Category: U.S. government

June 2, 2019 Off

China lays out official stance on trade talks with U.S.

By Jill T Frey

On Sunday, China released a comprehensive white paper to formalize its positions on trade negotiations with the U.S. The set of statements come as the trade war escalates and Beijing threatens to hit back with a retaliatory blacklist of U.S. firms. Here are some key takeaways from the press conference announcing the white paper:

U.S. ‘responsible’ for stalled trade talks

The “U.S. government bears responsibility” for setbacks in trade talks, chided the paper, adding that the U.S. has imposed additional tariffs on Chinese goods that impede economic cooperation between the two countries and globally.

While it’s “common” for both sides to propose “adjustments to the text and language” in ongoing negotiations, the U.S. administration “kept changing its demands” in the “previous more than ten rounds of negotiations,” the paper alleged.

On the other hand, reports of China backtracking on previous trade deals are mere “mudslinging,” Wang Shouwen, the Chinese vice … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Security startup Bugcrowd on crowdsourcing bug bounties: ‘Cybersecurity is a people problem’

By Jill T Frey

For a cybersecurity company, Bugcrowd relies much more on people than it does on technology.

For as long as humans are writing software, developers and programmers are going to make mistakes, said Casey Ellis, the company’s founder and chief technology officer in an interview TechCrunch from his San Francisco headquarters.

“Cybersecurity is fundamentally a people problem,” he said. “Humans are actually the root of the problem,” he said. And when humans made coding mistakes that turn into bugs or vulnerabilities that be exploited, that’s where Bugcrowd comes in — by trying to mitigate the fallout before they can be maliciously exploited.

Founded in 2011, Bugcrowd is one of the largest bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure companies on the internet today. The company relies on bug finders, hackers, and security researchers to find and privately report security flaws that could damage systems or putting user data at risk.

Bugcrowd acts as … Read the rest

May 23, 2019 Off

WikiLeaks’ Assange charged under the Espionage Act in a ‘major test case’ for press freedom

By Jill T Frey

Julian Assange, founder of whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, has been charged with more than a dozen additional charges by U.S. federal prosecutors, including under the controversial Espionage Act — a case that will likely test the rights of freedom of speech and expression under the First Amendment.

Assange, 47, was arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in April after the U.S. government charged him with conspiracy to hack a government computer used by then army officer Chelsea Manning to leak classified information about the Iraq War. Ecuador withdrew his asylum request seven years after he first entered the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face unrelated allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange was later jailed in the U.K. for a year for breaking bail while he was in the embassy.

According to the newly unsealed indictment, Assange faces 17 new charges — including publishing classified … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

Several chip companies, including Qualcomm and Intel, have reportedly stopped supplying Huawei after blacklist

By Jill T Frey

Several key suppliers are reportedly cutting off Huawei after the Trump administration added the Chinese telecom equipment and smartphone giant to a trade blacklist last week. According to Bloomberg, semiconductor companies Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom will no longer supply Huawei until further notice. This follows another report earlier today that Google has suspended some trade with Huawei, leaving it with access only to the open-source version of Android.

In addition to impacting Huawei’s business, the blacklisting has ramifications for telecom providers who are getting ready to launch 5G networks. In China, the three big telecoms (China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom), which are all heavily reliant on Huawei, may be forced to delay 5G rollout. Meanwhile, U.S. carriers, especially smaller ones, may have to spend millions of dollars replacing Huawei equipment they have already installed or looking for new suppliers.

In tweet last week from … Read the rest

May 15, 2019 Off

Trump is reportedly preparing to sign an executive order that would enable a ban on Huawei in the US

By Jill T Frey

As the trade war with China intensifies again, President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would make possible a ban on American companies from using telecommunications equipment from Huawei and other companies that the government believes pose a national security risk, Reuters reports.

The executive order cites the International Emergency Economics Power Act, a law enacted in 1977 that gives the President broad power to control trade in response to a national emergency. The order has been under consideration for a year, but repeatedly delayed, and may be delayed yet again, says Reuters. The Wall Street Journal first reported that the administration was considering executive actions in May 2018.

