(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. has gone from a crucial component of U.K. and French mobile networks to potential outcast, after resistance and compromises began to give way to a relentless White House campaign.Both countries indicated this week that they’re taking steps tRead more »
Getting older comes with greater sensitivity to the extremes of temperature. In a heat wave, older people, especially those with cardiovascular disease, are more vulnerable to serious illness an...
(Bloomberg) -- Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is testing China’s digital cash as a payment method on its platform, in what could be one of the first real-world applications of the electronic version of the yuan.The SoftBank Group Corp.-backed startup said on Wednesday it’s working with a research wing of the People’s Bank of China on uses for the virtual legal tender dubbed Digital Currency Electronic Payment, or DCEP. That includes testing the token on its ride-hailing platform, people familiar with the matter said. Specifics like when the feature will officially roll out aren’t clear yet, they said, asking not to be identified because the plan is private.Shares in Chinese financial software and information security companies including Feitian Technologies Co. and Julong Co. rose by their 10% daily limits on the news. Representatives from the PBOC had no comment when contacted.China’s government began a pilot program for its digital currency, which lives on a mobile wallet application and offers Beijing greater control of the country’s financial system, a few months ago. The initial testing was limited to four cities, with local media reporting that some of the money was distributed via transport subsidies to residents in Suzhou. However, implementation remains a question. China’s $27 trillion payments industry is already dominated by twin internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.Adoption by Didi, which connects half a billion Chinese commuters, would drive acceptance of China’s digital coin and widen Beijing’s global lead in government-sanctioned virtual tokens. Didi currently employs payment tools from Tencent and Alibaba-backed Ant Group, so it would appear to be a good candidate for DCEP. Beyond its core ride-sharing business, Didi is luring grocers and merchants onto its platform -- and they could also become users of the national digital tokens.Why China’s Rushing to Mint Its Own Digital Currency: QuickTakeChina’s central bank has led global peers in development of digital legal tender, with research efforts started in at least 2014. The digital currency is intended to eventually replace coins and banknotes, and could offer an alternative to the dollar-based international payments systems.“DCEP will become a key infrastructure of digital economy,” Didi said in a Chinese statement. It will work with the government to “boost the integration of the digital economy with the real economy.”Read more: China’s Digital Currency Could Challenge Bitcoin and Even the Dollar(Updates with share action in the third paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc., Google and Twitter Inc. -- all of which are blocked in the mainland -- are now headed toward a showdown with China that could end up making Hong Kong feel more like Beijing.Hours after Hong Kong announced sweeping new powers to police the internet on Monday night, those companies plus the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. all suspended requests for data from the Hong Kong government. ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, which has Chinese owners, announced it would pull its viral video app from the territory’s mobile stores in the coming days even as President Donald Trump threatened to ban it in the U.S.Their dilemma is stark: Bend to the law and infuriate Western nations increasingly at odds with China over political freedoms, or simply refuse and depart like Google did in China a decade ago over some of the very same issues. Much like that seismic event shook the mainland in 2010, Big Tech’s reaction now could have a much wider impact on Hong Kong’s future as a financial hub -- potentially sparking an exodus of professionals and businesses.“Google is pretty important to people here, and if that’s cut off then it’s really extremely serious,” said Richard Harris, a former director at Citi Private Bank who now runs Port Shelter Investment Management in Hong Kong. “In Hong Kong we don’t know where the boundaries are, and that’s threatening to a lot of business people.”Over the past week, Hong Kong authorities have begun explaining how they’ll enforce a law that officials in Beijing called a “sword of Damocles” hanging over China’s most strident critics. The legislation, which sparked the threat of sanctions from the Trump administration and outrage elsewhere, has had a chilling effect on pro-democracy protesters who demonstrated for months last year while also raising fresh questions for businesses.On Monday night, the Hong Kong government announced sweeping new police powers, including warrant-less searches, property seizures and online surveillance. If a publisher fails to immediately comply with a request to remove content deemed in breach of the law, police can seek a warrant to “take any action” to remove it while also demanding “the identification record or decryption assistance.”