Huawei developed own operating system Hongmeng OS; 5G商用 中国准备好了! China roll-out affordable 5G


https://youtu.be/uHlrc7kWh-w

Huawei OS ‘Hongmeng’ could be known as ‘ARK OS’ globally

US vs Huawei: This is How the US Economy Crashes

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei remains positive, despite U.S. sanctions

这是特朗普面对中国犯的最大错误

5G商用 中国准备好了! 20190605 | CCTV中文国际

 

Chinese consumers expected to use affordable 5G phones next year

 

After 5G commercial licenses have been officially issued, how long will Chinese people have to wait before they can use 5G smartphones?

The official issuance of the licenses shows that China — the world’s largest mobile phone market — has entered the 5G era. Industry analysts predict that Chinese consumers will be able to use 5G smartphones at prices ranging from 2,000 yuan ($290) to 3,000 yuan next year.

“Some 5G smartphone products will be released this year, but will be quite expensive, over 10,000 yuan,” Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Bei-jing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times on Thursday. Consumers can buy 5G phones at affordable prices in a year, he noted.

Major regions such as Beijing, Shanghai and South China’s Guangdong will be the first places covered by 5G networks. Based on previous in-formation unveiled by the three carriers, smartphone users will have access to 5G high-speed internet and voice services without having to change SIM cards.

China’s telecoms industry regulator officially re-leased the first four 5G business licenses to Chi-na Mobile, China Union, China Telecom and Chi-na Broadcast Network on Thursday, helping the country get into the fast lane in commercializing the next generation of wireless technologies.

China released licenses a year earlier than scheduled to boost the economy while strengthening the overall telecoms sector in light of the US-led crackdown on Chinese telecoms vendors, Xiang noted.

“It will also help boost the sluggish smartphone market,” he said.

Chinese smartphone makers such as OPPO and vivo have shown confidence by releasing the first batch of 5G phones as soon as possible, and will adjust shipments in line with demand, media re-ported on Thursday.

– Global Times

 

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Huawei could end up challenging Google

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How this US-China trade war will remake the world


New world order: People visit the bund in front of Shanghai’s financial district of Pudong. The US-China trade war looks like the beginning of a profound break in the global order. As China and the United form two opposing economic and geopolitical coalitions, the rest of the world will be forced to choose. – Reuters

President Donald Trump has long said the goal of his trade policy is simply to get better deals for Americans. But as the trade war intensifies, it seems increasingly likely that his policies will lead to something more: a lasting break with China and a new alignment of global power.

First, consider the evidence for the break.

The current impasse in trade talks was sparked by a sudden change in terms on the part of the Chinese negotiators.

This change likely caught the administration off guard, but Trump’s response is notable: He immediately ramped up tariffs, then announced a ban on business with Chinese telecommunications firm and national champion Huawei Technologies Co.

These actions have backed Chinese President Xi Jinping into a corner and turned the trade dispute into a matter of Chinese national pride.

This limits the possibility not only of a quick resolution, but also of the chances that the Chinese people will accept any concessions to the US.

Trump’s handling of this situation stands in sharp contrast to his negotiating strategy on other issues.

Though the president railed against NAFTA throughout his campaign, he’s touted its replacement as a huge success, even though it is only cosmetically different, and has been willing to suspend his tariffs on Canada and Mexico to ease its passage through Congress.

Likewise, Trump has been more than willing to trumpet his successful negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un even though the evidence for such success is thin.

Meanwhile, the president’s tough talk against Europe and Japan for their trade practices, and against NATO allies for their defence spending, has been mostly bluster.

When it comes to China, however, the president is doubling down.

He has encouraged US supply chains to move out of China and established subsidy programmes to cushion farmers from the effects of a protracted trade war.

Which leads to the long-term implications of this battle. A protracted trade war would almost guarantee a global realignment.

Supply chains that run through both the US and China would constantly be subject to disruptions, so global manufacturers would have to decide whether to pursue an America-centric or China-centric strategy.

