A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores
A woman performs during a TikTok House Party at VidCon 2022 at a private venue on June 23, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Getty Images for TikTok/AFP)
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Updated 30 June 2022

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission has urged the chief executives of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google to kick Chinese-owned TikTok out of its app stores.
Brendan Carr, the FCC commissioner, said in a letter to the CEOs, dated June 24 and sent on FCC letterhead, that video-sharing app TikTok has collected vast troves of sensitive data about US users that could be accessed by ByteDance staff in Beijing. ByteDance is TikTok’s Chinese parent.
Carr tweeted details of the letter on Tuesday.
“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr said on Twitter. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”
Carr asked the companies to either remove TikTok from their app stores by July 8 or explain to him why they did not plan to do so.
Carr’s request is unusual given that the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app stores. The FCC regulates the national security space usually through its authority to grant certain communications licenses to companies.

A TikTok spokeswoman said the company’s engineers in locations outside of the United States, including China, can be granted access to US user data “on an as-needed basis” and under “strict controls.”
Google declined comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok has been under US regulatory scrutiny over its collection of US personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest TikTok because of fears that US user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.
To address these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month that it migrated the information of its US users to servers at Oracle Corp.
A spokesperson for the US Department of the Treasury, which chairs CFIUS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What we’re seeing here from Commissioner Carr is a suggestion that at least some parts of the US government don’t think that this is enough,” Richard Sofield, a national security partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP, said about TikTok’s partnership with Oracle. 


Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani signed by beIN Sports as analyst

Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani signed by beIN Sports as analyst
Updated 53 sec ago

Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani signed by beIN Sports as analyst

Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani signed by beIN Sports as analyst
  • He joins the broadcaster in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and will work with its media team in the Middle East and North Africa on flagship channel beIN Sports

LONDON: Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani is joining global sports, media and entertainment group beIN’s line-up of talent, the broadcaster announced on Monday.

A former captain of the Saudi national team, he played for several Arab clubs including Al-Qadisiyah and Al-Hilal in the Kingdom, and Al-Ain in the UAE.

Al-Qahtani said he is happy to be joining the beIN team, especially in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which kicks off Nov. 21. Saudi Arabia will be one of the 32 teams competing as the finals of the competition are held for the first time in the region.

“I hope this step will be a good addition for viewers, especially with beIN’s existing line-up of top sports analysts,” he said.

He will work with the broadcaster’s media team in the Middle East and North Africa as a football analyst on flagship sports channel beIN Sports.

“Al-Qahtani joins our line-up of best-in-class analysts, with many more noteworthy talent announcements, across the board, to be revealed shortly,” said Tareq Zainal, beIN’s chief financial and human resources officer.

“The new appointment comes at a truly exceptional time in our company’s history, as we’re working around the clock to exclusively broadcast the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the world’s greatest and biggest show, across the region later this year.”

The Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Footballer of the Year in 2007, Al-Qahtani scored 172 goals in 354 professional appearances during an 18-year career, the highlights of which included playing at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, during which he scored a goal against Tunisia. He was also the top scorer during the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, and played for the Saudi national team for more than 11 years.


Apple urges Taiwanese suppliers to label products as ‘Made in China’

Apple urges Taiwanese suppliers to label products as ‘Made in China’
Updated 08 August 2022

Apple urges Taiwanese suppliers to label products as ‘Made in China’

Apple urges Taiwanese suppliers to label products as ‘Made in China’
  • China warned of sanctions against companies, individuals found breaching so-called one-China principle, with goods at risk of not being approved for import or export by authorities
  • Apple’s decision has sparked criticisms from around the world, highlighting the company’s dependence on Chinese suppliers

LONDON: Apple has urged its Taiwanese suppliers to change the labeling of products manufactured in the island to “Made in China,” sources reveal.

Apple sent a warning to its suppliers on Friday about China’s increased enforcement of a long-standing import law that requires Taiwanese parts and components to have the labels “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei,” amid rising tensions between the two countries.

“A tightening of the labeling rule may not just affect Apple’s suppliers, but all those that send shipments from Taiwan island to the mainland,” Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, commented.

China’s ongoing dispute over Taiwan has been at the center of political and economic attention in recent months.

Last week, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, sparking Chinese outrage and prompting a four-day military exercise by the Chinese army around the island. Pelosi was the first high-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

China warned of sanctions against companies and individuals found breaching the so-called one-China principle, with goods at risk of not being approved for import or export by the authorities.

“If the mainland authorities tighten the enforcement of the rule, this may increase the probability of shipments from Taiwan island being seized by mainland customs,” Gao said.

Apple’s decision has sparked criticism from around the world. In September 2020, the US giant issued a document titled “Our Commitment to Human Rights,” in which it stated that "at Apple and throughout our supply chain, we prohibit harassment, discrimination, violence, and retaliation of any kind — and we have zero tolerance for violations motivated by any form of prejudice or bigotry.”

Apple has long depended on China for the manufacture of most of its products. Because of its reliance on China for product assembly and sales, however, the company is unwilling to speak out against flagrant violations, despite what it claims.

“Is it a question of time before Apple starts removing apps whose name contains the characters [for] Taiwan without specifying ‘province of China’,” GreatFire, an advocacy group working against Chinese censorship online, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, we suspect that Apple’s ‘red-line’, the moment where it will say: ‘Stop, no longer, we cannot continue to collaborate with the Chinese regime and enforce its requests for censorship,’ is nowhere close,” noted Benjamin Ismail, project director for GreatFire’s associated AppleCensorship.com.

