Apple’s Tim Cook Asks Bloomberg for a Retraction. No Spy Chip

Tim Cook angry about Donal Trump import tariffs

• Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has called upon Blomberg to retract its story about the Chinese spy chip embedded in certain servers. BuzzFeed has the interview. “Apple CEO Tim Cook Is Calling For Bloomberg To Retract Its Chinese Spy Chip Story.

Tim Cook angry about Donal Trump import tariffs
Tim Cook in one of his sterner moments.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with BuzzFeed News, went on the record for the first time to deny allegations that his company was the victim of a hardware-based attack carried out by the Chinese government. And, in an unprecedented move for the company, he called for a retraction of the story that made this claim.

‘There is no truth in their story about Apple,’ Cook told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. ‘They need to do that right thing and retract it.’

The drama continues and, according to BuzzFeed, the “result has been an impasse between some of the world’s most powerful corporations and a highly respected news organization…”

When this is all resolved, it’s going to be fascinating.

More Debris

• Apple’s iPhones are getting more and more waterproof. The iPhone XS is rated IP68. According to Apple: “Maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes under IEC standard 60529.” However, sometimes an iPhone will, surprisingly, exceed the specs. In this case, it’s an older iPhone X. The story’s at Cult of Mac: iPhone X miraculously survives 8 hours in the ocean.”

What’s that called again? Under promise. Over deliver. Oh, yeah.

iphone x front back
Apple iPhone X. No porous audio jack. Fairly waterproof.

• You’ve heard of Apple’s Gatekeeper, found in macOS System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General. Now Apple is adding another layer of security. Soon, apps from outside the Mac App Store will need to be notarized by Apple. For the well written background, see: “Gatekeeper will enforce app notarization in an upcoming macOS release.

This is a good thing. I like what Apple is doing here.

• Engadget has a column, [email protected] [email protected], that looks at our eroding privacy. This column provides some stinging commentary. “Uber, Google, Facebook: Your experiments have gone too far.” The problem would just go away if people took columns like this one seriously. Evidently, they do not.

• We’ve heard rumors about a new, low-cost notebook from Apple. But we don’t know its name, and we don’t know how it relates to the MacBook Air. Macworld UK takes a good shot at figuring it all out. “MacBook Air 2018 release date, UK price, features, specifications.

• The Eclectic Light Company has been writing some interesting and fairly deep technical articles about Apple technology. I’ll pass this one on for your consideration. “AirPrint or you’re on your own: macOS printing changes.” With Mojave:

Apple has now discontinued support for its printer compatibility listing. For those printers which don’t support driverless printing via AirPrint, you’re on your own trying to obtain a driver from the printer manufacturer’s support site, unless of course you happen to discover that Apple does still support your old printer.

I expect this story to evolve as we come to grips with what Apple is doing.

• Google is giving Apple some grief for patching some security flaws in secret.
The argument seems sound to me, on the surface, in that too many Apple customers don’t take their OS upgrades seriously. Fewer notices can breed over-confidence. But, I can also imagine that Apple has its reasons for keeping some flaws, as they’re fixed, quieter than others. In any case, here’s the story. “Google warns Apple: Missing bugs in your security bulletins are ‘disincentive to patch’.” Digest with caution and perspective.

• It’s beginning to look like the new iPads, likely to be announced on October 30, will change the data/power port. “Evidence mounts that iPad Pro will ditch Lightning for USB-C.” The question is, what kind of cool, new capabilities will this allow? We’ll know soon.

TextExpander 6.1.3 with MacBook Pro Touch Bar support
TextExpander for the Mac adds Touch Bar support.

It was hard to understand the full impact of Apple’s Touch Bar on the MacBook Pros when it was introduced in 2016. Now, two years later, Ben Lovejoy at 9to5Mac offers up his analysis. “Is the Touch Bar a gimmick? …

I fear he’s right.