That’s already the case in the digital sphere, where Chinese restrictions on the Internet divide the world into two parts: that which is served by US tech giants such as Google and Facebook, and that which relies on Chinese firms such as Baidu and WeChat.

China’s threat to cut off US access to rare-earth minerals points to a potential bifurcation in commodities markets as well.

The trend is clear: As China’s economic and geopolitical power grows, countries within China’s sphere of influence will feel increasing pressure to integrate their economies with Chinese supply chains and multinationals rather than American ones.

At the same time, as my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Tyler Cowen points out, the rise of China is a main driver of populist sentiment in the UK and Australia.

This creates political pressure in those countries for further isolation from China.

In the US, Trump has made it clear that he sees the trade war with China as politically advantageous for him, and he’s probably right.

It’s probably also true that this anti-China sentiment will outlast him.

Break in global order

Add up all these factors, and the US-China trade war looks like the beginning of a profound break in the global order. As China and the US form two opposing economic and geopolitical coalitions, the rest of the world will be forced to choose.

Maybe the European Union can form a third unaligned pole, as France and Germany’s membership in the EU (and the UK’s absence from it) provides them with the negotiating power to avoid falling under the Chinese or American sphere of influence.

Of course, in some ways this type of multipolar alignment would be a return to the past. The dual-superpower world that existed for much of the second half of the 20th century was always an exception, and the era of American supremacy that began after the collapse of the Soviet Union was never going to last.

Until recently, however, a new kind of bipolar arrangement seemed possible: a kind of competitive partnership between China and the US, with the EU playing a supporting role.

The events of the last few weeks have left that looking increasingly unlikely. — Bloomberg Opinion

By Karl W. Smith , a former assistant professor of economics at the University of North Carolina’s school of government.

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Read more : 

 

The Tech Cold War Has Begun – Bloomberg
China now has no choice but to pursue technological independence, and will burn the cash to achieve it. … A similar process took place when ZTE Corp. was banned from buying U.S. products after reneging on a deal to settle charges of breaking trade sanctions. … The U.S. ended up 

Another Long March begins

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “we are on a new Long March now” during his inspection tour of Jiangxi Province this week and encouraged people to gain strength from the spirit of the Long March to overcome
difficulties and obstacles, China’s state media outlets reported on Thursday.
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Huawei Technologies CEO Ren Zhengfei says Huawei would be “fine” even if Qualcomm and other American suppliers would not sell .

 

Huawei could end up challenging Google


 

 

Google Ban Huawei 谷歌封杀华为 || Epic Asian

Surprising Facts About HUAWEI – Is it Evil?

Interview With Ren Zhengfei, Founder And CEO Of Chinese Telecom Giant Huawei | TIME

BY imposing restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co, the administration of US President Donald Trump may force the Chinese company to do something that no one in tech has dared to do for a long time: Challenge Google’s control of the Android universe, which earned the US company a huge European fine last year.

Huawei faces two big threats from US technology export restrictions. One is the loss of American components for its products, a blow it cannot parry immediately if it wants to keep making top-flight smartphones.

The other is the potential withdrawal of its Android license, which would stop Huawei from preinstalling the latest Google-approved version of the operating system and some key services Western users see as necessary – above all Google’s Play Store, the biggest repository of Android apps.

This particular obstacle could, under the right conditions, turn into a Huawei strength in Europe, a market that accounts for almost a third of the company’s smartphone unit sales, according to market analytics company IDC.

Last July, the European Commission fined Google €4.34bil for imposing illegal restrictions on smartphone manufacturers. In exchange for the right to preinstall the Play Store, they had to agree, among other things, not to sell devices running versions of Android not approved by Google: so-called Android forks. These operating systems are developed from the open source version of Android, which anyone can use, including Huawei if the US bans it from using American technology. Amazon.com Inc’s Fire OS is the best-known Android fork today, though there are others around.

The commission wrote that by obstructing the development of Android forks, Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc “closed off an important channel for competitors to introduce apps and services, in particular general search services, which could be pre-installed on Android forks.”

