Tech Letter

Straightforward Tech Reporting

Page 2 of 20

Chinese regulations now require buyers of SIM cards have their faces scanned, in addition to providing an official ID

Constant surveillance in an effort to control the population.

Lily Kuo, writing for The Guardian »

All mobile phone users in China registering new SIM cards must submit to facial recognition scans, according to a new rule that went into effect across the country on Sunday.


The measure, described by the ministry of industry and information as a way to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace”, makes Chinese mobile phone and internet users easier to track.

Already, mobile phone users are required to register SIM cards with their identity cards or passports and many telecoms had begun scanning customers’ faces since last year. Many social media platforms also require users to sign up with their “real-name identities” via their phone numbers.

Read the whole article in The Guardian »

More » Reuters, BBC, Engadget, Bloomberg, The Next Web, SlashGear, Taiwan News, Android Authority

This weekend only » Apple News+ offering three month free trial

Apple »

This weekend only, get a 3 month free trial of Apple News+ and enjoy full access to hundreds of magazines and leading newspapers.

RCS ‘exposes literally hundreds of millions of people, without asking them, without telling them’

Security researchers at SRLabs are sounding the alarm that telecos are implementing the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard in ways which allow phone networks to be attacked.

Joseph Cox, writing for Vice’s Motherboard »

SRLabs estimated RCS is already implemented by at least 100 mobile operators, with many of the deployments being in Europe. SRLabs said that all the major U.S. carriers—AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon—were using RCS.

SRLabs didn’t find an issue in the RCS standard itself, but rather how it is being implemented by different telecos. Because some of the standard is undefined, there’s a good chance companies may deploy it in their own way and make mistakes.

“Everybody seems to get it wrong right now, but in different ways,” Nohl said. SRLabs took a sample of SIM cards from a variety of carriers and checked for RCS-related domains, and then looked into particular security issues with each. SRLabs didn’t say which issues impacted which particular telecos.

Read the whole article at Motherboard »

More » SRLabs, The Verge

[Updated – 2] Both Apple and Google have complied with Russian demands, changed maps, and show the annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russia

Update 2 – NY Times quote (below) added November 28, 2019

Update » TechCrunch (below) states both Google and Apple show the Crimean peninsula as part of Russian territory.

Russian-backed armed forces forcibly invaded the Crimean peninsula and seized the territory from Ukraine. They are actively at war in Crimea, killing Ukrainians.

Increasingly, foreign powers have been able to dictate how large American companies operate.


Russian forces annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, drawing international condemnation.

The region, which has a Russian-speaking majority, is now shown as Russian territory on Apple Maps and its Weather app, when viewed from Russia.

But the apps do not show it as part of any country when viewed elsewhere.

The Mercury News » Ukraine slams Apple for labeling Crimea part of Russia in apps 

Ukraine said on Wednesday Apple did not “give a damn” about its pain, after the U.S. tech giant began referring to the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russia in its Maps and Weather apps for Russian users.

Russia and Ukraine have both been highly sensitive to the way global companies identify Crimea, since Russian troops seized the territory and Moscow annexed it after a referendum that Kiev and its Western allies say was illegal.

Devin Coldewey, writing for TechCrunch »

Global politics are difficult to navigate ordinarily, but in times of conflict companies that aim to provide an unbiased service, such as a map or search function, may have to come down on one side or another. Apple just came down at least partly on the side of Russia in its controversial annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and Google has accommodated Russian interests as well.


While the controversy surrounding these events are ongoing (indeed, the events themselves are too, in a way), companies like Apple and Google don’t have the luxury of waiting for history’s judgment to do things like update their maps.

Both, for instance, until recently labeled locations in Crimea as being part of Ukraine. But Russia has made official complaints to the companies and warned them that it is considered a criminal act to refer to Crimea as other than a Russian territory. Now both companies have made concessions to Russian demands.

Andrew Higgins, writing in the NY Times »

“Our situation with Apple has now been resolved,” Vasily Piskaryov, the chairman of the security and anticorruption committee of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said on Wednesday. “We see that everything has happened the way we wanted it.”


Leonid Levin, the head of the Duma’s Information Policy Committee, told the news agency that Apple “has demonstrated a wish to preserve and develop its position on the Russia market.” He added that the company’s decision “to bring the state of its cartographic services into compliance with the requirements of the legislation of Russia can only be welcomed.”

Ukraine Foreign Minister, Vadym Prystaiko on Twitter »

More » The Verge, CBC, Engadget, The Mac Observer


Canadian Privacy watchdogs finds that BC’s AggregateIQ broke federal and provincial data privacy laws after collecting personal info from US and British voters

Karin Larsen, writing in the CBC News »

Victoria-based AggregateIQ Data Services broke Canadian and B.C. privacy laws in work it carried out on behalf of the 2016 pro-Brexit Vote Leave campaign, as well as political campaigns in the U.S. and Canada, according to findings by the B.C. and federal privacy commissioners.

According to the reort, AIQ failed to obtain adequate consent for use and disclosure of the personal information of voters, which was used to produce microtargeted political ads.

It also said that AIQ “failed to take reasonable security measures” to protect personal information it collected in a database containing the names and contact information of 35 million people.

At a news conference, B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy and Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien said even though AIQ works globally, it still must follow Canadian and B.C. privacy laws.

More » Canadian Press video, Globe & Mail, Times Colonist

[Updated] Twitter to remove inactive accounts in an effort to free up usernames

Updated » Twitter pauses plan to delete inactive accounts – Axios

These guys know where it’s @ » Jason Scott of the Internet Archive offers a process to keep a copy of the tweets of dead users.

Chris Merriman, writing for The Inquirer »

Electronic sulking forum Twitter has announced an unprecedented cull of dormant accounts, as it frees up some tasty Twitter handles that you wish you’d thought of first.

