Heirs of Late Samsung Electronics Chairman to Pay Massive Inheritance Tax

The family of the late Lee Kun-hee, the chairman of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, says it will pay $10.8 billion in taxes on the inheritance from his massive estate, the largest paid in South Korean history. Lee died last October leaving an estate estimated at more than $23 billion.   The family, which includes his wife and three children, says it will split payments of the hefty tax bill in six installments over five years, with the first payment coming this month.  It is believed they will use the shares they hold in the vast family-run conglomerate as a means to pay the taxes.People pass by Samsung Electronics’ shop in Seoul, South Korea, April 28, 2021.The Lee family will also donate the late patriarch’s vast collection of fine art to two state-run museums and other organizations to help ease the burden of the tax bill.  The collection includes rare Korean artifacts and works by such legendary artists as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Paul Gauguin and Claude Monet.   The family has also agreed to donate $900 million to build a new hospital devoted to treating infectious diseases, fund research on vaccines and treatment, and support a program that treats children suffering from cancer and rare diseases.   Under the elder Lee, Samsung Electronics became the crown jewel of the Samsung conglomerate, the biggest in South Korea, with holdings in such sectors as shipbuilding, insurance and trading.   Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest maker of semiconductors, smartphones and other consumer electronics.  But the family has been mired in a host of corruption scandals, with Lee’s son, Jae-yong, currently serving a two-and-a-half year prison sentence in connection with the scandal that brought down former President Park Geun-hye. 

UK Government Green Lights ‘Self-driving’ Cars on Motorways

The UK government on Wednesday became the first country to announce it will regulate the use of self-driving vehicles at slow speeds on motorways, with the first such cars possibly appearing on public roads as soon as this year. Britain’s transport ministry said it was working on specific wording to update the country’s highway code for the safe use of self-driving vehicle systems, starting with Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) — which use sensors and software to keep cars within a lane, allowing them to accelerate and brake without driver input. The government said the use of ALKS would be restricted to motorways, at speeds under 37 miles (60 km) per hour. The UK government wants to be at the forefront of rolling out autonomous driving technology and the transport ministry forecasts by 2035 around 40% of new UK cars could have self-driving capabilities, creating up to 38,000 new skilled jobs. “The automotive industry welcomes this vital step to permit the use of automated vehicles on UK roads, which will put Britain in the vanguard of road safety and automotive technology,” Mike Hawes, CEO of car industry lobby group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said in a statement. Limits of technologyBut insurance companies warn that Britain’s goal of being a leader in adopting self-driving cars could backfire unless automakers and regulators spell out the current limitations of the technology available today. They say calling ALKS “automated,” or using the synonymous term “self-driving,” will confuse British drivers into thinking the cars can drive themselves, causing accidents and risking a public backlash against the technology. “Aside from the lack of technical capabilities, by calling ALKS automated our concern also is that the UK Government is contributing to the confusion and frequent misuse of assisted driving systems that have unfortunately already led to many tragic deaths,” said Matthew Avery, research director at Thatcham Research, which has tested ALKS systems. The dangers of drivers apparently misunderstanding the limits of technology has been an issue in the United States, where regulators are reviewing about 20 crashes involving Tesla’s driver assistance tools, such as its “Autopilot” system. 

Russia Fines Apple, Alleging Monopolistic Actions

Russia has fined Apple $12 million, alleging monopolistic activities.The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) said Tuesday that Apple was gaining an unfair advantage over other companies through its app store.”Apple was found to have abused its dominant position in the iOS distribution market … which resulted in a competitive advantage for its own products,” the FAS said in a statement.The ruling was sparked by a complaint from Russia-based cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, which said a version of its Safe Kids app had been rejected by Apple.”We worked with Kaspersky to get their app in compliance with rules that were put in place to protect children,” Apple said in a statement. “They now have 13 apps on the App Store and we have processed hundreds of updates for them.”Apple reportedly said it “respectfully disagreed” with the FAS decision, which it plans to appeal.Earlier this month, Russia began enforcing a law that demands devices sold in Russia come with pre-installed domestic software. The legislation was intended to boost Russian tech companies.Critics say the law is an attempt by the Russian government to control the internet.Starting in July, companies that don’t comply could face fines.Western tech firms have been facing pressure from Moscow. For example, Russia has slowed down Twitter, saying the company was not acting quickly enough to remove certain content not allowed in Russia.Facebook and Google have also come under increased scrutiny.

