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Technology 5 October 2020

The Week in Internet News: Judge Blocks U.S. TikTok Ban

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

No deal: A U.S. judge has temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s order to ban Chinese app TikTok from the Apple and Android app stores, CNBC reports. Trump has argued that the app is a security risk. Oracle and Walmart are in talks to buy a piece of TikTok’s U.S. operations as a way to appease Trump, though it appears that there’s disagreement with Chinese owner ByteDance over the outlines of a deal.

Breaking up is hard to do: The Hill has commentary about Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok and WeChat, another Chinese app, saying these are “only the most recent signs that the once open, global internet is slowly being replaced by 200, nationally-controlled, separate internets.” Trump’s efforts follow a long-term Chinese government drive to create a walled off Internet inside its own borders.

It’s nice to share: The European Union is preparing new regulations that would require large tech companies to share their customer data files with smaller competitors, Euronews says. An early draft of the Digital Services Act says companies like Amazon and Google “shall not use data collected on the platform … for [their] own commercial activities … unless they [make it] accessible to business users active in the same commercial activities.”

Paying for news: Google plans to pay news publishers across the globe $1 billion over the next three years, Al Jazeera reports.  A new product called Google News Showcase will launch first in Germany, and it then will be rolled out in Belgium, India, the Netherlands and other countries. About 200 publishers in Argentina, Australia, the U.K., Brazil, Canada, and Germany have signed up.

The case of the disappearing alerts: The U.K. government’s COVID-19 app sends out alerts to smartphones, but some alerts have been vanishing quickly, the BBC reports. In some cases, the app is warning users of possible exposure, then not offering more information.

Other options: Some cities in Massachusetts are exploring municipal broadband services because of poor Internet service, WGBH reports. About one-third of the households in Worcester lack broadband, and 18 percent have no Internet access at all, in some cases because they are in dead zones without coverage.

The U.S. Administration’s move to ban TikTok and WeChat for U.S. app stores is a direct attack on the Internet. Read the Internet Society’s statement on this extreme measure.

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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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