Convergence Plus
Friday, May 24, 2019
India preparing to tackle Japan on proposed e-comm rules at G-20 meet

Vodafone CEO raises embarrassing issues for govt: Will Trai ever get it right?If G-20 declaration in Osaka talks favourably about global norms , the pressure on India and other non-participating WTO members will increase to join negotiations. India is preparing its arguments against framing of global rules on e-commerce and digital economy that Japan would want to be included in the G-20 declaration in Osaka in June .

“Japan has already indicated its intention to push for framing of global rules on e-commerce. Since it is the chair of the G-20, it is likely that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will try hard to ensure that the declaration adopted at the end of the meet articulates the intention of all members to work towards a multilateral agreement on e-commerce,” a government official told BusinessLine.

New Delhi cannot allow e-commerce to be part of the G-20 declaration as it has been fighting hard to keep it off the negotiating table at the World Trade Organization. Although the announcement on launch of plurilateral talks on e-commerce between 75 countries was made at the World Economic Forum in Davos this January, India decided not to be even an observer at the talks.

In his speech at Davos, Abe had said that the G-20 meet in his country would seek to rebuild trust towards the system of global trade and would focus on areas such as e-commerce and intellectual property.

“If the G-20 declaration in Osaka talks favourably about global rules on e-commerce, the pressure on India and other non-participating members of the WTO will increase to include themselves in the negotiations. This is how the developed world behaves. It raises and makes a point about an issue at the G-20 and later tries to get it accepted at the WTO,” the official said.

Indiahas a clear and unwavering stand on the matter. At a meeting on e-commerce last October at the WTO, India’s representative reportedly stated that developing countries cannot take on global commitments as they needed policy space in areas such as ownership and use and flow of data in sunrise sectors like cloud computing and data storage.

The Centre has floated a draft e-commerce policy which has not gone down well with foreign players such as Amazon and Walmart as it puts a number of restrictions on their operations. It has suggested that all e-commerce websites should have a registered business entity in India and all product shipments from overseas must be channelised through the customs. It is also categorical that FDI should be encouraged only in the marketplace model.

India’s e-commerce market, currently valued at about $ 27 billion, is one of the fastest growing in the world. (source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Govt writes to Google, Twitter and Facebook to prevent fake videos on food quality in India

Govt writes to Google, Twitter and Facebook to prevent fake videos on food quality in India Taking cognizance of the fake-news menace on social-media platforms, the government has written to Facebook, Google and Twitter to do due diligence to prevent the uploading of such material and warn those who misuse the platforms that their accounts could be blocked. Sources told BusinessLine that the development comes after Pawan Agarwal, CEO of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), expressed concerns saying “such false propaganda is neither good for citizens nor for businesses”.

“It has come to our notice that some miscreants are using various social-media platforms for circulating fake and objectionable material, including false and malicious videos regarding safety and quality of food available in India. Specific instances include creating false scare of plastic eggs, plastic rice and melamine in milk,” said the letter, which was sent to the three companies last month.

BusinessLine has seen the letter sent by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to the three US companies. The letter states that “one specific fake video” related to the presence of melamine in milk, where it was maliciously projected that the FSSAI had given permission to use the chemical compound in milk.

Such false and malicious videos erode the confidence of the public in institutions that are performing their job with due diligence, it said. The government is awaiting the response of these companies, and based on that, it will take further action. (Source: The Hindubusiness Line)

After breach, Facebook faces a crisis of faith

After breach, Facebook faces a crisis of faithThe company said the flaw affected almost 50 million accounts, and Facebook logged 90 million people off their accounts as a safety measure. As in any relationship between people, once a company loses the trust of its customers, there is a long, lingering period of suspicion that the company will do something egregious again.

There is suspicion that greedy banks will take on too much risk again. That Chipotle will make customers sick again.

And that Facebook is too creepy and irresponsible to be an unquestioned staple of daily life. Once trust is gone, it’s incredibly hard to win back and every misstep is magnified.

That is what is happening to Facebook on Friday after it reported it discovered a security flaw that potentially allowed attackers to hijack people’s Facebook accounts.

The company said the flaw affected almost 50 million accounts, and Facebook logged 90 million people off their accounts as a safety measure.

The company didn’t say whether anyone’s account had been hijacked by exploiting the security flaw it outlined. At least based on the available information from Facebook, the company acted quickly and responsibly once it discovered the technical vulnerbility. But then again, that doesn’t matter.

