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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Search Engines Are Slammed for Encouraging Piracy

The entertainment industry has accused search engine providers for doing not enough to prevent people from finding pirated content on the Internet. It claims that over 50% of people looking at copyright infringing material used search terms which suggested innocent intent.

The MPAA said that almost 60% of the search queries users enter before accessing infringing material contained generic of title-specific keywords only. In other words, users weren’t necessarily seeking to find pirated content when they began a search – instead of searching for a phrase which would imply a search for illegal content, like “torrent” or “free download”, users only entered the name of the movie and were served up links to illicit material.

The industry insists that search engines remain the most popular way users access illegal content: 3/4 of the respondents admitted to using a search engine to discover pirated content or navigate around domains with infringing material. At the same time, the report shows that only 20% of users access pirated content via search engines, while 35% come from linking services. The rest come from the “other” sources.

In response, Google repeats that it can’t be held liable for people’s decisions to access illegal content like movies and TV shows. But the MPAA still charges the anti-piracy methods of the search giant with being ineffective. The industry claimed that Google’s plan to “demote” the search ranking of websites supporting piracy, enacted a year ago, actually left referrals to those websites flat. However, the Internet Association argues that the industry was blaming the Internet and technology for its problems, because in reality, the worldwide web is empowering content creators and consumers to access more legitimate material than ever before.

The search giants declined to comment at first, but the recent anti-piracy report revealed that Google laid out exactly how it decides to demote and remove infringing websites. The company used the number of valid copyright removal notices as a signal for ranking purposes, but never removed pages from results until receiving a specific removal request. Google explained that even for the sites with the highest numbers of notices, the number of noticed pages was just a tiny fraction of the total number of pages on the website. This is why it would have been inappropriate to take down entire sites.

Google “Condemned” By UK Politicians For Linking to Piracy

A British House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee report has today “condemned” Google’s failure to adequately respond to the issue of online piracy and its refusal to block “infringing” websites on the grounds they might also carry legal material. Citing the recent successful prosecution of a streaming site admin, the committee also calls for punishment in such cases to be extended to 10 years imprisonment.
google-bayDuring the last couple of years entertainment companies have heavily criticized Google for linking to copyright-infringing material in its search results.
Google has responded by removing many millions of links but apparently that’s just not enough. In the past couple of weeks the world’s largest search engine has become a punching bag for the music andmovie industries and today they find themselves battered again, this time by a British House of Commons report.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee comprises MPs from several parties including those from the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government and Labour opposition. Today in a new report aimed at supporting the creative economy, the Committee dedicates an entire section to copyright and piracy issues. It has many targets for criticism but begins with a swipe at the UK’s leading Internet rights groups.

Open Rights Group

“The relationship between the strength of Britain’s creative industries and robust copyright laws is acknowledged by the Open Rights Group which aims radically to liberalise the use and sharing of copyrighted content.
“While we share the Open Rights Group’s attachment to freedom of expression via the internet, we firmly repudiate their laissez-faire attitudes towards copyright infringement,” the Committee says.
Repeating industry claims that film and music piracy results in lost annual sales of £400 million (while noting it could be well in excess of £1 billion) the report says the Open Rights Group’s “quibbles” that the figures “were not based on exact science” should not detract from the damage piracy causes the creative economy.

IP Crime Unit and site blocking

cityoflondonpoliceThe report goes on to mention the creation of a newCity of London Police unit dedicated to cracking down on intellectual property crime and reveals that a first-of-its-kind conference is being planned “to bring players from across the world to London” to discuss enforcement issues.
On the blocking of infringing websites by ISPs the Committee said there were signs that the courts are making it easier, citing comment from the MPAA supporting “improvements to the justice system” to allow site blocking orders to be obtained more efficiently.
“We encourage businesses to use the current law to bring claims wherever it is feasible for them to do so. There nonetheless remains a systemic failure to enforce the existing laws effectively against rife online piracy,” the report notes.
But inevitably the big guns were turned on the messenger.

Google in the firing line again

The Committee begins by quoting Google itself, who at the time were removing around 9 million URLs from its indexes every month at the request of copyright holders. This was countered with information provided by the BPI who said that despite Google’s alleged algorithm changes, the instances of infringing sites turning up in the top 10 results had fallen only marginally, from 63% in August 2012 to 61% a year later. Clearly the Committee are unimpressed.
“We strongly condemn the failure of Google, notable among technology companies, to provide an adequate response to creative industry requests to prevent its search engine directing consumers to copyright-infringing websites,” the report states in emphasized bold type.
“We are unimpressed by their evident reluctance to block infringing websites on the flimsy grounds that some operate under the cover of hosting some legal content. The continuing promotion by search engines of illegal content on the internet is unacceptable. So far, their attempts to remedy this have been derisorily ineffective,” it continues.
“We do not believe it to be beyond the wit of the engineers employed by Google and others to demote and, ideally, remove copyright infringing material from search engine results. Google co-operates with law enforcement agencies to block child pornographic content from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible answer as to why it cannot do the same for sites which blatantly, and illegally, offer pirated content.”
Turning up the heat further still in an attempt to have Google held accountable through the reporting of a government office, the report has more proposals.
“We recommend that the Intellectual Property Office’s annual reports include an assessment of the degree of online copyright infringement and the extent to which identified search engines and other internet services facilitate this. We further recommend that the Government consider how it might incentivise technology companies to hinder access via the internet to copyright infringing material.”
Of course, while “carrots” are offered to do something about infringement, no document of this nature could conclude without a recommendation to bring out the sticks.

10 years in jail for “serious” online infringement

Citing the successful prosecution of SurftheChannel owner Anton Vickerman, the report notes that while large scale copyright infringement in the offline world can result in harsh penalties, online those punishments are limited to two years. To sidestep this issue a decision was made to prosecute Vickerman on counts of Conspiracy to Defraud which ultimately secured a four year jail sentence. In future the Committee would like to see such maneuvering become unnecessary.
“We recommend that the maximum penalty for serious online copyright theft be extended to ten years’ imprisonment. Criminal offences in the online world should attract the same penalties as those provided for the physical world by the Copyright, etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002,” the Committee notes.

