Category Archives: Technology

(Verge) Facebook’s cryptocurrency to debut next week backed by Visa, Mastercard, Uber, and others: WSJ

(Verge)

Facebook has secured the backing of over a dozen companies for its upcoming Libra cryptocurrency set to be announced next week, The Wall Street Journal reports. These companies include major financial organizations like Visa and Mastercard, and internet darlings like PayPal, Uber, Stripe, and Booking.com. Each will invest around $10 million to fund development of the currency, and will become part of the Libra Association, an independent consortium that will govern the digital coin independently of Facebook.

The involvement of major financial firms like Visa and Mastercard is interesting, because cryptocurrencies are typically seen as providing a cheaper alternative to these payment networks. The WSJ speculates that these companies want to get involved so they can monitor Facebook’s payment ambitions, as well as benefit from the popularity of the currency should it take off with Facebook’s 2.4 billion monthly active users.

For Facebook, establishing an independent body is thought to provide cover with users and regulators, who have grown increasingly wary of both the amount of power Facebook wields, and its cavalier attitude towards the responsibilities this brings.THE CURRENCY FACES NUMEROUS REGULATORY HURDLES

The cryptocurrency, which will reportedly be called Libra, will be unveiled on June 18th, according to TechCrunchwith a full release planned for 2020. It’s expected to function as a “stablecoin,” meaning it will be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies in order to limit the volatility typically associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Stability is a key concern, since Facebook is hoping to attract users in developing countries with an alternative to more volatile local currencies.

As well as allowing users to send money over Facebook’s messaging products like WhatsApp and Messenger, Facebook hopes that its partnerships with e-commerce firms will allow users to spend the currency online. The company is reportedly also looking into developing ATM-like physical terminals for people to convert their money into Libra.

Facebook will need to overcome numerous regulatory hurdles before it’s able to launch the currency, and will need to address concerns around fraud and money laundering (a concern within the consortium). Facebook has reportedly met with the Bank of England governor Mark Carney to discuss the currency’s opportunities and risks, as well as the US Treasury and money transfer firms like Western Union. Getting the regulatory aspects of the currency right will be of crucial importance if the currency is to succeed in key markets like India, which has taken a hostile attitude towards cryptocurrencies in recent years.

(BBC) Telegram boss links cyber attack during HK protests to China

(BBC)

Telegram founder and chief executive Pavel Durov
Image captionPavel Durov founded Telegram in 2013

Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov has said a massive cyber attack on his messaging service originated from China.

On Wednesday, the firm confirmed it suffered a “powerful” Distributed Denial of Service attack which disrupted services for about an hour.

In a DDos attack, hackers overwhelm a target’s servers with junk requests.

It came as protestors in Hong Kong used Telegram to coordinate demonstrations over a plan to allow extradition to China.

In a post on Twitter, Telegram said the disruption affected users in the Americas and “other countries”.

Mr Durov later tweeted the IP addresses involved in the attack mostly came from China.

Twitter post by @durov: IP addresses coming mostly from China. Historically, all state actor-sized DDoS (200-400 Gb/s of junk) we experienced coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong (coordinated on @telegram). This case was not an exception.

China’s Cyberspace Administration, which oversees the country’s cyber policy, has yet to comment.

Telegram allows people to send encrypted messages, documents, videos and pictures without charge.

Users can create groups for up to 200,000 people, or channels for broadcasting to unlimited audiences.

Telegram messaging app on smartphone
Image captionTelegram has more than 200 million users

Its popularity has grown because of its emphasis on encryption, which thwarts many widely used methods of reading confidential communications.

Mr Durov’s comments came amid reports a man identified as a Telegram group administrator had been arrested in Hong Kong for conspiracy to commit public nuisance.

Police and protesters had pitched battles in the city on Wednesday over plans to allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

Seventy-two people were injured, including two men who were in critical condition.

Hong Kong is part of China under a “one country, two systems” principle, which ensures that it keeps its own judicial independence, its own legislature and economic system.

People are worried that should the extradition bill pass, it would bring Hong Kong more decisively under China’s control.

(GUA) Uber Air announces Melbourne as trial city for flying taxi service

(GUA)

Ridesharing company says test flights of Uber Air’s helicopter-like ‘flying car’ will begin next year

Uber Air says Melbourne will be a trial site for its new aerial ridesharing service that it is claiming will shuttle people around cities by 2023.
 Uber Air says Melbourne will be a trial site for its new ‘flying car’ taxi service that it claims will shuttle people around cities by 2023. Illustration: Uber Elevate

Melbourne will be the first city outside the US to host trials of Uber Air, a service the company describes as “aerial ridesharing” that will shuttle people from rooftop to rooftop for the price of an UberX.

The company has flagged test flights will begin next year, with commercial operations to start in 2023.

Passengers will travel in “electric vertical take-off” contraptions.

The service will operate using the Uber app, allowing passengers to travel across a network of landing pads called “Skyports”.

Uber spokesman Eric Allison said the concept had the potential to reduce traffic congestion which costs the Australian economy an estimated $16.5bn a year.

“The 19km journey from the CBD to Melbourne airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to around an hour by car in peak hour, but with Uber Air this will take around 10 minutes,” Allison said.

Dallas and Los Angeles in the US will also be pilot cities. Melbourne beat cities in Brazil, France, India and Japan.

The Victorian treasurer, Tim Pallas, said the announcement was testament to Melbourne’s record of innovation.

“Victorians have a can-do attitude and we hope Uber Air will give us the altitude to match it,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Pallas said there had been no request from Uber for financing.

He said he wanted to put his hand up as the first customer.

“I’m Uber excited,” he joked.

RMIT University aerospace engineer expert Matthew Marino said the concept would potentially be safer than driverless cars.

“While a driverless car would be faced with obstacles on the road like pedestrians on their mobile phones or other vehicles like trams and buses, aerial autonomous vehicles don’t have these obstructions,” he said.

“We need to prove to people that this technology can be as safe as helicopters, which regularly fly in our cities. More research and development are needed in this area.”

Centre for Urban Research expert Chris De Gruyter was sceptical about whether Uber Air can can solve transport problems.

“These vehicles are very low capacity – similar to what a car could carry – while there are also questions about if these vehicles will create visual clutter in the sky and how environmentally friendly they are,” he said.

“Another risk is empty running, where there are no passengers, but the vehicle has to travel to pick people up from another location.”

