Conference Call: 2018 Tech Predictions
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Uber is in hot water for a massive data breach announced yesterday, and the water is getting hotter. While the hack itself was significant, affecting more than 57 million users and drivers, Uber’s failure to respond to the breach and attempts to cover it up—including paying hackers $100,000 to stay quiet—has drawn the attention of authorities in the U.S. and around the world. The breach represents the latest challenge for CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as he looks to repair the company’s damaged reputation. So far, Uber has said it plans to cooperate with investigators. –Sarah
(The Wall Street Journal)
During this month’s Capitol Hill hearings, lawmakers called on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet to notify users who had seen ads or pages created by Russian agents meant to spread inflammatory information before the 2016 presidential election. Facebook says it’s complying, setting up a way for users to know if they followed pages created by Russia’s Internet Research Agency. As the Journal points out, those users represent a fraction of the roughly 126 million Americans Facebook says saw a post or ad from this group. Facebook says it’s technically difficult. There may be another reason: Internally, Facebook employees know that people use the social network less if they say they don’t trust Facebook. Putting this information in their news feeds and at their fingertips could harm usage. –Cory
Lu Wei, the once-powerful head of China’s cyberspace administration, reveled in the spotlight and attention. Foreign tech executives approached him like supplicants seeking access to the huge China market that he controlled. He even got to sit at Mark Zuckerberg’s desk at Facebook, which famously happened to have a copy of a book written Chinese President Xi Jinping on it. It didn’t help. Facebook remains blocked in China. Many Western executives who spent time courting Mr. Lu may have regrets now that Mr. Lu is under investigation for corruption. The questions everyone must be pondering are how far will investigators dig, who is their next target, and who will Mr. Lu rat out. More broadly, which of the pet projects he championed will languish and die because of the pall of suspicion cast over them by his alleged graft? The arrest highlights the danger of hitching a China strategy on a single person. Just a few months ago, Mr, Lu seemed untouchable. –Shai
(The New York Times)
Bit by inexorable bit, China keeps bricking itself from the rest of the world’s internet. The latest step was removal of Skype, Microsoft’s internet phone call service, from most app stores, including Apple’s, in China. Skype still works, but it’s clear that China’s regulators don’t like communications tools they can’t completely control operating in their borders. Microsoft says its trying to get the app reinstated to the stores. But my guess is that regulators will demand a backdoor. –Shai