Digital Economy Act

Finally the report criticizes the delay in implementing the controversial Digital Economy Act, stalled now for the best part of three years. In particular, the issuing of warning notices to infringers should come sooner rather than later.
“We recommend that a copyright infringement notification system envisaged by the Digital Economy Act be implemented with far greater speed than the Government currently plans. By targeting information letters to the worst infringers, early implementation will, we believe, serve an important educative purpose which could percolate more widely,” the report states.
However, if the government can’t get its act together, a voluntary scheme between ISPs and copyright holders should be put in place.
“We are encouraged by the progress that has been made towards instituting a voluntary system of warning letters following discussions involving internet service providers and rights owners. If this can be achieved by mutual cooperation rather than legislation, it will be a major step forward.
“However, should voluntary initiatives such as this prove unsuccessful then the Government should ensure that the equivalent measures in the Digital Economy Act are promptly put into effect,” the Committee concludes.

Microsoft Wants Google to Censor Its Wikipedia Page

It’s no secret that copyright holders are trying to take down as much pirated content from Google as they can. This sometimes leads to unavoidable mistakes, but the track record Microsoft is building leans toward sheer incompetence. Last week the software giant’s anti-piracy partner asked Google to remove a link to its Office 2007 Wikipedia entry, several pages on Microsoft.com, and an open source software project for SharePoint templates.
microsoft-pirateUpdate: Microsoft ditched the anti-piracy company that sent the embarrassing takedown notices.
Day in and day out copyright holders send hundreds of thousands of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find.
During the past month alone copyright holders asked Google to remove 20,497,209 URLsfrom its search results. Unfortunately, not all of these requests are legitimate.
Microsoft in particular has a horrible reputation in this regard. While most of the URLs submitted on their behalf do indeed link to infringing content, not all requests are correct. In fact, some takedown notices are rather embarrassing.
Last week, for example, one of Microsoft’s notices asked Google to take down the Wikipedia entry for Office 2007. As can be seen below, in the same notice the software giant also wants a perfectly legitimate tutorial on Microsoft.com taken down.

Microsoft Ditches Anti-Piracy Partner After Embarrassing DMCA Takedowns

A few hours after TorrentFreak uncovered yet another embarrassing list of DMCA takedown requests sent on behalf of Microsoft, the company has decided to cut its partnership with the anti-piracy company responsible. The software giant was forced to apologize for inaccurate notices once too often and has just informed the French anti-piracy outfit LeakID that it’s no longer allowed to send notices on Microsoft’s behalf.
microsoftOver the past year the number of DMCA takedown requests sent out by copyright holders has increased dramatically, and so have inaccurate notices targeting legitimate content.
Microsoft has been one of the most active notice senders and over the past year alone has asked Google to remove more than 10 million infringing URLs from its indexes.
The software giant has also developed a reputation for sending a lot of false notices, most of which have been sent through the French company LeakID.
This morning we again reported on some rather embarrassing takedown notices, which asked for the removal of Microsoft’s own website, its Wikipedia entry and an Open Source project. If that wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft also claimed ownership of a porn video.
It turns out this was the final straw for the company. Microsoft has just announced that it has decided to stop working with LeakID effective immediately.
“Microsoft is committed to ensuring that enforcement measures are appropriate and completely accurate. We are investigating the circumstances of this takedown and have instructed the vendor that it is no longer authorized to send notices on our behalf,” a Microsoft spokesman just informed TorrentFreak.
This makes Microsoft the first company to publicly cut its ties with an anti-piracy company for making too many embarrassing mistakes.
Microsoft’s troubles with LeakID started last year when a DMCA notice ordered Google to remove legitimate webpages from AMC Theatres, BBC, Buzzfeed, CNN, HuffPo, TechCrunch, RealClearPolitics, Rotten Tomatoes, ScienceDirect, Washington Post, Wikipedia and even the U.S. Government.
In another notice Microsoft asked Google to remove a Spotify.com URL and on several occasions they even asked Google to censor their own search engine Bing.
Hats off to Microsoft for taking a stand on this matter in public. For us it probably means that we’ll have fewer mistakes to point out in the future, but it also shows that all our previous digging expeditions have not been in vain.

Mobile Companies Refused to Comment NSA Spying

Major mobile companies refused to say why they hadn’t challenged the court orders which compel them to hand over user’s sensitive information. The phone firms still guard their silence over the controversial collection of metadata by the National Security Agency. A few days ago the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance court declassified its legal reasoning for approving the agency’s phone metadata program periodically over the past 6 years.


No comments were produced by Verizon, the telecoms giant that was revealed to be under a secret court order to disclose details of the phone records of millions of its subscribers. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile US also refused to provide any comments over the issue.

CenturyLink, Louisiana-based company, stated that it respects and protects the privacy of its subscribers and only provides information to the authorities when required by law. The company declined to comment on matters of national security.

In its declassified opinion, the surveillance court explained that no telecoms company has ever challenged its orders for the bulk collection of phone records. The opinion implied that by failing to challenge the legality of the move, the mobile companies were accepting its constitutional status.

Seeking clarification, the industry observers asked 5 of the top American mobile companies whether their lack of resistance to the collection of their phone records was indeed an implicit acceptance of its legality. The phone companies were also asked how they could justify to their own subscribers the decision not to challenge the surveillance court orders, while many online giants, including Yahoo, have contested the legality of such data collection. However, no comments were provided to the reporters asking the companies to clarify whether their compliance with the surveillance court orders relating to agency’s data collection was voluntary, or whether they were pressured into conceding without protest.

The decision of the mobile giants not to comment on the NSA requests puts the companies in a very peculiar position. They should understand that by withholding their internal views from the people (their customers, to be precise), the companies are setting themselves apart from equivalent online giants that preferred taking a more bullish stance. In addition, phone companies should realize that they are shrouding themselves in more secrecy than even the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance court – one of the most tight-lipped institutions in the world.

Google Will Ditch Cookies

The search giant has decided to kill cookies and is ready to switch to an anonymous identifier for advertising – AdID. It would replace 3rd-party cookies as the way advertisers track users’ browsing activity for marketing purposes.

The new instrument will allow users to limit advertisement tracking via browser settings. AdID can be reset by the browser every year, and people are able to create a secondary AdID for super secret Internet browsing sessions.

