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Tuesday, December 11, 2018
China says U.S. should withdraw arrest warrant for Huawei executive

China says U.S. should withdraw arrest warrant for Huawei executiveChina's foreign ministry called in the U.S. ambassador on Sunday to lodge a "strong protest" over the arrest in Canada of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's chief financial officer, and said the United States should withdraw its arrest warrant.

China's foreign ministry called in the U.S. ambassador on Sunday to lodge a "strong protest" over the arrest in Canada of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's chief financial officer, and said the United States should withdraw its arrest warrant.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1 and faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions.

The executive is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told U.S. ambassador Terry Branstad that the United States had made an "unreasonable demand" on Canada to detain Meng while she was passing through Vancouver, China's Foreign Ministry said.

"The actions of the U.S. seriously violated the lawful and legitimate rights of the Chinese citizen, and by their nature were extremely nasty," Le told Branstad, comments similar to those he made to Canada's ambassador the night before.

China strongly urges the United States to pay attention to China's solemn and just position and withdraw the arrest warrant on Meng, Le added.

"China will respond further depending on U.S. actions," he said, without elaborating. Le also told the Canadian ambassador on Saturday that there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Meng.

The United States has been looking since at least 2016 into whether Huawei shipped U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws, Reuters reported in April.

Companies are barred from using the U.S. financial system to funnel goods and services to sanctioned entities.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio told CBS "Face the Nation" on Sunday he would "100 percent absolutely" introduce something in the new Congress that would ban Chinese telecom firms from doing business in the United States.

"We have to understand Chinese companies are not like American companies. OK. We can't even get Apple to crack an iPhone for us in a terrorist investigation," he said.

"When the Chinese ask a telecom company, we want you to turn over all the data you've gathered in the country you're operating in, they will do it. No court order. Nothing like that. They will just do it. They have to. We need to understand that."

Rubio was a strong critic of China's ZTE Corp, which pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran.


Niger shuts Airtel telecom offices over unpaid taxes

Niger shuts Airtel telecom offices over unpaid taxes Niger on Saturday ordered the closure of the offices of the country's biggest telecoms operator Airtel, a subsidiary of India's Bharti Airtel group, for unpaid taxes of 107 million dollars. Airtel has been present in Niger since 2001 and holds a 51% market share, according to the national telecoms regulator.

"The tax people sealed our headquarters and we were forced to leave the premises," an Airtel employee told AFP in the capital Niamey.

Airtel had a Friday deadline to pay 15 million euros in fines. The company was slapped with tax arrears and a fine totalling 94 million euros, according to the Tamtam info News website.

Neither the company nor the tax authorities were immediately available for comment.

Three other firms have also been hit by tax fines - Orange Niger, a subsidiary of the French firm; the public Niger telecoms and Moov Niger, a subsidiary of Morocco's Maroc Telecoms.

There are around 7.7 million cellphone subscribers in Niger, which has a population of 19 million.

On November 30, the offices of Orange Niger were closed by tax authorities seeking 33 million euros in arrears.(Source: News24)

Telecom companies urge TRAI to make 4G more affordable

Telecom companies urge TRAI to make 4G more affordable Telecom companies have urged the regulator to make 4G airwaves more affordable and unveil a long-term road map of the periodicity of auctions to provide clarity on spectrum availability and discourage irrational bidding. Top executives of Vodafone Idea, Bharti AirtelNSE 0.72 %, Reliance Jio Infocomm and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam LtdNSE 0.78 %. met Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman RS Sharma on Wednesday. They sought an early reduction in the starting price of airwaves across the 900 MHz, 800 MHz and 1800 MHz bands to ensure there is enough money left to invest in broadband network rollouts, a person aware of the discussions said.

The Trai boss said the regulator would engage in a holistic consultation process with the industry next year on spectrum issues and look at how reserve prices are assessed. However, he is said to have clarified that the deliberations would not affect Trai’s recommendations in August on the pricing of 4G and 5G spectrum for the next sale, which the government is yet to finalise.

