Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
1. Убирайся! The Secretary of Homeland Security issued an order requiring federal agencies remove all software produced by Kaspersky Labs from government systems within ninety days. For years, U.S. intelligence officials and some members of Congress have viewed Kaspersky products with skepticism, arguing that its products could facilitate espionage from Moscow (despite the lack of evidence in the public domain) and that its leadership, notably founder Eugene Kaspersky, had close ties to Russian intelligence (not unlike those between U.S. companies and the NSA). In a blog post, Kaspersky denies having any inappropriate ties and claims to be a victim of the deteriorating U.S.-Russia relationship. For its part, the Kremlin denounced the directive, which is somewhat ironic given that President Putin suggested that the Russian government abandon the use of U.S. software on similar grounds. Pot, meet kettle.
2. All your chips are belong to us. The Trump administration blocked a Chinese firm’s attempt to purchase Lattice Semiconductor, a U.S. chipmaker, on national security grounds. China is the world’s largest semiconductor market, and building a domestic semiconductor industry is essential to Beijing’s goal of becoming a ‘science and technology superpower.’ U.S. officials fear that China’s acquisition of strategic industries could make it easier for Beijing to tamper with parts bound for U.S. tech products. In early September, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews foreign investment that trigger national security concerns, advised against the purchase. Instead of letting the deal die—a quieter, less-confrontational way of rejecting the proposed acquisition—the White House opted for an overt rejection, making the Lattice deal the fourth time a U.S. president has blocked a CIFUS transaction.
3. Sell! BTCChina, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, announced it would stop trading Bitcoin. Within 24 hours of the announcement, the value of Bitcoin plunged 18 percent to $3,000. It has been a tough few weeks for cryptocurrencies, many of which are mined and traded in China. Earlier this month, the Chinese government banned the use of cryptocurrencies to finance start-ups, a process known as initial coin offerings (ICOs), on the grounds that many ICOs were fraudulent. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Chinese central bank plans to close the country’s Bitcoin exchanges by the end of September. Since the beginning of the month, Bitcoin has lost 40 percent of its value. Thankfully, millennials who plan on using Bitcoin as their investment vehicle for retirement have some time to recoup the losses.
4. This is a family-friendly space. Facebook announced new rules for the types of content that can be monetized on the platform. Advertisers won’t be able to make money on content that reference tragedy and conflict, debated social issues (e.g. incendiary or demeaning content that disparages people, groups, or causes), violent content, adult content, drug or alcohol use, and excessive inappropriate language. Facebook has said that the reason for the rules is to ensure that content creators can earn money, but not at the expense of the integrity of its clients and its family-friendly environment. Facebook critics have taken aim at the platform’s monetization efforts, arguing that it profits off the spread of fake news and offensive content.