Specific companies are not named in the executive order, but it would likely affect Huawei because of longstanding concerns that the Chinese government can use its telecommunications equipment for spying. A House committee first labeled Read the rest

May 13, 2019 Off

Yes, Americans can opt-out of airport facial recognition — here’s how

By Jill T Frey

Whether you like it or not, facial recognition tech to check in for your flight will soon be coming to an airport near you.

More than a dozen U.S. airports are already rolling out the technology, with many more to go before the U.S. government hits its target of enrolling the largest 20 airports in the country before 2021.

Facial recognition is highly controversial and has many divided. On the one hand, it reduces paper tickets and is meant to be easier for travelers to check in at the airport before their flight. But facial recognition also has technical problems. According to a Homeland Security watchdog, the facial recognition systems used at airports only worked 85% in some cases. Homeland Security said the system is getting better over time and will be up to scratch by the supposed 2021 deadline — even if the watchdog has its doubts.

Many … Read the rest

May 10, 2019 Off

How the trade war with China hit Uber’s public offering

By Jill T Frey

Uber’s much heralded public offering has arrived not so much with a bang as with a whimper, thanks largely to the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

Overnight, the U.S. government made good on the threat from President Donald Trump to hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% up from 10%.

As a result, stock markets slid further on Friday, and their decline hit Uber’s initial public offering. The company’s shares began trading at $42.54, below its initial pricing of $45 per share.

At its initial pricing, Uber was valued at $75.5 billion, below the $120 billion price that Wall Street thought the company would fetch late last year, but still among the biggest public offerings in history. Only Facebook’s $81 billion public offering and the whopping $169 billion debut of Alibaba were bigger, … Read the rest

May 9, 2019 Off

Jeff Bezos aims Blue Origin at the Moon

By Jill T Frey

Today at a packed event blocks from the White House, Jeff Bezos took the stage in front of select members of the media, executives, government officials and a gaggle of middle schoolers to reveal new details of his plan to get to the Moon by 2024

Blue Origin is going to send humans to space on New Shepard later this year and has unveiled a lunar lander, called “Blue Moon,” to access the resource-rich lunar surface, Bezos said.

Setting the stage with Neil Armstrong’s famous words as the first man to walk on the moon, Bezos took to the stage to explain his vision of answering a very simple question. Given the finite resources available to humanity, “where would a trillion humans live?”

It’s a vision that Bezos has articulated before.

For Bezos, the only impediment to this space … Read the rest

April 24, 2019 Off

NASA and FEMA are contingency planning for a potential asteroid armageddon

By Jill T Frey

When it comes to planning for a potential asteroid strike on planet Earth, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency don’t want to miss a thing.

Alongside international partners like the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness-NEO Segment and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office will participate in a “tabletop exercise” that will simulate a scenario for how to respond to an asteroid on an impact trajectory with the Earth (it’s unclear whether Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck or Liv Tyler will participate).

NASA and its partners have actually been on the lookout for potentially calamitous near-Earth objects (which are asteroids, comets or unidentified objects that come within 30 million miles of Earth) for more than 20 years.

The tabletop exercise is a simulation used in disaster management planning to help inform organizations that would be relevant … Read the rest

April 23, 2019 Off

China is reportedly using US satellite technologies to bolster its surveillance capabilities

By Jill T Frey

The Chinese government has been using a private company jointly owned by a U.S. investment firm and its Chinese counterpart to expand its surveillance and telecommunications capabilities using American technology, The Wall Street Journal reports.

At the center of the Journal’s reporting is a company called Asia Satellite Telecommunications (AsiaSat). It’s a satellite operating company acquired back in 2015 by U.S. private equity firm The Carlyle Group and Chinese private equity firm CITIC Group. Both Carlyle and CITIC are known for their ties to government in their respective home nations.

While the U.S. government basically bans American companies from exporting satellite technology to foreign governments like China, there have been no controls put in place on how bandwidth from launched satellites is used once those satellites are in orbit.

Based in Hong Kong, AsiaSat isn’t subject to the same sort of export controls and regulations that the U.S. places … Read the rest