High-Profile Twitter Accounts Swept Up in Wave of Apparent Hacking 

A wave of tweets in apparent hacking swept through Twitter on Wednesday, with more than half a dozen high-profile accounts – belonging to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, billionaire Bill Gates, and rapper Kanye West, among others – used to solicit bitcoin donations.The cause of the breach was not immediately clear, but the scale and the scope of the problem suggested that it was not limited to a single account or service.Shares of Twitter tumbled nearly 4% in trading after the market close.Twitter said in an email that it was looking into the matter and would issue a statement shortly.Some of the tweets were swiftly deleted but there appeared to be a struggle to regain control of the accounts. In the case of billionaire Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, for example, one tweet soliciting cryptocurrency was removed and, sometime later, another one appeared.Among the others affected: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the corporate accounts for Uber and Apple.A spokesman for Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tesla was not immediately available for comment.Publicly available blockchain records show that the apparent scammers have already received more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency.   …


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Apple Wins EU Court Case Over $15 Billion in Claimed Taxes

A European Union court on Wednesday delivered a hammer blow to the bloc’s attempts to rein in sweetheart tax deals between multinationals and individual member countries when it ruled that technology giant Apple does not have to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in back taxes to Ireland.   The EU Commission had claimed in 2016 that Apple had an illegal tax deal with Irish authorities that allowed it to pay extremely low rates. But the EU’s General Court said Wednesday that “the Commission did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage.”   “The Commission was wrong to declare” that Apple “had been granted a selective economic advantage and, by extension, state aid,” said the Luxembourg-based court, which is the second-highest in the EU. The ruling can only be appealed on points of law.   The EU Commission had ordered Apple to pay for gross underpayment of tax on profits across the European bloc from 2003 to 2014. The commission said Apple used two shell companies in Ireland to report its Europe-wide profits at effective rates well under 1%.   In many cases, multinationals can pay taxes on the bulk of their revenue across the EU’s 27 countries in the one EU country where they have their regional headquarters. For Apple and many other big tech companies, that is Ireland. For small EU countries like Ireland, that helps attract international business and even a small amount of tax revenue is helpful for them. The net result, however, is that the companies often end up paying very low tax.   The Irish government welcomed the ruling. “Ireland has always been clear that there was no special treatment provided” to the U.S. company, it said in a statement. “Ireland appealed the Commission Decision on the basis that Ireland granted no state aid and the decision today from the Court supports that view.”   Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the EU demand for back taxes “total political crap.”   The defeat is especially stinging for EU Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, who has campaigned for years to …


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As Britain Bans Huawei From 5G, China Warns of Trade Fallout

Britain announced a ban Tuesday on equipment from the firm Huawei in the rollout of its 5G super-fast mobile networks – reversing a decision made just six months ago. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the move appears to have been forced by U.S. sanctions on Huawei – and China is warning of possible consequences in future trade relations with Britain …


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Britain Bans China’s Huawei from New 5G Network

The British government has banned China’s Huawei telecommunications equipment company from playing a limited role in Britain’s new high-speed mobile phone network.Britain’s Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said the country’s telecommunications operators have until 2027 to remove Huawei’s equipment that is currently used in Britain’s 5G network.Britain’s decision could have wide-ranging implications for relations between the two countries and signals that Huawei may be losing support in the West. Dowden said the ban was imposed after the U.S. threatened to cancel an information-sharing deal due to concerns Huawei’s equipment could allow the Chinese government to penetrate British networks.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed in January to give Huawei a limited role in Britain’s high-speed network, but the decision sparked a diplomatic disagreement with the U.S.  …


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Google Plans to Invest $10 Billion in India

Google announced it will invest $10 billion in India in an effort to make the internet more “affordable and useful” to the more than one billion people living there. “This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement Monday. The money, to be spent through a new Google for India Digitization Fund over the next five to seven years, will invest in India’s technology sector.  FILE – Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a visit to El Centro College in Dallas, Oct. 3, 2019.”We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments,” said Pichai. This new investment represents Google’s biggest commitment to India yet. These investments focus on increasing access to the internet throughout India, as well as aiding businesses with the transition to online operations.  Much of this will be accomplished through a focus on using apps and new software platforms. Google aims to use this move to enlarge internet access beyond English and into more local languages throughout India. Google also hopes to use its investments for the public good, working to improve areas as broad as education, agriculture and health. “As we make these investments we look forward to working alongside Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and the Indian government, as well as Indian businesses of all sizes to realize a shared vision for a Digital India,” Pichai said. “Our goal is to ensure that India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation but leads it.”    …


