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Tech

IIT Alumni Council Bans Chinese-origin Software, To Develop Indigenous Systems

Amid nationwide protests over ban on Chinese goods following Galwan Valley standoff in Ladakh, the IIT Alumni Council on Tuesday announced elimination of Chinese systems and software in all its initiatives. It plans to replace the Chinese software with indigenous and low-cost technology in all its initiatives, including Megalab.

MegaLab is an initiative of the Council to establish the largest genetic testing laboratory in Mumbai for coronavirus and other infectious diseases that would carry out over 1 crore tests per month. The lab is all set to launch on August 15.

The decision taken by the IIT Alumni Council came a day after the Union Home Ministry announced ban on 59 Chinese applications in India including TikTok.

Over the last few weeks, the IIT Alumni Council has been working actively with various technical institutes of excellence, research institutions in order to develop indigenous and cost-effective solutions to replace the Chinese systems.

These include an initiative with IIT Roorkee to recycle all the plastic disposables used in the RTPCR process including viral sample tubes, sample plates and pipette tips which are consumed in large quantities adding to bio hazardous waste challenges as well as hard currency imports.

The Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai has also come forward and worked on designing and piloting an indigenous technology in line with indigenous capital goods for mass production of the RTPCR 2.0 test kits for the much-awaited MegaLab.

President and Chief Volunteer of the IIT Alumni Council, Ravi Sharma reemphasised on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal for going local and said, “We fully support the Centre’s decision to ban Chinese Apps and therefore we have also decided not to use any Chinese software and systems. We had already started work for indigenous development of requisite systems and software after the appeal of Prime Minister for Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

“We are confident that we shall be able to present world class systems and software with support of the global IIT Alumni community as well as the partner Institutions like Mumbai University and ICT Mumbai that are known for their technology supremacy worldwide. We are also sure that we shall not only achieve the goal of self-sufficiency for all our initiatives but would also export our software and testing systems to other parts of the world. We hope to compete with China head-on in markets around the world,” he said.

Vice Chairman of Packaging Industry Association of India (PIAI), Pawan Kumar also supported the government’s decision on banning Chinese apps and said, “I am happy to be part of IIT Alumni Council’s support for indigenous software and systems. I believe that the Indian software industry is well geared to win in any market on a level playing field. In the current context, I am more than sure that Indian software and system makers will rise to the occasion and soon present indigenous alternatives to the Indian as well as global market.”

On June 15, as many as 20 Indian soldiers including the Commanding Officer of a battalion at Galwan valley were killed by the Chinese soldiers in a violent clash during disengagement.

Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan Valley area in Ladakh where they had earlier clashed on the night of June 15-16. At least 17 Indian troops, who were critically injured during the clash, were exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain and succumbed to their injuries later.

Data Security Working Group of IIT Alumni Council and former ADG in-charge of Karnataka Police Computer Wing, Sanjay Sahay, said that Chinese systems were posing high risks to the country. “Chinese software and apps are prone to malware and it is becoming security and privacy risks for our country. There have been concerns of security as well privacy with quite a few Chinese apps and software. I feel, banning of Chinese apps is a step in the right direction,” he said.


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Tech

Reddit Bans Popular Pro-Trump Forum For Violating Its Hate Speech Policies

A Reddit mascot is shown at the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California. (Image Source: Reuters)

A Reddit mascot is shown at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, California. (Image Source: Reuters)

The subreddit was known for its devotion to US President Donald Trump and had an average of 7,780 daily active users currently.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: June 30, 2020, 2:41 PM IST

Social media site Reddit on Monday shut down r/The_Donald, a forum which long served as a popular online home base for fans of President Donald Trump, saying it violated the site’s hate speech rules. Other sites also conducted high-profile sweeps: Amazon.com Inc’s live-streaming platform Twitch temporarily banned Trump’s official channel, saying it violated Twitch’s policy on hateful speech, while Google’s YouTube suspended six leading white nationalist accounts.

Reddit Chief Executive Steve Huffman said in a post detailing changes to the company’s content policies that communities and users promoting hate would be barred. Reddit was banning about 2,000 subreddits, the majority of which were inactive, he said. In response to the actions by Reddit and Twitch, a Trump campaign spokesman directed people to Trump’s campaign app “to hear directly from the president.” He did not directly address the sites’ actions.

