Convergence Plus
IT/Security
Monday, March 30, 2020
Social commerce to hit $70-billion mark this decade, says study

Pre-Bookings open for Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 UltraIndustry growing at almost twice the rate of the overall online retail market: Wizikey. Social media is expected to hit the $70-billion mark over the next 10 years.

Social commerce start-ups and new-age social media platforms such as Sharechat and TikTok, as well as social media giants such as Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, have seen a huge increase in their user base with the signing up of first-time internet users.

New concept

While e-commerce, too, has benefited from increasing internet penetration, social commerce has emerged as a relatively new concept, currently accounting for 15-20 per cent of the online retail market, according to a study by Wizikey.

Anshul Sushil, founder and CEO of Wizikey, a communication platform, said Indian consumers are used to various shopping experiences, “one of which is social and highly interactive shopping”. “Our study shows social commerce has emerged as a new category with different players coming into play with interesting trends. This industry has the potential to disrupt and is on track to be the next revolution in the online retail industry,” he added.

Even consumers living in tier-2 and -3 cities tend to shop through Facebook and WhatsApp, the report noted, with the majority of the population buying through networking sites.

China is one geography that has welcomed social commerce with open arms, the official added Sushil. “The way WeChat is being used to interact, explore, buy and sell is phenomenal. The industry is growing at almost twice the rate of the overall online retail industry,” he said.

Leveraging social behaviour

Akarsh Srivastava, Vice-President at SAIF Partners, said platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart have demonstrated that a large e-commerce business can be built in India. “However, these platforms and others, like BigBasket and Grofers, were built keeping in mind the earliest internet adopters. Most of these apps were started and scaled before the Jio phenomenon. Current online models rely on digital acquisition through Facebook and Google, and end up competing with other commerce services trying to target the same user with sops like discounts,” he added.

Social commerce aims to leverage the social behaviour of these users to facilitate transactions, he further said.

“The opportunity size can be gauged by the fact that WhatsApp has 400 million monthly active users, while the number of annual online shoppers is only about 100 million. Amazon and Flipkart have close to 80 million users though all of them are not necessarily transacting. A platform which bridges this divide can create a much larger business than any of the incumbents,” said Srivastava. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Surveillance Tech Firms Cash in as Govt Agencies have a Look in

Boom in industry comes despite growing privacy & accuracy concerns from activists, academicians The surveillance technology industry in India is booming, industry players said, helped by demand from law enforcement and intelligence agencies despite growing privacy and accuracy concerns from activists and academicians.



Central and state governments across the country have started using surveillance recognition technology to identify criminals, missing persons and dead bodies. Some states are even using software tools to mine data on social media to check for potential threats to law and order.

Indian startups including Videonetics, Innefu Labs, FaceTagr and StaqU are key players, apart from US-based Verint Systems and Japan’s NEC. “We have seen tremendous demand from the government, with 60% of our revenue coming from the government,” said Tinku Acharya, MS, Videonetics, which is backed by GenNext Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Reliance Industries and Cisco Systems. The company expects to grow at least 50-60% this year. “We work with both central and state governments across 136 cities in India. We work with smart cities, law enforcement and with the army through system integrators,” Acharya added.

TechSci Research estimates that India’s facial recognition market will grow six-fold by 2024 to $4.3 billion, nearly on par with China.

Industry players are also bullish about the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB’s) plan to build a system to centralise facial recognition data captured through surveillance cameras across India. It would link up with databases containing records for everything from passports to fingerprints to help India’s understaffed police force. “Demand is growing from law enforcement agencies. Facial recognition is becoming mainstream in India. Earlier, we were seeing demand only from smart cities, but now police departments across India want surveillance,” said Vijay Gnanadesikan, CEO at Facetagr. “The demand has shot up. Security has become critical for the nation. Law enforcement agencies are behind criminals in the use of technology,” said Tarun Wig, cofounder at Innefu Labs. “Most countries treat technology companies as an extension of their intelligence arm.”

Innefu Labs works extensively with armed forces and law enforcement agencies in several states. Its technology was used to surveil people protesting against the citizenship law in Delhi. It also works with the Maharashtra and J&K Police. “When we started in 2016-end, police were sceptical of the technology. The police and the government are more adaptive now. With roti, kapda, makaan (food, clothing and shelter)... security is the next thing,” said Atul Rai, CEO of Staqu Technologies.

