BEIJING, Nov 28 — Alibaba’s cloud service said it suffered a near two-hour long disruption affecting customers in mainland China, Hong Kong and the United States yesterday, its second outage within a month.

The impact was mainly felt by several of Alibaba Cloud’s database management products, including PostgreSQL, Redis and MySQL editions. Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Virginia in the US were among eight regions affected.

“From 09:16 Beijing time (0116 GMT) on November 27, 2023, Alibaba Cloud monitoring detected abnormalities in console and OpenAPI access for database products,” Alibaba Cloud said in a statement posted on its websites today. The issue “was resolved at 10.58 on the same day.”

Alibaba is China’s largest cloud vendor, garnering 29.9 per cent of the market share for the first half of 2023, followed by Huawei with 13.2 per cent and China Telecom with 12.2 per cent, according to data from industry research group IDC.

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The latest issue comes after the company’s customers suffered a service disruption on November 12 that lasted over 3 hours and impacted a broader range of products, and affected a far more parts of the world.

Dozens of products impacted during that disruption included cloud-based database management systems and cloud communication systems, while the regions impacted ranged from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East to North America.

The November 12 disruption resulted in many of Alibaba’s flagship application services briefly crashing — including shopping app Taobao and work collaboration tool service app DingTalk.

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While Alibaba resolved the two outages, tech industy experts raised questions about the reliability of its cloud services.

“Such a high frequency of glitches is not reasonable,” tech expert Feng Ruohang wrote in a WeChat blog post yesterday that garnered over 30,000 views. “This is hugely damaging to Alibaba Cloud’s brand image as a reliable cloud service provider.”

Alibaba this month announced that it was abandoning original plans to spin off its cloud business due to uncertainties created by US export controls on chips used in artificial intelligence applications.

The e-commerce giant had initially announced plans to list the unit as part of a broad restructuring and analysts had estimated then that the cloud division could be worth US$41-US$60 billion (RM191.5-RM280.9 billion). — Reuters

Meta Platforms’ paid ad-free service targeted in Austrian privacy complaint

BRUSSELS, Nov 28 — Meta Platforms’ paid no-ads subscription service launched in Europe this month faced one of its biggest tests as advocacy group NOYB today filed a complaint with an Austrian regulator, saying that it amounted to paying a fee to ensure privacy.

Meta announced the service for Facebook and Instagram last month. It said the move was in compliance with EU rules that users must be given a choice on whether their data can be collected and used for targeted ads.

The ad-free service cost €9.99 (RM51.09) monthly for Web users and €12.99 for iOS and Android users. Meta has said that a subscription model is a valid form of consent for an advertising-funded service and was in line with a July ruling from Europe’s top court.

Users can opt for a free, ad-supported service.

Vienna-based NOYB (None Of Your Business), the digital rights group founded by privacy activist Max Schrems, said it disagreed with Meta on the concept of consent.

“EU law requires that consent is the genuine free will of the user. Contrary to this law, Meta charges a ‘privacy fee’ of up to €250 per year if anyone dares to exercise their fundamental right to data protection,” NOYB data protection lawyer Felix Mikolasch said in a statement.

NOYB filed the complaint with the Austrian Data Protection Authority. It also criticised the amount of the fee.

“Not only is the cost unacceptable, but industry numbers suggest that only 3 per cent of people want to be tracked — while more than 99 per cent don’t exercise their choice when faced with a ‘privacy fee,’” the group said. “If Meta gets away with this, competitors will soon follow in its footsteps.”

By comparison, Netflix charges €7.99 for a basic subscription plan, while Alphabet’s YouTube Premium costs about €12 and Spotify’s Premium service is priced at about €11.

NOYB, which has filed hundreds of complaints against big tech companies ranging from Alphabet Google to Meta over privacy violations, urged the Austrian privacy authority to launch an expedited process to stop Meta and also impose a fine.

The complaint will likely be forwarded to the Irish data protection watchdog which oversees Meta because it has its European headquarters in Ireland. — Reuters