Jun 14, 2019

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors, who defeated the Warriors in a thrilling, if sometimes painful Game 6, in the final NBA game ever for Oakland's Oracle Arena.

Now, on to happier topics via a crisp 1,005 words, < 4 minute read...

1 big thing: Huawei exec says trade war shouldn't dictate security

Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Huawei's U.S. security chief Andy Purdy says the U.S. is right to want to make sure its networks are secure. But he maintains that, in the quarrel the Trump administration has picked with his company, it has focused on the wrong things and mixed up trade issues with security concerns.

"I don’t trust anybody. We cannot and should not trust anybody," said Purdy, who was an assistant U.S. attorney and acting director of the U.S. national cybersecurity division before joining Huawei in 2012. "That’s the way we make America safer."

Details: Rather than simply exclude Huawei from U.S. networks, Purdy encouraged the government to sit down with the Chinese network vendor and create a system to ensure its products are safe.

  • "There are ways to test products for back doors," he said, adding that wireless carriers, not network equipment vendors, are in charge of the data and are vigorously ensuring it isn't leaving their hands.

Context: The U.S. has been increasingly cracking down on Huawei, which it characterizes as both a security risk and an intellectual property thief.

  • The largest American phone carriers have long been been effectively prohibited from using Huawei gear.
  • But in recent weeks the Trump administration has ratcheted up the pressure, excluding U.S. companies from most business with Huawei. That has hurt the company's business prospects globally, and could stop its fast-growing device business in its tracks.

Purdy also lamented the fact that concerns over Huawei are being mixed in with the broader U.S.-China trade dispute.

  • "We don’t want to be part of trade talks," Purdy said. "We don’t like [the] fact that we are kind of in the middle."

The other side: Sens. Mark Warner and Marco Rubio sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, urging that the Huawei issue be kept separate from trade discussions.

  • "In no way should Huawei be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations," they wrote. "Instead, the U.S. should redouble our efforts to present our allies with compelling data on why the long-term network security and maintenance costs on Chinese telecommunications equipment offset any short-term cost savings."

Our thought bubble: Huawei may decry the mixing of trade and security concerns — and that indeed seems like bad national security policy. But being a pawn in trade talks might not be so bad for the company: Huawei could benefit if China makes looser restrictions on Huawei a part of a demand in future bargaining.

Meanwhile, market research firm IHS says the U.S. ban is already having a significant revenue impact on some U.S. component suppliers, including memory maker Micron and hard drive maker Western Digital.

2. New attack on social media's immunity

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

For all the talk of antitrust investigations, a potentially bigger threat to tech platforms like Google and Facebook looms, as Axios' Kaveh Waddell reports.

What's happening: There is an intensifying call from Congress to revamp a law that shields them and other web companies from legal liability for users' posts.

Driving the news: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff yesterday joined a motley group of policymakers calling to reconsider the legal protections afforded to tech platforms. It's a broadening of a line of attack that caught fire last year when a new law made it easier to sue tech platforms for hosting sex-trafficking ads.

Details: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects companies that carry user-generated content — like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites — from bearing legal liability for what their users post.

  • It's become a cornerstone of the modern internet since it was passed in 1996, freeing companies from having to closely police every sentence, video or photo published on their platforms.
  • But critics say it's allowed them to shirk a societal responsibility to keep harmful and false information from spreading online.

The big picture: Social media companies are taking hits from every direction for allowing hate speech, false information and now fake video to mushroom on their sites. But legally, they're in the clear even when hosting the most odious content.

Be smart, per Axios' David McCabe: Lawmakers have been threatening broad changes to the immunity law for over a year but haven't advanced any legislative proposals doing so. At this point, it's more potent leverage than it is something they've been willing to get moving.

What's next: If this idea picks up steam again in Congress, expect Big Tech — including any site that hosts user comments and reviews, user-written ads, or videos and photos — to fight tooth and nail to keep its Section 230 immunity.

Go deeper: Kaveh has more here.

3. Apple CEO meets with Trump as tariffs loom

Apple CEO Tim Cook listens to President Trump at a 2017 White House meeting. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with President Trump at the White House on Thursday. It's not clear what was discussed, but it's hard to believe trade relations with China wasn't on the agenda — given the president's threat to impose an estimated $300 billion in tariffs on Chinese-made goods, including the iPhone.

  • Cook was in D.C. to attend a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, Trump and his daughter Ivanka told reporters.

Why it matters: Apple makes nearly all its iPhones in China, though supplier Foxconn said this week it has enough manufacturing capacity to make U.S.-bound iPhones outside China if it needs to. China is also a key market for Apple in terms of sales.

Separately, San Jose-based Broadcom cut its forecast for the year, specifically blaming the impact the U.S.-China trade war is having on chip orders.

4. Write your own game, no coding required
Photo: Google

There's a lot of talk about learning to code, but Google wants to allow non-coders to write their own games.

What's new: On Thursday it released Game Builder, basically a game that lets you create your own 3D multiplayer game.

Why it matters: There will always be lots of people who don't code, and projects like this let them get a taste of bringing their own creations to life. Undoubtedly some will be inspired to go further and learn to program.

5. Take Note

On Tap

Trading Places

  • Deputy Washington D.C. Mayor Brian Kenner, the city's top economic development official, is leaving to join Amazon.
  • James Loduca, who helped lead diversity efforts at Salesforce, is joining Twitter as a senior director for inclusion and diversity.


  • Facebook has reportedly lined up some big-name backers for the cryptocurrency it plans to introduce next week. (WSJ)
  • Here's a fascinating look at the types of deals phone carriers make to get their hands on the iPhone. (CNBC)
  • Fiverr shares rose 90% on their first day of trading. (TechCrunch)
  • Encrypted message service Telegram faced a denial of service attack in Asia, coinciding with the street protests in Hong Kong. (TechCrunch)
6. After you Login

I'll admit it. This is a pretty cute little stinker.

Ina Fried