Storm Shelters and Greatest Spots to be During Hurricane

Storm Shelters

They don’t discriminate against the chilly months of the year. All of us understand a really warm day spells out the chance for tornadoes or severe thunderstorms. When a twister strikes is in a storm cellar among the safest areas to be. You can buy a pre-storm shelter that is manufactured and install it yourself or have it installed. If you pick to do this it’s important which you research the proper stuff to use for the shelter to succeed in order. It is possible to have Flat Safe Storm Shelters constructed into your house or in the earth near your house. In addition they come in various sizes, so you should take into consideration demands and the size of your family. If you reside in a trailer, it’s especially significant that you know in the place where it is possible to take cover or have a storm shelter.

Many of the Flat Safe storm shelters are installed in the garage of the home, giving you the opportunity to access the shelter from the interior of the home. The is a great preventative measure to avoid running out doors during a storm. Storm shelters located insid the home and buried under concrete slabs provide much safer means of protection than above ground shelters.

Room or a cellar that’s rather without windows and subterranean is the next best thing to some shelter that is reinforced. If there are windows in the cellar, cover if you’ve got time and stay from them. You should visit an interior room which is on the lowest place of your home if there’s absolutely no cellar in your house. Toilet or a wardrobe is not worst. You should steer clear of outdoor walls, windows and doorways. Stay from big rooms for example the center of the supermarket, auditoriums or big halls. The smaller hall or the room the better. Take cover under it, if there exists a hefty furniture piece in the room.

Shield body and your head with blankets, pillows or mattresses. If you’ve got pets or small kids with you, make certain they’re well shielded too. Keep a cell phone with you and a torch, preferable in your pocket. It is possible to call someone this way should you be trapped and you may have a torch that will enable you to be located. A battery powered TV or radio can be great to keep in your safe spot to keep yourself educated. Tend not to stand out or by a window on the veranda and make an effort to video it. You’ll be able to optimize your odds of being safe during a tornado if you follow these suggestions and other suggestions online.

Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears

February 24, 2018

By Stephen Nellis and Cate Cadell

SAN FRANCISCO/BEIJING (Reuters) – When Apple Inc begins hosting Chinese users’ iCloud accounts in a new Chinese data center at the end of this month to comply with new laws there, Chinese authorities will have far easier access to text messages, email and other data stored in the cloud.

That’s because of a change to how the company handles the cryptographic keys needed to unlock an iCloud account. Until now, such keys have always been stored in the United States, meaning that any government or law enforcement authority seeking access to a Chinese iCloud account needed to go through the U.S. legal system.

Now, according to Apple, for the first time the company will store the keys for Chinese iCloud accounts in China itself. That means Chinese authorities will no longer have to use the U.S. courts to seek information on iCloud users and can instead use their own legal system to ask Apple to hand over iCloud data for Chinese users, legal experts said.

Human rights activists say they fear the authorities could use that power to track down dissidents, citing cases from more than a decade ago in which Yahoo Inc handed over user data that led to arrests and prison sentences for two democracy advocates.  Jing Zhao, a human rights activist and Apple shareholder, said he could envisage worse human rights issues arising from Apple handing over iCloud data than occurred in the Yahoo case.

In a statement, Apple said it had to comply with recently introduced Chinese laws that require cloud services offered to Chinese citizens be operated by Chinese companies and that the data be stored in China. It said that while the company’s values don’t change in different parts of the world, it is subject to each country’s laws.

“While we advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws, we were ultimately unsuccessful,” it said. Apple said it decided it was better to offer iCloud under the new system because discontinuing it would lead to a bad user experience and actually lead to less data privacy and security for its Chinese customers.

As a result, Apple has established a data center for Chinese users in a joint venture with state-owned firm Guizhou – Cloud Big Data Industry Co Ltd. The firm was set up and funded by the provincial government in the relatively poor southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou in 2014. The Guizhou company has close ties to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.

The Apple decision highlights a difficult reality for many U.S. technology companies operating in China. If they don’t accept demands to partner with Chinese companies and store data in China then they risk losing access to the lucrative Chinese market, despite fears about trade secret theft and the rights of Chinese customers.

