Category Archives: Companies

(BBG) BlackRock to Cut 500 Jobs, 3% of Staff, Amid Market Turmoil

(BBG)

By Annie MassaJanuary 10, 2019, 3:45 PM GMT Updated on January 10, 2019, 5:07 PM GMT

  •  President Rob Kapito cites market uncertainty for move
  •  Firm joins several asset managers who have trimmed jobs

PauseUnmuteCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:00Loaded: 0%Progress: 0% FullscreenBlackRock to Cut 3% of Global WorkforceBlackRock is cutting three percent of its global workforce. Bloomberg’s Annie Massa reports.LISTEN TO ARTICLE 2:26SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share Tweet Post EmailIn this articleBLKBLACKROCK INC399.50USD-0.69-0.17%STTSTATE ST CORP66.51USD-0.27-0.40%

BlackRock Inc. is cutting 3 percent of its global workforce, the largest reduction in its headcount since 2016.

The world’s largest asset manager will dismiss about 500 employees in the weeks ahead, according to an internal memo viewed by Bloomberg News. The memo didn’t specify which businesses will be most affected.

Asset managers are under pressure as volatility roils markets and investors pile into low fee funds. The industry is also deploying technology across its businesses to reduce costs. State Street Corp., the giant custody bank and asset manager, trimmed its senior management ranks by 15 percent starting Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. AQR Capital Management, the quant manager, is also cutting jobs after a dismal performance in 2018.

“Market uncertainty is growing, investor preferences are evolving and the ecosystem in which we operate is becoming increasingly complex,” Rob Kapito, BlackRock’s president, said in the memo.

The firm is seeking to “move decisively to refocus our resources where the impact will be greatest” and to operate more efficiently, Kapito wrote. BlackRock had about 14,900 employees as of September.

Big Promotion

The announcement came just a day after the firm disclosed a major executive change. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink promoted Mark Wiedman, the head of BlackRock’s powerhouse exchange-traded funds business, to a new global strategy role. Fink said more leadership changes were coming.

When BlackRock reported third-quarter earnings in October, long-term net inflows were at their lowest point since 2016. Fink said the firm was “not particularly happy” with the results. At the time, he attributed the weakness to geopolitical upheaval prompting investors to shed riskier positions.

The company’s shares slid 24 percent last year, the worst performance since 2008. Revenue has also been slowing. Third-quarter revenue fell 1 percent from the previous period. BlackRock is forecast to report a 4 percent decline for the fourth quarter, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The company reports earnings next week.

Since 2013, a big round of layoffs has come every three years. The last time the company had cuts of this size was in March 2016, when it slashed 400 jobs. Before that, it cut jobs on a similar scale in 2013 after a reorganization.

(ZH) Cars Will Soon Be Monitoring Their Drivers And Selling The Data They Collect

(ZH)

In case you were wondering, the evolution of the “smart” product (read: a product that invades your privacy and sells the ensuing data) hasn’t skipped the automobile industry. And of course, this means your car will soon be collecting data on you.

A new report by Reuters notes that at CES in Las Vegas this year, start up companies are going to be looking to demonstrate to automakers how their technology gathers data on drivers – all for enhanced safety purposesSure.

Some of the coming technologies include vehicles that generate alerts about things like drowsiness and unfastened seatbelts. The software is being pitched as a way to cut back on distracted driving and increase safety. Oh, and of course, it’ll eventually help automakers and ride hailing companies make money from the data that is generated inside the vehicle.

Full self driving is still years away in the United States, but in-car sensor technology is going to be a crucial part of this burgeoning technological niche.

Obviously, the more sophisticated the monitoring is inside the car, the more likely the vehicle is going to be able to get a driver to retake control, if necessary, and keep all parties safe. The technologies also include artificial intelligence software and in-car monitoring cameras.

Interior facing cameras are currently only available on a couple of vehicles, including Teslas and select vehicles by Mazda and Subaru, among a few others. The data from cameras is run through image recognition software to try and determine whether or not a driver is paying attention, looking at their cell phone, or perhaps even getting sleepy.

Companies like Israel’s Guardian Optical Technologies and eyeSight Technologies, Silicon Valley’s Eyeris Technologies Inc and Sweden’s Smart Eye AB are among those starting to become the main players in the space. Some of these companies have already signed production deals for beyond 2020.

Modar Alaoui, founder and CEO of Eyeris, recently said:

“There’s no doubt this is a hot area”. Guardian Optical CEO Gil Dotan stated: “What automakers want is what either sells cars, or what regulators tell them to do.”

And regulators have embraced things like eye tracking, which is a basic type of technology that allows software to determine whether or not a driver is asleep. European car safety rating program Euro NCAP has even proposed that cars with driver monitoring software should be eligible for higher safety ratings.

But of course, companies are really excited about the revenue possibilities created by the data gathered by this technology. It can create a custom experience for riders and generate higher premiums while allowing partnerships with third parties like retailers.

Mike Ramsey, Gartner’s automotive research director stated: 

“The reason (the camera) is going to sweep across the cabin is not because of distraction … but because of all the side benefits. I promise you that companies that are trying to monetize data from the connected car are investigating ways to use eye-tracking technology.”

But in an age where the backlash to data gathering by companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google has been an extremely incendiary topic, it is not clear that all drivers are going to embrace this technology.

People like Vayyar CEO Raviv Melamed, for instance, still believe that cars are personal space.

“They think they’re in their own living room, they behave like they’re not outside! It’s obvious no one wants a camera,” he concluded.

(CNBC) Shares of NYSE owner fall as Morgan Stanley and Fidelity plan rival exchange

(CNBC)

  • Shares of the company that owns the NYSE fall as some of Wall Street’s largest investors near the launch of a new, low-cost exchange.
  • Nine banks, brokerages and other firms including Morgan Stanley and Fidelity plan to launch the exchange early this year.
  • The launch of another stock exchange would come amid a mass migration toward cheap, no-fee investing options and exchanges across Wall Street.
Premium EA: Wall Street NYSE exterior rain gloom dark

A woman carrying an umbrella walks past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.John Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of Intercontinental Exchange — the company that owns the NYSE — fell more than 2 percent Monday as some of Wall Street’s largest financial companies neared the launch of a low-cost rival trading platform.

Shares of Nasdaq also fell more than 2 percent Monday.

The new venue is called Members Exchange, or MEMX. Nine banks, brokerages and other firms including Morgan Stanley, Fidelity Investments and Citadel Securities will maintain control over MEMX. MEMX investors also include Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS, as well as retail brokers Charles Schwab, E-Trade and TD Ameritrade.

“MEMX’s mission is to increase competition, improve operational transparency, further reduce fixed costs, and simplify the execution of equity trading in the U.S.,” according to a press release announcing the exchange. “In addition, MEMX will represent the interests of its founders’ collective client base, comprised of retail and institutional investors on U.S. market structure issues. MEMX will seek to offer a simple trading model with basic order types, the latest technology, and a simple, low-cost fee structure.”

Members of the investor group plan to apply for exchange status with the Securities and Exchange Commission early this year. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the upcoming exchange launch.

In a statement, Nasdaq said: “We welcome competition to our transparent, highly regulated equity markets. However, with more than 40 equity trading venues already in operation in the United States, we are keen to learn more about the value proposition of a new exchange.”

The launch of another stock exchange would come amid a mass migration toward cheap, no-fee investing options and exchanges across Wall Street. Another such company, the IEX Group, emerged in 2016 with a system that slowed down trading in an effort to neutralize the effect of high-frequency trading. Controversial at first, the so-called speed bumps have proliferated among U.S. market sites, though they differ from IEX’s to varying degrees.

