EU Launching Deep Probe Into Google’s Planned $2.1 Billion Fitbit Buy

from ars technica Regulators in the European Union are launching a deep investigation into Google’s proposed acquisition of wearables maker Fitbit after expressing concerns that giving Google access to Fitbit’s user data could “distort competition.” The Commission’s in-depth investigation will examine not only the potential outcomes for the advertising market if the transaction goes through, but it will also look at the effects of the deal on the digital healthcare sector and the potential for Google to lock competitors out of access to Android users. More here.

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Why Is South Korea a Global Broadband Leader?

from EFF A universal fiber network that was completed years ago. Millions of 5G users. Some of the world’s fastest and cheapest broadband connections. South Korea has all of these, while other nations that have the same resources lag behind. How did South Korea become a global leader in the first place? EFF did a deep dive into this question and has produced the following report. The key takeaway: government policies that focus on expanding access to telecommunications infrastructure were essential to success. More here.

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How to Be an Expatriate in 2020

from NYTs Three years ago, Chuck Burgess and Kerstin Michaelsen were comfortably set up in New York City with good careers, a home in Manhattan and another in the Hamptons. But they yearned for something more. Not more in the sense of material things, but in the satisfaction derived from new adventures and new lands. They fantasized about moving abroad — an idea that seemed more attractive as the couple, both 50, settled into midlife. Ultimately it was a “heightened sense of our mortality,” Mr. Burgess said, that gave them the prod they needed, after three of their parents died […]

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Why Britain Brexited

from The Atlantic The United Kingdom will soon begin the most radical national experiment of the 21st century so far: Brexit. Having won a landslide election victory on a promise to “get Brexit done,” Boris Johnson will finally make good on 2016’s referendum result. Britain will leave the European Union, with no easy way back or guarantees about what will come next. Having voted twice for Brexit, the country is finally ready to make the leap—even if it has little idea where it is leaping. This, at least, is the conventional view. In this story, Brexit is essentially an aberration, […]

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Living in Dark Mode

from NYTs THE LIGHTS IN MY ROOM ARE OFF, and the autumn air is trickling in through the window. It is my favorite season in Hong Kong, finally cool enough to get by without air-conditioning. I’m listening to meditation music a friend sent me to ease my persistent insomnia. My partner is staying up late, hunched over his desk with a tall can of beer, tweeting updates for a local media outlet. Outside, a revolution is raging. I check my phone to see whether my ex-flatmate, who has gone out to pick up protesters in his car, has responded to […]

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The Hong Kong Protesters Aren’t Driven by Hope

from The Atlantic For months now, I’ve been told that Hong Kong’s protests would end soon. They’ll end when school starts, I heard during the summer. School did start, but the protests wore on, only now I saw high-school students in crisp school uniforms joining the protesters’ ranks. Next, the mask ban of early October was supposed to slow protesters down, but the very first day after that ban, I watched streams of protesters in masks and helmets make their way to their usual haunts on Hong Kong Island The government shut down many of the subway lines that day, […]

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China’s TikTok Blazes New Ground. That Could Doom It.

from NYTs American leaders have effectively thrown Huawei and a handful of Chinese surveillance technology companies out of the country, warning darkly of the national security and privacy threats of installing Made-in-China products into sensitive parts of the nation’s electronic infrastructure. Now they have cast their fearful gaze on a new Chinese target: the dancing and singing teens and tweens of TikTok. A secretive federal panel with a national security focus is reviewing the purchase of TikTok two years ago by a Chinese company called Bytedance, The New York Times and othersreported last week. Three senators have asked the Trump […]

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China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide

from China Law Blog The Chinese government has been working for several years on a comprehensive Internet security/surveillance program.  This program is based on the Cybersecurity Law adopted on 2016. The plan is vast and includes a number of subsidiary laws and regulations. On December 1, 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security announced it will finally roll-out the full plan. The core of the plan is for China’s Ministry of Security to fully access the massive amounts of raw data transmitted across Chinese networks and housed on servers in China. Since raw data has little value, the key to […]

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How the U.K. Supreme Court’s Rebuke to Boris Johnson Remakes British Law

from NYTs Britain’s all-consuming debate over Brexit has dragged another of its respected institutions into uncharted territory, as the Supreme Court struck down Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament, an extraordinary intervention by the judiciary into a political dispute. The unanimous decision, handed down on Tuesday, is an unalloyed defeat for Mr. Johnson and will propel Britain into a fresh round of political turmoil. But it is even more significant for what it says about the role of the country’s highest court, which has historically steered clear of politics. By ruling that Mr. Johnson acted unlawfully — and doing […]

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The High School Course Beijing Accuses of Radicalizing Hong Kong

from NYTs They are sitting in orderly rows, wearing neatly pressed uniforms. But in this class, as they debate the merits of democracy and civil rights, Hong Kong high school students are prompting Beijing to worry that they are increasingly out of control. The mandatory civics course known here as liberal studies has been a hallmark of the curriculum in Hong Kong for years, and students and teachers say the point is to make better citizens who are more engaged with society. But mainland Chinese officials and pro-Beijing supporters say the prominence of the city’s youth at recent mass protests […]