While the tech is expected to help India’s understaffed and technologically backward police force, many privacy activists worry that, in the absence of a privacy law, chances of misuse and inaccuracy will be high. Some academics are also concerned about biased data sets that can harm the marginalised and poorer sections of society. “Blanket surveillance technologies like artificial intelligence can be harmful. My research shows that the police are biased towards the poor and therefore that would come out in the results as well. It makes bad data into hardened facts,” said Shivangi Narayan, a doctoral candidate at the JNU who has done extensive research on AI and policing. (Source: Economic Times)

IT Ministry, Google tie up for 'Build for Digital India'

Ongoing efforts by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) to encourage production of socially beneficial products have got a fresh fillip and recognition, as the Union Government has joined hands with Google to mobilise engineering students for innovative solutions.

The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Google India have tied up under a six-month programme that features learning and mentorship activities.

The programme, christened ‘Build for Digital India’, will see Google providing mentorship by its officials as well as other experts, said Siddhant Agarwal, Programme Coordinator, Google Developer Relations at the KSUM-organised IEDC (Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre) Summit held at Kodakara near Thrissur.

The deadline for ‘Build for Digital India’ is October 31, he told the 4,000 delegates and 100 startups at the conclave in Sahrdaya College of Engineering and Technology. The details are available at http://bit.ly/buildfordigitalindia.

Agarwal noted that India has a good number of nascent firms that provide solutions for problems related to society at a large. He particularly lauded startups such Genrobotics that make the popular Spandan robotic scavenger (which can detect cardiac problems in advance) and the breast cancer-screening device called NIRAMAI besides AIR-INK that makes ink from gaseous effluents generated by air pollution due to incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.

Earlier in his inaugural address, KSUM Chief Executive Saji Gopinath said that entrepreneurship is in itself primarily driven by people’s knowledge and passion for innovation. The major secret behind the success of entrepreneurship such as Facebook and Amazon is that they addressed hidden problem that had been there for years. (Source: The Hindu Businesline)

IT Ministry, Google tie up for 'Build for Digital India'

Ongoing efforts by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) to encourage production of socially beneficial products have got a fresh fillip and recognition, as the Union Government has joined hands with Google to mobilise engineering students for innovative solutions.

The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Google India have tied up under a six-month programme that features learning and mentorship activities.

The programme, christened ‘Build for Digital India’, will see Google providing mentorship by its officials as well as other experts, said Siddhant Agarwal, Programme Coordinator, Google Developer Relations at the KSUM-organised IEDC (Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre) Summit held at Kodakara near Thrissur.

The deadline for ‘Build for Digital India’ is October 31, he told the 4,000 delegates and 100 startups at the conclave in Sahrdaya College of Engineering and Technology. The details are available at http://bit.ly/buildfordigitalindia.

Agarwal noted that India has a good number of nascent firms that provide solutions for problems related to society at a large. He particularly lauded startups such Genrobotics that make the popular Spandan robotic scavenger (which can detect cardiac problems in advance) and the breast cancer-screening device called NIRAMAI besides AIR-INK that makes ink from gaseous effluents generated by air pollution due to incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.

Earlier in his inaugural address, KSUM Chief Executive Saji Gopinath said that entrepreneurship is in itself primarily driven by people’s knowledge and passion for innovation. The major secret behind the success of entrepreneurship such as Facebook and Amazon is that they addressed hidden problem that had been there for years. (Source: The Hindu Businesline)

Kaspersky to set up data centre, transparency facility in India next year

To conform to the provisions of likely cyber security policy. Moscow-headquartered cyber security solutions company Kaspersky will set up a data centre and a Transparency Centre in India to conform to the likely cyber security policy that will mandate firms to store and process data locally.

“We will study the policy and will plan the data centre accordingly. The proposed centre will be on the lines of the one it set up in Zurich (Switzerland),” Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director of Kaspersky (Asia Pacific), has said.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference focussed on the security for the healthcare sector here, Stephan said India, actually, was considered as a top-2 prospective location for APAC’s first Transparency Centre. “We recently set it up in Kaula Lumpur (Malayasia). But the new upcoming Indian policy on cyber security would require us to invest on a facility to store and process the data that we generate locally,” he said.

The APAC centre is the third for Kaspersky after Zurich and Madrid. The proposed centre will help Kaspersky’s clients to see the source code and have a look at its products, software updates and threat detection rules. It will also throws light on its data processing practices.

Enterprise market
The firm, which is a top-2 cyber security provider in the consumer market in India, has increased its focus on the enterprise segment. “We are among the top-4 players in the business-to-business segment. In the small and medium sector space, we are number 3,” he said.

“The share of consumer business, which used to be about 70 per cent three years ago, is about 50 per cent now in South Asia after our focus on enterprise increased. In India, we have emerged as a strong alternative to the Western players in the space,” he said.

