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By Ather Fawaz
Google expects to complete Fitbit acquisition this year despite antitrust concerns
by Ather Fawaz
Last year in November, Google announced its plans to acquire Fitbit, one of the most popular wearable manufacturers in the world, for $2.1 billion. Historically, Google's Wear OS has struggled to take off. With the Fitbit-Google merger, the plan was to develop and improve the Wear OS ecosystem, potentially allowing Google to make its own wearable hardware in the future. For Fitbit, the merger feels like a necessity to stay relevant like in its early days, as its devices have been falling behind in terms of market share in recent years.
However, the Alphabet-owned company, and by extension, its acquisition hopes of Fitbit, have faced criticism and regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and Europe for abusing antitrust laws. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Google's parent company Alphabet for the same.
Notwithstanding the status quo, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said the company anticipates its bid for Fitbit will be completed this year. In an interview with Bloomberg, Porat said, “We do still expect we are going to receive the necessary regulatory approvals to hopefully complete the transaction before the end of this year. But the time frame may extend beyond that.”
Corroborating this, European lawmakers were also given a deadline extension to pass a verdict on the acquisition. While the new deadline is January 8, next year, approval may well be in sight now. How the deal pans out from here, remains to be seen.
Samsung receives approval from U.S. government to supply display panels to Huawei
by Rajesh Pandey
In a respite for Huawei, Samsung Display has received the necessary approval from the U.S. government to supply the Chinese company with smartphone OLED panels. Samsung Display had applied for a license to the U.S. Commerce Department to supply display panels to Huawei after the latter banned any company using U.S. technology from supplying components to it.
Samsung is the first South Korean company to receive approval from the U.S. Commerce Department to supply any kind of components to Huawei. LG Display, SK Hynix, and Samsung Electronics have also applied for licenses to supply components to Huawei but that has not been approved yet.
The report from Yonhap citing industry insiders claims that the U.S. government might have given Samsung Display the license since display panel are relatively less sensitive products compared to semiconductors. Huawei can already secure OLED panels from Chinese display maker BOE. Huawei is not expected to increase its procurement of display panels from Samsung until it can secure a steady stream of other key components for its future smartphones.
Apart from Samsung Display, Intel and AMD have also received the necessary license from the U.S. government to supply their processors to Huawei.
U.S. judge denies the government's push to ban WeChat in the country
by Hamza Khan
On Friday, a U.S. judge in San Francisco denied the request of the government to reverse the unban of the WeChat, allowing it to remain active in the U.S app stores.
WeChat was set up in 2011 and is described as an “app for everyone” in China. It is a multi-purpose app, allowing users to send messages, make mobile payments, and use local services. The application has an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States and is very popular among people having personal or business relationships in China.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said that the evidence presented by the government against WeChat was not enough to convince her regarding any national security threat. The government has appealed against Beeler’s decision to allow WeChat to operate in the U.S to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
“The record does not support the conclusion that the government has ‘narrowly tailored’ the prohibited transactions to protect its national security interests,” Beeler wrote in her decision on Friday. WeChat users argued that the government has tried to ban an entire medium of communication merely on suspicion of harm from the Americans’ use of WeChat.
Trump administration also sought to ban the short video-sharing app, TikTok, owned by the Beijing-based ByteDance. The Chinese government stated that the U.S. ban on Chinese apps is inconsistent with WTO rules and restricts cross-border trading services.
Source: Reuters |Gavel image via Brian Turner / Flickr
President Trump's Twitter password was 'maga2020!', says researcher
by Paul Hill
Victor Gevers, a Dutch hacker, was able to break into President Donald Trump’s Twitter account on October 16, 2020, by using the password 'maga2020!' according to reports. To prove his feat, he shared a screenshot with the Dutch outlet, Vrij Nederland (VN), showing the edit profile dialog box where he could have changed Trump’s display name, profile picture, and cover image.
There were two astounding details about the breach; the first was that it only took Gevers seven attempts to guess the correct password, the other was that there was no two-factor authentication enabled to tighten up security on the account.
Luckily for Trump, Victor Gevers is an ethical hacker so rather than deface or steal data from the account, which he could have done, he sent an email to Trump to inform him that he had managed to hack the account; this is known as responsible disclosure. If Gevers had malicious intent, he could have downloaded the president's data file which includes all information including deleted direct messages.
At the time of writing, Vrij Nederland has reached out to Twitter to ask why the account of such a well-known figure is not protected with more security. It said that the social media firm had not responded to those queries yet.
Source: Vrij Nederland (Dutch)
By Usama Jawad96
WhatsApp Business to get improved privacy, service fees
by Usama Jawad
Facebook launched WhatsApp Business back in 2018 to help small businesses interact with customers and sell their products. In the current pandemic, the need for a central hub to communicate with online retailers has become more important than ever. The company says that over 175 million people message a WhatsApp business account daily.
To further improve upon this experience, WhatsApp has detailed a host of new changes that it will be making to its service.
First and foremost, it will be making it easier for businesses to sell products directly from the chat, and allow them to integrate these features with their existing solutions for customer and business management.
It will also be expanding its roster of business solution providers for companies that want to work with other firms for hosting and managing their communications. To that end, it plans to roll out Facebook's own hosting services soon too, which businesses will be able to utilize to manage inventories and respond to messages to customers.
Furthermore, WhatsApp will also be charging business accounts a fee for the services that are offered to them. The company says:
Lastly, new privacy features will also be introduced to protect customer conversations, although the company hasn't gone into the details of what this entails. All of these changes will be gradually rolled out to customers over the next few months, and we'll likely learn more about them closer to their respective launches.