In its ruling, it made a strong case for forks as platforms for Google-independent innovation that, if they were allowed to spread widely, could have curbed Google’s market dominance in various areas.

Google has appealed the ruling, but it has also removed restrictions on handset makers to avoid further fines. This, however, hasn’t led to the proliferation of alternative platforms based on open-source Android: Big phone makers are locked into comfortable relationships with Google and see no need to experiment. Days after the European Union fined Google, Huawei, at the time the biggest phone manufacturer that provided an easy opportunity to install alternative Android-based operating systems on its devices, ended the programme without explanation.

If Google takes away the Android license, it’ll yank Huawei out of its comfort zone. The company isn’t likely to give up the European market without a fight, after spending billions of dollars developing a customer base. Consumers in some European countries now appear to be put off Huawei by the US attack, although, paradoxically, it appears to have fuelled the brand’s popularity in France.

France for Huawei

Percentage* of consumers who say they’ll consider buying a Huawei device when they’re next in the market for a smartphone
Source: YouGov BrandIndex

The company has said it developed its own operating system (likely an Android fork), and it’s been trying to lure developers to its app store.

If the US stops Huawei from preinstalling the Play Store, the Chinese manufacturer probably won’t spend much time educating consumers on how to install it on their own (the way people do now with phones bought in China).

That’s not what most users expect on a new, expensive device. Instead, Huawei will want to offer developers an easy way to sell apps not just in the Google store but also in one preinstalled on Huawei devices – to “multi-home” them.

Huawei hasn’t been eager to get into an open confrontation with Google, which was a valued partner.

But a breakup ordered by the US government changes things. Huawei, with plenty of resources of its own (and most likely with support from the Chinese government, determined to fight back against the US), could soon be investing heavily in the marketing and improvement of an Android fork. Given Huawei’s marketing potential, the effort isn’t necessarily doomed. And it could boost Asian and European developers deterred from competing in some areas – such as mapping, video services or even search – by Google’s enormous power.

Given the pushback in recent years against US tech companies’ relentless data collection and the widespread mistrust of Trump’s administration in Europe, there could well be demand for a Google-free phone from a major manufacturer known for superior hardware.

I know I’d be interested, and the French would probably lap it up, judging by their reaction to the US threats. The EU regulators, too, might be intrigued to see evidence that perhaps the Google antitrust ruling didn’t come too late.

This is something of a utopian scenario, I know. Huawei may never need to go on the warpath against Google: The US and China could strike a trade deal that would make the specter of restrictions go away.

Or, if Huawei is banned from buying US technology, it could find itself unable to produce marketable phones for a while. And, of course, it is a company from Communist China, making it difficult for European regulators, and even for private developers, to embrace it as a savior from the overly dominant US tech companies.

Monopolies in tech don’t last forever, however.

Sometimes they just need a push to start showing cracks. If the US moves against Huawei, it might be unknowingly giving such a push to Google in the smartphone market. — Bloomberg Viewpoint

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Read more:

China will emerge victorious from US tech crackdown folly


But it needs a lot of time. During this process, China cannot avoid paying a price and will have a difficult time. But Huawei still has a domestic market of more than a billion Chinese people and the market of the Third World  countries. When the Trump administration cracks down on Huawei, the US also goes through hard times. The final
victory will certainly be China’s, but China must have adequate determination and endurance.

 

 

Huawei Accuses U.S. of Bullying as It Seeks Support From Europe – WSJ

 

 

Govt seeks Asian support

 

 

Even with trade war, Asia bond investors sleep better at night

 

 

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Silicon Valley faces tech backlash: maybe needs to be taken down to size


Polarising content and Russian manipulation of social media are fuelling calls for greater regulation of firms like Google and FB. — 123rf.com

 

Demonstrators at a rally in opposition to white supremacists and the postponed right-wing “March on Google” protest of James Damore’s firing that was originally planned the same day. — Bay Area News Group/TNS

Once a darling, tech hub Silicon Valley is under attack for its technologies which are damaging our lives.

