Category Archives: Technology

U.S. Restricts Semiconductor Exports

The U.S. imposed new export restrictions on advanced semiconductors and chip-manufacturing equipment Friday in an effort to prevent American technology from advancing China’s military power, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The rules will require U.S. chip makers to obtain an license from the Commerce Department to export certain chips used in advanced artificial-intelligence calculations and supercomputing – crucial technologies for modern weapons systems, senior administration officials said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. already requires licenses for exports of many advanced technologies to Chinese entities deemed to be working against U.S. national-security interests. Friday’s move expands that to include exports of crucial cutting-edge chips and equipment that can’t be obtained elsewhere. The rule will allow the U.S. to block foreign-made chips that are manufactured with U.S. technology, the officials said.

The restrictions are some of the broadest the U.S. has ever enacted against China’s chip industry, veering from previous actions that often targeted individual companies and a narrower subset of technology.

The New York Times reported that the Biden Administration on Friday announced sweeping new limits on the sale of semiconductor technology to China, a step aimed at crippling Beijing’s access to critical technologies that are needed from everything from supercomputing to guiding weapons.

According to The New York Times, the moves are the clearest sign yet that a dangerous standoff between the world’s two major superpowers is increasingly playing out in the technological sphere, with the United States trying to establish a stranglehold on advanced computing and semiconductor technology that is essential to China’s military and economic ambitions.

The New York Times also reported that companies will no longer be allowed to supply advanced computing chips, chip-making equipment and other products to China unless they receive a special license. Most of those licenses will be denied, though certain shipments to facilities operated by U.S. companies or allied countries will be evaluated case by case, a senior administration official said in a briefing Thursday.

The Verge reported that the decision follows months of increased investment by the U.S. in domestic and semiconductor manufacturing. In August, President Joe Biden signed the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act, providing $52 billion in subsidies to boost companies choosing to build chip manufacturing plants in the U.S.

Overall, this seems like a good plan for the United States. It appears that the CHIPS bill is intended to encourage American companies to make chips here at home, while also making it harder for China to obtain chips made in the United States.

EVGA Stops Making Video Cards

EVGA, a titan in the PC component space, is getting out of the graphics card game, The Verge reported. The company posted in its community forum, saying it won’t be making next-generation Nvidia graphics cards but will continue to sell and support “the existing current generation products.” The Verge also reported that Gamers Nexus stated that EVGA doesn’t currently have plans to make AMD or Intel graphics cards.

More specifically, EVGA wrote the following:

“Hi all,

You may have heard some news regarding the next generation of products from EVGA. Please see below for a message on future products and services:

EVGA will not carry the next generation graphics cards.

EVGA will continue to support the existing current generation products

EVGA will continue to provide the current generation products.

EVGA is committed to our customers and will continue to offer sales and support on the current lineup. Also, EVGA would like to say thank you to our great community for the many years of support and enthusiasm for EVGA graphics cards.”

Kotaku reported that EVGA, one of the most prominent third-party PC graphics card manufacturers, and a favorite brand among PC gamers for quality parts and reliable warranties backed by solid customer service, is terminating its longtime relationship with Nvidia. What’s more, the company reportedly said that it won’t be pursuing partnerships with competing silicon giants like AMD or Intel, either. It seems EVGA is just done with GPUs.

ArsTechnica reported that EVGA’s graphics cards have exclusively used Nvidia GPUs since its founding in 1999, and according to Gamers Nexus, GeForce sales represent 80 percent of EVGAs revenue, making this a momentous and arguably company-endangering change. But EVGA CEO Andrew Han told Gamers Nexus that the decision was about “principle” rather than financials – Han complained about a lack of communication from Nvidia about new products, including information about pricing and availability.

According to ArsTechnica, Nvidia’s pricing strategy was apparently another sore point for EVGA. Nvidia’s first-party Founders Edition cards could often undercut the pricing of cards offered by EVGA and other vendors, forcing them to either lower prices or lose sales as a result.

For more information, you can watch the YouTube video by Gamers Nexus and/or the YouTube video by JayzTwoCents. Those of you who want to pick up some of the remaining EVGA graphics cards might want to do that as soon as possible. It certainly looks like the company is absolutely done making video cards.

