Enterprise

Blizzard in deep trouble for supporting China

Update: Blizzard eases sanctions against Blitzchung

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Image source: Overwatch

The American corporate world is in a state of crisis caused by the tension between China and America. In the middle of this heightened Sino-American corporate war, Hong Kong lies in the middle, eagerly awaiting its democratic victory against Chinese authoritarianism. Because of the immensity of the geopolitical issue, individuals have inevitably expressed their opinions on the matter through public avenues.

Recently, individual opinions are getting in the way of corporate profits, especially for the companies that these individuals represent. From slaps on the wrist to outlandish punitive measures, American companies are putting a clamp on anti-China sentiments. The US is discovering where their favorite companies’ loyalties really lie — with the American people or with the Chinese government.

Blizzard: too cool for Hong Kong

Among these controversial companies, Blizzard Entertainment is fueling a significant portion of the dispute. Last weekend, the company held a Hearthstone tournament in Taiwan. The winner, Blitzchung (real name: Chung Ng Wai), expressed pro-HK opinions during his victory speech: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age.”

Days later, Blizzard Entertainment issued steep punishments against Blitzchung: stripping him of his prize money and banning him from competitive play for a year. The company has also fired the two broadcasters involved in the interview. Blizzard has deleted the official interview from their accounts.

“I don’t regret saying that stuff. And even now, I don’t regret it at all.” In defense of his actions, Blitzchung has expressed the necessity of his opinions. “I shouldn’t be scared. I hope my act can inspire other gamers like me, to continue to support the movement in Hong Kong,” he told AFP.

According to Blizzard, Blitzchung’s voiced opinion “offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages [Blizzard’s] images,” warranting the fine and the ban. Curiously, the company did not say if the ban results from any Chinese intervention.

#BoycottBlizzard

Since then, Blizzard’s actions have sparked global outrage, accusing the company of political favoritism rather than supporting its customers or representatives. Many individual personalities have boycotted the company’s products including the highly popular MMORPG World of Warcraft and the competitive shooter Overwatch.

Some Overwatch players have even started using the game’s Chinese character, Mei, as a pro-HK icon. In the game, Mei — and the other characters — are largely apolitical regarding real-world politics. The game is set in a futuristic world with anthropomorphic gorillas and conscious robots. In creating a pro-HK icon, players hope to cause a larger boycott of Blizzard’s products.

Notably, Blizzard’s employees have also expressed dismay over their company’s actions. After the incident, several employees have walked out of their offices in protest. Also, an employee has supposedly taped over Blizzard’s forward-thing motto displayed on the company’s campus: “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters.”

The global outrage has already earned the attention of American lawmakers. Floridian Senator Marco Rubio has tweeted his support against Blizzard. “China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally,” he said.

Another senator, Ron Wyden from Oregon, has expressed the same sentiments. “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck,” he said.

Meanwhile, rivaling game companies have shown support for Blitzchung. Gods Unchained, a card game similar to Hearthstone, has promised to pay the tournament winner the full winnings stripped by Blizzard. Fortnite’s Epic Games has proclaimed that it will never penalize players for expressing their right to free speech.

Companies for China

Besides Blizzard, the NBA is also embroiled in a similar controversy. China has recently blacklisted the Houston Rockets because of a tweet from general manager Daryl Morey. Apple is also in trouble for supporting a pro-HK app and censoring the Taiwanese flag.

Slowly, the world is unraveling the curtain draping over the biggest companies today. Underneath, people are discovering a cruel truth: the persistence of money versus integral values.

Update [10/11/19]: At the end of the day on Friday (US time), Blizzard issued a statement in response to the recent controversies. In the lengthy post, the company has decided to ease up on the penalties issued to both Blitzchung and the shoutcasters. For one, Blitzchung will finally receive his full winnings. Further, Blizzard has reduced the bans to only six months.

Explaining their side, Blizzard has reiterated that the decision was made without Chinese intervention. According to the statement, Blizzard acted to ensure the tournament’s status as an inclusive environment for all gamers.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard is taking their other titles to your mobile

Enterprise

Samsung: ‘We’re more secure than any other brand’

Your data is safe

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The digital age ushered an era where cybersecurity issues pose a threat to our personal safety and big risks in businesses and the economy. As if the world isn’t cruel, violent, and scary enough, we’re all forced to stay on our toes and double up our guard.

Several data breaches and news about tech companies spying on us has been alarming to say the least. “Is our data still safe?” is the common question among concerned individuals.

Recently, the CxO Innovation Summit 2019 — a data and security conference held by VST-ECS Philippines — was mounted in Boracay. GadgetMatch had an exclusive interview with executives from Samsung Global and Samsung Philippines.

Samsung’s series of unfortunate events

In a press conference, Samsung discussed its attempts to protect its consumers’ data. Samsung recently faced a series of unfortunate mishaps concerning security and privacy, causing concerns among its loyal customers.

Samsung Mobile B2B Asia’s Corporate VP and Chief Revenue Officer David Kim stated how Samsung isn’t the only one that suffered from malicious attacks. He reiterated how the company uses Knox as a security measure along with its authentication factor. Kim explained, “You can only control the hardware, software, and who access the phones.”

The executive added, “There are also Wi-Fi and networks. If someone can sneak in your network, they can sneak in your email.”

