Convergence Plus
Monday, July 22, 2019
DoT likely to start tracking system for lost mobiles next month

The government will launch a technology solution next month to enable detection of lost or stolen mobile phones that are operating in the country, an official said.

Stolen mobile The tracking system would make the detection of stolen mobile phones possible even if the SIM card is removed or unique code IMEI number is changed, the official revealed. The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) is ready with the technology and the service is expected to be launched in August.

“C-DoT is ready with the technology. The telecom department will approach the minister for its launch after the Parliament session. It should be launched in the next month,” a DoT official told PTI. The ongoing Parliament session will run till July 26.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) had assigned the mobile phone tracking project “Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)” aimed at bringing down counterfeit cellphones and discouraging theft to C-DoT in July 2017. The government has proposed to allocate Rs 15 crore for setting up CEIR in the country that will bring down the number of counterfeit handsets and discourage theft.

Lawful interception
The CEIR system will block all services on stolen or lost mobile phones on any network even if the SIM card is removed or IMEI number of the handset is changed. The system is also expected to protect consumer interest and facilitate law enforcement authorities for lawful interception.

It will connect the IMEI database of all mobile operators. It will act as a central system for all network operators to share blacklisted mobile terminals so that devices placed under the said category in one network will not work on the other, even if the SIM card in the device is changed, it said.

IMEI number - a unique 15-digit serial number of mobile devices - is allocated by global industry body GSMA and bodies authorised by it. When a mobile phone is lost, the victim is required to mention the IMEI number of the handset for tracking.” The pilot project (of CEIR) was carried out in Maharashtra,” the official said. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Online retailers must check authenticity, trademark registration of products they sell

Marketplaces cannot seek refuge under Section 79 of the IT Act 2000, say experts. Online websites may now have to check the authenticity and trademark registration of the products they sell. This emerged in a recent case filed by Metro Shoes in the Bombay High Court against few online marketplaces run by companies including Reliance Retail, India Mart and Just Dial.

Metro Shoes, one of the oldest footwear brands in Mumbai, had approached the HC against footwear manufacturers who were selling their products on several websites with a brand name that resembled the ‘Metro’ trademark. The HC held that goods being sold by suppliers with a trade mark similar to ‘Metro’ were fake following which the Websites agreed to take them down. Also, the websites were made to donate to charity organisations as a remedial measure for their ignorance.

“The Metro Shoes case shows that the online market place or platforms can no longer always hide behind the veil of Section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2000, which states that intermediaries cannot be held liable for third party information, data or communication links. They will have to check authenticity of products as well as trademark registration or face strictures in future,” said Avesh Kayser, senior counsel for Metro Shoes.

Reliance Brands, which has a long-term licensing agreement with Nasdaq-listed footwear and accessories firm Steven Madden was using “Metro” brand as part of some products. After the case was filed in the Bombay HC, both Reliance Retail and Reliance Brands undertook to pay total cost of ₹10 lakh to Fellowship of the Physically Handicapped.

Similarly, Metro Shoes told the HC that Shoe Station and Foothold Shoes had infringed on its trademarks and were selling goods under the brand name ‘Metrox.’ The HC held the goods being sold by Shoe Station and Foothold Shoes were counterfeit following which the entities involved in selling such products online (through Just Dial and IndiaMart) agreed to pay ₹15 lakh to the Society for Rehabilitation of Crippled Children and remove the goods from their platform.

In another case involving Christian Louboutin Sas Vs. Nakul Bajaj and others, the Delhi HC had recently clarified that an e-commerce platform cannot claim to be just an intermediary under Section 79 of the IT Act, if it has played an active role in enabling the violation. In these cases, the High Courts observed that websites are precluded from the safe harbour offered by Section 79 as they identify, promote third parties to sell their products on their sites and therefore have full control over the products being sold on their platform, Kayser said. If online retailers and marketplaces neglect to watch ‘due diligence’ concerning IPR, it could add up to ‘planning, supporting, abetting or inciting’ unlawful activities and hence they cannot seek refuge under Section 79, experts said. (Source:The Hindu BusinessLine)

IT industry, startups meet MoS Finance Anurag Thakur to discuss data protection and tax issues

Industry bodies like NASSCOM, IAMAI and MAIT focussed on data issues such as use of Big Data technology in improving the forecasting of economic, financial, climatic etc phenomena.

Ahead of the Budget, representatives of tech sector and industry bodies like NASSCOM, IAMAI and MAIT met Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur on Saturday to discuss various issues, including tax structure, and share their views on strengthening digital economy.

The pre-Budget consultation meeting also focussed on data issues such as use of Big Data technology in improving the forecasting of economic, financial, climatic etc phenomena by analysing large data sets, for providing a fillip to the SME sector and for public governance, as per an official statement.

Other issues, which dominated the discussion, included digital infrastructure and role of government, regulation of digital economy especially in privacy, consumer protection and financial regulation and software as service among others, the statement said. The meeting was also attended by officials from the Finance Ministry, Electronics & IT Ministry, Department of Telecommunications, CBDT and others. "The representatives of digital economy and start-ups shared their views and suggestions regarding Big Data, data mining, building of digital infrastructure as the big challenge before Indian economy besides scaling-up and incentivising Research & Development (R&D) within India. While the experts discussed the issues ailing their respective fields, they also suggested a variety of solutions to the sector specific problems," the statement said.

Development of startups and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) ecosystem in the country also featured in various suggestions, it added. The representatives gave suggestions related to angel tax, differential tax structure for assembled and manufactured goods, industry-friendly review of spectrum auction norms, reduction of dependence on international software service, continuation of existing tax benefits to digital companies, reduction in Corporate Tax, among others. "We urged the government to deal with the angel tax issue urgently. In February, the government had considered Section 56 (2) of the Income Tax but notices have been served under Section 68," Internet and Mobile Association of India President Subho Ray told PTI.

He added that the association also pointed out that a CBDT paper has proposed that for foreign digital companies, their user base also be used as a factor with high weightage among parameters like assets and revenue for profit attribution. "This, we believe, is not only unfair to foreign digital companies operating in India but fear that the same parameter could be extended to domestic players as well. In a country like India that is rapidly adopting digital platforms, such a move would be a slippery slope for growth," he said.

IT body Nasscom has urged the government to continue the tax incentives to units in special economic zones beyond March 2020, saying that such a move will provide industry with certainty and enable them to invest in long-term strategy.

The body - which represents an industry that earns over USD 130 billion in foreign exchange - has suggested that the new tax-friendly SEZ policy should retain existing tax benefits and provide concessional rate of 9 per cent Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT).

Other participants included representatives from Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India (TEMA), Broadband India Forum, Electronic and Computer Software Export Promotion Council, Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT); ELCINA (Electronic Industries Association of India), and Indian Cellular and Electronics Association. (Source: New India Express)

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)

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