Enterprise

Mastercard updates policy regarding subscriptions with free trial [Updated]

A pro-consumer move

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Whenever there’s a free trial, it’s tempting to try out and enjoy the offer. Although, sometimes we forget to unsubscribe and end up being charged even if we don’t want to continue.

Thankfully, it’s time to say goodbye to surprise charges from your credit card, because Mastercard‘s new pro-consumer move is happening. In a posted statement on the company’s blog, Mastercard has outlined additional rules regarding automatic subscription after free trials.

Merchants will now have to send an email or SMS confirmation to their customers once their free trial ends. The message must contain info about the subscription price, payment date, and the merchant’s name. It should also include instructions on how to opt out of the trial, just in case the user doesn’t want to continue.

Additionally, service providers (like the bank or any digital payment apps) will be required to send a receipt for each succeeding transaction which contains the monthly charges, merchant’s contact details, and instructions on how to unsubscribe.

Free trial offers benefit both the users and the company. However, there are sneaky merchants that pull money out of unsuspecting users — especially those who were tricked into signing up. Hopefully, this move will save them from wasting hard-earned money.

Update: Mastercard updated the blog post to clarify that the new policy applies only when you subscribe to physical products, like vitamins and snacks, not digital services like Netflix or PlayStation Plus. The article has since been updated.

SEE ALSO: Netflix knows what you want and lets you watch without buffering

Enterprise

India will let Huawei demo its 5G technology

Huawei is leading the 5G race

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On the consumer side, Huawei is known for making smartphones and wearables. However, the Chinese company is currently leading research and development of 5G — the next generation of wireless mobility.

It has gotten approval to participate in the demonstration of 5G use cases during the three-day India Mobile Congress to be held in New Delhi, even as the government is yet to take a decision on allowing the firm to participate in the upcoming 5G field trials.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has assigned telecom service providers with spectrum in the 3400-3600Mhz band range to demonstrate India-specific 5G technology-use cases.

Huawei will present the demos with Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, who currently use Huawei and ZTE equipment for their network operations in India.

The Chinese giant has been barred by the US due to alleged security concerns. Earlier this year, there were revelations that Huawei is embedding snooping software in the source code of its serves to spy and access the data of other countries.  The US is also lobbying its close allies to boycott Huawei.

On the other hand, Huawei currently leads the 5G revolution due to its massive investment in research and development. Experts say the global rollout of 5G will be delayed by a couple of years if Huawei is barred in multiple markets. Competing companies include Ericsson and Nokia.

India is yet to give Huawei a clean chit for an actual rollout though. For now, the nod is seen as more of a diplomatic move by the Indian government ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India.

SEE ALSO: The new online generation: Explaining 5G internet

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These are the tech companies censoring anti-China protests

Wave of Chinese censorship hits Western companies

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After going through today’s global news, you might find yourself wondering: what the hell is going on with China? As of late, the country has absolutely dominated headlines all over the world. If you don’t live in any China-owned territory, these headlines are very likely about the recent controversies surrounding Western companies.

Following the wave of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, China has started controlling disseminated information about the incidents. Of course, the controversy of Chinese censorship has always existed throughout modern history. However, this time around, the Chinese government is tapping its resources in the corporate world.

Western companies have also started censoring pro-Hong Kong sentiments among their representatives and official channels. Naturally, the general public is largely accusing these companies of selling out to the Chinese money-making regime.

Most of the corporate clout has eked out only this week. However, the controversy has existed as early as the first major Hong Kong protest. Let’s run through this tenuous history.

Come fly the hostile skies

Naturally, the first spark of Chinese censorship started in Hong Kong’s home turf. In August, the protests came to a huge head when protestors swarmed the Hong Kong International Airport, grounding several flights for several days. In the middle of all this, Hong Kong’s own Cathay Pacific found itself in a corporate nightmare. Who should the company (and its employees) support: China or Hong Kong?

Unsurprisingly, several Cathay Pacific employees have come out in support of the protests. The higher-ups were not happy. Spurred by Chinese intervention, the company’s managers have suspended employees involved in the protests.

Because of the relative infancy of the issue, Cathay Pacific’s troubles drowned in a sea of larger protests that followed the airport protest.

Clock’s TikTok-ing

The tech world got its first taste of Chinese intervention through the popular short-video social media app, TikTok. Created by the Chinese developer ByteDance, TikTok is a lot more susceptible to government intervention. Case in point, the app has banned all anti-China content. The ban covers any mentions of Tiananmen Square and Tibet.

Strangely enough, TikTok was created for a more global audience, compared to the developer’s more Chinese-targeted Doujin app. Regardless, TikTok enforced the more stringent ruling across the entire platform. The ban was the world’s first taste of Chinese censorship. Unbeknownst to the world at the time, the situation was about to get worse.