Samsung believes they’re more secure than any other brand. Kim confidently claimed to GadgetMatch, “We don’t have a perfect security rating, but we are well received. That’s why the White House is comfortable with us.”

Amidst the issues surrounding the company, Samsung also took pride in how they’re one of the few companies that organically make their hardware components and develop their software.

Knox makes the difference

Samsung’s Product Manager Anton Andres supported the claims, stating how Samsung’s Knox sets them apart. “The main difference is the Knox platform. It has two components: Platform security and the solutions we offer in the market like Knox Manage and Knox Configure.”

The young executive demonstrated, “Knox Platform is embedded on a smartphone. At first, it was just a security platform that automatically encrypts and decrypts information every time you boot up the device.”

Andres further explained how the Knox Platform has multi-layers of security. “First is the hardware chip. If a device — like a Samsung Galaxy S8 — was compromised and reset, Knox automatically blows the fuse.”

“If you have corporate or personal info, your data is automatically wiped, preventing any data leakage and security risks.”

Be careful of what you download

Similar to Huawei’s warnings, Andres warned about downloading third-party apps and keyboards. Though it may customize your keyboard to your liking, it can compromise your security. Andres believes the challenge is the keyboard loggers, which sends your credentials to third-party servers every time you put your credentials.

“If you access your mobile banking credentials on a third-party keyboard, they can phish your information,” Andres said. “With Samsung Knox, we identify specific applications and URLs. Once identified, Knox automatically hides your information to prevent potential threats.”

Currently, Samsung is constantly updating the Knox Platform and its security solutions. Recently, the Samsung Galaxy A50s highlighted Knox. The Korean company is also looking for more ways to make Knox easily understandable for everyday consumers. Presently, the Knox Platform is limited to Samsung devices while Knox Solutions are compatible with Android, Windows, and iOS.

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Enterprise

Huawei: ‘We do not touch data’

The Chinese company denies espionage allegations

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Security and privacy have been a major issue in this era. Following the tech controversies relating to espionage, banning, and data breaches, people can’t help but wonder if their data is still safe.

In a conference held by VST-ECS Philippines in Boracay Island, CxO Innovation Summit 2019 was mounted to tackle data and security. GadgetMatch had an exclusive interview with Huawei, discussing how the Chinese company handles their consumers’ data and what they are doing to protect it.

The Government should protect your data

GadgetMatch first met with Patrick Low, Principal Architect for CTO Office of Huawei Enterprise Business Group. Low discussed how consumers’ data are being acquired everywhere. For instance, a surveillance camera in a public or private space can provide facial recognition — another form of identifiable data.

Low stated how our data do not belong to us, not even him — an executive from the Chinese company. Expounding, he says the moment we sign up on websites and different platforms, we trade our data in exchange for using their services. Low also demonstrated how Blockchain gives the user their data back, however, it isn’t adapted widely in the Philippines yet.

The Huawei executive further explained that despite the acquisition of our data, sensitive information is protected through policies formed by the government. Even so, the Principal Architect further pressed “Having a policy or rules is just a start, at the end of the day we need to enforce it.” Low cited how Singapore and Australia’s Data Protection Acts allow authorities to enforce through informing — which must be followed by developing countries.

“We do not touch data”

When asked regarding the spying accusations thrown at the company, Low simply stated “We do not touch data. That’s a policy from top-down.”

“Huawei has not been caught or found out in any way to be violating personal rights. Because of the media and diplomatic situations, Huawei is always guilty. It’s difficult for Huawei to handle.” Low added.

The executive then demonstrated Huawei’s strategy to protect data, such as creating servers and encrypting it. Low added that only applications have the requirement to hold user data. According to Low, any application — WhatsApp for instance — analyzes and sends your data back to where the app’s server is located. In this case, it’s being sent in the United States.

“We do not touch data. That’s a policy from top-down.”

Low then warned about the applications you are downloading through APKs and even in Google Play Store. Low advised to always check your sources, the app’s server location, and read the terms and conditions we skip regularly.

Moving forward, Huawei takes cybersecurity very seriously. Low stated, “If we are caught doing anything wrong without the user’s consent, we’re going to face a lot of problems. If something wrong happens, the company will suffer deeply.”

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Enterprise

China is banning all American technology

Over 30 million devices to be replaced

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For most of the year, we’ve heard of the American government banning Chinese products on their soil. It has always been the US making its moves against China. For its part, China has found itself on the defensive for most of the time. However, the tides are finally turning.

According to a new report, China is planning to ban all American technology from its government offices. The new ban mirrors the US government’s ban on Chinese technology. The Chinese government has issued a three-year deadline for offices to comply.

Based on estimates, Chinese government offices must replace up to 30 million items in three years. Even if it is an estimate, the figure is no joke, especially with the tense relationship between two of the world’s biggest technology manufacturers. China depends on American technology, as much as American depends on China.

Given both sides’ bans on the other, China must find a way to rely on its own technology or on other sponsors. If anything, China’s increased reliance on its own products will intensify its local companies, especially Huawei.

Besides finding better alternatives to its products, the government’s loss is a company’s gain. Chinese companies — like Huawei, Lenovo, and OPPO — can fill in the void for the government.

What does this mean for the world? Similar to the government’s predicament now, Huawei is trying to find permanent alternatives to its American components. If successful, Chinese products will be entirely made in China, rather than being a balanced blend of differently sourced components.

SEE ALSO: Mobile users in China have to undergo mandatory face scan

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