Sharma said the regulator has received “suggestions on a host of spectrum-related issues, including policy around future auctions, reserve price valuation methodology and matters linked to leasing, trading and surrendering of airwaves.”

The discussions with Sharma were open and constructive and related to spectrum issues, implementation of the National Digital Communications Policy 2018, opening up of new technology areas and challenges in setting up telecom infrastructure, P Balaji, chief regulatory & corporate affairs officer at Vodafone Idea who participated in the meeting, told ET.

“The telecom regulator conducted a transparent discussion on the opportunities and challenges for the telecom sector and we look forward to actively working and supporting the government and the regulator’s digital agenda,” Balaji said.

The executives are said to have reiterated their call for early rationalisation of hefty telecom levies — about Rs 32 of every Rs 100 they get goes to the government — especially when the sector continues to reel under almost Rs 8 lakh crore of debt and continuing price wars. They urged the regulator to suggest ways to speed up right-of-way approvals to achieve broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps speed to all Indians by 2022, as outlined in the new telecom policy.

Right of way refers to the legal right to set up network infrastructure such as towers and optic fibre cables along a specific route. (Source: Economic Times)

Govt starts facility for security testing of telecom products

Govt starts facility for security testing of telecom products The Department of Telecom has set the deadline of April 2019 for mandatory testing of some telecom products including mobile phones and equipment. The government has started a facility for testing telecom products and equipment to ensure security in digital communications at the national level, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said Friday. “Yesterday, we inaugurated state-of-art of facility for preparation of security assurance standard putting us at the forefront of technology. This facility will work for security from the national perspective and also facilitate the development of testing and certification ecosystem in the country,” Sinha said at an Assocham event.

The Department of Telecom has set the deadline of April 2019 for mandatory testing of some telecom products including mobile phones and equipment. This will be applicable on all equipment that are imported to India or are sold in the country. However, there are some other telecom gears that would go through the mandatory testing starting January 1, 2019. These equipment include modem, audio conferencing, fax machines, satellite equipments etc.

The minister said that there has been huge growth in uptake of telecom services in the country since 2014 and is the right of our consumers to be provided quality services efficiently and in secured manner. “Due to success of our efforts, broadband subscribers have grown seven times from 61 million in 2014 to 447 million in 2018. Average data consumption has grown 51 times from 62 MB per month in 2014 to 3.2 GB in June 2018. As a result, India today has the highest mobile data consumption in the world at the most competitive rates seen anywhere in the world,” Sinha said. He said that as per the industry reports, India is also one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets. He said that India’s dream of a pioneering position in the rollout of 5G has already started taking wings. “The National Digital Communications Policy 2018 targets ubiquitous fibre and tower infra rollout in the country. We should not miss 5G bus. The economic impact of 5G in India is expected to be over $1 trillion and the consequent multiplier effect is expected to be exponential,” he said. (Source: The Indian Express)

Huawei gets government nod for 5G trials

Huawei gets government nod for 5G trialsTo start tests from December, says CEO Jay Chen NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 5. Chinese telecom-gear maker Huawei said it will start 5G trials in India from December with a leading telecom operator, as it recently received the ‘go-ahead’ from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). On September 27, the DoT invited the company for the trials. Huawei is awaiting for 100MHz of 3300-3600 MHz bands for the initial trials, Jay Chen, Chief Executive Officer of Huawei India told BusinessLine.

“We have got the invitation for the 5G trials from the government and through the proposed trials, we plan to contribute for development of timely and high-quality 5G technology and use cases that will enable social and economic development,” he said. The initial trials will begin with fixed wireless access, enhanced mobile broadband, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), WTTx (advanced wireless access), which is delivering fibre quality broadband in wireless mode, and ultra high definition video transfer in one of the metro cities (Delhi), followed by a few more cities, Chen said.

