U.S. Lawmakers Ask Zoom About its Ties to China

· Andrew Orr · News

Zoom logo

Three lawmakers in the U.S. have asked Zoom to clarify its relationship with China after the company suspended user accounts at its request.

White House in Talks With Intel, TSMC to Build U.S. Chip Foundries

· Andrew Orr · Link

The white house

Officials at the White House are reportedly in talks with Intel and TSMC to build semiconductor facilities in the United States.

U.S. tech companies and the government have been trying to reduce the country’s dependence on chip factories in Asia for years, underscored by national security concerns […]

In an April 28 letter obtained by the WSJ, Intel CEO Bob Swan told Defense Department that the company is willing to build a commercial foundry in partnership with the Pentagon “given the uncertainty created by the current geopolitical situation.”

The newspaper reports that TSMC has been in talks with Commerce and Defense department officials and Apple, one of the biggest clients, about building a semiconductor factory in the U.S.

Corporations have spent the last 30 or so years moving manufacturing to China in search of cheap labor. Did they not expect China to start competing with them?

Zoom: Don’t Want to Get Routed Through Chinese Servers? Fork Over Your Cash

· Andrew Orr · Link

Zoom logo

One of Zoom’s controversies is how it routes some of its network traffic through China’s servers. If you’re privacy conscious, you can opt out of specific data center regions starting April 18. But this is only for paying customers.

This feature gives our customers more control over their data and their interaction with our global network when using Zoom’s industry-leading video communication services.

I can’t say I agree. It’s not about making privacy a paid feature, it’s that Zoom is exploiting its own insecurity to create a paid feature. Next step: Making end-to-end encryption a paid feature, and leaving free users to fend for themselves.

“Mexico is the China of the Americas”

· Andrew Orr · Link

Apple Mexican flag logo

Here’s another thing to put on your technology watch lists. Due to a combination of the economic consequences of the coronavirus and the trade war between the U.S. and China, many U.S. companies are moving their manufacturing out of China. Consulting firm Kearney publishes its Reshoring Index [PDF].

Kearney predicts companies “will be compelled to go much further in rethinking their sourcing strategies, (and) their entire supply chains.”

Amid other companies, Mexican manufacturing is one possible fork in Apple’s road, along with Vietnam. As Forbes states, the U.S. can’t compete with China on labor costs, and I bet few Western countries can. I don’t know what the cost is to manufacture in Mexico, but the country likely carries less risk than China.

Zoom’s Encryption is Linked to Chinese Servers

· Andrew Orr · Link

Chinese flag

Researchers found that Zoom uses its own encryption scheme, sometimes using keys issued by China.

Some of the key management systems — 5 out of 73, in a Citizen Lab scan — seem to be located in China, with the rest in the United States. Interestingly, the Chinese servers are at least sometimes used for Zoom chats that have no nexus in China. The two Citizen Lab researchers, Bill Marczak and John Scott-Railton, live in the United States and Canada. During a test call between the two, the shared meeting encryption key “was sent to one of the participants over TLS from a Zoom server apparently located in Beijing,” according to the report.

I don’t have further commentary on Zoom, other than asking, “How will this end?”

Government Excludes Apple Watch From Tariffs

· Andrew Orr · News

The U.S. Trade Representative approved Apple’s request to exclude the Apple Watch from U.S. tariffs on imported Chinese goods.

TikTok Censors Posts by People it Deems Ugly or Poor

· Andrew Orr · Link

Chinese app TikTok told its moderators to censor posts from users deemed too ugly, poor, or disabled.

…according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. These same documents show moderators were also told to censor political speech in TikTok livestreams, punishing those who harmed “national honor” or broadcast streams about “state organs such as police” with bans from the platform.

iPads, Trackpads, China, and Censorship – TMO Daily Observations 2020-02-28

· Dave Hamilton & Charlotte Henry · The Mac Observer's Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Daily Observations Podcast Logo

This week we saw rumors of Apple releasing an iPad keyboard with a trackpad, and news that Apple will be requiring paid game developers to comply with Chinese censorship laws. Charlotte Henry and Bryan Chaffin join Dave Hamilton to sift through it all for you before the weekend. Press play and enjoy!

Chinese Military Charged With Equifax Data Breach

· Andrew Orr · Link

Chinese flag

Four Chinese military hackers have been charged with breaking into Equifax’s network and stealing the data of tens of millions of Americans.

The accused hackers exploited a software vulnerability to gain access to Equifax’s computers, obtaining log-in credentials that they used to navigate databases and review records. The indictment also details efforts the hackers took to cover their tracks, including wiping log files on a daily basis and routing traffic through dozens of servers in nearly 20 countries.

Reminder that Equifax executives did insider trading based on the breach. They are criminals.

FBI Investigates Over 1,000 Cases of Chinese IP Theft

· Andrew Orr · Link

At the China Initiative Conference, government officials from the FBI and DoJ spent four hours talking about theft of U.S. intellectual property by China.

“The threat from China is real, it’s persistent, it’s well-orchestrated, it’s well-resourced, and it’s not going away anytime soon,” John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, opened the conference.

“This one to me really stands out as the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.