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Three Expedition 45 astronauts securely return to Earth

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Expedition 45 flight engineer Kjell Lindgren from NASA was among three crew members who returned to the Earth on Friday after a 141-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Lindgren, Oleg Kononenko of Russian Federal Space Agency and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency landed safely in Kazakhstan on board a Soyuz spacecraft, the US space agency said in a statement.

The crew touched down northeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan, marking the first crew landing to occur after sunset and only the sixth night-time Soyuz spacecraft return from the space station.

With the end of this mission, Kononenko now has spent 533 days in space, and Lindgren and Yui, both on their first flight, have spent 141 days in space.

While on station, the crew members participated in the Earth observations and conducted research in the areas of physical, biological and molecular science to advance knowledge and demonstrate new technologies.

Such investigations enable research breakthroughs and drive technology innovations that provide benefits on the Earth, and will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration missions into deep space.

Lindgren and Yui took part in the Veggie plant growth experiment that yielded fresh lettuce for crew consumption in August this year.

NASA is maturing Veggie technology aboard the space station to provide future pioneers with a sustainable food supplement — a critical part of NASA’s journey to Mars.

As NASA moves toward long-duration exploration missions farther into the solar system, Veggie will be a resource for crew food growth and consumption.

The system also could be used by astronauts for recreational gardening activities during deep space missions and may have implications for improving growth and biomass production on the Earth, benefiting the average citizen.

Another key research area during Expedition 45 is the continued one-year mission with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Roscosmos’ Mikhail Kornienko that provides insight into human health management for long-duration space travel.

Expedition 46 continues operating the station, with Kelly in command. Along with Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos, the three-person crew will operate the station for four days till the arrival of three new crew members.

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on December 15.

wefornews bureau

India

Parliamentary panel summons Facebook, Twitter officials on Jan 21

Earlier, the committee had summoned Facebook’s India head Ajit Mohan over the issue of political bias on the social media platform.

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New Delhi, Jan 18: The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology has issued summons to officials of Facebook and Twitter for January 21, to question them over misuse of the social media/online news platforms.

The schedule of meeting on the Lok Sabha website read: “Evidence of representatives of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and to hear the views of the representatives of Facebook and Twitter on the subject safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space.”

Earlier, the committee had summoned Facebook’s India head Ajit Mohan over the issue of political bias on the social media platform.

The allegations of a Facebook bias towards the BJP were reported in The Wall Street Journal in August 2020 and had claimed that Ankhi Das, the platform’s then India Policy Head had opposed the idea of removing hate posts by BJP leaders, warning that this could hamper their “commercial interests”.

Das has now quit Facebook.

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CAIT moves SC against WhatsApp, Facebook

The CAIT will not allow any corporate or conglomerate to enforce its ‘obnoxious policies and sinister designs’ to make profit in an unethical manner by firing from the shoulder of the people of India, added its petition.

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New Delhi, Jan 16 : The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Saturday filed a petition in the Supreme Court with the prayer to direct WhatsApp to withdraw its new privacy policy which is encroaching upon various fundamental rights of the citizens granted by the Constitution of India.

CAIT has also prayed that the Union of India must frame guidelines to govern big technology companies like WhatsApp and frame policies which would protect the privacy of citizens and businesses.

The petition especially highlights the difference of approach in EU and India countries with respect to the privacy policy of WhatsApp and how the data of Indian users can be misused by such big tech companies. The petition has been drafted by Advocate Abir Roy and settled and filed in Supreme Court by Advocate on Record Vivek Narayan Sharma.

CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal charged that WhatsApp has adopted the approach of ‘my way or high way’ which is arbitrary, unjustified, unconstitutional and cannot be accepted in a democratic country like India. WhatsApp has been fraudulently collecting personal user data.

At the time of its launch, WhatsApp attracted users based on the promise of non-sharing of user data and strong privacy principles. In 2014, after the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook, when the users had started doubting the privacy of their data and were in fear that their personal data will be shared with Facebook, WhatsApp promised that nothing would change in the privacy policy after the acquisition. However, in August 2016, WhatsApp retracted from its promise and introduced a new Privacy Policy which severely compromised the rights of its users and made the privacy rights of users completely vulnerable, CAIT said.

Under the new privacy policy, it allowed the sharing of personal data with Facebook and all its group companies for commercial advertising and marketing. Since then, the company has been altering its policies to collect and process a wider range of information, and share the same with the third party applications.

The CAIT will not allow any corporate or conglomerate to enforce its ‘obnoxious policies and sinister designs’ to make profit in an unethical manner by firing from the shoulder of the people of India, added its petition.

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Mobile numbers of WhatsApp on Web users found on Google Search

According to Rajaharia, the latest leak of personal mobile numbers via WhatsApp on Web has not been addressed so far by the either Facebook-owned platform or Google.

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New Delhi, Jan 16 : As WhatsApp faces intense scrutiny over its upcoming data and privacy policy in India and elsewhere, another user data violation has been reported, this time on the WhatsApp on Desktop (Web) application, allegedly exposing personal mobile numbers via indexing on Google Search.

Although WhatsApp is primarily a mobile app, currently being used by over 400 million users in India, some working professionals also use the instant chat app on their desktops and PCs via the Web version.

Independent cybersecurity researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia on Friday shared some screenshots with IANS showing indexing of personal mobile numbers of WhatsApp users via Web version on Google Search.

“The leak is happening via WhatsApp on Web. If someone is using WhatsApp on laptop or on an office PC, the mobile numbers are being indexed on Google Search. These are mobile numbers of individual users not business numbers,” Rajaharia told IANS.

Earlier this week, concerned at private group chat links being available on Google Search, WhatsApp said that it had asked Google not to index such chats and advised users not to share group chat links on publicly accessible websites.

Google had indexed invite links to private WhatsApp group chats, meaning anyone can join various private chat groups with a simple search. The indexed WhatsApp group chat links have now been removed from Google.

“Despite WhatsApp advising users and telling Google to remove the earlier exposed group chat links, the mobile numbers via WhatsApp Web application are now being indexed on Google Search,” Rajaharia noted.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said in an earlier statement that since March 2020, WhatsApp has included the “noindex” tag on all deep link pages which, according to Google, will exclude them from indexing.

“We have given our feedback to Google to not index these chats. Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website,” the company spokesperson said.

The issue was first cropped up in February last year when app reverse-engineer Jane Wong found that Google has around 470,000 results for a simple search of “chat.whatsapp.com”, part of the URL that makes up invites to WhatsApp groups.

According to Rajaharia, the latest leak of personal mobile numbers via WhatsApp on Web has not been addressed so far by the either Facebook-owned platform or Google.

The revelation comes at a time when WhatsApp is changing its privacy policy and users will have to “agree and accept” if they plan to keep using the app post-February 8.

On Friday, a single judge bench of the Delhi High Court recused from hearing a petition against the WhatsApp’s upcoming data and privacy policy, on the grounds that it violates the right to privacy of citizens of India.

The plea will now be listed before another bench and would come up for hearing on January 18.

–IANS

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