ONCE upon a time, there was a beautiful land filled with bright minds and gleaming prospects.

People called it Silicon Valley, and out of it flowed knowledge, ideas and innovations that gave us almost-unthinkable powers to learn, to communicate, to transform our lives into exactly what we wanted them to be. The region’s denizens toiled happily at the cutting edge, and day by day, they were making the world a better place.

But today, this beautiful land is under attack from within and without. The products and services it sends out into the world are being called addictive, divisive and even damaging, raising the cry that instead of making the world better, they are making it worse.

As technology plays a deeper and more pervasive role in nearly every aspect of our lives, the industry that has upended everything from shopping and travel to education and human relationships is facing a backlash the likes of which Silicon Valley has never seen.

Polarising online content and Russian manipulation of social media platforms have fuelled calls from the right and the left for greater regulation of firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter. World wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Republican US Senator John McCain, leftist billionaire George Soros, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson have all joined the chorus demanding the government take action.


Terrific or terrible?

Critics argue that the big tech firms have become too economically dominant, intruded too far into our lives and have too much control over what gets seen and shared online. At the same time, critics contend, those same companies have failed to take responsibility for the misuse of their services by malevolent actors, for the spread of fake news and for the way their platforms and algorithms can be gamed.

Stanford computer science students are protesting Apple, demanding it make less addictive devices.

The #MeToo movement has amplified a debate over sexual harassment and diversity in Silicon Valley. And conservatives have attacked the whole region as a liberal echo chamber that stifles precisely the open debate it claims to embrace.

Thus the backlash.

“What makes it categorically different now is that this is the first time I have seen that people are saying, ‘Hmmm, maybe Silicon Valley needs to be taken down to size,’ said Leslie Berlin, project historian for Stanford University’s Silicon Valley Archives. “This notion that what Silicon Valley represents actually threatens rather than embodies what makes the country great, that is new.”

Berners-Lee in an open letter recently called the tech giants “a new set of gatekeepers” whose platforms can be “weaponised” to widen social rifts and interfere in elections. Benioff told CNBC in January that social media was “addictive” and should be regulated like cigarettes.

Carlson wants Google treated like a public utility because it “shuts down free speech for political reasons”.

Former president Barack Obama, at a February conference at MIT, said social media was Balkanizing public discourse, creating “entirely different realities” that contribute to “gridlock and venom and polarisation in politics”.

Even Facebook has jumped in with an unusual mea culpa, issuing a news release in February admitting it was “far too slow to recognise how bad actors were abusing our platform”.

Raking in the money

Despite its critics, Silicon Valley remains hugely successful and influential, with 21% of employed people working in tech, according to a 2017 Federal Reserve Bank report. Though the region’s economy has shown some signs of slowing, job growth in Silicon Valley has been more than double the national rate since the beginning of the economic recovery in 2010.

And the region remains home to the two most valuable public companies in the world, Apple and Google’s parent firm Alphabet, as well as world-class universities. Every day, people around the world benefit from Silicon Valley-built tools that have transformed communication, opened access to information, and made life easier.

The notion that Silicon Valley’s best days are over is far from new – people have been predicting its demise ever since the advent of the microprocessor, said Berlin.

“It was going to be the oil shocks of the 1970s that were going to take it down, and then competition from Japan, India and China, the Dot Com bust, Y2K – it’s just been one thing after another, the 2008 crash,” Berlin said. “Time and again, Silicon Valley has bounced back from these perceived threats. Silicon Valley has always been sort of the golden child of the Golden State.”

But this time, Berlin and others see something shifting.

“It is unprecedented,” UC Berkeley Haas School of Business professor Abhishek Nagaraj, said of the backlash. “I think this is because of how deeply penetrated tech is in people’s lives.”

Nagaraj, who studies the tech industry, compared the demonisation of Silicon Valley to the outcry against Wall Street after deceptive investment banking practices knocked the United States into the Great Recession.

“It appears as if, basically, tech is the new finance,” Nagaraj said.

