Архив рубрики: Government

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Charge, please: Apple will pay $113M to settle 34-state ‘batterygate’ lawsuit

Apple has agreed to pay $113 million to 34 states and the District of Columbia to settle allegations that it broke consumer protection laws when it systematically downplayed widespread iPhone battery problems in 2016. This is in addition to the half billion the company already paid to consumers over the issue earlier this year and numerous other fines around the world.
The issue, as we’ve reported over the years, was that a new version of iOS was causing older (but not that old) iPhones to shut down unexpectedly, and that an update “fixing” this issue surreptitiously throttled the performance of those devices.
Conspiracy-minded people, which we now know are quite numerous, suspected this was a deliberate degradation of performance in order to spur the purchase of a new phone. This was not the case, but Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who led the multistate investigation, showed that Apple was quite aware of the scale of the issue and the shortcomings of its solution.

Brnovich and his fellow AGs alleged that Apple violated various consumer protection laws, such as Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act, by “misrepresenting and concealing information” regarding the iPhone battery problems and the irreversible negative consequences of the update it issued to fix them.

Apple agrees to settlement of up to $500 million from lawsuit alleging it throttled older phones

Apple agreed to a $113 million settlement that admits no wrongdoing, to be split among the states however they choose. This is not a fine, like the €25 million one from French authorities; if Apple had been liable for statutory penalties those might have reached much, much higher than the amount agreed to today. Arizona’s CFA provides for up to $10,000 per willful violation, and even a fraction of that would have added up very quickly given the amount of people affected.
In addition to the cash settlement, Apple must “provide truthful information to consumers about iPhone battery health, performance and power management” in various ways. The company already made changes to this effect years ago, but in settlements like this such requirements are included so they can’t just turn around and do it again, though some companies, like Facebook, do it anyway.

9 reasons the Facebook FTC settlement is a joke

Charge, please: Apple will pay $113M to settle 34-state ‘batterygate’ lawsuit

PUBG Mobile to terminate access for users in India on October 30 following ban order

PUBG Mobile, the sleeper hit mobile game, will terminate all service and access for users in India on October 30, two months after New Delhi banned the game in the world’s second largest internet market over cybersecurity concerns.
India on September 2 banned PUBG Mobile Nordic Map: Livik and PUBG Mobile Lite, along with more than 100 apps with links to China. The ban came after India banned TikTok and dozens of other popular Chinese apps in late June.
These apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” the country’s IT Ministry said on both the instances.

India bans PUBG Mobile, and over 100 other Chinese apps

But unlike other affected apps that became unavailable within days — if not hours — PUBG Mobile apps remained accessible in the country for users who already had them installed on their phones, tablets and PCs. In fact, according to one popular mobile insight firm, PUBG Mobile had retained more than 90% of its monthly active users in the country, a mobile-first market where 99% of smartphones run Android, in the weeks following New Delhi’s order.
(Following the ban, Google and Apple pulled PUBG Mobile apps from their app stores in India. But soon enough, guides on how to work around the ban and obtain and install the apps became popular on several forums.)
PUBG Mobile had about 50 million monthly active users in India, tens of millions of users ahead of Call of Duty: Mobile and Fortnite and any other mobile game in the country.
“PUBG Mobile kickstarted an entire ecosystem — from esports organisations to teams and even a cottage industry of streamers that made the most of its spectator sport-friendly gameplay,” said Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and publisher of news outlet The Mako Reactor.
“Granted Tencent did a lot of the heavy lifting in building it out, but the game’s quality itself was heads and shoulders above what most Indians were used to on smartphones. And that’s a reason many kept coming back, some eventually monetising as well,” he added.

India bans TikTok, dozens of other Chinese apps

South Korea-headquartered PUBG Mobile attempted to assuage New Delhi’s concern by cutting ties with Tencent, the game’s publishing and distribution partner in India.
On Thursday, PUBG Mobile said, “protecting user data has always been a top priority and we have always complied with applicable data protection laws and regulations in India. All users’ gameplay information is processed in a transparent manner as disclosed in our privacy policy.”
“We deeply regret this outcome, and sincerely thank you for your support and love for PUBG Mobile in India,” it added.