Facebook shares dropped more than 3% on the news, and it set off another round of news reports that reminded people about Cambridge Analytica, Russian propaganda, Myanmar violence and more. (Facebook lost more market value from the security flaw than Tesla lost on Friday after its CEO was sued by the government for securities fraud.)

To people already understandably weary of Facebook after two years of scandal, the combination of the words “Facebook” and “compromised data” are enough to bring up all the bad feelings about the company.

This is what the loss of faith looks like, and it’s hard to imagine Facebook winning people back anytime soon. Everyone at Facebook may believe it’s unfair that the company is being criticised at every turn, but reality bites. (Source:ETTelecom)

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella rakes in $35 mn in share sale

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella rakes in $35 mn in share saleMicrosoft’s Indian-origin CEO Satya Nadella has netted over USD 35 million after selling almost one-third of his common shares in the software giant. Nadella sold 328,000 shares in multiple trades at prices ranging from USD 109.08 to USD 109.68 as the stock trades near a record price.

The stock sale, disclosed in a regulatory filing yesterday, netted Nadella more than USD 35 million. Microsoft shares have soared 53 per cent in the past year, closing the week at USD 109. The record closing price was USD 110.83 on July 25.

Nadella, 50, still own 778,596 shares of common stock. He is required to have 15 times his base salary in stock. His annual base salary in 2017 was USD 1.45 million, and his total compensation exceeded USD 20 million. “The stock divestitures made today were for personal financial planning and diversification reasons,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC. “Satya is committed to the continued success of the company and his holdings significantly exceed the holding requirements set by the Microsoft board of directors,” he said.

Since Nadella took over the CEO role from Steve Ballmer in February 2014, Seattle-based Microsoft’s shares have tripled in value. He last sold shares in 2016, when the stock was worth around USD 58 per share. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Cyber security experts note spike in fileless malware attacks that leave no traces

Cyber security experts note spike in fileless malware attacks that leave no tracesCyber security experts have noticed a spike in fileless malware attacks, which take advantage of the trust factor between security software and genuine, signed Windows applications. As these malware attacks leave no footprints in the computer system, it is difficult to notice their presence.

“Because this type of attack is launched through reputable, trusted executables, it is hard to detect,” says internet security solutions firm McAfee Labs.It says the rapid rise of such attacks is a cause for concern. Unlike in traditional attacks where hackers sneak into systems by launching malware applications, fileless malware attacks do not install any software on a user’s computer.

‘Extremely hard to detect’
“This makes a successful attack extremely hard to detect. Both consumers and corporate users can fall victim. In corporate environments, attackers use this vector to move laterally through the network,” McAfee points out. Cyber security expert Debasish Mandal says CactusTorch is an example of a ‘fileless’ threat. It adopts the DotNetToJScript technique, which loads and executes malicious applications straight from memory.

“These assemblies are the smallest unit of deployment of an application, such as a .dll or .exe. The malware does not write any part of the malicious .NET assembly on a computer’s hard drive,” he says. This makes traditional file scanners ineffective in detecting the intrusions. “We have seen a rapid growth in the use of CactusTorch this year. This can execute custom shellcode on Windows systems,” he says. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Microsoft urges regulation of facial recognition technology

MicrosoftMicrosoft’s chief legal officer yesterday called for regulation of facial recognition technology due to the risk to privacy and human rights.
Brad Smith made a case for a government initiative to lay out rules for proper use of facial recognition technology, with input from a bipartisan and expert commission.

Microsoft’s chief legal officer yesterday called for regulation of facial recognition technology due to the risk to privacy and human rights.
Brad Smith made a case for a government initiative to lay out rules for proper use of facial recognition technology, with input from a bipartisan and expert commission.

Facial recognition technology raises significant human rights and privacy concerns, Smith said in a blog post. “Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge,” he said. “Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech.”

It could become possible for businesses to track visitors or customers, using what they see for decisions regarding credit scores, lending decisions, or employment opportunities without telling people. He said scenarios portrayed in fictional films such as “Minority Report”, “Enemy of the State”, and even the George Orwell dystopian classic “1984” are “on the verge of becoming possible”. “These issues heighten responsibility for tech companies that create these products,” Smith said. “In our view, they also call for thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses.”

Use and abuse
Microsoft and other tech companies have used facial recognition technology for years for tasks such as organizing digital photographs. But the ability of computers to recognize people’s faces is improving rapidly, along with the ubiquity of cameras and the power of computing hosted in the internet cloud to figure out identities in real time.