In case Google goes ahead with the plan it could mark a major change in the $120 billion digital advertising industry. The AdID would only be passed to advertisers and advertisement networks which have agreed to basic guidelines. The search giant believes it would give consumers more privacy and control over how they surf the web.

The company is going to show the idea to industry participants, government bodies and consumer groups very soon. Industry observers confirm that lately 3rd-party cookies have been too popular, and many browsers started blocking them. In case Google follows through with its own version of this approach, the users will get more control over how they are tracked on the Internet. At the same time, it will also give Google a lot more power.

Brazil Calls for Online Freedom from Surveillance

President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff claimed that the country is fed up with US Internet spying, and announced that it will set up a local network to divorce itself from the Internet. President also ordered a series of measures to enhance online independence and security.


Rousseff is miffed that the US National Security Agency intercepted her own communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network, and even spied on the citizens who entrusted their personal data to social networks and search engines. Today industry observers are worried that such moves indicate the beginning of the Balkanization of the Internet.

For example, director of the Open Technology Institute said that that the global backlash is only beginning and seems to get worse in coming months. At the moment, Brazil wants online data to be stored locally, but this could break popular software apps and services and endanger the open structure of the worldwide web. Moreover, this would be very time consuming and costly, while encouraging repressive governments to seek greater technical control over the web to crush free expression.

In most cases, it is nations advocating greater “cyber-sovereignty” wanting such control, with Western democracies led by the US and the EU in opposition. In response, the repressive countries can now say that is just making it easier for Western governments to spy on them.

American digital security experts warned that moves from Brazil can embolden some of the “worst nations out there” to seek more control over their Internet. Apparently, the “worst nations” include Russia, China, Iran and Syria.

President of Brazil is going to build an underwater fiber optic cable directly to Europe. Moreover, Rousseff is planning to link to all South American nations into a network free of US surveillance. This is because there’s a common understanding between Brazil and the EU data privacy. Brazil has claimed that the negotiations are underway in South America for the deployment of land connections between all countries. Another suggestion is to build more Internet exchange points to route the local traffic away from potential interception. The country’s postal service is also going to create an encrypted email service which could serve as an alternative to Gmail and Yahoo. 

There Are 430 Million Active Pirates Out There

A recent survey has discovered that online piracy is growing rapidly (well, this wasn’t a news). According to the estimations, 432 million people per month used the worldwide web to access copyright infringing material. Within a month, all these pirates consumed 9,567 petabytes of illegal content, mostly via BitTorrent. To put it simply, about 25% of all Internet traffic is attributed to piracy.


The conclusion of the report was also nothing new – despite anti-piracy policies and enforcement actions, piracy cannot be stopped. The researchers admit that the practice of infringement is “tenacious and persistent”. Sometimes the industry succeeds in limiting infringement, but not for long. At the moment, the piracy universe not just persists in attracting more users, but also hungrily consumes increasing amounts of bandwidth.

Among the most visible trends the observers point at direct download “cyberlockers” losing plenty of visitors within the last couple years, while other platforms, on the contrary, expanded their user bases. So, within 2012, the number of pirates using cyberlockers decreased by 8%, and the most obvious reason for this is MegaUpload shutdown. In the meantime, the number of file-sharers using BitTorrent and video streaming platforms grew by 27% and 22% accordingly.

Today most illegal file-sharers use direct download and torrent services, both accounting for 200 million unique users per month. This figures excluded users who never download any infringing content, and their share is only 4% for BitTorrent and 8% for direct download services.

The total bandwidth generated by illegal file-sharers in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific is estimated at over 9,500 petabytes of data – so, you can guess that global traffic far exceeded 10,000 petabytes. Here BitTorrent is the absolute leader, and this makes sense – people both download and upload content, thus generating twice as much traffic. At the same time, cyberlocker users downloaded relatively little data – about 338 petabytes per month.

Talking about regional trends, direct download services are preferred in the Asia-Pacific region, and BitTorrent is popular in Europe and North America. Although there is no clear way these numbers could be translated into losses for the entertainment industry, the latter will undoubtedly leave no opportunity unused to turn the results of the survey to its advantage.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Yahoo and Facebook Explain Their Collaboration with NSA

Marissa Mayer, the current Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook responded to critics who have charged tech companies with doing not enough to fight off NSA surveillance. Mayer explained that executives faced jail for disclosing government secrets.


Yahoo and Facebook, as well as a number of some other tech leaders, want to publish the number of requests they receive from the spy agency. However, organizations are forbidden by law to disclose how much information they provide.

Yahoo was asked why tech giants hadn’t simply told the public about what the United States surveillance industry was looking for. Mayer explained that releasing classified data is treason. However, Yahoo from the beginning has been skeptical of those NSA requests, and even sued the foreign intelligence surveillance court, providing the legal framework for NSA surveillance, but without success.

Mark Zuckerberg also believes that the government had done a “bad job” of balancing people’s privacy and its duty to protect. After the truth about PRISM was revealed and the US responded that they aren’t spying on any Americans, Zuckerberg pointed out that it was no help to inspire confidence in companies trying to serve people worldwide. Facebook and others were pushing successfully for more transparency and are still ready to sue in order to get this.

A few days ago, executives from Yahoo, Facebook, Google and other tech giants met the president’s group on intelligence and communications, whose task is to review the technologies used by the NSA. The meeting resulted from the lawsuits Yahoo and Facebook filed again to force the surveillance court to allow them to disclose more data. Yahoo claimed that its inability to respond to news reports has harmed the company’s reputation and has undermined its business not only in the US but everywhere. Aside from Yahoo and Facebook, Microsoft and Google also filed their latest legal briefs to force the court to disclose more data. For example, Google was asking to be allowed to publish detailed statistics about the types of national security requests it received. In addition, the company has also asked the court to hold its hearing in open rather than behind closed doors. 

Google’s CEO Talks about the Nature of US Surveillance

Eric Schmidt recently claimed it was time for a public debate about the nature of the NSA’s surveillance activities, while admitting that spying was an undeniable fact of our modern life. Schmidt said there had been spying and surveillance for years, and he wasn’t going to pass judgment on that, because it was the nature of the society.

Along with other largest tech firms in the world, Google has been pressing the American government to be more transparent about the surveillance orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). Schmidt pointed out that the search giant has filed legal briefs to force the court to disclose more data.

