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Will take action if apps violate our policies: Google

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Google

San Francisco, April 18: Responding to a study that found nearly 60 percent of free Android apps used by children potentially violate a federal law, Google has said that it will take action if company’s policies are violated.

“If we determine that an app violates our policies, we will take action. We always appreciate the research community’s work to help make the Android ecosystem safer,” technology news website Tom’s Guide quoted a Google spokesperson as saying.

Google responded to a study by the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, that found 57 per cent of the 5,855 Android apps used by children and families are potentially in violation of a federal law designed to protect the privacy of kids under 13-years-old.

The report said that these apps could be illegally monitoring children’s behaviour online.

The federal law, 1998’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), mandates privacy and consent requirements for website operators catering to children under 13.

“We are taking the researchers’ report very seriously and looking into their findings. Protecting kids and families is a top priority and our Designed for Families programme requires developers to abide by specific requirements above and beyond our standard Google Play policies,” the spokesperson added.

The study further found that 92 per cent of the 1,280 Android apps that utilise Facebook’s application programming interface (API) are potentially in violation of COPPA.

The decision comes at a time when Facebook is embroiled in a scandal after reports that British data firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly gathered detailed Facebook information on 87 million users.

Last week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the US Congress over his company’s handling of user data.

IANS

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Comprehensive plan prepared for BSNL’s revival: Government

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BSNL

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) The government is making all efforts to make state-run BSNL robust and financially viable again and has prepared a comprehensive plan for its revival, an official said on Sunday, on the eve of a nationwide strike called by the employees unions over their demands.

BSNL employees and officers have given a three-day country-wide strike call from February 18 to highlight their long-pending issues, including allotment of 4G spectrum to the telecom major and wage revision for the workforce.

“All efforts are being made, and will continue to be made, to make BSNL robust and financially viable,” a Communications Ministry statement said.

“The main demands of the All India Unions and Associations of Bharat Sanchar Nigam (AUAB) include benefits to executives under the 3rd Pay Revision Committee (PRC) with 15 per cent fitment and to non-executives as per the 8th wage negotiations w.e.f. 1.1.2017, allotment of 4G spectrum to BSNL, revision of pension for BSNL retirees w.e.f. 1.1.2017 and delinking of same with pay revision for PRC implementation, and deduction of payment of pension contribution by BSNL on actual basic pay instead of on the highest level of the pay scale.

“Government wishes to re-emphasize that it will continue to engage with the BSNL management and representatives of the unions and associations, to support their reasonable demands, and to guide the organization towards a revival,” it said.

Noting that the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) is taking “positive steps” regarding each of these demands, the ministry said the issue of alloting 4G spectrum to BSNL is being referred to telecom regulator TRAI “to recommend on the issue of administrative allocation, quantum, price and appropriate frequency band”.

“Further action will be taken on receipt of the said recommendation. In parallel, a comprehensive proposal for revival of BSNL has been prepared, which will be taken up for consideration by competent authorities very soon.”

It also noted that a Coordination Committee comprising senior officers of the DoT, BSNL management, and representatives of AUAB is already working in this regard.

“Representatives of AUAB have also held meetings with the DOT Additional Secretary in which they have been duly apprised of the progress being made in relation to their demands,” the statement said.

It pointed out that the BSNL management has appealed to its employees not to resort to any agitation at this critical juncture when the organization is engaged in “sincere and serious efforts” to protect and enhance the company’s market share, “and when any disruption in services can only adversely impact the interests of BSNL and its customers, employees and other stakeholders.”

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Google shows Pakistan flag when searched for ‘toilet paper’

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New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Google has been showing Pakistani flag when searched for the “best toilet paper in the world”, the “best China-made toilet paper” or just “toilet paper”.

The glitch on Google Search results was noticed a couple of days after the February 14 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district that left 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel dead.

Screenshots of the search results have gone viral as memes, posts and status updates on several social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Apart from images of the Pakistan flags, a search for toilet paper-related queries on Google results into a number of media reports that have been circulating around the subject.

A query to Google about whether the glitch has been taken care of or not went unanswered.

Google algorithms have often displayed inappropriate search results on certain topics.

Earlier, searching words like “Feku”, “Pappu” and “Idiot” led users to images of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and US President Donald Trump, respectively.