The 2-year-old IEX, which was founded in 2012, had its first stock listing as of September.

(ECO) Google mais perto de ser um banco. Já pode emitir cartões e fazer transferências na União Europeia

(ECO)

Com a nova autorização, a gigante tecnológica Google pode gerir cartões de crédito, efetuar transferências de dinheiro ‘online’ de utilizadores ou operações de troca de divisas. 

O Banco Central Irlandês (ICB) autorizou a multinacional Google a operar como uma entidade de pagamento neste país e em toda a União Europeia (UE), confirmaram esta terça-feira fontes oficiais.

A medida, adotada pelo regulador irlandês em 24 de dezembro passado em virtude da Diretiva de Serviços de Pagamento (PSD2), permitirá ao gigante tecnológico ampliar a sua presença no setor financeiro, depois de ter obtido há dois anos uma licença do IBC para gerir dinheiro eletrónico.

Com esta nova autorização, a Google Payment Ireland poderá, por exemplo, gerir cartões de crédito, efetuar transferências de dinheiro ‘online’ de utilizadores ou operações de troca de divisas.Depois da Amazon e Facebook, Google passa a “banco” na UE Ler Mais

Também terá competências para oferecer a clientes análises pormenorizadas dos seus padrões de consumo, com o objetivo de desenhar planos financeiros e orçamentais personalizados a partir da informação de bases de dados.

Ainda que a PSD2 aspire limitar o monopólio dos bancos no sistema de pagamentos na UE, a nova licença estabelece restrições à Google e, como consequência, não poderá captar depósitos, uma atividade ainda reservada às entidades financeiras.

A responsável do comércio da Google na Europa, Florence Diss, declarou recentemente ao diário The Irish Times que a empresa está mais interessada em colaborar com os bancos – em vez de competir – para explorar as oportunidades de negócio que oferece a PSD2.

Além da Google, outras companhias tecnológicas mostraram interesse em experimentar o setor financeiro, como a Amazon, se bem que o processo de aquisição de licenças para operar como um banco tradicional é complexo, referiu o The Irish Times.

Mesmo assim, competem neste terreno um amplo número de fintechs, como a N26, Monzo, Starling, Transferwise ou a Revolut, que obteve recentemente do Banco da Lituânia uma licença para operar como banco.

(Futurism) DEMAND FOR COMBUSTION ENGINE CARS MAY HAVE PEAKED IN 2018

(Futurism) The reign of the fossil fuel-powered car may be ending.

In a report published on Sunday, several experts told the Financial Times that they believe sales of fossil fuel-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles peaked in 2018, meaning that it’s unlikely that more ICE cars will be sold in any future year— and if they’re correct, this epochal change in the auto industry could majorly benefit the environment.

Going Down

Many experts predicted at the beginning of 2018 that demand for ICE vehicles wouldn’t peak until 2022 at the earliest, according to the FT report. But a combination of several factors — including Brexit, the U.S.-China trade war, and new emissions targets in Europe — has dealt a major blow to global car sales this year.

“When you look at 2018 since the summer, new car sales in all of the important markets are going down,” Axel Schmidt, global automotive lead at Accenture, told FT. “Selling combustion engine cars to customers — this will not grow in the future.”

Even if overall car sales increase in 2019, ICE sales would likely fall thanks to the continued adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

Road To Recovery

This might not be what ICEcar manufacturers want to hear, but it’s excellent news for the environment.

According to energy research group Wood Mackenzie, a mid-sized EV produces 67 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a comparable gasoline-powered ICE vehicle. That figure doesn’t just take into account the emissions produced while the car is in use, either — it includes emissions caused by everything from electricity generation to crude oil refinement.

In 2016, transportation was the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., so if EVs continue to replace ICE cars in this nation and others, the world could significantly cut down on the climate-destroying emissions emanating from its roadways.

(IrishTimes) Apps sending users’ data to Facebook without their consent

(IrishTimes) Some apps pass on data the second they’re opened on a smartphone

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg: Several app developers have complained about the issue to Facebook since May. Photograph: Getty

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg: Several app developers have complained about the issue to Facebook since May. Photograph: Getty

Some of the most popular apps for Android smartphones, including SkyscannerTripAdvisor and MyFitnessPal, are transmitting data to Facebookwithout the consent of users in a potential breach of EU regulations.

In a study of 34 popular Android apps, the campaign group Privacy International found that at least 20 of them send certain data to Facebook the second that they are opened on a phone, before users can be asked for permission.

Information sent instantly included the app’s name, the user’s unique ID with Google, and the number of times the app was opened and closed since being downloaded. Some, such as travel site Kayak, later sent detailed information about people’s flight searches to Facebook, including travel dates, whether the user had children and which flights and destinations they had searched for.

European law on data-sharing changed in May with the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and mobile apps are required to have the explicit consent of users before collecting their personal information. Fines for breaching GDPR can be up to 4 per cent of revenues or €20 million, whichever is greater.

The researchers looked at apps with built-in Facebook trackers and intercepted data as it was sent. Many of the apps are free, suggesting that they make money from data-sharing and advertising.

Developer kit

Frederike Kaltheuner, who carried out the research, added that while Facebook places responsibility for complying with regulations on app developers, the US company’s developer kit did not give the option of waiting for a user’s permission before transmitting some types of data.

“At least four weeks after GDPR, it wasn’t even possible to ask for consent, because of the default setting of Facebook’s SDK [software development kit]. This means data is automatically shared the moment the app opens,” she said.

Several app developers have complained about the issue to Facebook since May, filing bug reports on Facebook’s developer platform saying they were unable to comply with the law.

For instance, on May 29th, four days after GDPR came into effect in the EU, a developer posted: “Hi all. We analized [sic] network activity of Facebook SDK for Unity and found that on application start it sends some requests to graph.facebook.com. It seems to be violation of GDPR: we can not send anything about a user until he allows us to do that. Could you please fix that or strongly confirm that these requests don’t violate GDPR.”

A few weeks, and several complaints later, Facebook responded to say it had created a fix but that developers would need to download the upgrade to use it. But developers have continued to file bug reports and it is not clear if the fix works.

“Six months after the release of the feature, we are still seeing very little evidence that developers are implementing it. Of all the apps that we have tested, 67.7 per cent automatically transmit data to Facebook the moment the app is launched,” the Privacy International report noted.

App analytics

A spokesperson for Facebook said that app developers could disable automatic data collection, and that this year it had introduced a new option that allows developers to delay collection of app analytics information.

The researchers also found that many apps were running older versions of the SDK as recently as this month that would not allow them to use the voluntary feature as it was designed.

Facebook can tie an Android ID to a user’s social network profile, instantly identifying them

Another major concern raised by activists is the “de-anonymisation” of the data – the practice of linking personal data back to a user, which is prohibited by GDPR.

Facebook can tie an Android ID to a user’s social network profile, instantly identifying them and adding any additional information to their personal profile.

“For example, an individual who has installed the following apps that we have tested, Qibla Connect (a Muslim prayer app), Period Tracker Clue (a period tracker), Indeed (a job search app), My Talking Tom (a children’s app), could be potentially profiled as likely female, likely Muslim, likely job seeker, likely parent,” the report said.

Facebook can also use the data to cross-target multiple people – for example, if a married couple use apps on the same wifi, or at the same location, their Android IDs can be tied together to target similar advertising to both of them.

Third-party tracker

Previous research from Oxford university has shown that 43 per cent of free apps on the Google Play store could share data with Facebook, making the social network the second most prevalent third-party tracker after Google’s parent company Alphabet.

