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Chinese tech regulations morph U.S. firms’ course of action

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U.S. Big Tech legion seems to be torn between two economic powerhouses.

In a battle for dominion between the East and the West, Big Tech companies are forfeiting from the Chinese market to prevent getting caught in the conflict, except for Apple, according to the BBC.

Last week, Microsoft announced news of shutting down its professional network platform, LinkedIn, in China, despite the giant’s resumable operations in the country. The choice made came after compliance with Chinese authorities became quite an ordeal for the company to sustain. 

With the ever-growing emergence of regulatory scrutiny on tech companies in China, U.S.-based enterprises are finding it challenging to accommodate the governmental demands, and Apple is encountering a list of obligations owed to the government.

According to the BCC, last week, the iOS developer witnessed the removal of two vigorously powerful applications from its App Store in its Chinese market. Later, news surfaced that Amazon’s Audible, and Yahoo Finance were also extracted from the store.

The mogul’s Apple Censorship group disclosed that recently, the company observed an extensively high rate of applications being removed from its store.

One cannot help but marvel at the reasons behind these tactics adopted by the Chinese authorities against the American Big Tech giant and if the time is of significance to China’s plan to surpass U.S. influence in the tech market.

In the last couple of months, Beijing has been tightening its scrutinizing hold on the tech industry. A factor paraded in Microsoft’s and Apple’s domestic battle with the Chinese authorities amidst regulatory ripple on the innovative sector.

If we look closer, last months’ event led by the country’s harsh regulation on its own Big Tech firms, such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei, left U.S.-based companies subjected to similar behavior, as China grows exasperated from all the supremacy forged from tech companies.

“The crackdown suggests that both Apple and Microsoft are very aware that their position is more tenuous than it’s been in recent years. They know they need to walk carefully,” author of The Great Firewall of China, James Griffiths, said in a statement.

Microsoft’s decision to extract LinkedIn from the Chinese market was mostly driven by law due for legislation on November 1st.

The personal Information Law (PIPL) forces these firms to abide by any regulation imposed on them. Meaning, the software developer will be “facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”

From there, immerges another riddle.

Why didn’t Apple follow in its Big Tech fellow’s footsteps? Why can’t the iPhone parent extract its manufacturing plans from the Chinese market?

The answer is simple. For Apple, it is not a plain black and white scenario, as it is with Microsoft’s LinkedIn.

The company’s manufacturing operations are embedded deeply into the country’s market, more than any other Big Tech company. This product integration into the Chinese market increases demands for products.

Apple’s 2021 second quarter (Q2) revealed a $15 billion revenue in China and Taiwan alone, marking a phenomenal figure compared to other tech companies since the iOS developer’s global supply chain relies heavily on Chinese manufacturing.

For this reason, Apple is comprehensively aware that it must comply with the powerhouse’s rules, even if it would force censorship to its Apple Store.

Although Beijing’s broadening dominion on tech firms might highlight some red flags in reference to the country’s view on the industry, it does not mean that China is extensively monitoring and fixating its gaze at U.S.-based tech firms.

China clearly wants global tech firms to abide by its set of rules, as it is rightfully valid for a rising reign to impose authorities on expanding tech influence on its territory.

“The Western media is wearing tinted lens when they say China is over-regulating. The U.S. should think more about whether its own government is setting the restrictions too high in its exchanges with China, especially for those high-tech enterprises,” a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, Li Haidong, told the Global Times. 

Beijing’s desire to push lucrative tech companies to abide by Chinese laws on its province will force American firms to fasten their adaptation to the latest adjustment to the country’s market.

With U.S. empowered restrictions on China, one cannot deny that time would eventually come for U.S. Big Tech firms to be affected by their country’s harsh tactics on Chinese firms.

In this case, China could either be retaliating against U.S. sanctions or simply exacting regulatory tech authority on its turf. Or it could be both.

Daryn is a technical writer with thorough history and experience in both academic and digital writing fields.

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UK to block Facebook parent Meta’s $315M acquisition of Giphy

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It is expected that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will reverse Facebook parent company Meta’s purchase of Giphy in the coming days, according to the Financial Times.

 If that happens, it will mark the first time that the country’s competition regulator has unraveled a major tech acquisition.

Meta (Facebook previously) announced in May 2020 that it bought the GIF platform with the goal of rolling it into Instagram. Reports set the price of the deal at $400 million.

As such, Meta has previously argued that because Giphy doesn’t have any operations in the UK, the CMA has no jurisdiction in this case. In addition, it claimed Giphy’s paid services couldn’t be classed as display advertising according to the CMA’s market definition.

“After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat,” Holly Vedova, acting head of the U.S.’ Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) competition bureau, said in a statement.

