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India Bans TikTok, Calling It A Malicious App

Following rising domestic pressure to boycott Chinese-made goods, the Indian government on Monday ordered 59 Chinese apps to be blocked, including TikTok, WeChat, Shareit, and Clash of Kings.

The Indian government framed the move as protecting personal information from what it called “malicious apps,” that “harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.”

But tensions have been rising between the two nuclear powers for weeks, following a border clash in the Himalayas in which Chinese forces killed at least 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers died. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced domestic criticism, which undercuts his strongman image and conciliatory posture toward China, against which India has fought sporadically since a war in 1962.

“While the prime minister called for self-dependence recently, the idea would’ve been to build capability and not boycott products from India’s second-biggest trade partner,” Abhishek Baxi, a technology journalist and digital consultant, told BuzzFeed News. “While action against smartphone brands would be too much to handle, banning apps is a low-hanging fruit for political posturing.”

Among the 59 apps are some of the country’s most popular — and controversial. As of June 2019, the most recent date for which information was available, video-sharing app TikTok was used by an estimated 200 million people in the country as of October 2019. (Tiktok has not announced more recent user numbers for the country.) In April 2019, India banned the app for just over a week over child pornography concerns.

As that banning showed, restricting the apps is not as simple as a government decree. It requires the cooperation of Google and Apple, which run the stores where the apps are sold. As of Monday, those companies had not indicated whether or not they would comply with the order. Apple and Google have not yet responded to requests for comment.

On Tuesday night, TikTok issued a statement saying that the company’s executives had been “invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications.”

Earlier this month, Google removed an app called “Remove China Apps” from the Play Store in India, which had been downloaded 4.7 million times, and which claimed to scan people’s phones for Chinese apps and delete them.

TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, is one of the world’s most valuable companies, worth over $100 billion as of May, according to Business Insider. With its headquarters in Beijing, it’s also one of the main vectors of Chinese soft power, its popularity raising concerns around the world, including from US senators, Egyptian courts, and Australian regulators.

“This isn’t just India-specific,” Abhijeet Mukherjee, the founder of Guiding Tech. “There has been growing discontent with how some of such apps are ‘probably’ crossing the line.”

Also among the ban were group chat platform WeChat, owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent, mobile game Clash of Kings, and file-sharing app ShareIt, which BuzzFeed News reported in February was being used by Kashmiris to evade an internet shutdown levied by the Indian government. Several prominent Chinese-owned apps were not included, among them certain apps owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Despite liberalizing its foreign direct investment policies under Modi, the Indian government recently changed course. In April, China’s central bank acquired a 1.01% stake in India’s largest housing lender, after which the Indian government announced a new policy aimed at reducing Chinese investment in Indian firms. Although Chinese investment in India is small, its capital is disproportionately concentrated in the tech industry, with major stakes in 18 of the 30 largest startups, according to the Hindu.

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Vape ban: Trump administration bans most e-cigarette cartridge flavors, but not menthol

The policy will not apply to flavored products for open tank systems that are sold in vape shops. Cartridge-based e-cigarettes have been popular among youth.

“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes. HHS is taking a comprehensive, aggressive approach to enforcing the law passed by Congress, under which no e-cigarettes are currently on the market legally,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in Thursday’s announcement.

“By prioritizing enforcement against the products that are most widely used by children, our action today seeks to strike the right public health balance by maintaining e-cigarettes as a potential off-ramp for adults using combustible tobacco while ensuring these products don’t provide an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for our youth. We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary,” he said.

Moving forward, manufacturers that wish to market any vape products, including flavored e-cigarettes or e-liquids, must submit an application to the FDA for premarket authorization of their products. After May 12, the FDA intends to issue enforcement against any vape products that continue to be sold and for which the manufacturers have not submitted a premarket application, according to the HHS announcement.

To date, no e-cigarette products have been authorized by the FDA.

The announcement noted that by prioritizing enforcement against cartridge-based products and not other flavored vape products, the FDA has attempted to “balance” the public health concerns related to the youth use of vape products with considerations regarding adult users who may vape to try to quit smoking.

CNN has contacted the Vapor Technology Association, a trade group that represents e-liquid manufacturers, vape shops and other vaping professionals, for comment.

Three months later, the Trump administration's vaping policy is yet to be seen
Since raising the tobacco buying age to 21 last month, this is the Trump administration’s latest move to address youth vaping — and the move has been months in the making.

Trump administration officials announced in September that the FDA would try to curb a youth vaping epidemic by stripping all flavors except tobacco from the market.

Vaping advocates have argued that a flavor sales ban would curtail some adult smokers’ efforts to quit, put small vaping companies out of business and eliminate jobs. A Trump campaign adviser previously told CNN that Trump’s political aides have warned him that such a ban may not be helpful with his base and that he should reconsider.
Trump's White House meeting on vaping results in contentious debate

Some lawmakers, health advocates and parents groups now are expressing concern about how the new policy is a scaled-back version of the administration’s original plan.