A Facebook spokesperson wrote to the Privacy International researchers in response to their study, saying: “We agree that . . . it’s important for people to have access when we receive information about them when they’re not using our services, and to have control over whether we associate this information with them.

“Recognising the value of improvements in this area, we’re currently working on a suite of changes, including developing a new tool called Clear History, that we hope will address your feedback.”

A Skyscanner spokesperson said: “We were not aware that data was being sent to Facebook in this way without prior consent from our users, which went against our own internal rules on the integration of third-party technologies. We are still investigating how this happened.

“We’re currently reviewing our approach, both to this issue and to the use of similar technologies more generally, to ensure we’re doing everything we should be.”

TripAdvisor and Kayak did not respond to requests for comment and MyFitnessPal declined to comment.

(Axios) What Facebook knows about you

(Axios)

Illustration of FB profile image filled with data
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

On Facebook’s map of humanity, the node for “you” often includes vast awareness of your movements online and a surprising amount of info about what you do offline, too.

The big picture: Even when you’re cautious about sharing, Facebook’s dossier on you will be hefty. Facebook tackles its mission of “bringing the world closer together” by creating a map of humanity, and each of us represents a tiny node on this “social graph.Show less

Assembling your profile: This is where your Facebook presence begins.

  • When you create an account, Facebook asks for your name and birthdate, along with either a phone number or e-mail.
  • Then there’s all the information you give Facebook as you fill out your profile, potentially including schools, current and past occupations, relationship status, hometown and current city, as well as your physical address, birth name, web site and other social links.
  • All of this forms the core of the profile Facebook uses to serve you ads. It’s why you see offers for clever T-shirts based on your college or job.

Following what you do on Facebook: The company has near-total awareness of every move you make on its website or in its apps, including:

  • When you log in, how long you spend online and where you are logging in from — hence it can welcome you to new cities and suggest places to visit and eat (and also serve up local ads).
  • Places you check in.
  • The pages, accounts, and hashtags you connect with on Facebook — and not just who you are connected with, but how often you interact and for how long.
  • Your contacts, if you choose to upload your phone book or call history.
  • Things you buy directly from or through Facebook, but also things you may not think about, like the metadata from photos you upload.
  • Your friends can tag you in posts and photos, which gives Facebook additional information. (You can choose to have this displayed publicly or not via privacy settings.)

Following what you say on Facebook Messenger: Facebook does scan your chat messages, but it isn’t exactly reading them— it runs an automated scan for child pornography and other banned content.

  • Messenger can collect information on who you talk to, how often and for how long, as well as phone history if users opt in. But the company says it isn’t serving ads based on the content of users’ messages.
  • It also has an option for users to encrypt their messages, but this is turned off by default.

Following you outside Facebook: Facebook sees you less thoroughly outside its own digital turf, but it still sees a lot. This data comes from two places: partner services and third-party information brokers.

  • Facebook has tools that partner websites use to integrate with Facebook, including the inclusion of “Like” and “Share” buttons, as well as a tracking cookie known as Facebook Pixel.
  • Thanks to an inquiry from Britain’s Parliament, we have a sense of how prevalent these methods are. According to Facebook, between April 9 and April 16 of 2018 there were 2.2 million Facebook Pixels, 8.4 million pages with a Like button and 931,000 pages with a button to Share on Facebook.
  • Facebook knows your location, even if you haven’t directly given it permission to access your phone’s GPS, by tracking the IP address of the phones, computers and other devices you use to access its servers.
  • Facebook also reserves the right to enhance its data trove by adding information from outside providersthough it has ended one program that mixed Facebook and third-party data for advertisersFrom its policy page: “We also receive information about your online and offline actions and purchases from third-party data providers who have the rights to provide us with your information. “

Following you across your apps: Many apps are connected to Facebook, including through its popular Facebook Login feature, which uses your Facebook account as a shortcut for you to sign in.

  • Developers can also use this system to get your permission to access Facebook data. In addition to iOS and Android, it also works across the web and on some smart TVs.
  • Integrating Facebook was once a way for outside apps to get a lot of info about you, but Facebook has tightened that up considerably, setting rules and instituting a review process for apps that want anything beyond basic identity information.

Following you at home and around town: Facebook’s new Portal video chat system is basically a camera that lives in your home.

What Facebook does with all this data: Facebook says, emphatically, that it doesn’t sell your information.

  • It does use the data to sell you to advertisers who set criteria for people they want to target. The more the company knows about you, the more valuable those advertisements can be.
  • It also uses the information to enhance its social graph, which it uses to build new features and products, and to power its suggestions of “People you may know.”

What Facebook doesn’t know about you: Facebook insists it doesn’t monitor your phone calls or secretly record you via microphone, despite long-running suspicions to the contrary.

The bottom line: Facebook’s privacy policies reinforce the message that”you have control over who sees what you share on Facebook.” But if you use Facebook at all, you don’t have much control over what Facebook itself sees about you.

Go deeper:

(ECO) O ano em que decidimos ser estúpidos – Diogo Queiroz de Andrade

(ECO)

Em 2018 a máscara do Facebook caiu em definitivo. A gananciosa máquina que converte ódio e crimes em lucros é generosamente sustentada por todos nós, que já não temos desculpa.

Há um ano, já tínhamos ouvido falar da interferência russa nas presidenciais americanas e no papel que o algoritmo do Facebook desempenhou conscientemente em tudo isso. Sabíamos que o Facebook era uma excelente plataforma para a disseminação do discurso de ódio contra minorias, para a promoção do suicídio e para a fazer equivaler mentiras a verdades científicas. Mas não sabíamos a dimensão da coisa. Aliás, o quarto dia de 2018 começou com o senhor Zuckerberg a prometer resolver os problemas do Facebook. A partir daí foi uma animação. Só para destacar os casos mais graves, fica um resumo mensal do ano que passou:

