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China Targets Qualcomm With Antitrust Probe

Perhaps to celebrate the anniversary of last year’s U.S.-China telecoms showdown, Beijing has launched an antitrust probe into U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm.

The announcement comes on the heels of comments from Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs in which he told The Wall Street Journal that the company was “definitely seeing increased pressure” in China because of the United States’ history of handcuffing Chinese tech companies and because of ongoing NSA revelations.

Last October, Congress said that Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE shouldn’t be allowed to work on U.S. communications networks because of security concerns. A few weeks after that, China announced that Cisco wouldn’t be working on its networks, and followed that up with state media reports lambasting Cisco’s lax security. That wave of media attacks took place one year ago this week.

To be fair, the investigation into Qualcomm deals with anti-monopoly law, not security. That said, perhaps the Beijing-Washington-telecoms triangle of suspicion is becoming an early-winter tradition.

China is gearing up for next month’s launch of commercial 4G mobile services. Some analysts reportedly think the antitrust investigation is a way for China to boost the position of domestic players.

Qualcomm published a brief, we-will-cooperate-fully-etc. release announcing the investigation.


Thai Man Dies While Holding Charging iPhone

A 28-year-old man in Thailand died holding his iPhone while the device was charging, rekindling concerns that iPhones are dangerous — and perhaps fatal — if used while being charged.

The man had a burn on the left side of his chest, and his left hand was burned to the point of being stuck to the device.

Over the summer, there were reports that iPhone electrocutions had caused hospitalization and even death in China. To remedy the problem, Apple announced that it would exchange third-party chargers, which had been identified as a potential culprit for the injuries, for Apple-brand chargers.

Photos suggest that the late Thai man was not using a standard-issue charger.

[Source: Daily News via Tech In Asia]

Dutch Paper Reveals NSA ‘Sleeper Cells’

The NSA had an army of so-called “sleeper cells” that targeted some 50,000 networks worldwide by the middle of 2012, according to Edward Snowden leaks reported by Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

The sleeper cells weren’t human operations, but rather malware-infected computers that were controlled from afar. The malware could reportedly sit dormant on a computer for months before slurping up data.

In other Snowden-leaked news, South Korea and Singapore are in cahoots with the U.S. and Australia as part of a joint effort to tap undersea telecommunications links across Asia.

Secret Snowden documents contain a map showing that the U.S. and its “Five Eyes” intelligence posse — the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada — monitored high-speed fiber-optic cables at 20 locations worldwide.

[Sources:NRC viaThe Register andThe Age]

BlackBerry Shakes Up Management

Canadian smartphone maker Blackberry has shaken up its management team.

It’s probably not worth doing a roll call of all the changes, but the bottom line seems to be that the interim chief executive, John Chen, is maneuvering to drop the “interim” from his title.

BlackBerry recently laid off about 40 percent of its global workforce, so feel free to make “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” references.

[Source:The Associated Press]

Yahoo Makes Katie Couric Global News Anchor

Yahoo has hired ABC News’ Katie Couric to be “the face of Yahoo News,” according to a Tumblr post from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

Couric will reportedly continue hosting ABC’s daytime talk show Katie and moonlight at Yahoo.

Her title at Yahoo will be global news anchor, according to AllThingsD.

[Sources:Yahoo and AllThingsD viaCNN]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author ofThe Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out hisECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.

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