Tag: ban

By Glenn Chapman for IOL

Elon Musk on said Tuesday that as owner of Twitter he would lift the ban on Donald Trump, contending that kicking the former US president off the platform “alienated a large part of the country”.

Musk’s endorsement of a Trump return to the global messaging platform triggered fears among activists that Musk would “open the floodgates of hate”.

“I would reverse the permanent ban,” the billionaire said at a Financial Times conference, noting that he doesn’t own Twitter yet, so “this is not like a thing that will definitely happen.”

Trump has stated publicly that he would not come back to Twitter if permitted, opting instead to stick with his own social network, which has failed to gain traction.

The Tesla chief’s $44-billion (around R707 billion) deal to buy Twitter must still get the backing of shareholders and regulators, but he has voiced enthusiasm for less content moderation and “time-outs” instead of bans.

Trump was booted from Twitter and other online platforms after supporters fired up by his tweets and speech alleging election fraud attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a deadly bid to stop Joe Biden from being certified as the victor in the US presidential election.

“I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country, and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” Musk said.

Musk maintained that permanent bans undermine trust in Twitter as an online town square where everyone can be heard.

“Elon Musk would open the floodgates of hate and disinformation on Twitter,” said Media Matters for America president Angelo Carusone.

“Whether Elon Musk is a fully red-pilled right-wing radical or just someone very interested in enabling right-wing extremists, the result is the same.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, backed Musk’s perspective.

“Elon Musk’s decision to re-platform President Trump is the right call,” said organisation director Anthony Romero.

“Like it or not, president Trump is one of the most important political figures in this country, and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech.”

Romero pointed out that some of Trump’s controversy causing tweets have wound up being evidence in lawsuits against the former president by the ACLU and others.

Musk reasoned that permanent bans at Twitter should be rare, and reserved for accounts that are spam, scams or run by software “bots.”

“That doesn’t mean that somebody gets to say whatever they want to say,” Musk said.

“If they say something that is illegal or otherwise just destructive to the world, then there should be a perhaps a timeout, a temporary suspension, or that particular tweet should be made invisible or have very limited attraction.”

Ad boycott?

Activist groups have called on Twitter advertisers to boycott the service if it opens the gates to abusive and misinformative posts with Musk as its owner.

“Under Musk’s management, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of misinformation, with your brand attached,” said an open letter signed by more than two dozen groups including Media Matters, Access Now and Ultraviolet.

Twitter makes most of its revenue from ads, and that could be jeopardized by advertisers’ reaction to content posted on the platform, the San Francisco-based tech firm said in a filing with US regulators.

“We believe that our long-term success depends on our ability to improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter,” the company said in a regulatory filing.

Efforts toward that goal include fighting abuse, harassment, and spam, Twitter told regulators.

“Elon Musk owes the world a better explanation of how the platform will deal with the likes of Trump than an edict that his ouster was wrong because it proved unpopular in some places,” said Suzanne Nossel, chief of human rights nonprofit PEN America.

The Knight Foundation said that a survey it commissioned found that only 41 percent of adults in the United States believe Trump was deprived of free expression rights by social media platforms that banned him.

“People died because of Donald Trump’s Twitter account,” said Muslim Advocates senior policy counsel Sumayyah Waheed.

“I’m terrified of what else would be allowed under Musk’s watch.”

 

Source: IOL

The Meta-owned social networking sites were blocked in the country at the beginning of March and now a judge has ruled that they will remain so as a result of “extremist activities.”

In a translated statement obtained by outlet TASS, Judge Olga Solopova said: “The court has granted the lawsuit filed by the first deputy prosecutor general of Russia against the holding company Meta Platforms Inc. seeking a ban on operations on the territory of Russia.

The operations of the U.S. transnational holding company Meta Platforms Inc. to sell products, the social networks Facebook and Instagram, on the territory of Russia, is banned on the grounds of extremist activities. The court decision is to be fulfilled immediately.”

However, the ban on Meta operations does not apply to the messenger WhatsApp, which also comes under the Meta umbrella of social media apps.

Solopova added: “This decision does not apply to the operations of Meta’s messenger WhatsApp due to its absence of functions for public information dissemination.”

The ban comes just a week after Facebook issued a “temporary change” in policy as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine – which was started when Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion on its neighbouring country at the end of February – and will allow users to post “forms of political expression” not normally permitted.

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone told The Verge: “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”

 

Source: BBC

The US government has added a dozen more Chinese companies to its restricted trade list, citing national security and foreign policy concerns.

Washington says that some of the firms are helping develop the Chinese military’s quantum computing programme.

