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VR Could Be the Most Powerful Teaching Tool Since the PC

VR Could Be the Most Powerful Teaching Tool Since the PC

If we've said it once, we've said it a Snow Crash-load of times: Virtual reality is much more than a gaming technology. In fact, VR has the makings of a pedagogical silver bullet. Developers can simulate just about anything in a headset, from the rings of Saturn to the aqueducts of the ancient Roman empire. And a lot of studies have shown that VR creates stronger memories than content you view on a computer screen or via other visual aids. With new self-contained headsets on the market like the Oculus Rift S, which do away with finicky external tracking sensors, it's easier than ever to integrate them into a classroom environment. They might not work with Chromebooks yet—but it's only a matter of time.

$399

Styling Anna Raben

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Original author: Peter Rubin
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Bananas in Crisis, Aggressive Social Spiders, and More News

Bananas in Crisis, Aggressive Social Spiders, and More News

Hurricanes are fueling a rise in aggressive spiders, the end of the banana could be near, and Bugatti has released a $9 million car. Here's the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.

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Today's Headlines

Colonies of aggressive, social spiders boom after a hurricane

While most species of spider are solitary creatures, some—like the Anelosimus studiosus—live in colonies of hundreds of individuals. Some of these are aggressive and bold—wildly coming out to attack whatever is caught in their webs—while others are more docile. But extreme weather like hurricanes is wiping out the more docile ones, leaving only the most aggressive ones behind—who repopulate the colonies with their also-aggressive young.

A fungus could wipe out the banana forever

A deadly fungus that has decimated Southeast Asian banana plantations for 30 years has now done what scientists feared most. It has moved in to Latin America, the heart of the global banana market. Earlier this month the Colombian Agricultural Institute declared a national state of emergency and began quarantining plantations to avoid a complete market collapse.

Fast Fact: 1,600 Horsepower

That's the power of the two combined V8 engines in Bugatti's latest creation: the Centodieci. It goes from 0 to 62 mph in 2.4 seconds, and reaches 186 mph in 13.1 seconds. Drooling yet? You'll only need a cool $9 million to pick one up.

WIRED Recommends: The Best Gaming Mice

Our reviewers know how personal a gaming mouse can be—everyone's game preferences, playing styles, and hands are different. So WIRED has put together a list of the best mouse for each type of gamer.

News You Can Use

Here's how to make sure you're taking the best pictures with your phone.

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Original author: Alex Baker-Whitcomb
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China Attacks Hong Kong Protesters With Fake Social Posts

China Attacks Hong Kong Protesters With Fake Social Posts

In response to widespread pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, the Chinese government launched an online disinformation campaign casting the protesters as members of ISIS and cockroaches, according to disclosures made by Twitter and Facebook on Monday. Since the two social networks are blocked on mainland China, the propaganda efforts appear designed to influence perception of the protests overseas. Solidarity demonstrations backing Hong Kong have taken place around the world in recent weeks, and some have been met by counterprotests supporting Beijing.

Twitter announced Monday it had removed over 900 accounts it believes were established by the Chinese government, which were “deliberately and specifically" attempting to sow political discord and undermine "the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.” The accounts were part of a much larger network of around 200,000 accounts Twitter took down before they were "substantially active" on the service.

Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a blog post that the company had similarly removed five Facebook accounts, seven pages followed by a total of around 15,500 people, and three groups with a combined 2,200 members that an investigation found had links to the Chinese government.

One of the Facebook posts Facebook believes originated from China.

Both Twitter and Facebook also ran paid advertisements from Chinese state-run media agencies like China Daily, Xinhua News, and CGTN, which discredited the protesters or painted them as disruptive, according to investigations from Buzzfeed News and Gizmodo. After the reports came out, Twitter announced it would no longer accept advertising from “state-controlled news media entities.”

A spokesperson for Twitter said the policy changes had been in the works for a while, and were not a direct response to the Chinese ads. Two years ago, after it was discovered the Russian government had crafted a misinformation campaign intended to influence the 2016 US presidential election, Twitter restricted Russian state-owned news outlets RT and Sputnik from advertising on its platform. The social network said at the time that the ban would not apply to other advertisers.

Twitter’s new policy won’t affect “taxpayer-funded entities,” including public broadcasters like NPR in the US and the BBC in the UK, as well as outlets that are solely dedicated to entertainment, sports, and travel coverage. The Twitter spokesperson also said that Voice of America, a US state-owned media organization primarily viewed by foreign audiences, is also exempt, since it has independent oversight.

According to Facebook's Ad Library—a tool anyone can use to view Facebook advertisements about social issues or politics—ads from China Xinhua News and CGTN, a Chinese language news channel, were still active as of Monday afternoon. One accused a Hong Kong activist of asking the European Union to intervene in the city, while another quoted an Australian tourist saying that Nancy Pelosi, the US House speaker, “should fly to Hong Kong to see what the true facts are instead of watching media coverage.”

"We continue to look at our policies as they relate to state-owned media," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to WIRED. "We’re also taking a closer look at ads that have been raised to us to determine if they violate our policies.”

Beijing has also sought to control how citizens on the mainland view the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. On Weibo, one of the largest social networks in China, one of the top topics on Monday was “Remove the mask,” a hashtag created by People’s Daily, a state-run newspaper. It criticizes the Hong Kong protesters for covering their faces, Manya Koetse, a researcher who monitors Weibo, said on Twitter.

One of the tweets Twitter identified as having originated from China.

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, meanwhile, have launched a crowdsourced advertising campaign of their own, and placed ads in outlets around the world, including The New York Times and Canada’s Globe and Mail, calling for the world to stand with them.

Protests in Hong Kong first erupted earlier this summer over a bill that would have made it possible to extradite people to mainland China, which many people feared would be used to persecute dissidents. That bill was later suspended by Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, but protesters want it fully withdrawn. Organizers estimate that over 2 million people have participated in the protests to date, and Hong Kong's airport was briefly shut down last week when demonstrations took place there.

Social media has long been a battleground for government propaganda efforts. Just this year, Facebook has removed other coordinated inauthentic behavior it believes originated in India, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, and elsewhere. Twitter has also removed accounts that it believes were crafted by many of the same governments. But Monday's disclosures indicate they still have a ways to go before misinformation efforts are identified before they attract an audience.

