Tag Archives: Apple

Tech Treason: U.S. Tech Giants Intel, Microsoft, Ge Providing “Direct Support” to Chinese Military, Chicom State Security Apparatus

JD Heyes
February 8th, 2022

If America loses a future war to China or even a major battle, we will have some of the largest U.S. technology companies to blame for it, according to a just-released report.

The Washington-based advocacy group Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VoC) and Horizon Advisory consultant group note in their report that eight major U.S. firms are providing “direct support” to the ChiCom government’s military and state security apparatuses.

“In their endeavor to capture Chinese markets and boost their bottom lines, American corporations have increasingly supported Beijing’s military modernization, surveillance state, domestic securitization, and attendant human rights violations,” the report said.

The groups looked at eight American companies that operate in China — Amazon, Apple, Dell, Facebook, GE, Google, Intel and Microsoft — in a search for business links “that may directly or indirectly support China’s state surveillance, military modernization, and human rights violations.”

And though all of the firms analyzed by the report had a questionable history of doing business with Chinese state-owned corporations, the groups documented in their report that GE, Intel and Microsoft, in particular, gave “direct support” to either the Chinese military or the ChiCom state security apparatus, The Epoch Times reported.

The outlet noted:

It is no secret that American companies are supercharging the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Establishment media has hinted at the prevalence of business deals favoring CCP authoritarianism for years. The new report does, however, add new detail to just how pervasive the trend is.

Indeed, the companies involved are reported to have helped the CCP implement its militarization of Chinese society at the highest levels.

“Apple and Intel leadership have met multiple times with top brass at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), a leading Chinese state entity charged with implementing Beijing’s military-civil fusion strategy, which channels technological innovations developed or acquired in the private sector toward the Chinese military,” the report said.

“Military-civil fusion strategy” refers to the mobilization of Chinese society in order to take part in the “great rejuvenation” of the country via the modernization of the ChiCom’s military branch, the People’s Liberation Army. Under the strategy, all tech development by civilian companies occurs with an eye towards being able to apply it for a dual-use military purpose. As such, that is a problem for any U.S. or Western firm that wants to locate to China and do business there, including tech development.

“For companies intentionally partnering to develop technologies with military corporations, however, the threat to the United States, as well as to Chinese civil liberties, is something more severe,” The Epoch Times reported, adding: “Partnerships and engagements with Chinese regime entities that support the PLA and state surveillance efforts, however, are far from rare, as the report detailed.”

U.S. firm Intel is especially exposed.

“Intel’s exposure exceeds that of other companies surveyed in this effort,” the report said. “Intel invests in Chinese high-tech and military-civil fusion companies, potentially fueling them with both capital and access to technology. Intel has taken no action to curb or terminate such problematic relationships.”

Similarly, GE was found by the organizations to have been heavily engaged in tech partnerships with state-connected Chinese firms including those serving the Chinese military-industrial sector.

“[GE’s] partnerships appear to involve technology-sharing, including with core players in China’s military, military-civil fusion, and surveillance system,” the report said.

“Those partnerships have … granted military-tied Chinese players positions of leverage in GE’s supply chains, critical to both America’s national security and its manufacturing base,” the report said.

“And GE’s operations and partnerships in China systemically expose it to risks associated with forced labor and other human rights atrocities in the country.”

The groups also noted that American companies are blatant hypocrites regarding their U.S. and China-based operations.

“US corporate players have no problem saying one thing in the United States while doing (and saying) something different in China,” the report said.

“Such hypocrisy is particularly flagrant when it comes to digital privacy: Companies like Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Intel that stress information security in the U.S. also abide by Chinese regulatory requirements for storing and handling data,” the report continued.

“This jeopardizes the information, and therefore security, of users in China who oppose the regime, as well as of global users.”

China is America’s biggest competitor and future enemy – much more so than Russia.

German Anti-Cartel Agency Targets Google, Warns Amazon, Apple, and Facebook They Could Be Next

Jack Davis, The Western Journal
January 8th, 2022

The German government’s antitrust office has announced that Google meets its standard for regulation, a step toward possible action against the Big Tech giant.

“The Federal Cartel Office can now tackle concrete forms of behavior that harm competition,” office president Andreas Mundt said, according to Reuters. “We have already started looking more intensively at Google’s processing of personal data and the topic of Google News Showcase.”

The decision means that over the next five years, Germany can investigate Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company.

