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‘What is Google’s censored Chinese search engine’

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Washington, Aug 6 : Six US senators have written to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking about the tech giant’s reported plan to create a censored Chinese version of its search engine.

“What has changed since 2010 to make Google comfortable cooperating with the rigorous censorship regime in China?” asked the senators, including Florida Republican Marco Rubio, Fortune reported on Sunday.

According to the letter, Google’s project is “deeply troubling and risks making Google complicit in human rights abuses” in China.

Google in 2010 “refused to comply with Chinese government censorship requirements on ethical grounds, and essentially abandoned the market,” said the report.

Media reports surfaced last week that Google is planning a censored search engine for China.

According to The Information, the company is also developing a news-aggregation app for use in China that will comply with the country’s censorship laws.

Google was yet to officially confirm or deny the search engine project.

The senators asked whether the agreement was “connected in any way with (Google’s) efforts to enter the Chinese market via the custom search app”.

The letter also asked “which ‘blacklist’ of censored searches and websites” Google would use in a Chinese search product.

The state-owned China Securities Daily, however, last week refuted the report that Google is building a search engine for China.

China is home to 772 million Internet users — the biggest online community in the world.

Google, which has hundreds of people working in China, has launched its Artificial Intelligence (AI) lab in the country.

IANS

 

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Job offers to emotional blackmail, cyber criminals’ lockdown tactics

Political commentator and policy analyst Sanjaya Baru was cheated of Rs 24,000 on the pretext of online delivery of liquor in June. Baru was also the media advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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New Delhi, July 7 : A criminal is a fast learner. He keeps upgrading his skills in line with his changing surroundings, making it difficult for the law enforcing agencies to keep pace. Those involved in white collar crimes are even harder to trace and arrest as unlike other criminals they can commit a crime without being physically present near the victim. Now it seems that cyber criminals have fast adapted to the country”s state of lockdown and evolved new tactics to dupe people.

From impersonating an identity on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to luring people for jobs in the government sector; from emotional blackmail to pretending to be bank officials, they do it all. During the lockdown when many are working from home and spending more time on mobiles and computers, the cyber frauds seem to have taken this as an opportunity.

Recently, a man was arrested from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh for impersonating the identity of the victim”s senior on Facebook and asking him for Rs 60,000 for the treatment for his wife who he claimed was hospitalized. The victim, a Delhi resident, obliged and ended up transferring Rs 58,000 to the PayTm wallet of the accused. The matter came to light when the victim called his senior.

In another case, a woman was duped of Rs 34 lakhs as a man who developed a friendship with her on social media turned out to be a cheat. He not just emotionally blackmailed her on the promise of marriage but also went to Leh and Ladakh with her. The man was arrested from Vijayawada.

Political commentator and policy analyst Sanjaya Baru was cheated of Rs 24,000 on the pretext of online delivery of liquor in June. Baru was also the media advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The irony is people don”t divulge details to strangers in the real world but in the virtual world they trust easily and part with their personal details which are later misused by the cyber criminals. The key word is caution. One has to be cautious while interacting on social media, said Anyesh Roy, DCP Cyber crime.

During the lockdown, data released by Delhi police showed that 3,430 such complaints were received in May this year as compared to just 1,260 in January. This means the number of cases almost tripled during the lockdown.

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Google Meet crosses 10 crore installs in less than 2 months

The search engine giant had earlier made Meet video platform free to anyone with a Gmail account, as part of Google’s Meet expansion.

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San Francisco, July 7 : Popular video meet app Google Meet for Android has surpassed over 10 crore downloads globally on Google Play Store.

The platform doubled the install base in less than two-months time as more and more people turned to video conferencing owing to the global pandemic, reports Android Police.

According to app traffic and performance observer AppBrain, Google Meet passed 5 crore (50 million) installs or downloads mark on Google Play on May 17. AppBrain figures indicated that the app crossed 10 crore installs on July 7.

According to Javier Soltero Vice President & GM, G Suite, the tech giant has seen daily usage of Meet app grow by 30 times, with hosting 3 billion minutes of video meetings daily.

The search engine giant had earlier made Meet video platform free to anyone with a Gmail account, as part of Google’s Meet expansion.

Google Meet is completely free and anyone with an email address can sign up and get started. Users can see Google Meet on the left menu, with two options: Start a meeting and join a meeting.

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Top tech firms halt Hong Kong’s requests for users” data

Twitter said in an earlier statement that it has “grave concerns and is committed to protecting the people using our services and their freedom of expression”.

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San Francisco, July 7 : Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Twitter and Telegram have said they will not process official requests from the Hong Kong authorities to hand over user data for the time being, in the wake of China imposing a controversial new National Security Law in Hong Kong.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, WhatsApp decided to pause the review of Hong Kong government requests for user data “pending further assessment” of China”s national-security law for territory.

Facebook is “pausing” such reviews “pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts,” a WhatsApp spokeswoman was quoted as saying in the report.

Google and Twitter said they suspended their reviews of data requests from Hong Kong authorities immediately after the law went into effect.

Twitter cited “grave concerns” about the law”s implications.

Dubai-based Telegram Group said in a statement that it doesn”t intend to process “any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city.”

A company spokesperson said it “has never shared any data with the Hong Kong authorities in the past.”

The people in Hong Kong fear that the new law can send them to jail on the basis of their social media posts and messages.

After China imposed a controversial new National Security Law in Hong Kong, tech giants now face a free speech test in the country.

The new law requires local authorities to take steps to supervise and regulate the city”s internet.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube currently operate freely in Hong Kong, unlike China where the great Firewall has censored the US tech giants in mainland China.

Twitter said in an earlier statement that it has “grave concerns and is committed to protecting the people using our services and their freedom of expression”.

The Hong Kong government last week said the US has no right to intervene in the city”s internal affairs, after the American Senate unanimously passed a punitive sanctions bill in reaction to the controversial new National Security Law imposed by China.

The national security law, which Beijing put into effect and made public last week on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong”s handover from British to Chinese rule, criminalises a wide range of behaviour and acts under four categories of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with a foreign power.

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