Nobody else in Silicon Valley has such absolute power over a technology giant.
Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder, chief executive, board chairman and majority shareholder of Facebook, the most-populated social network in the world.
For years, few considered this a problem. But then, things started going rather badly.
“I know that we don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly,” Mr Zuckerberg said on stage this week at the firm’s annual developers’ conference in San Jose.
He smiled, awkwardly, but the audience was not laughing – because that reputation has left users upset, politicians seething, regulators plotting and investors on edge.
There are now growing calls for Mr Zuckerberg to look hard at whether he is capable of effectively holding all of the many positions under his name.
And, as the US rolls into its next election cycle, a desire to look tough on Silicon Valley has US presidential candidates calling for Mr Zuckerberg’s power to be heavily diluted, whether he wants it to be or not.
Behind closed doors, Facebook and the US Federal Trade Commission are deep into negotiations. The FTC is understood to be planning a record-breaking fine, and Facebook, it told investors last week, has set aside at least $3bn to pay it. The question is: what else might the regulator demand?
“I think Facebook has consistently, aggressively violated consumer privacy,” Ashkan Soltani, former chief technologist at the FTC, told the BBC. He said he felt Facebook saw it as a necessary, affordable risk to take in order to build its business as quickly as it did.
“It’s akin to double parking – being comfortable with the fines of a parking ticket, because you make more on say, a package delivery. I think the company has prioritised growth at any cost.”
As a result of this prevailing sentiment, the FTC is under considerable pressure to concoct a punishment that represents more than what would amount to a financial slap on the wrist. Even if the fine is as high as $5bn, as Facebook has said it might be, that would still only equate to one third of what it earned in the first three months of this year alone.
According to reports in the Washington Post and Politico, the key detail to look out for in the FTC’s judgement will be about additional oversight.
Politico reported on Wednesday that the FTC is considering a ruling that would demand Facebook appoint a government-approved privacy official at the company, and elevate “privacy-minded” executives to the highest levels at the firm. The report also said Mr Zuckerberg would be specifically appointed as the individual responsible for applying these changes, a move designed to make him personally liable for any failings to do so.
And then there’s the question of pressure from the firm’s investors. While the share price has rallied since the significant drops seen during the immediate fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, there are calls for Mark Zuckerberg to consider whether holding the position of both chief executive and chairman is simply too tall an order – particularly at a company in crisis.
A group of investors is calling for Mr Zuckerberg to be replaced with an independent chairperson, citing the firm’s recent troubles as ample motivation for the move. The vote doesn’t stand a chance of passing, as Mr Zuckerberg personally controls the majority of votes – but those in support say that just serves to underline their point.
The vote, then, is being seen as an opportunity to give Mr Zuckerberg some food for thought on his roles, said Jonas Kron from Trillium Asset Management, which is leading the move.
“I think he should be seriously thinking about [stepping down],” Mr Kron told the BBC.
“He has examples in Larry Page at Alphabet and Bill Gates at Microsoft of what it can look like for a founder not to be the chairman of the board.
“I realise that it may not be an easy step to take, but it’s an important step that would be to his benefit, to his shareholders’ benefit, to employees… and to the users and the communities around the world that use Facebook every day.”
Facebook declined to offer comment for this story, other than to point the BBC in the direction of its official response to the shareholders’ proposal.
It said, in part: “We believe that our current board structure is in the best interests of our stockholders. Therefore, our board of directors recommends that our stockholders vote against this proposal.”
In simpler times, back in 2015, Mark Zuckerberg had just had his first child with wife Priscilla Chan, and at the same time announced his intention to gradually step away from the day-to-day running of Facebook.
With these issues swirling, that transition might need to happen sooner than Mr Zuckerberg would have hoped.
Source: BBC News
Huawei Responds To Android Ban
Fresh off the sledgehammer blow of having its Android license revoked by Google in response to US government demands, Huawei has issued its first, limited response, which leaves more questions open than it answers. In a statement emailed to The Verge, Huawei underscores its contributions to the growth of Android globally — which most recently saw the company’s Android phone sales growing by double digits while every other leading smartphone vendor was shrinking or stagnant — and reassures current owners of Huawei and (subsidiary brand) Honor phones that they will continue to receive security updates and after-sales service. That promise also covers phones that are already shipped and in stock at stores globally, but no additional promises are made beyond that.
“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.
Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.
We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”
Google has already said that owners of Huawei phones will retain their access to the Play Store and continue being able to update their apps. The big thing that’s being written out of their future, however, are further Android OS updates from Google. To get those back, Huawei phone owners and fans will have to hope for a resolution in the US-China trade dispute, which has been the trigger for Huawei’s current blacklisting by the US government.
For its part, Huawei has been making preparations for an eventuality of losing access to software from US companies like Google and Microsoft, and it has been developing an in-house operating system alternative to Android. That may be what the company hints at in the final paragraph of its statement when it says it will “continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem.” Sustainable being the key word.
Source: The Verge.
NCA Unveils Plan To Ban All Fake Phones.
Mobile devices that enter the country will now be tested for their authenticity before being released onto the market.
This follows the completion of a state of the art laboratory by the National Communications Authority to test such devices.
The NCA, together with other stakeholders in the telecommunications industry, has on a number of occasions lamented the effect of substandard mobile devices have on service delivery.
Speaking at the celebration of World Telecoms Day in Accra, Deputy Minister of Communications George Andah said the Ministry will do all it can to maintain high standards within the country’s telecommunication industry.
“The NCA has acquired the state of the art type approval laboratory capable of testing all electronic communication devices to ensure that they are up to standard”
“To the NCA, I request that you kindly liaise with mobile network operators to determine the level of potential risk with regards to the prevalent substandard mobile devices on the market”.
Ghana joined the rest of the world on Friday, May 19, 2019 to observe the 2019 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day under the theme “Bridging the standardization gap”. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration since its inception in 1969.
The day was observed to raise awareness on the importance of the theme as well as encourage the implementation of international standards in Ghana’s communications sector in the bid to bridge the digital divide
Google And Android System Start To Cut Ties With Huawei.
US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world's smartphones, said Sunday it was beginning to cut ties with China's Huawei, which Washington considers a national security threat.
In the midst of a trade war with Beijing, President Donald Trump has barred US companies from engaging in telecommunications trade with foreign companies said to threaten American national security.
The measure targets Huawei, a Chinese telecoms giant in Washington's sights that is listed by the Commerce Department among firms with which American companies can only engage in trade after obtaining the green light from the authorities.
The ban includes technology sharing.
"We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications," a Google spokesperson told AFP.
The move could have dramatic implications since Google, like all tech companies, must collaborate with smartphone makers to ensure its systems are compatible with their devices.
Google will have to halt business activities with Huawei that involve transfer of hardware, software and technical services that are not publicly available -- meaning Huawei will only be able to use the open source version of Android, a source close to the matter told AFP.
Huawei will no longer have access to Google's proprietary apps and services, such as the Gmail email service.
Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Huawei is a rapidly expanding leader in 5G technology but remains dependent on foreign suppliers.
It buys about $67 billion worth of components each year, including about $11 billion from US suppliers, according to The Nikkei business daily.
Huawei is the target of an intense campaign by Washington, which has been trying to persuade allies not to allow China a role in building next-generation 5G mobile networks.
US government agencies are already banned from buying equipment from Huawei.
Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said Saturday that "We have not done anything which violates the law," adding the US measures would have a limited impact.
Rigworld, Maritime University Partner To Train Students On IMO Regulations.
Rigworld Training Centre (RTC), an indigenous Ghanaian company has signed an accreditation partnership with the Regional Maritime University (RMU) to train personnel on International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations.
Under the accreditation partnership the two parties will collaborate for the training of people on IMO mandatory short courses hence issue two certificates; one jointly signed by RTC and RMU and secondly solely signed by the Ghana Maritime Authority, certificate of competency from Ghana Maritime Authority.
The partnership, which was signed by Prof. Elvis Nyarko, Vice Chancellor of the RMU and Kofi Amoa-Abban, Director of the RTC.
Among some of the courses that would be offered as part of the training program include Elementary First Aid, Personal Survival Techniques, Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities as well as Basic Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting.
Others are International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, Oil/Chemical Tanker Familiarization, Efficient Deck Hand, Lifeboat, Proficiency in Survival Craft Rescue Boat, Radar/ARPA Simulator Training as well as International Safety Management.
The RMU is an international institution owned by the Republics of Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone under the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA). The overall objective of the RMU is to promote regional co-operation in the maritime industry focusing on the training to ensure sustained growth and development in the industry.
The RTC on the other hand is an indigenous Ghanaian company accredited by various international bodies to train people and students in safety and survival skills in the oil and gas industry here. Enditem