This latest move comes as tensions grow between the US and China over the status of Taiwan and other issues.

Trade was among the items discussed at a virtual summit between the leaders of both countries earlier this month.

Eight Chinese-based technology firms were added to the so-called “Entity List” for their alleged role in assisting the Chinese military’s quantum computing efforts and acquiring or attempting “to acquire US origin-items in support of military applications”.

This entity list has increasingly been used for national security reasons since the previous Trump administration.

The US Commerce Department also said 16 individuals and entities operating in China and Pakistan were added to the list due to their involvement in “Pakistan’s unsafeguarded nuclear activities or ballistic missile program.”

A total of 27 new entities were added to the list from China, Japan, Pakistan, and Singapore.

Separately, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology was added to the department’s military end user list, although the listing gave no more details other than it had produced military equipment.

The new listings will help prevent American technology from supporting the development of Chinese and Russian “military advancement and activities of non-proliferation concern like Pakistan’s unsafeguarded nuclear activities or ballistic missile program,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

Potential suppliers to firms on the list will now need to apply for a licence before they can sell to them, with applications likely to be denied.

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei was added to the list in 2019 over claims that it posed a risk US national security.

The move cut it off from some of its key suppliers and made it difficult for the company to produce mobile phones.

The Chinese government has previously denied that it takes part in industrial espionage.

By Jon Porter for The Verge

Huawei’s networking equipment is to be phased out of the UK’s 5G networks, the government has announced. Telecoms operators will not be allowed to buy new 5G telecoms equipment from the Chinese firm from January next year, and they will have seven years to remove its existing technology from their 5G infrastructure at an expected cost of £2 billion. The announcement follows a new report about Huawei’s role in the UK’s national infrastructure from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.

The decision marks a U-turn from the government’s previous position, announced in January, which allowed Huawei’s equipment to be used in the country’s 5G infrastructure, with certain limitations. Under that position, Huawei would be limited to a 35 percent market share, and its equipment couldn’t be used in core parts of the network or geographically sensitive locations. Now, however, its equipment will be completely removed from the country’s 5G networks.

The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden warned that the decision “will delay our rollout of 5G.” As part of the announcement, the government said that it is also advising full fiber broadband operators to transition away from buying Huawei’s equipment.

In recent months, the British government has seen mounting pressure, both domestically and internationally, to phase out the use of Huawei’s equipment entirely. That pressure has been driven by concern from security experts that Huawei’s equipment poses a national security risk by allowing Beijing to spy on Western countries. Huawei has strenuously denied these allegations.

International pressure has mainly come from the US. Huawei has been on the country’s “entity list” since May 2019, meaning US companies cannot sell technology to the company. However, in May this year, The New York Times reported the US toughened its stance with the announcement of new sanctions against Huawei. Under the new measures, which are due to go into effect in September, Huawei and its suppliers, like chip manufacturer TSMC, cannot use American tech to design or produce Huawei’s products. At the time, US officials characterised the move as “closing a loophole” through which Huawei could effectively have previously used American technology.

These new measures could have a big impact on the products Huawei is able to produce, which critics argue could make its equipment less safe to use. The restrictions “will force the company to use untrusted technology that could increase the risk to the UK,” according to a security report that leaked earlier this month.

For example, Huawei’s own HiSilicon chipsets could be impacted by the measures. BBC News reports that the semiconductor industry relies on electronic design automation (EDA) software to automate the process of designing modern chips like Huawei’s Kirin 990 5G processor. However, the sanctions mean that this software can no longer be used in the design or production of Huawei’s chips since the major EDA developers have ties to the US. It makes it difficult for Huawei to produce its own modern top-of-the-line processors, according to BBC News, pushing it towards third-party chips that, it’s argued, could be harder for UK cybersecurity officials to vet.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also facing pressure from inside his own party. The government suffered the biggest defeat of its current term back in March, when BBC News reports 38 Conservative MPs voted against the government in favor of an amendment calling for an end to the use of Huawei equipment in the country’s 5G networks by 2023. Increasing numbers of Conservative MPs claim that the equipment poses a national security risk, potentially allowing Beijing to spy on the UK, according to the Financial Times. Although the government won the vote, the incident put pressure on Johnson to take a tougher stance.

Responding to the news, a spokesperson from Huawei called the decision “disappointing” and said that the company is “confident” the new US sanctions wouldn’t affect “the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.” It claimed that they were driven by US trade policy rather than security and urged the British government to reconsider its decision.

