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The Best of Tech News 2021: March 9th-15th

It’s officially the start of the new week and we are back with the March 2021 Tech News highlights. This week, in technology, we will look at India proposing the cryptocurrency ban and being the first major economy to introduce such a rigid regulation. FCC continues to curb the Chinese big techs, Britain wants to boost its cyberattack capacities, more than 12 firms are penalized for violating the anti-monopoly rules, Biden administration follows the strict rules established under the Trump administration, limiting Huawei’s suppliers. In the AI news world, the AI unit of Baidu reaches big success, UK will release a National AI Strategy, and the French AI startup launches a tool that will make financial reporting much easier for companies. Find out more about these tech news and other 2021 tech weekly news highlights featuring AI news, cryptocurrency news, regulatory scrutiny news, startups, and more.

Major Crypto Tech News: India WILL Propose Cryptocurrency Ban 

Late last week, a senior Indian government official told Reuters that the speculated ban on cryptocurrencies and punishments for anybody trading of holding cryptocurrency will be proposed. The bill will most likely be among the strictest anti-cryptocurrency regulations in the world and possession, issuance, mining, trading, and transferring of this kind of digital assets will all be a criminal offense. 

The speculations about the ban started out in January after it was announced that one of the short-term goals of the government will be curbing the influence of all the private cryptocurrencies in order for the government to pave the way for an official digital currency. However, since January, the investor market in India was speculating the different scenarios and hoping that the new bill will not be as harsh in regulating cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, now it looks like India will instead become the first big economy to completely ban cryptocurrencies including holding them. 

How likely is that the bill will get enacted? Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government hold a majority in the parliament, the chances of the bill coming through are substantial. The new legislation would force the holders of cryptocurrencies no more than six months to liquidate all of their private digital assets. 

Currently, in India, there are more than 8 million crypto investors and they hold a total of $1.4 billion of crypto investment. 

“The money is multiplying rapidly every month and you don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines,” a crypto investor, Sumnesh Salodkar, said “Even though people are panicking due to the potential ban, greed is driving these choices.”

The AI Unit Of Baidu Reaches $2 Billion Valuation 

Today, the Chinese tech giant Baidu announced major tech news. Its AI unit, Kunlun, has just successfully completed a fundraising round which brings the valuation at $2 billion. The Kunlun chips are utilized in electric vehicles and cloud computing.

The investment round was led by CITIC Private Equity Funds and involved IDG Capital, Legend Capital, and Oriza Hua. 

“Kunlun chip business has recently completed a round of financing. We will release more information in due course,” Baidu told Reuters in a statement send on Monday.

Britain To Increase Cyber-Attack Capability

Just a week before the national security review report is due to be published in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the country must increase its capacity of cyber attacks on foreign enemies. 

“Cyber power is revolutionizing the way we live our lives and fight our wars, just as airpower did 100 years ago,” Johnson said in a Saturday statement. ”The review [national security review] will set out the importance of cyber technology to our way of life – whether it’s defeating our enemies on the battlefield, making the internet a safer place or developing cutting-edge tech to improve people’s lives,” Johnson’s office said.

In 2019, Britain spent 2.1% of the national income on defense, surpassing all the large European countries. 

FCC Continues To Curb Chinese Tech 

On Friday, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday has announced big news – the further five Chinese techs that are posing a threat to national security, using the controversial Trump 2019 law meant to protect the U.S communications networks. According to the law, one of the FCC’s responsibilities is exploring which telecommunications equipment and services companies may pose risk to the U.S national security.  

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement: “This list provides meaningful guidance that will ensure that as next-generation networks are built across the country, they do not repeat the mistakes of the past or use equipment or services that will pose a threat to U.S. national security or the security and safety of Americans.”

The companies in question are Huawei Technologies Co, ZTE Corp, Hytera Communications Corp, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co, and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co.

One of the companies, Hikvision, commented on the news saying that it strongly disagrees with what FCC rules and that the company is “weighing all options on how to best address this unsubstantiated designation. Hikvision does not belong on a list for next-generation networks.”

The other companies have so far not commented on the news.

Ant Publishes Financial Self-Discipline Rules

The Chinese regulators have been working on significantly increasing the regulatory scrutiny on financial technology and one of the companies that is constantly under the authorities’ watch is the China Ant Group. At the end of last year, Chinese authorities have banned the plan of Ant Group to list their shares in Shanghai and Hong Kong both.

On Friday, Ant Group revealed that they set out self-discipline financial rules that are the first one of its kind, published by a big tech giant. 

12 Firms Penalized For Anti-Monopoly Violation

The Chinese market regulator announced on Friday that 12 companies have been fined due to 10 deals violating the anti-monopoly rules. The companies penalized were Baidu Inc, Tencent Holdings, Didi Chuxing, SoftBank, and a ByteDance-backed firm, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said in a statement. The fine was $77 000 per company.

In a released statement, Tencent said that it would rectify operations and provide the SAMR with precise and timely reports on future deals. Meanwhile, ByteDance said that the JV between its affiliated firm and  Shanghai Dongfang Newspaper Co Ltd, which were both fined was never operating. 

The other companies declined to comment as of this moment 

Biden Administration To Limit Huawei’s Suppliers

This week, the Biden administration has amended the licenses for companies to sell to the Chinese big tech giant, Huawei Technologies. The ban that forbids the companies from supplying any items that can be used for 5G devices was upheld. 

