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Zoom merger with Five9 scrutinized over ties to China • The Register

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Zoom’s ties to China are at the center of a US government investigation into the video-conferencing giant’s $15bn plan to take over Five9, a California call-center-in-the-cloud.

The snappily titled Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Service Sector – known as Team Telecom under a previous president – is right now probing the planned acquisition. This interagency panel is chaired by Attorney General Merrick Garland, and has reps from the Pentagon and Homeland Security.

The FCC was reviewing an application [PDF] by Zoom and Five9 as part of the takeover bid until the regulator was asked by Justice Department official David Plotinsky to hold off until the committee had finished scrutinizing the overall deal.

In a letter dated August 27, and spotted this week on the FCC website by the WSJ, Plotinsky told the FCC that the committee is considering whether the acquisition of Five9 poses “a risk to the national security or law enforcement interests of the United States.”

The Dept of Justice “believes that such risk may be raised by the foreign participation (including the foreign relationships and ownership) associated with the application,” he continued, “and a review by the committee is necessary to assess and make an appropriate recommendation as to how the [FCC] should adjudicate this application.”

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Zoom incompatible with GDPR, claims data protection watchdog for the German city of Hamburg

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By foreign relationships and ownership, officials are referring to Zoom’s links with Beijing. Not only was its encryption not that strong nor end-to-end, it also was spotted routing connections through China. Zoom promised to beef up its security, especially so when Uncle Sam found the vid-chat giant fell short of those promises.

Zoom also closed the paid-for account of US-based Chinese activists after they held an international Zoom meeting marking the 31st…

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Tech recruiters jabbed by fake COVID-19 Passport scam • The Register

T-Mobile is Warning that a data breach has exposed the names, date of birth, Social Security number and driver’s license/ID information of more than 40 million current, former or prospective customers who applied for credit with the company. Get Secured Now with Norton 360


An IT recruitment agency says a “phishing scam” is behind a fake email sent to its customers with details on how to apply for a “Coronavirus Digital Passport.”

The email – sent to applicants and clients of Concept Resourcing, based in Dudley, England, on 14 September and seen by The Reg – claimed users could “Get your Digital Coronavirus Passports (HPS) today” and showed recipients a big juicy link where they could do so.

The link was not a genuine NHS website and appears to have been deleted shortly after.

The scam was quickly spotted by the recruitment biz, which sent an email several hours later warning people not to “interact with the email” and to remain “vigilant.”

A follow-up message sent early evening on 15 September confirmed that Concept Resourcing’s “email software was compromised” and that the email had been sent to a number of undisclosed “candidates and clients.”

“This email was NOT genuine and formed part of a phishing scam using our Concept Resourcing email address,” it said.

The company said it believed a “number of candidate and client email addresses relating to historic interactions had been compromised to conduct this attack.”

It told clients it is currently working with its email provider and security team to identify the cause of the breach.

Concept Resourcing told The Register: “From the moment we discovered this issue, we took steps to notify the affected parties about what had happened.

“We have engaged a well-respected cyber security consultancy to investigate the incident, how it happened and whether there are any steps that could be taken to mitigate the risk of this ever happening again.

“Our investigation is ongoing.”

The issue of COVID-related scams is nothing new and it seems few people or organisations are…

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Forget that Loon’s balloon burst, we just fired 700TB of laser broadband between two cities, says Google • The Register

T-Mobile is Warning that a data breach has exposed the names, date of birth, Social Security number and driver’s license/ID information of more than 40 million current, former or prospective customers who applied for credit with the company. Get Secured Now with Norton 360


Engineers at Google’s technology moonshot lab X say they used lasers to beam 700TB of internet traffic between two cities separated by the Congo River.

The capitals of the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazzaville and Kinshasa, respectively, are only 4.8 km (about three miles) apart. The denizens of Kinshasa have to pay five times more than their neighbors in Brazzaville for broadband connectivity, though. That’s apparently because the fiber backbone to Kinshasa has to route more than 400 km (250 miles) around the river – no one wanted to put the cable through it.

There’s a shorter route for data to take between the cities. Instead of transmitting the information as light through networks of cables, it can be directly beamed over the river by laser.

In an effort dubbed Project Taara, X built two terminals, one in Brazzaville and another in Kinshasa, to transmit and receive data encoded in beams of laser light.

“In the same way traditional fibre uses light to carry data through cables in the ground, Taara’s wireless optical communication links use very narrow, invisible beams of light to deliver fiber-like speeds,” Baris Erkmen, Director of Engineering for Taara, explained today.

“To create a link, Taara’s terminals search for each other, detect the other’s beam of light, and lock-in like a handshake to create a high-bandwidth connection.”

About 700TB of data was exchanged over 20 days at speeds of up to 20 Gbps, with 99.9 per cent availability, with the help of Econet – the multinational telecoms giant, not the old Acorn networking system. The aim of the setup was to relay broadband internet traffic between the cities more as a test of the equipment than anything else.

A lot of effort went into tracking and pointing the light beam at a sensor a few kilometres away, and mitigating the effects of poor weather, interference from animals, and the like.

Diagram by Google of Project Taara beaming broadband over a river

Google’s…

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Bepanted shovel-toting farmer wins privacy payout from France TV • The Register

T-Mobile is Warning that a data breach has exposed the names, date of birth, Social Security number and driver’s license/ID information of more than 40 million current, former or prospective customers who applied for credit with the company. Get Secured Now with Norton 360


A French farmer who was filmed setting about bird conservationists with a shovel while in his underpants has won damages from a TV company that filmed the incident for violating his privacy.

The set-to originally occurred back in 2015, when a French bird conservation group called the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO, or Bird Protection League in English) invited a group of journalists to accompany them as they investigated a farm in Audon in southwestern France for bird traps.

Bird trapping, in which songbirds are trapped using various techniques and later eaten, is mostly forbidden in France, but it is still practised in many regions either illegally or via legal exemptions issued for supposed small-scale trapping.

According to thelocal.fr, the group duly sneaked on to the farm and began removing what they claimed were illegal traps set for finches from an area planted with corn. They were then confronted by two men, including furious farmer Jean-Marc Dutouya, who appeared wearing just a blue T-shirt and a pair of blue striped underpants and wielding a long-handled shovel like a pike.

A fracas duly ensued between the bird enthusiasts and the farmers in which a number of LPO members alleged they were assaulted, Dutouya’s octogenarian mother was reportedly shoved, and four vehicles had their tyres slashed.

For his part in the bepanted brouhaha, according to the Agence France-Presse, Dutouya was fined €400 in 2018 for violence with a weapon.

But footage of the scuffle shot by the journalists present went viral on the internet and Dutouya and his stripy pants became a sensation on Francophone Twitter, whose users referred to the incident using the hashtag #Slipgate (which translates to #Underpantsgate).

The livid Frenchman became the unwitting hero of countless memes in which his underwear-clad image – clipped from a photograph of the confrontation published by the Agence France-Presse agency – was…

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