US lawmakers want China export bans to include open tech like RISC-V

PLUS: South Korea to fine Apple, Google; Digital fraud booms in Hong Kong; Singtel slings TrustWave

ASIA IN BRIEF Three members of the US Congress have expressed concerns that the nation's export controls regime are ineffective because they allow free sharing of open technology with China.

Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the House select committee on China, told Reuters he wants the Department of Commerce to "require any American person or company to receive an export license prior to engaging with PRC (People's Republic of China) entities on RISC-V technology."

Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the newswire that China "is abusing RISC-V to get around US dominance of the intellectual property needed to design chips" and called for export rules to change as using open source semiconductor designs represents a "tech transfer strategy that serves to degrade US export control laws."

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) opined: "Communist China is developing open source chip architecture to dodge our sanctions and grow its chip industry," adding "If we don't broaden our export controls to include this threat, China will one day surpass us as the global leader in chip design."

The Register considered the possibility of open source export bans in our second story of 2023.

– Simon Sharwood

South Korea to fine Apple, Google

South Korea's Communications Commission last Friday warned Apple and Google it intends to fine them for monopolistic practices related to their app stores.

"Google and Apple violated prohibited acts of the Telecommunications Business Act as the two tech giants forced specific payment methods and unfairly delayed application assessment by abusing their market positions," states the Commission's notice of its intent to levy fines.

The Commission proposed a ₩47.5 billion ($35 million) fine for Google and a ₩20.5 billion ($15 million) fine for Apple. It's also issued a "corrective measure draft for Apple's discriminatory charging of fees to domestic app developers."

The warnings come after South Korea in 2021 required app store operators to offer third-party payment options.

– Simon Sharwood

Digital fraud booms in Hong Kong

Hong Kong experienced a 57 percent year-on-year increase in suspected digital fraud attempts in H1 2023, according to a report from consumer credit reporting agency TransUnion last Wednesday.

Over eighteen percent of digital transactions monitored in Hong Kong were flagged for suspected fraud, TransUnion found.

Singtel sells cyber security business Trustwave

Singapore-based telco Singtel last week agreed to sell its cyber security business Trustwave to growth equity firm MC2 Titanium.

The deal was set at [PDF] $205 million, comprising a secured note and cash, said the telecom company.

The sale was made after Singtel conducted a strategic review that saw it decide to exit the infosec business and focus on corporate IT services, including the operation of datacenters. The deal is expected to be completed by Q4 2023.

China suspected of hacking Guyana's government

Security software outfit ESET detailed a cyber attack targeting government organizations in Guyana.

The attackers used a previously undocumented C++ backdoor. "Apart from DinodasRAT, the attackers also deployed Korplug, leading us to suspect that China-aligned operators are behind this operation," ESET's researchers wrote.

ESET also noted that the hacking incident coincided with Guyana's arrest of three people in a money laundering investigation involving Chinese entities.

China to double the size of its space station

China will add three more modules to its space station in the next few years, according to remarks reportedly made at the 74th International Astronautical Congress in Baku, Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

Tiangong became operational in 2022 and can currently host three astronauts in three modules. The timing of its proposed capacity-doubling expansion coincides with the retirement of the International Space Station (ISS).

GoTo scores $150 million grant

Indonesia's GoTo has received $150 million in funding – mostly from the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) – to be used to drive financial inclusion in the archipelago nation.

The bulk of the funds – $125 million – will be provided by the IFC and $25 million form private investment firm Franke & Company.

The agreement "underscores a shared commitment to ensuring more people can benefit from the digital economy and addressing climate change," stated the IFC. The org noted that 97 million adults remain unbanked in Indonesia.

"The landmark partnership also includes non-financial support to help the company transition its fleet of driver-partners and delivery partners to electric vehicles, improving operational efficiency, and integrating more sustainable business practices to achieve carbon neutrality," reads a canned statement from the IFT.

In other news …

Our Asia-Pacific coverage last week included Japan's drive for less dependence on foreign infosec tools by forming an alliance of private and government agencies.

The ongoing fracas between China and the US continued to spiral, with loopholes being closed to make life even harder for the Middle Kingdom's chip shops.

While we're on the subject of geopolitics, Russia is yet again planning to shut down any and all VPNs – a tactic it has tried before and which will be most likely just as successful this time.

China's ban against Micron Technology has hurt a bit, but Japan is welcoming the US chipmaker with open arms and billions of Yen to expand its presence in Hiroshima.

Digicel, a strategically important telecommunications provider in the South Pacific, is ditching its Huawei gear.

Reports that Taiwanese entities have been aiding and abetting Huawei to get around US tech restrictions are under investigation by the Taiwanese government.

Meanwhile Belgium, which doesn't often feature in Asia-Pacific news, is said to be concerned that Alibaba's logistics hub at one of its airports may be a springboard for Chinese espionage operations.

And finally, a Singapore-based security outfit has warned that there's malware targeting Android users – particularly those using certain Vietnamese banking apps, but the method used could be applied more widely. ®

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