Huawei will help build Britain’s 5G network, despite security concerns

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has signed off on letting Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei help build “non-core” parts of the country’s 5G infrastructure, including antennas and other network components, according to The Telegraph. The decision was made today by the National Security Council, of which May is the chair, and has drawn considerable criticism from other UK politicians who fear Huawei’s supposed ties to the Chinese government may open British citizens, companies, and government agencies to cyberattacks and other forms of espionage.

GHCQ head Jeremy Fleming, who has warned against cyberthreats from China and Russia in the past, is said to have given a speech in Glasgow, Scotland today to members of the intelligence agencies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US warning against such threats from foreign adversaries, according to The Telegraph. Other members of GHCQ have expressed concern over use of Chinese telecommunications providers. But the organization’s official position appears to be that the threats can be managed and minimized due in part to Huawei’s involvement centering on “non-core” network infrastructure.

The decision is a notable departure from other members of the very alliance Fleming is said to have addressed today. The Trump administration has tried pressuring allies to stop using Huawei equipment after banning domestic government agencies and contractors from using the Chinese companies’ products in official work capacities. Australia and New Zealand have both banned Huawei products from working on domestic telecom infrastructure projects in the respective countries, while New Zealand has gone so far as to prevent a domestic company from using Huawei equipment as part of its country-wide 5G rollout.

The White House was mulling over an executive order that would do the same as of December of last year. When Trump announced a new 5G spectrum auction earlier this month, he was silent on the administration’s position on imposing a trade ban on Chinese telecom equipment, but it is reportedly still on the table.

As is the case with most Chinese companies, Huawei denies any involvement with its country’s government and claims the reach of the PRC does not extend beyond China’s borders. However, there is ample evidence that China, alongside Russia and Iran, have spent years reportedly attacking foreign military and corporate infrastructure to steal trade secrets and to spy on competing country’s national and business-related efforts. As a result, the specter of the Chinese government has hung over almost all dealings with the country’s biggest players, including entertainment and social network behemoth Tencent, search engine Baidu, consumer electronics giant Xiaomi, and massive telecom component suppliers like Huawei and ZTE.

Nonetheless, Huawei is fighting the US government ban on its products in court by attempting to prove the ban is unconstitutional. When contacted by The Verge last month, a number of US security experts and policymakers weighed in on whether Huawei posed a national security risk if it were to participate in the country’s 5G infrastructure expansion.

“Huawei is a Chinese state-directed telecom company with a singular goal: undermine foreign competition by stealing trade secrets and intellectual property, and through artificially low prices backed by the Chinese government,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told The Verge. “The Communist Chinese government poses the greatest, long-term threat to America’s national and economic security, and the US must be vigilant in preventing Chinese state-directed telecoms companies, like Huawei and ZTE, from undermining and endangering America’s 5G networks.”

Similarly, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said, “There is ample evidence to suggest that no major Chinese company is independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party — and Huawei, which China’s government and military tout as a ‘national champion,’ is no exception.” Warner thinks allowing Huawei to contribute to the US’s 5G infrastructure “could seriously jeopardize our national security and put critical supply chains at risk.”

Security, legal, and policy experts polled by The Verge were less outright critical of Huawei and its potential involvement with the Chinese government and voiced concern about the lack of evidence. But some, like Syracuse University Professor William Synder and OpenVPN CEO Francis Dinha, said it’s reasonable to consider Huawei a threat considering the future implications of 5G networks that are built with inherent vulnerabilities. “Even if Huawei is not committing the sort of crimes for which a US grand jury indicted it, any company that supplies such a large percentage of the market for components of telecommunications networks and has such ties to the People’s Liberation Army is a threat,” Synder writes.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Avengers: Endgame — our spoiler-free review

Spoiler notice: this review expressly doesn’t spoil any specific plot points in Avengers: Endgame whatsoever, but does discuss general themes, ideas, and cast members.

It’s been just over a decade since Marvel Studios launched its flagship franchise of interconnected comics-inspired movies with 2008’s Iron Man, and even now it’s difficult to begin to evaluate how much that franchise has changed the face of filmmaking. After 10 years, 21 films, nearly a dozen television shows, countless tie-in comics and games and merchandising options and viral videos, and billions upon billions of dollars in earnings, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the Holy Grail that every major studio is questing after, usually with little success. The MCU films have set off a mania for interconnected multi-platform franchises and multi-film arcs, not to mention a still-growing tide of superhero stories in every possible medium.