Eric Schmidt also clarified that his comments were based on the presumption that information disclosed by Edward Snowden was “roughly accurate”. Snowden revealed that the NSA operated a program called PRISM, which internal agency documents claimed offered direct access to the servers of tech giants including Google. However, Google denied this characterization.

Schmidt, who has been at Google for a dozen years, said he believed most citizens of the United States would support the NSA working to protect people, but wouldn’t appreciate the government misuse of their information. Google also expressed concern that the publicity surrounding Snowden’s revelations would lead to the Internet becoming less global, as some countries tried to enact greater protections for their citizens.

Eric Schmidt explained that the real danger of this publicity is that other countries would try to put very serious encryption (so-called “balkanization”) – to essentially split the worldwide web and that the Internet would become more country specific. This could break the way the Internet works.

Google’s representative was also talking about innovation and the impact of new technologies on the society of the United States. In his talk, Schmidt dismissed criticisms by such experts as Evgeny Morozov, the Belarusian author of The Net Delusion, who were skeptical of claims that the worldwide web would lead to greater democratization. Eric Schmidt pointed out that Morozov was a unique critic in that he was the only one making those arguments, but he later added Julian Assange to the list as well.

Pentagon Will Fight Leaks by Consolidating Data

The US Department of Defense has decided to defeat hackers by putting all of data in one place. The cunning plan developed by some military geniuses is to consolidate the department’s 15,000 networks into a single “joint information environment” that would be protected by JIE, a new set of security protocols. The Pentagon called this a “single security architecture”, but the hackers would have a better name for it – a “target”.


The Pentagon claims that the protocols will make it easier to detect intrusions and identify illegal “insiders” accessing a network. Media reports say that the brilliant idea was suggested by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs Army General Martin Dempsey. The plan suggests that the system can potentially save billions of dollars by eliminating redundant, overlapping systems.

There are some unhappy with the decision. Actually, there is a so-called “bureaucratic” reluctance to change the situation in the Pentagon, but the industry experts weren’t really surprised. In the meantime, the head of DISA, Air Force Lieutenant General Ronnie Hawkins, has warned that JIE was pushing the Department into unchartered territory. Hawkins described the venture as the digital equivalent of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the western US. It is known that JIE will be financed under the Pentagon’s $23 billion cybersecurity budget.

The experts point at the technology consideration as to whether 15,000 networks are able to coalesce into a common environment. It seems that it wouldn’t be a single architecture but more of a “standard security architecture”. In order to stop insider leaks, the JIE is supposed to track network activity through “identity access management” technology.

The supervisors of the system will have to look for warning signs of a potential insider threat – for example, whether people like Edward Snowden are authorized to be where they are at, and whether they have the administrative privileges. However, the plan can reverse and many industry observers point out that Snowden might have still slipped through the network, and in case of a consolidated network existence, the whistleblower would have had access to even more information.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Google Wants to Launch “Robo Taxi” Automated Service

The speculations are that Google is seriously thinking of creating a totally automated taxi service. Media reports claimed that not only was Google developing software for major auto companies, it has been also designing its own self driving car, and thinking of putting together a “robo taxi” fleet.

The rumors in the industry are that the tech giant has been in talks with contract manufacturers to design and build autonomous cars to Google’s own specifications. Historically, the company has talked big about self driving cars and does have the available tech, but was always trying to get the top manufacturers on side.

Despite the rumors that Google is going to sell self driving cars to ordinary people, the tech giant is believed to be seriously considering the premise of an autonomous “robo-taxi” service which will pick up passengers on demand. Undoubtedly, the company would have to find a willing region for its experiment first. The reports reveal that Google hopes it will manage to cut down on individual car ownership and reduce accidents.

It is believed that the company has hopes for a return to the car as a top commodity, and the rumors are that Google has been holding talks with such auto components giant as Continental AG. In addition, the industry observers point out that Google also invested $258 million in a taxi app service, Uber, which allows users get cabs on demand.

If true, the project is really ambitious. Not only would the tech giant have to develop and build a cost effective fleet, it would also have the task to ensure public safety and convince wary customers who might be resistant to the very idea of automated drivers. In addition, the idea in question would see the Internet giant go head to head against the gigantic automotive industry and its formidable lobby. In the meanwhile, Google has reportedly been working behind the scenes for quite some time in order to get people used to the idea. It is said that the company successfully won licensing and testing for autonomous vehicles in several states, including Florida, Nevada and, California, as well as in Washington DC.

Apple Trying to Prevent Ebook Punishment

Apple’s legal team is trying to prevent DoJ getting an injunction over the company’s ebook antics. The US Department of Justice believes that an injunction will stop the tech giant fixing the price of ebooks. In response, the company complained that the DoJ injunction will “inflict punishment” and therefore must be rejected by the court.

The two parties are trying to find out how to stop the tech giant shafting its clients with its anti-trust antics. A few weeks ago, the judge ruled that Apple had conspired with 5 major publishers to undermine pricing by competitors including Amazon.com. The latter is known as a leader of ebook market.

Media reports confirm that the Department of Justice wants the company to hire an external monitor and allow ebook retailers add hyperlinks to their own sites in their applications without charge. The Apple was also required to set limits on how the company negotiates for other material, like movies, music and TV shows.

The tech giant claimed that the government can’t make a successful company change the way it makes business decisions. Apple sees itself as a very powerful company, while the government has no power to run the country.

Surprisingly enough, the authorities appear to be caving in to Apple not like they were with Microsoft. Thus far, the Department of Justice has already suggested halving the length of its previously intended injunction to 5 years from 10, with leave to seek 5 one-year extensions in case of necessity. The judge also recommended that Apple hold staggered negotiations with the publishers, starting in 2 years, thus trying to minimize the chance of future collusion. Although the authorities removed a demand about the management of App Store, it appeared not good enough for the giant which still believes that it did nothing wrong and can continue.

The Department of Justice said that Apple is going to continue business as usual, paying no attention to the antitrust legislation. The outfit told the court that it should have no confidence that Apple effectively is able to ensure that its unauthorized conduct won’t be repeated. The authorities pointed out that there must be significant oversight by a person not inside Apple’s culture of insensitivity to basic tenets of antitrust legislation.

Gang Arrested over Cyber Tax Fraud

5 members of a suspected criminal gang, responsible for stealing the identities of 700 UK citizens, were arrested on suspicion of an attempted tax fraud.