News of a possible ban has proved unpopular with telecom firms, many of which have already started using Huawei’s equipment to build out their 5G networks. In comments later published in The Guardian, BT chief executive Philip Jansen told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that it would be “impossible” to remove Huawei entirely from the country’s telecoms infrastructure in the next decade and that it would take five to seven years to remove it from the 5G network. Jansen warned that forcing the removal of Huawei’s equipment too quickly could create outages and security risks of its own.

Liquor ban could cost 1m jobs

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to ban the sale of alcohol will lead to job losses, the liquor industry says.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa said the abuse of alcohol had led to the admission of higher numbers of people at clinics and hospitals.

While some political parties agreed with his decision, the liquor industry has lamented the impact on employment. The National Liquor Traders Council, South African Liquor Brand owners Association, the Beer Association of South Africa, Vinpro, the Liquor Traders Association of South Africa and manufacturers said they were disappointed.

“The liquor industry has a wide and deep value chain employing almost 1-million people. The ban will have other unintended consequences which includes further job losses. During the nine-week lockdown, the alcohol industry lost R18-billion in revenue and R3.4-billion in excise tax.”

They said the initial suspension of alcohol sales restricted the legal trade and fuelled the illegal market’s growth.

“It also creates security concerns for liquor outlets. The illicit market operates mostly uncontrolled. For this restriction to be viable, it must be accompanied by considerably increased law enforcement.”

The DA slammed the decision while the SACP supported it.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the ban and a night-time curfew was “simply to distract from the real issue: the utter failure to build treatment and testing capacity. These ineffective gimmicks are an attempt to obscure the truth of our situation: that national government has wasted South Africa’s long and crippling lockdown.”

US may be the one hurt by Huawei sanctions

By Frank Bajak And Michael Liedtke for Phys.Org

Trump administration sanctions against Huawei have begun to bite even though their dimensions remain unclear. U.S. companies that supply the Chinese tech powerhouse with computer chips face a drop in sales, and Huawei’s smartphone sales could get decimated with the anticipated loss of Google’s popular software and services.

The U.S. move escalates trade-war tensions with Beijing, but also risks making China more self-sufficient over time.

Here’s a look at what’s behind the dispute and what it means.

What’s this about?

The U.S. Commerce Department placed Huawei on its so-called Entity List , effectively barring U.S. firms from selling it technology without government approval.

Google said it would continue to support existing Huawei smartphones but future devices won’t have its flagship apps and services, including maps, Gmail and search. Only basic services would be available, making Huawei phones less desirable. Separately, Huawei is the world’s leading provider of networking equipment, but it relies on U.S. components including computer chips. About a third of Huawei’s suppliers are American.

Why punish Huawei?

The U.S. defense and intelligence communities have long accused Huawei of being an untrustworthy agent of Beijing’s repressive rulers—though without providing evidence. The U.S. government’s sanctions are widely seen as a means of pressuring reluctant allies in Europe to exclude Huawei equipment from their next-generation wireless networks. Washington says it’s a question of national security and punishment of Huawei for skirting sanctions against Iran, but the backdrop is a struggle for economic and technological dominance.

A Huawei Mate20P smartphone model showing its own Kirin chip processor is displayed at an electronic store in Beijing, Monday, May 20, 2019. Google assured users of Huawei smartphones on Monday the American company’s basic services will work on them following U.S. government cubs on doing business with the Chinese tech giant. The announcement highlighted the potential impact on global consumers and technology industries of the Trump administration’s decision to tighten controls on Huawei Technologies Ltd., which Washington says is a security threat.
The politics of President Donald Trump’s escalating tit-for-tat trade war have co-opted a longstanding policy goal of stemming state-backed Chinese cyber theft of trade and military secrets. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week that the sanctions on Huawei have nothing to do with the trade war and could be revoked if Huawei’s behavior were to change.

The effect of the sanctions

Analysts predict consumers will abandon Huawei for other smartphone makers if Huawei can only use a stripped-down version of Android. Huawei, now the No. 2 smartphone supplier, could fall behind Apple to third place. Google could seek exemptions, but would not comment on whether it planned to do so.

Who uses Huawei?

While most consumers in the U.S. don’t even know how to pronounce Huawei (it’s “HWA-way”), its brand is well known in most of the rest of the world, where people have been buying its smartphones in droves.

Huawei stealthily became an industry star by plowing into new markets, developing a lineup of phones that offer affordable options for low-income households and luxury models that are siphoning upper-crust sales from Apple and Samsung in China and Europe. About 13% of its phones are now sold in Europe, Gartner analyst Annette Zimmermann estimates.

That formula helped Huawei establish itself as the world’s second-largest seller of smartphones during the first three months of this year, according to the research firm IDC. Huawei shipped 59 million smartphones in the January-March period, nearly 23 million more than Apple.

