Too long, didn't read
  • President Trump just blocked a huge acquisition of Broadcom
    • It's out of the ordinary because Broadcom-Qualcomm shareholders hadn't even voted yet
    • Trump blocked the deal citing 'national security' but the devil is in the details: it's about preserving U.S. innovation
    • The move is a bad precedent for the technology industry 
  • UK government delays plan to implement age ID for pornography
    • The law was planned for April, would fine porn sites for not verifying ID
    • Age ID required confirmation of actual identity, sometimes to third-party vendors
    • Law delayed as no workable solutions available yet, and short implementation deadline

Trump blocks Broadcom-Qualcomm deal

One of the most boring acquisition deals, for chip companies you use, but likely don't particularly care about, just got really interesting.

In a last-minute shock move, Donald Trump squashed the hostile takeover and proposed buyout of Qualcomm, citing non-specific national security concerns:

Both companies were ordered to immediately abandon the proposed deal. The order, an unusual move by any sitting U.S. president, also prohibits all 15 of Broadcom's proposed candidates for Qualcomm's board from standing for election.

It's easy to understate how big of a move this really is: the U.S government just stepped into the largest deal ($117B) in the technology industry's history to protect its own companies from global competition.

The deal's "national security" concern is fairly simple: Broadcom's takeover of Qualcomm would kill off the only next-generation mobile player in 5G that's American-owned. The government essentially was not willing to let such key next-generation technology fall outside of its control for decades to come.

Broadcom is publicly disagreeing with Trump — who met the company's CEO just months ago when it said it would bring jobs to the U.S. — and may fight the allegations of national security concerns. 

To be clear, this type of action against foreign investment has only happened four times in three decades, and has not been seen on this scale previously — let alone before the company's shareholders had even voted on the offer for themselves.

This could signal a huge problem for the technology industry. As Techcrunch points out, the U.S. is mulling reviewing minority investments including venture capital, which could end the technology industry's international flow of capital and talent.

Now what? Well, the government just cleared the way for Intel to acquire Broadcom instead if it still wants to, keeping the company in the U.S. and allowing the chipmaker to undo a mistake it made long ago — turning down making chips for Apple.

P.S — Monday Note has a great take on Intel + Broadcom: it would be a disaster. Someone else will acquire Broadcom if they don't, however.


UK government's absurd pornography plan

This is crazy but it's apparently happening toward the end of the year: if sites don't check for the age of adult content viewers — porn, to be clear — they can face massive fines. 

In order to view pornography, the user will have to actually confirm their identity to get past the gate. To be clear, this isn't like those rubbish age gates on liquor websites: you actually need to verify who you are, which is referenced in a system.

Like the BBC points out, the fact that the age verification software currently proposed comes from third-party vendors is a massive problem: they'll be hacked at some point, creating the ultimate database monitoring users' porn habits across the country.

The UK government already requires ISPs to ban access to such content by default, requiring customers to either call their providers or visit a settings page to have it unblocked. The move was controversial at the time, but ultimately saw itself becoming law.

Every time the previous law and this new one popped up, the argument went along the lines of but the children with no further discussion of how dangerous such a system is for privacy, security and even personal identity. The absurdity of how overreaching the move is, going as far as punishing individual sites on the internet with fines, is something on its own; I'd love to see them try!

The news today is that the law has been delayed until the end of the year — it was due next month but literally nobody was ready, including the government's own recommendations. 

Will it come into law eventually? Probably. But for now, activists just got a few more months to protest. Also, someone needs to tell the UK government that VPNs exist.


Tab Dump

Mac calendar app gets cryptocurrency miner in update
I literally can't believe this is a thing people think is OK.

Spotify wants your help to gobble up more information
A new Spotify service called Line-In is designed to help Spotify better understand how humans think about music, letting you edit songs and suggest edits — great way to crowdsource metadata.

Larry Page's flying taxis come out of stealth
Calling a self-driving flying taxi for your next ride could be an actual thing, if Larry Page's New Zealand company gets its way. This is wild, because they take off like helicopters but flies as fast as a plane — and drives itself.