Overwhelming force

Increasingly, the public views the tech industry as a force against which they are powerless, said San Jose State University anthropology professor Jan English-Lueck, who researches Silicon Valley’s culture.

“It’s now on people’s radar screen to be a place of the elite, where they’re changing the world in a way that ordinary people don’t have an influence on that change,” EnglishLueck said.

While the devices and social media platforms created by hugely successful Silicon Valley tech firms have given us new ways to connect, they’ve also thrown the worst of human nature into our faces, said English-Lueck.

“You don’t have to look in somebody’s eyes when you’re telling someone something ugly,” English-Lueck said. “That’s really exaggerated people’s ability to hate.”

She believes the optimistic view of technology as the great liberator and connector helped keep major tech firms from building more safeguards into their platforms to prevent vicious online attacks, dissemination of fake news and nation-state intrusions.

“Do we want free speech and free action that’s amplified by the Internet?” she said. “Sometimes we don’t want that.”

Stephen Milligan, CEO of pioneering San Jose data-storage firm Western Digital, doesn’t think technology can solve everything.

But Milligan doesn’t buy the notion that Silicon Valley has lost its bloom. The region’s companies are still trying to solve “real problems” in the world and having a positive impact on people’s lives.

“It’s still cool,” Milligan said. “I actually think it’s more cool.”

Silicon Valley boosters such as Peggy Burke, CEO of Palo Alto branding agency 1185, will tell you the technology industry can fix the problems it creates.

“You have to weigh the good and the bad, and if the bad gets so bad that it outweighs the good, someone will solve for that,” Burke said. “If there’s a problem – traffic, transportation, housing, stopping Russians, fake news – someone in the Valley right now is working on solving for that problem. I’ve been in the Valley for 30 years and I’ve seen it happen over and over.”

A reckoning for the region is likely, but it won’t be a fatal one, Berkeley’s Nagaraj said. The problems arising from technology will exacerbate the ongoing decentralisation of innovation, as boot camps bring entrepreneurial skills to new regions, and clusters of expertise – in “deep learning” artificial intelligence in Toronto, for example – lead to cooperative projects linking the Valley to other areas, he said.

“It’s going to be a much more collaborative process than one of replacement,” he said. “We are moving to a world where not all the big hits come from Silicon Valley.”

Source: By Ethan Baron – The San Jose Mercury News/Tribune News Service

 

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Smartphones going modular


A near-final prototype of Google’s Project Ara. – Photo : ©Google ATAP

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Mo4GeSil9fU

There has been much talk of modular smartphones this spring, after LG released its G5 handset and Google presented a near-final version of its Project Ara.

Modular smartphones differ from regular mobiles thanks to their “building block” design, made up of various interchangeable modules containing different hardware components. These can be switched quickly and easily to boost performance or replace faulty parts.

The current wave of modular smartphones draws on a concept created by a Dutch designer, Dave Hakkens, whose Phonebloks mobile is based on a set of small modules (processor, hard disk, camera, etc.) that can be easily changed and updated.

Once assembled, they form a smartphone with varying levels of performance and functionality, a bit like a desktop PC. As well as making savings for users, a modular design can also help counter planned obsolescence in smartphones.

This idea inspired Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), who went on to develop Project Ara. Initially presented as a similar project to Phonebloks, comprising almost as many modules as a smartphone has components, the handset evolved, little by little, into a slightly less ambitious prototype presented at the last Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California.

It now takes the form of a smartphone with just six interchangeable modules, including a second display, a camera, memory, a speaker, etc. The screen, processor and RAM are all grouped together in one core block that cannot be modified. A developers’ kit is due to be released in the fall ahead of a planned consumer launch in 2017.

Another smartphone based on the same idea hails from Finland. However, the PuzzlePhone hasn’t been the focus of anywhere near as much media attention as Google’s concept.

This modular mobile only has three interchangeable blocks: one for the display, another for the battery and one main system block housing the processor, memory and camera. It should go on sale before the end of 2016.

The only modular smartphone currently available to buy is the LG G5, unveiled at the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, back in February.