Houston, we have a problem

This week, NBA started the larger party. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted a pro-Hong Kong image. The image came with the statement, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The obvious political opinion was shut down immediately after the tweet. NBA heads, including Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and commissioner Adamn Silver, reiterated that individual opinions don’t represent the organization. Morey himself issued an apology soon after.

Unfortunately, the damage was done on both sides. Chinese companies have suspended cooperation with the NBA, especially with the Houston Rockets. Yao Ming’s own Chinese Basketball Association ceased its partnership with the Texan team. Tencent. Additionally, Tencent has ceased its livestreams of NBA matchups with the Rockets. Nike has also pulled its Houston Rockets merchandise from its Chinese stores.

On the Western end, the general public is calling for more integral responsibility on the part of the NBA. The NBA has always touted itself as an inclusive organization, drafting players from all over the world. The inclusivity, however, does not apply when profits are involved, according to Western protests.

Image source: Reddit

Related to this, the ESPN has also stopped reporting on any of the NBA’s political opinions. Curiously, the broadcast company has recently televised a map of China. The map includes the 9-dash demarcation line that represents the country’s claims on the disputed South China Sea.

An Apple a day doesn’t keep China away

Concurrent with NBA’s woes, Apple has also found itself in the crossfire. Recently, the Chinese government has urged the company to pull offensive apps from the App Store in the region. The order includes HKmap.live and the Quartz news app. Apparently, these apps revealed critical police movements to protestors who had the app. Soon after, Apple gave in, joining the growing number of companies succumbing to Chinese pressure.

Apple pulled the apps. The company’s head honcho issued an embattling defense for his actions. In an internal memo, he said:

“However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimise individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law.”

However, Hong Kong protestors have disputed his claims, reiterating the obvious political motivation behind the move. Like the NBA, Cook’s statement is remarkably non-confrontational, seeking to please both sides in the conversation.

Not a-MEI-zing

Videogame company Blizzard is likewise facing immense backlash for similar decisions. Earlier this week, Blizzard censored and banned a professional Hearthstone player, Blitzchung, from its tournaments. The ban also strips him of prize money that he fairly won at a recent tournament. In that tourney, he went off on a pro-Hong Kong tirade during his victory speech. “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age,” he declared. The speech was immediately cut short and removed from Blizzard’s official channels.

More than the NBA or Apple, Blizzard’s action sparked humungous global outrage. The fine went beyond simple censorship, stripping a worthy winner from rightful prizes. In defense, Blizzard invoked its right to penalize players for offending significant portions of the population.

Regardless, the public is already calling for a huge boycott against Blizzard’s products. Gamers have started unsubscribing and uninstalling popular games World of Warcraft and Overwatch. American lawmakers have asked for formal investigations against Blizzard’s actions. Pro-Hong Kong protestors have also started using a Chinese Overwatch character, Mei, as one of their protest icons. On the other hand, rivaling game companies have come out in support for Blitzchung.

The cost of luxury

Outside of the tech world, the lifestyle industry is also feeling the pressure. Apparel brands Gap and Zara have recently altered their websites. Previously, their websites included Taiwan and Hong Kong as individual countries, which China has requested to change.

People are also investigating whether Disney is censoring Winnie the Pooh in certain countries. According to a Reddit thread, Winnie the Pooh’s official site redirects to Disney’s official site in some countries. The internet has compared Winnie the Pooh’s appearance to President Xi Jinping, sparking a Chinese war against the cartoon character.

After this week, the corporate world is on notice. Who are they siding with? For some, the temptation of more profits is more important. For others, their integrity remains intact.

SEE ALSO: Trade War: China’s loss is everyone’s gain

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Trump may allow Huawei to transact with US companies

Uncertainty prevails

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A report from the The New York Times says the Trump administration is ready to issue licenses to some US companies that would allow them to sell nonsensitive equipment to the beleaguered Chinese telecom giant.

Though, the US Commerce Department told the New York Times in an email that “as of right this moment, the status quo holds.” As of August, more than 130 applications have reportedly been submitted to the Commerce Department for licenses to sell US goods to Huawei.

A few months back, Donald Trump blacklisted Huawei from doing any business with American companies. This move created a lot of confusion and paranoia around the world and the Chinese telecommunication giant found itself stuck in the crossfires of a raging Trade War.

The ban meant Huawei couldn’t carry out transactions with American firms. In the beginning of 2019, citing security issues, Huawei phones were also banned from selling in the US.

A complete ban on Huawei meant it couldn’t even licence Google Play Services or use ARM processor architectures. The recently launched Huawei Mate 30 series does not include Google Play services and the brand is currently relying on in-house alternative services to fill the gap.

American counterparts are also scrambling to find alternative routes of doing business. Companies like Micron, which makes processors, had stopped shipping chips to Huawei but then determined they could legally resume sales of some products.

American sanctions are nothing new, but for the first time we’ve seen its impact in the technology industry. As a backup measure, Huawei has prioritized development of its in-house operating system dubbed Harmony OS and we should slowly see its rollout in the coming years.

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