• Finally, some fun. There are now almost too many robots to keep track of now. Almost. IEEE has created a database of “200 robots from 19 countries with hundreds of photos, videos, and interactives to get people excited about robotics and STEM.” Here’s the introductory article: “Explore the World’s Coolest Robots, All in One Place.” In turn, that points to the compendium.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

One thought on “Apple’s Tim Cook Asks Bloomberg for a Retraction. No Spy Chip

  • John:

    The juxtaposition of your lede story on TC asking (demanding) a retraction from Bloomberg on the Chinese spy chip story, and Ms Blue’s Engadget article on experiments by Uber, Google and FB going too far, provide a potentially instructive dialectic.

    A cynic might be tempted to view Apple’s denial of infiltration and compromise by Chinese intelligence, together with similar denials from Amazon and other named alleged victims, as part and parcel of the same pattern of power abuse cited by the the Engadget story, and conclude that all this smacks of a conspiratorial cover-up.

    Time doesn’t permit a thorough post-mortem anatomical deconstruction of such a conclusion, nor why these two stories should not be conflated to support it, as they are linked only by the question of corporate power, but tell very different stories of its use; however we can take a broad thematic survey.

    Let’s begin with Engadget’s citation of experiments by these tech giants, specifically Google, Uber and FB and the harm to specific demographics and communities attributed to these experiments. While Ms Blue doesn’t say this in so many words, the key issues here, in my opinion are twofold. First, there is the fact that these experiments, as well as others that she did not mention, are both uncontrolled and non-consensual. The affected public or user base was never asked to participate, however directly or indirectly, nor were they, in most cases, even aware that there was an experiment underway that could affect them in any way. Such practices violate the norms of human experimentation, and indeed even animal experimentation which, perhaps surprisingly to some people, must go through a rigorous approvals process and be conducted with oversight. That this occurs has more to do with not simply the power of these companies, important though that is, but that they are pushing into new frontiers as yet non-regulated by either legislation or oversight by any type of referee, public or private, with the authority to impose penalties for infractions or public harm. Each company is left to police itself. Imagine the outcry if similar licence was granted to pharmaceutical companies in testing new drugs, or transportation manufacturers (planes or automobiles) in designing new vehicles, or to energy companies in deciding when, where or how to mine for new resources. That we are now dealing with materially intangible digital property and resources whose domain and limits of use have not been settled, and which have mostly non-physical adverse impacts when things go awry, and which have been repeatedly compromised with adverse public impact, should not be seen as any less an abuse of power in desperate need of control, regulation and oversight. We grant such licence to no one else. The big tech companies that deal in novel technologies, products or digital information should be no different. In sum, if power can be abused, it will be. Public safety and well-being has never been, nor can it now be, assured through an honour system voluntarily practised by powerful interests.

    Contrast that with Apple et al not merely denying the Bloomberg story, but providing a detailed public denial supported by disparate interests across multiple disciplines in both industry, law enforcement and intelligence, and leveraging their power (Apple at any rate) to demand a retraction of the story. This is not an abuse of power, but its precise application to insist on accountability. The contrast with power abuse to conduct non-consensual experimentation cited above could not be starker. The one is a wilful and careless avoidance of accountability; the other an evidence-based, or at least investigation supported insistence on accountability in the public domain in which, in a milieu of third party investigation, can proved and even adjudicated. Sadly, it is too often the case that accountability can only be enforced by interests of equivalent power, in this case by two corporate titans in the form of Bloomberg and Apple, but this is the type of power application – namely for accountability – that we should applaud and welcome in the corporate world. Indeed, that world and ours would be better for it were such accountability more widespread.

    Indeed, this dialectic is a tale and study of two contrasting uses of power; the one to spurn accountability and the other to champion accountability as a best corporate practice once due diligence is done.

    A word about the Touch Bar; as implemented it can be dismissed as a gimmick. In my opinion, given that I do use it (just did in selecting words to type in this comment), I think it has simply been imperfectly implemented. Apple could do much more with this technology, although I am not sure that they will.

    As for robots, an older generation that never knew robots as personal devices will live to see their archaic vision supplanted by an emerging generation whose vision will be novel to the point of being alien to that of their forebears. And that vision, and application, will be seized and remoulded by every succeeding generation onward, ad infinitum. I venture that a mature personal robotics industry, should it ever emerge, will resemble nothing of our current fancies

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