Weekly Bytes | US blacklists Chinese supercomputer makers, LinkedIn says some user data scraped, and more

Here’s our curated list of important tech news from this week in byte size.

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US blacklists seven Chinese supercomputer makers

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has added seven Chinese supercomputer companies and organisations to Entity List for their support to China’s military modernisation, and other destabilising efforts, according to a DOC release. “Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many – perhaps almost all – modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons,” the DOC said. These Chinese entities were added to the list: Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Centre, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Centre Jinan, the National Supercomputing Centre Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Centre Wuxi, and the National Supercomputing Centre Zhengzhou. In another update, Chinese tech giants are expanding in Singapore as they face a crackdown at home and growing pressure in other key markets.

LinkedIn says some member profile data scraped

LinkedIn said on Thursday it has investigated an alleged set of LinkedIn data that has been posted for sale and found that some data, including publicly viewable member profile data, appear to have been scraped from the professional networking platform. “This was not a LinkedIn data breach, and no private member account data from LinkedIn was included in what we’ve been able to review,” the Microsoft-owned firm said. The data on sale is an aggregation of data from a number of websites and companies, it further added. On Tuesday, CyberNews reported that scraped data of 500 million LinkedIn profiles were put for sale on a popular hacker forum. In another development, a hacking group is spear phishing business professionals on LinkedIn with fake job offers to get remote control over the victim’s computer.

Facebook Analytics will not be available post-June

Facebook Analytics will no longer be available after 30 June 2021, according to a Facebook help page. Users will be able to access reports, export charts and tables, and explore insights, till the support ends in June. They can also export data into a CSV file from Facebook Analytics on their desktop, by clicking on the arrow icon in the top-right corner of each chart or table, the help page noted. Facebook Business Suite, introduced last September, can show users detailed insights about their audience, content and trends. The social network said, other business tools, including Facebook Business Suite, Ads Manager, and Events Manager, can help users understand their advertising, presences and activities on Facebook and Instagram. In another update, Muslim Advocates, a civil liberties organisation, has sued Facebook and its executives in Washington, DC, for failing to regulate anti-Muslim hate speech on the platform.

LG smartphones to get three years of Android OS updates

LG said on Tuesday that it will provide up to three iterations of Android operating system (OS) updates from a device’s year of purchase, to all premium LG smartphones currently in use. Earlier this week, the South Korean firm announced that it will be exiting the mobile business by the end of July. According to LG, the three OS update guarantee applies to LG premium phones released in 2019 and later, including G series, V series, VELVET, and Wing. It further added, certain 2020 models such as LG Stylo and K series will receive two OS updates, depending on Google’s distribution schedule as well as other factors such as device performance and compatibility. In another development, Samsung Electronics is recycling its old Galaxy smartphones into healthcare equipment for underserved people in India, Morocco, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea.

All apps must use App Tracking Transparency with iOS 14.5, says Apple

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, requires apps to get a user’s permission before tracking them. “Make sure your apps are ready for iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5,” the company said in a developer blog post, and added, “With the upcoming public release, all apps must use the ATT framework to request the user’s permission to track them or to access their device’s advertising identifier.” Without a user’s permission, “the device’s advertising identifier value will be all zeros.” Apple had earlier confirmed that ATT will start rolling out by early spring. Apple’s privacy change has not gone down well with Facebook as the move could dent the social network’s ad revenue and user targeting strategy this year. In another update, Apple will now allow users to locate and track third-party products using the finding capabilities of its ‘Find My’ app.

Practo launches online consultations in vernacular languages

Online healthcare platform, Practo, has introduced vernacular language options for its teleconsultation service on both its app and website. The platform will offer consultation in 15 languages, including Marathi, Tamil, Kannada and Bengali, with more to be added soon, the company said in a blog post. Earlier this year, the firm piloted the language options by offering Hindi as the alternate option to users. During this time, 25% of all online consultations on the platform were conducted in vernacular languages, with Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, and Kannada (in that order) emerging as their preferred language(s) for consultation, Practo noted, and added that 65% of all vernacular consults were from users aged 60 and above. In another development, a new wireless system, developed by a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says it can flag potential errors when patients use an inhaler or an insulin pen.

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