Tech

Tech

Hong Kong’s new security law puts social media giants in a tough spot
The Hong Kong authorities could block social media giants if they refused to hand over user data to the police under a new national security law, analysts said, describing a worst-case scenario that could drive global internet companies out of the Asian financial center. The world’s leading social media firms, including Google, Facebook (and its messaging app WhatsApp), Twitter, Telegram and LinkedIn, have so far presented a united front against such requests.  Their announcements to hit pause on processing requests by Hong Kong authorities for user data came a week after Beijing imposed the security law that critics feared could be used to crack down on dissent in the city. The former Briti
How a Chinese short-video app took the world by storm
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. TikTok is one of the world’s most popular apps, allowing some 800 million users worldwide to make and watch addictive short videos. It is the international version of the Chinese app Douyin, which was launched by Beijing-based tech conglomerate ByteDance in 2016. But with its explosive popularity has come accusations of content censorship – something that Douyin routinely does in the Chinese market – and concerns of data security. As US-China tensions have worsened, some American lawmakers have expressed skepticism over the relationship between TikTok and
India bans TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps as border row escalates
The Indian government has banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps as its border row with China spilled over into arenas including tech, privacy and national security. The unprecedented ban, which came weeks after 20 soldiers died in a border clash in the Himalayas, is likely to affect one in three mobile users in India. India is the biggest market for TikTok, the wildly popular video-sharing app that has been downloaded more than 660 million times since its launch, according to an estimate by app intelligence agency Sensor Tower. TikTok has between 120 and 200 million active users in the country. The move marked another attempt by India to reduce dependence on its neighbor’s products and put
TikTok knows how to open users’ wallets
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Index features a single, illuminating number that helps you make sense of China. $78 million: how much money users spent on TikTok and Douyin in April.  Short-video fans globally spent more than $78 million on TikTok and its mainland Chinese version Douyin in April.  The twin short-video services, from Beijing-based ByteDance, generated more revenue through in-app purchases than any other apps that are not games, according to San Francisco-based analytics firm Sensor Tower. The second and third highest mobile app revenue generators were YouTube and Tinder respectively. Advertising revenues, which make up the bulk of ByteDance and YouTube’s earnings, were
How China engineers an alternative internet for its people 
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Stretching along the entire border of mainland China is an invisible barrier, dubbed the Great Firewall, that keeps out information that the Chinese authorities deem inappropriate. Sites such as Facebook, Google, Twitter – and Inkstone – are inaccessible in the mainland thanks to this metaphorical wall. The list of banned websites is ever expanding. While software to bypass the wall exists, the sophisticated system of censorship has become a powerful tool for the ruling Chinese Communist Party to strengthen its rule by limiting what China’s 900 million in
‘This is 2020’: Japan lampooned for filing Covid-19 cases by fax
Japan’s stubborn reliance on the fax machine has been hit by a storm of ridicule after a frustrated doctor went on a Twitter tirade about the legal requirement that hospitals complete paperwork on coronavirus cases by hand then fax it to public health centers so they can compile statistics. The doctor, apparently a specialist in respiratory medicine at a public hospital, wrote: “Come on, let’s stop this.” “Reporting cases in handwriting? Even with the coronavirus, we are writing by hand and faxing.” He added that the practice was “Showa period stuff,” referring to the imperial era that ran from 1926 until the death of Emperor Hirohito in 1989. Yet fax still reigns supreme in Japan, with a re
Hackers target Beijing and WHO amid pandemic, reports say
Hackers targeted Chinese agencies and diplomatic missions in a coordinated cyber espionage campaign, according to a report by a leading Chinese internet security provider. Both domestic Chinese agencies and Beijing’s diplomatic missions in countries including Italy, the UK, North Korea and Thailand have been attacked, according to a report by Qihoo 360. It speculated in the report that the East Asia-based DarkHotel hacking group attacked Chinese operations for reasons linked to the pandemic. The group is also suspected to be behind recent cyberattacks against the World Health Organization, according to a Reuters report. Officials and cybersecurity experts warn that hackers of all stripes are
How food delivery became backbone of China’s coronavirus fight
When Liu Yilin, a retired middle school teacher in Wuhan, first heard rumors of a highly contagious disease spreading in the central Chinese city, he started to stock up on supplies such as rice, oil, noodles and dried fish. These preparations spared the 66-year-old from some of the early panic when the city went into lockdown in late January and shoppers flooded to the markets and malls to snap up supplies. But as time went on, and with residents banned from leaving their homes, he became increasingly concerned about getting hold of fresh supplies of vegetables, fruit and meat.  Thankfully, the nation’s vast network of delivery drivers came to the rescue. “It was such a relief that several
The coronavirus has forever altered how China studies and works
With the coronavirus outbreak crippling normal life in China, technology has rushed to the fore on many fronts as a literal lifesaver. Robots in hospitals, health code apps, online education and remote working all played crucial roles in keeping the country operational with most of the population trapped in self-isolation. But as the devastating outbreak starts to ease within China, and life gradually returns to normal, many are asking whether the pandemic will leave a permanent mark on the way people work and live. The pandemic may even accelerate long-term trends such as the digitalization of education, work and even people.  Xu Yuting, an 18-year-old high school student in eastern China’s