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Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Sun, 17 Jan 2021, 11:48 PM

 

[转贴] 揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 17 Jan 2021, 11:48 PM


揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

直下式背光 Mini LED具备高分辨率、HDR、寿命长、高发光效率、高可靠性等优点,可应用于手机、电视、汽车等笔电及液晶面板的背光源。 随着封装等生
产技术走向成熟,良率及成本问题的改善为终端应用创造条件。目前,苹果、三星等消费电子龙头企业开始加速布局 Mini LED 产品,风向标引领作用下,未来终端渗透率有望加速。预计 2023 年 Mini LED 背光市场规模将达约 11 亿美元,显示市场规模将达到 6.6 亿美元。

本期的智能内参,我们安信证券的研究报告《Mini LED 系列报告:商业化进程加速,封装环节弹性突出》,揭秘Mini LED的商业化进程,重点讨论中上游产业链发展概况。

本期内参来源:安信证券

原标题:

《Mini LED 系列报告:商业化进程加速,封装环节弹性突出》

作者: 马良 薛辉蓉

一、 Mini LED 商业化进程加速

2019 年以来,TCL、小米、华硕等消费电子品牌陆续发布旗下 Mini LED 背光产品,涵盖电视、显示器、笔电等多个领域。其中具有重要风向标作用的苹果、三星等公司旗下 Mini LED 产品均预计将于 2021 年发布,龙头带领下,Mini LED 产业有望崛起。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

部分终端厂商 Mini LED 产品推出情况

具体来说,苹果具有清晰的 Mini LED 产品路线图。苹果高度重视 Mini LED 的应用,产品路线图规划清晰。2019 6 ,苹果发布搭载 Mini LED 背光技术的 6K Pro Display XDR 专业级显示器;据 Digitimes 报道,预计 2021 Q1 苹果将发布搭载 Mini LED 背光的 12.9 iPadPro产品;未来苹果将进一步推出采用 Mini LED技术的产品,如14.1寸及16Macbook Pro,搭载 Mini LED 背光的 Macbook Air 则预计于 2022 年发布。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

苹果 Mini LED 产品路线图

三星亦已加码 Mini LED 背光产品。据 Digitimes ET News 消息,三星已斥资 400 亿韩元(约合人民币 2.4 亿元)于越南建立 50 余条 Mini LED 产线,用于生产 Mini LED 背光电视。另据三星电子,公司于 2021 1 7 日发布 Neo QLED 电视,包括 8KQN900A)和 4KQN90A)两种机型,该电视将采用由量子矩阵技术精确控制的量子点 Mini LED 光源。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

三星发布 2021 Neo QLED 电视

P0.9 正式进入规模商业化,室内需求方兴未艾LED 屏在 2001 年后随 SMD 技术问世开始真正大规模应用,2010 年开始出现小间距产品,LED 直显从户外拓展到了室内场景,MiniLED 出现后,结合 COB/IMD 封装的优势,LED 像素点进一步缩小,对应的终端产品的显示效果进一步提升,在室内直显领域进一步取代原有的 LCD 产品。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

P0.9 正式进入规模商业化

产品迭出,厂商发力布局 Mini LED 显示。目前 Mini LED 直显已应用于光电、会议、工程等场景,据公司官微,洲明科技推出的 Umini 系列 Mini LED 显示产品已应用于深圳市委电子政务等项目;商业显示市场,据国星光电官网信息,TCL 发布的 1324K 高清显示屏“The Cinema Wall”,采用 Mini LED 技术打造。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

▲ 洲明科技 Umini 系列

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

TCLThe Cinema Wall”显示屏

Mini LED在背光及直显领域都具有一定技术优势。直下式背光Mini LED具备高分辨率、HDR、寿命长、高发光效率、高可靠性等优点,可应用于手机、电视、汽车等笔电及液晶面板的背光源。而 RGB Mini LED 显示产品采用倒装 COB IMD 技术,克服了正装 SMD 封装的打线、可靠性、像素颗粒化等缺陷,为像素间距进一步微缩化提供技术条件,显示产品具备更高分辨率、低亮高灰等优点,且搭配柔性基板可实现柔性显示。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

不同显示技术性能对比

为实现 Mini LED 技术优势,可靠性成为重点。Mini LED 背光技术方案中灯珠的数量从几千到几万不等,较传统 LED 背光的灯珠数量提高了几个量级,而显示领域随间距缩小,所需灯珠数量也迅速提高。但从产品质量角度考虑,在数量提高的同时,原则上又要求 Mini LED的使用失效率逼近 0 PPM,因此对 Mini LED 的可靠性要求大幅提高。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