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Top White House Adviser Expects Tough Action on TikTok, WeChat

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Sunday he expected President Donald Trump to act firmly against the TikTok and WeChat applications, amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.Trump last week had said he is considering banning the wildly-popular TikTok app as a way to punish China over the coronavirus pandemic.In an interview with Fox News, Navarro argued that “what the American people have to understand is all of the data that goes into those mobile apps that kids have so much fun with… goes right to servers in China, right to the Chinese military, the Chinese Communist Party.”He said these apps can be used to steal intellectual property. “So expect strong actions on that” by Trump, Navarro warned.Fast-growing video-sharing app TikTok belongs to the Chinese group ByteDance and has nearly one billion users worldwide.TikTok has sought to distance itself from its Chinese owners, pointing out it has an American CEO and consistently denying allegations that it shares data with Beijing.WeChat, owned by Tencent, is the main messaging application in China with more than one billion users.  Navarro also accused TikTok’s new boss Kevin Mayer, former head of Disney’s streaming platforms, of being an American puppet.On Friday Amazon said it mistakenly sent workers an email telling them to dump the TikTok mobile application from their cell phones because of security concerns.An Amazon spokesperson later told AFP “there is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”Democratic campaign teams for the U.S. presidential election have been asked to avoid using TikTok on personal devices and, if they do, to keep it on a non-work phone.The research firm eMarketer estimates TikTok has more than 52 million U.S. users, having gained about 12 million since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. TikTok is especially popular with young smartphone users.  …


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Touchless: How the World’s Busiest Airport Envisions Post-COVID Travel 

With COVID-19 ravaging the aviation industry, airlines and airports worldwide are reining in costs and halting new spending, except in one area: reassuring pandemic-wary passengers about travel.”Whatever the new normal (…) it’s going to be more and more around self-service,” Sean Donohue, chief executive of Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport (DFW), told Reuters in an interview.The airport is working with American Airlines – whose home base is DFW – to roll out a self-check-in for luggage, and all of its restrooms will be entirely touchless by the end of July with technology developed by Infax Inc. They will have hands-free sinks, soap, flushing toilets, and paper towel dispensers, which will be equipped with sensors to alert workers when supplies are low.”One of the biggest complaints airports receive are restrooms,” Donohue said.Dallas is piloting three technology options for luggage check-ins: Amadeus’s ICM, SITA, and Materna IPS.DFW has become the world’s busiest airport, according to figures from travel analytics firm Cirium, thanks in part to a strategy by large global carrier American to concentrate much of its pandemic flying through its Texas hub.Last year DFW rolled out biometric boarding — where your face is your boarding pass — for international flights and is taking advantage of the lull in international traffic to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to use the VeriScan technology for arriving passengers too, he said.Delta Air Lines opened the first U.S. biometric terminal in Atlanta in 2018, and some airports in Europe and Asia also use facial recognition technology. It has spurred some concerns, however, with a U.S. government study finding racial bias in the technology and the European Union earlier this year considered banning it in public places over privacy concerns.The Dallas airport is also testing new technology around better sanitization, beginning with ultraviolet technology that can kill germs before they circulate into the HVAC system.But it has also deployed electrostatic foggers and hired a “hit team” of 150 people who are going through the terminals physically sanitizing high-touch areas.”Technology is critical because it can be very efficient,” Donohue said, but customers “being able to visualize what’s …


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US Convicts Russian Hacker in 2012 Data Breach

A jury in San Francisco convicted Russian citizen Yevgeny Nikulin after a series of hacks and cyberthefts eight years ago that targeted major U.S. social-media companies such as LinkedIn and Dropbox.The District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday said Nikulin would be sentenced September 29.Nikulin, 32, faces up to 10 years in prison for each count of selling stolen usernames and passwords, installing malware on protected computers, as well as up to five years for each count of conspiracy and computer hacking.According to U.S. prosecutors, Nikulin in 2012 stole the usernames and passwords of tens of millions of social media users to access their accounts. Some of that data was put up for sale on a Russian hacker forum.Nikulin, who last year was examined by court-ordered psychologists amid concerns about his mental health, had pleaded not guilty to the charges.His lawyer, Arkady Bukh, vowed to appeal the verdict, which he called a “huge injustice.”    Nikulin was detained in the Czech Republic in October 2016 and extradited to the U.S. 17 months later.The move angered Moscow, which had asked Czech authorities to extradite Nikulin to his home country, citing him as a suspect in a $2,000 online theft in 2009.Nikulin’s trial started in California in early March but was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic a week later, when nearly all in-person court hearings were postponed across the United States. …