PUBG cuts publishing ties with Tencent Games in India a week after ban

PUBG Mobile to terminate access for users in India on October 30 following ban order

Trump administration announces major midband spectrum auction for 5G

5G is increasingly coming into focus as a set of technologies that has the potential to dramatically expand the quality, bandwidth and range of wireless connectivity. One of the major blocks to actually rolling out these technologies though is simply spectrum: there just isn’t enough of it available for private use. 5G needs spectrum at very low frequencies to penetrate buildings and increase range, and it also needs high frequencies to support the huge bandwidth that future applications will require.
The crux though is in the midband — frequencies that can support a mix of range, latency and bandwidth that could become a mainstay of 5G technologies, particularly as a bridge for legacy infrastructure and devices.
Today, the midband of U.S. spectrum is heavily utilized by government services like the military, which uses the spectrum for everything from conflict operations to satellite connectivity. That has prevented commercial operators from accessing that spectrum and moving forward with wider 5G deployments.
That’s why it is notable today that the White House announced that the 3450 Mhz to 3550 Mhz spectrum will officially be handed off to the FCC for an auction that will allow private operators to access midband spectrum. Given the legal process involved, that auction is expected to take place in December 2021, with private operation of services likely beginning in 2022. Usage of the band is expected to follow the spectrum sharing rules of AWS-3, according to a senior Trump administration official.
According to the White House, a committee of 180 experts was assembled from all the armed services and the Defense Secretary’s office to look at where a segment of the DoD’s spectrum could be freed up and moved to private usage to back 5G.
Such efforts are in line with the MOBILE NOW Act of 2017, which Congress passed in order to spur government agencies to speed up the process of allocating spectrum for 5G uses. That act encouraged NTIA, an agency which advises on telecom issues for the U.S. government, to identify the 3450 Mhz to 3550 Mhz band as a major area of study back in 2018, and earlier this year in January the agency found “viable options” for converting the band to private use.
It’s the latest positive step in the long transition of wireless to 5G services, which demands changes in technology (such as the wireless chips in cell phones), spectrum allocation, policy development and infrastructure buildout in order to come to fruition.
Ted S. Rappaport, a professor of electrical engineering and the founding director of NYU WIRELESS, an academic research center focused on advanced wireless technologies, said that “It’s great news for America … and a terrific move for U.S. consumers and for the U.S. wireless industry.”
He noted that the particular frequency was valuable, given existing knowledge and research in the industry. “It’s not that far from existing 4G spectrum where engineers and technicians already have good understanding of the propagation. And it’s also at a spectrum where the electronics are very low cost and very easy to make.”
There has been growing pressure on U.S. government leaders in recent years over the plodding 5G transition, which has fallen behind peer countries like China and South Korea. Korea in particular has been a world leader, with more than two million 5G subscribers already in the country thanks to an aggressive industrial policy by Seoul to invest in the country’s telecommunications infrastructure and take a lead in this new wireless transition.
The U.S. has been faster at moving ahead in millimeter (high frequency) spectrum for 5G that will have the greatest bandwidth, but it has lagged in midband spectrum allocation. While the announcements today is notable, there will also be concerns whether 100 Mhz of spectrum is sufficient to support the widest variety of 5G devices, and thus, this allocation may well be just the first in a series.
Nonetheless, additional midband spectrum for 5G will help move the transition forward, and will also help device and chip manufacturers begin to focus their efforts on the specific bands they need to support in their products. While it may be a couple of more years until 5G devices are widely available (and useful) in the United States, spectrum has been a key gating factor to reaching the next-generation of wireless, and a gate that is finally opening up.

