San Francisco, Mar 27 (AP/UNB) — A mind-bending battle over some of the technology used in iPhones became even more muddled Tuesday when a federal trade agency handed separate victories to the embittered foes, Apple and Qualcomm.
On Tuesday, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued two decisions within a few hours of each other.
In one, Administrative Law Judge MaryJoan McNamara recommended blocking some iPhones from being imported into the U.S. after concluding Apple's best-selling device infringed on technology owned by mobile chip maker Qualcomm.
Then the full commission weighed in another case brought by Qualcomm, and overturned a ruling issued last September by another judge, Thomas Pender. Although Pender had concluded Apple's iPhones had violated another patent owned by Qualcomm, the ITC decided instead that Qualcomm's claim was invalid.
The full commission still has to review McNamara's decision, too. If it sides with McNamara, it's unclear whether it will also impose an import ban and, if so, which iPhone models would be affected.
The tangled developments are just the latest twist in a high-stakes dispute between Qualcomm and Apple over the rights to some of the technology that connects iPhones to the internet.
Qualcomm applauded McNamara's findings, while Apple cheered the commission for invalidating the other patent claim.
The battle between Qualcomm and Apple broke out more than two years ago after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued Qualcomm for allegedly using its portfolio of mobile technology patents to gouge smartphone makers and stifle competition in the chip market. A federal court judge in San Jose, California, is still mulling a decision in that case, two months after presiding over a trial.
Shortly after the FTC filed its case in 2017, Apple pounced with its own lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of trying to wring licensing fees for technology that it didn't really invent.
Apple subsequently stopped paying royalties to Qualcomm, further poisoning the two companies' relationship.
Qualcomm prevailed in another round of skirmishing when a federal court jury in San Diego decided Apple should pay $31 million in damages for making several different types of iPhones that violated Qualcomm patents. The bout is scheduled to resume April 15 at yet another federal court trial in San Diego.
New Delhi, Mar 27 (AP/UNB) — Facebook is taking steps to reduce the spread of false information on its platforms ahead of India's general election, company officials said Monday.
Facebook listed a variety of measures it is taking, from blocking fake accounts to employing third-party fact-checking organizations, through the campaign and voting, with polling scheduled to take place in stages from April 11 to May 19.
Calling the Indian elections a "top priority," Samidh Chakrabarti, director of Facebook's Product Management for Civic Integrity division, said the company has put in a "tremendous amount of efforts over the last two years" to prepare for the polls.
He said Facebook has partnered with Indian media organizations to check and flag false stories in English, Hindi and some other regional Indian languages.
After a fact-checker flags a story as containing false information, Facebook reduces the number of times it appears in any individual user's newsfeed by about 80 percent, Chakrabarti said.
The social media giant came under immense scrutiny after it failed to prevent the spread of false information during the 2016 U.S. elections, when allegations of outside interference resulted in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testifying in the U.S. Senate.
Facebook-owned messaging applications such as WhatsApp have been repeatedly scrutinized by the Indian government and security agencies, and asked to prevent the spread of false information and rumors that have been linked to mob killings.
In 2018, at least 20 people were killed in India, mostly in rural villages, in attacks by mobs that were inflamed by social media.
In response, WhatsApp restricted the forwarding of messages to five recipients at a time, instead of the 256 previously allowed.
Although the move was India-specific, it was applied globally earlier this year, WhatsApp announced in January.
But social media have also become a critical tool for Indian political campaigns. Ahead of elections in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party used social media extensively for political advertisements and to interact with young voters.
The Election Commission of India is trying to rein in social media giants such as Google, Twitter and Facebook to prevent the release of user data and to curb the spread of politically motivated manipulative information.
Social media companies have presented a "Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Elections 2019" to the election monitoring body, a new requirement this year.
"We are working hard to prevent bad actors from interfering with elections on Facebook," Chakrabarti said, adding that Facebook has tripled the number of people working on safety and security to 30,000.
India reportedly has the highest number of Facebook users in the world, with more than 300 million. That is about a third of the 900 million people eligible to vote in 2019.
The elections will be held in seven phases to ensure proper security and manageable logistics across the country of 1.3 billion people. Counting of votes is to be conducted on May 23, with results expected the same day.
Cupertino, Mar 26 (AP/UNB) — Jumping belatedly into a business dominated by Netflix and Amazon, Apple announced its own TV and movie streaming service Monday, enlisting such superstars as Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston and Steven Spielberg to try to overcome its rivals' head start.
Apple didn't disclose the price or the launch date except to say that Apple TV Plus will be available this fall. It will feature Apple's original shows and movies .
The company also unveiled a news subscription service that will give customers access to roughly 300 magazines and a few major newspapers for $10 a month. And it announced a new branded credit card.
The video-streaming venture is fraught with risk for a company scrambling to diversify beyond its star product, the iPhone, whose sales have started to decline . Netflix, which started its streaming service in 2007, has 139 million subscribers worldwide.
But Apple has lots of money, more than 900 million active iPhones, and a track record for innovation that has enabled it to overtake its rivals, even when it enters a business late, as it did with smartphones, tablets and smartwatches.
In the past, of course, Apple has mostly jumped into relatively small and undeveloped markets. Streaming video, by contrast, is dominated by huge services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, with more seeming to be bowing into the competition daily, including AT&T's WarnerMedia, Disney and Comcast.