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Amazon Says Email to Employees Banning TikTok Was a Mistake 

Roughly five hours after an internal email went out to employees telling them to delete the popular video app TikTok from their phones, Amazon appeared to backtrack, calling the ban a mistake. “This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok,” Amazon emailed reporters just before 5 p.m. Eastern time. Spokeswoman Jaci Anderson declined to answer questions about what happened. The initial internal email, which was disseminated widely online, told employees to delete TikTok, a video app increasingly popular with young people but also the focus of intensifying national-security and geopolitical concerns because of its Chinese ownership. The email cited “security risks” of the app.  An Amazon employee who confirmed receipt of the initial email but was not authorized to speak publicly had not seen a retraction at the time of Amazon’s backtrack.  Amazon is the second-largest U.S. private employer after Walmart, with more than 840,000 employees worldwide, and moving against TikTok would have escalated pressure on the app. It is banned on employee phones by the U.S. military and the company is subject to a national-security review of its merger history. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that the government was “certainly looking” at banning the app.  FILE – This Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, shows the icon for TikTok in New York.Chinese internet giant ByteDance owns TikTok, which is designed for users outside of China; it also makes a Chinese version called Douyin. Like YouTube, TikTok relies on its users for the videos that populate its app. It has a reputation for fun, goofy videos and is popular with young people, including millions of American users. But it has racked up concerns such as censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government; the threat of sharing user data with Chinese officials; and violating kids’ privacy. TikTok said earlier in the day that Amazon did not notify it before sending the initial email around midday Eastern. That email read, “The TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email.” To retain mobile access to company email, employees had to delete …


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Memo: Amazon.com Bans TikTok from Employees’ Phones, Cites ‘Security Risks’

Amazon.com Inc has requested employees remove the TikTok video sharing app from their mobile devices by July 10 over “security risks,” according to a memo to employees seen by Reuters. “Due to security risk, the TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email. If you have TikTok on your device, you must remove it by 10-Jul to retain mobile access to Amazon email. At this time, using TikTok from your Amazon laptop browser is allowed,” according to the email. Amazon.com representatives did not immediately return requests for comment. “While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialog so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community,” TikTok responded in a statement. Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, among the fastest growing digital platforms in history, is facing heavy scrutiny outside China. India banned TikTok and other Chinese apps in June. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this week Washington was considering banning TikTok in the United States. Asked if Americans should download it, he told Fox News: “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Two Republican senators in March introduced a bill aimed at banning federal employees from using TikTok on their government-issued phones, amid growing national security concerns around the collection and sharing of data on U.S. users with China’s government. Last year the United States Navy banned TikTok from government-issued mobile devices, saying the short video app represented a “cybersecurity threat.” Last November, the U.S. government launched a national security review of TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co’s $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app Musical.ly, Reuters first reported last year.   …


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China’s Rival to GPS Navigation Carries Big Risks

After more than 20 years of effort, China completed its satellite navigation system last Tuesday when the last of BeiDou’s 35 satellites reached geostationary orbit.China’s domestically developed BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, designed to rival the U.S.-owned Global Positioning System (GPS), is now offering worldwide coverage, allowing global users to access its high-accuracy positioning, navigation and timing services, which are vital to the modern economy.China’s state media claims the system, formally initiated in 1994, is now being used by more than half of the world’s countries, and that its navigation products have been exported to more than 120 countries.FILE – A GPS station is seen in the Inyo Mountains of California. (Shawn Lawrence/UNAVCO)Like GPS, the services are offered free of charge using public protocols. But technical experts say the differences between the two systems have profound security implications.Security risksAll other global navigation satellite systems — GPS, GLONASS (Russia) and Galileo (EU) — mainly act as beacons, beaming out signals picked up by billions of devices using them to determine their precise position on Earth.BeiDou is a two-way communication system, allowing it to identify the locations of receivers. BeiDou-compatible devices can transmit data back to the satellites, even in text messages of up to 1,200 Chinese characters.”In layman’s terms, you can not only know where you are through BeiDou but also tell others where you are through the system,” China’s state broadcaster CCTV said last month.Such a capability has raised serious security concerns. “All cellular devices, as I understand their function, can be tracked because they continually communicate with towers or satellites,” Dr. Larry Wortzel, a commissioner of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), told VOA.”So just as here in the U.S., there are concerns that police or federal agencies can track people by their cellphones. That can happen. The same is true of a cellphone relying on BeiDou, Glonass and Galileo. The question is: Who are you concerned about being tracked by?”FILE – A Long March-3B rocket carrying the Beidou-3 satellite, the last satellite of China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System, takes off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan …


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