Even though Apple has long sought to diversify its supply chain and manufacturing process, with new factories in India and Brazil, the tech giant’s dependence on Chinese factories for the production of most of its latest products, including the iPhone 14, exposes the instability of an already fragile supply chain and production market.

Given the economic and strategic importance of Taiwan, which accounts for over 90 percent of the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing capacity, China’s aggressive policies represent a significant risk for America and the rest of the world.


Musk says Twitter deal should go ahead if it provides proof of real accounts

Musk says Twitter deal should go ahead if it provides proof of real accounts
Updated 08 August 2022

Musk says Twitter deal should go ahead if it provides proof of real accounts

Musk says Twitter deal should go ahead if it provides proof of real accounts
  • Twitter on Thursday dismissed Musk’s claim that he was hoodwinked into signing the deal to buy the social media company

LONDON: Elon Musk said that if Twitter Inc. could provide its method of sampling 100 accounts and how it confirmed that the accounts are real, his $44 billion deal to buy the company should proceed on its original terms.
“However, if it turns out that their SEC filings are materially false, then it should not,” Musk tweeted early on Saturday.
In response to a Twitter user asking whether the US SEC was probing “dubious claims” by the company, Musk tweeted “Good question, why aren’t they?.”
Twitter declined to comment on the tweet when contacted by Reuters.
Twitter on Thursday dismissed Musk’s claim that he was hoodwinked into signing the deal to buy the social media company, saying that it was “implausible and contrary to fact.”
“According to Musk, he — the billionaire founder of multiple companies, advised by Wall Street bankers and lawyers — was hoodwinked by Twitter into signing a $44 billion merger agreement. That story is as implausible and contrary to fact as it sounds,” the filing released by Twitter on Thursday said.
Musk filed a countersuit Twitter on July 29, escalating his legal fight against the social media company over his bid to walk away from the $44 billion purchase.


Press watchdog slams Israel over treatment of Palestinian journalists

Press watchdog slams Israel over treatment of Palestinian journalists
Updated 06 August 2022

Press watchdog slams Israel over treatment of Palestinian journalists

Press watchdog slams Israel over treatment of Palestinian journalists
  • Amer Abu Arafa detained while Majdoleen Hassouna blocked from travel
  • Committee to Protect Journalists: ‘Israeli authorities are showing their determination to clamp down on the Palestinian press’

LONDON: Israel must release Palestinian journalist Amer Abu Arafa, who was ordered on Aug. 1 to be detained for four months, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Friday.

The reporter for the London-based Quds Press News Agency was under investigation for alleged membership of a terrorist organization, an Israel Defense Forces official told the CPJ. Abu Arafa’s home was raided by Israeli authorities on July 19.

Meanwhile, Israel reportedly prevented Palestinian journalist Majdoleen Hassouna from leaving the occupied West Bank in July.

Border guards are said to have blocked the reporter for Turkey’s TRT from crossing into Jordan. Hassouna was previously blocked from travel in 2020 and 2021.

Justin Shilad, the CPJ’s senior Middle East and North Africa researcher, said: “Whether they use prison walls or travel bans, Israeli authorities are showing their determination to clamp down on the Palestinian press.

“Israeli authorities should immediately release all detained journalists including Amer Abu Arafa, and end the use of arbitrary detention and travel bans against the press.”


Warner Bros. Discovery to launch streaming service

Warner Bros. Discovery to launch streaming service
Updated 06 August 2022

Warner Bros. Discovery to launch streaming service

Warner Bros. Discovery to launch streaming service
  • Company will offer free, paid service from next summer

LONDON: Executives at HBO Max and Discovery+ have revealed their plans to launch a new streaming service next summer that combines the two platforms’ offerings.
From a meeting with investors on Thursday, it emerged that the two companies have set out the scope and strategy of their streaming ambitions, announcing that they will offer free and paid services.
The platform, which aims to reach 130 million paying subscribers by 2025, will offer content that is currently distributed on HBO Max and Discovery+. 
The parent companies of HBO and Animal Planet merged together to form Warner Bros. Discovery earlier this year.
David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, praised the new company’s “bouquet of owned content,” and said it will offer a single paid subscription product and a free service supported by the advertisement-based revenue model.
“The fact is there are only a handful of companies globally that can do what we do,” he said. “And putting it all together, we believe no one does it better than us.”
The name of the service was not disclosed, but executives said it will launch next year in the US and then expand worldwide in the following years.
Zaslav said Warner Bros. Discovery will adopt a “disciplined strategy,” highlighting the company’s intention to steer away from the growth-at-any-cost tactics that became common in the streaming business.
“Owning the content that really resonates with people is much more important than just having lots of content,” he added. 
“In other words, at a time when almost every piece of content ever made is available to consumers across any number of free and paid services, curation, quality and brand have never been more important.”
After the boom of the pandemic era, the streaming service market has not performed well in recent months. 
Fierce competition and the fear of a looming recession have pushed many users to cancel their subscriptions. 
Earlier this week, Warner Bros. canceled the release of the $90 million DC superhero movie “Batgirl,” which was expected to be distributed through HBO Max as part of a broader plan to increase subscribers, reiterating the company’s intention to prioritize quality over quantity.