显示领域中,灯珠数量随点间距缩小迅速扩大

而传统 SMD 技术在灯珠缩小时封装死灯率、虚焊率上升,使得可靠性降低,在 P1.0 以下劣势明显,因此 Mini SMDCOB/COGIMD 等封装技术开始在业界采用:

1Mini SMD 主要应用于 Mini LED 背光生产。Mini SMD 又称为“满天星”,主要优点包括:LED 器件的方案更为成熟,可靠性更高,成本也相对可控,且容易维护;同时,能够降低 PCB 板的精度要求,从而降低 PCB 板的成本,在大尺寸、大 OD 值上具备一定的成本优势。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

Mini SMD 技术优势

2COB/COG 封装具有高效率、低热阻、更优观看效果、防撞抗压高可靠等优点。COB/COG进行集成化封装,使用环氧树脂将若干灯珠直接封装在 PCB 板或玻璃基板上,因此无需支架和回流焊,在高密度 LED 密布下具有显著优势,可应用于背光及直显两大领域。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

SMD COB 封装结构差异

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

COB 封装实现更高亮度与更大观看范围

3IMD 封装是 SMD COB 的折中技术。COB 封装仍然存在一定的技术难点,主要包括墨色一致性难以控制、维修困难,正装工艺下固晶良率低、倒装工艺下精度要求高等。IMD封装通过对 SMD COB 技术进行折中应运而生:一方面,IMD 封装以结构集成方式,一定程度克服了 SMD 在极小间距下的密布灯珠逐个焊接封装的可靠性问题,提升屏幕抗磕碰能力,并克服了 SMD 产品难以避免的像素颗粒化问题,提高画面细腻程度;另一方面,IMD 封装克服了 COB封装单个模块晶体过多而带来的一致性、坏点维修、拼接缝等问题,且降低材料成本。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

IMD 技术优势

技术局限外,过去 Mini LED 商业化落后于预期又受制于良率与成本问题:

1Mini LED 的发展较预期有所滞缓,很大程度受芯片微缩下,量产良率问题解决迟滞所致。如从 P0.9 发展到 P0.5/0.4,在都采用倒装工艺的前提下,COB 技术一次封装制程良率从 80%-90%迅速下降至 60%-80%,而 IMD 技术亦有显著的下降趋势。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

一次封装制程良率随芯片微缩递减

2)成本高企是 Mini LED 大规模应用的关键制约因素。Mini LED 应用灯珠数量迅速扩大,而灯珠成本受良率制约处于相对高位,导致 Mini LED 产品价格居高不下。在小间距显示中,P0.9 产品价格显著高于 P1.25 及以下规格产品。

从背光应用来看,以苹果 12.9 iPad Pro为例,由于预计采用近 10000 颗的 Mini LED 芯片作为背光源,因此仅 LED 芯片、PCB 背板、驱动 IC 等零组件成本便占据较大比重,再加上测试分选以及打件等制程,据集邦咨询推算,现阶段 Mini LED 背光显示器成本仍高于 100 美元,其中 Mini LED 背光模组成本就占六成以上。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

小间距 LED 产品价格随间距缩小递增

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

Mini LED 背光模组占成本比重六成以上

随着供给端技术成熟,良率及成本问题有显著改善,创造 Mini LED 商业化应用条件。随着技术成熟,Mini LED 量产良率问题已有明显改善,据 WitsView,晶电预计自 2020Q4 起,2-3 个季度左右时间便可实现 Mini LED 良率突破 90%;国内企业如兆驰股份 Mini LED 封装批量生产良率已达 99.5%

良率优化下,Mini LED 成本问题也有明显改善趋势,国星光电预计其 IMD 封装成本将于 2021 Q3 实现 P0.9 整屏<4 万元/m2。而背光方面,集邦咨询预估每年 Mini LED 背光显示器成本将以 15~20%的幅度下降,在 2022 年将有机会低于 OLED显示器,具备市场竞争力。良率与成本问题的优化,为 Mini LED 终端应用渗透创造条件。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