Huffman said earlier this month that Reddit would strengthen its content policy after Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigned from the firm’s board and former CEO Ellen Pao criticized its handling of r/The_Donald. Reddit had “quarantined” the forum last year, citing threats of violence. The new list of banned subreddits also included the left-wing r/ChapoTrapHouse, which Huffman said consistently hosted rule-breaking content. It had an average of 42,949 daily active users, according to Reddit.

Reddit’s list showed r/The_Donald had an average of 7,780 daily active users, down from its heyday around the 2016 presidential election when it regularly drew hundreds of thousands of visitors each day. Only about 200 of the banned forums listed by Reddit had more than 10 daily users. “All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity,” Huffman said.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Social media companies’ content policies have been in the spotlight this month, as Facebook Inc faced an employee walkout and an ad boycott over its hands-off handling of inflammatory posts amid nationwide anti-racism protests and ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Earlier this month, Twitter Inc began placing some of Trump’s messages behind warning labels, while Snap Inc said it would no longer promote Trump’s account in its Discover section.

YouTube said Monday it was terminating six accounts widely credited with building support for far-right views online over hate speech violations, including channels run by Richard Spencer, Stefan Molyneux and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Molyneux tweeted in response that YouTube had suspended “the largest philosophy conversation the world has ever known.” Spencer said he would appeal the decision.

Twitch, a site primarily used for video game live-streaming which Trump joined in October, said it had identified two streams from Trump’s account that violated its policies. One was a rebroadcast of a 2016 rally in which Trump said Mexico was sending rapists to the United States. The other was of his rally in Tulsa earlier this month when he hypothesized about a “very tough hombre” breaking into a woman’s house.

A Twitch spokeswoman said the platform had told “the president’s team” last year that there were no exceptions on the site for political or newsworthy content that broke its rules. In May, Twitch announced a new advisory council to improve safety, focusing on areas like harassment and protection of marginalized groups. Last week, it said it would begin issuing permanent suspensions as part of investigations into allegations of sexual abuse and harassment involving Twitch streamers.


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Tech

India Bans 59 Popular Chinese Apps: Status Check On TikTok, Likee, Helo, WeChat, CamScanner & More

Late yesterday, India banned as many as 59 popular smartphone apps for Android smartphones as well as the Apple iPhone. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community. As we do a status check this morning on some of the popular apps in this list, we notice that some are available on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the App Store for the Apple iPhone, yet some app listings have been removed.

A quick search for the incredibly popular TikTok on the Google Play Store for Android and the Apple App Store for the iPhone doesn’t reveal favorable results for fans and users. The app, developed by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been taken down, for the time being on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Incidentally, another social media app Helo is also presently unavailable on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

TikTok has been taken down, for the time being on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store

It is expected that while app listings for all 59 apps on the list issued by the Government of India will be taken down from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store at some point. For the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network, thereby rendering them in-operational. It is expected that all mobile service providers will block these apps on the 3G/4G networks while all broadband companies will enable these filters on wired and wireless broadband options.

The purge on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store may take some time though. As of the time of writing this, apps including Likee, Vigo Video, WeChat, CamScanner and UC Browser are still available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.

This announcement on the ban on 59 popular smartphone apps, owned by Chinese tech companies, comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high, after the military skirmishes earlier this month. There have been suspicions that the apps developed and or owned by Chinese companies and developers collect user data from their phones without their permissions and transmit it back to the owners.

or the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network

“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” says the Ministry of Electronics and IT in an official statement.

This move could also have a cascading effect, as more countries could end up banning these apps in the coming days. There has been a global conversation over the past few months about the possible backdoors in Chinese company Huawei’s 5G mobile network infrastructure allowing the company or even the Chinese government to snoop in on user data. Many countries have either banned Huawei’s 5G network hardware altogether or are reluctant to use it.

This ban on popular Chinese-owned apps, including social networks such as TikTok, could have a longer-term impact on the company valuations as well, after a large chunk of their user base has been effectively shut out. At this time, it is not clear how long the ban will be in place but there are multiple recommendations in place on how to block these potentially malicious apps from being used on internet networks within India.

This announcement on the ban on 59 popular smartphone apps, owned by Chinese tech companies, comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high


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Tech

Modi Govt Bans 59 Chinese Apps In India: A Blow To China’s Digital Silk Route Ambitions?