  • Ainda em janeiro, no World Economic Forum, a plataforma é apresentada como uma ameaça à sociedade e um obstáculo à inovação.
  • Em fevereiro a Wired publica uma enorme investigação que detalha os pormenores e a dimensão da interferência russa na vida política americana através do Facebook.
  • Em março, o Observer dá a conhecer o imenso escândalo Cambridge Analytica, em que se confirmam os abusos de privacidade dos utilizadores para os manipular politicamente; os fundadores do WhatsApp, comprado pelo Facebook em 2016 e até aí funcionários da casa, aderem à campanha #deletefacebook; e o BuzzFeed dá a conhecer um memorando interno em que se defende o crescimento a todo o custo, mesmo que morram pessoas pela utilização da aplicação.
  • Chegamos a abril e são os próprios responsáveis a admitir que é muito provável que quase todos os dois mil milhões de utilizadores tenha sido, num momento ou noutro, vítimas de invasão de privacidade; e nas inquirições no congresso americano e no Parlamento Europeu, a postura robótica de Zuckerberg e a imagem das frases que deveria repetir expuseram a falácia de todo o processo.
  • Em maio entrou em vigor na Europa o GDPR, que deu imediatamente origem a centenas de processos contra a plataforma; e o relatório provisório da comissão parlamentar britânica que investigou o Brexit é demolidor para a suposta isenção política do Facebook.
  • Em junho o New York Times revelou que o Facebook deu aos produtores dos telemóveis acesso aos dados pessoais dos utilizadores; três dias depois, admitiu ter encontrado um erro em que a informação que estaria reservada apenas para amigos era afinal publicamente visível; e numa entrevista ao Guardian a comissária europeia Verstager alertou contra os riscos para a democracia que vêm dali, dizendo que não sabe se o Facebook tem demasiado poder porque teria antes de definir uma “teoria de maldade” aplicada à plataforma.
  • O verão não correu melhor, porque em plena ronda de relações públicas decorrida em julho, Zuckerberg admite que não quer limitar a liberdade de expressão e por isso defende o direito dos negacionistas do holocausto a estar presentes, mesmo que isso custe vidas e aumente a descriminação; uma semana depois, a publicação dos resultados financeiros faz desaparecer mais de 20% da valorização bolsista da empresa.
  • E em agosto as Nações Unidas acusam a plataforma de ter desempenhado um papel consciente no genocídio dos Royhinga em Myanmar, mesmo depois de sucessivos alertas oficiais em público e em privado; e uma nova investigação demonstrou como, na Alemanha, a propagação do discurso anti-refugiados coincidiu com ataques coordenados a refugiados.
  • Em setembro ficou a conhecer-se a extensão da manipulação política nas Filipinas e na Líbia graças à plataforma e às suas ferramentas; outra investigação jornalística mostra como o Instagram promoveu vídeos de abusos de crianças, acelerando a saída dos fundadores do Instagram por choques com Zuckerberg; e a própria empresa admitiu outra falha que permitiu o roubo de dados privados subsequentemente usados para manipulação financeira.
  • O último trimestre, por si só, seria suficiente para desgraçar qualquer empresa: em outubro chegaram as eleições brasileiras e com elas a revelação da forma como os grupos que promovem desinformação usaram o Facebook e o WhatsApp para atacar os concorrentes de Bolsonaro; na Índia, uma campanha anti-vacinação de crianças levou à suspensão de uma ação da OMS; e novos dados sobre os anúncios no Facebook demonstrou como se publicita a venda de casas e novos empregos excluindo minorias raciais e sexuais, como se falsificam informações políticas e como se podem colocar anúncios a recrutar para… o Estado Islâmico.
  • Em novembro relatou-se o impacto do Facebook nas campanhas de ódio étnico e nas matanças de minorias na Nigéria; o New York Times revelou como o Facebook pagou a empresas de relações públicas para denegrir publicamente, por vezes com base em insultos raciais, os críticos da empresa; a ameaça da nova lei de proteção de dados da União Europeia vai abrir caminho a novos processos; e a justiça britânica tomou posse de uma série de documentos que mostram como a empresa abusa do seu poder para esmagar a concorrência e abre caminho a novos processos milionários.
  • Chegados a dezembro, os próprios responsáveis de segurança da empresa admitem que as fotos de sete milhões de utilizadores foram partilhadas com mais de mil e quinhentas apps; e logo a seguir o New York Times publicou mais uma investigação em que revela como deu a empresas acesso às mensagens privadas dos utilizadores; Um dos papas de Silicon Valley, Walt Mossberg, apagou-se do Facebook pelo desconforto; o Senado americano publicou um relatório em que se revê em alta a interferência russa nas eleições americanas através do Facebook e Washington anunciou uma ação legal contra a plataforma e os seus responsáveis por causa dos falhanços na proteção de dados, provocando mais um trambolhão na bolsa (este “apenas” de sete por cento).

Nada disto acontece por acaso. Todos estes crimes ocorrem porque são inerentes ao funcionamento da própria plataforma e à forma como esta trafica tráfego e informações pessoais por publicidade.

Todos os dias, todos nós, com a participação nesta plataforma, aceitamos ser cúmplices conscientes destes crimes. Estamos a contribuir para crimes raciais, para genocídios, para manipulações políticas e para violações de privacidade. Somo parte ativa de uma máquina que promove emoções e difunde mentiras, enterrando verdades científicas debaixo de camadas e camadas de discursos de ódio. Pior do que isso, estamos a ser parte ativa de um sistema que está a pôr em causa o modelo de democracia liberal em que vivemos, com consequências dramáticas para o futuro. Sabemos isto tudo e continuamos lá. A culpa é nossa, toda nossa.

Para o ano, as coisas vão piorar. Em Inglaterra, porque o Brexit não vai ser bonito. Nos EUA, porque o Trumpismo está cada vez mais afinado como máquina de destruição da coesão nacional. Na Europa, porque vem aí uma eleição – e um parlamento – em que os populistas vão ganhar muito poder. Em Portugal, porque a informação livre vai continuar a morrer e a demagogia vai aumentar na aproximação às legislativas. Mas nada disto é grave: afinal, podemos sempre usar o Facebook para nos queixarmos.

Ler mais: O melhor resumo do caso contra o Facebook está resumido em Anti SocialMedia: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. O livro foi publicado no início de 2018 e, apesar de não ter quase nenhum dos factos aqui relatados, demonstra quão grave já era a situação. E o seu autor, Siva Vaidhyanathan, é uma voz autorizada e reconhecida: doutorado pela Universidade do Texas, fundou a disciplina de Critical Information Studies e é uma voz influente no estudo das influências culturais dos média.

(OBS) Google conquista licença para competir com a banca na Europa

(OBS) A Google obteve a sua primeira licença bancária, na Lituânia, o que lhe permitirá fornecer serviços financeiros em todo o espaço económico europeu. Google fica assim mais perto de se tornar um banco.Partilhe

WALTER BIERI/EPA

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É o primeiro passo para uma gigante tecnológica ficar mais parecida com um autêntico banco: a Google obteve a sua primeira licença bancária, a partir da Lituânia, e vai poder disponibilizar serviços financeiros idênticos aos que os bancos tradicionais fornecem em todo o espaço económico europeu.

Segundo explicam o jornal espanhol El Economista e o Jornal de Negócios, a Google vai passar agora a atuar como qualquer outra finetch — empresas que juntam os termos finanças e tecnologia e se dedicam à inovação e otimização de serviços financeiros e que beneficiam de custos operacionais menores quando comparado com os bancos tradicionais. Apesar de ter funções limitadas em comparação com a banca, a empresa tecnológica vai poder processar pagamentos, depósitos e transferências bancária,s assim como remessas internacionais.

Por ter adquirido a licença na Lituânia, que é um país mais permissivo neste tipo de processos, a permissão estende-se a todos os países do espaço económico europeu, repetindo-se o que aconteceu com o Facebook, que obteve a mesma licença na Irlanda, e com a Amazon que obteve no Luxemburgo.

As fintech, contudo, ainda não são regulamentadas como a banca tradicional, o que faz com que muitos especialistas alertem para os perigos que as grandes plataformas digitais representam para a banca.

Segundo o Negócios, Carlos Costa, governador do Banco de Portugal, tem vindo a alertar para o facto de as extensas bases de dados das gigantes tecnológicas representarem grandes desafios para os bancos. É que, segundo o governador, os bancos tradicionais têm bases de dados mais limitadas geograficamente do que as bases de dados das gigantes tecnológicas, e têm sistemas mais pesados e menos ágeis do que as empresas tipo Google, Facebook, Apple e Amazon.

(Reuters) Exclusive: White House considers new year executive order to bar Huawei, ZTE purchases

(Reuters) WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is considering an executive order in the new year to declare a national emergency that would bar U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by China’s Huawei and ZTE, three sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

It would be the latest step by the Trump administration to cut Huawei Technologies Cos Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp, two of China’s biggest network equipment companies, out of the U.S. market. The United States alleges that the two companies work at the behest of the Chinese government and that their equipment could be used to spy on Americans.

The executive order, which has been under consideration for more than eight months, could be issued as early as January and would direct the Commerce Department to block U.S. companies from buying equipment from foreign telecommunications makers that pose significant national security risks, sources from the telecoms industry and the administration said.

