It's been nothing but bad news for ZTE over the last couple months, but there's finally a positive development for the Chinese technology firm. The US Commerce Department has temporarily lifted part of the trade ban that effectively shut down ZTE back in April. This will help ZTE keep the lights on as it works toward full compliance.
Chinese technology firm ZTE says it has forked over $1 billion to the US government. This is the first step toward ZTE returning to operation after a ban on purchasing US technology in April forced it to partially shut down. However, it's not out of the woods yet as the entire incident has become a political firestorm for the US administration.
Facebook announced in a blog post last month that it would reward users who report abuses of user data by developers of Facebook apps. That rewards program, which Facebook is calling Data Abuse Bounty, launched today. Facebook says the monetary rewards will be valued on a case-by-case basis "based on the impact of each report."
International spying! Demagogic leaders! Jingoistic nationalism! Everything old is new again as the United States and Russia seem to be squaring up for another decades-long pissing contest. So while you wait for the next big hack or diplomatic faux pas, why not relive those happy memories of the original Cold War? Twilight Struggle, a two-player strategy title based on the 20th century's biggest game of chicken, has landed in the Play Store. It's five dollars, only a third of the price of the PC version.
Two bills recently passed in the states of New York and California that aim to weaken smartphone security in order to combat crime. The laws would prevent the sale of smartphones with full-disk encryption that could not be unlocked by the manufacturer (at the request of law enforcement). In response, Rep. Ted Lieu of California, a Democrat, and Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas, a Republican, have proposed a bill, the Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications (ENCRYPT) Act of 2016, that would block state-level attempts to ban encryption on smartphones sold in the US.
Google famously pulled out of China in 2010 following a data breach that it traced back to the Chinese government. It was the final straw as Google had already been irked by China's strict censorship laws. The explosion of cheap Android handsets in China changes the equation, though. Now The Information reports that Google is set to come back to China with a special version of the Play Store and other Google services that will play nice with the Chinese government.
Over the last couple of years, both Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have attracted worldwide criticism for the actions of their respective administrations - Obama for unwavering support of sweeping and unconstitutional surveillance of US citizens and allies, and Putin for "secretly" invading a neighboring country and killing a whole bunch of people. But you can say at least one thing in favor of them both: they haven't tapped into dimensions of eldritch power to raise a monstrous army of undead Soviet soldiers.
Not yet, anyway. I honestly wouldn't put it past Putin.
In Wrath of Obama, the latest magnum opus from developer Ankaar (of Fuhrer in LA fame), the leaders of the United States and Russia join forces to oppose Vladimir Lenin.
The US and EU have put in effect sanctions against the Crimea area of Ukraine following Russia's annexation of the peninsula, and now various tech companies are complying. Google has already started to block AdSense and AdWords in the region, reports TechCrunch, and it plans to cut off Google Play services starting on February 1st.
Google's actions follow the likes of Apple, PayPal, and Valve (which has opted to turn off Steam in Crimea altogether). When Google cuts off access to Google Play services, this will apply to both paid and free provisions, but the company will continue to provide access to web-based services such as search, Gmail, and Maps.
Not long after British Prime Minister David Cameron did the same, President Obama said Friday that he opposes encryption methods that are inaccessible to law enforcement. Rather naively, he advocated that the technology should still exist, but with methods of access for approved entities like police and preferred spy agencies. This is his first clear issue stance on the matter, though it is not necessarily out of step with his previous actions and statements.
Of course, cybersecurity experts collectively groaned at the President's suggestion of strong encryption that is only accessible to authorities. Taking for granted that law enforcement can be trusted - and, of course, Edward Snowden and countless others have shown us it cannot - there are a host of problems.
If you keep up with American politics, live with someone who does, or work in a place that keeps the television glued to whichever cable news network best fits the politics of the company, then you've probably heard that the federal government shut its doors today. This is the direct result of our politicians failing to cooperate long enough to pass a budget, and now many federal employees have been made to take forced unpaid vacation time. Since the Federal Communications Commission is a federal department, it's now limited to performing only those tasks that are necessary for the preservation of life and property.