India proposes increased power to vet tech mergers

Chinese phone makers' tax deals probed; PayPal back in Indonesia; Boeing seeks sustainability in Japan; and more

Asia In brief India's parliament will this week debate a bill that would see the nation's competition regulator add officers with technology industry expertise to its ranks, and gain the power to review and veto takeovers.

The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 would give India's Competition Commission the opportunity to consider any mergers or acquisitions that involve upwards of $200 million of Indian assets. Reviews must be concluded within 150 days.

The Commission's officers assessing mergers and acquisitions will also be required to have tech biz expertise – a sign the bill aims to increase the regulator's ability to consider tech takeovers.

The proposed powers would apply to any transaction that touches India – a hypothetical Microsoft acquisition of a networking company with a substantial Indian presence would therefore be subject to review.

The bill could therefore add India to the list of countries whose regulators must approve big deals. As India fiercely champions and defends its tech industry, it’s therefore possible to imagine the nation's regulators making maintenance of local presence a condition of future deals.

Simon Sharwood

PayPal service restored in Indonesia

PayPal's services have been restored in Indonesia after the company registered under the nation's Private Scope Electronic System Operators scheme which requires proof that internet companies comply with local security and privacy requirements. A company statement said PayPal always follows local laws and had signed up for Indonesia's scheme – but did not explain why the company missed a deadline to do so despite the law requiring registration being on the books since 2020.

Indonesia's ban did not go down well at home, with netizens blaming the government – not PayPal's tardiness – for the disruption to their preferred payment service.

Simon Sharwood

India accuses Chinese smartphone-maker of tax evasion

India's Ministry of Finance has accused Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo Mobile Communications of tax evasion.

In a canned statement released last Wednesday, the Ministry alleged Vivo had skipped out on $280 million worth of customs duty.

India's Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) raided the company's factory to find the evidence of the alleged misdeed. DRI said it has issued a notice demanding payment. The firm has "voluntarily" handed over $7.5 million.

Vivo Mobile Communications is hardly the first Chinese company to receive scrutiny from Indian authorities.

Huawei announced in June it was pulling its Honor team out of India for "obvious reasons."

Boeing seeks sustainable aviation fuel in Japan

Boeing announced last week it is opening a research and development center in Japan that will focus on sustainable tech – including sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), electric and hydrogen propulsion, robotics, digitization and composites.

The effort extends a 2019 cooperation agreement with the country's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to support sustainable technology.

Boeing's vice president of Engineering, Test and Technology, Greg Hyslop said the new Boeing Research and Technology (BR&T) center in Nagoya "will expand upon Boeing-wide initiatives in sustainable fuels and electrification, and explore the intersection of digitization, automation and high-performance aerospace composites for greater sustainability in our future products and production systems."

And just to show that it is serious, Boeing has also joined sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) group ACT FOR SKY. The 16-company organization was founded by All Nippon Airways (ANA) ad Japan Airlines (JAL), global engineering company JGC Holdings Corporation, and biofuel producer Revo International. Members of the org "share global best practices and help with the scale up and demand of SAF in Japan."

Aviation fuels are considered "sustainable" if they are refined from already existing materials like cooking oil, instead of fossil fuels and similar. Thus, even "sustainable" fuels still emit carbon dioxide. Some manufacturers are looking to clean hydrogen, and potentially boosting systems with battery-power. At present, SAFs are reportedly three to four times more expensive than traditional fuels.

India's 5G auction yields $19 billion – and deals for offshore telco suppliers

India last week concluded its auction for spectrum needed to operate 5G networks. Locals bid $19 billion for licenses.

Industrial conglomerate Adani was a surprise bidder for spectrum that it said is needed to build private networks.

Reliance Jio Infocomm, India's dominant wireless carrier, outspent rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

Interestingly, Bharti Airtel announced it had signed Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung to provide kit for its network – a decision that does not reflect India's AtmaNirbhar Bharat self sufficiency drive.

5G networks are expected to come online from October.

Simon Sharwood

Ransomware infections surge in India

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) released its ransomware report covering the first half of 2022, revealing a 51 percent increase in incidents compared to 2021.

The main culprit for the rise is file encryption Trojan malware Djvu. Lockbit, Phobos, and Hive have also played a significant part.

The majority of the attacks are observed in datacenters and the IT/ITeS sector followed by manufacturing and finance sectors. Ransomware groups have also targeted critical infrastructure in H1 2022 including oil & gas, transport, power, according to the report. [PDF]

The report also indicates threat actors are opting to use off-the-shelf malware tools rather than make their own. Favorites are deploying "AnyDesk" for remote administration and continued command, and scripts like .bat to reboot victim machines in safe mode. For cloud-based systems, the groups favor wiping data after exfiltration instead of encrypting.

What is Netflix365? Cocaine, says Australia

Australia's Border Force on Saturday announced it had intercepted 280kg of cocaine.

"Forensic examination of the drugs identified different emblems on the bricks of cocaine, including the numerals '5' and '365' and the word 'Netflix'," Border Force stated, with nary a hint of chill.

The haul was found packaged in denim bags inside a shipping container described as containing wood products.

Simon Sharwood

More Asian news from The Register last week

China's big internet companies are "decelerating" according to Alibaba, which reported very modest growth for its core business and better – but slowing – growth for its cloud.

India scrapped its data protection law, and promised a more potent replacement. The bill had been debated for three years and was fiercely opposed by tech companies and privacy advocates.

US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi said China's cyber-atttacks on Taiwan demonstrate why her visit to promote democracy and close ties with the island territory was needed. Pelosi's visit appears to have sparked DDoS attacks on Taiwan's military.

Obscure Hong Kong fintech startup AMTD Digital saw extraordinary share price growth it could not explain, perhaps as a result of the same social media exuberance that saw GameStop shares surge earlier in the year.

The UK's parliament quit its TikTok account over fears users' data could be viewed by Chinese authorities.

Tencent Cloud added many new features to its content delivery network and said they're powered by the same tech that secures its public cloud. ®

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