U.S. To Crack Down On Chip And Tool Exports To China

The Biden administration plans next month to broaden curbs on U.S. shipments to China of semiconductors used for artificial intelligence and chipmaking tools, several people familiar with the matter said, according to Reuters.

Reuters reported that the Commerce Department intends to publish new regulations based on restrictions communicated in letters earlier this year to three U.S. companies – KLA Corp, Lam Research Corp, and Applied Materials Inc. Reuters says this information came from three people speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The companies publicly acknowledged the letters, which forbade them from exporting chipmaking equipment to Chinese factories that produce advanced semiconductors with sub-14 nanometer processes unless the sellers obtain Commerce Department licenses.

According to Reuters, a spokesperson for the Commerce Department on Friday declined to comment on specific regulations but reiterated that it is “taking a comprehensive approach to implement additional actions… to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests,” including to keep China from acquiring U.S. technology applicable to military modernization.

The Hill reported that semiconductor chips power most electrical systems and machines, from appliances to computers, vehicles, and modern weapons.

According to The Hill, over the summer, the U.S.passed the Chips and Science Act. The full name of this act is the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. It refers to legislation signed into law by President Biden on August 9, 2022. The act originally was set at $52 billion, the passed legislation invests nearly $250 billion on a combination of semiconductor and other scientific research and development. An additional $20 million appropriation goes to provide enhanced security for members of the U.S. Supreme Court and their families.

Investopedia posted key points of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022:

  • Nearly $250 billion in semiconductor and scientific research and development
  • The Act seeks to implement previously authorized programs under the CHIPS for American Act 2021 and authorize the largest publicly funded R&D program in the country’s history.
  • The legislation seeks to return the United States to dominance in chipmaking and to combat supply chain issues that have arisen from the country’s decline in science and technology.
  • Includes at $20 million appropriation to provide security for members of the U.S. Supreme Court and their families.
  • Once fully implemented, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 will represent the largest publicly funded five-year investment in research and development in the country’s history.

The Hill reported that chipmaking company Nvidia, based in California, said the U.S. began requiring a license to export chips that are better than or equal to its A100 graphics card to Russia, China, and Hong Kong. A similar restriction was reportedly applies to the company Advanced Micro Devices.

According to The Hill, China has demanded the U.S. drop the requirement, which affects data centers, artificial intelligence systems and other equipment that requires highly advanced chips.

Personally, I highly doubt that the U.S. is going to drop the requirement to have a license to export American made chips to China simply because China asked for that. The point appears to be an effort to make the United States more self-sufficient by allowing certain American chip makers to continue producing chips. I think this will enable Americans to more easily access the technology that the chips are made for, and also to reduce shipping delays.

John Deere Invests In Self-Driving Tractors And Smart Crop Sprayers

John Deere is rolling out self-driving tractors that can plow fields by themselves, and sprayers that distinguish weeds from crops. Deere, which helped make satellite-guided tractors ubiquitous in the U.S. Farm Belt over the past 20 years, is investing billions of dollars to develop smarter machines that the company said will make farming faster and more efficient than it ever could be with just farmers behind the wheel, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the Wall Street Journal, by the end of the decade, John May, Deere’s chief executive projects that 10% of Deere’s annual revenue will come from fees for using software.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that while farmers have said they are open to test-driving new technology, many are struggling with the cost of necessities including fertilizer and fuel, which have surged in price over the past year.

John Deere generated $44 billion in sales in 2021, and sells around 60% of the high-horsepower tractors used in the U.S. and Canada. Deere has been guiding farmers toward a bigger leap into technology for almost 20 years, starting with an autopilot system on tractors and harvesters that is now a standard feature on nearly all of Deere’s large farm machinery.

That said, not all farmers appear to be enthused about John Deere’s technological choices.

Walter Schweitzer, a farmer new Geyser, Montana, who also serves as president of the Montana Farmers Union, said he worried that further linking farm equipment to software managed by Deere could give the equipment company greater influence over farmers’ operations, while collecting data to benefit Deere’s own technology development.

According to The Wall Street Journal, The Montana Farmers Union has joined other farm groups in pushing Deere to broaden access to the software and tools to repair and work on Deere equipment, so independent repair shops and farmers themselves could do more fixes.

