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5G conference warns on security as Huawei controversy rages

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Experts called on 5G providers Friday to heed supply chain security in light of concerns about technology providers such as China’s Huawei, recently banned by the US government.

“The overall risk of influence on a supplier by a third country should be taken into account, notably in relation to its model of governance, the absence of cooperation agreements on security,” said a statement published by a 5G security conference in Prague.

“Security and risk assessments of vendors and network technologies should take into account rule of law, security environment, vendor malfeasance, and compliance with open, interoperable, secure standards and industry best practices,” it added.

Called “the Prague Proposals,” the non-binding statement also singled out the supplier country’s adherence to “multilateral, international or bilateral agreements on cybersecurity, the fight against cybercrime, or data protection” as a security criterion.

The United States has banned government agencies from buying equipment from Huawei over fears Beijing could spy on communications and gain access to critical infrastructure if the firm is allowed to develop foreign 5G networks offering instantaneous mobile data transfer.

Washington is adamantly opposed to Huawei’s involvement because of its obligation under Chinese law to help Beijing gather intelligence or provide other security services.

Torn

Europe in turn has been torn over its approach to the Chinese giant – while countries such as Britain and Germany have accepted its part in the construction of their networks, other countries including the Czech Republic have warned against Huawei.

In December, the Czech Republic’s National Cyber and Information Security Agency said Huawei’s software and hardware posed a threat to state security.

However, the EU member’s pro-Russian, pro-Chinese president Milos Zeman met a Huawei official in Beijing last week to express his solidarity with the telecoms giant, saying he lacked “material evidence” for the warning.

“We discussed a set of issues dealing with the problems arising from the vendors we have now rather than vendors we might like to have in the future,” said Ciaran Martin, head of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Chairing a working group dealing with security and resilience at the conference organised by the Czech government, Martin pointed out “the problem of vendor diversity”.

“There are a range of security challenges which we noted, sometimes they are issues of quality – poor engineering, poor security practices, there are issues and security requirements arising from the need of the vendors to access the operator’s network,” he said.

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Government should not manage railways, says review

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Crowd of commuters at Waterloo Station in LondonImage copyright
PA

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Commuters delayed at Waterloo station

The man tasked with working out how to improve UK railways says a “fat controller” type figure, independent from government, should be in charge of day-to-day operations.

The former boss of British Airways, Keith Williams, said government involvement should be limited to overall policy and budget decisions.

But he said the Department for Transport should not manage the system.

His review of the rail system will be published this autumn.

The Fat Controller is a fictional character who manages the railways in Thomas the Tank Engine, the children’s television series based on the The Railway Series books.

Mr Williams said he also believed that, in the future, rail franchises should be underpinned by punctuality and other performance-related targets.

The government launched the review after passengers in northern and southern England experienced chaos over several weeks last summer following the introduction of a new timetable.

By December, punctuality across the country had dropped to a 13-year low.

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Southern Trains has faced numerous strikes in recent years

In a BBC interview Mr Williams insisted the interests of passengers would shape every aspect of his work and that the creation of an individual or organisation with oversight of the entire rail system would be “key for regaining public trust.”

“Someone needs to be accountable to the public,” he said.

He is still to decide on what relationship the individual or organisation would have with government but he said Network Rail, the public company managing rail infrastructure, should not take on an overall managerial role.

The idea has echoes of the Strategic Rail Authority, a body which, from 2001 to 2006, provided “strategic direction” for the industry.

Mr Williams had already said that the current rail franchising model was finished, but he has now indicated that a franchise should last longer than the current average of seven to eight years.

Performance targets

He argues that if train companies were in charge of networks for more time they would have more incentive to invest.

As things stand, under a franchise agreement, a train company will make a series of commitments to the government which have to be delivered.

According to Mr Williams, a franchise should no longer be about “how many ticketing offices there are in a station”.