     BROAD POWERS

Apple says the joint venture does not mean that China has any kind of “backdoor” into user data and that Apple alone – not its Chinese partner – will control the encryption keys.  But Chinese customers will notice some differences from the start: their iCloud accounts will now be co-branded with the name of the local partner, a first for Apple.

And even though Chinese iPhones will retain the security features that can make it all but impossible for anyone, even Apple, to get access to the phone itself, that will not apply to the iCloud accounts. Any information in the iCloud account could be accessible to Chinese authorities who can present Apple with a legal order.

Apple said it will only respond to valid legal requests in China, but China’s domestic legal process is very different than that in the U.S., lacking anything quite like an American “warrant” reviewed by an independent court, Chinese legal experts said. Court approval isn’t required under Chinese law and police can issue and execute warrants.

“Even very early in a criminal investigation, police have broad powers to collect evidence,” said Jeremy Daum, an attorney and research fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center in Beijing.  “(They are) authorized by internal police procedures rather than independent court review, and the public has an obligation to cooperate.”

    Guizhou – Cloud Big Data and China’s cyber and industry regulators did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Guizhou provincial government said it had no specific comment.

There are few penalties for breaking what rules do exist around obtaining warrants in China. And while China does have data privacy laws, there are broad exceptions when authorities investigate criminal acts, which can include undermining communist values, “picking quarrels” online, or even using a virtual private network to browse the Internet privately.

Apple says the cryptographic keys stored in China will be specific to the data of Chinese customers, meaning Chinese authorities can’t ask Apple to use them to decrypt data in other countries like the United States.

Privacy lawyers say the changes represent a big downgrade in protections for Chinese customers.

    “The U.S. standard, when it’s a warrant and when it’s properly executed, is the most privacy-protecting standard,” said Camille Fischer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

WARNED CUSTOMERS

Apple has given its Chinese users notifications about the Feb. 28 switchover data to the Chinese data center in the form of emailed warnings and so-called push alerts, reminding users that they can chose to opt out of iCloud and store information solely on their device. The change only affects users who set China as their country on Apple devices and doesn’t affect users who select Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

The default settings on the iPhone will automatically create an iCloud back-up when a phone is activated. Apple declined to comment on whether it would change its default settings to make iCloud an opt-in service, rather than opt-out, for Chinese users.

Apple said it will not switch customers’ accounts to the Chinese data center until they agree to new terms of service and that more than 99.9 percent of current users have already done so.

Until now, Apple appears to have handed over very little data about Chinese users. From mid-2013 to mid-2017, Apple said it did not give customer account content to Chinese authorities, despite having received 176 requests, according to transparency reports published by the company. By contrast, Apple has given the United States customer account content in response to 2,366 out of 8,475 government requests.

Those figures are from before the Chinese cyber security laws took effect and also don’t include special national security requests in which U.S. officials might have requested data about Chinese nationals. Apple, along with other companies, is prevented by law from disclosing the targets of those requests.

Apple said requests for data from the new Chinese datacentre will be reflected in its transparency reports and that it won’t respond to “bulk” data requests.

Human rights activists say they are also concerned about such a close relationship with a state-controlled entity like Guizhou-Cloud Big Data.

Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, said the Chinese Communist Party could also pressure Apple through a committee of members it will have within the company. These committees have been pushing for more influence over decision making within foreign-invested companies in the past couple of years.

   

(Reporting by Stephen NellisEditing by Jonathan Weber and Martin Howell)

Google raises price of YouTube TV, adds sports, Turner

February 24, 2018

By Jessica Toonkel

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is raising the price of its YouTube TV online service for new customers as it adds channels from Time Warner Inc’s Turner, National Basketball League and Major League Baseball, the company said Wednesday.

Less than one year after launching YouTube TV, the company is increasing its pricing to $40 per month from $35 per month as it adds Turner’s channels, which include TNT, CNN and TBS, and soon will be adding MLB Network and NBA TV, the company said.

Google is expanding its offering at a time when a growing number of competing services, such as Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Hulu, are vying to win over the growing number of viewers who are cancelling their cable subscriptions to watch their favorite shows online.

The four largest cable and satellite companies lost 1.5 million pay TV customers in 2017.

DirectTV Now has over 2 million subscribers, according to AT&T. Sling TV, Hulu and YouTube TV do not disclose how many users they have, but research firm BTIG estimates they respectively had 2.1 million, 500,000 and 350,000 as of the end of 2017.

The costs for these competing offerings range from $20 for Sling TV’s most basic offering of 30 channels to $39.99 for Hulu’s one with more than 50 channels and its library of shows and movies, which costs $7.99 separately.

Google is betting that its strong sports offering will help win over more subscribers, said Heather Moosnick, director of content partnerships, YouTube TV.

“Sports is really one of the key offerings that a millennial would be willing to pay for a live TV service,” she said.

To that end, Google has targeted sports fans with its TV ads this year. Ninety-six percent of YouTube TV’s ads on television so far this year have appeared during sports programming, including the Super Bowl, according to iSpot.tv, which tracks TV ads.

When Google launched YouTube TV last April it was cautious with how much content it was offering so that it could keep the price low enough to entice cord cutters or people considering cutting the cord, Moosnick said.

At launch YouTube TV offered almost 50 channels in five markets. With these additions, YouTube TV will have almost 60 channels, and be in 100 markets, Moosnick said.

The new pricing will take effect for new users who sign up after March 13, the company said.

(Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; Editing by Susan Thomas)

China’s Huawei set to lead global charge to 5G networks

February 23, 2018

By Eric Auchard and Sijia Jiang

FRANKFURT/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s Huawei is forging closer commercial ties with big telecom operators across Europe and Asia, putting the company in prime position to lead the global race for next-generation 5G networks despite U.S. allegations it poses a security threat.

Huawei’s dominant position in China – set to become the world’s biggest 5G market by far – is well-documented. However it has also been making in-roads in the rest of world to compete with rivals Ericsson and Nokia in several lucrative markets, including countries that are longstanding U.S. allies.

5G networks, now in the testing stage, will rely on denser arrays of small antennas and the cloud to offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks and serve as critical infrastructure for a range of industries.

Deals to start building 5G networks are still largely a year away, but Huawei has signed 25 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with telecom operators to trial 5G equipment, a Reuters review of company reports and announcements found.

These MoUs – pre-cursors to potential commercial contracts – include agreements with Britain’s BT, Bell Canada (BCE), France’s Orange Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and global player Vodafone.

Huawei [HWT.UL] lags behind Sweden’s Ericsson, with 38 MoUs, and Finland’s Nokia, with 31, according to the data, which does not include deals that have not been made public.

However, the Chinese company’s existing partnerships with operators could give it an extra edge; as of 2016, Huawei said it had supplied more than half of the 537 4G networks globally and 59 of the 90 4.5G networks – an intermediate step before 5G.

“Existing network footprint is important because operators still need to maintain their legacy … networks and could save money by using the same vendors,” said Stefan Pongratz, a top industry analyst with research firm Dell’Oro.

Huawei also has the home advantage: the firm and smaller, domestic-focused peer ZTE are each guaranteed about a third of China’s 5G network contracts, under Beijing’s policy, while foreign players have to compete for slivers of the market.

By 2025, 1.2 billion people worldwide are set to have access to 5G networks – a third of them in China, according to the GSMA, a global trade group of nearly 800 mobile operators.

There are however potential risks ahead; Huawei, like its rivals, has spent billions of dollars developing 5G network technology, there are no guarantees about when operators around the world will adopt the new technology.

Many cash-strapped operators want to see significant consumer and business demand before allocating capital, something out of Huawei’s control. Some emerging markets have yet to adopt 4G, putting major 5G moves at least a decade off. 

TRIPLE THE SIZE

Unlisted Huawei is triple the size of either Nokia and Ericsson in terms of its annual revenue, which totaled about $92 billion last year, half of it from China. It sold 32 percent of global mobile radio access gear – antennas and base stations – in the last quarter, against Ericsson’s 30 percent and Nokia’s 25 percent, according to market research firm Dell’Oro.

Ericsson has been under heavy pressure to cut costs in recent years at a time of dwindling profits, while Nokia has had to integrate multiple acquisitions in its networks business.

Nokia said it was confident its broad 5G portfolio, which also includes software and services to manage networks, would allow it to win a bigger slice of the telecoms market.

Ericsson said its longstanding ties with customers and advanced 5G patent portfolio would keep it competitive. “All our customers are looking at 5G,” a spokesman said.

Huawei’s 5G MoUs include non-binding agreements with big telecom operators in South Korea, Japan and Australia, Italy, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, on top of Britain, Germany, France and Canada.

Potential commercial benefits aside, these agreements indicate that many countries allied to the United States do not share Washington’s security concerns.

A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this month would bar equipment from Huawei from any U.S. government networks to prevent Chinese spying. A leaked presentation from a U.S. National Security Council staffer earlier this year suggested the U.S. government build its own 5G network – a proposal that was widely ridiculed by industry experts.

Huawei categorically rejects U.S. spying concerns.

“Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cyber-security risk than any (communications) vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities,” a spokesman said.

OPERATORS REJECT SPYING FEARS

Bruce Rodin, vice president of wireless networks for Bell Canada, said his company used an external cyber-security firm to conduct extensive testing of Huawei products.

“We’ve been doing it for about 10 years and never seen malicious code or backdoors,” Rodin told Reuters, characterizing the U.S. moves as an effort to protect American companies. “It’s a commercial thing. They are protecting their industry,” he said.

Deutsche Telekom said it cooperates with Huawei on many levels and found no evidence of security risks. “The hardware is built to Deutsche Telekom’s specifications and is examined by our own security department,” a spokesman said. Orange told Reuters it is cautious with Huawei “as with any supplier.”

Thomas Jarzombek, a member of the German parliament and digital spokesman for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said that in the wake of revelations about U.S. spying by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, American tech companies were not necessarily to be trusted either.

This month, a trade mission by British Prime Minister Theresa May to China included a glowing endorsement of Huawei for its commitment to Britain.

Debates over the timing of 5G deployment will top the agenda at Mobile World Congress, Europe’s biggest annual technology conference taking place next week in Barcelona. The industry is counting on the new technology to trigger a wave of growth in equipment sales and mobile services starting in 2020.

(Reporting by Eric Auchard in Franfurt and Sijia Jiang in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Jim Finkle in Toronto, Dustin Volz in Washington, Olof Swahnberg in Stockholm, Douglas Busvine in Frankfurt, Mathieu Rosemain in Paris, Emma Thomasson in Berlin, Joyce Lee in Seoul, Jane Chung and Liana Baker in Pyeongchang; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Pravin Char)

Intel did not tell U.S. cyber officials about chip flaws until made public

February 22, 2018

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Intel Corp did not inform U.S. cyber security officials of the so-called Meltdown and Spectre chip security flaws until they leaked to the public, six months after Alphabet Inc notified the chipmaker of the problems, according to letters sent by tech companies to lawmakers on Thursday.

Current and former U.S. government officials have raised concerns that the government was not informed of the flaws before they became public because the flaws potentially held national security implications. Intel said it did not think the flaws needed to be shared with U.S. authorities as hackers had not exploited the vulnerabilities.

Intel did not tell the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, better known as US-CERT, about Meltdown and Spectre until Jan. 3, after reports on them in online technology site The Register had begun to circulate.

US-CERT, which issues warnings about cyber security problems to the public and private sector, did not respond to a request for comment.

Details of when the chip flaws were disclosed were detailed in letters sent by Intel, Alphabet and Apple Inc on Thursday in response to questions from Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The letters were seen by Reuters.

Alphabet said that security researchers at its Google Project Zero informed chipmakers Intel, Advanced Micro Devices Inc and SoftBank Group Corp-owned ARM Holdings of the problems in June.

It gave the chipmakers 90 days to fix the issues before public disclosing them, standard practice in the cyber security industry intended to give the targets of bugs time to fix them before hackers can take advantage of the flaws.

Alphabet said it left the decision of whether to inform government officials of the security flaws up to the chipmakers, which is its standard practice.

Intel said it did not inform government officials because there was “no indication that any of these vulnerabilities had been exploited by malicious actors,” according to its letter.

Intel also said it did not perform an analysis of whether the flaws might harm critical infrastructure because it did not think it could affect industrial control systems. But Intel said that it did inform other technology companies that use its chips of the issue, according to its letter.

Intel, Alphabet and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

AMD, ARM, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc also responded to questions from lawmakers.

Microsoft said that it did inform several antivirus software makers about the flaws “several weeks” ahead of their public disclosure to give them time to avoid compatibility issues. AMD said that Alphabet extended the disclosure deadline from the standard 90 days twice, first to Jan. 3, then to Jan. 9.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Additional reporting by David Shepardson and Dustin Volz in Washington; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Uber CEO says no change in India business after SoftBank deal

February 22, 2018

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc does not expect any change in its India operations following an investment deal with Japan’s SoftBank Group, which also has a stake in the U.S. firm’s India rival Ola, Uber’s chief executive said on Thursday..

India is one of Uber’s fastest-growing international markets and accounts for more than 10 percent of Uber’s trips globally, but it’s not making money yet, Dara Khosrowshahi told reporters in New Delhi, his first visit to India since he became Uber CEO last year.

Both Uber and India’s market leader Ola are backed by SoftBank and have been locked in a fierce battle, pumping in millions of dollars of investors’ money for a bigger piece of the country’s $12 billion taxi market.

(Reporting by Aditi ShahEditing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Twitter bars tactics used by ‘bots’ to spread false stories

February 22, 2018

By David Ingram

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Twitter Inc said on Wednesday it would no longer allow people to post identical messages from multiple accounts, cracking down on a tactic that Russian agents and others have allegedly used to make tweets or topics go viral.

The San Francisco-based social network also said it would not allow people to use software to simultaneously perform other actions such as liking or retweeting from multiple accounts.

Twitter, known for freewheeling discussions in short messages, is under pressure from users and Western governments to stem the spread of false news and foreign propaganda, often done with the help of automated accounts known as bots.

Twitter bots disseminated propaganda before the 2016 U.S. elections and have continued to inflame U.S. politics under cover of anonymity, academic researchers and U.S. authorities say.

On Friday, the office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies, including St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency known for trolling on social media. The court document said those accused “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Twitter’s new restrictions are aimed at improving “information quality,” Yoel Roth of the company’s policy team said.

“These changes are an important step in ensuring we stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter – including elections in the United States and around the world,” Roth said in a statement.

Posting identical messages to multiple accounts, or simultaneously retweeting or liking a message from multiple accounts, could help vault something into Twitter’s trending list, giving a false impression of how viral it is among real people.

Twitter said it would give users until March 23 to comply before suspending accounts. It made an exception for bots of broad interest such as earthquake alerts.

Twitter has cracked down on other violations of its terms of service, including fake accounts by people inflating their following.

Some U.S. users with conservative politics complained their number of followers had gone down after Twitter asked them to verify their identity. #TwitterLockOut was among the trending topics.

Former Twitter user Jared Taylor, editor of the white supremacist magazine American Renaissance, sued Twitter on Tuesday in state court in San Francisco, saying the decision to ban him violated California law governing “privately owned public forums.” Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Another company, privately held online publisher Medium, recently removed accounts belonging to far-right U.S. commentators including Mike Cernovich, who said on his Twitter account on Wednesday that Medium was acting unlawfully.

Medium said it would not discuss individual accounts, but a recent rule change banned people from spreading “disinformation.”

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by David Gregorio)

Computer shops embrace lucrative business: outfitting cryptocurrency miners

February 21, 2018

By Wyman Ma, Dewey Sim and Joyce Lee

HONG KONG/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Some of the biggest electronics bazaars in Asia are being flooded with customers looking for the latest piece of technology: cryptocurrency mining rigs.

Scores of miners from around the world are traveling to places like Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po and Singapore’s Sim Lim Square to buy the rigs, which the shops’ hardware geeks expertly build behind counters in their cramped boutiques.

Some miners only buy components: a motherboard, graphic processing units, fans, power adapters, a display card and a memory card. But even if the vendors assemble them on the spot for a small fee, the finished product is usually still a relative bargain.

“It’s 30-50 percent cheaper to buy equipment related to cryptomining in Hong Kong than in Europe,” Russian bitcoin miner Dima Popov said. Hong Kong, for instance, has no sales tax and is closer to component suppliers.

Popov buys display cards, motherboards and power supplies in Hong Kong and mines cryptocurrencies in Russia, where electricity is cheaper and the climate is more suitable.