Ripple effects

The sanctions could have unwelcome ripple effects in the U.S., given how much technology Huawei buys from U.S. companies, especially from makers of the microprocessors that go into smartphones, computers, internet networking gear and other gadgetry.

The list of chip companies expected to be hit hardest includes Micron Technologies, Qualcomm, Qorvo and Skyworks Solutions, which all have listed Huawei as a major customer. Others likely to suffer are Xilinx, Broadcom and Texas Instruments, according to industry analysts.

Being cut off from Huawei will also compound the pain the chip sector is already experiencing from the Trump administration’s rising China tariffs.

As expected, the Commerce Department on Monday announced a grace period of 90 days that applies to existing Huawei smartphones and networking equipment. The grace period allows U.S. providers to alert Huawei to security vulnerabilities and engage the Chinese company in research on standards for next-generation 5G wireless networks. It also gives operators of U.S. rural broadband networks that use Huawei routers time to switch them out.

The Commerce Department could extend the temporary license to continue to ease the blow on smartphone owners and network operators with installed Huawei gear. Whether that happens could depend on whether countries including France, Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands continue to refuse to completely exclude Huawei equipment from their wireless networks.

Still in place are requirements that government licenses be obtained for any U.S. sales to Huawei unrelated to existing equipment.

Could this backfire?

Huawei is already the biggest global supplier of networking equipment and is now likely to move toward making all components domestically. China already has a policy seeking technological independence by 2025.

A man checks smartphones near a section promoting Huawei new P30 smartphone at an electronic store in Beijing, Monday, May 20, 2019. Google assured users of Huawei smartphones on Monday the American company’s basic services will work on them following U.S. government cubs on doing business with the Chinese tech giant. The announcement highlighted the potential impact on global consumers and technology industries of the Trump administration’s decision to tighten controls on Huawei Technologies Ltd., which Washington says is a security threat. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
U.S. tech companies, facing a drop in sales, could respond with layoffs. More than 52,000 technology jobs in the U.S. are directly tied to China exports, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association, a trade group also known as CompTIA.

Will Google suffer?

Google may lose some licensing fees and opportunities to show ads on Huawei phones, but it still will probably be a financial hiccup for Google and its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc., which is expected to generate $160 billion in revenue this year.

The Apple effect

In theory, Huawei’s losses could translate into gains for both Samsung and Apple at a time both of those companies are trying to reverse a sharp decline in smartphone sales.

But Apple also stands to be hurt if China decides to target it in retaliation. Apple is particularly vulnerable because most iPhones are assembled in China. The Chinese government, for example could block crucial shipments to the factories assembling iPhones or take other measures that disrupt the supply chain.

Any retaliatory move from China could come on top of a looming increase on tariffs by the U.S. that would hit the iPhone, forcing Apple to raise prices or reduce profits.

What’s more, the escalating trade war may trigger a backlash among Chinese consumers against U.S. products, including the iPhone.

“Beijing could stoke nationalist sentiment over the treatment of Huawei, which could result in protests against major U.S. technology brands,” CompTIA warned.

 

 

What is going on between Huawei and Google?

By Tom Wiggins for Stuff

You might have read that Google and Huawei have had a bit of a tiff this week.

You can’t really pin the blame on either of them. Donald Trump issued an executive order that meant US-based companies were restricted from doing business with Huawei unless they had a special licence, so Google had to limit the access Huawei phones had to its services.

That’s since been relaxed, but only for 90 days, so things could get ugly again before long. But what does it mean for your new P30 Pro? And does it put an end to your plans to pick up a foldable Mate X?

What is the problem?
America’s leader seems to have decided he doesn’t like Huawei because it’s from a country he has described as a “foreign adversary”.

Whether Trump’s reservations have any basis in reality or not, if the ban is upheld it means that American companies will not be allowed to trade with Huawei and it wouldn’t be able to base its OS on full-fat Android anymore. As the second-biggest manufacturer of smartphones in the world that could cause Huawei a significant headache.

What if you own a Huawei phone?
Huawei phones that have already been released have been certified to access the Play Store and receive updates for the current version of Android, so chances are things will carry on as normal whatever happens further down the line. That goes for Honor phones too.

If the US upholds its actions, though, future versions of the OS wouldn’t be certified for Huawei phones, meaning functionality would be severely restricted, and security updates could take a lot longer to come through.

What will Huawei use if not Android?
Android is open source, so Huawei will still be able to use the barebones of it no matter what, but it would mean apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Drive and Maps wouldn’t be pre-installed, and without access to the Play Store they wouldn’t be available for download later either. Some can be accessed through the phone’s web browser but that’s not the same and consumers would likely look elsewhere.