In August of 2022, Gizmodo reported that a hacker named Sick Codes had demonstrated a way to jail-break John Deere tractors, which could allow farmers the opportunity to self-repair their equipment. According to Gizmodo, as farming and agriculture continue to automate, John Deere has found a sneaky digitally gate keep diagnosis of faulty tractor parts to ensure that farmers are forced to turn to the company’s own repair services.

In July of 2021, the U.S Federal Trade Commission unanimously voted to ramp up law enforcement against repair restrictions that prevent small businesses, workers, consumers, and even government entities from fixing their own products. This, essentially, puts the “right to repair” in place.

To me, it sounds like the farmers who are using John Deere’s equipment have the “right to repair” it themselves, without relying on John Deere to do that for them. Personally, I don’t think people who need to use specific equipment to do their jobs should have to be burdened with wondering what a big company will do with the data it collects from them.

Hacker Provided Jailbreak For John Deere Tractors

A hacker named Sick Codes has demonstrated a way to jailbreak John Deere tractors, which could allow farmers the opportunity to self-repair their equipment, Gizmodo reported. According to Gizmodo, as farming and agriculture continue to automate, John Deere has found a sneaky digitally gate keep diagnosis of faulty tractor parts to ensure that farmers are forced to turn to the company’s own repair services.

In July of 2021, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission unanimously voted to ramp up law enforcement against repair restrictions that prevent small businesses, workers, consumers, and even government entities from fixing their own products. This decision essentially puts the “right-to-repair” in place.

The FTC’s statements came days after the White House endorsed similar rules in an executive order on economic competition. That part of the executive order specifically states that the FTC will exercise rule making authority regarding several areas, including “unfair anti competition and surveillance practices on third-party repair or self-repair of items, as imposed by powerful manufacturers that prevent farmers from repairing their own equipment.”

Wired reported that SickCodes is an Australian who lives in Asia who presented at DefCon in 2021 about tractor application programming interfaces and operating system bugs. After he made his research public, tractor companies, including John Deere, started fixing some of the flaws.

In short, when John Deere did that, it caused problems for the farmers who now had even less control over their farm equipment than they had before. It harmed their ability to engage in right-to-repair.

According to Wired, this year, Sick Codes says that while he is primarily concerned about world food security and exposure that comes from vulnerable farming equipment, he also sees the important value in letting farmers control their own equipment.

The 2021 executive order directed the Federal Trade Commission to increase enforcement efforts over practices like voiding warranties for outside repair, Wired reported. That, combined with New York State passing its own right-to-repair law and creative activist pressure has generated unprecedented momentum for the movement.

In March of 2022, John Deere posted a news release titled: “John Deere Expands Access to Self-Repair Resources”. In it, John Deere announced that it will enhance the capabilities of existing diagnostic tools and expand their availability. In 2023, the company will roll out an enhanced customer solution that include a mobile device interface, and the ability to download secure software updates directly to embedded controllers on select John Deere equipment with 4G connections.

In addition, John Deere wrote, that in May it would expand its offerings by giving customers and independent repair shops in the U.S. the ability to purchase Customer Service ADVISOR directly through the

Wired reported that this change would, essentially, put the farmers in control of downloads on their equipment themselves, rather than have John Deere unilaterally apply the patches remotely or force farmers to bring products to authorized dealerships.

The FTC has the right to go after companies that are standing in the way of consumers being able to exercise their right-to-repair products that they own and paid for. Perhaps this is a reason why John Deere made some changes.

FTC Will Crack Down on Education Companies That Surveil Children Online

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will crack down on education technology companies if they illegally surveil children when they go online to learn. In a policy statement, the Commission made it clear that it is against the law for companies to force parents and schools to surrender their children’s privacy rights in order to do schoolwork online or attend class remotely.

According to the FTC, under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, companies cannot deny children access to educational technologies when their parents or school refuse to sign up for commercial surveillance.

“Students must be able to do their schoolwork without surveillance by companies looking to harvest their data to pad their bottom line,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Parents should not have to choose between their children’s privacy and their participation in the digital classroom. The FTC will be closely monitoring this market to ensure that parents are not being forced to surrender to surveillance for their kids’ technology to turn on.”