“Today the Trump administration failed to take the strong action necessary to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The guidance could have been a meaningful victory for children’s health and instead is a major missed opportunity that will still leave young people at risk for addiction,” Dr. Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement Thursday. “Science shows us that flavors lure children in and this guidance will allow thousands of flavors — like mango, grape, and green apple — to stay on the market in vape shops across the country for use in refillable vaping devices. As a pediatrician, I know that children like flavored products. We give children flavored medicines because they taste better. But adding a flavor to a dangerous product like tobacco is a recipe for disaster.”

Rep. Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement on Thursday, “Watering down the flavor ban, limiting restrictions to pods, and allowing menthol to continue to be sold will fuel a new generation’s addiction to nicotine and cause countless harmful side effects.

“Sadly, the Administration is again rewarding special interests rather than protecting the health and well-being of Americans.”

Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, called the FDA’s decision to clear the marketplace of most but not all flavored e-cigarettes “unconscionable.”

“Instead of moving forward with an effective proposal that could have a meaningful effect in curbing the youth e-cigarette epidemic, we once again have a hollowed-out policy that will allow the tobacco industry to continue to attract kids to a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” Reedy said in a written statement on Thursday.

“In the limited locations where most flavors will be prohibited, we will now have a situation that provides a path for more youth users to continue to use or migrate toward menthol flavored e-cigarettes. Menthol is a derivative of mint, and there is little difference between these flavors,” he said in part. “The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network urges the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the FDA, to reconsider its finalized guidance.”

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U.S. Navy bans TikTok from government-issued mobile devices

FILE PHOTO: TikTok logo is displayed on the smartphone while standing on the U.S. flag in this illustration picture taken, November 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

(Reuters) – Earlier this week the United States Navy banned the social media app TikTok from government-issued mobile devices, saying the popular short video app represented a “cybersecurity threat.”

A bulletin issued by the Navy on Tuesday showed up on a Facebook page serving military members, saying users of government issued mobile devices who had TikTok and did not remove the app would be blocked from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

The Navy would not describe in detail what dangers the app presents, but Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland said in a statement the order was part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats”.

TikTok did not return a request for comment.

TikTok is hugely popular with U.S. teenagers, but has come under scrutiny from U.S. regulators and lawmakers in recent months. The U.S. government has opened a national security review of the app’s owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co’s $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app, Reuters first reported last month.

Last month, U.S army cadets were instructed not to use TikTok, after Senator Chuck Schumer raised security concerns about the army using TikTok in their recruiting.

A Navy spokesman said Naval and Marine personnel who use government issued smart devices are generally allowed to use popular commercial apps, including common social media apps, but from time to time specific programs that present security threats are banned. He would not give examples of apps that are allowed or those considered unsafe.

The Pentagon’s Orland said the “Cyber Awareness Message” sent Dec. 16 “identifies the potential risk associated with using the TikTok app and directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information.”

Reporting by Michael M.B. Pell and Echo Wang in New York; editing by Grant McCool

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MLB Bans Models Julia Rose, Lauren Summer After They Flash Houston Astros Pitcher Gerrit Cole At World Series Game 5 – CBS Baltimore

WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Models Julia Rose and Lauren Summer are banned from attending any Major League Baseball games after they flashed Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole during Game 5 of the World Series at Nationals Park in Washington DC.

Rose tweeted “guilty as charged” Sunday after another Twitter user shared video of the pair flashing Cole a couple of hours after she tweeted a photo of a letter she received from the MLB banning her for life.

Summer tweeted, “Whoops!”

“On October 27, 2019, you attended World Series Game 5 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.,” David Thomas, vice president of security and ballpark operations for MLB said in the letter. “During the game, you violated the fan code of conduct by exposing yourself during the seventh inning in order to promote a business. You were also part of a scheme in which you induced others to expose themselves to promote the business. You are hereby banned from all Major League Baseball stadiums and facilities, indefinitely.”

The women were wearing yellow t-shirts behind home plate when the flashed Cole during the bottom of the seventh inning.

“It’s all fun and games until MLB bans you for life,” Rose tweeted.

A thrid woman, who the woman identified as Kayla Lauren, also flashed the star pitcher.

Several people tweeted at the women or tweeted about the flashers during the game.

“Not all heroes wear capes or shirts,” Mike La Fiura tweeted.

The women tweeted that they flashed the cameras for breast cancer awareness and asked that people donate.

Cole was unfazed by the women’s antics and the Astros went on to win the game 7-1. They also took the series lead 3-2.

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Instagram Bans Plastic Surgery Filters As Part Of New Well-Being Initiative

Instagram Bans Plastic Surgery Filters As Part Of New Well-Being Initiative

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