At a glance.
- Oracle-Walmart deal postpones TikTok ban.
- Court temporarily blocks WeChat ban.
- NSA works to secure pharmaceutical research against hacking.
- CIA Labs announced.
Oracle-Walmart deal delays TikTok ban.
The Department of Commerce has delayed the start date of the proposed prohibitions against mobile app TikTok from September 20th to September 27th. This is the result of President Trump’s tentative approval of a partnership between TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance and US tech company Oracle and Walmart, creating new, US-based entity TikTok Global, says WUFT. Axios reports, the agreement gives Oracle extensive control over the app, including oversight of all US tech operations, implementation of a US government-approved board, and an American security subcommittee with veto power over all security rulings. TikTok will remain 80% owned by ByteDance, reports the Wall Street Journal, but because ByteDance is 40% owned by American investors, the majority of the new entity will be American-owned. President Trump stated that the new company will create 25,000 new US jobs, develop a five billion dollar education fund for young Americans, and “have nothing to do with China.” However, Reuters notes that the parties involved disagree about the ownership stakes, and the editor of China’s Global Times tweeted on Monday that the deal “would endanger China’s national security, interests, and dignity.”
Industry opinion remains divided over the legitimacy of the ban. The Internet Society asserts that such prohibitions will defy the openness and accessibility of the internet, and according to Vice, preventing US TikTok users from accessing ByteDance’s future app updates puts users at even greater security risk. On the other hand, the COO of Atlas VPN, Rachel Welch, tells Finbold that, given China’s history of state-sponsored cyber attacks, the ban is justified.
WeChat ban blocked.
California federal judge Laurel Beeler blocked Trump’s WeChat ban on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reports, just before the Trump administration’s executive order to restrict US use of the mobile app was due to go into effect Sunday night. The judge’s preliminary injunction supports a motion from the US WeChat User’s Alliance attesting that “there are no viable substitute platforms or apps for the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American community.” The ruling perhaps supports what, as Variety states, industry experts have been saying about the ban: that it infringes on Americans’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.
NSA fighting foreign hackers targeting COVID-19 vaccine.
The NSA’s year-old Cybersecurity Directorate, created to protect the systems that transmit the US government’s sensitive and classified communications, is also working to defend Operation Warp Speed, the effort to produce a COVID-19 vaccine, TechCrunch says. Strategies include securing the pharmaceutical companies working to create the vaccine and the government agencies tasked with approving the vaccine.
CIA announces formation of CIA Labs.
In a first for the intelligence agency, the US CIA has announced that it will be forming a laboratory. Among the cyber-relevant topics CIA Labs will investigate are:
- "artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics;
- "distributed ledger/blockchain-enabled technologies;
- "virtual and augmented reality;
- "high performance and quantum computing;
- "future wireless and telecommunications technologies; and
- "robotic, autonomous, and human interface systems."
CIA Labs is interested in research partnerships, including Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs).