Congress May Ban Some Chinese Telecoms Gear From U.S. Market

A draft report from the House Intelligence Committee recommends that some equipment manufactured by Chinese IT giants Huawei and ZTE be barred from the U.S. Market because of worries that it could enable the Chinese government to spy on America and even disrupt vital infrastructure.

The two Chinese manufacturers “cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems,” the report said.  “U.S. network providers and system developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects.”

Statements from Huawei and ZTE denounced the report’s conclusions as “baseless” and dismissed suggestions that they were under Chinese government control.

Both companies have become major players in the global market for telecoms equipment and have recently stepped up efforts to break into the massive U.S. market. Huawei is the world’s second-biggest maker of telecoms gear after Sweden’s Ericsson, with ZTE coming in fifth.

In September, Huawei vice president Charles Ding testified before the committee that the company’s commitment to global expansion precludes any sort of  collusion that would harm its reputation customers:

“Huawei has not and will not jeopardize our global commercial success nor the integrity of our customers’ networks for any third party, government or otherwise.”

The committee report said that both companies failed to provide sufficient details on their relationships with Chinese government officials and regulators.

TechCrunch notes that Huawei has gone to great lengths to ease security worries in the U.K., even  opening a certification and testing centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire, two years ago, and  hiring the former U.K. government CIO as its global cyber security officer last year.

Some observers suspect that the report has more to do with election-year China-bashing than national security, and worry that the appearance of protectionism could make life harder for U.S. companies’ efforts to expand in China, like Microsoft’s launch of Kinect for Windows into the Chinese market.

Major Startup Investors Start Up New Accelerator in India

A new startup accelerator with backing from Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups and Europe’s Seedcamp aims to locate and fund promising new tech companies in three Indian cities.

GSF Accelerator will run  a 7-week program mentoring four companies each at locations in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, starting in October.

The initiative is the brainchild of former Reliance Entertainment president Rajesh Sawhney, founder the GSF Superangels, a group of Indian tech entrepreneurs,who will mentor local talent in the GSF Accelerator programs.

The 12 selected startups will also get between $185,000 and $555,000 in seed capital.

At the end of the 7-week program, the startups will have a chance to make their pitch to 400 international investors — including 500 Startups’  Dave McClure and Saul Klein of Seedcamp and Index Ventures — at the GSF Forum 2012 November 26-27.

The GSF Accelerator’s 30 other backers include Kae Capital, Blume Venture, Singapore-based Ruvento, Matrix Capital and Naveen Tewari, co-founder of mobile advertising company Inmobi.

New Website Lets You Tweet “From” Anywhere

Twitter’s opt-in location feature enables the service to tip you to localized trends and allows your tweets to be aggregated by local-interest sites.   It can also be fun when you tweet from your vacation or want bragging rights for visiting some exotic locale.

There may be times, however, when even people who have activated the location tags may not want others to know exactly where they’re tweeting from.

“Please Don’t Stalk Me” is a site created by a Dutch programmer that allows you to send a tweet “from” anywhere in the world.  After logging into the site with your Twitter account, the simple Google Maps interface allows you type in or just drag the push pin to whatever location you want, and then send a tweet that carried the location data for that spot.

Be sure to activate the location feature if you want to use the site.

Yet Another Reason to be Careful What You Post on Facebook

A picture of Christopher Shell from his Facebook pageThere are lots of good reasons not to post compromising pictures of your ex on Facebook, but it got Christopher Shell hauled off a plane after it was forced back to the airport by a hoax call saying he was carrying a bomb.

According to an FBI affidavit, a “compromising picture” of Shell’s former girlfriend that he had posted to Facebook drove her new boyfriend, Kenneth Smith, to call the authorities at Philadelphia International Airport Thursday morning and report that Shell would attempt to board a Texas-bound flight with liquid explosives.

With the plane already in the air, air-traffic controllers had to turn it around over Harrisburg, PA, and recall it to the airport, where Shell was pulled off to be searched and interrogated.

Smith, 26, was arrested on Friday and faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for the hoax.  Though Shell, 29, was able to board a later flight and continue on to Texas, he was arrested himself upon arrival over outstanding local warrants for marijuana possession.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Sues to Reveal Evidence of Unconstitutional Spying

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed suit against the Department of Justice to force compliance with a Freedom of Information request regarding a secret court ruling that the National Security Agency violated the Fourth Amendment.

Last month a letter to Congress revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that  “on at least one occasion” the NSA violated the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, but details and the ruling itself remain classified.

The EFF filed a Freedom of Information request for details of the ruling, and on Aug 30 followed up a lawsuit to force compliance, according to Ars Technica:

In an accompanying statement, the EFF said the requested records could also help Congress decide whether to allow the surveillance program to continue. “The surveillance provisions in the FAA [FISA Amendments Act] will sunset at the end of this year unless Congress reauthorizes the law,” the EFF said. “The pending congressional debate on reauthorization makes it all the more critical that the government release this information on the NSA’s actions.”