A handy list of India’s new rules for policing social media and streaming platforms

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The Indian government has released guidelines for social media intermediaries such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. Along with that, it also framed rules for over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. This code, officially known as the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, will affect how large tech companies operate in India and their content moderation policies. Here are the most important points from the code: Social media platforms All social media companies will need to appoint a grievance officer. The officer should acknowledge user complaints in three days and resolve them within…

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Twitter follows government order to block 500 accounts in India — keeps jounros out of it

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Twitter said today that it’s taken action on more than 500 accounts in India, including permanently suspending some of them, based on government order. The social media company said that in the last 10 days, “several separate blocking orders by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).” The company acted on some temporarily and then restored the accounts on the basis of free speech.  For context, earlier this month, Twitter restricted access to several high-profile accounts for folks in India. These included the Caravan magazine, pro-farmers organization Kisan Ekta Morcha, Shashi Shekhar Vempati, the chief executive of state-run radio agency Prasar…

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Tesla buys $1.5B of Bitcoin — pushing its price to record-breaking levels

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Tesla has bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin according to an SEC filing. This news has caused Bitcoin’s value to rise over 10%. At the time of writing, bitcoin’s price was over $42,000. In the filing, the company said that it may acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long-term: In January 2021, we updated our investment policy to provide us with more flexibility to further diversify and maximize returns on our cash that is not required to maintain adequate operating liquidity. As part of the policy, which was duly approved by the Audit Committee of our Board of…

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As Clubhouse gets a boost from Elon Musk, its audio partner’s shares are soaring

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Audio-based social network Clubhouse is having a hell of a week after Elon Musk appeared on a session and caused its rooms to overflow. Now, there’s a frenzy of people trying to get into the invite-only social network. For the uninitiated, Clubhouse is an iOS-only app — backed by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)  — where users create rooms and chat to each other through audio in real-time. Apart from Clubhouse, its audio technology partner Agora is also basking in glory as its share prices have gone up over 50% from the last Friday’s closing price. Its stock went from…

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OnePlus’ co-founder Carl Pei’s new gadget brand is here — and it’s called NOTHING

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Former OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has finally launched his new venture today — and it’s called NOTHING. Apart from the brand name, the company hasn’t given many details about its product roadmap. It said that it’ll launch smart devices in the first half of the year. Pei’s message on the launch was cryptic. He said that the company wants to remove boundaries between people and tech: t’s been a while since anything interesting happened in tech. It is time for a fresh breeze of change. Nothing’s mission is to remove barriers between people and technology to create a seamless digital…

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India wants WhatsApp to retract its controversial privacy policy

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After user backlash, governments are also joining in criticizing WhatsApp’s controversial privacy policy change. Today, the Indian government asked the app to withdraw its new policy. In a letter addressed to the WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that these “unilateral changes are not fair and acceptable.” This comes a day after WhatsApp’s legal representatives appeared in the Delhi High Court to defend a petition that claimed the new privacy policy allowed snooping on users without any restrictions. Earlier in the month, WhatsApp informed users of a policy change through a pop-up in the app. The new…

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Outgoing Trump administration puts Xiaomi on an investment blacklist

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In a shock move, the Department of Defence under the outgoing Donald Trump administration has put nine Chinese companies on a blacklist citing military connections. Tech giant Xiaomi is the surprise inclusion in the list. The blacklist bars US individuals and companies from investing in these firms. This is different from Huawei‘s trade ban where Americans were blocked from doing with the tech giant. So, Xiaomi won’t be barred from using Android, Google Play Store, or Qualcomm’s chips. Under this new ban, the commerce department could also block the import of “sensitive technology” from China or any other country.  This…

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Google’s new open-source AI model understands Indic languages better

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Google’s various products, such as Search and Assistant, are already available in India in multiple local languages. The company is now turning to a new AI to potentially make more of its offerings accessible to Indic language speakers — more specifically, it’s using a technology called MuRIL. At its virtual event today, the Big G unveiled a new language model called Multilingual Representations for Indian Languages (MuRIL). This is the first model to support interoperation between 16 different Indic languages.   That includes Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. While MuRIL is…

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The pandemic had Android users spending 25% more time on their phones than last year

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Doomscrolling is real and it has consumed us this year. According to analytics firm App Annie’s year-end report, Android users spent 3.3 trillion hours stuck to their screens — up 25% from last year. However, the report suggests that mindlessly scrolling your Twitter or Instagram feed wasn’t the biggest contributor to this stat. On the contrary, it was spending time on video conferencing and work apps such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. App Annie observed that due to the pandemic and work-from-home culture, users spend twice as much time on business apps this year than compared to the last. The…

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