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India may soon have personal data protection law

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New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) India may soon have a law on personal data protection as the government plans to take up the bill during the upcoming winter session of Parliament starting Monday.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has already said that the government plans to soon introduce the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 in Parliament after public consultations.

The draft bill was released last year and was immediately opposed by several global technology companies. Their contention was that it would affect their business in the country apart from driving cost of operations. The proposals are mostly out of a report submitted by Justice B.N. Srikrishna in July 2018. The final draft of the bill is still not known.

But the draft bill which was made public last year for comments said businesses were required to seek explicit consent for the data they collect on consumers, mandatorily obtain consent from consumers to use their data sparingly and only for the purposes stated, apart from storing sensitive consumer data only within Indian borders. It did not mention what will be sensitive information in legal terms.

In recent times several cases of user privacy intrusion cases have come to light, including WhatsApp data-protection failure and privacy breach, creating a public outrage and debate over data security in the country.

The bill suggests a fine of up to Rs 15 crore or 4 per cent of the firm’s turnover in the case of a breach and setting up of a data protection authority.

Recently at the Commonwealth Law Ministers Conference in Colombo, Prasad said: “In India, we view privacy seriously and informational privacy is also integral to that. It means a person must have control over his data and its commercial usage.”

According to the minister, any data protection law should be technology agnostic, must be based upon the element of free consent, no abuse of consent beyond the permissible limits, requisite data protection authorities, and a fair mechanism for data processing.

In October WhatsApp confirmed that Indian human rights activists and journalists were among those targeted by an Israeli spyware and the government had asked the company to explain the breach that had targeted Indians amongst others.

Those targeted by the WhatsApp hacking in India included human rights activists who were arrested over their alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon Dalit riots near Pune in January last year and some journalists. Of 1,400 affected users, over 20 are academics, lawyers, Dalit activists and journalists from India.


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On a Boil: Now Milk prices set to rise by up to Rs 3/ltr

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Mother Dairy

New Delhi, Dec 14 : After onions made headlines with exorbitant cost, milk will soon become dearer as major processing firms have decided to raise prices by up to Rs 3 per litre on the back of constrained supply.

Accordingly, the rise is seen to be in line with the retail food inflation trajectory which has shown an upward trend, as perishable items’ supply has been adversely impacted due to weather-related phenomenon such as flooding and extended monsoon.

Last week, Consumer Price Index which gauges retail inflation showed a year-on-year (YoY) rise of 3.46 per cent in milk and milk products during November.

Incidentally, the milk price component in wholesale price index has shown an upward trajectory for the past seven years. This has meant that consumers have been paying higher prices for milk every year.

According to Mother Dairy, the adverse climatic conditions have resulted in a significant increase in feed and fodder prices.

“This has impacted the prices paid to the milk producers. The raw milk prices, which in a normal year come down during winter months, have firmed up substantially. The prices paid to milk producers have increased by about Rs 6 per kg in the last few months, up by almost 20 per cent than the corresponding period last year,” the company said in a statement.

“Mother Dairy is compelled to raise its milk prices in Delhi NCR for all its milk variants with effect from December 15, 2019.” This is fourth increase in milk prices by the cooperative in last three years. The prices have been revised upwards in March and October 2017 and in May and december 2019.

Another major producer, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation which markets dairy products under the brand name of Amul, has decided to revise the milk prices by Rs 2 per litre being sold in Ahmedabad and Saurashtra markets of Gujarat, Delhi NCR, West Bengal, Mumbai and Maharashtra from Sunday.

“It is worthwhile to note that in the last 3 years Amul has made only two price revision for pouch milk which is only Rs 4 per litre and less than 3 per cent per annum increase in MRP. The price increase in milk is much lower than average food inflation,” the company said in a statement.

“This year the price of cattle feed has increased by more than 35 per cent. Considering increase in cattle feed and other input costs, our member unions have increased milk procurement price in the range of Rs 100 to Rs 110 per kg fat which is more than 15 per cent increase than last year for the 36 lakh milk producers of Gujarat.”

Lately, weather related phenomenon have pushed food prices higher, thereby lifted India’s retail and wholesale inflation levels.

Recently, data by the National Statistical Office (NSO) showed that Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) inflated to 10.01 per cent during the month under review from an expansion of 7.89 per cent in October 2019 and (-)2.61 per cent rise reported for the corresponding period of last year.

Product-wise, prices of vegetables, eggs, milk, meat and fish pushed the retail inflation higher on a YoY basis. In contrast, decline in prices of ‘fuel and light’ capped the overall food inflation.

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Amazon now delivers 50 percent of its packages on its own

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San Francisco, Dec 14 In a serious threat to package delivery giants like FedEx and UPS, Amazon is now delivering 50 per cent of its packages itself especially in the urban centres globally, media reported.

According to Morgan Stanley estimates reported first by CNBC, analysts estimate Amazon Logistics — the company’s in-house shipping and delivery service — will soon overtake UPS and FedEx in the total volume of packages delivered in the US.

Jeff Bezos-led company still relies on third-party couriers for last-mile deliveries in rural regions.

Amazon Logistics now ships more than 2.5 billion packages a year in the US, while FedEx ships 3 billion and UPS delivers 4.7 billion.

Amazon’s deliveries will probably reach 6.5 billion by 2022 for $10 a package, the analysts said, meaning a massive loss of $65 billion in revenue for UPS, FedEx and the US Postal Service.

Amazon’s number doubled in just the last year alone, from delivering about 20 percent of all of its own packages to now about half (46 per cent).