Image for representation. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Image for representation. REUTERS/Amit Dave

The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 29, 2020, 9:45 PM IST

The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India has banned as many as 59 apps in India. This has been done deriving powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community.

This announcement comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high, after the military skirmishes earlier this month. There have been suspicions that the apps developed and or owned by Chinese companies and developers collect user data from their phones without their permissions and transmit it back to the owners. Experts suggest that this could hit China’s Digital Silk Route ambitions in a big way. India has a large existing user base on these apps, and a fairly large potential user base waiting to sign up.

The banned apps include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community

“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” says the Ministry of Electronics and IT in an official statement.

The Digital Silk Route is the technology equivalent of the BRI project, the Belt and Road Initiative which China has initiated to get an edge as a global technology and economic giant. The BRI attempts to connect Asia with Africa and Europe with land and maritime networks along six corridors, in an attempt to boost trade. China has also tied up with 16 other countries but has also been investing its own resources and creating a digital framework abroad. This includes optical cable lines, data hubs and other critical infrastructure projects which China needs to control the global digital discourse.

The Digital Silk Route is the technology equivalent of the BRI project, the Belt and Road Initiative which China has initiated to get an edge as a global technology and economic giant

This move could also have a cascading effect, as more countries could end up banning these apps in the coming days. There has been a global conversation over the past few months about the possible backdoors in Chinese company Huawei’s 5G mobile network infrastructure allowing the company or even the Chinese government to snoop in on user data. Many countries have either banned Huawei’s 5G network hardware altogether or are reluctant to use it.

This ban on popular Chinese-owned apps, including social networks such as TikTok, could have a longer-term impact on the company valuations as well, after a large chunk of their user base has been effectively shut out. At this time, it is not clear how long the ban will be in place but there are multiple recommendations in place on how to block these potentially malicious apps from being used on internet networks within India.

There has been a global conversation about the possible backdoors in Chinese company Huawei’s 5G mobile networks allowing the Chinese government to snoop in

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Tech

Twitter Bans User Behind Doctored Video That Was Tweeted by Donald Trump

Twitter Inc has permanently suspended the account of a rightwing online personality for violating its copyright policy, a week after he posted a doctored video of toddlers that was tweeted by President Donald Trump.

The move was the second action Twitter took related to Trump’s tweets within 24 hours. On Tuesday it hid a tweet from Trump threatening “serious force” against protesters in Washington DC, which Twitter said violated its policy on threatening violence.

Twitter has repeatedly clashed with Trump since it began challenging his tweets in May. The president has threatened to change laws on social media after Twitter labelled one of his tweets about postal voting inaccurate and hid a tweet about looting, which Twitter said fomented violence.

Last week, Twitter put the “manipulated media” designation on a tweet from Trump that showed a doctored news clip from CNN. The original clip was a cheerful story of a viral video showing Black and white toddlers who were best friends; the doctored version added a misspelled banner flashing “Terrified toddler runs from racist baby”.

The doctored video was first posted by Carpe Donktum, an account known to support Trump. Twitter said early on Wednesday it had suspended the account indefinitely for “repeated violations” of its policy on posting copyrighted material.

“I received a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown order this morning for that video, and a few hours later a suspension letter”, Donktum posted here on Locals, another digital content platform. Twitter did not provide him a way to get the suspended account back, “So I assume they intend this to be final and permanent,” he said.

Donktum’s account was revoked in last July for eight days, over a video depicting Trump as a cowboy attacking CNN journalist Jim Acosta.


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Instagram Gives You More Control With New Tools For Reviewing Reports And Bans

The Facebook-owned social media network Instagram has announced a bunch of new features to improve transparency and make the platform safer. Instagram says that one of the newly added features is called Support Requests, which show users the status of their submitted reports on other content and users, as well as the history of the same. It also allows the user to mute, block, restrict or unfollow the profiles whose content they have reported. In case a user is not satisfied by the kind of action the the social media platform has taken, they can call for a further “Request a Review” appeal for a second look at the issue.

The other big change is that Instagram will now allow users, whose accounts may have been disabled for some perceived policy and guideline violation, to appeal the ban. There have been instances where accounts have been banned but they didn’t really post anything against the guidelines or something that could be classified as offensive. Instagram confirms that an option will soon be available for these disabled accounts to appeal the ban from within the app. This is expected to be rolled out in the coming days. Users will be able to “Request a Review”, and hope they can access their Instagram account again.