Another round of headaches for Chinese telecom equipment makers Huawei and ZTE–after previously facing scrutiny over security concerns in the U.S., the two companies are now being targeted by the European Commission. The European Union’s executive body is seeking to investigate Huawei and ZTE for undercutting European firms by receiving state subsidies, and wants the backing of EU states to move ahead even without a complaint from domestic manufacturers, according to sources cited in a Reuters report.
Reuters reports that European manufacturers Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, and Nokia Siemens Networks have refused to cooperate with the Commission or file a complaint because they fear being shut out of the lucrative Chinese telecoms market. In turn, Huawei has denied receiving unfair subsidies and says it complies with international laws and does not engage in espionage. Huawei is the world’s second largest telecom gear maker after Ericsson.
According to the report, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht intends to move ahead and bring up the issue with EU trade ministers at a meeting in Dublin this week. An internal EU report last year recommended that EU take steps to limit the growth of Chinese telecoms equipment maker, citing competition against domestic companies as well as threats to security.
The Commission’s complaints are similar U.S. concerns about the Chinese companies. Last month, Sprint Nextel and SoftBank pledged not to use gear from Huawei if they merged, though that tie-up is now uncertain after Dish Network launched a $25.5 billion bid to compete with SoftBank’s previous offer of $20.5 billion. Huawei recently said that its U.S. growth prospects will be hindered this year by U.S. security concerns after a U.S. congressional report last October found that U.S. national security interests could be undermined if Huawei and ZTE provide gear for critical infrastructure.
But EU companies have not taken a unilateral stance. In Britain, Huawei has been subject to scrutiny by the government over security concerns, though the company is also seen as a major job provider both there in the Netherlands. Germany, however, stopped Huawei last year from providing infrastructure for a national academic research network.
View original post here: Huawei & ZTE Under Scrutiny Again, This Time By The European Commission For Unfair Competition
Facebook has filed to have a lawsuit lodged by a user over controversial changes to Instagram’s terms of service dismissed, Reuters reports.
The company claims that the plaintiff could have simply avoided the changes by deleting her account before the new policy became active.
Lucy Funes levied the complaint, which is intended to be a class-action suit, against Facebook last December, alleging breach of contract. Facebook’s filing attempts to counter the action by pointing out that Funes continued to use the photo sharing service even after filing her suit.
Facebook proposed changes to Instagram’s terms of service late last year and was quickly met with vocal opposition to clauses that appeared to allow the company to sell photos to advertisers. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom attempted to defuse the situation by stating that the service had no intentions of selling user photos. Facebook eventually acquiesced by reverting the disputed section to the original version.
Instagram has already anticipated potential legal action against it by adding to its new terms of service a mandatory arbitration clause that has users waiving their rights to most class-action complaints.
Facebook declined to comment on the move when contacted by The Next Web.
Though the terms of service hubbub may have tarnished Instagram’s reputation, the service continues to grow. As of last month, the company had 90 million monthly active users and was processing 40 million photos per day.
Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Here is the original post: Facebook moves to dismiss user lawsuit over Instagram terms of service change
As early as the middle of October, new users of Outlook.com who switched to the product from other webmail providers were reported account access issues, and missing emails.
TNW did not take note of the issue until today, when a report on the sharp Neowin brought the issue to our attention. This sort of error is not to be dismissed: much of a person’s digital life is stored in their email history. To lose it could mean to lose everything from concert ticket stubs, to wedding photos, passwords, tax history, exonerating evidence, and other key pieces of data.
Here’s the crux of Neowin’s coverage today on the Outlook.com flub:
Microsoft’s forum moderators have been posting messages on this thread promising to fix the problem but many users are clearly getting frustrated with the situation. One forum poster, “JaneMorgenstern” wrote on January 9th:
“FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! We have provided hundreds of examples over the last SIX MONTHS!!! Take a look at the history on all of the threads concerning this problem and make a reference db. Get this FIXED Microsoft! Totally unacceptable service, an outrage for this to have gone on as long as it has.”
Given the long history of user complaint concerning an issue this damaging, Microsoft owes its users not only a backup of their email if indeed they are going missing en masse, but also a direct apology and public plan for course correction.
Microsoft launched the Outlook.com product to fanfare. In its early days, when strong, quick user growth was being enjoyed by the service, TNW declared it a hit. We are, however, more than willing to kibosh that statement if the company is scuttling user complaint about this painful bug.
Outlook.com has potential. However, managing the letting down of its users by deleting their notes to tamp down notice places that potential in doubt.