(Stuff) Huawei and partners to have self-driving cars as early as 2021

(Stuff)

Chinese telecoms firm Huawei says it will launch self-driving cars as early as 2021 in partnership with several European, Japanese and Chinese car manufacturers.

Dang Wenshuan, the company’s strategy chief, told the Financial Times that Huawei is developing self-driving AI software with Audi, GAC Toyota and Chinese manufacturers Beijing New Energy Automobile and Changan Automobile.

“From my understanding, we are working together to have a car that will be shipped in the year 2021 or 2022 using these [autonomous driving] components,” Mr Dang said. “This will be in China, but not only in China… it will also be in Europe.”

Audi signed a deal to use Huawei technology in future cars last year.
SUPPLIEDAudi signed a deal to use Huawei technology in future cars last year.

Huawei, which has been subject to blacklisting from Washington since May barring US companies from selling it components, is hoping to diversify its AI products as pressure on its telecoms operations grows.

The US is continuing to press governments across the world to drop Huawei from 5G network development plans, saying the company could be used by Beijing for espionage. Huawei denies the charge.

Huawei Mobile Automation Engine uses cellular networks for automated-drive features.
SUPPLIEDHuawei Mobile Automation Engine uses cellular networks for automated-drive features.

In a latest blow, it was reported that Huawei had been forced to delay the release of its latest Windows laptop due to restrictions on buying US components.

Last year, Audi signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei to develop smart car technology using new wireless connection standards, which the companies said would look at “intelligent driving and the digitalisation of services in the vehicle environment”. 

In November, Huawei announced it was developing a Mobile Automation Engine, designed to enable autonomous car technologies using cellular networks.

The company partnered with Jaguar Land Rover and Vodafone to show off a vehicle communication system for road safety alerts, such as lane changing or speed limit alterations.

Huawei’s work comes as technology companies race to develop self-driving technology.

US giants such as Google’s Waymo, Uber and even Apple have all launched self-driving car projects, as have most carmakers from Ford to Tesla.

The company said much of the value of a self-driving car would be in its information and communication technology, giving firms such as Huawei the opportunity to take a major slice of the market.

(EP) Multa a LaLiga porque su aplicación usaba el micrófono del móvil para cazar bares ‘piratas’

(EP) El organismo de los clubes de fútbol recurrirá la sanción de 250.000 euros que le ha impuesto Protección de Datos por no informar correctamente a los usuarios

La Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) ha sancionado con 250.000 euros a LaLiga por una infracción muy grave por no informar convenientemente en su aplicación oficial para móviles sobre el uso de la funcionalidad del micrófono en el momento de su activación. Y es que al encender la app se activa un acceso al micrófono y a la geolocalización de los usuarios con el fin de detectar la señal de televisión de bares y locales que emiten los partidos de fútbol de forma pirata. LaLiga ha anunciado que recurrirá la multa.

Aplicación oficial para móviles de LaLiga.
Aplicación oficial para móviles de LaLiga.

Los móviles cada vez captan más información sobre el usuario. Las aplicaciones utilizan estas funcionalidades para recabar esa información para distintos fines comerciales o de otra índole. La AEPD se muestra muy celosa de que los creadores de esas app informen puntualmente de esos usos a los dueños del móvil y recaben su consentimiento expreso.

La app de LaLiga, diseñada para ofrecer todos los resultados online y aportar información sobre los equipos de Primera y Segunda División, incorpora otras funcionalidades, como el uso del micrófono para captar el sonido de las retransmisiones y, mediante algoritmos similares a los que usa la app Shazam para detectar una canción, deducir si el cliente está viendo un partido de fútbol. Como la app también usa la geolocalización del usuario, comprueba así si el local donde se ve el partido puede ser susceptible de estar emitiendo el partido ilegalmente.

La AEPD considera que LaLiga cometió una infracción muy grave al vulnerar el principio de transparencia por no informar convenientemente a los usuarios de que su appactiva el micrófono para sus fines de combatir la piratería. Por ello, le ha impuesto una multa de 250.000 euros y le conmina a introducir mecanismos que refuercen el conocimiento por parte del usuario del momento en que el micrófono se active.

Recurso de LaLiga

LaLiga ha anunciado que recurrirá judicialmente esta sanción al considerar que la AEPD “no ha realizado el esfuerzo necesario para entender cómo funciona la tecnología”. LaLiga también considera que su app cumple en todo momento con los principios y requisitos establecidos en el Reglamento General de Protección de Datos (RGPD) y la Ley Orgánica de Protección de Datos y de Garantías de los Derechos Digitales (LOPDGDD), y en las guías y directrices publicadas hasta la fecha por las autoridades de control, incluida la AEPD.

La organización que preside Javier Tebas precisó este lunes que para que la funcionalidad del micrófono esté activa el usuario tiene que otorgar “expresa, proactivamente y en dos ocasiones su consentimiento”, para lo cual es debida y detalladamente informado, “por lo que no se puede atribuir a LaLiga falta de transparencia o información sobre esta funcionalidad”. Aquellos que no presten el consentimiento pueden igualmente seguir utilizando la app sin ninguna limitación.

En su escrito de alegaciones, LaLiga manifiesta que la tecnología utilizada está diseñada para generar exclusivamente una huella de sonido concreta (fingerprinto huella acústica). Esta huella digital solo contiene el 0,75% de la información, desechando el 99,25% restante, por lo que es técnicamente imposible interpretar o grabar la voz o conversaciones humanas.

Dicha huella se transforma en un código alfanumérico (hash) que no es reversible al sonido original. La organizadora de la Liga Santander explica que el funcionamiento de la tecnología ha sido avalado por un informe pericial independiente que, entre otros argumentos favorables a la posición de LaLiga, concluye que esta tecnología “no permite que se pueda conocer el contenido de ninguna conversación ni identificar a sus potenciales hablantes”.

Además, agrega que este mecanismo de control del fraude “no almacena la información captada del micrófono del móvil” y “la información captada por el micrófono del móvil es sometida en el mismo a un complejo proceso de transformación cuyo resultado es irreversible”.

Según LaLiga, toda esta tecnología se implementó para alcanzar un fin legítimo, que es cumplir con la obligación de velar por la preservación de las condiciones de comercialización y explotación de los derechos audiovisuales y combatir la piratería, que estima en unos 400 millones de euros anuales aproximadamente.

LaLiga anuncia que la funcionalidad del micrófono dejará de ser utilizada al finalizar la presente temporada (30 de junio), como estaba inicialmente previsto, aunque la organización continuará testeando e implementando nuevas tecnologías e innovaciones para luchar contra la piratería.