But while Marvel has expressly laid out a number of formulas that its competitors have struggled to imitate — from its highly specific mix of action and fact-paced snippy humor to its frequent, unapologetic visual and narrative nods to the most obsessive fans in its midst — it’s also beginning to break those formulas. Spider-Man: Homecoming followed up on the international hero-on-hero warfare of Captain America: Civil War with a personal little neighborhood story that dialed the MCU stakes way back and reset expectations for the franchise. Thor: Ragnarok placed its story in the hands of Taika Waititi, a comedian with a distinctively deadpan sensibility, and introduced indie-style emotional improv to the superhero world. Avengers: Infinity War let the heroes lose, and lose big — even killing off many of the series’ flagship characters at the end.

But nothing so far has broken the Marvel formula quite like Avengers: Endgame, which follows Infinity War by diving deep into the previous film’s feeling of emotional loss and helplessness, exploring it at length, and then expanding into something that isn’t so much a Marvel story as a series of calculated payoffs for a decade of Marvel stories.

Hero movies have a longstanding bad habit of faking a character’s tragic death for a few seconds of pathos, then immediately taking it back — and Marvel’s parent company, Disney, has a particularly bad track record with this trope, going all the way back to 1937. Avengers: Endgame puts the brakes on that by finally taking its own sweet time in exploring how heroes might deal with grief, loss, survivors’ guilt, and the pervasive feeling of failure. The crowded cast means that no one character gets much time to fully examine their feelings, but directors Anthony and Joe Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely make it clear that they’re all thinking about individual people who died in Infinity War, and how to navigate a future without them.

Endgame spends so much time on these thoughts that it winds up turning into an extended superhero take on Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta’s excellently weird HBO series The Leftovers, about survivors navigating the wake of a mass worldwide disappearance. Endgame’s tone is mostly deeply somber — even when the protagonists formulate a plan and start taking steps, they’re grim and angry. The most purely comic-relief characters barely get out a few dark, barbed chuckle lines along the way, and many of the action scenes are brief and abortive. On top of that, the narrative ends up splitting to put a wide selection of characters in different places, chasing goals in ways that don’t always convey urgency. There’s a lot of downtime to consider the ramifications of their moves, or to explore personal sidetracks that drop the momentum off to nothing.

All of which leaves Endgame feeling like an odd mess of a movie. If an film with this exact structure and pacing (and 181-minute run time) was made with original characters, critics would eviscerate it as self-indulgent, sloppy, and incoherent. Viewers would probably meet it with the kind of cult love and mass indifference that greeted similarly ambitious, effects-packed, narratively sprawling projects like Jupiter Ascending or Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

But these aren’t original characters. They’re beloved heroes who’ve been built up in the public eye for so long that anytime they cover new emotional ground, it can feel more significant than whatever the latest magical McGuffin or fight for the future of the universe might elicit. Generally, when a superhero glowers and grimaces and can’t express any emotion but fear and anger, it feels frustratingly familiar. But when endlessly striving Captain America (Chris Evans) or smart-mouthing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) or swaggering god of thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are reduced to that state, it feels like the world really has shifted in a meaningful way. And even for those who haven’t followed those characters closely for the past decade, there are places where Endgame can feel like Inception, with the mind-bending sense of a dozen equally important (but not equally urgent) things happening all at once.

And Endgame’s filmmakers pack their story with payoffs for the longest-term fans, reminding them how well they know these characters’ existing emotional arcs and deep-seated insecurities, and drawing those ideas out at length. Tony Stark’s constant war between arrogance and a heavy sense of responsibility, Thor’s buried insecurities, Steve Rogers’ deep-down ache for everything he lost when he was jolted out of his own time — they all get some screen time, ramped up to new heights by the latest crisis.

Inevitably, not everyone gets an examination worth having, or a storyline that lives up to the 10-year buildup. Sidekick characters like Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) get plenty of screentime without doing anything new. Primary characters like Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) are key to the action in ways that become actively frustrating as they don’t develop past their familiar baselines. And the most-changed character, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), goes through yet another significant evolution in his Hulk history, without ever contending with what the latest changes mean in this story, or could mean in future stories.