With regard to solutions to the healthcare industry, he said the firm is in talks with top hospitals in South India to provide cyber security protection. “We are working with vendors of Internet of Things players, mobile and router makers to embed its protection solutions,” he said. (Source: The HindubusinesLine)

LocalCircles Highlights Data Misuse Worries

Platform says govt can have right over data only in event of law and order situation, enforcement matter. LocalCircles, a community social media platform that claims to host over 30,000 startups and entrepreneurs, has written to the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) about some “confusion” over which ministry is working on the anonymised data policy.

It was earlier in correspondence with the commerce ministry regarding the data policy.

In a letter sent last week, LocalCircles said the government can have a right over the aggregate data of businesses only in the event of a law and order situation, an investigation or an enforcement matter. For routine matters, the government should not have access to either the aggregate data or the algorithms used by a business as “such an access can be easily misused or compromised,” it said in the letter, which ET has reviewed.

MeitY sought select stakeholder comments last month on the contours of a proposed policy governing public, community or anonymised data. “Businesses spend significant amounts of resources to collect data, build products and services and a market, and for many businesses aggregate data is the core of it and they must protect it to protect their value proposition and the business itself,” it said in the letter.

LocalCircles has conducted surveys on the issues in which 6,000 startups had participated and the contents of the letter reflect their majority opinion, its chief Sachin Taparia wrote.

In the latest request for feedback sent in August, MeitY had asked if there was a case to mandate free access to community, anonymised or ecommerce data, among others. It asked whether the Data Protection Authority should be the regulator in respect of all non-personal data. It also sought feedback on storing personal data in India and gave stakeholders a week to respond.

ET has learnt that some stakeholders have responded by asking the government not to club non-personal data with the personal data protection bill and to hold wide-scale public consultation before coming up with a policy on such a complicated subject. They have asked the government not to force businesses to share such data and instead create incentives for companies to share it voluntarily. “India’s business or anonymised data policy must be such that it enables Indian startups to benefit from aggregate data of government, communities and large corporations,” the letter by LocalCircles added. (Source: Economic Times)

Twitter CEO's hacked account sends racist tweets before being secured

‘No indication that Twitter's systems had been compromised’ The account of Twitter Inc Chief Executive Jack Dorsey was hacked on Friday afternoon, sending public tweets and retweets including racial slurs and curse words to 4 million followers before Twitter secured the account.

The social media company, co-founded by Dorsey, said the phone number associated with his account was compromised due to a security oversight by the mobile provider. “This allowed an unauthorised person to compose and send tweets via text message from the phone number. That issue is now resolved,” the company said, adding separately that there was no indication that Twitter's systems had been compromised.

One of the tweets from the hacked account said Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was innocent, while others contained derogatory comments about black people and Jews. There was also a tweet suggesting there was a bomb at Twitter's headquarters. The account posted a hashtag that was used during the apparent hacks of several YouTube stars last week.

The hack underscored potential vulnerabilities in the social media platform, which is widely used by world leaders and politicians, including US President Donald Trump. It comes at a time when social media companies are facing scrutiny over management of their networks, privacy issues and security of user data.

The offensive tweets and retweets were deleted less than an hour after the incident. Some Twitter accounts named in the compromised tweets and retweets appeared suspended on Friday.

Screenshots of the tweets appeared to show they were sent through Cloudhopper, a mobile text messaging service that Twitter acquired in 2010. Twitter did not immediately respond when asked to confirm if the hack took place via Cloudhopper.

Security researcher Brian Krebs said it appeared that Dorsey was the victim of a SIM swapping attack in which a mobile provider is tricked or otherwise convinced to transfer a victim's phone number to a SIM card controlled by someone else.

The Friday incident was not the first time that Dorsey's Twitter account has been hacked. His account was compromised in 2016 by a group that also hacked the Twitter accounts of Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Twitter shares were down less than 1 per cent in after-hours trade following the hack. (Source: The Businessline)

Jio Backs Data Localisation to Stave Off Cyberattacks

Reliance Jio , the wholly-owned telecom unit of RIL, has stressed on the need for data localisation and a regulatory framework that ensures corporates take adequate measures for data protection, saying it is critical to stave off increasing cyberattacks.

“Jio has been a strong supporter of local storage of data, which is critical for national interest and security, given the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks. Jio believes that Indians are the true owners of their data and the ownership should not be transferred to any corporate entity,” RIL said in its annual report for FY19. “This would require a regulatory framework to ensure that corporates are taking adequate measures to ensure data protection.”

The company said data localisation will also spur investments in creating servers and cloud capacities, boosting R&D and creating employment. The government is slated to shortly introduce the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018, in Parliament, which addresses concerns related to security and privacy of data, consumption of which has surged in India, thanks to affordable rates of mobile Internet and of smartphones.

The operator is betting on growing teledensity in rural areas, rise in consumption and the demand for smartphones for its expansion from being a telco to a digital services player that also has agriculture and healthcare in focus. (Source: Economic Times)


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)


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