While the technology can be used for good, perhaps finding missing children or known terrorists, it can also be abused. “It may seem unusual for a company to ask for government regulation of its products, but there are many markets where thoughtful regulation contributes to a healthier dynamic for consumers and producers alike,” Smith said. “It seems especially important to pursue thoughtful government regulation of facial recognition technology, given its broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse.”

Concerns about misuse prompted Microsoft to “move deliberately” with facial recognition consulting or contracting, according to Smith. “This has led us to turn down some customer requests for deployments of this service where we’ve concluded that there are greater human rights risks,” Smith said. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

NIIT to train 20,000 students from South in IT, BFSI sectors

NIIT to train 20,000 students from South in IT, BFSI sectorsNIIT Ltd will train 20,000 students from four southern States, with employable skill sets in IT and Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sectors.
The training will cover students from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka, according to a press release.
Over three years, the company said, prospective employees will be trained under Talent Pipeline as a Service (TPaaS), a strategic initiative to ensure skilled talent to global organisations to match the pace of expansion in today’s fast changing, uncertain business environment.

“The Talent Pipeline as a Service is our attempt to identify and groom the best Just-in-Time job ready talent for emerging roles in organisations,” said Sapnesh Lalla, Chief Executive Officer of NIIT Ltd.

NIIT will train around one lakh youth in three years from across the country through this initiative. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)
Facebook reveals data-sharing partnerships, ties to Chinese firms

Facebook reveals data-sharing partnerships, ties to Chinese firmsSocial network shared data with 52 firms, including Apple, Amazon, and Samsung
Press Trust of India Facebook has said it shared user data with 52 companies, including Chinese firms, weeks after it was reported that the social media giant formed data-sharing partnerships with cellphone makers, giving them access to details of users and their friends.

The social media giant’s acknowledgement came as a part of a more than 700-page document to the US House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The committee released the information publicly on Saturday, The Hill reported. Facebook yesterday revealed the partnerships shedding light on its behaviour related to customer data in the wake of a scandal involving the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, where data of 87 million people was improperly shared, it said. The list featured major tech companies such as Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry and Samsung. Other firms that featured on the list include Alibaba, Qualcomm and Pantech. But the list also includes four Chinese firms that US intelligence has flagged as national security threats — Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL.

Improving integrations
Facebook said it shared data with the companies in an effort to improve its integrations and user experience across platforms and devices, noting that its partnerships were established before smartphones running on Apple’s and Google’s high-powered operating systems were as ubiquitous as they are now, the report said.

“People went online using a wide variety of text-only phones, feature phones, and early smartphones with varying capabilities,” Facebook wrote.

“In that environment, the demand for internet services like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube outpaced our industry’s ability to build versions of our services that worked on every phone and operating system.”

Facebook said it has ended 38 of its 52 partnerships and will shut down those remaining by July.

It said in documents that its initial omission of the partnerships resulted because it had shifted its focus to data-sharing between apps created on its developer platform — the product area which had been implicated by Cambridge Analytica. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)
Draft Data Protection Bill ready, may be submitted this week

Draft Data Protection Bill ready, may be submitted this weekThe much-awaited data protection policy may soon come out as the recommendations on the draft Data Protection Bill are ready, and can be submitted to the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, any day within this week.
An expert Committee chaired by retired Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna has prepared the recommendations. The Committee was set up in December to study various issues relating to data protection in India and make specific suggestions on principles to be considered for data protection and suggest a draft Data Protection Bill.

The objective was to ‘ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected.’
“The recommendations (on the draft policy) are ready and the Committee has asked a time from the Minister (Ravi Shankar Prasad) so that they can further discuss issues or clarifications, if any,” a senior government official told BusinessLine.
Sources close to the development said that if there are no further discussions, the draft may soon go to the Cabinet. The recommendations come at a time when there are a lot of issues and reports around data leakage, and harvesting of data of Indian citizens by social media sites.

The government has also recently said that it will not allow “fly-by-night” data mining firms to improperly harvest social media data of Indian citizens.

Facebook data leak
It has already slapped notices to the controversial, UK-based data mining firm Cambridge Analytica for improperly obtaining information from tens of millions of Facebook users globally, including in India and is awaiting its response.

The government sent another letter to Facebook on June 6, seeking explanation of the issue of data sharing without explicit consent through its platform.

According to experts, India needs a robust data protection policy so that such incidents do not occur in the future. A firm legal framework for data protection will be the foundation on which data-driven innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish in India.

According to the white paper on Data Protection Framework for India, fostering such innovation and entrepreneurship is essential if India is to lead its citizens and the world into a digital future committed to empowerment, experiment and equal access. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

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