Laboratory testing
The company had already partnered with Bharti Airtel in February to complete 5G laboratory testing and is in talks now with other operators including Reliance Jio.

Chinese vendors including Huawei and ZTE were barred by the government for various telecom projects including the 5G trials because of security concerns.

However, now the government has given a ‘thumbs up’ to Huawei along with its local partners. There is no clarity about ZTE yet. Both the Chinese companies were recently barred by the US and Australia from 5G roll-outs due to possible cyber snooping by China.

On asked about such concerns, Chen said the Indian government is open and transparent and, Huawei also abides by the law of the land.

“There is a close relationship between the government, operators and the vendors to grow the ecosystem in the industry. Huawei is committed to ‘Digital India’ and will actively cooperate with the 5G planning and preparation of Indian government and industry,” Chen said adding that there lies a lot of opportunities in the telecom industry in the next five years.

Other players
Apart from Huawei, the DoT has already approached other telecom gear makers including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Cisco and NEC for development of 5G applications and running trials on the suggestion of Stanford University Professor Emeritus Arogyaswami J Paulraj.

Paulraj is a member of the 5G panel that recently suggested spectrum roadmap for the technology. The TRAI has recommended auction of about 8,644 MHz of telecom frequencies at an estimated base price of ₹4.9 lakh crore. The government is expected to auction spectrum in various bands including those for 5G towards the end of next year. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Infosys fails to prove ex-CFO deleted data from laptop

Infosys fails to prove ex-CFO deleted data from laptop InfosysNSE -2.01 % could not provide enough evidence to substantiate that former CFO Rajiv Bansal deleted data from company laptop, leading to dismissal of its claim of breach of agreement by the arbitrator, two people privy to the proceedings told ET. The Bengaluru-headquartered software services firm was ordered last week by arbitrator RV Raveendran to pay the remaining severance of Rs 12.17 crore with interest after about 14 months of Bansal taking the matter to arbitration tribunal.

Bansal had invoked his rights to take Infosys to arbitration proceedings in April 2017 after the Infosys board halted payouts on his Rs 17.38 crore severance package, awarded at the time of his exit in December 2015.

“Their (Infosys) main defence was breach of the agreement committed by Rajiv (Bansal) and because the data in his laptop was deleted. The arbitrator has negated all those contentions saying there is no such breach.

It has categorically been held that Rajiv has not breached the agreement and there is nothing to show he himself deleted any data. And there cannot be a breach of the severance agreement,” one of the persons cited above told ET. The person requested for anonymity.

“Infosys also had a counterclaim. They suffered damages because information was not given back to them. That was a laughable defence. It was not pursued very seriously, and got rejected, he added.

While Bansal was represented by Indus Law, law firm Nishit Desai Associates defended Infosys before the arbitrator. ET had reported in May that Infosys had cited data deletion as among the reasons to deny Bansal his dues.

Bansal’s severance has been a bone of contention in the governance battle waged by Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy against the company’s board last year. Murthy said the “hefty” severance promised to Bansal could have the appearance of “hush money”.

The second person said the award by arbitrator Raveendran, former Supreme Court judge, was comprehensive.

“It is extremely meticulously drafted award looking into all the possible aspects...the arbitrator has looked through the evidence in its entirety, relevant documents and relevant pleadings, contentions of all the parties and whatever defence was taken by Infosys he has considered all of them and negated them by sound reasoning both in terms of law and factual reason,” said the person, who is aware of the arbitrator’s decision.

Infosys declined to make any further comment beyond its regulatory filings made last week that claimed the verdict of the arbitrator was confidential. Nishith Desai Associates did not respond to a mail seeking its reaction or views on the decision. Legal experts say lack of evidence, in such claims data deletion, has all the chance of getting rejected.