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Original author: Louise Matsakis
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You Can Jailbreak Your iPhone Again (But Maybe You Shouldn’t)

You Can Jailbreak Your iPhone Again (But Maybe You Shouldn’t)

At this point, Apple has locked iOS down enough that a full jailbreak—unlocking a device to install whatever you want on it—of current releases is extremely rare. When such a capability does exist, it's usually kept quiet and sold for millions of dollars by exploit brokers. But now, thanks to an apparent Apple gaffe, the latest version of iOS can be jailbroken at this very moment. There's even code to do it on Github.

As first reported by Motherboard, researchers discovered over the weekend that in its recent iOS 12.4 release, Apple had accidentally rolled back a patch that fixed a bug from iOS 12.3. As a result, it's possible to exploit the vulnerability to jailbreak iOS 12.4, making it the first current-version iOS jailbreak to be publicly disclosed in years.

"It’s really a surprise to see," says Will Strafach, a longtime iOS jailbreaker and founder of Sudo Security Group. "It's been so long since an up-to-date firmware could be jailbroken. But now that Apple knows, it won’t be for long. I expect an update within a few days." Apple did not return a request from WIRED for comment.

"It puts millions of iOS users at risk."

Patrick Wardle, Jamf

Jailbreaking allows iOS users to add apps and other functions that Apple wouldn't normally permit to their iPhones. iOS has rigid limitations that are at least partly meant to protect users from malicious apps, but that also preserve Apple's control over the ecosystem. As a result, jailbreaking erodes some system protections, but it also allows users to break free from Apple's constraints.

Hacker Pwn20wnd posted a public version of the jailbreak on Monday that iOS users are already using to redesign the look of their iOS home screens and install unapproved apps. Researchers have warned, though, that jailbreaking potentially makes a device less secure, undermining protections that keep apps from reading each other's data, and opening the iPhone to potential attacks. An unscrupulous developer could even add functionality to an App Store-approved app that would trigger a jailbreak when a user installs it.

"This is rather inexcusable, as it puts millions of iOS users at risk," says Patrick Wardle, principal security researcher at the Mac management firm Jamf. "And the irony, as others have already noted, is that since Apple doesn't allow us to downgrade to old versions, we're really kind of sitting ducks."

Sudo Security's Strafach says that in detailed scans of the App Store he hasn't seen any such malicious behavior cropping up so far. But the threat remains, as does the risk that attackers might use other paths to compromise devices—tainted third-party apps, Apple's enterprise distribution certificates, or other remote exploits.

As a jailbreaking fan, though, Strafach also sees opportunities for exploration and insights that outweigh the risks. And he notes that as iOS has matured, jailbreaks have gotten harder to weaponize when they do crop up. But it's still not something to undertake lightly.

The bigger significance of the incident relates to longstanding tensions between Apple and the security research community. The company announced earlier this month that it was finally launching a Mac bug bounty, after introducing an iOS program in 2016. And Apple even said this month that it will distribute special iPhones that are less restrictive than their consumer counterparts to security researchers. But the company is also in the process of suing the mobile security testing firm Corellium for copyright infringement, because Corellium offers a virtual iOS build that researchers can test on remotely. Both Wardle and Strafach point out that Corellium's tool could have been used to catch the mistakenly reintroduced vulnerability in iOS 12.4.

"This shows that Apple continues to struggle with security—even on iOS which is clearly their priority," Wardle says. "And this was uncovered by an independent security researcher, which illustrates the value such researchers add. Apple's more communicative approach with their new bug bounty program is good, but their attempts to shut down researcher tools like Corellium are bad."

Whether you take the risk of jailbreaking your iPhone today or not, it seems like lately Apple is the one living on the edge.

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Original author: Lily Hay Newman
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Huawei founder details 'battle mode' reform plan to beat U.S. crisis

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China’s Huawei will spend more on production equipment this year to ensure supply continuity, cut redundant roles and demote inefficient managers as its grapples with a “live-or-die moment” in the wake of U.S. export curbs, founder Ren Zhengfei said.

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FILE PHOTO: Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei attends a panel discussion at the company headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

His remarks come as the United States said this week it will extend by 90 days a reprieve that permits Huawei Technologies to buy components from U.S. companies to supply existing customers, but it also moved to add more than 40 of Huawei’s units to its economic blacklist.

In a memo sent to employees on Monday loaded with military metaphors, 74-year-old Ren asked staff to work aggressively towards sales targets as the firm goes into “battle mode” to survive the crisis.

“The company is facing a live-or-die moment,” Ren, a former Chinese army officer, said in the memo, which was seen by Reuters. Huawei confirmed the contents of the memo.

“If you cannot do the job, then make way for our tank to roll; And if you want to come on the battlefield, you can tie a rope around the ‘tank’ to pull it along, everyone needs this sort of determination!”

Huawei is a key theme in a broader, year-long U.S.-China trade war, with Washington slapping it with the trade ban in May citing national security risks. Huawei, however, posted a 23% revenue jump in the first half, helped by strong smartphone sales in its home market.

Ren said in the memo, “In the first half, our results looked good, it is likely because our Chinese clients were sympathetic and made payments in time, the big volume made cash flow look good, this doesn’t represent the real situation.”

But he expressed confidence in Huawei’s full-year results and said it needs to “spend the money and solve the production continuity issue” by ramping up strategic investment on things including production equipment.

According to the memo, Huawei, which employs nearly 190,000 people around the world, is reforming its operation globally by granting more power to the frontline, cutting out reporting layers and eliminating inefficient posts.

“In 3-5 years time, Huawei will be flowing with new blood,” Ren said. “After we survive the most critical moment in history, a new army would be born. To do what? Dominate the world,” Ren said.

While Ren said in June the ban was worse than expected and that Huawei’s revenue may stay flat in the next two years, in the memo he called on staff to try their best in meeting the sales target outlined at the start of the year before the ban - which was to grow its revenue to around $125 billion from more than $100 billion in 2018.

He also warned of cash flow risk if receivables are not paid in time. He asked staff to be conservative in ensuring dues were paid in time by clients, because otherwise the lack of liquidity could be fatal to the company.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pompeo: 'No mixed messages' from U.S. on Huawei: CNBC

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the State Department in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday the United States was not sending “mixed messages” on Huawei Technologies and the Chinese telecommunications giant posed a national security threat to the United States.