(ZH) Huawei Signs Contract To Build 5G Network In Russia

(ZH)

In a sign that Huawei is increasingly reliant on adversaries of NATO and the West to bolster its grip om global 5G dominance as Washington conspires to run it out of the west, the Guardian reports that the Chinese telecoms giant has struck a deal with an unlikely ally, Russian Telecoms giant MTS, to develop a 5G network in Russia over the coming year.

According to the Guardian, the agreement was signed on the sidelines of a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow, on the sidelines of a critical annual Russian economics forum.

Huawei

The deal will see “the development of 5G technologies and the pilot launch of fifth-generation networks in 2019-2020.” MTS said in a statement on Wednesday.

In a statement, Huawei’s Chairman Guo Ping said he was “very happy” with the agreement “in an area of strategic importance like 5G.”

During the meeting in Moscow, Putin repeatedly praised Xi as a “close friend,” noting that they had met nearly 30 times over the past six years. The trip is Xi’s eighth to Russia since 2012.

In a statement on the issu, Huawei’s Guo Ping, one of the company’s chairmen on rotation, said he was “very happy” with the agreement “in an area of strategic importance like 5G.”

Huawei, the Chinese technology company considered a security threat by the US, has signed a deal with Russian telecoms giant MTS to develop a 5G network in the country over the next year. This even as dozens of telecoms companies in the US and Europe have preemptively cut ties with the Chinese internet giant, opening another front in the US-China trade conflict.

(Reuters) Refinitiv blocks Reuters stories on Tiananmen from its Eikon platform

(Reuters)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Under pressure from China’s government, financial information provider Refinitiv has removed from its Eikon terminal Reuters news stories related to the 30th anniversary of the bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.FILE PHOTO: An armoured personnel carrier crushes one of the tents set up on Tiananmen Square by pro-democracy protesters early Sunday morning in Beijing, China, June 4, 1989. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Refinitiv took the action to block the stories last week after the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which controls online speech, threatened to suspend the company’s service in China if it did not comply, three people with knowledge of the decision said.

Refinitiv’s intention was to block the distribution of the stories only in China, two people familiar with the matter said. However, many users outside of China said they could not see the stories. It was not clear why.

Earlier versions of this story were removed from Eikon’s scrolling news feeds in China soon after publication early on Tuesday morning.

Other recent Reuters stories with “Tiananmen” in the headline were also not available. Four Eikon clients in Asia outside China said the Tiananmen stories were visible on their feeds on Tuesday.

RELATED COVERAGE

Refinitiv was formed last year when Reuters News’ parent company Thomson Reuters Corp sold a 55% stake in its Financial & Risk (F&R) unit to a group led by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP.

“Refinitiv is a financial markets news and data provider in China. We are proud of the role we play in the world to facilitate transparent and efficient financial markets,” the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

“As a global business, we comply with all our local regulatory obligations, including the requirements of our license to operate in China.”

Refinitiv has a license to provide financial information in China. A person familiar with the matter said the terms have not changed since the company was established, but enforcement has become more stringent.

In an internal memo to staff, Reuters President Michael Friedenberg and Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler said the news organization had spoken to Refinitiv and expressed its concern. They urged staff to “continue reporting as you always would: to pursue the truth, without fear or favor.”

Reuters News spokesman David Crundwell said in a statement that Reuters “reports around the world in a fair, unbiased and independent manner, in keeping with the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles, and we stand by our China coverage.”

“We continue to provide Refinitiv with the same scope of content that we always have, including stories relating to China, and Refinitiv’s decisions will not affect the breadth or quality of our coverage. We remain committed to telling the stories that matter.”

The CAC did not respond to a faxed request for comment.

TABOO TOPIC

Reuters News, a unit of Thomson Reuters, supplies news to Refinitiv under a 30-year agreement that pays Reuters a minimum of $325 million per year, making Refinitiv the news organization’s largest customer. Reuters also provides news for media and digital clients.

The transmission of Reuters stories on Tiananmen to other media organizations and to the Reuters website was not affected by the Refinitiv action.

Reuters website has been blocked in China since 2015. The sites of many foreign news outlets are also off-limits in China, as are major U.S. digital media platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

This is a sensitive year for the Chinese leadership, with the Tiananmen anniversary on Tuesday and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in October.

The Tiananmen crackdown remains a taboo subject in China, three decades after the government sent troops and tanks to quell student-led protests calling for democratic reforms. Beijing has never released a death toll but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to the thousands.

The blocked Reuters stories on Eikon included one based on remarks made by China’s defense minister on Sunday at a forum in Singapore defending the Tiananmen crackdown, and another on Taiwan’s call on Monday for China to “repent” for Tiananmen.

There was no customer notice to subscribers posted on Eikon.

Censorship of the internet in China has been intensifying under President Xi Jinping, and businesses have come under growing pressure to block content that Beijing sees as sensitive.

Last November, the CAC introduced new rules aimed at quashing dissent online in China, where “falsifying the history of the Communist Party” is a punishable offence for both platforms and individuals.

In the past two months, some popular services, including a Netease Inc news app and Tencent Holding Ltd’s news app TianTian have all been hit with suspension orders ranging from days to weeks, according to the CAC.

Despite the blockage, Reuters stories removed from Eikon’s scrolling news feed could still be found if users deployed certain search functions.

Refinitiv competitor Bloomberg declined to comment on whether it had blocked or limited distribution of news stories deemed to be sensitive by China on its financial terminals in China.

(BetaNews) South Korea will ditch Microsoft Windows for Linux

(BetaNews)

Windows 7 support will end in January of next year, and that is a huge problem for both business and home users that are still running the aging operating system. Can’t these people just upgrade to Windows 10? Well, yeah, but many just don’t want to. Windows 10 has extreme telemetry that many people consider to be spying. As a result, they simply don’t trust Microsoft’s latest operating system. Not to mention, for businesses and organizations with many computers, the upgrade to Windows 10 could prove to be a costly affair.

And now, as a result of the upcoming death of Windows 7 support, the South Korean government has reportedly decided to ditch Microsoft Windows entirelyAccording to The Korea Herald, the Asian country’s government will switch from Windows 7 to a Linux-based operating system.

Unfortunately, it is not yet revealed which Linux distribution will be used. What we do know, however, is South Korea won’t act blindly — they will test Linux extensively before switching. It is likely they will try various distributions before settling on just one.