The press release notes that technology in the classroom has grown substantially in recent years, a trend that accelerated during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many schools had to switch to virtual learning. The FTC states that parents and schools are forced to navigate an industry that is dominated by the commercial surveillance business model. These services have the capacity to collect a trove of personal information and there are serious concerns that this data may be used to build profiles of kids.

As a former teacher, who stopped teaching long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, I never had to worry about educational software gathering data from my students. It feels incredibly concerning to think that some education companies chose to surveil children who engage in online learning. Those companies need to find some other way to make money, without building a database on children. I cannot imagine that any teacher would want that sort of thing to happen to their students.

The FTC notes that Ed Tech providers must comply fully with all provisions of the COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). The FTC is going to vigilantly enforce the law to ensure that companies covered by COPPA are complying with all of the rule’s provisions including:

Prohibitions Against Mandatory Collection: Companies cannot require children to provide more information than is reasonably needed for participation in an activity.

Use Prohibitions: Ed tech providers that collect personal information from a child with the school’s authorization are prohibited from using the information for any other commercial purpose including marketing and advertising.

Retention Limitations: Ed tech providers are prohibited from retaining children’s personal information for longer than is necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected and therefore cannot keep such data just because they might want to use it in the future.

Security Requirements: Ed tech provides must have procedures to maintain the confidentiality, security, and integrity of children’s personal information.

According to, the FTC’s announcement come as student data privacy becomes a growing concern in K-12 schools across the country, where officials have adopted an array of digital learning tools during shifts to and from remote learning in recent years. As of 2019, 40 states had enacted one or more K-12 data privacy laws to protect students from companies monitoring students for advertising purposes, and others are in the process of doing so.

U.S. Treasury Sanctioned Cryptocurrency Mixer

The U.S. Department of Treasury tweeted: “For the first time ever, Treasury has sanctioned a virtual currency mixer. is used by the DPRK to support malicious cyber activities & money-laundering of stolen virtual currency”. The tweet included an image that has been labeled as Cryptocurrency Mixing Process. It includes a simplified graphic of the process.

The U.S. Department of Treasury website provided more detailed information (on May 6, 2022):

“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned virtual currency mixer (Blender), which is used by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to support its malicious cyber activities and money-laundering of stolen virtual currency.

“On March 23, 2022, Lazarus Group, a DPRK state-sponsored cyber hacking group, carried out the largest virtual currency heist to date, with almost $620 million, from a blockchain project linked to the online game Axis Infinity; Blender was used in processing over $20.5 million of the elicit proceeds.

“Under the pressure of robust U.S. and UN sanctions, the DPRK has restored to elicit activities, including cyber-enabled heists from cryptocurrency exchanges and financial institutions, to generate revenue for its unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.”

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson said: “Today, for the first time ever, Treasury is sanctioning a virtual currency mixer. Virtual currency mixers that assist illicit transactions pose a threat to U.S. national security interests. We are taking action against illicit financial activity by the DPRK and will not allow state-sponsored thievery and its money-laundering enablers to go unanswered.”

In addition, OFAC is identifying four additional virtual currency wallet addresses used by the Lazarus Group to launder the remainder of stolen proceeds from the March 2022 Axie Infinity heist. This builds on OFAC’s April 14, 2022, attribution of DPRK’s Lazarus Group as the perpetrators of the Axie Infinity heist and identification of the original getaway wallet address. Treasury is committed to tracing illicit virtual currency and blocking associated addresses wherever found.

The Record reported that the U.S. Department of Treasury takes a dim view of cryptocurrency mixers, with are often touted as a way for coin owners to protect their privacy.

CoinDesk reported that LootRush, a Steam-like platform for blockchain games, has raised $12 million in a seed round led by Paradigm with participation from Andreessen Horowitz.

LootRush offers a quick-start platform for blockchain games, which typically have a more complicated onboarding process than traditional video games. According to CoinDesk, Axie Infinity is currently the only game available to play LootRush. The platform plans to roll out additional titles throughout the year, including CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot.

Based on all of this, it seems to me that cryptocurrency and the blockchain aren’t very well protected. This isn’t the first time a situation occurred that involved stealing cryptocurrency from wallets that are on the blockchain.