Apple Rolls Out Privacy Shield to Thwart Snoopy Apps

Apple is following through on its pledge to crack down on Facebook and other snoopy apps that secretly shadow people on their iPhones in order to target more advertising at users. The new privacy feature, dubbed “App Tracking Transparency,” rolled out Monday as part of an update to the operating system powering the iPhone and iPad. The anti-tracking shield included in iOS 14.5 arrives after a seven-month delay during which Apple and Facebook attacked each other’s business models and motives for decisions that affect billions of people around the world.  “What this feud demonstrates more than anything is that Facebook and Apple have tremendous gatekeeping powers over the market,” said Elizabeth Renieris, founding director of the Technology Ethics Lab at the University of Notre Dame. But Apple says it is just looking out for the best interests of the more than 1 billion people using iPhones. “Now is a good time to bring this out, both because of the increasing amount of data they have on their devices, and their sensitivity (about the privacy risks) is increasing, too,” Erik Neuenschwander, Apple’s chief privacy engineer, told The Associated Press in an interview.  Once the software update is installed — something most iPhone users do — even existing apps already on the device will be required to ask and receive consent to track online activities. That’s a shift Facebook fiercely resisted, most prominently in a series of full-page newspaper ads blasting Apple.  Until now, Facebook and other apps have been able to automatically conduct their surveillance on iPhones unless users took the time and trouble to go into their settings to prevent it — a process that few people bother to navigate.  “This is an important step toward consumers getting the transparency and the controls they have clearly been looking for,” said Daniel Barber, CEO of DataGrail, a firm that helps companies manage personal privacy. In its attacks on Apple’s anti-tracking controls, Facebook blasted the move as an abuse of power designed to force more apps to charge for their services instead of relying on ads. Apple takes a 15% to 30% cut on most payments processed through an iPhone app. Online tracking has long helped Facebook and thousands of other apps accumulate information about their user’s interests and habits so they can show customized ads. Although Facebook executives initially acknowledged Apple’s changes would probably reduce its revenue by billions of dollars annually, the social networking company has framed most of its public criticism as a defense of small businesses that rely on online ads to stay alive. Apple, in turn, has pilloried Facebook and other apps for prying so deeply into people’s lives that it has created a societal crisis. FILE – Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., June 4, 2018.In a speech given a few weeks after the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out how personal information collected through tracking by Facebook and other social media can sometimes push people toward more misinformation and hate speech as part of the efforts to show more ads.  “What are the consequences of not just tolerating but rewarding content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccinations?” Cook asked. “What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users join extremist groups and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends more?”  It’s part of Apple’s attempt to use the privacy issue to its competitive advantage, Barber said, a tactic he now expects more major brands to embrace if the new anti-tracking controls prove popular among most consumers.  In a change of tone, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently suggested that Apple’s new privacy controls could help his company in the long run. His rationale: The inability to automatically track iPhone users may prod more companies to sell their products directly on Facebook and affiliated services such as Instagram if they can’t collect enough personal information to effectively target ads within their own apps.  FILE – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears on a screen as he speaks remotely during a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill, Oct. 28, 2020.”It’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position if Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct more commerce on our platforms by making it harder for them to use their data in order to find the customers that would want to use their products outside of our platforms,” Zuckerberg said last month during a discussion held on the audio chat app Clubhouse.  In the same interview, Zuckerberg also asserted most people realize that advertising is a “time-tested model” that enables them to get more services for free or at extremely low prices. “People get for the most part that if they are going to see ads, they want them to be relevant ads,” Zuckerberg said. He didn’t say whether he believes most iPhone users will consent to tracking in exchange for ads tailored to their interests. Google also depends on personal information to fuel a digital ad network even bigger than Facebook’s, but it has said it would be able to adjust to the iPhone’s new privacy controls. Unlike Facebook, Google has close business ties with Apple. Google pays Apple an estimated $9 billion to $12 billion annually to be the preferred search engine on iPhone and iPad. That arrangement is currently one element of an antitrust case filed last year by the U.S. Justice Department. Facebook is also defending itself against a federal antitrust lawsuit seeking to break the company apart. Meanwhile, Apple is being scrutinized by lawmakers and regulators around the world for the commissions it collects on purchases made through iPhone apps and its ability to shake up markets through new rules that are turning it into a de facto regulator. “Even if Apple’s business model and side in this battle is more rights protective and better for consumer privacy, there is still a question of whether we want a large corporation like Apple effectively ‘legislating’ through the app store,” Renieris said. 

