25 – Meng Wanzhou Update and Facebook Steals from Kids – Tech Time Podcast


Canada & Meng Wanzhou – Update (Meng Minute)

  • Meng Wanzhou, Hauwei and affiliates face 13 charges in the US.
    • Acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
    • 13 counts of bank and wire fraud relates to Skycom operating in Iran.
      • Huawei claims that Skycom is an unrelated company.
      • Huawei was able to borrow money from US banks and use that money in Iran under the Skycom name.
    • Violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act & to commit money laundering.
    • Huawei is also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice.
    • To other executives are charged with stealing trade secrets.
      • Tried to steal robotic technology form T-Mobile to test smartphones’ durability.
      • Not rogue employees acting on their own.
      • Way of doing business encouraged by Huawei.
    • Whitaker stated Monday that the US will formally file for extradition by Tuesday (Deadline).
  • John McCallum – Canada’s “former” Ambassador to China
    • Tuesday Jan 22, He told Chinese journalists that Meng Wanzhou had a good cast to fight the extradition to the US and listed several arguments he thought would help her case.
    • Wednesday, many were calling for his dismissal as he was making statements as Canada’s ambassador that would be considered political and not judicial.
    • Thursday he said he misspoke those statements.
    • Friday he told a Canadian reporter that it would be “great for Canada” if the US dropped their extradition request.  He also said that if the US and China made a deal, it should include releasing the two Canadians. This is also considered political interference and assumes that a political deal will be made, not the rule of law.
    • Saturday – Justin Trudeau requested McCallum’s resignation.
  • What is all the Hype/Concern about Huawei?
    • 1. Ties to the Chinese Government.
      • Some argue US led efforts to convince partners to drop Huawei is less about national security and more aby stymying Chinese dominance.
    • 2. Chinese Tech companies could be compelled by the Chinese government to modify their technology for spying.
      • The US Department this week, “the immense influence that the Chinese government holds over Chinese corporations” is a threat to America’s economic and national security.
    • What Modifications?
      • Attacking the supply chain = producer makes modifications to a piece of hardware or software before it reaches its final destination.
        • 5G is a big target.  The interconnectivity of things (Cars, appliances, communication…).
        • Could spy or shut it down (similar to GPS).
      • Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine reported that computer components from a US firm called “SuperMicro” had been subtly modified during manufacturing in a Chinese factory.  Apple and Amazon use these chips. Not verified true.
        • There are confirmed cases of Chinese companies doing this.  “CCCleaner” and File-sharing app “Transmission”.
        • NotPetya was a Russia linked ransomware.  It pretended to be a legitimate update to accounting software M.E.Doc used in the Ukraine.  It shut down Maersk Shipping.
      • China has been caught with their hands in the cookie jar (stealing technology) before.  It’s in their playbook.
        • December – 2 chinese agents were caught stealing from 12 countries (Canada included).  “We are talking about State Sponsored actors engaged in illegal behaviour”.
    • Trust but Verify?
      • There are 3rd parties that can audit and inspect equipment but this may not catch everything (especially if the spy knows it will be checked).
      • Both the US and UK security experts suggest this will not be enough.
    • All technology has flaws and vulnerabilities (Huawei included) the hard part, is knowing if the flaw was put there on purpose.
  • Comment of the week, “Canada follows through on our international Agreements.  China takes hostages.” 108 likes to 17 dislikes.
  • “We extradite her to the US, refuse 5G software and be done with this whole mess.”  103 to 13.

To Facebook, your privacy is worth a $20 gift card

  • The latest backlash follows a TechCrunchreport that the company was secretly paying teenagers to access their data and basically monitor their every move on the web.
  • Facebook was asking people to install a VPN app called “Facebook Research,” which gave it full access to a user’s phone and internet activity. That, according to security expert Will Strafach (who helped TechCrunch with the investigation), gave the company the ability to continuously collect “private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps (including photos/videos sent to others), emails, web searches, web browsing activity and even ongoing location information.
  • And what did these teens get in exchange for giving up every last illusion of privacy? Twenty dollars in e-gift cards per month. For a company that’s been involved in countless data privacy scandals in recent months, Facebook has a lot of nerve. Rather than changing its approach to collecting people’s personal data, especially in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook continues to test the limits of what it can get away with.
  • The Research VPN program seems to be a clone of Onavo Protect, a data-collecting app that was pulled from the iOS App Store last year after Apple said it would violate its privacy policy. According to TechCrunch, Facebook Research was created using the same code as Onavo Protect, but the social network found a way around Apple’s restrictions. Through a simple browser link, those who agreed to participate could give Facebook root access to their iPhone, essentially allowing the company to install anything it wanted on their device.
  • By using its developer credentials to do this, Facebook bypassed Apple’s TestFlight beta-testing program and instead let users download it from three other services: BetaBound, uTest and Applause. One of the beta-testing services Facebook used, Applause, went as far as asking users to provide a screenshot of their Amazon purchase history. Which is just shameless.
  • Facebook might argue that the people who signed up for the Research program (which reportedly targeted users between 13 and 35) consented to have their data harvested. But, it’s not as if the company was being explicit about its involvement, since it was essentially hiding behind BetaBound, uTest and Applause as a “social media study.” Per TechCrunch, it wasn’t until a minor tried to sign-up that a parent consent form revealed that the data being collected would be provided to Facebook.
  • Since TechCrunch’s investigation came out Tuesday night, Facebook has said it is shutting down the program for iOS users, though it will still be available on Android. Google has not replied to our request for comment, but TechCrunch is now reporting that it, too, has a data-collecting application (called Screenwise Meter) that side-steps Apple’s App Store.
  • Their rebuttal: “Despite early reports, there was nothing ‘secret’ about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App,” Facebook said. “It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate. Finally, less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens. All of them with signed parental consent forms.”

Apple is Working on a Subscription for Games

  • It would be like Netflix for games.
  • Report from Cheddar
  • Users will pay a subscription fee to access a bundled list of titles.
  • Apple has been privately discussing this with game developers in second half of 2018.
  • Apple is also considering partnering with developers to be a publisher (they would assume distribution & marketing).
  • Subscriptions would bring in regular income that would offset the sales spikes and dips of hardware releases.
  • “If Apple functioned like a publisher for games it sold through a subscription, it could entice developers to create exclusive games for the service by undercutting the fees they would normally pay to an outside firm for user acquisition, marketing, and other distribution-related costs. Apple currently takes a 30-percent cut of App Store purchases but lowers that fee to 15 percent after the first year of a subscription.”  

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