Media reports confirmed that a 35-year-old man from Bologna, Italy, was charged with cheating HM Revenue and Customs and is currently in custody after investigators arrested him upon landing at Stansted airport. 4 other members were also arrested at Stansted, London and Kent, but were released on bail. Italian police revealed that the men were of Nigerian origin. The officers responsible for investigating online crime explained that the individual in Bologna had applied for £500,000 in rebates and had received over £100,000 within a year after stealing the identity of 700 British citizens. UK investigators traced the suspicious applications from the Internet and came to Italy this past May to meet a local prosecutor.

HM Revenue and Customs is at the moment investigating a so-called “cyber attack” by a group suspected of illegally obtaining personal information in order to set up false self-assessment accounts with the authority, starting over the 2012 Royal Jubilee weekend. The intent was to steal false tax rebates.

According to assistant director of criminal investigation, the online systems of the authority proved extremely resilient to such cyber attacks, so they correctly identified and prevented most of false repayment attempts from the outset. The authority confirmed that the arrests in question clearly demonstrate people suspected of attempting to cheat British taxpayers by defrauding HMRC will be caught, with international assistance in case of necessity.

The Italian investigators identified their suspect and then tracked him by the communications police from his apartment on the city’s outskirts. It turned out that he flew frequently to the UK. After his arrest, Italian officials together with two British customs and revenue officials searched his house and seized electronic devices. It was quite a modest apartment shared by the suspect with his wife, mother-in-law and two kids. The Italian official suggested that there must be a fault in the British system to allow this kind of fraud, because Italy hasn’t seen this kind of crime as this kind of operation remains more paper-based there.

Teenagers Care about Online Privacy

According to the 2012 Teens and Privacy Management Survey conducted by Pew Internet, teenagers are probably more worried about online privacy than adults – it turned out that they have taken steps to uninstall or avoid many teen apps over concern about their privacy.

According to statistics, teen girls are more likely to delete location data, and most of them have disabled location tracking features on mobile phones and in applications, as they are worried about others’ access to that private data. The survey in question was conducted among American teenagers ages 12-17.

Over 50% of all teens have downloaded applications to their cell phone or tablet PC and 51% of teen apps users have also avoided certain software because of privacy concerns. More than 25% have uninstalled an application because they found out that it was collecting personal data which they didn’t want to share. Finally, over 46% have switched off location tracking features on their cell phone or in an application since they were worried about the privacy of their data.

9 Million UK Users Suffered from Cybercrime

It turned out that 8% of cybercrime targets suffered financial losses – among them, people aged over 55 were least likely victims. In the meantime, the financial impact of cybercrime varies, with the overall cost to the economy estimated at £27 billion annually.

Over 9 million UK Internet users have had their accounts hacked. Of them, 8% of the population explained that they have lost money in 2012 due to cybercrime. Online security experts pointed out that it was quite surprising that 2.3% of the population reported losing over £10,000 to Internet fraudsters.

According to the survey, about 18% of the respondents had experienced attempts to break into their Internet accounts, including email, Internet banking, gaming and social media. 30% of them said it had happened more than once. The researchers revealed that people aged 55 to 64 were least likely to be targeted by cyber criminals – the rate was around 11%, perhaps because they are more care more about security. More than 25% of people aged 18 to 24 have become a victim of cyber attack.

92% of respondents said they had lost nothing in 2012 due to any kind of cybercrime. However, over 3% of more than 1,500 surveyed had lost up to £100, another 2.5% complained they had lost up to £10,000, and 2% claimed to have lost over £10,000.

For comparison, back in 2011, a British government claimed that the overall cost to the economy was £27 billion per year, of which identity theft accounted for £1.7 billion and Internet scams and ripoffs – another £1.4 billion. According to the report, the main loser was UK business, which lost £21 billion due to high levels of IP theft and industrial espionage.

In the meantime, now the social media revolution had changed the way hackers do their job. They explain that a computer virus which used to steal credit card information now creates bogus Instagram “likes” that could be used to generate buzz for someone. Fake “likes” are sold in batches on online hacker forums. For example, one can get 1,000 Instagram followers for $15 and 1,000 Instagram “likes” for $30, while 1,000 credit card numbers cost only $6. Apparently, cyber crime has a clear impact on the lives of average British citizens, with their accounts and credentials being compromised, perhaps even multiple times.

China and NSA to Spy on the UN

It seems that the spying etiquette doesn’t exist anymore after failing to deal with a very embarrassing situation in the United Nations.


It turned out that the US National Security Agency has recently cracked the encryption protecting the UN’s internal videoconferencing system, but when it got there it found out China was already there and listening in. It seems that the spooks hacked the United Nations that has its headquarters in New York, a year ago. Within 3 weeks of initially gaining access to the system of the United Nations, the National Security Agency had increased the number of such decrypted communications from a dozen to over 450.

According to the US spooks, there had been numerous data breaches since 2004 to a Chinese military unit in Shanghai. In response, Chinese authorities denied all the claims, while the United States instead made an attempt to arrest the person who catches it and have them shot.

This turn of events is actually a follow up from a story about the NSA spying on the European Union. The report also exposed a “Special Collection Service”, jointly staffed by the CIA and NSA, which exists in more than 80 embassies and consulates across the globe, usually without the knowledge of the host country. Everything was revealed by Edward Snowden – a US citizen and former NSA contractor.

China under Massive DDoS Attack

A large DDoS attack has taken down much of the country’s Internet a few days ago. According to estimations, it was the biggest DDoS attack the Chinese government ever faced.


The attack started early weekend and in a few hours it picked up to the point of affecting Internet users. The security experts explained that the attack targeted the .cn registry that was eventually knocked out for 2 to 4 hours. Fortunately, most .cn websites weathered the storm, relying on registry records stored by their service providers.

After the attack has stopped, the Chinese users were again able to access all sites smoothly, except those that discuss democracy, dissidents, Tibet and the Tiananmen Square massacre, along with a few thousand other things that communists didn’t like to discuss.

The main question was who was responsible for this attack. Despite the fact that things were quiet on the international front, the country is embroiled in a few internal PR disasters, including the trial of Bo Xilai and a crackdown on social media. Although the infamous Great Firewall of China was always good at filtering embarrassing online searches, it was never designed with security in mind – or, at least, not this type of security.

