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Australia hears case for open access to Apple NFC tech as QR codes will not do


Apple's alleged innovation-stifling practices where its NFC tech is concerned have now become the focus of an Australian Parliamentary committee, which on Monday heard the case for government intervention. The only payment application that can access the near-field communication (NFC) interface on an iPhone is Apple Pay, whereas all the other interfaces on an iPhone like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the camera, are open to any application. Apple has cited security as one of the reasons for holding back the tech. "Host Card Emulation (HCE) is a less secure implementation, which was adopted by Android … Apple did not implement HCE because doing so would lead to less security on Apple devices," Apple said in response [PDF] to questions taken on notice from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services. "Google likely selected this implementation because Android software is used in a variety of hardware devices offered from many different companies other than Google, and therefore had to select a software-centric solution, even though it is a less secure than a secure element-based implementation. "Apple, which offers a tight integration between the operating system and its own hardware, is able to offer a fully integrated solution that is superior to Android's approach." It also told the committee an HCE implementation would lead to a worse user experience for consumers. Google in response said it does not believe there was any sort of security compromise in the HCE situation. "Our payments apps are immensely secure … our HCE system, which is used by a very large number of banks all around the world, is audited directly by the banks … we would refute the suggestion our HCE environment is in any way insecure," Google president of partnerships in the EMEA region Diana Layfield told the committee on Monday afternoon. "I would argue the user experience on Google Pay is equal to that of Apple Pay." Earlier this year, Germany, as part of its work on anti-money laundering, legislated the requirement for providers of technical infrastructures to grant access to those technical infrastructures to payment service providers. Apple and its NFC tech were captured by this legislation. "It has been our experience that opening access to the NFC chip has made for substantial competition around the world.

Tinder publisher swipes left on Apple's claims of thriving app store competition


Apple believes its decision to open the iPhone to third-party development in 2008 created a "new and unique" mobile technology environment, which then resulted in an "explosion" in software development that "significantly benefited" third-party app developers and consumers alike. Its claims were made in a submission [PDF] to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in response to its probe of app marketplaces. The local arm of the iPhone maker claimed the Apple App Store created competition and launched an entire industry around mobile app design and development. It also said the Apple App Store lowered the barriers to entry for developers. The ACCC's probe is examining the consumer, developer, and supplier experience.

Google: Mitigating disinformation and foreign influence through social media a joint effort


Google Australia believes long term success in mitigating disinformation and foreign influence through social media rests on the development of a culture of online safety across society, including through ongoing "collaboration" between the likes of industry, the technical community, and government. According to Google, such efforts must be partnered with efforts to educate users and organisations, from school students through to senior citizens and company employees on how to secure their online presence and to "apply critical thinking to the information they see and consume". The remarks were made in the company's submission [PDF] to the Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media, which also contained an overview of the work its parent company has done to counter coordinated influence operations and other government-backed attacks. In its submission to the committee looking into the risk posed by foreign interference through social media, the local arm of the search giant said it takes its responsibility "very seriously". "How companies like Google address these concerns has an impact on society and on the trust users place in our services," it wrote.

Disinformation for hire: PR firms are the new battleground for Facebook


Facebook global head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher has detailed the new disinformation paradigm his platform is battling, with an influx of adversaries using public relations or marketing firms to do their bidding. Gleicher told the Select Committee on Foreign Interference Through Social Media that, last October, Facebook removed a network that was linked to marketing firms based in the UAE, Nigeria, and Egypt. The network targeted public debate around the world, primarily in the Middle East and Africa, but with some focus in Australia. "[There is] an increasing use of marketing firms or PR agencies that are essentially running disinfo-for-hire businesses: You hire them and they run your disinformation campaign," he said on Friday morning. "We've seen these around the world, we've seen a couple of them as far back as 2018 … but we've seen more use of them lately."

Indosat Ooredoo sells off 4,200 towers for $750 million


After a competitive tender process, Indosat Ooredoo has entered into a sale and leaseback arrangement with Edge Point Indonesia for over 4,200 of its mobile towers. The transaction is valued at $750 million and the lease is in place for a decade. The telco said the sales would allow it to spend capital on improving its network performance and launch "innovative new digital solutions" for customers. "The deal marks the third and final sale of assets from Indosat Ooredoo's high-quality tower portfolio that moves us towards a more asset-light model and greater focus on delivering outstanding mobile digital services to our customer," president director and CEO Ahmad Al-Neama said. In 2019, the telco sold off 3,100 towers under a similar agreement for 6.4 trillion Indonesian rupiah in cash, which is in the order of $450 million at the time.