“President (Donald) Trump’s been unambiguous; I don’t think there’s a mixed message at all,” Pompeo said in an interview with CNBC.

“The threat of having Chinese telecoms systems inside of American networks or inside of networks around the world presents an enormous risk, a national security risk,” he said.

The U.S. government blacklisted Huawei in May, alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.

The United States extended a reprieve that permits Huawei to buy components from U.S. companies to supply existing customers, the Commerce Department said on Monday, but it also moved to add more than 40 of Huawei’s units to its economic blacklist.

Trump, however, indicated over the weekend there would be no extension, saying what would happen would be the “opposite.” “We’re actually open not to doing business with them,” Trump said on Sunday.

Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without additional special licenses.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi misses estimates as competition hots up at home

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s Xiaomi Corp (1810.HK) reported 15% growth in quarterly revenue on Tuesday, missing estimates, as fewer people bought smartphones at home and rival Huawei grabbed market share.

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Xiaomi is seen outside the brand's store in central Kiev, Ukraine August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo

The company is weathering a bleak domestic smartphone market as economic growth in China slows and Chinese consumers rally in support of beleaguered rival Huawei.

Xiaomi’s stock has lost more than a quarter of its value so far this year.

The company’s revenue in the second quarter ended June 30 rose to 51.95 billion yuan ($7.36 billion) from 45.24 billion a year earlier.

That was short of the 53.52 billion expected by analysts, Refinitiv data showed.

Net income slumped 87% to 1.96 billion yuan. Still, adjusted profit of 3.64 billion yuan beat the 2.74 billion expected by analysts.

Xiaomi said total smartphone shipments in the second quarter rose to 32 million.

Huawei’s market share in China surged by 31% in the June quarter, according to market research firm Canalys, while Xiaomi’s share shrank plunged by a fifth. But Canalys reckons Xiaomi’s shipments to Europe surged 48%.

The company, which listed last year, gets the majority of its revenue from mobile handsets, but also makes money selling online ads and other consumer devices.

Huawei has received a lot of support from Chinese customers who are buying the company’s phones after it was blacklisted by the United States, limiting access to U.S. components and technology.

DIVERSIFICATION

Xiaomi’s internet services unit, which makes money primarily by placing ads across various apps, accounted for 8.8% of its revenue, flat from one year prior.

When Xiaomi listed in July 2018, executives touted the business unit as key to the company’s continued growth.

On an earnings call, leaders instead highlighted the company’s so-called “AIoT” strategy, short for “Artificial Intelligence of Things,” in which it invests in artificial intelligence and smart home devices.

The firm has invested in several companies making semiconductors or other key hardware components, trying to emulate the success of Huawei’s HiSilicon semiconductor division.

FILE PHOTO: Xiaomi branding is seen at a UK launch event in London, Britain, November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

In the second quarter, Xiaomi funded Verisilicon, a Shanghai-based chip design firm. It also invested in Bestechnic, which designs chips for audio devices.

Several of the companies in which Xiaomi has invested had recently listed on China’s newly-opened STAR market, including scooter-maker Ninebot, which acquired the Segway brand in 2015.

Xiaomi’s chief financial officer Chew Shou Zi said the investments stem in part from the company’s hopes to build a “Chinese supply chain”, while improving its internal research and development abilities.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz; editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Jason Neely and Jan Harvey

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Qualcomm strikes new licensing deal with LG

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FILE PHOTO: A Qualcomm sign is pictured at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai, China June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

(Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc said on Tuesday that it has entered into a new five-year patent license agreement with LG Electronics Inc to develop, manufacture and sell 3G, 4G and 5G smartphones.

LGE had said in June it was unable to narrow differences with Qualcomm and renew its chip license agreement.

Qualcomm in April also reached a surprise settlement that cleared the road for iPhones to once again use its modem chips, but its shares were hurt in July when Apple bought Intel Corp’s modem business for $1 billion.

Reporting by Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Humbled Deutsche Bank faces battle in its own backyard

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Online retailer Zalando is just the kind of fast-growing German business with foreign expansion plans that Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Christian Sewing needs to help drive the struggling lender’s recovery.

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Deutsche Bank is pictured on a company's office in London, Britain July 8, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

In an attempt to draw a line under years of scandals and heavy losses, Sewing is pulling back from investment banking and rebuilding Deutsche Bank’s (DBKGn.DE) corporate division by deepening existing relationships and attracting clients beyond its traditional blue-chip customers.

But when Deutsche has tried to expand its business with Zalando by offering to hold more of its cash for free, rather than charging a fee, Zalando (ZALG.DE) has declined.

The company, whose revenue has grown to 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in the 11 years since it was founded, wants to continue to spread its risk by leaving its cash with a wide range of institutions, sometimes for a fee.

“Deutsche Bank is a systemically relevant bank but, nevertheless, we see a possible risk and are trying to the best of our knowledge to mitigate the risk and to have a good sleep at night,” Dominika Kilka-Roth, who heads Zalando’s risk management, told Reuters.

Zalando’s stance indicates it could be a tough slog for Sewing, who wants corporate banking to be the soul of Deutsche Bank, just as it was when the lender was founded in 1870 a year before German unification.

Since Deutsche Bank embarked 20 years ago on its ultimately failed but costly drive to become a Wall Street trading powerhouse, a lot has changed in its domestic market.

A growing number of domestic and foreign banks muscled in on its business while it was distracted by its global investment banking ambitions, leaving a far more crowded German market now.

German lenders Commerzbank (CBKG.DE) and HVB, a subsidiary of Italy’s UniCredit (CRDI.MI), have been pursuing German corporate clients both large and small for some time and are bringing in more senior bankers to accelerate their push.

At the same time, foreign banks, including U.S. giants JPMorgan (JPM.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N), have been making inroads while Standard Chartered (STAN.L) recently set up shop across the street from Deutsche with a view to targeting German companies.

What’s more, ever since the financial crisis, German companies are more likely to use multiple lenders, making it harder for Deutsche to re-establish itself as a so-called Hausbank for German corporates.

Deutsche’s push also comes as Germany, which is Europe’s biggest economy, risks sliding into recession for the first time since 2013 after years of punishingly low interest rates.

