Today in Big Tech — December 2, 2020

29 years ago today, Apple released QuickTime version 1.0. Nearly three decades later and we’re talking about the ease with which over 1 billion Apple mobile devices could have been hacked.

This incredible exploit could have let hackers remotely own iPhones without even touching them by Sean Hollister

“Today, Google Project Zero security researcher Ian Beer has revealed that, until May, a variety of Apple iPhones and other iOS devices were vulnerable to an incredible exploit that could let attackers remotely reboot and take complete control of their devices from a distance — including reading emails and other messages, downloading photos, and even potentially watching and listening to you through the iPhone’s microphone and camera.”

This is more common than the average person realizes. It doesn’t help that Apple likes to perpetuate the narrative that its products are unhackable. You should operate under the assumption that every internet-connected device you own can be hacked.

Amazon in Talks to Buy Podcast Maker Wondery by Benjamin Mullin and Anne Steele

“The talks value Wondery at over $300 million, the people said. Wondery’s last funding round, in June 2019, valued the company at $100 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.”

Wondery is one of the last major independent podcast companies and has been looking for a buyer for a while now. I would have expected Apple to have been the one to pull the trigger, but Amazon doesn’t surprise me either.

Trump to Congress: Repeal Section 230 or I’ll veto military funding by Timothy B. Lee

“On Tuesday evening, Trump ratcheted up his campaign against Section 230. In a tweet, he called the law ‘a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity.’ He warned that ‘if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.’”

You never know with Trump if he’ll actually do the stupid thing that he says he wants to do. But as is often the case, the threat alone is problematic and detracts from what actually needs to be done (like a serious discussion on how to reform Section 230).

Google illegally spied on workers before firing them, US labor board alleges by Zoe Schiffer

“The complaint names two employees, Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers, both of whom were fired by the company in late 2019 in connection with employee activism. Berland was organizing against Google’s decision to work with IRI Consultants, a firm widely known for its anti-union efforts, when he was let go for reviewing other employees’ calendars. Now, the NLRB has found Google’s policy against employees looking at certain coworkers’ calendars is unlawful.”

Spying on employees is not an Amazon-only problem. It’s not even a Big Tech problem. It’s an every-company-that-uses-tech problem.

Visa Partners With Ethereum Digital-Dollar Startup That Raised $271 Million by Michael del Castillo

“The partnership, in conjunction with an earlier $40 million investment Visa led in a cryptocurrency startup for holding similar assets issued on a blockchain, a recent blockchain patent application for minting traditional currency on a blockchain, and an increasing amount of work directly with central banks, is the latest evidence that the credit card giant sees the technology first popularized by bitcoin as a crucial part of the future of money.”

Visa’s 60 million merchants having a connection to the U.S. Dollar Coin (USDC) developed by Circle Internet Financial on the Ethereum blockchain cannot be understated. Like with everything crypto, however, it can be overstated. Nonetheless, it’s certainly worth checking in a few months to see if there has been any movement.

Executive Editor @VentureBeat Formerly @TheNextWeb @ZDNet @CNET @TechSpot @ArsTechnica