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Without proof, is Huawei still a national security threat? – TechCrunch

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It’s Huawei vs. the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe and Japan.

It’s almost as if the world’s biggest surveillance superpowers don’t want Huawei cell tower and networking router equipment inside critical networks in their countries, amid concerns of the company’s links to the Chinese military.

Huawei, they say, could be spying for the Chinese — and that presents a national security risk.

But there’s a problem. Years of congressional hearings and “inconclusive” hardware inspections have presented a mixed picture on the threat that Huawei may, or may not pose. Despite the fact that the company’s founder and president is a former officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army and the company remains heavily funded by the Chinese government, there’s also no public, direct evidence that Huawei is using its equipment to spy on network traffic inside the U.S. or any other country. In any case, Huawei can’t prove a negative, so all it can do is allow governments to assess its devices — which has so far found some issues but nothing conclusive to tie it to Chinese espionage actors.

That’s the crux of the argument: nobody thinks Huawei is spying now. To get caught would be too dangerous. But nobody knows that it won’t spy in the future.

The worst case nightmare scenario is that telcos will snap up Huawei’s technology and install its equipment in every nook, cranny and corner of their networks. Why wouldn’t they? The technology is cheap, said to be reliable, and is necessary for the impending 5G expansion. Then years later China exploits a hidden vulnerability that either lets its hackers steal economic secrets from businesses.

At that point, it would be too late. The network operators can’t just rip out their routers and switches. The damage is done.

Telcos need Huawei as much as Huawei needs them. But the North American and European telcos are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate pressures from their governments, which treat them as critical national infrastructure and a constant national security concern.

The reality is that China is no more a national security threat than the U.S. is to China, which has its own burgeoning networking equipment business. Just as much as the U.S. and Canada might not want to use Huawei or ZTE equipment in their networks for fear of a surprise cyberattack ten years down the line, why should China, Russia, or any other “frenemy” state choose HPE or Cisco technologies?

Companies have an option: Is the enemy you know better than the one you don’t?

Ren Zhengfei, founder and chief executive officer of Huawei Technologies Co., attends an interview at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Ren, the billionaire telecom mogul, broke years of public silence to dismiss U.S. accusations the telecoms giant helps Beijing spy on Western governments and to praise Donald Trump for his tax cuts. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. government has persisted across administrations with its fiery rhetoric over Huawei’s links to the Chinese government, since a House Intelligence Committee report in 2012 pushed for a domestic ban on equipment built by Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese electronics maker, and even warning against using their consumer phones. Noticeably absent from the House’s report was any specific proof of Chinese spying.

Core to the panel’s claim that “a router that turns on in the middle of the night, starts sending back large data packs, and it happens to be sent back to China,” said former congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI). Huawei, which has always denied the claims, has long called for evidence. Only this week, the U.S. said it doesn’t need to show proof, citing the company’s ability to be “leveraged by the Chinese government.”

The report contained claims of bribery and corruption, copyright infringement and more, but there was no smoking gun that proved that the company was spying — only that it could at the request of Beijing.

China’s authoritarian rule notwithstanding, the country says that it doesn’t have a single law that can compel a company to spy on its behalf or put backdoors in its products. Westerners are rightfully skeptical: in China, the government doesn’t need a law to say it can or can’t do something.

Yet ironically, it’s the U.S. and the U.K. — and more recently Australia — that have laws in place that can in fact compel a company to turn over data, or force a company to install backdoors. After the Edward Snowden disclosures that revealed the scope of U.S. surveillance, China retaliated by dropping U.S. technology from its networks and systems. That was no bother for China; it has its own booming tech industry, and just started using its own homegrown equipment instead.

Other countries aren’t so lucky, and more often than not are stuck between buying their tech from the two spying giants.

Western nations would rather trust U.S. technology with its powerful surveillance laws, while the rest of the world either trusts Chinese technology or simply doesn’t care.

Any technology can be a national security risk. It’s less selecting the right gear, and more picking your poison.

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Sotheby’s first NFT auction revealed

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An art auction is set to take place in June of 2021 called “Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale.” This sale will be hosted by Sotheby’s, and it’ll take place entirely online. Sotheby’s started their description of this sale with the following: “NFTs will be considered one of the groundbreaking artistic breakthroughs of the century.”

This NFT auction at Sotheby’s will be co-curated by Sotheby’s and Robert Alice. The show will be “An artist-led survey of the many strands that comprise this emerging cultural ecosystem.”