On Friday, shares in Deutsche Bank hit a record low below 6 euros. In 2007, before the global financial crisis took hold, the shares peaked at above 90 euros.

‘LOST OUR COMPASS’

Earlier this year, the German government pushed for Deutsche to merge with cross-town rival Commerzbank to stabilize the lender. But the talks failed, leading Deutsche to announce its major revamp and corporate push last month.

Sewing recognizes Deutsche has lost ground but is determined to press on with his strategy to make the bank the go-to institution for company treasurers and to help more German companies become global powerhouses.

“This is the business Deutsche Bank was founded for, however, we have to admit that we lost our compass in the last two decades,” Sewing said in July. “Now we will make the business stronger than ever before.”

Deutsche plans to merge its corporate banking businesses across various divisions into one large unit, and target mid-sized German firms, known as the Mittelstand, as well as blue-chips.

Michael Schleef, Deutsche’s head of corporate banking in Germany, told Reuters there had been a 58% increase in incoming orders since Oct. 1, though he declined to give details. Calls and visits to clients were up 50% per banker after years of stagnation and the feedback was “very positive”, he said.

Deutsche is also planning to expand in new markets in eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, he said. “We aren’t feeling any uncertainty from clients.”

Mittelstand companies are the backbone of the German economy but have long felt neglected by Deutsche, turning to smaller rivals instead. Mario Ohoven, president of a federal association of Mittelstand companies, said a lot will depend on whether Deutsche approaches them as a partner, or an arrogant banker.

A big problem for Deutsche as it embarks on the new strategy is that it has been slipping down the German league tables.

So far this year, Deutsche has been absent from several major deals involving German firms. When chipmaker Infineon Technologies (IFXGn.DE) bought America’s Cypress Semiconductor (CY.O) for $10 billion - the biggest overseas deal by a German company in 2019 - it was advised by Credit Suisse (CSGN.S), Bank of America (BAC.N) and JPMorgan.

In the ranking for fees from mergers and takeovers involving German companies this year, Deutsche has slipped to sixth place, according to data from Dealogic. Deutsche had ranked among the top five banks since at least 2000, often in top spot.

Deutsche has slipped down the table for syndicated loans for German companies too, according to Dealogic. It still ranks first for their bond issues but its market share has plunged by two-thirds since 2000, the data shows.

Deutsche also dropped to sixth place from fifth in league tables for transaction banking between 2016 and 2018, according to Coalition, which analyses the banking industry.

And in a sign companies are spreading their business around more, 22 out of 27 German companies active in deals awarded a smaller share of fees to their primary bank over the past five years than in the previous five years, according to a Reuters analysis of Refinitiv data.

‘LONG JOURNEY’

The intensified competition at home is epitomized by the case of Duerr (DUEG.DE), a 120-year-old company that makes factory equipment for the auto industry.

In 2014, Duerr counted Deutsche among its seven main banks for a syndicated loan. In a new agreement this month, Deutsche is now one of 13, a wider circle that includes Bank of China (601988.SS), Dutch bank ING (INGA.AS), and JPMorgan.

“Nobody puts all eggs in one basket,” said Christian Aue, a vice president for corporate finance and treasury at Duerr.

Andreas Thomae of fund manager Deka, which is a large investor in Deutsche, said: “It is now extremely important for the bank that corporate customers accept the new strategy.”

“It will be interesting to see whether it can increase earnings in the division as planned. This will be a long journey,” he said.

As Zalando turned down Deutsche’s offer, its bankers tried to assuage the company’s misgivings, Kilka-Roth said, but to no avail.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Zalando.

The bank’s own data suggests Zalando is not the only corporate with doubts. Companies started reducing cash stored with Deutsche several years ago as the bank’s woes mounted, according to data from the bank’s annual report.

Company deposits, which primarily come from Deutsche’s transaction business, fell 8% between 2015 and 2018.

Narrower measures of short-term deposits from big customers - excluding deposits from banks and companies doing transaction banking such as cross-border payments - show an even steeper fall. Deposits with a maturity of less than a year, for example, fell 32% between 2015 and 2018.

Deutsche Bank disputed any suggestion the decline in deposits was related to customer concerns about the bank.

Instead, the drop is the result of an effort by Deutsche to convert deposits from large corporations into alternative investments to avoid negative interest rates charged by the European Central Bank, a Deutsche Bank spokesman said.

Deposits from smaller corporate clients have risen by double digits over the past three years, he said.

‘COMPLETE CONFIDENCE’

Regulators say the bank is on firmer footing than in 2016 when they feared it was on the brink of collapse after it became public it would have to pay a multi-billion dollar fine for its role in the U.S. mortgage crisis.

Then, some of Germany’s top industrial companies discussed taking a symbolic stake in Deutsche Bank to help it through its turmoil. But no action was taken.

Sewing, who became CEO last year, would now like to welcome anchor investors from corporate Germany, according to someone who has spoken with him. Deutsche declined to comment.

It is unclear how widespread Zalando’s stance is in Germany because few firms speak publicly about banking relationships.

RWE’s (RWEG.DE) finance chief Markus Krebber, for example, told Reuters the German energy company had “complete confidence in the strength and performance of Deutsche Bank and see it on the right path under its initiated restructuring”.

Deutsche’s corporate banking business already accounts for 5 billion euros in annual revenue, according to the bank’s calculations. Sewing said it should be able to increase that to 6 billion euros by 2022, “not by doing rocket science, but by simply reaping low hanging fruit”.

He pointed to the fact the bank already had relationships with all 30 companies in Germany's main DAX stock market index .GDAXI.

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Slideshow (2 Images)

“In the first half of 2019 alone, we facilitated payments worth more than 100 trillion euros,” Sewing said in July.

A recent survey from the consultancy Bain & Company, however, found revenues and profitability in the corporate banking sector are the lowest in Germany since the financial crisis due to increased competition.

“When we talk to our clients, they have very aggressive plans in the corporate banking space this year,” said Christian Graf, the report’s author and consultant to the banking industry.

Additional reporting by Edward Taylor, Hans Seidenstuecker and Patricia Weiss in Frankfurt and John Revill in Zurich; editing by David Clarke

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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China cries foul over Facebook, Twitter block of fake accounts

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday it had a right to put out its own views after Twitter and Facebook said they had dismantled a state-backed social media campaign originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong.