The security experts admit that despite its sophistication and apparent success, the attack could have been carried out by a single individual.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Why Do We Work Eight Hours a Day?

In the United States, Labor Day is celebrated the first Monday of September to honor the contributions workers have made to the country. To mark the occasion, Americans close their office doors to head to the beach, fire up the barbecue and shop for bargains.
For many countries in the rest of the world, however, May 1, better known as May Day or International Workers' Day, is the annual holiday to celebrate the labor movement. Because of its significance, May Day has become an occasion not only of international celebration, but also widespread protest, entirely fitting given that the first May Day was sparked by a labor demonstration. And although the holiday today isn't well recognized within the United States, May Day is in fact of American origin and came out of the struggle to get workers the right to an eight-hour workday.
In August 1866, the newly constituted National Labor Union urged Congress to pass a law mandating the eight-hour workday. The group's efforts fell short on the national level (and the National Labor Union eventually dissolved some seven years later), but the message trickled down to the states.
In 1867, the Illinois Legislature passed a law mandating an eight-hour workday. The legislation may have been intended to hand a victory to workers, but employers simply refused to cooperate.
On May 1, 1867, a citywide strike in Chicago devolved into bedlam as police clashed with demonstrators. Police suppressed the strikers with force, effectively allowing private employers to continue skirting state law.
In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant issued a proclamation that guaranteed both a stable wage and an eight-hour workday, but it only applied to government employees. Workers in private enterprise hoped they could get the same legal guarantees in a national law.
In the 1870s and 1880s, the eight-hour workday became a key demand of labor unions across the country. The National Labor Union had dissolved, but in its place rose other groups, such as the Knights of Labor and later the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (the precursor to today's American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL–CIO). May 1 also became an annual day in which to organize strikes and hold demonstrations in support of the movement. As workers' demands were continuously rebuffed, calls came for an armed uprising.
In 1886, labor unions called for a national strike for a shorter workday, a call which drew over 300,000 workers to demonstrate in support on May 1. In Chicago, strikes turned to violent conflict between workers, a mix of anarchists and socialists, and strikebreakers in the Haymarket area between May 3 and 4. In the aftermath of the violence, labor leaders associated with the local movement were round up, tried and executed.
What would become known as the Haymarket massacre served to both galvanize the movement among its supporters as well as weaken labor in the view of the public, who had seen its violent side, one of the reasons why Americans commemorate the labor movement in September instead.
In 1890, the government for the first time began tracking the number of hours workers put in every week. That year, full-time manufacturing employees worked an average of 100 hours a week and building tradesmen were on the job an average 102 hours. Even if the labor movement had gotten louder and more aggressive with its demands, little had changed in terms of workers' conditions.
For the rest of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, labor groups won the right to an eight-hour workday typically on a local level or across an industry group. In 1916, railroad workers won the right to an eight-hour workday and overtime pay with the passage of the Adamson Act. Decades later, the National Industrial Recovery Act, enacted to combat the Great Depression and later replaced with the Wagner Act, provided for the establishment of maximum workweeks and minimum wages. Still, it wasn't until the 1950s that most Americans actually achieved the eight-hour workday.

Wild Sex Party Busted at a Michigan Masonic Temple

Do you get all hot and bothered when you're sitting inside a temple? Because, if so, you might want to connect with the group that allegedly had a "drug fuelled sex party" inside a Masonic temple in Michigan recently. They might be your spirit guides. 
Don't let anyone tell you they don't party hard in Michigan. This story, alerted to us by Raw Story, is almost too hard to believe. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports police officers in Battle Creek, Michigan responded to calls about a fight at the Masonic temple around 2:19 a.m. last Sunday. But when the police arrived the physical altercations taking place were not violent. Take it away, News Channel 3: 
Sources told us the first officer to walk inside, was shocked to find a couple performing a lewd sex act, along with drugs, multiple nude women and men videotaping it all behind these closed doors. 
The Enquirer says five women were dancing onstage. All were ordered to get dressed and leave. 
Maybe there's a reasonable explanation, though. Charlie, a representative for the Masonic Temple who refused to be identified further, told News Channel 3 that a group paid $900 to rent the building for a "dance party" that night. He also denied accusations that this was not the first time a sex party had occurred behind the organizations doors. The Masonic temple where the alleged drug fuelled sex party took place is next door to the Battle Creek police department and across the street from the county courthouse. 
No other reports exist about the story, and what drugs were present is never made clear. But, still: a group of people were allegedly busted videotaping a swinging, stoned orgy inside a Masonic temple in Battle Creek, Michigan. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Russian SOPA Enforced, Next Day Snowden Offered a Job

New anti-piracy law was enforced in Russia on the 1st of August, and local copyright holders seem to be waiting for it. For example, one movie company immediately filed a lawsuit against infamous social networking giant vKontakte (InTouch), but had no success, because it failed to prove it actually owned the content in question. In response, the owners of the largest social network in Europe announced they would love it if Edward Snowden came to work for them and help protecting the privacy of the millions of Internet users.


New legislation in Russia was met by a wave of protests, accounting for over 1,700 websites and services taking part in a SOPA-style “blackout”, trying to demonstrate how the law, which allows for pre-trial blocking of online services, could affect the whole nation. The activists have already started a petition against the law, and it has gathered lots of support – in the first days of August there were 75,000 signatures collected.

The Russian SOPA allows copyright owners to file an official complaint about any online services hosting infringing material or links to it. If the services in question fail to remove such content, their entire domains can be blocked at the ISP level. A local movie company Cinema Without Borders was first to file a lawsuit in the Moscow City Court against vKontakte, claiming that the company was notified about illegal content but failed to respond. The social network denied that version of events. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, the court decided to reject the lawsuit on the basis of inadequate paperwork.

However, this is not why InTouch hit the headlines today – as you know, a few days ago Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia and finally left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. It should be noted that the papers provided to him by the Immigration Service not just allow him living in the Russian Federation, but also working in the country. And, if the social networking giant has its way, Edward will be doing that under its guidance.

The founder of InTouch, Pavel Durov, made a statement, officially inviting Edward to Saint Petersburg. Durov emphasized that they would be happy if Edward decided to join their team of programmers at the company. After all, there is no more popular European Internet company than InTouch, so Snowden might be interested in protecting the personal information of its 45 million users.