Moving to Linux will be fairly pricey in the short term, as it is expected to cost more than a half billion dollars (including hardware upgrades). With that said, Choi Jang-hyuk, Service Bureau Chief of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, is predicting a long term cost savings by switching to an open source operating system.

Whether the South Korean government truly saves money from this move remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure — they will no longer be beholden to Microsoft. That could be priceless.

(BBG) Huawei Supply Freeze Points to U.S.-China Tech Cold War – Bloomberg

(BBG) China now has no choice but to pursue technological independence, and will burn the cash to achieve it.

The Tech Cold War Has Begun

China now has no choice but to pursue technological independence, and will burn the cash to achieve it.By Tim Culpan , ‎20‎ de ‎maio‎ de ‎2019‎ ‎05‎:‎44

Get ready for Chandroid?
Get ready for Chandroid? Photographer: LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

This is the moment Huawei Technologies Co. has been waiting for.

Chipmakers including Qualcomm Inc., Xilinx Inc. and Broadcom Inc. have told employees they won’t supply to the Chinese electronics giant until further notice, Bloomberg News reported late Sunday in the U.S. Those companies will need clarification from the Trump administration on whether they can ship to Huawei, so for now it seems they’re erring on the side of caution.

A similar process took place when ZTE Corp. was banned from buying U.S. products after reneging on a deal to settle charges of breaking trade sanctions. Staff were told to halt shipments until they could work out what was allowed and what was forbidden. The U.S. ended up imposing an embargo (later removed) that crippled the smaller Chinese communications company.

QuicktakeDigital Cold War

The prospect that the U.S. government would cut off the supply of components to Huawei was precisely what management had been anticipating for close to a year, Bloomberg News reported Friday. Huawei has at least three months of supplies stockpiled. That’s not a lot, but it speaks to the seriousness with which the Shenzhen-based company took the threat.

There’s hope that this latest escalation is just part of the U.S.’s trade-war posturing and will be resolved as part of broader negotiations. Huawei, or Chinese leaders, are unlikely to be so naive as to share that. Even the briefest of bans will be proof to them that China can no long rely on outsiders.

We can now expect China to redouble efforts to roll out a homegrown smartphone operating system, design its own chips, develop its own semiconductor technology (including design tools and manufacturing equipment), and implement its own technology standards. This can only accelerate the process of creating a digital iron curtain that separates the world into two distinct, mutually exclusive technological spheres.

Expect there to be hiccups. An initial Chinese version of Android – let’s call it Chandroid – won’t hold a candle to the original developed by Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Home-grown communications chips will be inferior to those offered by Qualcomm and Xilinx. But whereas past attempts to develop local products could flop because Western alternatives were still available, failure is no longer an option in the eyes of China’s top leadership.

The government will pump in more subsidies to make sure the industry doesn’t fall short, and much money will be wasted. Money can’t solve all problems. But given time, Chinese state funding will overcome enough challenges to make local alternatives viable, if not comparable to American technology. It’s unlikely the U.S. has the political will to subsidize its own companies to the same extent. Initially, it won’t need to because of America’s current superiority. But Huawei’s position at the forefront of 5G mobile technology shows that this lead won’t be held forever.

So now the tech cold war has begun. The winner won’t be the side with the best fighters, but the one with the greater ability to endure the pain of prolonged losses.

(MacauHub) Portugal: Vodafone Spain, Vodafone Portugal carry out world’s first 5G roaming

(MacauHub)

Vodafone Portugal and Vodafone Spain on Wednesday carried out the world’s first 5G connection in roaming mobility on a route between Tui (Spain) and Valença (Portugal), with Spanish cities Coruña and Vigo benefiting from this technology until the summer.

The 5G connection, which as Ericsson as its technological partner, was carried out during a trip of around 7 km between Tui and Valença do Minho, with two professional video game players – including Portuguese player Ricardo ‘Fox’ Pacheco – played with Vodafone’s mobile network without any connection interruptions during the journey.

(DML) Now EE and Vodafone drop Huawei phones from their 5G network launch lineup as chip designer ARM distances itself from the company over US ban

(DML)

  • Firms EE and Vodafone have pulled Huawei’s phones from their 5G networks 
  • UK-based chip designer ARM has told staff not to do business with the company
  • The reports follow Google’s decision to pull the company’s android license
  • An order from President Trump last week effectively banned technology firms from ‘foreign adversaries’ trading with US companies without approval

Leading mobile carriers and technology firms have started to sever ties with Huawei to comply with the recent US trade clampdown. 

UK-based chip designer ARM have told their staff to ‘halt’ business with the Chinese telecoms firm while mobile operators EE and Vodafone have pulled Huawei’s phones from their 5G networks.

Japan’s KDDI and Y! Mobile are also said to be delaying the launch of upcoming Huawei smartphones  to protect their operations amid security concerns.

An order from President Trump last week effectively banned technology firms from ‘foreign adversaries’ trading with US companies without approval. 

Huawei is accused of being a gateway for the Chinese government to spy on Western nations using equipment used to facilitate the upcoming 5G service.  

A number of leading mobile carriers and technology firms have started to sever ties with Huawei to comply with the recent US trade clampdown. Chip designer ARM and mobile operators EE and Vodafone have pulled the Chinese firm’s phones from their 5G networks

Since then, the firm has received a series of blows including Google’s announcement that they would be pulling the company’s Android license.

This means that new and yet-to-be-released Huawei models would not be able to access Google apps as part of Android, like Google Maps or Youtube. 

Another major drawback to the business came today as British tech company ARM has also suspended dealing with the company.

Documents obtained by the BBC have instructed ARM employees to halt ‘all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements’ with the company.

If ARM does sever ties in the long-term it would greatly affect Huawei as it relies on ARM’s technology to build its own chips.    

One analyst told the BBC that  the move, if it became long-term would be an ‘insurmountable’ blow to Huawei’s business.

An order from President Trump last week banned technology firms from ‘foreign adversaries’ trading with US companies without approval. Huawei is accused of being a gateway for the Chinese government to spy on Western nations

Telecom firms EE and Vodafone has left Huawei out of their line-up of 5G smartphones, which EE is launching next week.

EE said it had chosen to ‘pause’ the sale of Huawei 5G phones amid ongoing tensions between the US and the company.

They also confirmed the Huawei equipment it currently uses in its network infrastructure is in the process of being phased out.

Vodafone also said it would suspend Huawei’s Mate X phone from its 5G line-up because ‘Huawei’s 5G handset is yet to receive the necessary certifications’. 