Twitter Inc said on Monday it suspended 936 accounts and the operations appeared to be a coordinated state-backed effort originating in China.

Facebook Inc said it had removed accounts and pages from a small network after a tip from Twitter. Facebook said its investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined direct comment on the Twitter and Facebook actions, but defended the right of Chinese people and media to make their voices heard over the Hong Kong protests.

Overseas Chinese and students “of course have the right to express their point of view”, he told a daily news briefing.

“What is happening in Hong Kong, and what the truth is, people will naturally have their own judgment. Why is it that China’s official media’s presentation is surely negative or wrong?” he added.

Twitter and Facebook have come under fire from users over showing ads from state-controlled media that criticized the Hong Kong protesters. Twitter said Monday it would no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news media, and told Reuters the change was not related to the suspended accounts.

Twitter and Facebook are blocked by the Chinese government from being used in the mainland, but are freely accessible in Hong Kong, where protests since June have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades.

Chinese media use foreign social media to communicate with people around the world to introduce them to Chinese policies and “tell China’s story”, Geng said.

“I don’t know why certain companies or peoples’ reaction is so strong,” he added.

The Hong Kong protests present one of the biggest challenges for China’s President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

FILE PHOTO - Logo of the Twitter and Facebook are seen through magnifier on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

They began in opposition to a now-suspended bill that would allow suspects to be sent to the mainland for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, but have since swelled into wider calls for democracy.

Social media companies globally are under pressure to stem illicit political influence campaigns online, especially ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November 2020.

A 22-month U.S. investigation concluded Russia interfered in a “sweeping and systematic fashion” in the 2016 U.S. election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Gao Liangping; editing by Darren Schuettler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Exclusive: WhatsApp in talks to launch mobile payments in Indonesia - sources

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) messaging service WhatsApp is in talks with multiple Indonesian digital payment firms to offer their mobile transaction services, in a bid to tap the nation’s fast growing e-commerce sector, people familiar with the matter said.

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FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop and mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Whatsapp logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Indonesia could become the second country worldwide where WhatsApp introduces such services, as it awaits regulatory approval from India, its biggest market by users, that has been delayed due to local data storage rules.

But unlike in India where it plans to offer direct peer-to-peer payment services, WhatsApp will simply serve as a platform in Indonesia supporting payments via local digital wallets due to tough licensing regulations, the sources told Reuters.

The Indonesia model could become a template for Whatsapp to adopt in other emerging markets to get around regulations on foreign players creating their own digital wallets, the sources said.

Indonesia, home to 260 million people and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is one of the top-five markets globally for Whatsapp, with over 100 million users.

The nation is set to see its e-commerce industry tripling to $100 billion by 2025, according to some estimates, but it also has some of the region’s strictest digital payments regulations.

WhatsApp is in advanced talks with several digital payments firms including ride hailer Go-Jek, mobile payments firm DANA, backed by China’s Ant Financial, and fintech startup OVO, which is owned by Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group and is also backed by ride hailing company Grab, the sources said.

Deals with the three firms are expected to be finalised shortly, the people said, declining to be named as the talks are private.

WhatsApp has also approached state-owned Bank Mandiri (BMRI.JK), which operates a digital wallet, they said.

The Indonesia plan comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this year that it would be rolling out WhatsApp payments to “some countries”.

“As Mark has said earlier this year... we are looking to bring digital payments to more countries,” a Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters.

“WhatsApp is in conversations with financial partners in Indonesia about payments, however the discussions are in early stages and we do not have anything further to share at this stage.”

Go-Jek declined to comment. DANA, OVO and Bank Mandiri did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

A spokeswoman for the Mandiri-backed e-wallet LinkAja said she could not confirm any talks with WhatsApp.

The service was originally planned to start at the end of 2019, but two sources said they expected it to be delayed by several months, as WhatsApp would not want to launch in Indonesia before India.

One source said WhatsApp would need to get a nod from regulator Bank Indonesia before proceeding. Bank Indonesia did not respond to requests from comment.

Reporting by Fanny Potkin and Ed Davies; Additional reporting by Singapore bureau; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Japan allows further exports of high-tech material to South Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) - Japan has approved shipments of a high-tech material to South Korea for the second time since imposing export curbs last month, two sources said, ahead of talks by government officials this week to resolve a dispute stemming from their wartime past.

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FILE PHOTO: A businessman walks near a cargo area at a port in Tokyo, Japan, March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Relations between the two U.S. allies worsened late last year when a South Korean court ordered Japanese companies to compensate some of their former laborers forced by the firms to work during World War Two.

In early July, Japan tightened controls on shipments to South Korea of three materials used in chips and displays, threatening to disrupt the global tech supply chain. Japan also announced a plan to remove South Korea’s fast-track export status from later this month.

The material cleared for Japan’s exports to Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) in South Korea is photoresists, which are crucial for the tech giant’s advanced contract chipmaking production, the people who were familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

A Samsung Electronics spokeswoman and a South Korean trade ministry spokeswoman declined to comment. A Japanese official in charge of the issue was not available for comment.

An official at South Korea’s presidential office confirmed the exports at a briefing, but said that “uncertainties” will remain until Japan completely removes the tighter export controls it has instituted.

“Tokyo’s latest export approval is positive for the local industry, but I don’t see Japan’s move as a conciliatory message to South Korea,” another South Korean government official told Reuters, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Earlier this month, Japan gave the green light to the export of photoresists to Samsung Electronics for the first time since it imposed the restrictions.

Samsung Electronics shares ended up 1.95% on Tuesday, leading the wider market's .KS11 gain of 1.05%.

CARBON FIBER

Japan’s latest move comes ahead a meeting between Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, in Beijing on Wednesday.

“This is a signal that Japan would not further escalate tensions. This is positive in that it creates an atmosphere for talks,” said Ahn Duk-geun, a international studies professor at Seoul National University.

But he said he does not expect a breakthrough in the stalemate, citing wide differences over how to resolve forced labor issue between the two neighboring countries. “I hope there will at least be a handshake,” Ahn said.

“We will have to actively express our position, but it is a very difficult (situation),” Kang said at an airport in Seoul on Tuesday before leaving for Beijing.

