Enterprise

US temporarily lifts ZTE sanctions for security updates, bans China Mobile

China vs US is still heating up

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Trade tensions between China and the US continuously escalate. Despite rescue efforts by the Trump administration, the US still doesn’t trust the intentions of Chinese telcos and phone makers.

Previously, the US government had imposed heavy sanctions on Huawei and ZTE over national cybersecurity concerns. Among others, the sanctions prevent both companies from selling their devices freely on American soil.


Between the two, ZTE is suffering the harsher end of punishments. Following a breach of trade agreements, the company is banned from engaging any American company on business. The ban has ceased production of ZTE phones, which rely heavily on American components.

For reasons of his own, President Trump attempted to save the company from extinction, but to no avail. Since then, the issue has seesawed between the two conflicting parties.

Now, the US is temporarily lifting the sanctions to allow the continuation of ZTE’s service. The gesture of goodwill, however, isn’t a rescue mission. The move intends to support the plethora of companies that ZTE has agreements with, prior to the April ban.

Additionally, the temporary reprieve allows ZTE to release vital security updates to their current stock of phones. Put simply, the move supports ZTE’s existing phones, but doesn’t allow the company from making new ones.

The reprieve will expire on August 1. Afterwards, ZTE’s future is at the mercy of US lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the US is making regulatory headway on another front. Similar to ZTE’s case, the government has banned the world’s third biggest telco, China Mobile, from operating on American soil.

According to the US, China Mobile poses significant threats to national security over China’s stakes on the company. Lawmakers decree that companies with more than a 10 percent stake from a foreign country are unnecessary risks for the US. Supposedly, these companies are highly suggestible from their respective country’s influence.

Regardless, the bans underlie the political unrest between the two countries. If you plan on buying Chinese phones, purchase them away from US soil.

SEE ALSO: Samsung is in talks to lend Exynos chips to ZTE, other phone makers

Enterprise

Huawei is firing hundreds of workers

From their research department in the US

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After everything, Huawei should be enjoying its recent influx of good news. Burdened by more than a year’s worth of uncertainty, Huawei was finally freed from America’s serpentine grasp. Recently, US President Donald Trump reversed a landmark ban that would have eventually killed Huawei’s business. Huawei is getting back on track.

However, instead of resting on its laurels, Huawei is still in panic mode. The Chinese company is gearing up for an extensive wave of layoffs in America. According to the Wall Street Journal, they will fire hundreds of employees from a pool of 850 workers. The pink slips will reportedly come from Huawei’s research and development division called Futurewei Technologies.


Additionally, Futurewei’s China-born employees can opt to relocate back to their home country, ensuring their continued employment with the company. Unfortunately, the company’s American employees won’t share the same privilege. Some employees already know about their impending fate. Meanwhile, Huawei is still planning more firings in the future.

Huawei’s recent layoffs stem from the continued pressure by the US government. If the country remains hostile, it’s best to relocate to a safer territory. Besides the loss of jobs, Futurewei’s relocation confirms Huawei’s renewed dedication to keep its future developments under wraps.

Despite the increased optimism, Huawei is still preparing for the worst. The company is building its resistance against geopolitical threats in the future. Unfortunately, we don’t know what this means for Huawei’s future outings yet.

SEE ALSO: Huawei will reportedly lay off hundreds of US workers

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Enterprise

Google is listening to your private conversations

They admit to the leak

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Have you ever worried about voice assistants listening in on your private conversations? Apparently, your paranoia was right. Straight from the horse’s mouth, Google has admitted to the unsolicited voyeurism of its consumers’ voice recordings.

Like most voice assistants, Google Assistant records and analyzes its owner’s voice for intelligible commands. Consequently, Google Home responds with the adequate function requested by the user.


Unfortunately, artificial intelligence is still an imperfect art, dependent on human intervention. Currently, Google employs a team of analysts to improve their speech recognition technology. These experts contribute to the voice assistant’s efficiency. Whenever a user says “Hey, Google,” the device sends the conversation to Google’s servers, allowing experts to listen in. Thankfully, Google’s team listens to only “around 0.2 percent of all audio snippets.” Further, these snippets shouldn’t contain any sensitive user information.

Sadly, humanity isn’t perfect. “We just learned that one of these reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data,” Google said in a statement. As a rule, Google’s experts can’t transcribe or transfer conversations. The Dutch leak is a clear violation of Google’s policies.

In response, Google’s security team is already on the case. The company has already found the leak. In addition, they are also reviewing their safeguard policies to prevent future mishaps from happening again.

Regardless, the company’s blunder is a huge dent on voice recognition technology. Previously, Amazon also committed the same mistake with its Alexa technology.

SEE ALSO: Google provides official preview of Pixel 4

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Enterprise

Huawei can still get banned again in the future

Ban’s lift only temporary, official says

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By now, the whole Huawei situation is more confusing than anything. Naturally, Trump’s initial announcement ushered in a wave of optimism across the industry. Huawei was finally free once again. The company’s reinstatement should have ended the entire saga. Unfortunately, things aren’t going as planned.

As reported earlier, the American government still held on to the Chinese company. Despite assenting to Trump’s announcement, US lawmakers kept Huawei on their blacklist. Huawei is still in political limbo.


Finally, the US has announced an official statement regarding the ban’s lifting. According to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the government will issue trade licenses to approved companies who deal business with Huawei. The licenses will depend on whether a product is a threat to national security. Unfortunately, this isn’t a crystal-clear definition. Ultimately, government officials will subjectively judge products according to their own whims.

If anything, the relaxed ban will likely save Huawei’s consumer business. The company’s consumer devices aren’t the government’s focus right now. The government will likely issue consumer licenses much more liberally.

Unfortunately, the relaxed ban might mean nothing in the long run. According to economic adviser Larry Kudlow, the reversal is only “for a limited time period.” In other words, Huawei isn’t out of the woods yet. Should trade talks fall apart (or if Trump decides so), the government can ban the company once again.

Currently, Trump is negotiating trade policies with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The fate of the US-China trade war is still up in the air. Accordingly, Huawei is still clamped in American jaws as a bargaining chip. Huawei’s troubles just can’t seem to end. Will we ever see the end of the war against Huawei?

SEE ALSO: Our security shouldn’t only be Huawei’s price to pay

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