国星光电 P0.9 显示屏成本路线图

Mini LED 产品有望获得较长的存在周期Mini LED 曾经一度被认为是 Micro LED 量产前的过渡产品,但 Micro LED 受限于微缩制程、巨量转移等技术瓶颈,在技术、行业及周期上短期内难以实现商业化。据行家说 talk,从时间长度上看,至少 5 年内 Mini LED 还将会是 LED显示界主流研究技术路线,Mini LED Micro LED 格局上不会发生汹涌的替代。

从下游市场来看,背光+显示双轮驱动,Mini LED 应用市场空间广阔:

多元化背光应用前景广阔,背光市场受益 Mini LED 有望再增长。2010-2013 年,在海兹定律驱动下,LED 亮度提升、价格下降,LED 背光渗透率迅速提升,市场规模扩大。2013 年后 LED 背光出现饱和,而 OLED 等对 LED 背光具有替代效应,市场占比大幅下滑。据 GGII,随着 Mini LED 在背光终端渗透,预计 Mini LED 背光市场 2023 年将达到约 11 亿美元,带动背光市场整体复苏。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

2009-2019 年中国 LED 应用市场规模及背光占比

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

Mini LED 背光市场规模

Mini LED 适逢室内大屏技术替代机遇。据行家说 talk2020 P0.9 开始有明显产值贡献,至年底市场需求可达 1000 平米/月,预计 2021 P0.9 市场需求可达 2000-3000 平米/月。总体来看,据国星光电,预计 2023 Mini LED 显示的市场规模可达 6.6 亿美元,20-23 CAGR 35.55%

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

▲ Mini LED 显示市场规模

芯片及封装作为供应链的前端,受益于 Mini LED 商业化加速,市场空间有望扩张。据晶电估计,芯片端放量基本要提前于下游新品发布约 3-4 个月,因此 Mini LED 在下游的渗透加速使芯片及封装龙头企业率先受益。据行家说产业研究中心测算,在渗透率达到 10%时,Mini LED 芯片需求将达到约 87.81 万片/月(折合 2 寸片) 。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

Mini LED 芯片需求测算(万片/月)

二、 中上游产业链布局加速

Mini LED 产业链可分为上游的芯片研发生产,中游的芯片封装,以及下游的应用等三大环节:上游产业主要包括衬底材料生产、外延片加工以及 LED 芯片制作等主要环节,市场主要参与者包括国内企业如三安光电、华灿光电、澳洋顺昌等,海外企业如晶电、隆达等;中游主要为芯片封装,市场参与者主要包括国内企业如国星光电、鸿利智汇、瑞丰光电、兆驰股份等,海外企业包括宏齐、东贝、亿光电子等;Mini LED 下游主要应用于背光和显示市场,背光应用涵盖电视、显示器、笔电、平板电脑以及车载显示器等主流设备。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

Mini LED 产业链

终端渗透带动 Mini LED 产业链放量。作为全球前列的消费电子品牌,苹果和三星有非常强势的风向标作用。随着消费电子龙头企业的加入,业内竞争对手在未来几年内推出类似产品的可能性大增,Mini LED 背光终端渗透率有望提升,而 Mini LED 在显示领域亦稳步推进。中上游产业链为满足下游需要,整体 Mini LED 产业链有望实现突破放量。据 LEDinside 统计,2020 Mini/Micro LED 显示技术相关项目总规划投资约 252 亿元,共有 24 个项目立项,其中有 12 个是十亿级大项目,几乎涵盖产业链的设备、芯片、封装、面板、显示屏等所有环节。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

苹果 iPad Pro 量产单将带动 Mini LED 产业链放量

具体来看,在 Mini LED 下游渗透加速的背景下,作为 Mini LED 产业链中上游的芯片及封装环节,正在持续加码 Mini LED 布局:

1芯片端:三安光电、华灿光电、乾照光电等 A 股上市公司均有 Mini LED 扩产计划。其中,据鄂州新闻网,三安光电预计 2021 3 月投产 Mini/Micro 显示芯片产业化项目;另据公司公告,华灿光电、乾照光电均募集资金用于 Mini/Micro LED 等研发与制造项目。据台湾工商时报,晶电作为苹果产业链的一环,大客户量产单推动下中国台湾地区已有 50%产能切换至 Mini LED,预计 21 Q1 实现 95%产能转换。