Separately, South Korean President Moon Jae-in pledged to nurture the local carbon fiber industry, as part of efforts to reduce dependence on Japan imports for high-tech materials.

Moon attended an event by South Korean firm Hyosung Advanced Materials (298050.KS) to announce a total of 1 trillion won ($828.55 million) investment by 2028 in expanding production of carbon fiber, one of the items potentially subject to tighter export controls and used to make parts of hydrogen cars and aircrafts.

Currently, South Korean firms rely on Japan’s Toray Industries (3402.T) and others for carbon fiber supplies, industry officials say.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by Yuna Park in SEOUL and Makiko Yamazaki in TOKYO ; Editing by Stephen Coates and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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China's Baidu beats earnings expectations, shares rally

(Reuters) - Chinese internet search giant Baidu Inc beat quarterly earnings estimates on Monday after signing more people up to its video streaming service, sending its shares higher in a relief rally.

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FILE PHOTO: Baidu's logo is pictured at the 2018 Baidu World conference and exhibit to showcase its latest AI technology in Beijing, China, November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Baidu reported a small 1% bump in revenue and a 62% drop in net profit for the second quarter, but the result was welcomed by investors who had feared worse amid a slowing Chinese economy and stiff competition from rivals like ByteDance’s TikTok.

Baidu’s earnings update followed reports from Alibaba and JD.com last week, which also beat expectations, showing how some tech giants’ diversification strategies might be helping stave off macroeconomic pressures.

Baidu’s video streaming service iQiyi was a key driver of the revenue bump as it crossed the 100 million subscriber mark in June, although there were some concerns about rising costs at the unit associated with winning and retaining viewers.

Baidu’s total revenue for the three months to the end of June rose to 26.33 billion yuan ($3.7 billion) from 25.97 billion yuan a year earlier, beating a forecast 25.77 billion yuan, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Baidu earned 10.11 yuan per American depositary share, compared with expectations of 6.12 yuan per ADS.

“It makes sense that Baidu beats the estimates because analysts have lowered their expectations to the minimum,” said Connie Gu, an analyst at BOCOM International, adding the market would need to see better-than-expected results for several consecutive quarters for more sustained confidence.

Baidu’s Nasdaq-listed shares rose over 9% in after-hours trading. The stock has plummeted more than 50% over the past year.

But there were some red flags at separately listed Netflix-like iQiyi, where shares tumbled by the same magnitude after a 20% jump in costs as the company spent more on content to entice subscribers undercut a 15% rise in revenue to 7.11 billion yuan.

STRUCTURAL PRESSURE

Baidu, whose search engine dominates the market in China, has been under pressure as factors such as U.S.-China trade tensions and tougher government regulation weighed on key revenue contributors like advertising.

Analysts said Baidu faced a longer-term structural problem, especially with the rise of new media platforms seeking to lure away subscribers.

“Competition from recently rising large-traffic platforms is becoming more and more fierce, with advertisers shifting budget to those platforms,” said Natalie Wu, an analyst at China International Capital Corporation.

While Baidu has been expanding into other business lines such as cloud services and mini programs within its Baidu App, most of its success so far has been at iQiyi.

Revenues at its core search-engine business dipped 2% during the quarter, while Baidu’s net income more than halved to 2.4 billion yuan.

FILE PHOTO: A sign of Baidu is seen on a glass at its booth during the Digital China exhibition in Fuzhou, Fujian province, China May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li warned employees in an internal letter on Tuesday that “severe external challenges and a weak macro environment” necessitated changes to the company’s personnel and business strategy.

“These changes will bring pain in phases, but will also bring positive and far-reaching effects, to allow Baidu to walk on more steadily and for longer,” he said in the letter seen by Reuters.

The company said no job cuts were planned when questioned about the personnel restructure.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru and Yingzhi Yang in Beijing; Editing by Brenda Goh and Jane Wardell

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Japan's Docomo to resume orders of Huawei P30 Pro smartphones

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The logo of NTT Docomo is seen at its flagship shop in Tokyo, Japan June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - NTT Docomo (9437.T) will resume taking orders of Huawei P30 Pro smartphones from Wednesday, the largest Japanese telco said on its website.

Docomo will join the list of other major Japanese carriers - KDDI Corp (9433.T) and SoftBank Corp (9434.T) - and resume sales of new smartphones from China’s Huawei Technologies.

The Japanese company had discontinued taking orders of new Huawei handsets in May after Washington blacklisted the Chinese manufacturer, alleging that Huawei is involved in activities contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.

The United States on Monday extended a reprieve that permits Huawei to buy components from U.S. companies to supply existing customers, but it also moved to add more than 40 of Huawei’s units to its economic blacklist.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Yoshiyasu Shida, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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Sony to buy 'Spider-Man' developer Insomniac Games

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Sony Interactive Entertainment is seen in Tokyo, Japan May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

(Reuters) - PlayStation console maker Sony Interactive Entertainment said on Monday it would buy privately held Insomniac Games Inc, known for developing games such as Marvel’s “Spider-Man” and third-person shooter “Ratchet & Clank” franchise.

The deal will help the console maker, a unit of Japan’s Sony Corp, boost its game offerings ahead of the launch of rival game streaming services from companies, including Alphabet Inc’s Google, and as it prepares to unveil PlayStation 5 next year.

In its bid to maintain market share in the $150 billihere global video gaming market, Sony in March partnered with main rival Microsoft Corp, the maker of Xbox game console, to stream games and content to consumers as well as offer game makers new development tools.

Founded in 1994, Insomniac Games has worked with Sony for more than 20 years, starting with the first PlayStation. Last year, it developed “Spider-Man” in partnership with Marvel Games, which is owned by Walt Disney Co. More than 13.2 million copies of the game have been sold as of end of July.

Insomniac will also release here Stormland, an action-adventure virtual reality game for Facebook Inc's Oculus Rift headset, later this year.

Sony did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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Exclusive: Fearing data privacy issues, Google cuts some Android phone data for wireless carriers

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc’s Google has shut down a service it provided to wireless carriers globally that showed them weak spots in their network coverage, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, because of Google’s concerns that sharing data from users of its Android phone system might attract the scrutiny of users and regulators.

