China Calls for Increased Testing of IT Products
Today in international tech news: Adding yet another chapter to the U.S.-China cyberstandoff, China calls for increased vetting of major IT products and services. Also: Cabbies vandalize -- and engage in fisticuffs at -- the London office of a taxi app; a German court tries to legislate against revenge porn; and Twitter heeds Pakistani block requests.
May 23, 2014 9:54 AM PT
The ever-testy cyberstandoff between the U.S. and China got a new twist when Beijing announced that it would start "cybersecurity vetting of major IT products and services" used for national security and public interests, according to the Xinhua news agency.
The vetting is designed to prevent suppliers from using their products to control, disrupt or shut down clients' systems, or from using the systems to scoop up information.
Companies that don't pass muster will be barred from supplying products and services in China.
The Xinhua article references both a) Congress' 2012 declaration that Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei should not be allowed to work on U.S. networks, and b) Edward Snowden's leaks, which suggest, among many other things, that the National Security Agency created backdoors into Huawei networks.
It is likely no coincidence that this decree comes the same week that the U.S. Justice Department announced indictments against five members of China's People's Liberation Army Unit 61398, which has been linked to extensive hacking in the U.S.
Your move, D.C.
London Office of Taxi App Vandalized
The London office of the taxi app Hailo was the site of both vandalism and fighting fueled by tensions over the firm's launch of private hire vehicles.
"Scabs" was tagged on the wall of Hailo's office -- the firm was launched by a trio of London cabbies -- and police were summoned to break up a fight.
The rivalry between traditional cabbies and private hire apps is building in Europe. In France, for instance, cabbies reportedly attacked vehicles from the private hire app Uber. France since has floated the idea of banning ride-sharing apps that utilize GPS technology -- while continuing to allow traditional cabs to use the same technology.
German Court Legislates Against Revenge Porn
A German court ruled that intimate photographs should be deleted at the end of a relationship if a partner so desires.
The case in question centered on (consensual) erotic photographs of a female whose relationship with her boyfriend had ended. The man refused to heed her requests to delete the photos, and the woman subsequently sought legal help.
The ex-partner had not intimated that he would be posting the photos online or otherwise reproducing them, but the woman's personal rights nonetheless took priority over the man's ownership of the photos, according to the court.
The man may appeal the decision, and will be allowed to keep photos which portray the couple wearing clothes.
[Source: The Guardian]
Twitter Heeds Pakistani Censorship Request
Twitter honored at least five requests from a Pakistani bureaucrat who wanted the social media platform to block the display of "blasphemous" and "unethical" tweets in the country.
This is believed to be the first time that Twitter has agreed to withhold content in Pakistan.
The block requests came from Abdul Batin of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. He particularly objected to images of burning Qurans; crude drawings of the Prophet Muhammad; messages from an American porn star; and a handful of anti-Islamic bloggers.
Twitter apparently blocked multiple accounts ahead of the fourth annual "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day," which was on May 20.
Twitter has maintained that it is better to block specific tweets that run counter to local law than to have then site blocked altogether in an entire country. Twitter also has agreed to withhold tweets of a neo-Nazi group in Germany, and it recently blocked Russian users from seeing an account operated by an ultranationalist Ukrainian group.
[Source: The New York Times]