The website TechCrunch called the action “as significant as it is unexpected.”

Germany’s FCO said in a release that “Google is of paramount significance for competition across markets.”

“The company has an economic position of power which gives rise to a scope of action across markets that is insufficiently controlled by competition,” the agency said.

Mundt said Google is not alone.

“We are vigorously conducting other proceedings against Amazon, Apple and Meta, formerly Facebook,” he said.

A Google spokesperson said the company has done nothing wrong.

“We are confident that we comply with the rules and, to the extent that changes are necessary, we will continue to work constructively with the FCO to find solutions that enable people and businesses in Germany to continue to use our products,” the spokesperson said.

The FCO began probing Google’s use of personal information in May, followed in June by looking at the selection of news offered in its Google News Showcase.

Germany’s move comes as French officials fined Facebook and Google more than 200 million euros, about $226 million, saying the companies made it too difficult to avoid being tracked online, according to The Hill.

The two tech giants “offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies,” but they do not provide an option to “easily refuse the deposit of these cookies,” a data privacy watchdog announced in fining Google 150 million euros and Facebook 60 million euros.

“Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them,” the group said.

“The restricted committee considered that this process affects the freedom of consent: since, on the Internet, the user expects to be able to quickly consult a website, the fact that they cannot refuse the cookies as easily as they can accept them influences their choice in favor of consent,” it added.

In Europe, websites must ask users before tracking them, according to The Associated Press.

Facebook, Google, and Snapchat Are Bypassing Apple’s APP Tracking Transparency and Still Collecting Data on Users

Downloading “free” apps onto devices more often than not allows app providers to collect personal data on users.  Of course, companies that manufacture and sell devices tend to collect personal data on users too (see 12345).  Having access to this data allows companies and providers to analyze users’ habits and preferences so they can market additional products and services to them.  They can also sell users’ data to 3rd parties.  This practice is sometimes referred to as “Surveillance Capitalism.” 

 As more customers are becoming aware of this, more want to be able to “opt-out” of privacy-invasive data collection.  Companies aren’t necessarily making this easy though.  Recently Verizon was exposed for automatically enrolling its customers into a new program that scans users’ browser histories.  Facebook, Google, and Snapchat are now also being exposed for continuing to collect data on without users’ knowledge or consent.

From Apple Insider:


Snap, Facebook using loopholes to bypass App Tracking Transparency

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

A new report is bringing to light additional details on how platforms like Facebook and Snap are working around Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to collect data.

Following a recent report that Snap and Facebook were skirting App Tracking Transparency (ATT) using a loophole in the feature’s guidelines, The Information on Friday detailed the quiet workarounds that the social media platforms were using.

More specifically, the companies are using a loophole in ATT guidelines to continue collecting aggregated user data. This is because the guidelines bar tracking users and linking “user or device data” between different apps I services, but they don’t specifically define “linking.”

As a result, even though nearly 80% of iOS have opted out of cross-platform tracking, app developers are taking advantage of the “wiggle room” to share data that could be leveraged to identify users later. Snap, for example, is using a workaround that it has dubbed “Advanced Conversions” to receive detailed data from advertising companies about the activities of individual iOS users.

The Information claims that the data allows Snap to gauge ad efficiency, even if a user has asked an app not to send that data to Snap. Although this data — which includes whether a user saw an ad and what they did on an app afterward — is encrypted, Snap can reportedly analyze the results and deliver ad efficiency information to advertisers.

Despite the fact that this is technically tracking users, Snap doesn’t believe that it’s violating App Tracking Transparency.

According to The Information, both Facebook and Google are using similar methods to glean data on iOS users. Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment from the outlet, while Google said it uses iOS user data in a way that it believes is compliant with Apple’s guidelines.

Apple has previously warned developers and advertisers from attempting to bypass ATT, stating that companies must comply with the feature’s guidelines or risk expulsion from the App Store.

In a statement, Apple said that its ATT feature has “received strong support from privacy advocates and regulators.” It added that “a user’s data belongs to them and they should get to decide whether to share their data and with whom.”


SOURCES:

https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/12/10/snap-facebook-using-loopholes-to-bypass-app-tracking-transparency

Facebook, Google, and Snapchat Are Bypassing Apple’s APP Tracking Transparency and Still Collecting Data on Users

Congress Turns Up Heat on Big Tech CEOs

IVAN PENTCHOUKOV 
July 29, 2020

The men heading four of the largest tech companies in the world faced hours of questioning from lawmakers on Capitol Hill on July 29 as part of an investigation into whether their companies have grown too powerful.