2封装端:据公司公告,鸿利智汇在广州花都区的 Mini/Micro LED 半导体显示项目一期已经正式投产,设计产能达到 75 寸电视背光每月 2 万台,P0.9 直显产品产能每月 1000 平方米;亦已正式签约二期项目,设计产能 75 寸电视背光每月可达 16 万台,P0.9 每月达到10000平方米。据公司官微,国星光电IMD产能已达1000KK/月,计划2021Q1 2000KK/月。其他厂商包括兆驰股份、瑞丰光电、宏齐以及东贝等均有 Mini LED 扩产计划,加码 MiniLED 布局。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

产业链持续加码 Mini LED 布局

鉴于封装在 LED 产业链中所处中游环节以及价值量所占比重、市场格局逐步走向集中化的趋势以及封装技术在 Mini LED 产业链的重要作用,我们认为封装产业将成为 Mini LED 产业链的弹性首选,率先受益 Mini LED 创造的 LED 需求增长。

一方面,我们认为 Mini LED 创造的需求增长将自下而上传递。目前来看,Mini LED 放量的核心仍是下游应用的突破,因此作为产业链中游的封装行业,将率先受益 Mini LED 需求增长带来的行业景气度回升。

另一方面,回顾 LED 产业链价值分布,封装端市场规模约为芯片端 5 倍左右。据 CSA 数据,2019 年,中国 LED 封装市场规模约 959 亿元,同比-9.01%,约占 LED 市场的 13%,价值量约是芯片端的 5 倍。考虑到 LED 产业链价值占比,我们认为封装产业有望核心受益 MiniLED 渗透加速。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

2006-2019 年中国 LED 市场规模及封装市场同比增速

LED 芯片行业集中度较高。根据 LEDinside 数据,2018 年中国大陆 LED 芯片企业收入已占到全球市场的 67%,同比提升 6 个百分点;另据 OFweek 统计,2018 年中国 LED 芯片市场中,前三大企业产能已占市场的 60%

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

2018 年全球 LED 芯片厂商收入分布(按地区)

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

2018 年中国 LED 芯片市场产能竞争格局

LED 封装行业集中趋势明显,龙头企业弹性值得期待。较芯片行业,封装端的集中度相对较低,据 LEDinsdie 数据,2018 年中国市场前十大厂商市占率约为 50%。但封装行业呈现明显的集中趋势,据 GGIILED 封装行业企业数量自 2014 年达到峰值的 1532 家后,由于行业竞争加剧,众多中小型封装企业逐步退出市场,中国 LED 封装行业企业数量持续下降,预计 2020 LED 封装行业企业数量将会下降至约 500 家。基于行业集中度提高背景,封装行业龙头企业有望更多受益于 Mini LED 需求增长,弹性值得期待。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

2018 LED 封装市场市占率情况

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

2010-2020 年中国 LED 封装企业数量

封装决定 Mini LED 的应用方向。封装处于 Mini LED 产业链中游环节,不同的封装体系技术会选择相同的 LED 芯片,所以 LED 芯片具有被选择性。而不同的封装工艺会产生出不同等级的 Mini LED 显示面板,如 SMD 技术用于万级/十万级左右的显示屏生产,而 COB/COG可用于百万级以上的显示屏制造。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

封装技术决定 Mini LED 的应用方向

封装是 Mini LED 可靠性问题的主要影响因素LED 的像素失效分为内失效与外失效,两者占比约为 1:9。内失效主要是在像素胶体内部由 LED 芯片缺陷或 LED 芯片的封装工艺造成的;外失效主要被认为是封装器件引脚由 SMT 的焊接工艺缺陷造成的。因此封装技术是 MiniLED 的可靠性问题的主要影响因素。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

Mini LED 像素失效以外失效为主

综合产业链环节、产业链价值分布、竞争格局以及技术特点,我们认为封装将是 Mini LED产业链中弹性最大的环节。封装技术在 Mini LED 生态中的重要性使其成为产业内不可或缺的一环,而作为上下游需求的交汇点,封装环节在终端放量的背景下有望率先实现突破。且封装产业价值量远超芯片端,而现阶段 Mini LED 封装产业产能处于起步阶段,短期内降价幅度有限,行业毛利值得期待。

因此封装产业将成为 Mini LED 产业链中的弹性首选。据 LEDinside 数据,预计 2021 Mini/Micro LED 封装市场规模将达到 1.95 亿美元。