The Chinese big tech companies were hoping that with a chance of a president, Biden would not follow the harsh course of action chosen by Trump against the Chinese big techs. Having said that, from what it looks like, the Biden administration is reinforcing the rules that were first set up by the Trump Administration.  

The  U.S. Commerce Department spokeswoman and Huawei spokeswoman both declined to comment on the matter, quoting confidentiality. 

Rappi and Uber Eats Win The Antitrust Dispute

Uber Eats and the Latin American food delivery app Rappi (backed by Softbank) won the first round of the antitrust dispute against the iFood delivery app, the biggest rival to the former two apps in the Brazilian market. 

CADE, the antitrust watchdog released a statement on Thursday in which it reveals that iFood has been forbidden from signing exclusivity deals with restaurants, as well as tweak its current contracts until the antitrust investigation is completed. 

The case started in September of 2020 after Rappi has made an official complaint to CADE about iFood restricting competition by the exclusivity deals with restaurants. The claim was later seconded by Uber Eats. 

Australia Will Scrutinize Foreign Research On Emerging Technologies 

On Thursday, the parliament intelligence committee in Australia confirmed that a list of emerging technologies that will be subject to restrictions on foreign research collaboration will be created. 

While the security agencies have already been scrutinizing the international collaboration on military and dual-use technologies conducted by universities, the new rules revealed by the committee state the other emerging technologies that may present an economic risk will also be identified. 

“Global circumstances are driving us in that direction but that does not mean to say that we want to become totally protectionist as a nation,” Mike Burgess, the director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) said. 

The Insurance Tech Startups Wants To Launch A Risk Prevention Product 

Julian Teicke, the CEO and founder of the German insurance tech startup Wefox said in a statement that the company wants to launch a risk prevention product that will warn the smartphone users of impending danger, based on the data from smartphones and other connected devices. 

The Wefox Prevent product is under development by a Prais-based team hired from Samsung and is expected to launch next year. It will be warning users of things such a poor road conditions or weather conditions. 

“We don’t just want to be an insurer that hands out policies,” Teicke told Reuters “With this team on board we will develop into a risk prevention business, powered by technology.”

Wefox was founded in 2015 and its revenue doubled last year, reaching $142 million. Wefox is currently in the process of talking with investors about the next series of funding.

Big UK AI Tech News: Will Release The New National AI Strategy

On Friday, the UK government has released major AI news, an official statement about the Artificial Intelligence strategy, meant to transform the UK into the next center for adoption, development, and commercialization. The full report is to be published later this year. 

The Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowde has revealed that the AI strategy will be focusing on the growth of the economy through the widespread use of AI technologies; ethical, safe, and trustworthy development of responsible AI, resilience in the face of change through an emphasis on skills, talent, and R&D.

“Unleashing the power of AI is a top priority in our plan to be the most pro-tech government ever,” Dowden said. “The UK is already a world leader in this revolutionary technology and the new AI Strategy will help us seize its full potential – from creating new jobs and improving productivity to tackling climate change and delivering better public services.”

“[The government] will consider recommendations from the AI Council, an independent expert committee that advises the government, which published its AI Roadmap in January, alongside input from industry, academia and civil society,” he added. 

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary added that the UK plans to increase the R&D investment significantly, looking at the 2.4% GDP spending by 2027 and that the National AI strategy will help with paving the path for that goal. 

“The UK is already harnessing the enormous potential of AI to improve all our lives – from faster and more effective disease diagnosis to controlling the heating in our homes,” Kwarteng said. “Through this strategy, we will nurture our AI pioneers to accelerate bringing new technologies to market, unlock high-skilled jobs, drive up productivity and cement the UK’s status as a global science superpower.”

The level of funding for AI companies in the UK is outperforming the funding in other major European economies. The funding accounted for £1.78 billion in 2020, as compared to the £525m raised by French companies and £386m raised in Germany.

The President of the techUK, Jacqueline de Rojas said, “The UK is already a global leader in AI but to remain globally competitive we must keep pace. techUK welcomes the new National AI Strategy, which will enable us to leverage joined-up thinking and investment from across industries and governments. Setting a clear vision for the UK to remain at the forefront of the development and use of innovative, responsible and ethical AI could not have come at a better time.”

French AI Company News: Shows Clients What Percentage Of Financial Reports Can Be Generated Automatically

Yseop, the French AI startup has come with major news. Their launched their newest feature, a tool allowing prospective clients to instantly see what percentage of their financial reports can be automatically generated.

Founded in 2008 and serving clients such as Oracle, BNP Paribas, and KBC Asset Management, Yseop is a big AI news, applying the natural language generation to structured data in order to create written narratives. This way, the employees do not have to produce the reports fully themselves. According to the startup, that significantly reduces the time the financial analysts spend on creating and updating the financial reports from 48% to 9%. 

“This was a process which was quite manual,” Yseop CEO Emmanuel Walckenaer told VentureBeat. “So typically the customer would send sample reports to us. We would analyze them and say whether it was good or not good. What’s great with this tool is you get the results immediately. And you can actually test dozens of different reports, and the customers can do that on [their] own.”

If you are interested in AI news, you may like:

AI News: AI makes huge progress in improving MRI scans

AI News: Brain-Machine Interface, Precision Medicine, And Other Possibilities Of AI In Biotech


Remember to come back next week for your fresh portion of 2021 tech news highlights. Meanwhile, if you did not have a chance to look at the last week’s tech news, just click here



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