Cameroonian Startup’s Online Veterinary App Helps Remote Breeders

A Cameroonian company has created a veterinary counseling app designed to help farmers and ranchers who live far away from veterinarians to detect animal diseases and give them guidance online.Cameroonian rabbit breeder Thierry Bayabon lost three-quarters of his stock to disease a few months ago. Like most small-scale Cameroonian farmers, he was not familiar with diseases that affect animals. Bayabon says the deaths could have been prevented, but it took too long to find a veterinarian to visit his remote farm. He says two weeks after the cases, as the situation was getting worse, he was successful in getting a veterinarian. The vet came on-site and was able to determine the problem.To help breeders like Bayabon avoid such costly losses, a Cameroonian startup designed the free online application, Veto.The app analyzes audio questions about symptoms, gives treatment advice, and helps breeders and ranchers share information.It also allows them to send photos and videos to actual veterinarians, like Mangoua Cédrick, for analysis.”In those villages, they have no vet personnel,” Cédrick said. “And with an advent of a zoonotic disease like tuberculosis, I mean, you taking the picture for the analysis may help you save life, because zoonoses are diseases that attack humans or that are transmissible between animal to human.”The Veto app’s main challenge is that it requires an internet connection, which is expensive and hard to come by in Cameroon’s remote villages.The app’s developers say they are working on the problem so it can be useful to more people raising livestock.Franklin Djomo, chief marketing officer for Veto, says their research and development teams are actively working to develop a module that is not connected to the internet so that it can operate in rural areas. While the veterinary diagnostic app has connection limitations, its practical use is not limited to Cameroon, or even West Africa. The Veto app is currently available in Cameroon’s official languages — French and English — and also in Arabic and Swahili.  

NASA Mars Ingenuity Helicopter Flies Faster, Farther Than Ever

U.S. space agency NASA said the experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity — in its third flight Sunday on the red planet — flew farther and faster than ever, including during test flights on Earth.NASA scientists said the vehicle took off and rose to about 5 meters off the surface of the planet — the same height it reached on its second flight Thursday and slightly higher than on its initial flight a week ago. This time, Ingenuity flew about 50 meters down range from its position, traveling at a top speed of about 2 meters a second. The entire flight was about 80 seconds.As data from the flight was received at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, the Ingenuity team said it was “ecstatic” to see how the helicopter performed. Program director Dave Lavery said the flight Sunday was what the team had planned for, “and yet, it was nothing short of amazing.”The initial data from the flight came in from NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, which is parked several meters from where the helicopter took flight. The agency said segments of that video showing most of the helicopter’s 80-second journey across its flight zone will be sent back to Earth in the days ahead.  The Ingenuity team has been pushing the helicopter’s limits by adding instructions to capture more photos of its own, including from the color camera, which captured its first images on the flight last Thursday.  Ingenuity weighs just 1.8 kilograms and was packed away on the Perseverance rover when it landed on Mars in February. It was unfolded and dropped from the rover about three weeks ago.NASA considers Ingenuity a technology demonstration designed to test flight capability in the thin Martian atmosphere. It has specially designed rotors that spin much faster than they would have to on Earth to achieve flight. It also has innovative batteries and solar cells for recharging.Aside from cameras, Ingenuity carries no scientific instruments. 