FBI Managed to Hack Tor

FreedomWeb, an Ireland-based company providing hosting for “hidden services” over the Tor network, was recently closed down after its owner, Eric Eoin Marques, was alleged of helping spread kids abuse images.


Apparently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has managed to hack Tor. According to its Open Watch blog, users of Tor hidden services suddenly discovered that their copies of the browser were infected with malicious Javascript which de-anonymized them.

The experts suggest that the FBI has hacked them. The matter is that Tor Browser is originally shipped with Javascript disabled, but it seems to have been somehow switched back on again to make the browser more useful. Despite the fact that this move can be regarded as a victory for the FBI against kids pornographers using the Tor network, it also represents a serious security breach for international activists and online users living in repressive states which use the services with the only purpose to practice free speech on the Internet.

In its efforts to take down kids abuse images, the authorities might have exposed countless activists to arrest and torture. But the experts suggest that as far as the untouchables are concerned, those activists are foreigners and very far away. The affected service, OpenWatch, has been in the early stages of designing an alternative to Freedom Hosting, named OnionCloud, in order to allow anonymous Heroku-like app hosting.


Hackers Can Control Japanese Toilets

The latest security reports revealed that a high tech Japanese toilet can be easily hacked remotely. The experts have noticed that security is fast becoming a problem even in high-tech loos, followed by lots of security problems.


Actually, the researchers have discovered security vulnerabilities in high-tech loos within the last 4 years, and it looks like the producers aren’t trying too hard to solve the issue. Apparently, the last thing any of you wants when having your trousers around your ankles is a hacker infringing your privacy. In the meantime, the experts note that those high-tech loos are able to shoot hot water into your undercarriage or eject rather than flush.

Besides, they can just keep flushing, which isn’t much worse than a loo vulnerable to phishing – as you now understand, in the United States, there’s always the risk that the NSA might use a backdoor to access your backdoor. According to the latest reports, the there are a few warnings about a new Satis-brand Internet toilet – the developers decided that it isn’t enough to control the device on the throne and enabled users to flush it while being away on business. They also suggest that on a cold-winter’s day you will be able to heat up the seat for when you come home.

Security experts pointed out that every Satis toilet has the same hard-coded Bluetooth PIN. In other words, anyone using the “My Satis” application on Android will be able to control any Satis toilet.

MPAA Will Spy on Online Services and Forums

In the constant war against digital piracy, the Motion Picture Association of America is reported to be recruiting new people. For example, it is looking for an “Internet Analyst”, whose task will be to manipulate media files and monitor social networks, communities and forums. In addition, the outfit also offers an unpaid summer intern for students to assist with “content protection” projects. Indeed, the outfit just announced the 2013 summer internship – 30-hour a week job without compensation, promising “valuable educational training”. Why don’t you try? That’s the work of a dream!

At the moment, the MPAA employs almost 200 people and remains a thorn in the side of digital pirates throughout the globe. The outfit is known as the main instigator of the MegaUpload shutdown and is going to do the same to isoHunt and Hotfile. However, the war against Internet piracy seems to be far from over, so the MPAA is recruiting new people. One of its open positions is “Internet Analyst”, which reveals what the outfit is up to behind the scenes. The person hired for the job will work under the supervision of Senior Vice President Content Protection Internet Marc Miller, and his task will be to spot and analyze the latest piracy trends. His responsibilities will also include online spying on social media and other Internet communities, as the requirements say “monitor and report on Internet based social networks, communities and forums”.

An Internet analyst will also have to research how much harm piracy does to the entertainment industry. In order to make an accurate assessment of the piracy effects, he will have to cooperate with the largest movie studio members, vendors and industry partners, collecting and analyzing information regarding illegal downloads through cyberlockers, BitTorrent and other protocols.

The most interesting skill the position requires is “ability to manipulate online media files”, whatever that may entail. The anti-piracy outfit requires from prospective employees a bachelor degree in business, economics, computer science or engineering, or digital media production. However, no salary is specified.

Aussie against CAPTCHA

Australians are tired of using CAPTCHA and decided to go for open revolt. Media reports confirm that a new campaign calling for the death of CAPTCHA was launched in Earnest. Newspapers explain that the technology to fight spam bots is also blocking people with disabilities, and therefore CAPTCHA should be removed from sites.


As you know, CAPTCHA is a completely automated public Turing test to tell machines and humans apart, designed to prevent spammers from automatically sending commercial messages to websites and people by requiring them to read unreadable words and numbers.

However, there is a problem with CAPTCHA – the matter is that it hinders people with vision impairments to the point that they can’t use certain online services. A number of organizations, including Blind Citizens Australia, Able Australia, Media Access Australia and the Australian Deaf-Blind Council, are calling on Internet services to stop using CAPTCHA, launching a petition with the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

It seems that even when CAPTCHA uses audio files along with the strings of letters, the users with disabilities find them just as tough. Indeed, the recent research revealed that dyslexic, color-blind and older users usually find CAPTCHA hard to get through too. As a result, the technology may in fact contravene the country’s Disability Discrimination Act.

Instead of using CAPTCHA critics suggest using emails to activate and verify Internet users. In the meantime, the W3C online standards organization has already commented that the technology in question has become less effective as an anti-spam measure. It turned out that character and image recognition software is already able to defeat it.

TOR Recommended to Stay Away from Windows

TOR is warning Internet users to abandon Windows after it was revealed that American spooks were spreading malware on the popular anonymizing network exploiting Firefox zero-day vulnerability. The latter allowed the FBI to use JavaScript code in order to harvest crucial identifying data on PCs visiting some services using The Onion Router network.


TOR developers suggest users to simply switch away from Windows. The matter is that the malicious Javascript which exploited zero-day vulnerability was created to target Windows PCs running Firefox 17 ESR, a version customized to view websites through TOR.

In the meantime, people using Linux and OS X remained unaffected. Although there’s nothing to stop the spooks writing a version of the code targeting Linux and OS X, it is still less likely to happen. It seems that the fake Javascript was planted on services where the attacker was interested to see who visited. It collected the hostname and MAC address of a user’s PC and sent it to a remote computer. This exploit was targeted specifically to unmask people using Tor Browser Bundle without really installing any backdoors on their host.