EE chief executive Mark Allera said it will not restart Huawei sales until they are satisfied that the security of its customers is being protected. 

The BT-owned telecoms giant said it will be the first operator in the UK to launch the high-speed mobile network, which is expected to offer internet speeds several times that of current generation 4G. 

An order from President Trump last week banned technology firms from 'foreign adversaries' trading with US companies. Huawei knocked Apple off the second place to Samsung in smartphone sales, however experts say not having Google Play will put off potential buyers

An order from President Trump last week banned technology firms from ‘foreign adversaries’ trading with US companies. Huawei knocked Apple off the second place to Samsung in smartphone sales, however experts say not having Google Play will put off potential buyers

The company confirmed a number of 5G-ready smartphones would be available on its new network, including devices from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, HTC and Oppo.

Fellow mobile operator Vodafone has confirmed it will launch 5G across seven cities in the UK on July 3, with another 12 cities to follow by the end of the year.

Mr Allera said the company has ‘worked for decades with government’ and ‘at the moment we have no instructions to change our plans’, amid security fears around the use of Huawei in 5G networks. 

A Huawei spokesperson told the Telegraph: ‘We value our close relationships with our partners, but recognise the pressure some of them are under, as a result of politically motivated decisions. 

‘We are confident this regrettable situation can be resolved and our priority remains to continue to deliver world-class technology and products to our customers around the world.’

MailOnline have contacted Huawei for comment.

In 2017, Huawei shipped over 153 million phones globally in the first three months of 2019 alone and delivered more than 59 million smartphones, around half of which went to European consumers. 

The Government is yet to announce its decision on whether the Chinese firm should be allowed as part of telecoms infrastructure following an official review.

‘Extremely unfortunate timing’: Huawei-owned Honor launches new devices just two days after Google pulls its Android license

Huawei-owned smartphone firm Honor has unveiled its next line-up of smartphones, amid uncertainty over the future of its devices.

An order from President Trump last week effectively banned technology firms from ‘foreign adversaries’ trading with US companies without approval.

Google then confirmed it would stop supporting Android on Huawei and Honor devices, the software which powers both firms’ phones.

Huawei-owned smartphone firm Honor has unveiled its next line-up of smartphones, despite uncertainty over the future of its devices. Here, a picture from Honor’s smartphones launch yesterday

The block means that new and yet-to-be-released Huawei and Honor phones are unlikely to be able to access Google apps as part of Android.

Although Honor says that their new line  should have access to the Google Play Store as well as Google’s other services, future updates are less certain.

A temporary license and grace period sanctioned by the US government will initially allow support for existing devices until August.

Speaking to MailOnline, Ben Wood, from the CCS Insight consultancy, said that it was ‘extremely unfortunate timing for such an exciting product’.

The uncertainty of the current situation is damaging for Huawei’s business and the fact that they don’t have clarity further muddies the water for customers.

‘People rely on core Google services like Google maps and not being able to have these applications on devices would present a huge challenge,’ he said. 

At the launch, Honor boss George Zhao said regarding the ongoing trade row, ‘no matter what happens’ he believed that the firm can ‘overcome it’. 

The company has chosen bright colours for the holographic designs, paired with a powerful 48MP AI Quad Camera

Both models also boast a 6.26′ all-view display with a 91.7 per cent screen-to-body ratio. Honor said availability for the 20 Pro, which will cost €599 (£525) in Europe, would only be ‘released in the near future’

Existing Huawei smartphone users will be able to update apps and push through security fixes, as well as update Google Play services.

But when Google launches the next version of Android later this year, it may not be available on Huawei devices.

Effectively what this means is that future Huawei devices may no longer have apps such as YouTube and Maps.

The latest offering continues the winning trend of flagship hardware at more reasonable prices aimed at millennial smartphone users.

A third device, the Honor 20 Lite, is already on sale for £249.99

Google is assuring users of Huawei smartphones the American company’s services will still will work on them but the impact to Huawei may be crippling (file photo)

The company has chosen bright colours for the holographic designs, paired with  a powerful  48MP AI Quad Camera. 

The Pro supports up to 5x hybrid zoom, which uses the other cameras to fill in details beyond the optical zoom, and up to 30x digital zoom. 

The Honor 20 can be pre-ordered now for £399.99 at Carphone Warehouse, O2, Three, Amazon and Argos with a free Honor Watch Magic.

(BI) Chinese tech giant Huawei has developed its own operating system as a ‘plan B’ in case it’s barred by the US government from using Google and Microsoft products

(BI)

Huawei
Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping, center, speaks in front of other executives during a press conference in Shenzhen, China’s Guangdong province.
  • The Chinese tech-giant Huawei confirmed it has developed its own operating system that could replace Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows should it be barred from using American-made products, according to a recent report by the German newspaper Die Welt.
  • The prospect of being banned from such products has intensified for Huawei in the wake of its recent lawsuit against the US government.
  • “We have prepared our own operating system. Should it ever happen that we can no longer use these systems, we would be prepared,” Huawei executive Richard Yu said, according to a translation of the original German text.
  • Huawei currently uses Android’s operating system for its smartphone devices and Windows for its laptop and tablets.

UPDATE: Since this article was originally published in March 2019, Google severed ties with Huawei following an executive order from US President Donald Trump. Here’s what that means if you own a Huawei phone.

The Chinese tech giant Huawei confirmed it has developed its own operating system that could replace Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows should it be barred from using American-made products, according to a recent report by the German newspaper Die Welt.

The prospect of being banned from such products has intensified for Huawei in the wake of its recent lawsuit against the US government.

“We have prepared our own operating system. Should it ever happen that we can no longer use these systems, we would be prepared,” Huawei executive Richard Yu said, according to a translation of the original German text.

A Huawei spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the report.

Huawei is suing the US government for not allowing its federal officials to use the Chinese firm’s telecom equipment over security concerns. The company has said that the US government has failed to provide evidence to substantiate the security claims and that the US is acting unconstitutionally.

Read more: The Trump administration is warning allies to stay away from a powerful Chinese company — but not everyone’s listening

Huawei has been working on building its own operating system since as early as 2012, according to the South China Morning Post. The completion of those efforts had previously been unknown until Die Welt’s recent report.

Huawei currently uses Android’s operating system for its smartphone devices and Windows for its laptop and tablets.

Yu said that moving onto Huawei’s in-house platform was the company’s “plan B” and that “of course we prefer to work with the ecosystems of Google and Microsoft.”

