Global tech news roundup

Couple deletes hotel chain data for fun

Hackers have told the BBC they carried out a destructive cyber-attack against Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) “for fun“. Describing themselves as a couple from Vietnam, they say they first tried a ransomware attack, then deleted large amounts of data when they were foiled. They accessed the FTSE 100 firm’s databases thanks to an easily found and weak password, Qwerty1234. An expert says the case highlights the vindictive side of criminal hackers. BBC

South Korea crypto boss faces arrest warrant

A South Korean court has issued an arrest warrant for Do Kwon – who co-founded the company behind the Terra Luna and TerraUSD cryptocurrencies. Their spectacular collapse earlier this year spooked investors and saw the values of major tokens plummet. Prosecutors believe that Terraform Labs, which is registered in Singapore, had violated capital market rules. Terra Luna lost 99% of its value in May and this was aggravated by a fall of its sister token, TerraUSD. Mr Kwon did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment on Thursday. BBC

Google loses appeal over record EU anti-trust Android fine

An EU court has largely upheld a record fine against Google for using the Android platform to cement its search engine’s dominance. The €4.125bn (£3.5bn) penalty is the largest anti-trust fine ever handed down by the European Commission. It said Google had breached its laws by forcing Android phone-makers to carry its search and web browser apps in order to access the Google Play Store in 2018. Google has since changed its terms. The firm said it was “disappointed” by the verdict. “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” Google said in a statement. Google acquired the mobile phone operating system developer, which today powers roughly 70% of the world’s mobile phones, in 2005 for $50m (£43m). BBC

Instagram influencer gives people a reason to live

A woman’s positive posts on social media have been published on billboards across the UK and seen her amass thousands of followers. But for Coco, the real measure of success is the number of messages she receives from people who say she has saved their life. “I wanted to end my life. I visited your page and it’s given me a reason to live,” read one message she woke up to one morning. Another said: “I haven’t had anyone to talk to, and ended up in hospital trying to hurt myself. Looking at your page has made me feel at peace.”

The mental health activist, from Cardiff, who goes by the single name Coco on Instagram, posts positive affirmations on her Talk to Coco account, including those which read “you are enough”, “you are loved” and “you are worthy”. “Mental health is who we are, it’s part of us like our hair colour or our eyes, it’s not a bad word and that’s important to remember.” she said. BBC

Uber investigating hack on its computer systems

Uber’s computer network has been hacked. The ride-hailing company said it was investigating after several internal communications and engineering systems had been compromised. The New York Times first reported the breach after the hacker sent images of email, cloud storage and code repositories to the newspaper. Uber staff were told not use the workplace messaging app Slack, the report said, quoting two employees.

Shortly before the Slack system was taken offline, Uber employees received a message that read: “I announce I am a hacker and Uber has suffered a data breach.” It appeared that the hacker was later able to gain access to other internal systems, posting an explicit photo on an internal information page for employees. BBC

California says Amazon’s dominance drives up online prices

The state of California has accused Amazon of violating competition law with practices that prevent sellers from offering lower prices elsewhere.The lawsuit from America’s most populous state says the moves have hurt rivals and made online shopping more expensive for everyone. It marks the biggest legal threat Amazon has faced in the US.  But a similar lawsuit was dismissed in the US earlier this year for insufficient evidence of higher prices. Proving harm to consumers in the form of higher prices is a key issue in US competition law.  Amazon said that like the DC case, California’s complaint had it “exactly backwards” and that the lawsuit should be dismissed.

“Sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store,” the company said. “Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively.” In the complaint, California says Amazon’s contracts require sellers to offer the lowest price on Amazon, restraining the ability of other websites to compete. BBC

Automakers tackle patent hurdle in quest for in-car tech

Over a dozen automakers including Toyota and Nissan, have signed up with a platform for patent licences from 51 tech companies, aiming to simplify access to wireless technology and avoid costly legal battles.  Conflicts have stemmed in part from different views among carmakers, suppliers and tech firms over who should shoulder the cost of licensing.
Through independent licensing marketplace Avanci, carmakers gain access to patents for 2G, 3G and 4G technology from the likes of Finland’s Nokia, Sweden’s Ericcson and Taiwan’s Acer for everything from navigation systems to sensors for automated driving. Avanci charges a flat fee of $20 per car, increased this month from $15 previously, with the money distributed among patent holders. The new signings – which also include Renault, Stellantis, and Honda – mean 80-85% of cars with 2G technology or higher are licensed through the platform, Avanci vice president Mark Durrant said in an interview. Reuters

Apple May Move A Quarter Of iPhone Production To India By 2025: Report

Apple Inc may make one out of four iPhones in India by 2025, J.P.Morgan analysts said on Wednesday, as the tech giant moves some production away from China, amid mounting geopolitical tensions and strict COVID-19 lockdowns in the country. The brokerage expects Apple to move about 5% of iPhone 14 production from late 2022 to India, which is the world’s second-biggest smartphone market after China. It is also estimating about 25% of all Apple products, including Mac, iPad, Apple Watch and AirPods, to be manufactured outside China by 2025 from 5% currently.

Cupertino, California-headquartered Apple has bet big on India since it began iPhone assembly in the country in 2017 via Wistron and later with Foxconn, in line with the Indian government’s push for local manufacturing. The pandemic hampered supply chain relocation plans for businesses, but with restrictions easing, more companies, including Apple, are reaccelerating these efforts this year. Reuters

Alphabet owned YouTube to give Shorts creators 45% of advertising sales in challenge to TikTok

Alphabet Inc-owned YouTube has unveiled a new way for creators to make money on short-form video, as it faces intensifying competition from Chinese-owned rival TikTok, Reuters has reported. The Google-owner’s new streaming service announced Tuesday will introduce advertising on its video feature Shorts and give video creators 45% of the revenue. That compares with its standard distribution of 55% for videos outside of Shorts, and TikTok’s $1 billion fund for paying creators, the newswire noted. YouTube, the internet’s dominant video site, has struggled to compete with TikTok, the app that got its start hosting lip-sync and dance videos and has subsequently burgeoned to 1 billion monthly users.

YouTube responded in late 2020 with Shorts, minute-long videos that attract more than 1.5 billion monthly viewers. In April 2022, YouTube created a $100 million fund to entice creators to make the bite-sized Shorts videos in its bid to hang onto talent. The new revenue-sharing plan, first reported by the New York Times, is meant to be a bigger and more sustainable lure than the fund and something TikTok has yet to match, Reuters noted. Reuters









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