揭秘Mini LED,苹果三星纷纷入局,国产面板弯道超车最佳方案 | 智东西内参

2018-2024 Mini/Micro LED 封装产值

智东西认为,近两年,Mini LED产品密集发布,苹果、TCL、海信、华硕、群创、友达、京东方等巨头纷纷推出Mini LED背光的终端产品。随着技术逐步成熟、成本下降,Mini-LED已经开启商业化之路,将为整个产业链注入了全新活力,未来,包括设备、芯片、封装、背光模组、面板、终端品牌厂在Mini-LED的带动下会迎来一次加速增长。

 

https://zhidx.com/p/253415.html

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WhatsApp delays data sharing change after backlash

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 17 Jan 2021, 7:49 PM


SAN FRANCISCO: WhatsApp on Jan 15 postponed a data-sharing change as users concerned about privacy fled the Facebook-owned messaging service and flocked to rivals Telegram and Signal.

The smartphone app, a huge hit across the world, cancelled its Feb 8 deadline for accepting an update to its terms concerning sharing data with Facebook, saying it would use the pause to clear up misinformation around privacy and security.

“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.

“This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”

It said it would instead “go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15”.

The update concerns how merchants using WhatsApp to chat with customers can share data with Facebook, which could use the information for targeted ads, according to the social network.

“We can’t see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook,” WhatsApp said in an earlier blog post.

“We don’t keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling. We can’t see your shared location and neither can Facebook.”

Location data along with message contents is encrypted end-to-end, according to WhatsApp.

“We’re giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts,” WhatsApp said in a post.

“Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.”

Technology experts note that WhatsApp’s new requirement of its users makes legally binding a policy that has been widely in use since 2016.

Facebook aims to monetise WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact clients via the platform, making it natural for the Internet giant to centralise some data on its servers.

Countries concerned

The Turkish Competition Authority said it is opening an investigation and requiring WhatsApp to suspend the data sharing obligation on its users.

Several Turkish state organisations - including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s media office - switched to Turkcell telecom’s new messaging service BiP in response.

The terms of service tweak also put WhatsApp in the crosshairs in Italy and India, where a petition has been filed in a Delhi court.

WhatsApp’s notice to users lacked clarity and its privacy implications need to be carefully evaluated, Italian data protection agency GPDP said in a post at its website.

GPDP said it has shared its concerns with the European Data Protection Board and reserved the right to intervene in the matter.

Facebook has come under increasing pressure from regulators as it tries to integrate its services.

The EU fined the US social media giant €110 million (then US$120mil) for providing incorrect and misleading information about its 2014 takeover of WhatsApp concerning the ability to link accounts between the services.

Federal and state regulators in US have accused Facebook of using its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram to squelch competition and filed antitrust lawsuits last month that aim to force the company to divest them.

Privacy paramount

User privacy fears have been mounting, with Uber careful to stress that a change in app terms taking effect on Jan 18 has nothing to do with sharing data.

Encrypted messaging app Telegram has seen user ranks surge on the heels of the WhatsApp service terms announcement, said its Russia-born founder Pavel Durov.

“People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services,” Durov said without directly referring to the rival app.

Encrypted messaging app Signal has also seen a huge surge in demand, helped by a tweeted recommendation by billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.

WhatsApp has sought to reassure worried users, even running full-page newspaper adverts in India, proclaiming that “respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA”.

 - AFP

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Signal back up after outage

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 17 Jan 2021, 4:08 PM


Signal said on Saturday it had restored its services a day after the application faced technical difficulties as it dealt with a flood of new users after rival messaging app WhatsApp announced a controversial change in privacy terms.

Signal has seen a rise in downloads following a change in WhatsApp's privacy terms, which required WhatsApp users to share their data with both Facebook Inc and Instagram.

Signal users might see errors in some chats as a side effect to the outage, but will be resolved in the next update of the app, the company said https://bit.ly/3im0aQ1 in a tweet.

The error does not affect the security of the chat, the company added.

The non-profit Signal Foundation based in Silicon Valley, which currently oversees the app, was launched in February 2018 with Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp before selling it to Facebook, providing initial funding of $50 million.

 


  - Reuters

 

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Why is there such a fuss at the moment about Signal?

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 17 Jan 2021, 2:02 PM


Since the controversy surrounding WhatsApp’s new terms of use, which require more information sharing with its parent company Facebook, many users are looking for a more privacy-friendly alternative. And all eyes seem to be turning to Signal, which has been surfing for several days now at the top of the list of most downloaded applications.

The buzz started with a simple tweet from Elon Musk, Tesla’s whimsical boss, who incidentally became the richest man in the world at the beginning of the year. In just two words - “Use Signal” - as early as Jan 7, he advised his followers to leave WhatsApp for this application, considered much safer.

While it may be somewhat unknown to the general public, Signal was not, however, created yesterday. At the head of the foundation that manages the application today are Moxie Marlinspike, its founder, and Brian Acton, who was present at the origin of... WhatsApp.

Signal promotes itself as an application that is both secure and respectful of privacy, and it has been recommended for years by people beyond Elon Musk, such as the whistleblower Edward Snowden and Twitter boss Jack Dorsey. Its messaging system guarantees end-to-end encryption of exchanges (calls, texts, attachments). At no time does Signal intercept these conversations, making absolute confidentiality its trademark.

This is all the more important since Signal offers exactly the same services as WhatsApp: phone calls, video conferencing, messaging, group creation and management, and more.

It should be noted that Signal is not the only messaging application to do well; Telegram, which claims 500 million active users per month has gained over 25 million users in the past week. WhatsApp, with its two billion users worldwide, should nevertheless not suffer too much from the controversy, the overwhelming majority of its users accepting every time without flinching the update of its terms of use.

 - AFP Relaxnews

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Extremists exploit a loophole in social moderation: Podcasts

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 17 Jan 2021, 2:02 PM


Major social platforms have been cracking down on the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories in the leadup to the presidential election, and expanded their efforts in the wake of the Jan 6 US Capitol riot. But Apple and Google, among others, have left open a major loophole for this material: Podcasts.

Podcasts made available by the two Big Tech companies let you tune into the world of the QAnon conspiracy theory, wallow in President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and bask in other extremism. Accounts that have been banned on social media for election misinformation, threatening or bullying, and breaking other rules also still live on as podcasts available on the tech giants’ platforms.

Conspiracy theorists have peddled stolen-election fantasies, coronavirus conspiracies and violent rhetoric. One podcaster, RedPill78, called the Capitol siege a “staged event” in a Jan 11 episode of Red Pill News. The day before the Capitol riot, a more popular podcast, X22 Report, spoke confidently about a Trump second term, explained that Trump would need to “remove” many members of Congress to further his plans, and said “We the people, we are the storm, and we’re coming to DC.”

Both are available on Apple and Google podcast platforms.

Podcasting “plays a particularly outsized role” in propagating white supremacy, said a 2018 report from the Anti-Defamation League. Many white supremacists, like QAnon adherents, support Trump. Podcasting’s an intimate, humanising mode of communication that lets extremists expound on their ideas for hours at a time, said Oren Segal of ADL’s Center on Extremism.

Elsewhere on social media, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been cracking down on accounts amplifying unfounded QAnon claims that Trump is fighting deep state enemies and cannibals operating a child-sex trafficking ring. A major talk radio company, Cumulus, told its hosts to tone down rhetoric about stolen elections and violent uprisings or risk termination, although it’s not clear what impact that dictate has had.

Google-owned YouTube axed “Bannon’s War Room”, a channel run by Trump loyalist Steve Bannon on Jan 8 after he spread false election claims and called for the beheading of Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease expert. But podcast versions of Bannon’s show live on at Apple and Google. Spotify took it down in November, according to one of its hosts.

“Podcasts filled with hatred and incitement to violence should not be treated any differently than any other content,” Segal said. “If you’re going to take a strong stance against hate and extremism in the platform in any way, it should be all-inclusive.”

Apple, Spotify and Google curate lists of top podcasts and recommend them to users. Apple and Spotify are the dominant players in the US, with other players far behind, said Dave Zohrob, CEO of the podcast analytics firm Chartable. Despite its name recognition, Google remains a tiny presence.

Spotify said it takes down podcasts that violate its policies against hate speech, copyright violations or break any laws, using “algorithmic and human detection measures” to identify violations. Apple’s guidelines prohibit content that is illegal or promotes violence, graphic sex or drugs or is “otherwise considered obscene, objectionable, or in poor taste”. Apple did not reply to repeated questions about its content guidelines or moderation.

Google declined to explain the discrepancy between what’s available on YouTube and what’s on Google Podcasts, saying only that its podcast service “indexes audio available on the Web” much the way its search engine indexes web pages. The company said it removes podcasts from its platform “in very rare circumstances, largely guided by local law”.