“If there is not enough evidence, the claim of data deletion falls flat. And the relief sought in that case are likely to be rejected. From a legal perspective, if data belonging to a company was deleted in an unauthorised way is an issue that comes under the IT Act,” said Salman Waris, managing partner, TechLegis Advocates and Solicitors.

Case Files: Infy loses arbitration over severance package of its ex-CFO Rajiv Bansal.
Firm asked to pay outstanding amount of Rs 12.17 crore with interest.
APRIL 2017 Bansal dragged IT firm into arbitration after co halted his severance pay of over Rs 17 crore.
DEC 2015 Bansal quits Infosys. (Source: Economic Times)

WhatsApp appoints grievance officer for India

WhatsApp appoints grievance officer for IndiaUnder pressure to clamp down on sinister messages, Whatsapp has appointed a grievance officer for India and detailed the process for users to flag concerns and complaints, including those around fake news. Meeting one of the key demands that India had put on WhatsApp to curb fake messages that triggered mob killings, the Facebook-owned company has updated its website to reflect the appointment of a ‘Grievance Officer for India’.

The update mentions that users can seek help through the mobile app, send an email or write in to ‘KomalLahiri’, who is based out of the US.

According to Lahiri’s LinkedIn profile, she is senior director, global customer operations and localisation, WhatsApp. When contacted, a WhatsApp spokesperson declined to comment on the matter but pointed to the public FAQ on the company’s website that contains these details.

According to sources, the appointment of the Grievance Officer was made at the end of August.

They added that the Grievance Officer for India being based in the US is in tune with similar practices by other American tech giants.

According to the WhatsApp website, users can reach out to the company’s support team directly from the app under ‘Settings’ tab and in case they wish to escalate the complaint, they can contact the Grievance Officer directly.

A section within FAQs read: “You (users) can contact the Grievance Officer with complaints or concerns, including the following: WhatsApp’s Terms of Service; and Questions about your account“.

The updated FAQs also detailed out the mechanism for law enforcement officials to reach out to WhatsApp.

The government has been pressing WhatsApp to develop tools to combat fake or false messages. One of the demands was to name a grievance officer to deal with issues in India.

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users. It, in July, limited message forwards to five chats at a time and had also removed the quick forward button placed next to media messages to discourage mass forwarding. It has also introduced a ‘forward’ label to help users identify such messages.

The latest appointment is also significant as the Supreme Court, last month, had agreed to examine a petition alleging that WhatsApp does not comply with Indian laws, including the provision for appointing a grievance officer. The apex court had sought a reply on the matter within four weeks.

With general elections slated for next year in India, the government is taking a tough stance on use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for spread of misinformation.

The government had warned WhatsApp that it will treat the messaging platform as abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow, if adequate checks are not put in place.

In a meeting held with WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels last month, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had asserted that the company will have to find a solution to track origin of messages on its platform, set up a local corporate entity that is subject to Indian laws within a defined time-frame as well as appoint a grievance officer.

WhatsApp, which has been slapped with two notices with a third one under consideration, has said it is in the process of establishing a local corporate entity.

It has, however, not accepted government’s demand for traceability of messages saying creating such a software will go against the idea of user privacy and end-to-end encryption.(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Additional Solicitor General suggests FIR against Cambridge Analytica

Additional Solicitor General suggests FIR against Cambridge AnalyticaThe Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India has conveyed to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may conduct a preliminary enquiry against Cambridge Analytica for data breach. The MeitY had recently asked for a legal opinion from the ASG on filing a first information report (FIR) against Cambridge Analytica under the ‘IT Act and the Rules therein’, a senior official at MeitY told BusinessLine.

“The ASG has said that the matter requires further investigation by appropriate agencies. Sincethe present case relates to the breach of IT Act, a Central legislation with pan-India ramifications, it will be administratively expedient if a single investigative agency such as the CBI investigates the matter,” the ASG has opined, the official pointed out.