Top Image Credit: Pete Birkinshaw
US regulators could be close to ending its investigation against Google as early as this Thursday, according to Bloomberg. Amid allegations that the search engine giant had abused its patents and power when it came to mobile and search offerings, the Federal Trade Commission may be looking to settle the case.
After 20 months of probing through all of Google’s records, Bloomberg says that Google has agreed to make “voluntary changes to some of its business practices and settle allegations that it misused patents to thwart competitors in smartphone technology.” Back in June 2011, the FTC served civil subpoenas to Google that kickstarted a broad antitrust investigation into the company’s performance and alleged abuse regarding its web dominance.
Several months later, Microsoft filed a complaint with the FTC claiming that Google had illegally changed its advertising rates that affected the Redmond-based company. According to the complaint, Google had raised prices for ads Microsoft was paying for alongside queries such as ‘hotmail’ 50 fold. Bloomberg also reported at the time:
The Federal Trade Commission is probing the increase, along with other allegations against Google related to advertising, as a result of complaints from Microsoft, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to publicly comment. The complaints are being examined as part of a larger antitrust probe into Google that began earlier this year, the person said.
Google had sought to have this case resolved earlier and even FTC Chairman Jon Leibwitz said he hoped to wrap up this lengthy investigation in December. Instead it got delayed, most likely as a result of the European Union’s parallel investigation that took a more hard line approach to Google.
The FairSearch.org coalition, a group that includes Microsoft and Expedia, two companies that have filed complaints against the search engine, says that the potential settlement was unwise: “If the FTC fails to take decisive action to end Google’s anti-competitive practices, and locks itself out of any remedies to Google’s conduct that are offered in Europe later this month, the FTC will have acted prematurely and failed in its mission of protecting America’s consumers”
It is continuing to urge the FTC to investigate the complaint and says that the group “remains convinced that US consumers and innovators deserve the same protections that the European Commission may adopt in Europe. Consumers will fail to reap the benefits of a truly competitive online marketplace if Google is allowed to pick and choose where it biases its search results.”
It’s important to note that the any deal right now is not final and things could change over the next 24 hours. With the recent successful confirmation of a new FTC commissioner on Tuesday, things might get a bit interesting. As TNW’s Alex Wilhelm explained, Joshua Wright has been benched for two years with respect to all cases involving the search engine. Why? Because he has “received funding from Google for some of his academic research.” As a result of his recusal, the FTC now will have four commissioners overseeing the case and that could change things.
We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.
Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Here is the original post: Google will reportedly settle with the FTC on Thursday over its alleged misuse of patents
The patents war between Samsung Electronics and Ericsson rolls on. The Korean electronics company has announced that it filed a complaint last week against the Swedish telecom manufacturer with the U.S. International Trade Commission, requesting a U.S. import and sales on some Ericsson products. This latest action comes one month after Ericsson sued Samsung in the U.S. for patent infringement,and requested an ITC U.S. import ban on Samsung products.
The complaint was filed last Friday, according to Samsung. The company said in a statement that “we have sought to negotiate with Ericsson in good faith. However, Ericsson has proven unwilling to continue such negotiations by making unreasonable claims, which it is now trying to enforce in court.”
Last month’s lawsuit by Ericsson against Samsung followed almost two years of negotiations to renew a FRAND (an acronym for “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory”) patent licensing agreement between the two companies. Twenty-four patents were involved in the ligitation and Ericsson said at the time that “the dispute concerns both Ericsson’s patented technology that is essential to several telecommunications and networking standards used by Samsung’s products as well as other of Ericsson’s patented inventions that are frequently implemented in wireless and consumer electronics products.”
Ericsson added that after Samsung licensed the patents in 2001 and 2007 the Swedish company extended an offer to renew the license for a third time, but Samsung refused to agree to the terms. In response, Samsung complained that the royalty rates Ericsson asked for the patents were “excessive.”
“While the two companies are no longer competing in the wireless gadgets market, Samsung is now also building a telecommunications infrastructure business. Samsung’s foray into Ericsson’s market is much less talked about than its Galaxy phones and tablets, but it’s starting to show results. For example, in August 2012, Samsung announced an LTE infrastructure deal with a UK carrier named Three, which it described as its “first commercial mobile network roll-out in Europe”, Ericsson’s home continent. I’m sure that at this point no one in the industry would underestimate Samsung’s ability to become a significant player, if not the leader, in a new segment of the overall market for telecommunications hardware. This certainly adds a more strategic dimension to the Ericsson-Samsung dispute.”