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Chinese Dissidents Feel Heat of Beijing’s Wrath. Even in Canada.

from NYTs Search for Sheng Xue on Google in English and you will find the story of an award-winning writer who left China for Canada after the Tiananmen Square uprising and became one of the world’s leading advocates for Chinese democracy. But that same search in Chinese comes up with a very different portrait: Sheng Xue is a fraud, a thief, a traitor and a serial philanderer. Want proof? It offers up salacious photos, like one seeming to show her kissing a man who is not her husband. As China extends its influence around the globe, it has mastered the […]

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Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kinda Looks Like It

from Wired A friend of mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work. When he offered to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by […]

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Huawei Was a Czech Favorite. Now? It’s a National Security Threat.

from NYTs For more than 1,000 years, the sprawling castle complex perched high above Prague has been the seat of power for Holy Roman emperors, the kings of Bohemia and, now, the Czech president, Milos Zeman. And for the last four years, the Chinese technology giant Huawei has had a contract to fulfill the communication needs of the president and his staff. The presidential contract is the most visible symbol of how deeply Huawei has established itself in the Czech Republic, long viewed by China as a springboard country for its interests across the European Union. So when the Czech […]

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Germany Has Ordered Facebook To Rein In Its Data Collection

From recode German regulators are trying to clamp down on Facebook’s data collection practices — a move that could force Facebook to make technical changes to its app in order to continue operating in the country. The Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office in charge of antitrust laws, restricted Facebook from “[merging] user data from various sources,” the office announced Thursday. Essentially, it wants to block Facebook from combining user data that it collects through its other apps, like WhatsApp and Instagram, with data on Facebook. This would also restrict Facebook from collecting and combining any “data collected on third-party websites,” such […]

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How The USMCA Falls Short On Digital Trade, Data Protection And Privacy

from WaPo The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is more than just an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement. With the inclusion of a digital trade chapter, the deal sets a new standard for e-commerce that seems likely to proliferate in similar agreements around the world. Negotiators have touted the benefits of addressing modern forms of commerce, but the reality is that the USMCA’s digital trade chapter raises many concerns, locking in rules that will hamstring online policies for decades by restricting privacy safeguards and hampering efforts to establish new regulation in the digital environment. Digital trade provisions […]

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EU Warns Facebook It Faces Sanctions Over ‘Misleading’ T&Cs

from The Guardian Brussels has warned Facebook it will face sanctions unless it changes what the European commission calls its “misleading” terms and conditions. The EU commissioner in charge of consumer protection, Vera Jourová, said she had run out of patience with the social network after nearly two years of discussions aimed at giving Facebook’s European users more information about how their data is used. “I will not hide the fact that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years,” Jourová told reporters. “Progress is not enough for me, I want to […]

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Life Inside China’s Social Credit Laboratory

from Foreign Policy Rongcheng was built for the future. Its broad streets and suburban communities were constructed with an eye to future expansion, as the city sprawls on the eastern tip of China’s Shandong province overlooking the Yellow Sea. Colorful billboards depicting swans bank on the birds — one of the city’s tourist attractions — returning there every winter to escape the Siberian cold. In an attempt to ease bureaucracy, the city hall, a glass building that resembles a flying saucer, has been fashioned as a one-stop shop for most permits. Instead of driving from one office to another to […]

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China Presses Its Internet Censorship Efforts Across the Globe

from NYTs Within its digital borders, China has long censored what its people read and say online. Now, it is increasingly going beyond its own online realms to police what people and companies are saying about it all over the world. For years, China has exerted digital control with a system of internet filters known as the Great Firewall, which allows authorities to limit what people see online. To broaden its censorship efforts, Beijing is venturing outside the Great Firewall and paying more attention to what its citizens are saying on non-Chinese apps and services. As part of that shift, […]

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The End of Democratic Capitalism?

from NewCo Shift A clash of fundamentally competing economic philosophies broke into the mainstream news this weekend, with the fate of democratic capitalism hanging in the balance. And while it’s likely too early to call a winner, the trends are certainly not looking good for democracy as we understand it in the west.* First, the news. Bowing to Chinese law, Apple will be storing the keys to its Chinese customers’ data inside China?—?subjecting that information to Chinese legal oversight, a system which, as Yonatan Zunger points out, is markedly distinct from that of the United States, where Apple had heretofore protected […]

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The Post-TPP Future of Digital Trade in Asia

from EFF On March 8, trade representatives from eleven Pacific rim countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Australia are expected to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The agreement has been slimmed down both in its content—22 items in the text have been suspended, including the bulk of the intellectual property chapter—and also in its membership, with the exclusion of the United States which had been the driver of those suspended provisions. What remains in the CPTPP is the agreement’s Electronic Commerce (also called digital trade) chapter, which will set […]

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