Preliminary enquiry
The ASG, in his opinion, has said that the CBI may conduct a preliminary enquiry after following prescribed procedure under the CBI Manual. “As soon as sufficient material disclosing the commission of a cognizable offence is available during the course of preliminary enquiry, a regular case should be registered against Cambridge Analytica and persons-in-charge of the company,” Vikramjit Banerjee, ASG, said in the letter seen by BusinessLine.

The ASG said that the company (Cambridge Analytic), and its directors, may also be investigated for ‘conspiracy under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy)’ read with relevant offences under the IT Act. “Specific averments constituting the commission of offence will have to be made to implicate the directors of Cambridge Analytica,” the ASG observed.

As such, a violation of privacy rights, such as in this case, where user data was transferred without consent, entails deprivation of property the person has in these rights. Further, the ‘act of retaining’ such data by Cambridge Analytica to influence Indian voters in the free exercise of their franchise amounts to a wrongful gain under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), he said.

“With respect to vicarious liability of every person who, at the time the contravention was committed, was in charge of and was responsible to the company for the conduct of business of the company, it is advised that Section 85 of the IT Act (a person/company guilty of the contravention and liable for punishment) may be invoked for registering an FIR against such persons at the appropriate stage,” the ASG added in his opinion.

Last month, Minister of Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, had also asked the CBI to look into the issue and how the case could be brought under the ambit of the Indian IT Act. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

‘How Google ‘inadvertently’ added 112 to phone list

How Google ‘inadvertently’ added 112 to phone listOEMs might have made the suggestion before official notification. Ever since Google admitted that it had inadvertently inserted emergency number 112, the key question being asked is why the Internet giant included the phone numbers in users’ contact list by default in 2014 when the Centre’s official order on the same was issued only in 2016.

Emails seen by BusinessLine suggest that there were discussions and letters exchanged between the handset industry and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY) as early as 2013 on the issue of having an emergency number, much before the final notification was made by the Centre in 2016.

Background
Specifically, three letters from DeITY – sent on December 3, 2013, January 2, 2014 and January 22, 2014 – asked phone makers to do two things. First, to provide patches in the existing smartphones to enable dialling emergency number through a dedicated virtual key. Second, future feature phones (non-smart) that would be introduced in the country by various manufacturers to have one of the existing keys configured for activating the emergency number dialling even if the phone is locked. This was in the context of the Nirbhaya rape in December 2012 that shook the nation’s conscience, and citizens were demanding concrete action.

“Intense discussions have been held, led by the Finance Minister, involving Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), DOT, DeITY. Many permutations and combinations were discussed, including launching a government-sponsored device for security etc. etc.! We obviously advocated that mobiles are the best security shield and enhancing their capability. Amongst suggestions which were made during the deliberation was to use the existing and already configured standard GSM emergency number 112 as the distress number,” states a communication from Indian Cellular Association dated March 6,2014, seen by BusinessLine. Indian Cellular Association is the industry body representing mobile phone companies. “We are required to provide this feature in all future smartphones and featured phones. The process should be completed by end of April i.e. smart phones and featured phones which are to be imported or manufactured after May 1, 2014 should carry this feature,” stated the letter sent to all industry stakeholders. When contacted Pankaj Mohindroo, President, ICA, confirmed the letter sent in 2014.

Senior officials, who were then at the Ministry of Communications, confirmed that such discussions may have happened at that time. “There was a lot of pressure to do something post the Nirbhaya case. Finance Minister P Chidambaram had announced the SoS alert button for women in December 2013 so there was discussion on how best to do this,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

Based on these discussions between ICA and the Centre, Google might have been asked by the OEMs to incorporate the emergency number. Google did not comment. on this story.

Google statement
On Friday, Google issued a statement that an internal review had revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had floated its consultation paper on the matter in March 2013. In the paper, TRAI did not propose any specific number as the emergency number. It was only in April 2015 that the regulator issued its recommendations to use 112 as the national emergency number. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

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