The TOR developers also recommended peoples to turn off Javascript by clicking the blue "S" by the green onion within the TOR browser. They explained that disabling JavaScript may reduce users’ vulnerability to other attacks similar to the last one. However, disabling JavaScript would make some online services not work like users expect. A future version of the browser will have an easier interface to allow people to configure their JavaScript settings. Although Mozilla has already patched the hole in Firefox, some users may still be using the earlier versions of the TOR Browser Bundle.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Google: don't expect privacy when sending to Gmail

Critics call revelation 'a stunning admission' as Google makes claim in court filing in attempt to head off class action lawsuit

Dominic Rushe in New York
The Guardian, Wednesday 14 August 2013

Google said the plaintiffs were making 'an attempt to criminalise ordinary business practices' that have been part of Gmail since it began. Photo: Walter Bieri

People sending email to any of Google's 425 million Gmail users have no "reasonable expectation" that their communications are confidential, the internet giant has said in a court filing.

Consumer Watchdog, the advocacy group that uncovered the filing, called the revelation a "stunning admission." It comes as Google and its peers are under pressure to explain their role in the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance of US citizens and foreign nationals.

"Google has finally admitted they don't respect privacy," said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director. "People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents' privacy, don't use Gmail."

Google set out its case last month in an attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of breaking wire tap laws when it scans emails sent from non-Google accounts in order to target ads to Gmail users.

That suit, filed in May, claims Google "unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people's private email messages". It quotes Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman: "Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it."

The suit claims: "Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the 'creepy line' to read private email messages containing information you don't want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail."

In its motion to dismiss the case, Google said the plaintiffs were making "an attempt to criminalise ordinary business practices" that have been part of Gmail's service since its introduction. Google said "all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing."

According to Google: "Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient's assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient's ECS [electronic communications service] provider in the course of delivery."

Citing another privacy case, Google's lawyers said "too little is asserted in the complaint about the particular relationship between the parties, and the particular circumstances of the [communications at issue], to lead to the plausible conclusion that an objectively reasonable expectation of confidentiality would have attended such a communication."

A Google spokesperson said on Wednesday evening: "We take our users' privacy and security very seriously; recent reports claiming otherwise are simply untrue.

"We have built industry-leading security and privacy features into Gmail — and no matter who sends an email to a Gmail user, those protections apply."

Simpson, a long-term Google critic, said: "Google's brief uses a wrong-headed analogy; sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post Office. I expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address written on the envelope. I don't expect the mail carrier to open my letter and read it.

"Similarly, when I send an email, I expect it to be delivered to the intended recipient with a Gmail account based on the email address; why would I expect its content will be intercepted by Google and read?"

- This story was corrected on 14 August to make clear that Google's court filing was referring to users of other email providers who email Gmail users – and not to the Gmail users themselves.

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Britain Losing Digital Piracy Fight

While British Prime Minister David Cameron is making attempts to rustle up support for his online porn filter, it seems that cyber crime levels are still growing fast.


For some reason, Prime Minister wants people’s attention to focus on purging the worldwide web from anything he considers bad, at the same time ignoring a real cyber threat. According to the Home Affairs Committee, responsible to scrutinizing the government’s domestic policy, it is necessary to set up a “state-of-the-art espionage response team” in order to encourage corporations, banks and institutions to report hacking attempts to uncover the full extent of Internet crime.

The Committee explained that it was concerned about a “black hole” where low-level cyber crime is committed with impunity. It believes that cyber crime policing should be merged into a new unified structure as part of a shakeup of the UK’s policing structure. However, the report added that it was just the first stage to solve a real problem.

Prime Minister’s answer is to tighten up Internet porn legislation and demand that online giants block access to kids abuse content. In reality, that won’t stop online crime but will help some tabloids gloat about their campaign victories. The government is still too complacent about cybercrime, starting from identity fraud and data theft to the spreading of unauthorized images and extremist content.

In the meantime, opposition MP Keith Vaz, who is also chairman of the bipartisan committee, claimed that it is clear the United Kingdom isn’t winning the war on Internet criminal activity. Indeed, one can steal more online than you can by robbing a bank. This is why Internet criminals in 25 countries have chosen Britain as their prime target.

Industry experts admit that part of the problem is Prime Minister’s other obsession to isolate himself from EU-wide justice measures designed to address the problem. Nevertheless, EU members were also slammed for failing to do enough to stop attacks as well.

UK Porn Filter Will Be Controlled by Huawei

Huawei is in the headlines again – the BBC claimed that the filtering system suggested by UK Prime Minister would be controlled wholly by the Chinese giant Media reports cited how Huawei recently emerged the company designed Talk Talk’s Internet filtering system, Homesafe.


The fears are that the tech giant can have full control over David Cameron’s proposed opt-out porn filters. However, some background investigation reveals that Huawei has long had a relationship with the UK and has also often been the target of the US network lobby.

Talking about concerns, there have been efforts to restrict the use of devices produced by the tech giant, and perhaps for good reason. As you know, there have been rumors of backdoors revealed in Huawei routers, while another Chinese manufacturer, ZTE, was flagged for selling surveillance capable equipment to Iran. Anyway, there’s been no solid evidence about Huawei thus far.

At the same time, it is quite a complicated question whether it’s cheaper and more cost productive to buy from such countries as China. A number of American lawmakers alleged that the Chinese tech giant might be receiving funding from state owned Bank of China, which would mark it as in breach of anticompetition legislation. It can’t be compared one-to-one, but American and European bank bailouts with state money allow such institutions remain afloat and keep selling and speculating their financial products on the world stage. So, when American giants like Google, Microsoft or Intel are flagged, the fines are minimal.

Everyone has heard of China’s long history of Internet monitoring and censorship. But it is unclear who benefits most from a blockade on tech products – it may even be US networking companies, including Cisco and Juniper. They complain that such firms as Huawei essentially use the globalised free market against them by buying up US kit and reverse engineering it with cheaper components. This allegedly allows Huawei flood emerging markets with affordable kit which successfully prices US corporations out of the market. In the meantime, Huawei is proud to have an extensive patent portfolio of its own.

In times of economic recession, it is also tempting for Western private entity to use cheap products. This is why the Chinese giant has an established market presence across Europe and in Australia.


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