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Cut throat domestic defence rivalry exploited by global heavies: Deep State III

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Rafale deal scam

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) On August 31 last year, Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted about “globalised corruption” in the Rafale deal. That was just a week after Mahmut Turker, a Turkish origin former German politician and now Airbus Industrie’s Sales Director-Combat Aircraft Campaigns, met him in Hamburg, Germany.

The corruption bit apart, India has emerged as a battleground for global players operating through a bunch of arms dealers who use every trick in the business to get contracts. In some of these, governments get involved. It is the defence establishment’s version of the Great Game being played out on Indian soil.

In 2016, raids were carried out at the Defence Colony home of controversial arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and, allegedly, papers related to the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal were recovered from him. The Delhi Police filed a case against him under the Official Secrets Act. There was also an Interpol alert against him. The Union Home Ministry has a report on him for stealing documents related to the purchase of 126 Rafale jets during the UPA regime.

However, Bhandari is not exactly a persona non grata. Turker has had many meetings with Bhandari, who fled the country after the 2016 raids. They have privileged access to the anti-Narendra Modi coalition as they provide leads for the Congress in targeting the government on the purchase of the fully-loaded version of the French-made fighter jets. Bhandari is not the only controversial arms dealer with a finger in big defence deals in India.

Sudhir Choudhrie has got top billing as India’s biggest arms agent and lobbyist. He is under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and has, expectedly, fled the country. His name figures among the largest account holders in the grimy Panama Papers case. Both Bhandari and Choudhrie have been beneficiaries of the offset programme in defence that had been in introduced by the government.

Bhandari was awarded contracts worth $918 billion – for the record, Bhandari was a business associate of Priyanka Vadra’s husband, Robert Vadra. Alpha Design, a Bengaluru-based company with links to Choudhrie, was given offset contracts of Rs 1,000 crore during UPA rule. There are other deep political links associated with defence deals for the big money such deals involve.

Arms agent Vipin Khanna, whose father Arvind Khanna was a former Congress MLA from Punjab, was among those who received huge kickbacks in the offset contract for the purchase of three aircraft deals with Embraer during UPA rule. Arvind Khanna is now an arms agent himself. Here are more links.

Politician Santosh Bagrodia’s brother’s firm, Chandigarh-based software company IDS Infotech, received big kickbacks in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal in 2007. Santosh Bagrodia’s brother Satish’s firm received offset contracts of Rs 1,400 crore. In executing and being part of their Great Game, the defence agents and their handlers – the arms manufacturers and aerospace dealers worldwide – have carefully identified politicians who they think will be willing partners: what they offer will serve the interests of the politicians and what the politicians execute on the ground will serve their interests.

The privileged European Union intelligence briefing revealed that the US and China think that Rahul Gandhi, desperate for the Congress to show electoral gains under his leadership, is vital to their India plans — if only to jeopardize deals where they have been edged out.

Arun Shourie, who had harboured dreams of getting an important portfolio in the Modi government, is perhaps getting back at the government using, among other issues like demonetization and GDP figures, the reworked Rafale deal. But there could be a larger story. His brother-in-law — his wife’s brother – is a defence writer and has repeatedly argued against the purchase of 36 Rafale jets. His nephew works for the Tatas and since 2012 has headed Tata Defence. Ratan Tata is the Indian partner of Lockheed Martin. The Americans have said they will lift the CATSA embargo on India if it buys Lockheed Martin’s F-16 jets under the foreign military sales program of the US Pentagon.

There is also a backstory to why former Union Minister and BJP member Yashwant Sinha stands firmly in the anti-Modi coalition even though his son Jayant Sinha is a Union Minister. Like Shourie, he has been cast out in the cold, even as he believes that he has a role to play in national politics. If someone believes the battle will end, it is hope against hope. Because it is relentless.

Just take this instance of what could be described as an alliance of convenience: Lockheed Martin and Tata Defence joins up with Andrea DaSilva of Fifth Pillar, a pro-democracy non-profit organization to get the French NGO Sherpa to file a petition in France against Dassault’s Rafale. The aim: to help Lockheed Martin and Tata Defence to bag a new order for 110 fighter jets that could be worth Rs 240,000 crore.

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