"Great competitors make for great consumer experiences," Netflix said in a statement. Netflix stock rose $5.22 to $366.23 Monday. Apple's stock fell $2.31 to $188.74.
Among the upcoming programs on the new Apple service will be Winfrey-created documentaries; a show about TV morning talk shows, starring Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell; a futuristic drama starting Momoa; and a sci-fi show called "Amazing Stories" from Spielberg.
Apple TV Plus will be featured in the existing Apple TV app, which brings together different streaming services such as HBO and Showtime and traditional cable subscriptions.
Video will be delivered to iPhones and iPads, Apple's own Apple TV device, smart TVs and, soon, streaming gadgets from Roku and Amazon.
Netflix, which isn't included in the Apple TV app, has turned "binge watching" into a worldwide phenomenon become a powerhouse in both Silicon Valley and Hollywood since it shifted its emphasis on original programming in 2013..
Apple was long focused on making on gadgets: iPhones, iPads, computers. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs toyed with the idea of building a powerful TV business but couldn't pull it off before his death in 2011. It has taken his successor, CEO Tim Cook, nearly eight years to draw up the plan the company will now try to execute.
"Apple is very late to this game," eMarketer analyst Paul Verna said. "Netflix has become the gold standard in how to create and distribute content, using all the data they have about their viewers."
Industry analyst Colin Gillis of Chatham Road Partners said Apple TV Plus is "not going to be a Netflix killer." And Martin Garner of CCS Insights said the service so far lacks "the full range and diversity of content available through Netflix, Amazon and others."
Several analysts, however, warned not to count Apple out.
Apple has reportedly spent more than $1 billion on its original TV shows and movies — far less than Netflix and HBO spend every year. It has plenty of money to spend, though, with about $245 billion in cash and marketable securities.
As part of its effort to catch up, Apple hired two longtime Sony television executives in 2017. They have signed up stars such as Spielberg, Ron Howard and Sofia Coppola.
Winfrey received a standing ovation during her appearance at Apple's announcement Monday in Cupertino.
"I'm joining forces with Apple," she said. "They're in a billion pockets, y'all."
Apple News Plus, the news subscription service, will include such major papers as The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. Other major newspaper publishers have reportedly been wary of Apple's terms.
The Journal will feature general-interest articles, not its entire slate of stories, although Apple said any article the Journal publishes could be searched for on the Apple app.
Apple said advertisers won't track readers inside the app. That will distinguish it from Facebook and Google, the other major online news hubs.
The company's new Mastercard credit card, called Apple Card, won't have any late fees or annual fees and will offer 2 percent cash back.
Boston, Mar 26 (AP/UNB) — In a sophisticated targeted espionage operation, hackers infected tens of thousands of computers from the Taiwanese vendor ASUS with malicious software using the company's online automatic update service, security researchers reported Monday.
Kaspersky Lab said it detected 57,000 infections among customers of its antivirus software. It estimates that the exploit likely affected more than 1 million computers from the world's No. 5 computer company .
The malware was designed to open a "backdoor" for intruders in the infected machines, researchers said.
About 50 percent of the affected Kaspersky anti-virus software customers were in Russia, Germany and France, the company said . The U.S. accounted for less than 5 percent.
A Symantec spokeswoman said about 13,000 of its antivirus customers received the malicious updates.
The so-called supply-chain attack was first reported by the online news site Motherboard.
Kaspersky said the infected software was on ASUS's Live Update servers from June to November and was signed with legitimate certificates. It did not detect the malware until January, when new capabilities were added to its anti-virus software, the company said.
Kaspersky said its researchers determined that the malware was programmed for surgical espionage when they saw that it was designed to accept a second malware payload for specific computers based on unique identifiers of their network connections. It identified more than 600 computers programmed to receive the payload.
In a blog post and answers to emailed questions, the company said the nature of the second malware payload was unknown because the server that delivered it was no longer active.
Kaspersky said that while is too early to know who was behind the operation, it is consistent with a 2017 incident blamed by Microsoft on a Chinese state-backed group the company calls BARIUM.
ASUS did not immediately respond to two emailed requests seeking comment.
Dhaka, Mar 25 (UNB) – Mentioning that the country’s energy sector will need 1,000 efficient engineers in the next five years, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has lamented that the country is not getting promising engineers due to brain drain.
“But we’re not getting those promising engineers due to brain drain,” he said while addressing a seminar on robotic technology at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) on Tuesday.
'Centre for Robotic Innovation & Development USA (CRID USA)' organised the programme titled: “The Future of Robotics: Challenges and Opportunities for Bangladesh” in association with Buet’s Mechanical Engineering department at the university’s Council Building.
The seminar was also addressed by eminent scientist and former professor of Dhaka University Dr Shamsher Ali and Professor Ashraful Islam of the Mechanical Engineering department and Channel i director Shykh Siraj.
Nasrul Hamid said new technologies will help boost economic development. “New technologies are creating new job opportunities. It can never become a barrier to employment. Rather, technology enhances work efficiency resulting in increased output,” he said.
The state minister said Bangladesh is advancing with increased utilisation of technologies.
He observed that the potentials of robotics are very bright.
Nasrul Hamid said research works should be encouraged at different educational institutions and the government will continue its support for such initiative.
Making a presentation on the topic, president and founder of CRID USA, Mehedi Hasan said it needs financial support for research and training works.
He said it needs government’s policy support for development of robotics and technology. “The private sector should come forward to support initiatives in the research and training,” he said.