While the order is unlikely to name Huawei or ZTE, a source said it is expected that Commerce officials would interpret it as authorization to limit the spread of equipment made by the two companies. The sources said the text for the order has not been finalized.

The executive order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a law that gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the United States.

The issue has new urgency as U.S. wireless carriers look for partners as they prepare to adopt next generation 5G wireless networks.

The order follows the passage of a defense policy bill in August that barred the U.S. government itself from using Huawei and ZTE equipment.

China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that she did not want to comment on the order as it had not been officially confirmed.FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign board of Huawei at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2018 in Shanghai, China June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

“It’s best to let facts speak for themselves when it comes to security problems,” Hua said.

“Some countries have, without any evidence, and making use of national security, tacitly assumed crimes to politicize, and even obstruct and restrict, normal technology exchange activities,” she added.

“This in reality is undoubtedly shutting oneself off, rather than being the door to openness, progress and fairness.”

Huawei and ZTE did not return requests for comment. Both in the past have denied allegations their products are used to spy. The White House also did not return a request for comment.

The Wall Street Journal first reported in early May that the order was under consideration, but it was never issued.

HIT TO RURAL NETWORKS

Rural operators in the United States are among the biggest customers of Huawei and ZTE, and fear the executive order would also require them to rip out existing Chinese-made equipment without compensation. Industry officials are divided on whether the administration could legally compel operators to do that.

While the big U.S. wireless companies have cut ties with Huawei in particular, small rural carriers have relied on Huawei and ZTE switches and other equipment because they tend to be less expensive.

The company is so central to small carriers that William Levy, vice president for sales of Huawei Tech USA, is on the board of directors of the Rural Wireless Association.

The RWA represents carriers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers. It estimates that 25 percent of its members had Huawei or ZTE equipment in their networks, it said in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission earlier this month.FILE PHOTO – The logo of China’s ZTE Corp is seen on the building of ZTE Beijing research and development center in Beijing, China June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The RWA is concerned that an executive order could force its members to remove ZTE and Huawei equipment and also bar future purchases, said Caressa Bennet, RWA general counsel.

It would cost $800 million to $1 billion for all RWA members to replace their Huawei and ZTE equipment, Bennet said.

Separately, the FCC in April granted initial approval to a regulation that bars giving federal funding to help pay for telecommunication infrastructure to companies that purchase equipment from firms deemed as a threat to U.S. national security, which analysts have said is aimed at Huawei and ZTE.

The FCC is also considering whether to require carriers to remove and replace equipment from firms deemed a national security risk.

In March, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said “hidden ‘back doors’ to our networks in routers, switches — and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment – can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more.”

In the December filing, Pine Belt Communications in Alabama estimated it would cost $7 million to $13 million to replace its Chinese-made equipment, while Sagebrush in Montana said replacement would cost $57 million and take two years.

Sagebrush has noted that Huawei products are significantly cheaper. When looking for bids in 2010 for its network, it found the cost of Ericsson equipment to be nearly four times the cost of Huawei.

(Reuters) Intel to get 700 million shekel grant for Israel expansion

(Reuters) JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel will give Intel Corp (INTC.O) a 700 million shekel ($185 million) grant in return for a planned $5 billion expansion of its production operations in Israel.

Intel is one of the biggest employers and exporters in Israel, where many of its new technologies are developed. Earlier this year it submitted plans to upgrade its Kiryat Gat manufacturing plant in southern Israel.

The Finance Committee in Israel’s parliament has now approved a 700 million shekel grant for the company, a statement from the committee said.

It noted that along with the $5 billion investment, the government expects Intel to hire 250 new employees and make 2.1 billion shekels in local purchases.

Intel may decide to expand its Israeli operations even further in 2019, according to Israel’s economy minister.

“Intel will make, in my estimation, another significant investment in the coming year,” Economy Minister Eli Cohen said last week at a business conference in Jerusalem.

A.O. (FoodBev) Carlsberg acquires 28.5% stake in Super Bock Group owner Viacer

Anchor Opinion
Opinião Âncora

O Grupo Super Bock deixou de ser controlado por Portugueses.
Mais um…
Tudo consequência da política do PCP em 1975 com as Nacionalizações e Expropriações.
Note se que na minha opinião o PCP nunca adoptou , ou propôs uma única medida que fosse positiva para a economia portuguesa.
E o Bloco de Esquerda (muito mais perigoso) vai no mesmo caminho.
Como eu escrevi há anos, transformaram Portugal num país capitalista, com capitalistas sem capital.
Caso único no Mundo.
E os governos todos que se seguiram a 1975 nunca adoptaram medidas que permitissem acumular capital.
Pergunto-me sempre porque é que os políticos e os media não falam disto.
Será que não entendem, ou não lhes convém falarem nisto…?
FCMP

(FoodBev) Carlsberg has acquired 28.5% of the shares in Viacer, the controlling shareholder of Portuguese brewery Super Bock Group, holding 56% of the shares in the company. The other 44% of the shares in Super Bock Group are owned by Carlsberg.

Following the transaction, Carlsberg’s direct and indirect ownership in the Super Bock Group makes up 60%.

Carlsberg said Super Bock Group “is the market leader in Portugal, holding a market share of 47%” with a portfolio including brands such as Super Bock, Carlsberg and Somersby.

Carlsberg CEO Cees ‘t Hart said: “We are pleased that we have increased our indirect shareholding in Super Bock Group. It is a very strong business with a market leading position in Portugal, offering appealing long-term opportunities.”

In its most recent quarterly results, Carlsberg posted a 7.4% rise in net revenue, driven by “strong growth” in India and China as well the positive performance of its alcohol-free portfolio.

The Denmark-headquartered firm – which owns brands such as Tuborg, Holsten and Somersby – recorded net revenue of DKK 17.59 billion ($2.68 billion) for the quarter. The company has increased its earnings outlook due to the strong results; it expects to deliver 10-11% organic growth in operating profit for 2018.

(BBG) No One Wants to Buy Europe Stocks Anymore. Will They Ever?

(BBG) This has been the year of outflows for European stocks, when they went from buoyant to borderline forgotten to brutally dumped.

You can blame a litany of reasons: trade tensions, slowing economic and earnings momentum, China’s slowdown, political risks. But analysts like to say persistent outflows — nearly a 40-week streak now, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch — and cheap valuations set the stage for a recovery. So will money return in 2019?

With valuations at a five-year low, European shares have a low bar for good news. But with risks from Italy to Brexit still unsettled, and uncertainty rising in Germany and France, global funds waiting for the political all-clear may not find it yet. At the same time, the economic cycle is slowing, and earnings growth might soon follow.

“Europe can look too big and too diverse to govern coherently. While that can be a feature and not a bug from a political angle, it does make it daunting on investors,” Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist at Wells Fargo Asset Management, said in an email. “The proof would have to be in the pudding of better earnings growth. Investors wouldn’t be throwing in the towel so much as they’d just be looking for more evidence before reengaging.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 dropped 0.6 percent as of 9 a.m. in London amid a global sell-off, taking its slide in 2018 to 12 percent.