The withdrawal of the service, which has not been previously reported, has disappointed wireless carriers that used the data as part of their decision-making process on where to extend or upgrade their coverage. Even though the data were anonymous and the sharing of it has become commonplace, Google’s move illustrates how concerned the company has become about drawing attention amid a heightened focus in much of the world on data privacy.

Google’s Mobile Network Insights service, which had launched in March 2017, was essentially a map showing carriers signal strengths and connection speeds they were delivering in each area.

The service was provided free to carriers and vendors that helped them manage operations. The data came from devices running Google’s Android operating system, which is on about 75% of the world’s smartphones, making it a valuable resource for the industry.

It used data only from users who had opted into sharing location history and usage and diagnostics with Google. The data were aggregated, meaning they did not explicitly link any information to any individual phone user. It included data relating to a carrier’s own service and that of competitors, which were not identified by name.

Nevertheless, Google shut down the service in April due to concerns about data privacy, four people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Some of them said secondary reasons likely included challenges ensuring data quality and connectivity upgrades among carriers being slow to materialize.

Google spokeswoman Victoria Keough confirmed the move but declined to elaborate, saying only that changing “product priorities” were behind it. Google’s notice to carriers when it shut down the service did not specify a reason, two of the four people told Reuters.

“We worked on a program to help mobile partners improve their networks through aggregated and anonymized performance metrics,” Keough said. “We remain committed to improving network performance across our apps and services for users.”

CLOSER SCRUTINY

The loss of Google’s service is the latest example of an internet company opting to end a data-sharing service rather than risk a breach or further scrutiny from lawmakers.The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, introduced last year, prohibits companies sharing user data with third parties without users’ explicit consent or a legitimate business reason.

U.S. and European lawmakers have stepped up their focus on how tech companies treat user data after a series of large-scale data security failures and the revelation that Facebook Inc improperly shared data on 87 million of its users with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

In April, Google shut down its Video Checkup service from its YouTube operation, which it launched in mid-2017 to let customers in Malaysia compare their provider’s streaming capability in a specific spot with other carriers. YouTube spokeswoman Mariana De Felice cited “relatively low user engagement” with Video Checkup for its retirement, which has not been previously reported.

Facebook has begun reviewing data deals with app developers and the four big U.S. wireless carriers recently stopped selling data on customers’ real-time locations to marketers and other firms.

WALKING TIGHTROPE

Internet companies now walk a tightrope in trying to generate revenue or improve their services by supplying user data to other companies because they risk compromising – or appearing to compromise – data privacy. And companies including Google and Facebook have curtailed access to data by outside companies over the past two years.

Google’s Mobile Network Insights service was not the only source of detailed customer data used by carriers to determine where cell tower upgrades are needed, but it was useful because of the sheer volume of Android phones in the market.

It was an “independent reference from the horse’s mouth, so you couldn’t get any better than this,” said Mushil Mustafa, a former employee at Dubai-based carrier du. “But the carriers have investment in other tools, obviously.”

Facebook offers a similar service, called Actionable Insights. Facebook appears committed to continuing the service but declined to comment when asked.

Data-sharing arrangements between tech companies became common over the past decade as the use of smartphones and apps exploded, but what data is collected and how it is shared is not always clear to users.

Companies often are not explicit about their data sharing. Google’s data policy that Android users agree to states that it may collect and share network connection quality information. Wireless carriers had not been specifically mentioned as recipients.

As users demand greater transparency, what constitutes a violation of consumer trust is not clear.

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FILE PHOTO: Google signage is seen at Google headquarter in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Facebook’s Actionable Insights service for carriers also includes information about users’ gender, age and other characteristics collected from its apps, which helps carriers spot demographic trends to target their marketing, but it does not tie data to specific individuals.

“We have publicly announced this program and carefully designed it to protect people’s privacy,” said Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne, in a statement.

Google said it shared neither aggregated nor individualized data on user demographics and app usage. The company rejected requests to give equipment vendors any data, it said.

Reporting by Angela Moon in New York and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Kenneth Li and Bill Rigby

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FTC chairman says Facebook's plan to merge brands may make it harder to split: FT

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FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration photo, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc’s plan to integrate Instagram and WhatsApp more closely could hinder any attempts to break up the social media giant, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons told the Financial Times on Monday.

Simons said all options were on the table as the FTC investigates Facebook for potential antitrust violations, but added that any attempt from Mark Zuckerberg to combine the social media company’s three major brands could complicate any case, according to the FT report.

“If they’re maintaining separate business structures and infrastructure, it’s much easier to have a divestiture in that circumstance than in where they’re completely enmeshed and all the eggs are scrambled,” Simons told the FT.

Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators around the world over data privacy practices and how its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram process personal data.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, and each is now used by more than 1 billion people.

Last month, Facebook said it would pay a $5 billion fine to resolve a government probe into its privacy practices and boost safeguards on user data.

The probe was triggered by allegations that Facebook violated a 2012 consent decree by inappropriately sharing information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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U.S. tech industry leaders: French digital service tax harms global tax reform

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major tech firms and U.S. tech industry groups said on Monday that France’s new digital services tax undermines the global tax regime and multilateral efforts to reform it.

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FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and major trade associations testified Monday against the tax at a hearing before the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and other government officials.

The French Senate in July approved a 3% levy that will apply to revenue from digital services earned in France by companies with more than 25 million euros in French revenue and 750 million euros ($838 million) worldwide.

“It does depart from even the outlines of what we expect out of the OECD,” said Daniel Bunn, director of global projects at the Tax Foundation, commenting on OECD-wide efforts to create a global agreement on taxing the digital economy.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the tax will generate revenue of approximately 500 million euros ($554 million) per year “a large majority of which will be paid by U.S. firms” and will cost U.S. firms millions to conduct “significant re-engineering of accounting systems to ensure that they can accurately assess” liability.

Major tech firms warned of increased costs.

“Unilateral measures like the DST are harmful to Facebook and the digital economy,” Alan Lee, Facebook’s global head of tax policy, said in a statement.

Matthew Schruers, chief operating officer at the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), representing companies like Intel Corp (INTC.O), eBay Inc (EBAY.O) and Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), said at the hearing that the tax “undermines the progress made” on a new tax system on the digital economy and “supports an aggressive response to this problem.”

“CCIA believes that this action warrants a substantial, proportionate response from the United States,” Schruers said, adding the tax “unquestionably” targets U.S. firms in an attempt by the French government to “ringfence” them.

Amazon’s international tax policy director Peter Hiltz said more than 10,000 French-based businesses are selling on Amazon’s online stores and notified them certain fees will increase by 3% for Amazon.fr sales starting Oct. 1.

Last month, President Donald Trump threatened to tax French wines or other products in response. USTR could impose new tariffs after a public comment period ends Aug. 26.

Other EU countries have also announced plans for their own digital taxes, arguing a levy is needed because big, multinational internet companies book profits in low-tax countries like Ireland, no matter where the revenue originates.

Reporting by Jonas Ekblom and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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Factbox: Track Facebook's fight against disinformation campaigns in 2019

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc said on Monday they had dismantled a state-backed information operation originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong.

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FILE PHOTO: Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Social media companies are under intense pressure to stop illicit political influence campaigns online ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November 2020.

Here is a list of takedowns announced by Facebook so far this year:

** Jan. 17 - 364 Facebook pages and accounts operated from Russia and targeting the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Central and Eastern European countries.

** Jan. 31 - 783 pages, groups and accounts engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran.” 234 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and Instagram operating as part of a domestic network in Indonesia.

** Feb. 13 - 168 Facebook accounts, 28 pages and eight Instagram accounts targeting people in Moldova. “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our manual review found that some of this activity was linked to employees of the Moldovan government.”

** March 7 - 137 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups operating as part of a domestic-focused network in Britain. 31 Facebook pages, groups, and accounts which were part of a network that operated in Romania.

** March 26 - 2,632 pages, groups and accounts engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. The operations identified were connected to Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo.

** March 28 - 200 pages, groups and accounts engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram in the Philippines.

** April 1 - 1,126 pages, groups and accounts linked to people and organisations in Pakistan and India. “The operations ... engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior were two distinct sets of activity in India and one network in Pakistan.”

** May 6 - 97 Facebook accounts, pages and groups involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a network emanating from Russia that focused on Ukraine.

** May 16 - 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, groups and events which originated in Israel. The network targeted people in Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia, along with some activity in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

** May 28 - 97 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups which originated in Iran. The accounts purported to be located in the U.S. and Europe and impersonated legitimate news organizations in the Middle East.

** July 25 - Four unconnected operations that originated in Thailand, Russia, Ukraine and Honduras. “We didn’t find any links between the campaigns we’ve removed, but all created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.”

** Aug. 1 - 383 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and Instagram linked to marketing firms in the UAE and Egypt. 397 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and Instagram linked “to individuals associated with the government of Saudi Arabia.”

** Aug. 19 - Facebook removes a network of 15 pages, groups and accounts to stop what it says appears to be a state-backed information operation originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong. Twitter suspends over 200,000 accounts.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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The Lightning YubiKey Is Here to Kill Passwords on Your iPhone

The Lightning YubiKey Is Here to Kill Passwords on Your iPhone

Though there are other authentication dongles out there, YubiKeys are largely the face of the physical two-factor authentication movement. Unfortunately, to date it's also been unavailable for the most high-profile smartphone in the world. But today manufacturer Yubico is releasing the first Lightning port YubiKey for use with iPhones and iPads. It's been a long time coming.

First announced in January, the Lightning YubiKey has been in the works for more than a year now. Yubico first needed to get Apple's MFi certification—a license required for all Lightning devices—before it could start designing the product and getting third-party developers on board. The dongle, priced at $70, has a Lightning connector on one side and USB-C on the other side. That way it works with not only iPhones and iPads, but also MacBooks or any other USB-C device. Up until now, Yubico hasn't had any offerings that could work with iOS devices, and even among competitors the only option was Bluetooth authentication dongles, which can be glitchy, need to be charged, and potentially introduce their own insecurities.

Though the Lightning YubiKey is finally here with Apple's (mandatory) blessing, the company still hasn't incorporated the underlying open authentication standard, FIDO 2, into its operating systems by default. As a result, the Lightning YubiKey can't automatically work as an authentication token throughout your iOS experience. Each app needs to add compatibility individually through a new application programming interface. For today's launch, you can use the new Lightning YubiKey with a number of password managers and authentication services, like 1Password​, LastPass​, and ​Okta. You can also sign in with the key on a number of websites through the ​Brave iOS browser app​.

Using the Lightning key is very similar to using other YubiKeys. You can link the key to an array of services and then plug it into your iPhone to log into their app. You can also use the USB-C end in the same way for other devices, including prominent Android phones like the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S9. At launch, the dongle won't work in the USB-C port of iPad Pros.

"We're grateful that Apple is finally on board," Yubico CEO Stina Ehrensvärd tells WIRED. "We want YubiKeys to be a seamless experience and for two-factor authentication to reach three billion people. So ideally we need to not have an iOS SDK, but for it to just auto-work in Apple products. But you have to start somewhere."

More than a dozen other apps and services, including some heavy hitters Yubico declined to name, are on track to add support for the Lightning keys in their apps by the end of the year. And Apple has recently moved closer to fully adopting FIDO2. The company enabled the related open standard, WebAuthn, by default in macOS's May Safari Technology Preview.

"We’ve really enjoyed working with Yubico on bringing this integration to 1Password on iOS and Mac," says Jeffrey Goldberg, a product security officer at AgileBits, which makes 1Password. "We all know that people reuse passwords and that passwords can be captured in transit, say by phishing. Hardware tokens and password managers each tackle those problems in their own ways."

Though finally debuting the Lightning key is a big triumph for Yubico, Ehrensvärd is already looking ahead. She imagines a world where servers or devices like routers and Internet of Things gadgets use FIDO2 and WebAuthn to offer multi-factor authentication without human involvement. And her hope is that more and more companies will expand the range of technologies that can support multi-factor authentication.

Original author: Lily Hay Newman
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About Terminal Madness

Terminal Madness started out as a Computer Bulletin Board, ( BBS ) back in the early 90's. Fascinated that one could get all the information they ever wanted "on line", for FREE, the "BBS" was named Terminal Madness.

Now, about 22 years later, that fascination with computers and information continues.

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