This handset has a slide-out bottom for changing the battery in just a few seconds. As well as its removable battery, additional interchangeable elements can be added to the phone, such as camera and audio modules. The LG G5 is out now priced at around $650.

Check out Project Ara in this video below:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/aWW5mQadZAY
Sources: AFP – RelaxNews

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Smartphone handset: build it yourselves


Build-your-own Google handset reconstructs smartphone

Barcelona (AFP) – With a smartphone that slots together piece by piece like Lego, US Internet giant Google is trying to reinvent the mobile as most phone makers are honing sleeker handsets.

The company aims to challenge its rival Apple’s thin iPhones with the Google Ara project, giving smartphone aficionados the option to build their phone themselves.

Analysts say tech boffins will love it but remain cautious about how popular it may be compared to polished conventional smartphones that sit snugly in the palm.

Google says the Ara phone is part of its bid to widen Internet access to users in developing countries and could create a new industry for assembly-ready handset parts.

Google’s associate, US firm Yezz, presented a prototype of the build-your-own device this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the world’s biggest wireless telecom trade fair.

The phone consists of a base structure on which various square, magnetic modular parts can be attached: screen, battery, camera, speakers and more. Google plans to release it in three sizes.

Build-your-own Google handset reconstructs smartphone

Ara would allow users to replace individual components rather than throwing the whole thing away and buying a new handset. It says the base unit will last at least five or six years.

“That is good for the environment,” said Annette Zimmermann, a telecom specialist at German consultancy Gartner.

– Emerging markets –

Ara “could reshape the mobile landscape,” said Paul Eremenko, director of the Ara Project, in a presentation to experts in January.

He said it aimed to gain six billion potential clients — the current billion people who currently use smartphones “and five billion future users”, most of them in emerging markets.

Google says a mid-range Ara phone could cost between $50 and $100 to produce, but has not given details of the likely sales price, leaving questions marks over how sustainable such a product would be.

“Google is not looking to make money directly with Ara,” said Jerome Colin, a telecom expert at French consultancy group Roland Berger.

“It is basically looking to spread smartphones in countries with low purchasing power, and to unify the telecom world around its Android system.”

– ‘Paradox of choice’ –

Tech fans and bloggers queued up to see the prototype presented in Barcelona, but analysts were sceptical.

“The trend in mobile phones is to have small, thin, really integrated products. If you make a product modular it immediately means that you’re going to have to make compromises on that,” said Ben Wood, head researcher at consultancy CCS Insight.

“The other question mark I have is: beyond geeks, who really knows” about components? he added.

“If I said to you, which processor do you want in your smartphone, I think you could stop people in the street and they’d just look at you like you’d landed from Mars.”

Eremenko acknowledged that consumers risked being overwhelmed by too many technical options when it comes to choosing components.

“We need to resolve the paradox of choice,” he said in January.

Google plans a test launch of the device in Puerto Rico by the end of this year.

“We will have to see if the public takes to it,” said Zimmerman.

Google dominates the world of Internet searches and its Android operating system can be used on 80 percent of the world’s smartphones. It also holds a large market share in wireless tablet devices.

Its senior vice-president Sundar Pichai said in Barcelona on Monday that it was in talks with telecom companies about possibly using their networks to operate its own mobile phone services in the United States.

AFP

2013 the year of Internet innovation


Smartphone_Ed SnowdenA man uses his smartphone to take a picture of a person wearing a mask of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a protest in Berlin, July 4, 2013.

As the year comes to a close, we need to reflect on what are the most important things that have affected our lives in 2013.

The Internet continues to transform our world. The most significant Internet event in 2013 was not the listing of Facebook, which priced the company at $104 billion (almost Bt3.4 trillion), but Edward Snowden’s July revelations of Internet surveillance, which revealed that Big Brother, friend or foe, is really watching. Since my smartphone is smart enough to track me even in the toilet, there is really no privacy left in this world.