New Apps Help Muslims Find Place to Pray

During Ramadan many mosques are open, but because of attendance limits there’s no guarantee of a place to pray. But new phone apps can help solve that problem, as VOA’s Yuni Salim found out, in this report narrated by Nova Poerwadi.
Camera: Yuni Salim      Producer: Bronwyn Benito

A Look at Why Ghana Is Attracting IT Firms 

Ghanaian social media users were in a state of ecstasy earlier this month when the U.S. social networking service, Twitter, announced it was setting up its first African office in Ghana.   President Nana Akufo-Addo described the move as “excellent news.” A statement by Twitter said Ghana’s democratic credentials and support for free speech and online freedoms made it the company’s choice.   Twitter joins Google and other IT firms with offices in Ghana. But why are top IT firms like Twitter choosing the West African country instead of other African nations?   Ghana’s minister of communications and digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, says apart from good governance, the country has set high standards for doing business. “We’re the envy and the toast of many countries around the world. We hold ourselves to high standards,” she said. “The pull factor with Twitter here [is] if their business thrives, other global tec.h giants will also say Ghana is not such a bad place to locate your business on the continent after all.” According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2021 Report, there were 14.7 million internet users in Ghana in January 2020 while internet use in the country stood at 48 percent. Ghana also has six million social media users. For his part, the head of the international non-profit Hacklab Foundation, Foster Akugri, says Ghana’s attraction for tech giants is not simply about the numbers. He said the firms have taken note that the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area is located in Accra.   “The gateway to Africa is Ghana. So, for Twitter to have chosen Ghana, I believe it’s very strategic. As a multinational I believe you want to be closer to where the decisions are made,” he said.Meanwhile, Twitter is looking to fill jobs in Ghana, including positions in engineering and marketing.   All this has spurred Ghanaians to look forward to scoring another first on the continent in hopes of bringing more opportunities and development to the country.      

Cameroonian Startup Creates Soil Analysis Kit for Farming Efficiency

Cameroon’s agricultural sector employs the majority of the country’s workers, but too many know too little about the soil, resulting in inefficient farming. To help Cameroon’s farmers, a computer engineer created an electronic analysis kit to test soil quality and suitability for crops. Moki Edwin Kindzeka has this report by Anne Nzouankeu in Edéa, Cameroon. Camera: Anne Nzouankeu   Produced by: Jason Godman 

