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Technology 31 August 2020

The Week in Internet News: U.S. Moves Closer to Banning Chinese Apps

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossGuest AuthorTechnology Reporter

Shopping for video: As U.S. President Donald Trump pushes for a ban of TikTok unless it’s sold by its Chinese owner, Walmart has joined Microsoft in a bid for the short-video sharing app, CNBC reports. TikTok is reportedly nearing an agreement to sell its U.S., Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand operations for $20 billion to $30 billion.

Boycotting an app ban: Another Chinese app that’s been targeted by Trump is WeChat, but the Chinese foreign ministry has suggested that consumers in the country could boycott Apple if the U.S. takes action against WeChat, The Straits Times says. Apple, as a large U.S. company, seems to be a convenient target for Chinese consumers.

An East/West split: As others have warned, an official with the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre has suggested that the Internet may split into a Western version and a Chinese-led Eastern version if Trump moves forward with a ban of Chinese apps, the Independent reports. A split could raise concerns about Western technology keeping up with the East, the official says.

Spy vs. hacker: New Zealand’s government has turned to its intelligence agency to thwart a sustained, multi-day cyberattack on the NZX stock exchange, Bloomberg reports. Security intelligence firm Akamai has warned that extortionists claiming to be the Russian-linked hacking group Fancy Bear have been sending ransom letters to finance, travel, and e-commerce companies in the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S., and the U.K. These letters demand payments to stop attacks.

Troubled by tracking: Some Google engineers were “troubled” by the way the company secretly tracked the movements of people who didn’t want to be followed before a 2018 Associated Press investigation uncovered the surveillance, reports the Associated Press at The concerns were detailed in unsealed documents in a consumer fraud case filed by Arizona’s attorney general. “Location off should mean location off, not except for this case or that case,” one engineer wrote in an internal document.

More Internet for schools: An educational startup founded by a Harvard student is focused on bringing Internet access to students in countries where services are sparse, reports. Harvard student Shawn Shivdat was inspired to bring educational resources to his father’s home country of Guyana, in South America.

Read the Internet Society’s statement on the U.S. Clean Network Program.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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