SEE TOO: What is NFT? A simple explanation for the crypto newb

This showing will include NFT creations across time and space, from “some of the earliest” NFTs built raw, before Ethereum chains took hold of the platform. It’ll also include “newer, complex NFTs that showcase the cutting edge technical innovation.” Artists in the show include creators from four different continents.

Categories for NFT include:
• Early NFTs
• Digital Pop/Futurists
• Generative
• Conceptual
• Emerging NFT Artists
• Community-elected

The show will take place between June 3, 2021, and June 10, 2021, all online at Sothebys.com. The show will be revealed in parts, starting with the three works you see (in preview) above.

The first three NFT shown are The Shell Record by Anna Ridler, CryptoPunk #7523 by Larva Labs, and Quantum by Kevin McCoy. More works will be revealed for this show in the coming weeks. UPDATE: More works will be posted to the Natively Digital digital catalogue as we reach the date where bidding will begin.

It’s likely Sotheby’s will allow (and perhaps require) works to be purchased with cryptocurrency. The first ever Sotheby’s physical artwork with the potential to be purchased with cryptocurrency was also just sold. As you might have already guessed, it was a Banksy. Sotheby’s allowed the transaction to take place with bitcoin or ethereum cryptocurrency should the winner of the auction choose to purchase the work as such.

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Beats design at Apple now lead by Android hardware legend

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Apple appears to have pinpointed one of the most influential Android hardware designers of the last decade in Scott Croyle. This guy was the head of HTC’s design team when they created the HTC One M7 – he was also a founder of the company Nextbit, creators of the Nextbit Robin. A report this week details the timing and details surrounding the designer’s joining Apple.

Below you’ll see the Nextbit Robin and an HTC One M7 (originally just called HTC One). These devices remain memorable pieces of hardware design even here, nearly a decade later. Now Croyle, one of the main keys behind this hardware design, is working with Apple.

FUN FACT: The HTC One (whose design team was led by Croyle), came with Beats Audio branding. This phone was released in early 2013, when HTC still owned stock in Beats. HTC sold their last shares of Beats by September of 2013. In the year 2014, Apple acquired Beats.

According to 9to5Mac, Scott Croyle “joined Apple last year specifically to oversee Beats product design.” It’s reported that Apple will continue to have the design firm Ammunition “create the look of Beats hardware products and company identity” while Croyle acts as “point person” between Beats and the design company.

It’s very likely that details like this appearing mean that we’ll see new Beats products in the very near future. The fact that Croyle is working with Apple specifically on Beats is a talking point that’s perfect for starting a fire in the minds of the public. We’re now reminded that Apple owns Beats, and Beats hasn’t released a brand new product for quite some time.

It’s likely there’ll be a new pair of Beats headphones in the near future, and it would not be shocking to find a new wireless speaker appearing soon, too. The Beats brand remains solid. The public still knows the logo, and it’s quite likely Apple will capitalize on the hype that will inevitably come with the release of a new Beats product before the end of the year 2021.

What sort of Beats brand hardware do you expect Apple will release next? Will it just be another pair of headphones with a slightly different shape from what’s come before, updated with Apple’s latest wireless chip tech? Or will it be something truly new?

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Razor releasing new electric RipStik and their “SUV” of scooters

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There’s a new electric movement machine in the mix this week from the folks at Razor. It has a long name: “The New RipStik Rush, the electric RipStik 2.0,” and it’s the second RipStik produced by Razor. There are other official RipStik products out with Razor, but only one other original electric RipStik. It’s “official” because Razor is the only one who holds the patent for Caster Boards as such.

This machine works with “enhanced RipStik technology” that’ll allow the back end of the board to move back and forth to “fishtail, carve, and drift like a snowboard.” This newest version works with an electric hub motor that allows the rider to roll at up to 10mph (16 km/h). The rider of this particular electric RipStik will be able to push forth with a remote control, as shown in the imagery above and below.

The New RipStik Rush, the electric RipStik 2.0, will be released for a suggested retail price of $249 USD. This device is recommended for “anyone age 9+” and will be available for sale “soon.”

Razor also announced that they’ll be making the Razor C25 electric scooter available this summer. Per Razor, the C25 is like the “SUV” of the Razor line-up. They’ve suggested that this scooter delivers “a comfortable, rugged ride that can easily navigate any surface.”

The Razor C25 has the ability to go 15.5 miles per battery charge and can move at a speed of up to 18 miles per hour. There’s a 250W rear brushless hub motor in this vehicle and a 36V lithium icon battery inside. The whole machine weighs in at 32.5 lbs. The Razor C25 will be released for sale in July of 2021.

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