“We are absolutely headed for a showdown, and there are no indications that the Hong Kong government is particularly prepared if Facebook or another company refuses a removal request,” said James Griffiths, a journalist and author of “The Great Firewall: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet.” “These companies appear to have realized that there is no compromise they could make that would truly satisfy Beijing or make them seem trustworthy. This could make them more willing to stand up against Chinese censorship in Hong Kong.”American internet giants have made overtures toward Beijing in recent years as the market exploded, but few have so far actually acceded to China’s censorship framework.Of the rare examples, Microsoft’s LinkedIn censors content to allow it to operate a Chinese version, while Apple Inc. complies with local regulations in policing its app store and other services. Reports that Google entertained the notion of returning -- via potentially a censored version of search called Project Dragonfly -- enraged lawmakers and its own employees torpedoed the idea.Worldwide CensorshipTwitter and Facebook have never been consistently available in China, but Mark Zuckerberg also flirted with Beijing before abandoning the notion as regulatory scrutiny and a user backlash grew at home. In both instances, external factors helped scupper the feasibility of operating in the world’s No. 2 economy.“I worked hard to make this happen. But we could never come to agreement on what it would take for us to operate there, and they never let us in,” he said last year in a speech at Georgetown University. “And now we have more freedom to speak out and stand up for the values we believe in and fight for free expression around the world.”Still, the internet heavyweights are already censoring content across the world for both authoritarian regimes and western democracies, according to Ben Bland, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute in Australia. After a mass shooting last March in Christchurch, New Zealand, top social media companies joined with more than 40 countries in a concerted call to end the spread of extremist messaging online.Germany has banned online Nazi and right-wing extremist content, and most countries have blocks in place against online pornography and criminal activity. In Thailand, strict lese majeste laws lead to censorship of content deemed offensive to the royal family, while Communist-run Vietnam expunges anything deemed “anti-state.”Reputational DamageBig tech companies must gauge the importance of the markets in China and Hong Kong with possible reputational damage in other places they operate, according to Stuart Hargreaves, a law professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong who researches surveillance and privacy issues.“I do not expect to see the Great Firewall extended from mainland China to Hong Kong, at least in the medium term,” he said. “It is not necessary for Beijing’s goal of tamping down certain sentiments and would be the obvious end of Hong Kong as a global city and its particular role as an Asian finance hub.”The exit of TikTok, the viral video app that has insisted it operates independently of Beijing, could actually benefit the Communist Party by removing a forum pro-democracy protesters have used to post videos calling for an independent Hong Kong. Last year, demonstrators used the Reddit-like forum LIHKG as well as Telegram to organize leaderless protests.TikTok on Tuesday played up its U.S. ties while pushing back against comments by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who said the government is considering a ban of the short video app. Trump later said the move may be one possible way to retaliate against China over its handling of the coronavirus.“We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” a TikTok spokesperson said, adding that it’s led by an American CEO.Platforms like Telegram that provide end-to-end encryption could become increasingly popular, said Joyce Nip, senior lecturer in Chinese Media Studies at the University of Sydney. Telegram said it has never shared data with Hong Kong authorities, adding that it doesn’t have servers in the territory and doesn’t store data there. Signal has become the most-downloaded messaging app in the city, topping the communications category in Apple’s and Google’s mobile app stores.‘Knife Edge’Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, didn’t answer a question Tuesday on her response to tech companies that stopped processing data requests from her government. Still, she played down any long-term impact on the city’s position as a financial hub around the same time that Pompeo released a statement blasting the Communist Party’s “Orwellian censorship” in Hong Kong.There “has been an increasing appreciation of the positive effect of this national security legislation, particularly in restoring stability in Hong Kong as reflected by some of the market sentiments in recent days,” Lam said a day after local stocks entered a bull market. “Surely this is not doom and gloom for Hong Kong.”The regulations stemmed from a new national security committee created by the law that includes Lam and Luo Huining, Beijing’s top official in the city. While China’s leaders know Hong Kong needs a free flow of information to function as a world-class financial center, “much seems to rest in the hands of the few newly empowered bureaucrats who will police the new laws,” according to Steve Vickers, chief executive officer of Steve Vickers and Associates, a political and corporate risk consultancy.“Foreign firms are on something of a knife edge here, caught between their natural affinity with freedom of information and their commercial desire to operate in the huge Chinese market,” said Vickers, a former head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Criminal Intelligence Bureau. “It is now more a matter of what is actually done, as opposed to what is being said -- by either China or the foreign IT companies -- that will be the key.”(Updates with Signal’s rise in the 19th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Smartwatches make life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features, so now is a great time to pick one up for cheap. With so many models available, you can find a deal on one almost all of the time.