His team is looking into how franchises could focus instead on performance targets such as punctuality and whether or not services have the correct number of carriages – something which continues to be a problem for passengers in the north of England.

The rail review also looks set to recommend an overhaul of the complicated rail ticketing system, which has not been reformed since the mid-90s.

“Pay-as-you-go across regions and cities has been difficult to implement because of the fares system that exists today,” said Mr Williams.

He said a national system should be created to allow more third-party companies like thetrainline.com to improve the way people buy tickets.

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Amazon Warehouse Workers Around the World Are Striking For Prime Day

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Amazon workers around the world are going on strike today to bring attention to the working conditions they endure. “Some are arguing that buying from Amazon during Prime Day is akin to crossing a picket line,” reports Quartz. From the report: As the two-day bacchanal of discounted Amazon offerings begins, workers at its fulfillment centers around the U.S. continue to complain of extremely odious quotas, limited bathroom breaks, mandatory holiday shifts, and the need for pain medication just to get through their 10-hour work days.

The U.S.: Workers at a Shakopee, Minnesota fulfillment center will be walking out during a six-hour period that overlaps with the end of the facility’s morning shift and the start of its evening shift. There are about 1,500 full-time employees at the facility, according to the Daily Beast.

Germany: Hundreds of employees at seven facilities will be striking today and tomorrow, over longstanding issues with employee pay. âoeWhile Amazon holds a giant Prime-Day bargain hunt, employees are deprived of a living wage,â Orhan Akman, a representative from the German labor union Ver.di, said in a statement shared with Quartz.

The UK: The GMB trade union will be staging protests at Amazon facilities across the country. Some of the most shocking accounts issues of issues faced by Amazon warehouse workers have come out of the UK. One undercover writer said they witnessed co-workers urinating in bottles to avoid missing quotas by taking bathroom breaks.

Elsewhere in Europe: Workers in Spain and Poland will also be organizing demonstrations at Amazon facilities across their countries throughout the week. Here’s what Amazon had to say about the demonstrations and walkouts: “Events like Prime Day have become an opportunity for our critics, including unions, to raise awareness for their cause, in this case, increased membership dues. These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favor, when in fact we already offer the things they purport to be their cause — industry leading pay (full-time employees at our Shakopee facility make $16.25 – $20.80), benefits, and a safe workplace for our employees. We can only conclude that the people who plan to attend the event on Monday are simply not informed. If these groups — unions and the politicians they rally to their cause — really want to help the American worker, we encourage them to focus their energy on passing legislation for an increase in the federal minimum wage, because $7.25 is too low.”

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Ramaphosa files urgent court application against Public Protector – report

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly filed an urgent court application against the Public Protector.

He wants the court to declare that he had complied with remedial actions set out by Busisiwe Mkhwebane as she had directed in her recently released report into the pension payout of Ivan Pillay, the Mail&Gaurdian reports.

Mkhwebane, in her report, found that an early pension payment made to Pillay, when Pravin Gordhan was finance minister, was irregular.

Mail&Guardian reported that in his affidavit, Ramaphosa claims he had complied with Mkhwebanes’s orders.

The publication adds that the president says since the nature and timing of the disciplinary action was left to his discretion, the appropriate course was to await the outcome of the court case brought by Gordhan against Mkhwebane.

Last Wednesday Gordhan filed court papers in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in an urgent bid to interdict Mkhwebane’s remedial actions surrounding the so-called “rogue unit”.

Pillay followed suit and filed an affidavit stating that he intends to pursue a review of findings against him in a Public Protector’s report he says detrimentally affects him.

The publication further reported that Ramaphosa said in the papers that he had informed Mkhwebane of an implementation plan as she had directed him to provide to her.

“I accept the binding nature of the Public Protector’s reports and remedial actions. I accept that the Report is under review but that this does not stay the implementation of the remedial action, in the absence of a court order,” the publication quoted Ramaphosa.

The presidency could not be reached for comment by News24 at time of publication.

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