And yet. The shadow of Infinity War is a stark, dark one, and Endgame only has one real job: to move the MCU forward past Infinity War’s climactic horror. Every moment of Endgame feels like it was made with that in mind — to convey the audience past the shock and into grief, anger, and hope. It was made for the kind of fans that will collectively gasp in shock at every significant twist (and there are a few huge ones), then cheer in relief at every climactic blow for the future integrity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With that in mind, Endgame doesn’t just play as a wild tangle of interacting plotlines and self-indulgent personal rabbit holes for these characters. It plays as an endless series of payoffs, in some cases for long arcs — like Tony Stark’s standoffish, dismissive relationship with Spider-Man (Tom Holland), whom he starts the film mourning in a passionate, personal way — and in other cases, for the tiniest of passing jokes from other MCU movies. The entire film is constructed of callbacks, references, reminders, and reminiscences. It’s full of catharsis for its characters and its audience, sometimes through immense battles, sometimes through elaborate low-key conversations between characters, and sometimes through tiny, abrupt moments. It feels like an anniversary project, a look back through the ol’ MCU scrapbook, and a big collective group hug after Infinity War.

Endgame was never designed to stand on its own as a single well-crafted movie, and it was never designed to follow the MCU formula. It was designed to cap a decade of buildup around a single gigantic story. (Even if Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has confirmed that Endgame isn’t the final film in this arc — the upcoming Spider-Man: Far from Home is.) In that sense, it’s certainly a triumph: it’s ambitious, towering, and above all, daring in its difference.

Much like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it will inevitably anger some viewers, who won’t get the specific payoffs they wanted. And it’ll lose some viewers entirely, either through its tangled storylines, or its dedication to dark, sad emotions instead of the triumph that usually comes with superhero stories. But for a certain brand of fan, the ones that care about who these characters are, where they started, and what they’ve become over time, this is going to be an experience like nothing else they’ve seen onscreen. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has started a lot of studios down some dark roads, chasing franchise money at the expense of everything else. But at least Feige and his teams can say this: they’ve made some movies that no one else could get away with making.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Jack Dorsey met with President Trump in private today to discuss the ‘health’ of Twitter

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, according to a new report from Motherboard. The meeting was prompted by the White House in emails first obtained by Motherboard and reported earlier today.

These emails said that the meeting would last 30 minutes meeting and take place behind closed doors. A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge, “Jack had a constructive meeting with the President of the United States today at the president’s invitation. They discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis.”

President Trump confirmed the meeting in a tweet saying, “Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!”

For months, Twitter and other social media platforms like Facebook have faced intense scrutiny from Republicans who believe that they are being silenced online. Late last month, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) chaired a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on “tech censorship” and hammered officials from Twitter and Facebook over alleged bias. Only two Democrats showed for the hearing, and Republicans spent most of their time questioning the platform officials over individual situations where they believed their speech was silenced or they were “shadowbanned,” which is when a platform decides not to make public any posts from a user without informing them of the restriction.

No actual data was part of the discussion, and their points wholly relied on anecdotal evidence. Dorsey replied in the email chain concerning the meeting saying, “As you know, I believe that conversation, not silence, bridges gaps and drives towards solutions.” He continued, “I have met with every world leader who has extended an invitation to me, and I believe the discussions have been productive, and the outcomes meaningful.”

In March, Trump made comments outside of the White House during a press conference with the president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro after they met. A reporter for the Daily Caller asked Trump how he felt about this perceived conservative bias online. Trump said that Republicans “have to do something” to combat it.

At the press conference, Trump said, “I have very many, millions of followers on Twitter and it’s different than it used to be. Things are happening. Names are taken off. People aren’t getting through.” He continued, saying, “Something’s happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter and I do think we need to get to the bottom of it. It’s very fair. It’s collusive and it’s very, very fair to say that we have to do something about it.”

He has also made a variety of statements critiquing the platform for alleged bias on his Twitter account. In a tweet, Trump said, “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join – they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all.”

The Fox News Twitter account has been dormant since last November in an apparent boycott after show host Tucker Carlson was doxxed. Activists from a group called Smash Racism D.C. showed up outside of his home accusing him of promoting hate and, according to The Washington Post, “an ideology that has led to thousands of people dying.”

