet Firms Hopeful as SC Backs Antitrust Ruling

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The apex court declined to grant an interim stay on the Rs. 1,337 crore penalty on Google.
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 20 January 2023

Indian Internet firms have expressed optimism about finding clear space for their apps on Android devices as Google failed to find relief in the Supreme Court on an NCLAT and CCI order against the Internet giant.

In a setback to Google, the Supreme Court has endorsed the order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) declining to grant an interim stay on the imposition of a penalty of Rs. 1,337 crore on the US tech giant by the competition regulator for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the Android mobile device ecosystem.

The top court said at the interlocutory stage, it would suffice to say that the findings of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Google were neither without jurisdiction nor suffering from any manifest error warranting its interference.

A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud granted a week’s time to the US firm to deposit 10 per cent of Rs. 1,337 crore penalty imposed on it by the CCI.

Home-grown navigation firm MapMyIndia, which has also filed a plea in the apex court to include it in the case, said that it was discussed in the court how Google foreclosed rivals such as MapmyIndia due to their anti-competitive practices, harming Indian consumers’ ability to choose, and harming the Indian economy and rivals such as MapmyIndia.

“As the Supreme Court in the end declined Google’s disingenuous arguments. Today marks one very critical step towards India breaking free from the digital slavery Google has perpetuated on Indians for the last 15 years, and it is the right moment for all Indians – consumers, media, app developers, OEMs, industry and government – to come together to create our own indigenous Aatmanirbhar ecosystem,” MapMyIndia CEO and Executive Director, Rohan Verma said in a statement.

The CCI had on October 20 last year asked Google to allow smartphone users on the Android platform to uninstall apps and let them select a search engine of their choice.

That order was to become effective from January 19.

On October 20 last year, the CCI besides slapping a steep penalty on Google also ordered the Internet major to cease and desist from various unfair business practices.

The regulator, which passed the order after having directed a detailed probe more than three years ago, has also asked Google to modify its conduct within a defined timeline.

The CCI, which had started probing the case in April 2019, has directed that Original Equipment Manufacturers should not be restrained from choosing from amongst Google’s proprietary applications to be pre-installed and also not be forced to pre-install a bouquet of applications on their smart devices.

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, Competition Law Practice, Partner, Naval Chopra said the SC decision is a landmark decision in the history of competition law jurisprudence in India and globally.

“CCI’s reasoning has been considered by the Supreme Court which has held that there is no reason to interfere with the CCI order at the interim stage. The CCI’s wide-ranging remedies go beyond Europe and will force Google to change the way it does business. It will open markets for Google’s competitors, who have long been marginalized by the tech behemoth’s vice-like grip over the Android ecosystem,” he said.

Indus OS Co-founder & CEO Rakesh Deshmukh said the SC decision will usher in a cataclysmic change in the Indian Smartphone Ecosystem and further improve and enhance digital penetration in our country.

“We are glad that millions of Indian users will now have a choice to experience our app store, without any restrictions. Indus OS has been working on its app store for over a decade now, which is tailor made to meet the preferences of the Indian consumers,” Deshmukh said.

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Caller Name Display Implementation Should Not Be Mandatory, COAI Tells TRAI

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CNAP is a supplementary service which enables the caller's name to flash on phone screens when a call is received.
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 20 January 2023

Industry body COAI has contended that implementation of Calling Name Presentation (CNAP) should not be made mandatory but kept optional for telecom operators, as the association shared technical, privacy and cost related concerns with regulator TRAI to argue its point.

The submissions came as part of a consultation process initiated by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on the need to introduce the Calling Name Presentation (CNAP) supplementary service in the telecommunication networks.

Put simply, CNAP is a supplementary service which enables the caller’s name to flash on phone screens when someone calls.

COAI, whose members include Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, said “CNAP should not be mandatory and should be optional for the telecom service providers”.

“Implementation of CNAP should be left to TSPs and they may consider implementing the same keeping the market dynamics / business case in mind,” Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) said.

In its arguments, COAI pointed out that not all handsets are capable of supporting such functionalities. It also flagged concern related to privacy and confidentiality of the country’s subscriber information.

COAI, whose members include Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, said “CNAP should not be mandatory and should be optional for the telecom service providers”.

“Implementation of CNAP should be left to TSPs and they may consider implementing the same keeping the market dynamics / business case in mind,” Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) said.

In its arguments, COAI pointed out that not all handsets are capable of supporting such functionalities. It also flagged concern related to privacy and confidentiality of the country’s subscriber information.

Given that handset manufacturers and operating system providers have control over the data obtained through the CNAP facility, this could result in the breach of subscriber data privacy as the manufacturers of mobile devices and OS providers would amass subscriber data for the entire country, COAI cautioned.

“This would be biggest concern related to privacy and confidentiality of entire country’s subscriber information, which would be akin to building up of name and mobile number database as is in Aadhaar database, with third parties,” COAI said.

The association wanted to know whether any study exists on benefits of such a system.

It said a detailed cost benefit analysis should be conducted before adoption of CNAP “if at all its implementation of CNAP is to be considered in India”.

TRAI must carry out a Regulatory Impact Assessment before coming out with any recommendation, COAI said.

The industry body also drew attention to technical complexities involved in implementation of CNAP and went on to say that it is extremely important that the authority shares the draft recommendation with the industry for comments and inputs “prior to finalising the same”.

While there are benefits which may be derived by the subscribers from such a service, there are also several challenges towards its implementation in India, the industry said.

In its submission to TRAI’s consultation paper, Reliance Jio said Calling Name Presentation should not be a mandatory service, given the limited availablility of CNAP enabled devices in India.

“…CNAP facilities is a good to have supplementary VAS service, however, in a country where over 375 million users (over 350 million mobile non broadband users and over 25 million wireline users) are unlikely to possess a CNAP enabled device, in addition to a sizable portion of the wireless broadband users that may not be possessing CNAP enabled devices as well, it can safely be said that it should not be a mandatory service,” Jio said.

Jio also explained there will be many technical issues like increased load on signalling and possible impact on latency and interconnection related issues, and added “therefore, a cautious approach is recommended.” “There are privacy related concerns with mandatory activation of the CNAP service on every device,” Jio said.

Given the customer privacy concerns, the facility should not be mandated and if voluntarily implemented by telcos should be based on opt-in consent, Jio said.

The display of name at the time of calling can lead to various social and criminal issues.

“Therefore, it is imperative that the consent of customer is taken before activating CNAP service on his/her device,” Jio said.

Jio said it is safe to assume that mandatory CNAP activation will not survive legal scrutiny.

“Furthermore, when a large section of telecom subscribers that is users on 2G-3G feature phones, 4G feature phone, smartphones not enabled with CNAP, smartphones requiring major update for CNAP, landline users etc will anyways be not able to avail this service, then the mandatory activation is a moot point and should be avoided,” according to Jio.

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