The chief executive officers from Apple, GoogleAmazon, and Facebook defended their company practices, although the format of the hearing allowed little time for substantive discussion on a range of complex issues. 

The hearing capped a yearlong congressional investigation into big tech’s alleged anti-competitive tactics and stifling of innovation, among other issues. Lawmakers sought to determine whether decades-old antitrust laws should be revised to address the realities of the digital age, which the four companies dominate.

“When the American people confronted monopolists in the past—be it the railroads and oil tycoons or AT&T and Microsoft—we took action to ensure no private corporation controls our economy or our democracy,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in his opening statement. “We face similar challenges today.”

The congressional investigation is one of several inquiries into the tech firms’ practices. The Trump administration, federal regulators, and the Justice Department are looking into the four companies’ businesses. In September last year, the attorneys general in 50 states and territories opened an antitrust probe of Google’s advertising business. Apple is facing scrutiny in the European Union over its App Store practices.

The scrutiny intensified on July 29 after President Donald Trump said he would take matters in his own hands if Congress fails to deliver a legislative solution.

“If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders. In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!” the president wrote on Twitter.

The July 29 hearing marked the first congressional appearance of Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and the world’s richest man. In opening remarks, he underlined his humble roots as the son of a single mother in high school. 

Some of Amazon’s third-party vendors have accused the online retail giant of using internal data to copy-cat successful products. Critics also argue that the company has virtually cornered the online market in several product categories, especially books. 

Bezos countered the concerns by pointing out that the company faces intense competition, including from companies that have adopted its successful third-party marketplace platform. There are now 1.7 million small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon’s marketplace around the world, he said.

Bezos devoted a substantial portion of his speech to the collateral benefits of Amazon’s growth and wealth, including profits for the shareholders, large-scale innovation, and charitable works.

“More than 80% of Amazon shares are owned by outsiders, and over the last 26 years—starting from zero—we’ve created more than $1 trillion of wealth for those outside shareholders. Who are those shareowners? They are pension funds: fire, police, and school teacher pension funds,” Bezos said in written testimony.

In its bipartisan investigation, the Judiciary subcommittee collected testimony from mid-level executives of the four firms, competitors, and legal experts, and pored over more than a million internal documents from the companies. 

Cicilline has called the four companies monopolies, although he says breaking them up should be a last resort. He also said that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, “these giants stand to profit” and become even more powerful as millions shift more of their work and commerce online.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, is faced with questions that range beyond the topic of market competition. His platform’s role as a place to share views and ideas has become the target of conservatives, who say they are singled out for censorship. Recently released undercover videos by investigative journalism outfit Project Veritas show Facebook moderators saying they delete everything conservative and pro-Trump.

“Big Tech is out to get conservatives,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

In the meantime, the company is under pressure from liberals to delete so-called “hate speech” and information on controversial topics.

“We believe in values—democracy, competition, inclusion, and free expression—that the American economy was built on,” Zuckerberg said in written testimony.

“Ultimately, I believe companies shouldn’t be making so many judgments about important issues like harmful content, privacy, and election integrity on their own,” he added. “That’s why I’ve called for a more active role for governments and regulators, and updated rules for the internet.”

Zuckerberg has said Facebook aims to allow as much free expression as possible unless it causes imminent risk of specific harm or damage.

European regulators have concluded that Google manipulated its search engine to gain an unfair advantage over other online shopping sites in the e-commerce market, and fined Google, whose parent is Alphabet Inc., a record $2.7 billion. Google has disputed the findings and is appealing.

“Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in his written testimony. “Competition in ads—from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Comcast, and others—has helped lower online advertising costs by 40% over the last 10 years, with these savings passed down to consumers through lower prices.”

Apple, whose iPhone is the third-largest seller in the world, faces EU investigations over the fees charged by its App Store. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said lawmakers have learned over the course of the investigation that Apple doesn’t share its criteria for approval for the app store and that the rules are “arbitrarily interpreted and enforced.” 

 Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company treats every developer the same.

“We have open and transparent rules,” Cook said. “Those rules apply evenly to everyone.”

Apple’s App Store opened with 500 apps and has grown to 1.7 million today, according to Cook. The App Store business supports more than 1.9 million American jobs, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov