China: Free Meng, or else

China putting more pressure on Canada over the Meng Wanzhou arrest. BBC News:

“China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained person… otherwise Canada must accept full responsibility for the serious consequences caused.”

I went out and about in Vancouver last night. There’s definitely a big worry here that the city, which has an enormous Chinese business community, will suffer greatly if this goes on for much longer.

Over breakfast I read this terrific profile of Meng in the NYT:

Ms. Meng, who started at Huawei as a secretary 25 years ago, is not its most prominent executive. But as chief financial officer, she has played a part in the company’s efforts over the past five years to become more transparent about its operations. After United States lawmakers labeled Huawei and another Chinese manufacturer, ZTE, as security threats, Huawei saw openness as a way to help dispel the swirl of suspicions surrounding it.

Some of the distrust has had to do with Ms. Meng’s powerful and secretive father.

A weekend in jail for Meng Wanzhou

A full day’s-worth of bail hearing was not enough for a Vancouver judge to decide whether or not the grant bail to Hauwei’s detained CFO, Meng Wanzhou. The hearing will resume on Monday.

Here’s the CBC’s wrap up of the day’s proceedings

And here’s the view of the day’s action over on Chinese social media, via the Global Times:

The US wants to tarnish the image of Chinese enterprises and entrepreneurs by hitting Chinese companies that have started or intend to start a business in the US, Zhou said in a post on Weibo on Thursday.
Many Weibo users echoed Zhou’s sentiments, slamming the US for playing “dirty tricks” on China, while urging the US and Canada to release Meng.

And here’s my (brief) report on Friday’s BBC News at Ten:

‘Heading to a cardiologist…’

The new Apple Watch firmware is out, adding the ECG functionality the company revealed earlier this year. You can expect to hear plenty of tales like the one below over the next few months.

And while the cynic in me suspects Apple might actively be putting some of them out there, there’s no denying lives will be saved by this technology.

Heading to a cardiologist….. from AppleWatch

(H/T, er, @jack)

Update: 

I’m in strong agreement with this:

Imagine if any of the big tech companies – Facebook, Google, Amazon – released this functionality. The privacy angle would be pouring out of the press.

Apple, not so much – you have to say the company has, far more so than its competitors, earned the right to put something like this out there.

Uber files paperwork for IPO – WSJ

2019 is set to be a big year for ride-sharing. Via the WSJ, we now know that Uber – as well as rival Lyft – are planning IPOs early in the new year:

The filing of the confidential Form S-1 puts Uber neck-and-neck with Lyft, with both planned IPOs shaping up to be among the biggest in a spate of offerings aimed for 2019. Lyft said Thursday it had filed its S-1, and people familiar with the matter have said it is aiming to debut in March or April.

What to expect at Meng Wanzhou’s bail hearing

Good primer from the Toronto Star on what could happen in court today – as I write this we’re about 25 mins away from the hearing getting started. This insight from an immigration lawyer:

Kurland said the review of whether or not Meng should remain behind bars while awaiting a later hearing to determine her extradition will likely take weeks. The extradition hearings themselves could take years depending on whether there are appeals, he said.

New Australia data encryption laws passed

BBC News on significant new laws in Australia regarding encryption:

The Labor opposition said it had reluctantly supported the laws to help protect Australians during the Christmas period, but on Friday it said that “legitimate concerns” about them remained.

Remember kids, weakening security is for life, not just for Christmas.

Seriously, though, this seems like a well-intentioned effort to help law enforcement, but as ever, there’s little practical detail on how to make the idea work rather than just demanding Silicon Valley figures it out.

From the BBC piece:

Cyber-security experts say it’s not possible to create a “back door” decryption that would safely target just one person.

“Any vulnerability would just weaken the existing encryption scheme, affecting security overall for innocent people,” said Dr Chris Culnane from the University of Melbourne.

Such a “security hole” could then be abused or exploited by criminals, he said.

In a bid to address these concerns, Australia’s law offers a safeguard which says decryptions won’t go ahead if they create a “systemic weakness”.

However critics say the definition of “systemic weakness” is vague, meaning it is unclear how it may be applied.

Good laws are meant to be specific…

What we (don’t) know about the arrest of Meng Wanzhou

I’ve landed in Vancouver ahead of Meng Wanzhou’s bail hearing here on Friday. At the very least, it should provide some clarity in what threatens to turn into a huge diplomatic row.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Huawei has said Meng was arrested while getting a connecting flight in Vancouver on Saturday. The company has called it “unreasonable” and anti-competitive.
  • Around the same time of Meng’s arrest, President Trump, US National Security Advisor Bolton, and Chinese President Xi were meeting in Buenos Aires. But, the White House said neither Trump nor Bolton knew in advance about the arrest.
  • One person who did know, however, was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He said on Thursday that the arrest was not politically motivated.
  • Via its Canadian embassy, China have demanded Meng’s immediate release calling the whole ordeal a breach of her human rights.

Here are the biggest gaps:

  • It hasn’t yet been confirmed what the charges against Meng actually are. According to Reuters, US investigators believe they have evidence that Huawei engaged in illicit transactions with Iran, and used its accounts with HSBC Holdings to do it (HSBC is not part of the investigation).
  • We don’t know whether the US has formally requested Meng’s extradition. IF it has, it will be up to Canada’s Justice Minsiter to grant it (or not).

Some speculation on my part:

  • If the US wants to extradite and prosecute, it seems very unlikely Meng will be granted bail. She would almost head straight to the embassy and from there it’s unlikely prosectuors would ever get her back. That said, at this stage its still very much Canada’s call.
  • Senior figures in the Trump administration knew about the arrest – it’s just a question of how senior. Reuters quoted an international criminal defense lawyer as saying it would have needed high-level approval “given the circumstances that she is a Chinese citizen whose father has significant authority in the state”.
  • On a public relations side of things, Huawei has been relatively quiet, but I expect to hear a line pushed about how the US is trying to trample a major competitor to its own technology giants – Huawei is now the second biggest smartphone maker in the world, ahead of Apple (and behind Samsung).
  • While the relationship is undoubtedly being strained by this case, I doubt we’ll see it impede the progress made in trade talks between Trump and Xi this week. At least, not at first: the (tentative) agreement has come as a relief to both countires and I doubt either wants to throw it out on account of this just yet.

The hearing starts at 10am PT (1pm ET, 6pm GMT).

Update: what was I just saying? Here’s Chinese state media on the arrests.

China Daily Op-Ed:

“the US is trying to do whatever it can to contain Huawei’s expansion in the world simply because the company is the point man for China’s competitive technology companies.”

Global Post:

Obviously Washington is resorting to a despicable rogue’s approach as it cannot stop Huawei’s 5G advance in the market

Facebook Watch trials live video shopping, a la QVC

Facebook Watch is basically becoming daytime TV, online. And that’s probably not a bad strategy. Advertisers love it, there’s an audience for it, and in the crowded online video space it’s the only way I can see Facebook carving a meaningful niche.

It’s also why I think HQTrivia will eventually be bought by Facebook. Use of the HQ app is falling, and FB would get both a high profile show and it’s technoloy. And Scott!