Facebook and Apple defended their decision to block law enforcement from accessing communications among their billions of users during a contentious hearing on Tuesday, even as they face intensifying pressure from lawmakers and the U.S. attorney general. The hearing came against a backdrop of reignited tensions between Silicon Valley and the government over whether tech companies are enabling criminal activity as they work to build privacy into their products.
To add to the pressure on the banks, tech giants like Apple, Facebook and now Google have been making inroads into finance. Apple earlier this year launched a credit card, piggybacking off an account provided by Goldman Sachs, while Facebook announced its libra cryptocurrency initiative and Google is set to debut a checking account next year.
After months of revelations that smart speakers get a very human intelligence boost from contractors who transcribe and review customer audio snippets, the mea culpas are flowing in. At the end of August, Apple issued a rare apology about how it had handled human review of audio for Siri. Amazon has made it easier for users to understand how their data might be used and control whether or not it is eligible for review at all. And now Google is joining the fray with a set of privacy announcements about Google Assistant.
Apple’s insanely expensive new desktop computer will be made in the United States -- not China, the company announced Monday. The $6,000 Mac Pro will be built at Apple’s Austin, Texas, plant following US trade regulators approving 10 requests for tariff exemptions filed by Apple for computer parts.
Apple issued a press release late last week disputing part of Google’s findings. The iPhone maker strenuously objects to Google’s claim that the attacks operated for two years. In fact, Apple says it was closer to two months. Furthermore, Apple says it already knew about the flaws and was conveniently already working on a fix. It’s impossible to verify that claim, but it does sound suspect. Google’s Project Zero researchers are cited in Apple’s official changelog from February as reporting the flaws.
Apple likes to talk up its focus on security and privacy, but iPhone owners have unknowingly been targets of an indiscriminate and severe hacking campaign for at least two years. Google’s Project Zero team uncovered the scheme, which used websites loaded with unpatched exploits to install malware on iPhones that could track user locations, steal files, and more.
As wires increasingly go the way of rotary phones, nearly every industry is trying to push into underused spectrum space. The number of Wi-Fi hotspots globally is forecast to grow sixfold by 2021 as fifth-generation, or 5G, cellular networks take shape to underpin everything from autonomous vehicles to industrial robots, according to the Federal Communications Commission. That means opening more space on the radio spectrum.
Apple Inc. has asked the Trump administration to exclude components that make up the forthcoming Mac Pro high-end desktop computer from import tariffs, weeks after planning to re-locate production of the line to China from Texas.
Apple didn’t comment on its plans at the time, but a new report from The Wall Street Journal claims that the desktop will be produced by Quanta Computer Inc. in a plant outside of Shanghai. Apple hasn’t denied the report, which comes courtesy of “people familiar with its plans.”
Of America’s five biggest tech companies, Apple looks to be the most vulnerable to the current tumult in trade between China and the US. And now one technology analyst says the next six months could be “choppy,” as the high stakes trade war between the U.S. and China intensifies.