(Reuters) Dutch spy agency investigating alleged Huawei ‘backdoor’: Volkskrant

(Reuters)

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei has a hidden “backdoor” on the network of a major Dutch telecoms firm, making it possible to access customer data, newspaper De Volkskrant said on Thursday, citing unidentified intelligence sources.A man walks past surveillance cameras displayed at a Huawei booth at an exhibition during the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin, China May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The newspaper said Dutch intelligence agency AIVD was looking into whether the situation had enabled spying by the Chinese government.

In a statement, Huawei said it was “surprised” by the Volkskrant report and that it would not respond to its core allegations because they came from anonymous sources.

Earlier, a company representative was quoted in De Volkskrant as saying Huawei complied with all laws in every country where it operates, and “keeps the door closed to governments or others who want to use our network for activities that would threaten cyber security.”

A spokesman for the AIVD said the agency would not comment on the Volkskrant report.

In April, the agency said it was “undesirable for the Netherlands … to depend on the hardware or software of companies from countries running active cyber programs against Dutch interests,” naming China and Russia.

Of the three large Dutch telecommunications companies, KPN and VodafoneZiggo declined to comment on the report, while T-Mobile/Tele2 said it was not aware of any AIVD investigation.

The report comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump banned Huawei from buying vital U.S. technology without special approval and effectively barring its equipment from U.S. telecoms networks on national security grounds.

KPN said last month it would exclude Huawei equipment from the “core” of its mobile network in the future, but would continue to use Huawei radio towers.

A Dutch government panel is currently reviewing security guidelines to prevent spying ahead of the construction of the country’s 5G mobile networks. Foreign Minister Stef Blok said at a press conference on Wednesday the panel would deliver a decision “soon” on whether Huawei would be allowed as a vendor.

The Volkskrant story did not contain any details of whether the alleged “backdoor” was hardware or software, how it works, or whether it has actually been used.

(BBG) Trump’s Huawei Threat Is the Nuclear Option to Halt China’s Rise

(BBG)

  •  The White House’s campaign could disrupt 5G rollouts globally
  •  The struggle to contain Beijing may also hurt America

PauseUnmuteCurrent Time1:36/Duration Time4:18Loaded: 0%Progress: 0% CaptionsFullscreenHuawei Says it’s Ready, Willing to Engage With U.S. on Product SecurityUnmuteHuawei Says it’s Ready, Willing to Engage With U.S. on Product Security

The Trump administration is pulling out the big guns in its push to slow China’s rise, with potentially devastating consequences for the rest of the world.

The White House on Wednesday initiated a two-pronged assault on China: barring companies deemed a national security threat from selling to the U.S., and threatening to blacklist Huawei Technologies Co. from buying essential components. If it follows through, the move could cripple China’s largest technology company, depress the business of American chip giants from Qualcomm Inc. to Micron Technology Inc., and potentially disrupt the rollout of critical 5G wireless networks around the world.

“The Trump administration action is a grave escalation with China,” Eurasia Group analysts Paul Triolo, Michael Hirson and Jeffrey Wright wrote in a note. If fully implemented, the blacklist would “put at risk both the company itself and the networks of Huawei customers around the world, as the firm would be unable to upgrade software and conduct routine maintenance and hardware replacement.”

President Trump Speaks At 38th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service
Donald Trump on May 15.Photographer: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Bloomberg

The threat is likely to elevate fears in Beijing that President Donald Trump’s broader goal is to contain China, leading to a protracted cold war between the world’s biggest economies. In addition to a trade fight that has rattled global markets for months, the U.S. has pressured both allies and foes to avoid using Huawei for 5G networks that will form the backbone of the modern economy.

“@Huawei 5G, RIP. Thanks for playing,” U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, wrote on Twitter.

Read More: China Promises Response If U.S. Tariffs all Remaining Imports

U.S. suppliers to Huawei including Lumentum Holdings Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. are indicated to open lower in pre-market trading, after shares in Asian suppliers including Sunny Optical Technology Group and AAC Technologies Holdings Inc. dropped as much as 5% on Thursday.

In Europe, STMicroelectronics NV fell, while Huawei competitor Nokia Oyj gained 2%. Huawei has said it devotes about a third of its budget — some $11 billion annually — to the acquisition of American components. It counts 33 U.S. companies among its top 92 suppliers.

“The negative impact on the global 5G market will be significant,” said Charlie Dai, a Beijing-based analyst at Forrester Research, nothing that Huawei is one of the market leaders globally. “Nokia and Cisco could address the gap to some extent, but the overall adoption will be slowed down, which eventually will be harmful to telco carriers and consumers around the world.”

Read More: Macron’s Answer to Trump’s Threat: Europe Won’t Block Huawei

The Commerce Department said Wednesday it will soon put Huawei on an “Entity List” — meaning any U.S. company will need a special license to sell products to the world’s largest networking gear maker. Since American companies dominate semiconductors, that could smother Huawei’s production of everything from 5G base stations to mobile phones. It may not even be able to use Google’s Android, the most popular operating system globally for smartphones. A similar move last year against ZTE Corp. — China’s second-biggest telecom equipment company — nearly forced the company out of business.

“This could potentially lead to Huawei’s destruction,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You can’t underestimate the significance. It’s their most important company and threatening it in this way will generate a massive public response as well as from the Chinese government. The bilateral trade talks were on thin ice and this could derail them entirely.”

Read more: Trump Moves to Curb Huawei as Trade War With China Escalates

At the heart of Trump’s concerted campaign is suspicion that Huawei aids Beijing in espionage while spearheading China’s ambitions of becoming a technology superpower. The Justice Department also accuses it of willfully violating sanctions on Iran, and last year engineered the arrest of the eldest daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder.

Huawei, which has denied those allegations, said Thursday it was “ready and willing” to engage with the U.S. to ensure product security. Restricting it from doing business “will only serve to limit the U.S. to inferior yet more expensive alternatives,” it said in a statement.

China’s government said it will take “all necessary measures” to defend its companies.

“We resolutely object to any country, based on their own laws, unilaterally sanctioning Chinese entities,” Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said at a regularly scheduled briefing in Beijing Thursday. “We also object to the generalization of the national security concept and abuse of export control methods.”

The lack of alternatives is one reason that it’s far from certain the U.S. will make good on its threat to cut off Huawei. Observers for months had been dismissing the possibility, in part because it would hurt some of America’s largest tech corporations. The Trump administration has also been pressuring allies to bar Huawei equipment from their communications networks for security reasons. But the U.S. effort had largely failed, as even the U.K. declined to join the American call for a boycott.