Here’s what to watch next year:

Politics

Many of Europe’s political issues are existential, and with weaker earnings and economic growth, there’s little incentive for overseas investors to even try to understand them. Here are the political flashpoints in 2019:

  • Italy’s locked in a tussle with the European Union over its budget deficit, though a compromise offered by the populist government may break the impasse. Another election may be in store.
  • The U.K. Parliament has yet to pass a Brexit deal, which means a chaotic exit at the end of March is still possible. Even if a deal is reached, the concrete details of future relations with the EU still have to be hammered out.
  • In France, protests have weakened centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to pass further reforms or lead European integration. It was his election that ushered a European stock rally in 2017. How times have changed.
  • Germany’s Angela Merkel, a longtime anchor of Europe and champion of continental integration, is stepping down as the leader of her party. This raises the risk that she might be replaced as chancellor before her term ends in 2021, though at least her handpicked successor is taking over as party leader.
  • European Parliament elections in May are looking a bit less stale next year, with the possibility that anti-EU parties could win enough seats to disrupt legislative business.
  • In Spain, an early election is also possible, and in Sweden, a snap votemay be close amid a political impasse.

“It is thus likely that European equities will remain hostage to messy politics in 2019; many clients we speak to simply believe that the market is not investable anymore,” Barclays Plc strategists led by Emmanuel Cau wrote in a note last week. The silver lining? “No one appears to be positioned for good news anymore.”

Earnings

For now, consensus estimates are still projecting faster earnings growth for the Stoxx 600 in 2019 — 9 percent versus 6 percent this year — but that’s probably too optimistic. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are both far less sanguine, citing growing margin pressures. Citigroup says its modelsuggests zero growth.

The region will also lose this year’s profit mega-engine, as once-euphoric commodity prices fall. Forecasts have started to drop, but as Barclays Plc’s strategists put it in a note, they’re still “way too high” and have to be more realistic before equities can recover.

Economy

Europe’s economic renaissance can feel a little like it’s over before it even began in earnest. Euro-zone data have deteriorated lately, with Italy on the verge of a recession, and growth is forecast to slow next year.

The market’s bugbear now is a U.S. recession. While that’s not the base case, growth in the world’s largest economy is expected to slow next year. Many European industries — especially resources — will also be watching Chinese growth. It’s projected to slow in 2019, but many analysts are increasingly anticipating a more forceful stimulus.

Trade

European shares have been sensitive to the oscillating headlines on trade, even when they only involved the U.S. and China. The risk of a further rise in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will loom again in March after the recent detente. American tariffs on their auto imports might also be adjusted — both raises and cuts have been floated by President Donald Trump. If 2018 has taught investors anything, it’s that a long-term resolution is difficult and more saber-rattling is likely.

Monetary Policy

With economic momentum slowing, bets on a rate hike next year by the European Central Bank are falling. But no doubt liquidity will be tighter, as the ECB ends its bond-buying program this year and the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates.

(CNBC) Google to invest $1 billion in new campus in New York City

(CNBC) Google will invest $1 billion in a new campus in New York City, the company announced on Monday.

  • Google will have capacity to more than double its headcount in New York over the next 10 years, CFO Ruth Porat said in a blog post.
  • Apple announced last week it will build a new $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas while Amazon chose Long Island City last month as the location for one of its new headquarters.
 Google's New York office is shown in lower Manhattan on March 5, 2018 in New York City. Published reports say that the tech giant is close to a reaching a $2.4 billion deal to buy the landmark Chelsea Market building.

Google plans to pour more than $1 billion into new Manhattan headquarters  

Google will invest $1 billion in a new campus in New York City, the company announced on Monday.

The new 1.7 million square foot “Google Hudson Square” campus will include two buildings located at 315 and 345 Hudson Street and an office space situated at nearby 550 Washington Street in Manhattan, Google said in a blog post on Monday.

The move will expand Google’s presence near the Hudson River in New York City. Earlier this year, the search giant announced it had purchased shopping and office complex Chelsea Market for $2.4 billion.

Google said the Hudson Square campus will be the main location for its New York-based global business organization. It said the investments in Chelsea and Hudson Square will create capacity to more than double headcount in New York over the next decade. Google currently houses more than 7,000 employees in New York City in a range of teams including Search, Ads, Maps, YouTube and Cloud.

“Our investment in New York is a huge part of our commitment to grow and invest in U.S. facilities, offices and jobs,” Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said in the blog post.

Google signed lease agreements for the Hudson Street spaces and plans to move into the two buildings by 2020, the company said. It signed a letter of intent for the 550 Washington Street space, where it will move in 2022 once the building is complete.

The news follows Apple‘s announcement last week that it will invest $1 billion in a new campus in Austin, Texas and build new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California. Amazon announced last month it will open one of its new headquarters in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in New York.

Shares of Google parent company Alphabet opened slightly lower on Monday and have dropped 2 percent year-to-date.

 

(CNBC) Apple to invest $1 billion in new Texas campus

(CNBC)

  • Apple will invest $1 billion in a new campus in Austin, Texas, the company announced on Thursday.
  • The 133-acre campus will be located in North Austin and will accommodate an initial 5,000 employees, with capacity for 15,000 employees in total.
  • Apple also announced plans to open new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California over the next three years.

Apple to invest $1B in new Austin campus

Apple to invest $1B in new Austin campus  

Apple will invest $1 billion in a new campus in Austin, Texas, the company announced on Thursday.

The 133-acre campus will be located in North Austin and will accommodate an initial 5,000 employees, with capacity for 15,000 employees in total. The new campus will be located less than one mile from Apple’s existing Austin facilities and will house a range of jobs in engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support.

Apple said the expansion will make it the largest private employer in Austin.

“Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States and to significantly deepen our quarter-century partnership with the city and people of Austin,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement Apple’s decision to expand in Texas “is a testament to the high-quality workforce and unmatched economic environment that Texas offers.”

On Thursday, Apple also announced plans to open new sites and add over 1,000 employees in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City over the next three years. It said it will also expand its existing operations in Pittsburgh, New York, Boulder, Boston and Portland, Oregon.

Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster says Apple's set to double. Here's why

Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster says Apple’s set to double. Here’s why  

Apple also announced that it has added 6,000 jobs to its U.S workforce in 2018 and is on track to create 20,000 jobs across the country by 2023.

Apple plans to invest $10 billion in U.S. data centers over the next five years, including $4.5 billion this year and next. On Thursday, the company said “preparations are underway” for its newest data center in Waukee, Iowa. It is also expanding its data centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada.

President Donald Trump has attacked Apple for producing many of its devices outside of the United States. In September, he warned Apple it could face more tariffs, ordering the company to “make your products in the United States instead of China.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China – but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive. Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now. Exciting!

55.3K people are talking about this

Apple shares have been under pressure in recent months amid worries about demand for its new iPhones. The tech titan has also been in the crosshairs of the trade war between the U.S. and China. President Trump threatened to place a 10 percent tariff on iPhones and laptops made in China last month. Apple’s stock has tumbled more than 20 percent over the past three months.

(GUA) Google+ to shut down early after privacy flaw affects over 50m users

(GUA) Service to be closed four months earlier than expected in light of lapse that exposed names, email addresses and other information

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is scheduled to appear before a House committee.
 Google CEO Sundar Pichai is scheduled to appear before a House committee. Photograph: Manu Fernandez/AP

Google is still having trouble protecting the personal information on its Google+ service, prodding the company to accelerate its plans to shut down a little-used social network created to compete against Facebook.

A privacy flaw that inadvertently exposed the names, email addresses, ages and other personal information of 52.5 million Google+ users last month convinced Google to close the service in April instead of August, as previously announced. Google revealed the new closure date and its latest privacy lapse in a Monday blogpost.

It is the second time in two months that Google has disclosed the existence of a problem that enabled unauthorized access to Google+ profiles. In October, the company acknowledged finding a privacy flaw affecting 500,000 users that it waited more than six months to disclose.