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Trump administration announces major midband spectrum auction for 5G

Bangladesh regulator orders telcos to stop providing free access to social media

Bangladesh’s regulator has ordered telecom operators and other internet providers in the nation to stop providing free access to social media services, becoming the latest market in Asia to take a partial stand against zero-rating deals.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, the local regulator, said late last week that it had moved to take this decision because free usage of social media services had spurred their misuse by some people to commit crimes. Local outlet Business Standard first reported about the development. Bangladesh is one of the largest internet markets in Asia with more than 100 million online users.
Technology companies such as Facebook and Twitter have struck partnerships, more popularly known as zero-rating deals, with telecom operators and other internet providers in several markets in the past decade to make their services free to users to accelerate growth. Typically, tech companies bankroll the cost of data consumption of users as part of these deals.
In Bangladesh, such zero-rating deals have been popular for several years, said Ahad Mohammad, chief executive of Bongo, an on-demand streaming service, in an interview with TechCrunch (Extra Crunch membership required) .
Grameenphone and Robi Axiata, two of the largest telecom operators in Bangladesh, enable their mobile subscribers to access a handful of services of their partners even when their phones have run out of credit. Both telecom firms have said they are in the process to comply with Dhaka’s order.
It remains unclear whether Free Basics, a program run by Facebook in dozens of markets through which it offers unlimited access to select services at no cost, will continue its presence in Bangladesh after the nation’s order. Facebook relies on telecom networks to offer data access for its Free Basics program.
In Bangladesh, Facebook struck deals with Grameenphone and Robi Axiata, according to its official website, where Facebook continues to identify Bangladesh among dozens of markets where Free Basics is operational.
Several nations in recent years have balked at zero-rating arrangements — though they have often cited different reasons. India banned Free Basics in early 2016 on the grounds that Facebook’s initiative was violating the principles of net neutrality.
Free Basics also ended its program in Myanmar and several other markets in 2017 and 2018. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.

Bangladesh regulator orders telcos to stop providing free access to social media

China’s GPS competitor is now fully launched

For decades, the United States has had a monopoly on positioning, navigation and timing technology with its Global Positioning System (GPS), a constellation of satellites operated by the military that today provides the backbone for location on billions of devices worldwide.
As those technologies have become not just key to military maneuvers but the very foundation of modern economies, more and more governments around the world have sought ways to decouple from usage of the U.S.-centric system. Russia, Japan, India, the United Kingdom and the European Union have all made forays to build out alternatives to GPS, or at least, to augment the system with additional satellites for better coverage.

The GPS wars have begun

Few countries, though, have made the investment that China has made into its Beidou (北斗) GPS alternative. Over 20 years, the country has spent billions of dollars and launched nearly three dozen satellites to create a completely separate system for positioning. According to Chinese state media, nearly 70% of all Chinese handsets are capable of processing signals from Beidou satellites.
Now, the final puzzle piece is in place, as the last satellite in the Beidou constellation was launched Tuesday morning into orbit, according to the People’s Daily.
It’s just another note in the continuing decoupling of the United States and China, where relations have deteriorated over differences of market access and human rights. Trade talks between the two countries have reached a standstill, with one senior Trump administration advisor calling them off entirely. The announcement of a pause in new issuances of H-1B visas is also telling, as China is the source of the second largest number of petitions, according to USCIS, the country’s immigration agency.

President Trump signs executive order temporarily suspending work visas for H-1B holders

While the completion of the current plan for Beidou offers Beijing new flexibility and resiliency for this critical technology, ultimately, positioning technologies are mostly not adversarial — additional satellites can offer more redundancy to all users, and many of these technologies have the potential to coordinate with each other, offering more flexibility to handset manufacturers.
Nonetheless, GPS spoofing and general hacking of positioning technologies remains a serious threat. Earlier this year, the Trump administration published a new executive order that would force government agencies to develop more robust tools to ensure that GPS signals are protected from hacking.

Trump administration aims to protect GPS with new exec order

Given how much of global logistics and our daily lives are controlled by these technologies, further international cooperation around protecting these vital assets seems necessary. Now that China has its own fully working system, they have an incentive to protect their own infrastructure as much as the United States does to continue to provide GPS and positioning more broadly to the highest standards of reliability.

China’s GPS competitor is now fully launched