If the U.S. handicaps Huawei by cutting off suppliers, countries and telecoms carriers around the world that are already spending billions to build 5G networks may have to resort to pricier equipment from Nokia Oyj and Ericsson AB. Tying up a chunk of the world’s 5G gear supply would slow the build-out of a technology that underpins future services from self-driving cars to smart homes and advanced medicine.

Huawei appears to have anticipated this possibility. It’s been developing and designing its own chips for years, which it now uses in many of its own smartphones. It’s reportedly even developing its own operating software to run phones and servers.

For now, though, it remains heavily reliant on American technology.

Huawei’s base station, smartphone, server and maritime cable businesses simply cannot run without Qualcomm baseband and processor chips. There are alternatives — but from American peers such as Intel Corp., Micron and Broadcom Corp.

It also depends on smaller American suppliers in key areas: Lumentum Holdings Inc. for optical cable; Amphenol for fiber-optic connectors; Inphi Corp. for analog chips; Qorvo Inc. and Analog Devices Inc. for radio-frequency semiconductors in both 4G and 5G; and Western Digital Corp. for storage. Texas Instruments Inc. supplies it with digital signal processing chips. Huawei even uses Oracle Corp. software in products sold to state-owned companies.

Why 5G Mobile Arrives With a Subplot of Espionage: QuickTake

ZTE provides a roadmap for what may happen next. Huawei’s much smaller rival in 2017 ran afoul of the Commerce Department for violating the same Iranian sanctions, and then lying about it. The subsequent ban on American exports pushed the company to the brink of extinction, before Trump intervened as part of trade negotiations with Beijing.

A blanket ban would hurt not just U.S. companies, but also alienate American allies around the world. Many have resisted Washington’s attempts to steer them away from Huawei, for reasons ranging from economics to just the simple fact that the Shenzhen-based company’s 5G technology is for now considered superior.

Read more: Trump Is Losing the Fight to Ban Huawei From Global Networks

That’s why some observers, including the Eurasia Group, argue that the White House is unlikely to bring the full force of a blacklist to bear. Instead, it argued, the Trump administration is likely to issue export licenses to all of its American companies while retaining the option in future to pull them if needed.

Roger Sheng at market research firm Gartner Inc. draws parallels with the Chinese fable of the Monkey King, whose powers are constrained by a magic circlet that his handler constricts — painfully — when the deity misbehaves.

“The U.S. is putting a circlet around the head of Huawei,” said Sheng, who is based in Shanghai. “The impact goes well beyond its 5G ambitions because without American suppliers like Qualcomm and Marvell, it can’t even maintain normal operations.”

(ZH) Huawei Offers To Sign ‘No-Spy’ Pacts With Governments As UK Embarks On 5G

(ZH)

Chinese smartphone and telecommunications equipment giant Huawei is willing to sign ‘no-spy’ agreements with governments which adopt their technology, including Britain, according to chairman Liang Hua. 

The Trump administration has warned allies not to use Huawei’s technology to implement 5G networks over concerns that they would allow Chinese intelligence services to spy on whoever uses it. 

Moreover, Huawei and its CFO, Meng Wanzhou, are facing criminal charges in the United States over the alleged theft of trade secrets and sanctions violations in Iran. 

As Reuters reports, Britain is still deciding on how much they will rely on Huawei – the world’s largest supplier of telecom equipment – for their 5G networks. 

“The security and resilience of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance, and we have strict controls for how Huawei equipment is currently deployed in the UK,” said a spokesman for the British government on Tuesday, adding that the results of a supply chain review would be announced soon. 

Prime Minister Theresa May sacked her defense minister, Gavin Williamson, this month over leaked claims that Huawei would have a role in the 5G network, putting Britain at odds with its biggest intelligence ally, the United States.

Williamson has denied he leaked from the confidential talks.

Liang, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with Huawei’s British technology partners, said the company never intended to be in the eye of a political storm. –Reuters

“The cyber security issue is not exclusive to just one single supplier or one single company, it is a common challenge facing the entire industry and the entire world,” said Liang, adding that Huawei had long cooperated with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s technology oversight efforts, while improving its software engineering capabilities. 

Liang also said that Huawei does not take direction or act on behalf of the Chinese government in any international market. 

“Despite the fact Huawei has its headquarters in China, we are actually a globally operating company,” he said, adding “Where we are operating globally we are committed to be compliant with the locally applicable laws and regulations in that country.”

“There are no Chinese laws requiring companies to collect intelligence from a foreign government or implant back doors for the government.” 

Last month, Ars Technica reported the discovery of a backdoor-like vulnerability in Huawei’s Matebook laptop series which could have allowed remote hackers to gain access to the system. Microsoft confirmed the security flaws were discovered by Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) kernel sensors, which traced the vulnerability back to a Huawei driver.

Huawei responded to Tom’s Hardware’s inquiry about the Matebook security flaw. They reiterated that the security flaw was not a backdoor attempt to spy on customers. Huawei also suggested it may take legal action against media over “misleading reports” about this issue. 

UK minister Jeremy Wright will announce the findings of the government’s telco supply-chain review soon, and has said that the benefits of cheap Chinese equipment would not take precedence over security concerns. 

Liang pushed back, suggesting that economic factors should be a top consideration, saying “I believe the decision should be based on risk assessment and supply-chain assessment, and should also reflect the requirements the UK has in terms of economic development when they choose suppliers,” and adding “Cyber security is indeed a very important factor to consider (…) but at the same time it should be a balanced decision between cyber security and economic prosperity.”

Huawei has inked over 40 5G contracts; 25 in Europe, 10 in the Middle East and six in Asia.

As Reuters notes, Germany says they’ve seen no indication that the company was offering a “no-spy” agreement. 

(Reuters) Exclusive: Trump expected to sign order paving way for U.S. telecoms ban on Huawei

(Reuters)

The order, which will not name specific countries or companies, has been under consideration for more than a year but has repeatedly been delayed, the sources said, asking not to be named because the preparations remain confidential. It could be delayed again, they said.

The executive order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the United States. The order will direct the Commerce Department, working with other government agencies, to draw up a plan for enforcement, the sources said.

If signed, the executive order would come at a delicate time in relations between China and the United States as the world’s two largest economies ratchet up tariffs in a battle over what U.S. officials call China’s unfair trade practices.