(Bloomberg) -- Digital advertising platforms run by Google, Amazon.com Inc. and other tech companies will funnel at least $25 million to websites spreading misinformation about Covid-19 this year, according to a study released Wednesday.Google’s platforms will provide $19 million, or $3 out of every $4 that the misinformation sites get in ad revenue. OpenX, a smaller digital ad distributor, handles about 10% of the money, while Amazon’s technology delivers roughly $1.7 million, or 7%, of the digital marketing spending these sites will receive, according to a research group called the Global Disinformation Index.GDI made the estimates in a study that analyzed ads running between January and June on 480 English language websites identified as publishers of virus misinformation. Some of the ads were for brands including cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA, furniture website Wayfair Inc. and imaging technology company Canon Inc. The data exclude social-media and online-video services, so the true total is likely much higher.Governments and health officials are still learning more about the virus, and this has allowed misinformation to flourish online. Silicon Valley giants have pledged to crack down, and Alphabet Inc.’s Google has removed ads from sites that violate its policies. However, GDI thinks these platforms need to do more to limit the spread of misinformation.“The difference between what the companies say publicly about their dedication to not monetizing hate speech and harmful content, especially around the pandemic, is not matching up with what our data is telling us that’s actually happening,” said Danny Rogers, co-founder of the Global Disinformation Index.In an ad delivered on May 19 by Amazon, a L’Oreal product was promoted on Americanthinker.com next to an article titled “Is Big Pharma Suppressing Hydroxychloroquine?” Earlier this month, Google served up a Bloomberg News ad on the website Bigleaguepolitics.com, according to the GDI report. The Global Disinformation Index is a U.K.-based research group that provides disinformation risk ratings on media sites all over the world. GDI said it presented Google, Amazon and OpenX with the latest findings from its report and none of the tech companies provided a formal response. The group updates its research weekly and often tells tech companies when their platforms place ads on misinformation sites.The research group releases this information, in part, as a way to alert advertisers when their marketing spots show up on this kind of website. These brands can help by pulling ads from tech platforms when they see issues like this, Rogers said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s biggest online travel startup, is close to raising fresh funds at a private-market valuation of about $2.75 billion -- roughly 17% less than its most recent fundraising, according to people familiar with the matter.The Jakarta-based firm is in advanced negotiations with new strategic investors such as Siam Commercial Bank Pcl and Richard Li’s FWD Group Ltd., as well as existing backers GIC Pte. and East Ventures to secure about $250 million, the people said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private. The primary fundraising will be at a $2.75 billion valuation, while a secondary sale will be at $2.4 billion, one of the people said. Traveloka counts online travel site Expedia Group Inc. and JD.com Inc. among its existing backers.Terms of the fundraising could still change, they said. A Traveloka representative declined to comment.Traveloka, which has had its business hammered by the coronavirus fallout, is one of the first unicorns in Southeast Asia to experience a down-round -- raising funds at a lower valuation than the previous funding round. It reflects the sharp drop in business after lockdown orders halted flights and travel. Since the outbreak, the company has cut an unspecified number of positions, including about 80 jobs in Singapore in April.The travel industry is witnessing a sharp decline in business since the spread of the coronavirus. Expedia saw its total gross booking fall 39% in the first quarter, while its share price has dropped 21% this year. Vacation-rental startup Airbnb Inc. cut 25% of its workforce and raised an additional $2 billion in debt to help weather the downturn.Despite the slump, some Traveloka investors are betting on the travel industry’s eventual recovery, led by a rebound in tourism within countries, and a series of cost-cutting measures at the company, one of the people said. In Vietnam -- a model case in containing the pandemic with fewer than 400 cases and no deaths -- domestic travel has restarted.With a population of 570 million and growing middle class, Southeast Asia’s six largest economies are expected to see their online travel market more than double from $34 billion in 2019 to $78 billion in 2025, according to the most recent report by Google, Temasek and Bain released in October.Read more: Southeast Asia’s No. 1 Travel App Jumps on Fintech BandwagonSince its inception in 2012, Traveloka’s valuation climbed to $3.3 billion, according to the people. It has expanded across Southeast Asia, making it easier for consumers to book flights and hotels across countries. Like other startups in the region, Traveloka followed a popular playbook of providing multiple products and extending into financial services to complement its travel, accommodation and lifestyle offerings.Traveloka Chief Executive Officer Ferry Unardi said in an interview at the New Economy Forum in Beijing in November that the company is considering an initial public offering in Indonesia and in the U.S. in two to three years.Traveloka Looking to Grow Into Lifestyle, Financial Services: CEO (Video)(Adds forecast of Southeast Asia’s digital market in the seventh paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
We've put together a comprehensive Google Assistant guide, and a great list of useful 'OK, Google' commands.