As a result, Huawei might opt to ditch Android altogether, but it’s already working on an alternative operating system of its own. That would require new versions of existing apps, although considering many use Android APIs to power things like notifications, without cooperation from Google significant changes would be needed even if Huawei were to stick with it.

Are others banning Huawei?
The ban has already starting to have a wider impact. EE has decided to leave Huawei’s Mate 20 X 5G handset out of its 5G launch line-up until it can be sure that it would be fully supported, while Vodafone has cancelled an event based around its own 5G rollout, although pricing and pre-order information will still be announced. Chip designer ARM, which most mobile processor manufacturers rely on, has also suspended its dealings with Huawei.

Source: IOL

The Parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs on Tuesday welcomed the report that the usage of cellphones by front desk staff during working hours is banned after trade unions opposed this.

This follows the call made by the committee early this year calling for the complete banning of cellphones as it impacts on the quality of services rendered to clients.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) had said that the use of cellphones by front desk staff had been the subject of discussions between labour and the employer in the bargaining chamber in order to ensure it is managed without infringing on the rights of workers.

“It is now clear that the usage of cellphones is banned and clients must not be faced with this challenge when they seek services at the department of home affairs,” said Hlomani Chauke, the chairperson of the committee.

The committee last month received numerous complaints from the public about delays at home affairs offices following a video that surfaced on social media showing two officials using cellphones while people waited in a queue at the home affairs offices in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal.

The department of home affairs has since issued written warnings to the officials involved even though they were not found guilty of any offence as they were using their cellphones during a power cut at the office.

The committee said it was satisfied by remedial action taken by the department. It also encouraged citizens to continue monitoring and reporting bad service by the department in a bid to identify employees who are undermining the delivery of the department’s mandate.

The department has assured the committee that it has undertaken a review of departmental policy on frontline employees’ cellphone use with relevant stakeholders to strengthen it.

“This is a constructive step aimed at reinforcing the endeavour to deliver quality services,” Chauke said.

Government seeks to ban medical aids

Source: MyBroadband

The ANC government wants to “ban” medical aids in its current format when its planned National Health Insurance (NHI) service kicks in.

This is according to a Rapport article, citing a leaked letter which the Treasury wrote to Olive Shishana, head of the government’s NHI war room.

This, the newspaper said, is a turnaround from the National Health Insurance Bill which was released for public comment in July – which stated that medical aids would continue to operate as normal.

The new version of the NHI Bill, which according to the leaked letter was already sent to cabinet for approval, does not support medical aids in their current format.

Rapport said the new version contains a clause which prevents medical aids or any other voluntary private health insurance scheme covering anything which is offered through the NHI.

This is to make sure the NHI “achieves its objectives” and will “eliminate the fragmentation of health care funding”.

NHI shenanigans exposed
Spotlight, which is published by Section27 and the Treatment Action Campaign, said the NHI Bill has been changed without consultation and agreed upon changes were not implemented.

Spotlight said Shisana and Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi have sidelined Department of Health and Treasury officials in preparing a new version of the bill for submission to Cabinet.

“The Treasury letter highlights an amended provision stating that the role of medical schemes will only be complementary to the fund,” Spotlight said.

“Medical schemes will thus not be allowed to offer services already offered through NHI”.

According to the Treasury letter, such a provision is “highly premature given that it will take years for the fund to be meaningfully offering services equivalent to those existing 8.8 million current medical scheme users access from the private sector”.

“This section is unnecessary at this point and will be perceived as extremely threatening to existing medical scheme users and tax payers, to the entire private health sector, and will undermine investment.”

“This section will almost certainly bog the bill down in endless legal challenges and should be deleted,” the Treasury letter states.

By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC 

Google is cracking down on cryptocurrency-related advertising.  The move follows a similar ban by Facebook earlier this year. The company will no longer allow ads about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice across any of its ad platforms.

The company is updating its financial services-related ad policies to ban any advertising about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice, Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC.

That means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won’t be allowed to serve ads through any of Google’s ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites.

This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Scott said.

Google’s hard-line approach follows a similar ban that Facebook announced earlier this year.

While the crypto-currency boom has produced a lot of excitement and wealth, it’s still a largely unregulated space and has spawned countless high-profile scams.

This news comes as Google releases its annual “trust and safety” ads report.

Google said it took down more than 3.2 billion ads in 2017 that violated its policies, which is nearly double the 1.7 billion it removed the year before.

Google parent company Alphabet makes roughly 84 percent of its total revenue from advertising, so convincing advertisers that its ecosystem is safe and effective is critically important.

By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC 

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