Washington believes equipment made by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s third largest smartphone maker, could be used by the Chinese state to spy. Huawei, which has repeatedly denied the allegations, did not immediately comment.

The White House and Commerce Department declined to comment.

The United States has been actively pushing other countries not to use Huawei’s equipment in next-generation 5G networks that it calls “untrustworthy.” In August, Trump signed a bill that barred the U.S. government itself from using equipment from Huawei and another Chinese provider, ZTE Corp.

In January, U.S. prosecutors charged two Huawei units in Washington state saying they conspired to steal T-Mobile US Inc trade secrets, and also charged Huawei and its chief financial officer with bank and wire fraud on allegations that the company violated sanctions against Iran.

The Federal Communications Commission in April 2018 voted to advance a proposal to bar the use of funds from a $9 billion government fund to purchase equipment or services from companies that pose a security threat to U.S. communications networks.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said last week he is waiting for the Commerce Department to express views on how to “define the list of companies” that would be prohibited under the FCC proposal.

The FCC voted unanimously to deny China Mobile Ltd’s bid to provide U.S. telecommunications services last week and said it was reviewing similar prior approvals held by China Unicom and China Telecom Corp.

The issue has taken on new urgency as U.S. wireless carriers look for partners as they rollout 5G networks.

While the big wireless companies have already cut ties with Huawei, small rural carriers continue to rely on both Huawei and ZTE switches and other equipment because they tend to be cheaper.FILE PHOTO: A Huawei logo is pictured during the media day for the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The Rural Wireless Association, which represents carriers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers, estimated that 25 percent of its members had Huawei or ZTE equipment in their networks, it said in an FCC filing in December.

At a hearing Tuesday, U.S. senators raised the alarm about allies using Chinese equipment in 5G networks.

The Wall Street Journal first reported in May 2018 that the executive order was under review. Reuters reported in December that Trump was still considering issuing the order and other media reported in February that the order was imminent.

(ZH) Secretive Israeli Company Uses WhatsApp Voice Calls To Install Spyware On Phones

(ZH)

With so much attention focused recently on constant consumer spying and privacy violations, erroneous or otherwise, by Amazon, Facebook and now Twitter, it is easy to forget that virtually other communication apps have the same purpose, and that’s what one secretive Israeli company relied on when they used a vulnerability in the popular messaging app WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) to inject commercial Israeli spyware on to phones, the company and a spyware technology dealer said. What is unique is how the app was infected: with a simple phone call.

According to the FT, WhatsApp which is used by 1.5bn people worldwide, discovered in early May that attackers were able to install surveillance software on to both iPhones and Android phones by ringing up targets using the app’s phone call function. The malicious code, developed by the secretive NSO Group, a notorious and controversial Israeli hacking and surveillance tools vendor, could be transmitted even if users did not answer their phones, and the calls often disappeared from call logs.

It is unclear how many apps were infected with the spyware trojan, which could for example, allow anyone to get access to John Podesta’s email password (and then blame say, Vladimir Putin for example) as WhatsApp is too early into its own investigations of the vulnerability to estimate how many phones were targeted using this method, although it is likely a substantial number. As late as Sunday, the FT reports that WhatsApp engineers were racing to close the loophole.

For those who thought that Alexa’s constant eavesdropping was bad, this is even worse: NSO’s flagship product is Pegasus, a program that can turn on a phone’s microphone and camera, trawl through emails and messages and collect location data. It effectively opens up one’s entire cellphone to the hacker, and to get “infected”, one just needs to receive an inbound phone call without ever answering it.

Many people probably heard of NSO for the first time in December 2018, when a New York Times story that claimed the company helped Saudi Arabia spy on the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi before he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October of last year.

NSO advertises its products to Middle Eastern and Western intelligence agencies, and says Pegasus is intended for governments to fight terrorism and crime. NSO was recently valued at $1bn in a leveraged buyout that involved the UK private equity fund Novalpina Capital

Since the application is Israeli, its hardly a surprise that the spies’ preferred targets were Middle Eastern: as the FT reports, in the past, human rights campaigners in the Middle East have received text messages over WhatsApp that contained links that would download Pegasus to their phones.

“This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems,” the company said, with the government in question being that of Israel. “We have briefed a number of human rights organisations to share the information we can, and to work with them to notify civil society.”

WhatsApp disclosed the issue to the US Department of Justice last week, according to a person familiar with the matter. A justice department spokesman declined to comment.Shalev Hulio, co-founder and CEO of NSO Group, speaks with correspondent Lesley Stahl

Of course, if instead of a “secretive Israeli” company, the offender was found to be – say – a fabricated Russian outfit, the deep state would ensure that we would now be on the verge of World War III. However, since it’s Israel…. well, turn on your TV and see how many TV stations discuss this grotesque spying incident which could affect virtually anyone.

NSO, of course, said it had carefully vetted customers and investigated any abuse. Asked about the WhatsApp attacks, NSO said it was investigating the issue.

“Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” the company said. “NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organisation, including this individual [the UK lawyer].”

Among others, the attack targeted a UK lawyer, who declined to be identified, who has helped a group of Mexican journalists and government critics and a Saudi dissident living in Canada, sue NSO in Israel, alleging that the company shares liability for any abuse of its software by clients.

“It’s upsetting but not surprising that my team has been targeted with the very technology that we are raising concerns about in our lawsuits,” said Alaa Mahajne, a Jerusalem-based lawyer who is handling lawsuits from the Mexican and Saudi citizens. “This desperate reaction to hamper our work and silence us, itself shows how urgent the lawsuits are, as we can see that the abuses are continuing.”

On Tuesday, NSO will also face a legal challenge to its ability to export its software, which is regulated by the Israeli ministry of defense.

It was unclear if the entity behind the actual espionage was NSO in conjunction with the Israeli government, or if Israel had sold the hacking application to one or more of its best clients, including Saudi Arabia.

“NSO Group sells its products to governments who are known for outrageous human rights abuses, giving them the tools to track activists and critics. The attack on Amnesty International was the final straw,” said Danna Ingleton, deputy director of Amnesty International, which identified an attempt to hack into the phone of one its researchers.

“The Israeli ministry of defense has ignored mounting evidence linking NSO Group to attacks on human rights defenders. As long as products like Pegasus are marketed without proper control and oversight, the rights and safety of Amnesty International’s staff and that of other activists, journalists and dissidents around the world is at risk.

For more on NSO, watch this 60 Minutes interview with the company’s CEO.