Co-founder Biz Stone seemed to make light of the controversy on Twitter in a tweet, saying “I’ve got a meeting today that could result in division. I’m letting you know so you don’t hear it from someone else first.” He continued, “I’m volunteering at a grade school math center. I’m hoping both parties will learn from the exchange.”

Updated 4/23/19 5:18 p.m. EST: Included a statement from Twitter on the meeting.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Snap makes a comeback after the release of its rebuilt Android app

Snap is heading in the right direction again. The company revealed in its earnings release today that its daily user base has grown by 4 million people globally. It now has 190 million daily active users, up from the 186 million people who had consistently been using the platform for the last two quarters. This updated number is still 1 million people short of Snapchat’s peak user base since it went public in 2017, but this is still good news for Snap.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said in prepared remarks that the platform reaches more 13- to 34-year-olds in the US than Instagram, but didn’t elaborate on why or how its user base suddenly grew. He says Snapchat reaches 75 percent of 13- to 34-year-olds and 90 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds.

Snap had a big quarter that involved not only major product updates, but also the awaited release of its rebuilt Snapchat Android app. The Android app doesn’t have any UI or navigation changes, but it is designed to be faster and less buggy. It’s been in the works for years and talked about on most prior earnings calls. Spiegel says within the first week of upgrading the app, there was a 6 percent increase in the number of people sending Snaps. This clearly was an essential release and might make the app more enticing to people around the world, especially considering that there are billions of Android devices in use.

Last month, Snap also held its first partner summit in Los Angeles where it showed advertisers, reporters, and creators all the things they could do with the platform. It showed that Snapchat stories would come to Tinder and Houseparty; Snap ads will appear in other developers’ apps; it’s building a video game platform and a roster of original programs; and that it developed new AR filters that make the Eiffel Tower puke rainbows.

Today and at the summit, Spiegel said these changes could keep users on the platform for longer and keep them more engaged. With these big platform changes and a continued focus on ad products, Snap might have a resurgence.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Apple claims it isn’t scanning customers’ faces, after teen sues for $1 billion

Apple is being accused of using facial recognition software in its Apple Stores to arrest the wrong person for theft — a New York student who’s now suing Apple for $1 billion. And while Apple tells The Verge it doesn’t use facial recognition technology in its stores, the case is weird enough, and there’s enough wiggle room, that it’s not clear if that’s the whole truth.

Ousmane Bah, 18, claims in a lawsuit that he was incorrectly identified as the robber in several Apple Store thefts across multiple states, but denies that he’s the person in the photo that accompanied the warrant for his arrest. Backed by surveillance footage and the testimony of a detective, district attorneys in New York and Boston have already dropped the charges against Bah, the lawsuit states. (He is still being accused of larceny in New Jersey in a pending case, according to the document.)

According to the lawsuit, NYPD detective John Reinhold first noticed that Bah “looked nothing like” the suspect in the surveillance video of a Manhattan Apple Store that was robbed. According to the lawsuit, the detective then explained that Apple’s security technology identifies suspects of theft using facial recognition technology.

When we reached Reinhold on the phone for comment, he agreed that Apple doesn’t technically have facial recognition in its stores, but also that his statements as described in the lawsuit were correct. He declined to answer further questions, but it’s worth noting that the second defendant on the lawsuit, Security Industry Specialists, might explain the contradiction — it could have been that company which used facial recognition to analyze security footage after the fact, and possibly outside of Apple’s facilities.

SIS Security doesn’t explicitly mention Apple as a client on its public website, but the third-party firm seems to have a long working relationship with Apple, and a 2016 employee handbook hosted at its website specifies Apple as a client.

The lawsuit states that Bah was presented with a police report which claimed a SIS loss prevention employee caught him stealing Apple Pencils on security video from a Boston Apple Store. Allegedly, Apple initially claimed it didn’t have surveillance video, but eventually produced the footage, according to the lawsuit.

Bah claims that he couldn’t have attempted the Boston theft because he’d been attending his senior prom in Manhattan at the time, but speculates the real thief could have stolen his information from a learner’s permit he’d previously lost — one which didn’t have a photo.

The lawsuit tries to justify the $1 billion claim by alleging that Apple and SIS caused harm to Bah by their wrongful actions, including causing him to be arrested by the NYPD at his home in four in the morning, forcing him to miss school and a midterm exam, which then hurt his grades. The suit claims Apple was negligent, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and defamed and slandered Bah, among other charges.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source