On the plus side, Singles Day – November 11 – garnered 35 billion yuan (Bt187 billion) in online sales on one day in China. Since China already accounts for one-third of the smartphones in the world, and they can make and sell smartphones at one-third the price of Apple or Samsung, it is not surprising that e-commerce in the Middle Kingdom is set to overtake even the US in volume next year.

Online business is here to stay.

What the combination of the Internet and smartphone means is that a person in the remotest part of Indonesia can sell his or her product to buyers worldwide, and collect over the smartphone, which was impossible to imagine even 20 years ago.

Amazing also are the apps downloaded in their millions to maximise personal efficiency. Ease of personal communication, meanwhile, has been taken to a new level with apps like WeChat. Such free Internet services are rising so fast that even revenue from SMS text messages is slowing down.

On the other side, after Snowden, what must consider the proper role of the government in the Internet and how it should behave to encourage Web innovation and growth?

Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz was one of the first to tackle the subject, in “The Role of Government in a Digital Age” (2000), with Peter and Jonathan Orzag. Their report recommended 12 principles. The first three cover the state’s proper role in the affairs of the Internet:

1.Provide public data and information.

2.Improve efficient government services.

3.Support basic research.

The next six principles are areas where the government should exercise caution. These include:

4.Adding specialised value to public data and information.

5.Providing private goods only under limited circumstances.

6.Providing services online where private services are more efficient.

7.Ensuring that mechanisms exist to protect privacy, security, and consumer protection online.

8.Promoting network externalities only with great deliberation and care.

9. Maintaining proprietary information or exercising rights under patents or copyright.

The report also signalled “red light” areas of state intervention in the Internet:

10.Governments should exercise substantial caution in entering markets in which private sector firms are active

11.Governments (including government corporations) should generally not aim to maximise net revenues or take action that would reduce competition.

12.Government should only be allowed to provide goods or services for which appropriate privacy and conflict-of-interest protections have been erected.

The Stiglitz-Orzag report was written for the US market, but the general principles are useful guides for all states. The trouble is that Snowden showed that the US government might have failed to follow some of these guidelines. We do know that governments are becoming increasingly intrusive on the Internet, and that such intrusion inhibits competition and innovation.

Because the Internet is evolving very fast, the role of government in Web affairs also needs to evolve. Businesses are becoming even more service and information-oriented, with increasing numbers going digital and in the “Cloud”. This means that governments are struggling with three major issues: protecting private privacy, ensuring a level playing field in competition, and taxing online activities.

Governments must also sort out jurisdictional duties and powers, because the Cloud is global, and taxation and regulation is not only national, but departmental. It is as if each small part of the bureaucracy is trying to regulate the whole Cloud. We can all touch and feel its power, but there is no overall central authority that can control the Cloud.

An island nation in the Pacific might pass a law on the Cloud, but could it enforce it?

Individual privacy is being threatened by the practice of hacking, and the biggest hackers are not bedroom-bound nerds, but governments everywhere.

The second problem of a level playing field is a serious one. If Google has maps and can monitor everything I do through my smartphone, does that information belong to Google or to me? If it belongs to the large platforms, does that not confer a huge informational advantage on them? How can governments ensure that there is a level playing field between these massive online platforms and the small businesses that have no such information or may have to pay the platform for it?

The third area is taxation. Online commerce has escaped the tax radar because it is new. In contrast, bricks-and-mortar shops have rents, create jobs and pay value-added taxes. If everything moves online, the government loses the ability to tax, and bricks-and-mortar retail shops will complain they are losing out to larger and larger platforms. Bookshops around the world are closing in droves now that everyone can order through Amazon.

There are no easy answers to these tough questions. The interdependent and interconnected nature of the Internet means that regulatory or government action in one part may affect the system as a whole. In other words, government action or non-action creates a shadow system – the business moves offline, offshore or into cyberspace.

What we need is better transparency, better education, wider access and also some key principles of fair competition that should be enforced for online business to innovate.

Finally, a year-end reminder: use your smartphone in the toilet, and someone (not Snowden) can hear you flush. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all.

Contributed by Andrew Sheng, President of the Fung Global Institute.
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