The demand for the rigs has added a new dimension to Asia’s tech shopping hubs whose once bustling business fizzled out in recent years hit by waning demand for personal computers. Storefronts that once catered mostly to locals, selling phones and other consumer gear, are now greeting foreign visitors searching for hardware that might make them rich.    

DIGITAL MINING

The rigs are often stacked in warehouses as large as airplane hangars and are monitored constantly.

Each unit contains energy-intensive processors that solve complex mathematical computations. When they do so, they are awarded them the right to validate a blockchain transaction, earning them a “mining” fee.

One cryptocurrency expert said anecdotal evidence suggests on average miners would get their money back in about three months. But those with small, home-based operations might have to wait much longer for a payoff.

In Hong Kong, shopkeepers say most buyers come from Russia, but they have had clients from western Europe, Africa and South Korea. Singapore sees visitors from neighboring countries with cheaper operation costs.

Their mining machines’ parts are mostly manufactured in China using chips from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia , who are looking for export customers amid fears that Beijing will crack down on cryptocurrency miners.

“We’ve been selling more these few months and we often run out of stock” as miners move elsewhere and components flood out of China, said Grant Mak of C. Base Computer.

Jerry Wu, shop manager of Wisetek Digital Technology Co. Ltd, says selling cryptocurrency mining equipment is 50 percent more profitable than selling computer parts and brings him HK$50,000 to 60,000 ($6,400-$7,673) a month in profits.

“The revenue is large,” Wu said.

CHIPMAKERS CAPITALIZE

As miners hunt for deals on gear, chipmakers see opportunity. Rigs can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands or more – and processing chips are the priciest component.

Samsung Electronics <005930.KS>, the world’s biggest microchip producer, said “explosive” demand for the graphics processors used in mining cryptocurrencies is driving fresh growth.

“A share of clients from the virtual currency industry is expected to grow dramatically this year in our foundry customer base,” Lee Sang-hyun, vice president of Samsung’s foundry business, said during a conference call.

Taiwan’s Advanced Semiconductor Engineering predicted an upswing in demand this year for chips used for mining rigs.

And Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) <2330.TW>, the world’s No.1 foundry by revenue and volume, has embraced cryptocurrency mining as a business venture.

But they know how fast that could change.

“The urge to mine cryptocurrency is very strong. The incentive, of course, depends on the price of cryptocurrency. And the price of cryptocurrency is very volatile. But the demand right now or for the last year has been very strong, and we expect it to continue to be strong,” TSMC’s chairman, Morris Chang, said on an earnings call last month.

‘THEY TRUST SINGAPORE’

Singapore’s smaller version of Sham Shui Po, the electronics shopping center at Sim Lim Square, is also seeing increased demand for mining equipment.

Anuj Agarwal, a 39-year-old consultant for his brother’s shop, Bizgram, said he has dealt with buyers from Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Russia.

“Foreigners come to Singapore as there is immediate supply of mining rigs here, and they trust Singapore as a country,” he said, adding that some were as young as 16 and came with their parents.

Nearby at Video-Pro, Liu Xiao Yu said he cannot keep up with the demand.

“There was a customer who asked for a rig with 500 GPU cards, which amounted to over S$350,000 ($262,700),” Liu said. “There was another who came by last week asking for 1,000 GPU cards, but I am afraid to accept the offer as supplies are low now.”

One rig with GPUs usually has six to 12 such cards.

Vendors say the 60 percent drop from an all-time high of close to $20,000 did not deter their regular customers, who tend to own large mining operations.

“Individual players may be freaked out, but the big players do not really mind. Big players are our major customers,” said Roy Chan, shop manager of BNW Technology in Hong Kong.

In Singapore, some sellers saw a 40 percent drop in revenue as Bitcoin prices tanked, but the shops are unfazed.

“Once the value of Bitcoin increases again, we will receive multiple calls and emails from customers all over the world,” Agarwal from Bizgram said.

(Reporting by Wyman Ma in HONG KONG and Dewey Sim in SINGAPORE; and Ju-Min Park in SEOUL. Additional reporting by the SHANGHAI newsroom. Writing by Clare Jim; Editing by Marius Zaharia and Gerry Doyle)

FCC reversal of net neutrality rules expected to be published Thursday: sources

February 21, 2018

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to publish on Thursday its December order overturning the landmark Obama-era net neutrality rules, two sources briefed on the matter said Tuesday.

The formal publication in the Federal Register, a government website, means state attorneys general and advocacy groups will be able to sue in a bid to block the order from taking effect.

The Republican-led FCC in December voted 3-2 to overturn rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The White House Office of Management and Budget still must sign off on some aspects of the FCC reversal before it takes legal effect.

Congressional aides say the publication will trigger a 60-legislative-day deadline for Congress to vote on whether to overturn the decision. U.S. Senate Democrats said in January they had the backing of 50 members of the 100-person chamber for repeal, leaving them just one vote short of a majority.

Even if Democrats could win a majority in the Senate, a repeal would also require winning a vote in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a larger majority, and would still be subject to a likely veto by President Donald Trump. Democrats need 51 votes to win any proposal in the Republican-controlled Senate because Vice President Mike Pence can break any tie.

On Friday, a coalition of more than 20 state attorneys general and advocacy groups agreed to withdraw a protective petition filed in January that sought to preserve the right to sue.

Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said the office reached an agreement to withdraw “the original petition and will simply refile it once the final rule is published. Either way, our coalition of AGs is taking the FCC to court to challenge its illegal rollback of net neutrality.”

The December FCC order will be made public on Wednesday and formally published on Thursday, the sources said. A spokesman for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai did not immediately comment.

The approval of Pai’s proposal marked a victory for internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc and hands them power over what content consumers can access.

Earlier this month, technology companies including Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc threw their weight behind the congressional bid to reverse the Trump administration’s plan to repeal Obama-era rules designed to protect an open internet.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Japan’s Sony to form alliance to build taxi-hailing system

February 20, 2018

By Minami Funakoshi and Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp said on Tuesday it would become the latest blue-chip firm to jockey for position in Japan’s taxi and ride-hailing market, with plans for a joint venture to develop an artificial intelligence-based hailing system.

The partnership is the latest in a growing array of tie-ups between domestic taxi firms and tech companies, who see Japan as a potentially lucrative market but are prevented from offering ride-sharing services by stringent rules.

Currently, non-professional drivers are barred from offering taxi services on safety grounds, and ride-hailing companies are limited to services that “match” users to existing taxi fleets via mobile platforms.

Sony plans to build the AI-based hailing platform with Daiwa Motor Transportation Co Ltd and five other domestic taxi firms.

This month, SoftBank Group Corp and China’s Didi Chuxing said they would roll out a venture in Japan this year to provide matching services.

SoftBank is an investor in ride-hailing firms around the world including Didi, most recently becoming Uber Technologies Inc’s largest shareholder in January.

Didi and taxi firm Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co Ltd plan to offer taxi-hailing services to visitors from mainland China, with the taxi firm saying on Monday that it was also in talks with Uber.

On Tuesday Uber’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, told investors in Tokyo that Uber must change the way it does business in Japan.

“It is clear to me that we need to come in with partnership in mind and in particular partnership with the taxi industry,” he said without providing specifics.

Some of the most vigorous opposition to industry deregulation has come from the “prince of taxis” Ichiro Kawanabe, chairman of Japan’s largest taxi firm Nihon Kotsu Co Ltd.

Kawanabe has set up its own taxi-hailing company, JapanTaxi, winning investment from Toyota Motor Corp along the way, and has 60,000 taxis registered with the service.

(This story corrects penultimate paragraph to show Kawanabe is chairman of Nihon Kotsu, not president. Kawanabe is president of JapanTaxi)

(Reporting by Minami Funakoshi and Sam Nussey; Additional reporting by Susan Mathew; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing)

Uber CEO sees commercialization of flying taxis in 5-10 years

February 20, 2018

TOKYO (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said on Tuesday he can see commercialization of the Uber Air flying taxi service happening within five to 10 years.

The U.S. ride-hailing app maker has said it expects flying vehicles to eventually become an affordable method of mass transportation.

Khosrowshahi was speaking at an investor forum in Tokyo on his first visit to Asia as Uber CEO.

Ride-hailing firms such as Uber see populous Japan as a potentially lucrative market and are pressing regulators to ease stringent rules governing the taxi industry.

(Reporting by Sam NusseyEditing by Christopher Cushing)