The cull will apply to all accounts that haven’t been accessed in over six months, as of 11 December 2019. Users that aren’t ready to give up access to @1direction4eva and @reggienbollie2win just need to do is log in to that account and the clock will stop.


It’s thought that the cull will destroy countless ‘bot’ accounts as well as unloved human-led ones, and it’ll be interesting to see if the drop in user numbers that will inevitably come, goes down well with investors, ever keen to find and increase Twitter’s bottom-line.

More » BBC, The Verge, International Business Times, CNet, SlashGear, TechCrunch

Data privacy, it’s argued, will be the most important issue in the next decade. But is it already too late?

In this article, Mary Meehan is taking the pro business side of the consumer’s data usage and the anticipated legislative framework.

I argue that once we give up and lose control of our personal data and are profiled by these companies, it will be increasingly difficult to regain privacy in the future.

Mary Meehan, CEO of Panoramix Global, writing for Forbes »

Information, data privacy and security concerns are a persistent trend that we’ve been reporting on nearly every year since computers started booting up. And now, the economic stakes, social consequences and technology get more and more serious and complex. Privacy issues used to be centered around evading online activity trackers as they follow you around with ads for things you don’t want (or do you?). Now exposed as central to all too many political and ethical scandals, data privacy has become one of the defining social and cultural issues of our era.


Until now, consumers have been willing to lend their data (or have unknowingly given it away) to get convenience or information in return. Once they fully realize the consequences of this bargain they will be looking to government and business to safeguard data and hand control back to them, the customer.

Business needs to start thinking now about how to counteract the fear and distrust flooding the marketplace. Can you provide verifiable solutions, traceability and transparency? How will businesses balance upholding privacy concerns without annoying users with privacy notifications and too many restrictions?


RISC-V Foundation overseeing promising chip technology will soon move from Delaware to neutral Switzerland over concerns about potential U.S. trade restrictions

This is nerdy, but also possibly the start of an important trend. RISC-V is getting more and more popular.

The non-profit RISC-V Foundation sets standards for the promising semiconductor architecture. Over 325 companies and entities use the RISC-V standards, including U.S. and European chip suppliers such as Qualcomm Inc and NXP Semiconductors.

Stephen Nellis and Alexandra Alper, writing for Reuters »

The nonprofit RISC-V Foundation (pronounced risk-five) wants to ensure that universities, governments and companies outside the United States can help develop its open-source technology, its Chief Executive Calista Redmond said in an interview with Reuters.

She said the foundation’s global collaboration has faced no restrictions to date but members are “concerned about possible geopolitical disruption.”

From around the world, we’ve heard that ‘If the incorporation was not in the U.S., we would be a lot more comfortable’,” she said. Redmond said the foundation’s board of directors approved the move unanimously but declined to disclose which members prompted it.

More » The Register

Related » Semiconductor Engineering » RISC-V Markets, Security And Growth Prospects

Ryan Reynolds just bought Mint Mobile

Ryan Reynolds likes Mint Mobile so much that he bought it.

“While every other tech titan is off chasing rockets, I’ll corner the budget-friendly wireless sector. Like most people, I only use rockets 10-12 times a year but I use my mobile service every day.”

— Ryan Reynolds

November 25, 2019 Press Release

Mint Mobile, the wireless company offering carrier-grade service for a fraction of the cost, today announced actor, writer, producer and mobile phone enthusiast Ryan Reynolds has purchased an ownership stake in the company.

“It’s a bit unconventional which is why I like it,” said Reynolds. “Celebrities generally invest in high-end products like skincare brands or delicious gin companies. Yet Mint is making wireless way more affordable at a time when the average American is paying 65 dollars a month. I’m excited to champion a more practical approach to the most essential technology.”

“Mint Mobile’s consumer-centric approach and maniacal focus on generating consumer value has kicked Mint into hyper-growth mode,” explained Mint’s CEO David Glickman. “It’s fitting that the most disruptive wireless company is now owned by the most innovative marketer on the planet.”

Mint is able to offer premium wireless for as little as $15 a month by having no retail overhead costs and an innovative consumption model.

In connection with the investment, Reynolds will help with Mint’s communications and marketing efforts as well as strategic decision-making.

About Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile is a mobile wireless provider that offers the absolute best prices for talk, text and data plans in the USA, on one of the nation’s most advanced 4G LTE high-speed network with no contracts and no overages. The service was developed in 2016 for the savvy internet shopper who is looking for wireless service at incredible value. With Mint Mobile’s Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) program, customers can get Mint Mobile service instantly on their unlocked phone or they can buy the latest iPhone or Android with Mint Mobile Service, directly from

Indian-made iPhones will be exported

Apple is diversifying it’s manufacturing base.

India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said today that Apple will expand operations in the country and confirmed previous reports that phones made in the region will be exported.

Ben Lovejoy »

Some Indian-made iPhones will be exported for sale in other countries, the government said today.

An unconfirmed report had previously suggested that a small number of iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 models were being exported from India to Europe, but the statement is the first official confirmation that this is part of Apple’s plans for the country…

Apple initially started with iPhone SE production in India for local sale, but it has been gradually expanding its assembly capabilities in the country. Reports indicate that at least five different models are being made in India:

iPhone SE
iPhone 6s
iPhone 7
iPhone X
iPhone XR

Read the whole article at 9to5Mac »

More » Reuters, AppleInsider, Times of India


Reuters » Apple supplier Salcomp to invest $279 million in new Indian plant

Finland’s Salcomp, a supplier to U.S. tech group Apple, is to invest 20 billion rupees ($278.67 million) in India to make mobile chargers and other smartphone components from March 2020, the country’s technology minister said on Monday.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2019 Tech Letter

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