US Trying to Insulate Electrical Grid From Cyberattacks  

With America’s electrical infrastructure getting zapped daily by an unprecedented number of cyberattacks, the federal government is taking action to prevent a potentially crippling hack of the grid.  A 100-day plan was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Energy Department to harden security systems for the country’s electrical infrastructure and increase the ability to detect and neutralize cyber threats.  “The United States faces a well-documented and increasing cyber threat from malicious actors seeking to disrupt the electricity Americans rely on to power our homes and businesses,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “It’s up to both government and industry to prevent possible harms — that’s why we’re working together to take these decisive measures so Americans can rely on a resilient, secure, and clean energy system.”  The electric industry was among those hit by recent cyberattacks and data breaches targeting Solar Winds and Microsoft Exchange software, but officials stress the timing of Tuesday’s announcement is not directly tied to those events.In this Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, photo a Microsoft computer is among items displayed at a Microsoft store in suburban Boston. Microsoft reports financial results on Jan. 29, 2020.The U.S. government has blamed Russia’s spy agency for the Solar Winds attack. Microsoft said vulnerabilities in its mail and calendar software for corporate and government data centers were primarily exploited by the so-called Hafnium group in China.  The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a non-profit regulatory authority that oversees utilities in the United States and Canada, said about 25 percent of electric utilities on the North American power grid downloaded the SolarWinds backdoor. “Given the sophisticated and constantly changing threats posed by adversaries, America’s electric companies remain focused on securing the industrial control systems that operate the North American energy grid,” said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies.  Kuhn said the new initiative is appreciated and indicates “the Biden administration is making cybersecurity for operations a high priority.” Tuesday’s announcement comes after some industry criticism that funding for grid security was not included in the recent infrastructure package announced by President Joe Biden. The 100-day plan includes “aggressive but achievable milestones and will assist owners and operators as they modernize cybersecurity defenses, including enhancing detection, mitigation, and forensic capabilities,” said National Security Council Spokesperson Emily Horne in a statement.  Among the fears—that an enemy of the United States or a cybercriminal group could replicate what happened in Ukraine in 2015 when the information systems of the country’s three energy distribution companies were remotely accessed by Russia, causing 200,000 consumers to lose power. A year later in Ukraine, a power transmission station was knocked offline by Russian hackers who were able to trip circuit breakers after planting malware in the network of the national grid operator.  “The safety and security of the American people depend on the resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Brandon Wales, acting director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security. Officials describe this effort to harden the power system against cyberattacks as a pilot project of the Biden administration before such measures are enacted for other vulnerable sectors of the country’s infrastructure.  A Government Accountability Office report issued last month warned that the U.S. grid’s distributions systems “are growing more vulnerable, in part because their industrial control systems increasingly allow remote access and connect to business networks.”  The Biden administration also is lifting a temporary ban on acquiring and installing bulk-power systems that serve critical defense systems, while the Energy Department receives industry input for a new executive order on guidelines for purchasing equipment.  Last May, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring “the unrestricted foreign supply of bulk-power system electric equipment” an “unusual and extraordinary threat to national security.” The order restricted purchases and use of such foreign equipment.   
The large, interconnected bulk electric system consists of facilities necessary for operating the power transmission network and maintaining a balance of generation and demand from second to second.  
Biden, in his first day in office, suspended Trump’s order for 90 days and directed the Energy Department and the Office of Management and Budget to “jointly consider whether to recommend that a replacement order be issued.” 

New Technology Aims to Make Travel Safer During Pandemic

San Francisco’s International Airport and United Airlines have become the first in the U.S. to test technology that enables domestic passengers to check in and board flights with minimal contact between travelers and agents. Those behind the trial say the technology could make traveling safer during the pandemic, as VOA Correspondent Mariama Diallo reports. 

Apple Restores Parler Social Media to App Store

Apple will allow the self-proclaimed free speech social media app Parler back in the App Store.The news came from a letter from Apple to Colorado Republican Congressman Ken Buck and Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, who had pressed the company about its removal of Parler.Apple said it removed Parler in January because it had been used to plan the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Facebook was also used by protesters but was not removed from the App Store.In the letter, Apple said Parler had strengthened its content moderation, leading to its reinstatement. Parler had marketed itself as a social media platform with less moderation.“Apple anticipates that the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it,” Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director for government affairs, wrote in the letter.In a tweet, Buck called Apple’s decision a “huge win for free speech.” Google also removed Parler from its app store, and Amazon kicked the company off its web-hosting platform. There was no word if either company will reinstate Parler.The companies deny they worked together to remove Parler.

Final Ruling on Trump Facebook Ban Delayed

A final ruling on whether to overturn Facebook’s ban on former U.S. president Donald Trump will take a bit longer than anticipated, an independent oversight board said Friday.Critics of the social media company and even strong advocates of unfettered political discourse called on Facebook’s oversight board to endorse the decision to boot Trump from the platform in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.”The board’s commitment to carefully reviewing all comments has extended the case timeline,” a spokesperson told AFP.”The board will announce its decision on the case concerning former U.S. President Trump’s indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks.”The Facebook oversight board had originally expected to have its decision by this month.Calling Trump a “clear and present danger,” scholars and civil rights advocates have urged Facebook to permanently ban the former president from the platform.Conservatives on Capitol Hill and beyond have contended that moves by Facebook and Twitter to “deplatform” Trump demonstrate political bias and inhibit free speech.An extended public comment period ended in February with more than 9,000 submissions regarding the case, according to the board.The social network itself asked the independent body to review Trump’s eviction from the online community.The oversight board has the final say on what is removed or allowed to remain on the world’s biggest social network.Trump’s access to social media platforms that he used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington.