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Exclusive-Didi prepares to relaunch apps in China, anticipates probe will end soon – sources

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Didi Global Inc is preparing to relaunch its ride-hailing and other apps in China by the end of the year in anticipation that Beijing’s investigation into the company will be wrapped up by then, three people directly involved in the relaunch said.

The people, who declined to be identified as the information was private, said they expect Chinese regulators to finalise any penalties on the company in December.

The company has set aside 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) for a potential fine, said one of the sources.

In July, the powerful Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) ordered app stores to remove 25 mobile apps operated by Didi – just days after the ride-hailing giant listed in New York. It also told the company to stop registering new users, citing national security and the public interest.

Asked about its preparations to relaunch the apps and the amount set aside for a potential fine, Didi said the information obtained by Reuters was “pure hearsay with no grounds in fact” and that it was cooperating actively and fully with the cybersecurity review. It did not elaborate further.

The CAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Didi ran afoul of the CAC when it pressed ahead with its New York listing on June 30, even though the regulator had urged the company to put it on hold while a cybersecurity review of its data practices was conducted, separate sources have told Reuters.

Soon after, the CAC launched an investigation into Didi over its collection and use of personal data. It said data had been collected illegally and the apps concerned included those for its delivery service, camera device and finance services.

Didi responded at the time by saying it had stopped registering new users and would make changes to comply with rules on national security and personal data protection, and would protect users’ rights.

Didi has since been making changes to the apps to ensure they comply with China’s Personal Information Protection Law which took effect on Nov. 1, the three people with knowledge of the matter said, adding that all staff had to complete training about the new law.

The changes include an updated and lengthy user agreement for customers to sign that clearly defines what data will be collected and how it will be used, said one of the sources.

The company is also working on new strategies to recruit drivers for the relaunch as many moved to rival services due to uncertainty surrounding the business because of the investigation, this source added.

Didi provides 25 million rides a day in China to users who sign up through an app that uses a phone number and password.

Its shares have halved since its New York debut to leave its valuation at $43 billion. The investigation came amid a slew of regulatory moves by Beijing that have upended norms for a range of sectors from tech to property to private tutoring.

In particular, China has instructed its technology giants to provide more secure storage of user data amid public complaints about mismanagement and misuse that have resulted in privacy violations.

The new Personal Information Protection law states that the handling of information must have a clear and reasonable purpose, lays out conditions under which companies can collect personal data and offers guidelines for ensuring data is protected when it is transferred outside the country.

($1 = 6.3980 Chinese yuan)

 

(Reporting by Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Yilei Sun in Beijing; Additional reporting by Yingzhi Yang; Editing by David Clarke and Edwina Gibbs)

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Hashtag Trending Nov. 29 – Lush leaves social media; Apple warns prosecutor of iPhone hack; man receives 3D-printed eye – IT World Canada

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Lush deletes all of its social media profiles, Apple warns a Polish prosecutor that her iPhone is under attack, and a British man receives the world’s first 3D-printed prosthetic eye.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Monday, November 29th, and I’m your host, Tom Li.

Cosmetic giant Lush went on a social media cleansing routine on Friday by closing its accounts on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, citing worries of the harms caused by social media. The announcement was made on the Black Friday weekend, one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. According to Lush CEO Mark Constantine, the company could lose 10 million euros by shutting down the accounts, but he’s happy to embrace the loss. This isn’t Lush’s first attempt to leave social media. In 2019, the company left Instagram and Facebook, but ultimately returned. The scale of its second departure seems to be much larger, and it looks more permanent than before.

Apple has alerted a Polish prosecutor that her iPhone has been compromised by the NSO spyware group. According to 9to5Mac, the NSO group was responsible for creating the Pegasus spyware, which has been used to spy on journalists and politicians. Apple is currently in the process of suing NSO for attacking iOS users and is monitoring signs of Pegasus-related attacks.