Google moved more quickly to own up to the most recent privacy problem on Google+. This time around, the names, email addresses, ages and other personal information of the affected users were exposed for six days in November before it was fixed. No financial information or passwords were visible to intruders, according to Google. The company also said it has not seen evidence indicating that unauthorized users who accessed Google+ through the inadvertent peephole have misused any of the personal information.

Even if the latest privacy gaffe didn’t cause any major damage, it nevertheless marks another embarrassing incident for Google.

Like Facebook, Google makes most of its money by selling ads that draw upon what the company learns about the interests, habits and locations of people while they’re using its free services.

Google’s privacy issues on Google+ are likely to be a topic that US lawmakers delve into Tuesday, when CEO Sundar Pichai is scheduled to appear before a House committee. Some members of Congress are now mulling whether tougher regulations to curb the power of Google, Facebook and other technology companies are needed in addition demanding tighter controls over digital privacy.

Facebook has had even more trouble guarding the personal information that it scoops up on its social networking service, which now has more than 2.2 billion users. The most glaring breakdown emerged in March when Facebook acknowledged the personal information of as many as 87 million of its users had been shared with Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm affiliated with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

(ZH) Futures Tumble After China Summons US Ambassador, Threatens “Further Action” Over Huawei Arrest

(ZH) Update: Amid escalating tensions and stern words from both sides (China warning both Canada and the US over Huawei CFO’s arrest, warning of “retaliation” and “further action”, with the US countering with “hard deadlines” and concerns of “predatory behavior”), US futures have tumbled at the open, back below Thursday’s pre-panic-bid lows.

Of course, it’s not just China-US tensions, as Bloomberg notes: Here’s a non-exhaustive list of potential risk-off drivers hanging over Monday’s open (as succinctly summarized by Bloomberg’s Garfield Reynolds):

  • China summons U.S. Ambassador over the Huawei case
  • Trump Chief of Staff Kelly to leave, amid a welter of fresh Mueller developments
  • China reports weaker trade and inflation data
  • May pushes ahead on Brexit vote despite Cabinet, DUP opposition
  • Soggy U.S. payrolls, though not soggy enough to stop a December Fed hike
  • France protests intensify, raising concern of economic damage

Given all that list Dow -200 is not too bad:

The S&P and Nasdaq are also falling.

As Bloomberg’s Mark Cranfield further notes, ES futures only need to drop another 0.6% and it will goodbye to the October low and could trigger an acceleration of the down move.

The next area of support is likely to be between 2,550 and 2,562, which were the low points in February and April. However bad it gets for E-Minis in Asia, it wouldn’t be surprising for Wall Street to reverse some of the damage when it opens later on Monday. But if there is no climbdown from the U.S. on the Huawei arrest, the bears are still set to be the winners.

Meanwhile, gold and Crude are modestly higher.

easury futures are bid, implying 10Y Yields down around 2bps.

* * *

Earlier:

The trade truce between the US and China was fun while it lasted for about 24 hours.

Following the Dec 1 arrest of Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wangzhou (which took place right around the time Trump and Xi were having dinner in Buenos Aires, and which the entire top echelon of the Trump administration claims to have been unaware of heading into the dinner), on Saturday China made its growing displeasure and rising anger clear when Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canadian ambassador to China John McCallum to urge the immediate release of Meng, threatening Canada with grave consequences and calling her arrest as she changed planes in Canada “unreasonable, unconscionable and vile in nature.”

Artist’s sketch of Meng Wanzhou in a Canadian courtroom

Le told McCallum that the arrest was a severe violation of a Chinese citizens’ legitimate rights and interests. The move ignored the law, and Canada should be held accountable if Meng was not immediately released, Le said in the statement.

Meng’s arrest, based on allegations that she committed fraud to sidestep sanctions against Iran with the help of the one bank which over the past decade was directly and indirectly implicated in virtually every instance of money laundering, HSBC, has become a flash-point in trade tensions between the U.S. and China, roiling markets and judging by the latest news, when futures reopen for trading in a few hours we may see another flash crash, because moments ago China’s Vice Foreign Minister doubled down when Le Yucheng also summoned the U.S. Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, in a protest over the arrest of the Huawei Chief Financial Officer.

CGTN

@CGTNOfficial

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summons U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to protest the arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou by Canadian authorities, which took place at the request of the United States

72 people are talking about this

The minister said U.S. actions have violated the “legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and are extremely bad in nature,” according to a posting on the ministry website. “China will take further action based on the U.S. actions.”

Curiously, attempts to access the Chinese foreign ministry website from abroad have proven unsuccessful.

Like with Canada, the ministry urged the US to withdraw the Huawei CFO arrest warrant, crushing any speculation that Beijing was allowing the US to arrest her as a sign of “goodwill” in ongoing negotiations.

As a reminder, on Friday, the U.S. began a case against the Chinese telecoms giant in a Vancouver courtroom, alleging that Meng had hidden ties between Huawei and a company called Skycom that did business in Iran, said a lawyer representing Canada during the court hearing.

Meng, 46, daughter of Huawei’s founder, is spending the weekend in jail after a decision on whether to grant bail was not reached amid concerns any bail amount would prove too low and she would promptly flee back to China. The case will continue on Monday.

The second official warning in 24 hours marks a sharp escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors – still weary from Wednesday’s S&P futures flash crash after news of her arrest first hit – worry that the arrest could crush the unstable trade detente between the US and China, resulting in even more aggressive tariffs. As a reminder, a federal US judge had issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting one or more notable US executives, which in turn prompted Cisco to “erroneously” advise its employees against non-essential travel to China. And while the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

(WSJ) Canadian Authorities Arrest CFO of Huawei Technologies at U.S. Request

(WSJThe U.S. has an extradition request over Iran sanctions violations; in addition to being CFO, Meng Wanzhou is also daughter of the company’s founder

As Washington-Beijing relations teeter, Chinese tech titan Huawei’s chief financial officer has been arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the U.S. But Meng Wanzhou, aka Sabrina Meng, isn’t your garden-variety executive; she’s the company founder’s daughter.

Canadian authorities in Vancouver have arrested Huawei Technologies Co.’s chief financial officer at the request of the U.S. for alleged violations of Iran sanctions, the latest move by Washington against the Chinese cellular-technology giant.

A spokesman for Canada’s justice department said Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 and is sought for extradition by the U.S. A bail hearing has been tentatively scheduled for Friday, according to the spokesman. Ms. Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, also serves as the company’s deputy chairwoman.

The arrest comes at a critical juncture in U.S.-Chinese relations. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last weekend agreed to a temporary truce in a trade spat to negotiate a settlement. The U.S. has raised other concerns with China, ranging from spying to intellectual-property theft to Beijing’s military posture in the South China Sea. China has said its actions are appropriate.

The U.S. has undertaken a campaign against Huawei, which is viewed as a national-security threat because of its alleged ties to the Chinese government. In the past year, Washington has taken a series of steps to restrict Huawei’s business on American soil and, more recently, launched an extraordinary international outreach campaign to persuade allied countries to enact similar curbs.

China strongly protests the arrest and has urged both U.S. and Canadian officials to free Ms. Meng, according to a statement released by the Chinese Embassy in Canada.

The U.S. is seeking Ms. Meng’s extradition so as to have her appear in federal court in the Eastern District of New York, according to people familiar with the matter.

A Huawei spokesman said Wednesday that Ms. Meng was arrested at an airport during a layover. “The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng,” he said. “The company believes the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.”

The spokesman said that Huawei complies with laws and regulations everywhere it operates.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April that the Justice Department had launched a criminal probe into Huawei’s dealings in Iran, following administrative subpoenas on sanctions-related issues from both the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In 2007, Ms. Meng served as a board secretary for a Huawei holding company that owned Skycom Tech, a Hong Kong company with business in Iran and employees who said they worked for “Huawei-Skycom,” according to a person familiar with the matter.

