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Recode Daily: The revolution may not be Telegrammed

Plus: Facebook reportedly signs on big names to back its crypto efforts, Spain’s soccer league uses its app to spy on fans, and GE Ventures looks to sell its startup portfolio.

Protesters clash with police officers in Hong Kong.
Protesters clash with police officers in Hong Kong on June 13, 2019.
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

Encrypted messaging app Telegram faced a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in Asia, originating largely from China. The attacks, which Telegram’s CEO described as “state actor-sized,” come at a time when people in Hong Kong are using the app to organize protests against the Chinese government’s attempt at exerting greater control over the municipality. Protesters, whose numbers reached as many as one million this weekend, are specifically reacting in opposition to a new law that would give the Chinese government the power to extradite Hong Kong citizens to the mainland. State-run media in China, meanwhile, has accused lawyers in Hong Kong of using the Telegram app for “attacks on the [Communist] Party and government,” according to TechCrunch.
[Jonathan Shieber / TechCrunch]

Facebook has signed some big-name backers for its upcoming cryptocurrency — including Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and Uber, according to the Wall Street Journal. The companies will invest around $10 million each to be part of a consortium, which will reportedly “be used to fund the creation of the coin, which will be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies to avoid the wild swings that have dogged other cryptocurrencies.” Facebook is expected to launch its cryptocurrency project next week. The details about how the consortium will work are still fuzzy, even to corporate members, according to the Journal’s sources.
[AnnaMaria Andriotis, Peter Rudegeair, and Liz Hoffman / The Wall Street Journal]

Spain’s top national soccer league was using its mobile app to spy on fans and catch bars pirating game streams. In an astounding case of privacy invasion, La Liga, the soccer league in question, was found to be using “technology similar to the Shazam app” in its mobile fan app to identify when its users were in bars, listen in for soccer games, and then use that information to crack down on illegal streams. Spain’s data protection agency has fined the league around $283,000 USD for their actions. The company is defending itself, arguing that “users had the option to opt-out of allowing the app to track phone location and access the microphone,” as Jennings Brown writes.
[Jennings Brown / Gizmodo]

GE has reportedly been looking to sell its entire venture arm. According to sources cited by CNBC, the company has been shopping its portfolio of over 100 startups for months as it tries to turn around its difficult financial situation. As of March 31, the company had $110 billion in debt according to Factset, and its stock has dropped 23 percent over the past 12 months. GE Ventures’ portfolio includes startups in health care, 3-D manufacturing, and robotics.
[Christina Farr / CNBC]

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