The FTC filed a revised complaint against the firm just weeks after a judge threw out its original case in June. The judge had accused federal regulators of failing to provide enough evidence that Facebook created a monopoly in the social networking space.

The CMA opened an investigation into the deal the following month after it raised concerns about the acquisition. The regulator declared in August that the deal could prevent rivals such as TikTok and Snapchat from accessing Giphy’s library of GIFs, as well as removing a potential competitor to Meta in the UK advertising sector.

Meta ended Giphy’s paid ad partnerships, which the CMA said ceased the company’s ad expansion, including to other countries. Also, the watchdog suggested Meta could be forced to sell the service, having until December 1st to publish its final decision.

The UK regulator fined Meta, in October, more than $67.2 million for a “major breach” of an order to remain separate from Giphy during its investigation. The fine was the largest ever handed down by the agency. This step was taken after the regulator accused Meta of “consciously refusing to report” information about the merger.

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Australia plans laws to make social networks identify trolls

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In a step meant to set restrictions on social media platforms, the Australian government is planning to introduce laws that force social media platforms to “unmask” online trolls despite experts saying it will do little to reduce online abuse.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed plans for legislation that could force social networks to reveal the identities of trolls and others making defamatory comments. A complaint mechanism would require online platforms to take these hostile posts down, and if they don’t, the court system could order a given site to provide details of the offending poster.

“Digital platforms, these online companies, must have proper processes to enable the takedown of this content. There needs to be an easy and quick and fast way for people to raise these issues with these platforms and get it taken down,” Morrison said on Sunday afternoon.

The PM’s announcement of the anti-troll social media legislation comes two months after he said social media platforms were a “coward’s palace” and declared that they would be viewed as publishers if they are unwilling to identify users that post foul and offensive content.

In addition, the proposed laws would also make it mandatory for social media platforms to have a standardised complaints system that allows defamatory remarks to be removed and trolls identified with their consent.

As such, Digital Rights Watch executive director Lucie Krahulcova, made some remarks regarding these laws, saying they are not focused on pursuing people who libel, malign, harass, or commit similar crimes online.

“They’re not actually very excited about enforcing [existing laws] on behalf of women, people of colour, and historically I think there’s plenty of evidence of that in Australia,” Krahulcova said.

The laws, if passed, would also redirect the liability for potential defamation from organisations running a social media page to social media platforms instead.

Federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash explained the attempt to shift defamation liability is in response to the recent Voller High Court case, which set a legal precedent where Australians who maintain social media pages could be publishers of defamatory comments made by others on social media even if they did not know about the comments. Since the ruling, media outlet CNN disabled its Facebook page in Australia.

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Nissan investing in electric vehicles, battery development

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Nissan investing in electric vehicles, battery development

Nissan said Monday it is investing 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) over the next five years and developing a cheaper, more powerful battery to boost its electric vehicle lineup.

The Japanese automaker’s chief executive, Makoto Uchida, said 15 new electric vehicles will be available by fiscal 2030. Nissan Motor Co. is aiming for a 50% “electrification” of the company’s model lineup, under what Uchida called the “Nissan Ambition 2030” long-term plan. Electrified vehicles include hybrids and other kinds of environmentally friendly models other than just electric vehicles.

The effort is focused mainly on electric vehicles to cut emissions and meet various customers’ needs, said Uchida. Nissan also will reduce carbon emissions at its factories, he added.

The company has been struggling to put the scandal of its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn behind it. Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, after he was sent to Japan by French alliance partner Renault, was arrested in Tokyo in 2018 on various financial misconduct charges.

Uchida made no mention of the scandal but referred to “past mistakes” he promised won’t be repeated at Nissan.

Nissan’s “electrification” rests on developing a new ASSB, or all solid state battery, that it categorized as “a breakthrough” for being cheaper and generating more power than batteries now in use.

That means electric powertrains can be more easily used in trucks, vans and other heavier vehicles because the batteries can be smaller. The ASSB will be in mass production by 2028, according to Nissan.

The costs of electric vehicles will also fall thanks to the battery innovation to levels comparable with regular gasoline cars, Uchida said.

“Nissan has emerged from a crisis and is ready to make a new start,” he said.

All top automakers, including Nissan’s Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp., are working on electric vehicles, amid growing concern over climate change and sustainability. Global consumers are also demanding more safety features.

Uchida said Nissan was hiring 3,000 engineers to strengthen its research, including digital technology for vehicles.

Nissan, based in Yokohama, Japan, has suffered recently from the computer chips shortage that’s slammed all automakers because of lockdowns and other measures at chip factories to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The maker of the Infiniti luxury models, Leaf electric vehicle and Z sportscar is projecting a return to profitability for the fiscal year through March 2022 after racking up two straight years of losses.


TOKYO (AP)

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