Finally, a British man became the first person to receive a 3D-printed eye. The prosthetic isn’t a functioning organ but was described to be highly realistic with a clearer definition and more depth to the pupil. Moreover, the procedure was less invasive; Whereas traditional eye prosthetics require a physical mould of the eye socket, the 3D printed one scans the socket digitally, bypassing an invasive step. Moreover, the 3D printed eye was matched against the patient’s other eye, which was also digitally scanned.

Now for something a bit different. The estate of JRR Tolkien, the creator of the Lord of the Rings series, has successfully blocked a crypto-currency called JRR Token. According to the lawyers representing the estate, the token’s name invoked copyright infringement laws. It’s clear that the coin’s creators were trying to capitalize on the success of the author’s name, but this is a common occurrence. In October, the creators of Squid, a coin based on the popular Korean TV show Squid Game, duped their investors out of more than $3 million.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire Newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. If you have a suggestion or tip, please drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thanks for listening, I’m Tom Li.

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Ethiopian gov’t forces in control of Chifra: State media – Aljazeera.com

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Dead bodies seen ‘everywhere on the streets’ of town in Afar region as Al Jazeera gains exclusive access to front line of escalating conflict.

Ethiopia’s state-run broadcaster has said government forces were in control of the town of Chifra in Afar region, their first major seizure since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said earlier this week he would head to the front lines to lead federal troops against fighters from the northern Tigray region.

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced since the war between Ethiopian federal and allied troops, and the Tigrayan forces, broke out in November 2020. The conflict has also caused a massive humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people facing famine.

The Tigrayan forces captured Chifra, on the border between the northern Afar and Amhara regions, after fighting intensified last month.

“Ethiopian Defense Forces and Afar Special Forces have controlled Chifra,” the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said on its Twitter account on Sunday, without providing further details.

There was no immediate comment by the Tigrayan forces.

‘Dead bodies everywhere’

Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is heavily restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to corroborate. Al Jazeera, however, was able to gain exclusive access to Chifra, the first international news organisation to do so.

Reporting from “the heart” of the town, Al Jazeera Arabic’s correspondent Mohammed Taha Tewekel said the Tigrayan forces “were driven out of this strategic area” by pro-government militia from the Afar region, but also noted “gunfire could be heard from all directions” for hours.

“It [Chifra] has been the epicentre of military operations during the past 40 days,” Tewekel said during a live broadcast, with gunfire ringing in the background.

“The scenes we witnessed are very appalling. Dead bodies everywhere on the streets. It is living proof of the ferociousness of the fighting. There are clear signs of the lack of humanity in this conflict. The town’s commercial shops were totally destroyed, even the mosques were not spared. All the residents have fled for their lives and the town has turned into military barracks for the Afari fighters,” he added.

The Afari fighters “have seized the city” and are now advancing towards the towns of Bati and Kombolcha, the correspondent said.

Chifra is west of the town of Mille, which Tigrayan forces have been trying to capture for weeks, because it lies along the highway linking landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti, the Horn of Africa’s main port.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported on Friday that Abiy was on the front line with the army fighting the Tigrayan forces in Afar.

“The morale of the army is very exciting,” he said in the remarks broadcast on Friday, promising to capture Chifra “today”.

After months of tension, Abiy in November 2020 sent troops to Tigray to remove the region’s governing party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in response to what the government said was an attack on federal army camps. The TPLF, which dominated the federal government for nearly three decades until Abiy took office in 2018, said federal forces and its allies launched a “coordinated attack” against it.

The prime minister promised a swift victory and government forces seized Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, in late November. By June, however, the Tigrayan forces had retaken most of the region and pushed into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.

The Tigrayan forces recently reported major territorial gains, claiming this week to have seized a town just 220km (135 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa.

International alarm about the escalating conflict has deepened, with several foreign countries urging their citizens to leave as mediation attempts by the United Nations and the United States have so far failed to yield any results.

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Trump challenges media and Democrats to debate his electoral fraud lie – The Guardian

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Trump challenges media and Democrats to debate his electoral fraud lie  The Guardian



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