After losing air-shipping contract of global courier company FedEx amid competition, e-commerce major Amazon has added 15 cargo aircraft to its fleet, aiming to reach 70 planes by 2021.

In a bid to expand its airborne ambitions, e-commerce giant Amazon is investing $1.5 billion in building a three million square-foot Prime Air airport outside Cincinnati in Kentucky as a parking garage for a 100 cargo jets.

“We’re investing $1.5 billion in our new air hub to get you your packages faster. Three million square feet, and it’s going to create 2,000 jobs. And if you’re guessing that driving a front loader was fun, you’re right! #amazon #prime,” Bezos tweeted recently.

Amazon has a few dozen planes flying several hundred flights per week while UPS and FedEx have hundreds of planes flying thousands of flights.

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Government must get out of business: Amit Khanna

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Amit Khanna

New Delhi, Dec 13 : What is striking about Amit Khanna is not just the fact that he has been part of the entire media spectrum — television, films, radio, print, studio head, besides being part of policy making, but that he refuses to wear any stars on the shoulders.

“For me, it has always been important to explore newer challenges,” smiles the lyricist, producer, filmmaker, poet and former Chairman of Reliance Entertainment.

As his second book “Words Sounds Images: A History of Media and Entertainment in India”, an encyclopedic study of the history of Indian media and entertainment, published by HarperCollins gets released today, he tells IANS: “We’re aware that India has an ancient tradition of music and dance, theatre; later print, radio and television, and now digital — so the book covers everything.”

Khanna, who has been consistently writing on the Indian media and entertainment scenario for decades now, says the idea of writing this book emerged after he started interacting with students and young professionals. “I realised there was no one book which could be accessed to give an overview of Indian media and entertainment.”

A keen observer of culture, society and contemporary trends, the media veteran who also mentors several youngsters now plans to travel and spend time teaching. “It is always interesting to interact with young professionals.”

For someone who has donned multiple hats in the media segment and has done several things simultaneously, it is giving inputs to policy that is on top of his priority list now. “Somebody has to engage with and deal with what is going to happen in various media in the years to come, and how others respond to it — whether it is the government or other stake holders. For me, exploring new frontiers is always interesting.

“Today, we exist in a networked society. It’s the first time in human history that four to five billion people are connected. This is an interesting age to be in and at this stage of my career, I want to observe, analyze, various media in terms of social and cultural change, and how do we use future as a friend. Yes, it is therefore a very fulfilling kind of engagement,” he adds.

Khanna, who has always stressed that government should focus just on making broader policies but stay completely away from businesses, insists that it holds true not just for media and entertainment but other industries too.

“All successive governments have said that government has no business to be in business, but it is very difficult for them to give up control. Of course, now things are less restrictive than they were 30 years ago. Unfortunately, in a democracy, where electoral politics is a major policy motivator, most politicians tend to be populist rather than commonsensical, something the country needs desperately.”

No conversation with a media expert can be complete without mentioning OTT. He says, “Let’s not forget it’s merely a platform. There are a few points in this value chain. It’s the creator and access. How does the consumer access that content? So, platform, after a point becomes irrelevant. You have to be platform agnostic. How does it matter where I am accessing the content I want to see or listen to, from? I really shouldn’t care if it coming to me through the sky, broadcast TV, direct to home, broadband or mobile Internet, right?

“We are in the phase where we are still concerned with platforms. I thought, over a passage of time, we would get under regulated, but sadly, we are getting over regulated. It’s a global phenomenon though in India, it’s more accentuated.”

Talk to him about the fact how many news outlets are recording an all-time low profit and shutting shop, and he asserts, “It’s do with the number of them. This country has more than 800 news channels. Things are way too fragmented. Let us also not forget that in India, the per capita spend on entertainment is the lowest among all large emerging economies.

“If you’re spending an hour on the phone now, that much time has been reduced from the activities you were participating in before, right? These channels will have to shut down. Some local channels and specialized digital platforms, which are a democratic medium and cost much less in terms of investment, will see a rise. Of course, one also needs to see what is their business model for sustenance and growth?”

Khanna, who set up PLUS Channel in 1989, India’s first integrated media and entertainment company that produced three hours of programming everyday for Doordarshan feels it is high time that the state broadcaster gets it act together.

“I was the Executive Producer of ‘Buniyad’ and producer for ‘Swaabhimaan’. Now, when you look at Doordarshan, it’s apparent that the standards and practices of state broadcasting in India are way behind. It is important for the government to realise the peculiar role of a public broadcaster in a pluralistic country like India, which boasts of several languages and cultures.

“Yes, we do need a public broadcaster, but it does not have to do what every private broadcaster is doing. I mean why should every cricket match should be shown on Doordarshan? That’s a stupid regulation. They just need to stick to good quality commissioned programming.

“Professionals need to be brought in immediately and given a free hand. Failing this, it will go the same road as BSNL, MTNL and Air India.”

Insisting that it paramount to invest on manpower training and development in media and other sectors, the media veteran, who has been on the governing council of FTII (Film and Television Institute of India), Pune and SRFTI (Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute), Kolkata besides the board of MCRC (Mass Communication Research Centre), Jamia Millia Islamia, points, “When I was on their boards, I would constantly tell them to update their teaching methods which were decades old. We have to have excellent facility. Inviting guest faculty is a good short-term solution, but the need of the hour is to get trainers from abroad to teach the instructors and teachers on the latest breakthroughs in their subjects.”

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