U.S. authorities have suspected Huawei’s alleged involvement in Iranian sanctions violations since at least 2016, when the U.S. investigated ZTE Corp., Huawei’s smaller Chinese rival, over similar allegations. The Commerce Department released internal ZTE documents that showed the company studied how a rival, identified only as “F7,” had conducted similar business.

A ZTE representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Commerce Department this year penalized ZTE for breaking the terms of a sanctions-busting settlement—nearly shutting down the company after banning U.S. firms from selling it supplies—but then gave it a reprieve after ZTE agreed to pay a fine, change its management and fund a team of U.S. corporate monitors.

A document dated August 2011 said F7’s proposal to acquire U.S. company 3Leaf was opposed by Washington. That strongly indicated F7 was Huawei, which tried to acquire 3Leaf in 2010, only to back away after a U.S. national-security panel recommended against the deal.

Ms. Meng is a Chinese citizen who went by the English name of Cathy Meng before changing it to Sabrina Meng a few years ago. The company says she joined Huawei in 1993 and has held a variety of positions in accounting divisions.

“China will see this as an escalation against Huawei and as an extraterritorial rendition,” said James Mulvenon, general manager at defense contractor SOS International. “There will be tremendous domestic pressure in China to get her back.”

Huawei is the world’s biggest maker of equipment for cellular towers, internet networks and related telecommunications infrastructure. It is also the world’s No. 2 smartphone brand.

For years, Washington has alleged the Chinese government could compel Huawei to tap into the hardware it sells around the world to spy or to disrupt communications. U.S. officials say they are intensifying efforts to curb Huawei because wireless carriers world-wide are about to upgrade to 5G, a new wireless technology that will connect many more items—factory parts, self-driving cars and everyday objects like wearable health monitors—to the internet. U.S. officials say they don’t want to give Beijing the potential to interfere with an ever-growing universe of connected devices.

Huawei has long said it is an employee-owned company that has never conducted espionage or sabotage on behalf of any government, and that doing so would jeopardize its business. The company said it poses no greater risks than its rivals do, given they share a common supply chain.

Some of America’s closest allies, including most of the countries in the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing pact among English-speaking countries, have followed the nation’s lead. Australia in August banned Huawei from its 5G networks, while New Zealand last week blocked one of its major wireless carriers from using Huawei. In Britain, BT Group PLC said Wednesday that it was removing Huawei equipment from its network, two days after a British intelligence chief questioned whether the country should be using the Chinese gear.

(ZH) Israeli Company Sold iPhone Spyware To Saudis Knowing Riyadh Would Purge Dissidents

(ZH) Weeks ago NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was the first to reveal that Saudi Arabia used Israeli spyware to target murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, accusing a Tel Aviv-based compmany called NSO Group of “selling a digital burglary tool,” adding it “is not just being used for catching criminals and stopping terrorist attacks, not just for saving lives, but for making money… such a level of recklessness… actually starts costing lives.” 

This has now been confirmed in detail by a new bombshell investigative report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which outlines how NSO Group representatives met with Saudi intelligence officials in Vienna in 2017 in order to demonstrate the powerful and easy hacking capability of its advanced Pagasus 3 system, which using a mere SIM card number can turn a person’s phone into an all-purpose spying device sweeping up the user’s voice conversations, camera, messages, and social media usage.

Israeli-made Pegasus spyware has been extensively used by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, via AFP

Among the first requests the Saudi delegation made of NSO while negotiating a $55 million deal to procure the technology was thatthe company help Riyadh uncover the true identities behind dissident Saudi Twitter accounts. The June 2017 deal for the hacking tool came just months before crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s infamous purge which would see multiple dozens of princes and top officials rounded up and imprisoned in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton hotel the following November, which also involved the days-long detention of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

These latest revelations originated in a complaint to Israeli police now under investigation involving at least one company-linked whistleblower who thinks the Saudis used NSO’s hacking tool to track down and ultimately murder dissidents.

Haaretz confirmed the secret deal with Saudi intelligence “based on testimony and photos, as well as travel and legal documents”. This comes at a sensitive moment when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become increasingly vocal over his desire to deepen ties with Gulf states, especially by supplying advanced Israeli technology.

Offices of Israeli NSO Group company. via AP/Haaretz

One among a series of meetings documented included a who’s who of top Saudi intelligence officials. According to Haaretz:

Arriving at the hotel were Abdullah al-Malihi, a close associate of Prince Turki al-Faisal – a former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services – and another senior Saudi official, Nasser al-Qahtani, who presented himself as the deputy of the current intelligence chief. Their interlocutors were two Israeli businessmen, representatives of NSO, who presented to the Saudis highly advanced technology.

Apparently the Saudi delegation was awed by the ease of use hacking tool after a successful demonstration which involved the following:

During the June 2017 meeting, NSO officials showed a PowerPoint presentation of the system’s capabilities. To demonstrate it, they asked Qahtani to go to a nearby mall, buy an iPhone and give them its number. During that meeting they showed how this was enough to hack into the new phone and record and photograph the participants in the meeting.

NSO, which Edward Snowden has dubbed “the worst of the worst” in terms of aiding and abetting human rights violations, is now under fire especially as evidence proves the company knew full well the technology would be used by Saudi authorities not for disrupting terror attacks or criminal activities, but for purging political dissent.

Edward Snowden

@Snowden

Haaretz confirms reports by @Citizenlab showing Saudi Arabia’s purge of regime opponents was fueled by the group, an out of control Israeli hacking company. Before Khashoggi’s murder, three of his contacts were targeted by SA using NSO’s burglary kit. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-company-negotiated-to-sell-advanced-cybertech-to-the-saudis-1.6680618 

Israeli NSO negotiated with Saudis advanced cyberattack capabilities sale, Haaretz reveals

haaretz.com

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The purchase of Pegasus 3 also appears part of a broader regime blitz to acquire pervasive and powerful spying technology at a time when MbS was preparing to consolidate his power after next in line Muhammad bin Nayef was deposed by King Salman.

The Haaretz report reveals how far the Saudis were willing to go:

In the Vienna meeting of April 2017, the Saudis presented a list of 23 systems they sought to acquire. Their main interest was cybersystems. For a few dozens of millions of dollars, they would be able to hack into the phones of regime opponents in Saudi Arabia and around the world and collect classified information about them.

According to the European businessman, the Saudis, already at the first meeting, passed along to the representatives of one of the companies details of a Twitter account of a person who had tweeted against the regime. They wanted to know who was behind the account, but the Israeli company refused to say.

Currently, NSO has denied the Haaretz report as well as Edward Snowden’s accusations, calling its contents full of “partial rumors and gossip” and also claiming to be in conformity with “all matters relating to export policies and licenses,” according to a statement.

Pegasus’ use worldwide, according to Citizen Lab:

Meanwhile, Snowden has subsequently pointed out: “Journalists working this story should note that none of NSO Group’s many, many statements made after the Khashoggi murder deny selling their digital weaponry to Saudi Arabia,” and added, “Every country in which this company has operated should be pressured to open criminal investigations.”

Given that we do know that Saudi Arabia and Israel have grown increasingly close in a historically unprecedented covert intelligence sharing partnership over the past at least one year, it’s likely that the Pegasus 3 spyware revelations are merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of what defense technology has already been shared.

We expect to see many more such stories come to light as international media continues its rare scrutiny of MbS and the Saudi regime.