X22 Report and Bannon’s War Room were No. 20 and No. 32 on Apple’s list of top podcasts on Friday. (Experts say that list measures a podcast's momentum rather than total listeners.) X22 Report said in October that it was suspended by YouTube and Spotify and last week by Twitter. It’s no longer available on Facebook, either. It is supported by ads for products such as survivalist food, unlicensed food supplements and gold coins, which run before and during the podcasts.

The website for Red Pill News said YouTube banned its videos in October and that a Twitter suspension followed. The podcast is available on Apple and Google, but not Spotify.

Several QAnon proponents affected by the crackdown sued YouTube in October, calling its actions a “massive de-platforming”. Among the plaintiffs are X22 Report, RedPill78 and David Hayes, who runs another conspiracy podcast called Praying Medic that's available on Apple and Google, but not Spotify.

Melody Torres, who podcasts at SoulWarrior Uncensored, self-identifies as a longtime QAnon follower and said in a recent episode that her podcast is “just my way of not being censored”. She said she was kicked off Twitter in January and booted from Instagram four times last year. She currently has Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts; her podcast is available on Apple and Google. Spotify removed the podcast Friday after The Associated Press inquired about it.

X22 Report, RedPill78 and Hayes did not respond to requests for comment sent via their websites. Torres did not reply to a Facebook message.

Podcasts suffer from the same misinformation problem as other platforms, said Shane Creevey, head of editorial for Kinzen, a startup created by former Facebook and Twitter executives that offers a disinformation tracker to companies, including some that host or curate podcasts.

Creevey points out that it’s harder to analyse misinformation from video and audio than from text. Podcasts can also run for hours, making them difficult to monitor. And podcasting has additional challenges in that there are no reliable statistics on their audience, unlike a YouTube stream, which shows views, or a tweet or Facebook post, which shows likes and shares, Creevey said.

But some argue that tech-company moderation is opaque and inconsistent, creating a new set of problems. Censorship “goes with the tide against what’s popular in any given moment”, said Jillian York, an expert at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights group. Right now, she said, “that tide is against the speech of right-wing extremists... but tomorrow the tide might be against opposition activists.”

 - AP

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Biden eyes ex-Obama staff to tackle Big Tech and other antitrust issues

Author: Tan KW   |  Publish date: Sun, 17 Jan 2021, 2:02 PM


WASHINGTON - Two former Obama administration officials have emerged as front-runners for the top antitrust job at the U.S. Department of Justice under the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

One of the picks is Renata Hesse, who has had several stints at the Justice Department since 2002 and most recently served as the Acting Assistant Attorney General from mid-2016 to Jan. 2017. She also has held private sector roles and advised on matters involving companies such as Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google.

More notably, Hesse advised Amazon on its more than $13 billion acquisition of grocery chain Whole Foods, according to her bio on the website of New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where she is currently a partner.

Her role could pose conflict of interest issues as the Justice Department pursues its widely-followed case against Google, the sources said. The Justice Department sued Google on Oct. 20, accusing the $1 trillion company of dominating search and advertising.

The other front-runner is Juan Arteaga, who has also worked for the Justice Department under President Barack Obama between 2013 to 2017 and served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Enforcement, according to the sources, who did not wish to be named.

Arteaga also has held private sector roles and advised companies such as JP Morgan Chase & Co and AT&T Inc.

Other contenders under consideration include Jonathan Kanter, who co-chaired the antitrust department at the law firm Paul Weiss and now runs his own firm, the sources said. He is a prominent Big Tech and Google critic. Many progressive groups favor Kanter's appointment as they push for more aggressive antitrust enforcement.

To be sure, the names reflect the thinking of the Biden transition so far and could change as the vetting process moves forward, the sources said.

The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Antitrust enforcement has emerged as an issue the Biden transition team has been paying attention to. For example, a third source said the transition is prioritizing getting a landing team in to start working on issues and that Arteaga could be a good fit.

Also, on Nov. 18, the Biden transition's agency review team for the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice held a meeting with outside progressive and moderate groups to discuss antitrust policy priorities, according to three separate sources.

Some of the broad priorities discussed on the call included having more "aggressive" antitrust enforcers.

"Bring cases even if you're going to lose," said one source, describing the way this point was made in the meeting.

Other topics discussed during the session included reversing merger guidelines, retrospective scrutiny of mergers, revamping antiquated competition laws and offering more funds for federal enforcement agencies such as the FTC, the sources said.

 


  - Reuters

 

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