US deadline on TikTok sale coercive robbery: China

Agencies
September 13, 2020

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Beijing, Sept 13: As the deadline for ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, to sell its US business inches closer, the Chinese government on Saturday said the Donald Trump administration's deadline is tantamount to "coercive robbery".

The US President has categorically said that he will not extend the September 20 deadline for China-based ByteDance to sell the US business of TikTok or face the complete ban.

"The tricks of economic bullying and political manipulation that the US played on non-American companies are tantamount to coercive robbery," said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Xinhua news agency reported.

The business sales talk of TikTok in the US has hit roadblock after China's update of the technology export rules. The update covers Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies used by ByteDance.

China last month updated the list of technologies that are subject to export bans. The new list, released jointly by China's Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Science and Technology, added 23 items to export restrictions while technical parameters of 21 items were revised.

The new update in the export rules cover restrictions on technologies such as text analysis, content recommendation and voice-recognition. The technologies on the list cannot be exported without approval from authorities in China.

ByteDance had said that "the company will strictly abide" by the new export rules imposed by China.

Several US companies including Walmart/Microsoft and Oracle are in the fray to buy TikTok's US operations, which is touted in the range of $20 billion-$30 billion.

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News Network
October 23,2020

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Nashville, Oct 23: US President Donald Trump on Thursday described the air in India and China as "filthy" as he denounced Democratic rival Joe Biden's plans to tackle climate change.

At their second and final presidential debate, Trump renewed his criticism that action on climate change was unfair to the United States.

"Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India -- it's filthy. The air is filthy," Trump said at the debate in Nashville.

Trump charged that Biden's climate plan was an "economic disaster" for oil states such as Texas and Oklahoma.

Biden said that climate change is "an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it."

"We're going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years," he said.

The planet has already warmed by around one degree Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heat waves, droughts and tropical storms.

Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which aims to cap global warming "well below" two degrees Celsius.

Trump's remarks come days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper visit New Delhi for talks on building the growing US-India partnership.

At the first presidential debate, Trump also spoke critically of India, questioning its coronavirus data amid criticism of Trump's handling of the pandemic.

Biden said this in the opening remarks of the showdown that comes just 12 days before the election.

"The President still has no comprehensive plan," Biden added.

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News Network
October 18,2020
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Washington, Oct 18: The global coronavirus caseload now stands at 39.5 million cases, according to the latest updates provided by Johns Hopkins University.

According to the University tracker, there are 39,502,909 COVID-19 cases globally and 1,106,705 patients globally have succumbed to the virus.

Globally, 27,148,927 patients infected from the virus have recovered, the tracker states.

The US continues to be the worst-affected country due to the virus with 8,086,780 cases and 218,980 fatalities, which are the most deaths in the world.

As many as 3,197,539 patients across the US have recovered from the disease.

India and Brazil are the second and third most-affected countries from the virus with 7,432,680 cases and 5,200,300 cases respectively. Russia is fourth on the list with 1,376,020 cases across the country.

As per the University tracker, India has the most COVID-19 recoveries in the world with 6,524,595 patients recovering from the disease across the country.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11.

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Agencies
October 29,2020

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Washington, Oct 29: "Baloney!", "sham!" and "who the hell are you" scoldings dominated a Senate hearing on Wednesday where the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google took heat in a talking match with US lawmakers over the idea of free speech and alleged anti-conservative bias on the companies' mighty platforms.

The Congressional grilling quickly shifted into the realm of political circus around the social media content moderation dumpster fire.

With less than a week to go for the US election, Republican lawmakers got an earful from critics for the timing of the "sham" hearing.

At the heart of the heated arguments were 26 words tucked away in a 1996 US law - Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 states that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider".

Under American law, Internet firms are typically exempt from liability for content that users post on platforms. President Donald Trump has challenged this via executive order which threatens to strip those protections if online platforms wade into "editorial decisions".

For 3 hours and 42 minutes, the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google were at the receiving end of a firehose version of bipartisan alarm over their phenomenal power to influence behaviour at scale.

The Republicans' drumbeat centered on Facebook's and Twitter's decision earlier this month to slam the brakes on an unverified political story from the conservative-leaning New York Post about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The story cited unverified emails from Biden's son Hunter.

Trump acolytes jumped on the chance to prove their loyalty. One of them called Twitter's action on the newspaper "a pattern of censorship and silencing Americans with whom Twitter disagrees".

For their part, Twitter, Facebook and Google have struggled to frame exactly how they would intervene and in how many scenarios. And what about content that doesn't fall into their precast rubric or categories of bad stuff? The answers have been less than clear.

Of the three companies, Facebook's sway over behavioural targeting has raised a string of red flags in the context of the US 2020 election.

Multiple lawmakers pushed back against the idea of "unelected San Francisco elites" deciding if content makes the grade or not.

In opening statements, Dorsey, Zuckerberg and Pichai spoke to the proposals for changes to Section 230. Zuckerberg said Congress "should update the law to make sure it's working as intended."

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that if Google was "acting as a publisher", he would be okay with the company being liable for content published on its platform.

Wednesday's hearing comes barely a week after the US Justice Department's landmark antitrust lawsuit against Google which argues that both advertisers and regular people are harmed by the tech giant's position as "the unchallenged gateway to the Internet for billions of users worldwide."

Warnings abound of the coming restrictions and for the "free pass" to end, maybe on the other side of the election results.

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