EU-US Commercial Data Transfer Pact Enters Into Force

EU-US Commercial Data Transfer Pact Enters Into Force

A new commercial data pact between the European Union and the United States entered into force on Tuesday, ending months of uncertainty over cross-border data flows, and companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft can sign up from August 1.

The EU-US Privacy Shield will give businesses moving personal data across the Atlantic – from human resources information to people’s browsing histories to hotel bookings – an easy way to do so without falling foul of tough EU data transferral rules.

The previous such framework, Safe Harbour, was struck down by the EU’s top court in October on the grounds that it allowed US agents too much access to Europeans’ data.

Revelations three years ago from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden of mass US surveillance practices caused political outrage in Europe and stoked mistrust of big US tech companies.

In the months that followed the EU ruling companies have had to rely on other more cumbersome mechanisms for legally transferring data to the United States.

The Privacy Shield will underpin over $250 billion (roughly Rs. 16,79,226 crores) of transatlantic trade in digital services annually.

Google and Microsoft said they would sign up to the Privacy Shield and would work with European data protection authorities in case of inquiries.

A person familiar with social network Facebook’s thinking said the company had not yet decided whether to sign up.

“It’s too early to say as we haven’t seen the full text yet but like other companies we will be evaluating the text in the coming weeks,” the person said.

The Privacy Shield seeks to strengthen the protection of Europeans whose data is moved to US servers by giving EU citizens greater means to seek redress in case of disputes, including through a new privacy ombudsman within the State Department who will deal with complaints from EU citizens about US spying.

However the framework also faces criticism from privacy advocates for not going far enough in protecting Europeans’ data and is widely expected to be challenged in court.

Max Schrems, the Austrian law student who successfully challenged Safe Harbour, said the Privacy Shield was “little more than a little upgrade to Safe Harbour”. However he added that he did not have plans to challenge it himself for the time being.

“We are confident the framework will withstand further scrutiny,” Penny Pritzker, US Secretary of Commerce, told a news conference.

EU data protection authorities, who had demanded improvements to the Privacy Shield in April, said they were analysing the framework and would finalise a position by July 25.

Google Acquires Kifi to Enhance Its Spaces Group Chat App

Google Acquires Kifi to Enhance Its Spaces Group Chat App

  • Kifi is a link management startup
  • Google launched its Spaces group chat app in May
  • The Kifi service will exist for a few more weeks

Google, in an attempt to bolster its Spaces group chat app, has acquired Kifi, a Web management tool. In a Medium post, Kifi made the announcement and confirmed that it will join Google’s Spaces team. “The Kifi team is excited to announce that we’ll be joining Google,” wrote the company in the post.

For those unaware, Kifi was launched a little over two years ago and came with a mission to “connect people with knowledge.” The service allowed teams to organise, share, discuss, and find valued content. The service also integrated the features into various browsers.

“We see a lot of alignment to Google’s mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Our team will be joining the Spaces team at Google to build solutions focused on improving group sharing, conversation, and content finding. Frankly, we’re thrilled they have a bit of “space” for us,” said the Kifi team.

For current Kifi users, the team says service will be fully functional for few more weeks. “The Kifi service will remain fully functional for existing users for a few more weeks. We are no longer accepting new registrations,” added the Kifi team.

The company however pointed out that the Kifi service and data will not become part of Google. After few weeks, Kifi users will be able to “easily export data.”

Launched back in May, Google’s Space was available to users on Android, iOS, desktop, and mobile web. Believed to be Google’s latest take on social app, the Spaces app allowed users share content in groups on any topic. The biggest highlight of Google’s Spaces app is it comes with built-in Google Search, YouTube, and Chrome.

Twitter Partners Bloomberg to Live Stream Financial News

Twitter Partners Bloomberg to Live Stream Financial News

  • Twitter had partnered CBS for US President conventions earlier this week
  • Twitter will stream NFL games later this year
  • Twitter is on a spree to become a live-streaming site

The micro-blogging website Twitter and Bloomberg Media have signed a deal to live stream several media company’s TV news shows on Twitter platform.

The partnership includes streaming rights shows like Bloomberg West, What’d You Miss? and With All Due Respect, along with the network’s daily stock market coverage.

Although the amount of the deal was not disclosed, the two companies will share the ad revenue, technology website TechCrunch reported on Wednesday.

“Partnering with Bloomberg will give people on Twitter the best way to see live financial markets performance combined with the live commentary on the underlying drivers and implications,” said Anthony Noto, Twitter’s Chief Financial Officer, said in a statement.

“Twitter is one of the fastest ways to find out what’s happening in global business and financial markets, and to engage in the live commentary about it,” Noto added.

Twitter is on a spree to sign agreements across the spectrum to revive its fortunes.

Twitter signed a deal this week with the US television network CBS to stream both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions scheduled later this month.

It now has permission to broadcast the CBSN feed – the company’s 24-hour digital news streaming service – and anyone online can watch for free even if they do not have a Twitter account, Re/Code reported.

It is known that Twitter will make money from advertising when it will stream 10 NFL games later this year and CBS is a partner for those games too.

Last week, Twitter streamed live Wimbledon coverage.

Twitter is also in talks with the NBA, Major League Soccer (MLS) and Turner for more streaming rights.

Airbnb’s Biggest Challenge Is Discrimination, CEO Says

Airbnb's Biggest Challenge Is Discrimination, CEO Says

The biggest challenge facing Airbnb is not the regulatory crackdown from cities such as New York, but blatant discrimination occurring on the company’s platform, Chief Executive Brian Chesky said on Tuesday.

Airbnb was late to acknowledge and address discrimination on the home- and apartment-renting website, Chesky said during the Fortune technology conference in Aspen, Colorado. He admitted it was not a problem that he and his fellow co-founders – all white men – gave much thought to when designing the platform.

“There are racists in the world and we have to have zero tolerance,” Chesky said.

The company has been hit in recent months with complaints of racial bias, and the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack has gone viral on Twitter. Airbnb banned a host in North Carolina for using racial slurs, an incident Chesky that took to Twitter to call “disturbing and unacceptable.”

On Airbnb, hosts can choose to whom they want to rent their house or apartment.

Chesky also said that employing a more diverse workforce at Airbnb is essential to rooting out discrimination on the platform.

A Harvard Business School study last year found persistent discrimination by Airbnb hosts who were less likely to accept bookings from guests whose names sounded distinctly African-American.

Airbnb is in the process of a 90-day study on how it can address the racism and discrimination, Airbnb’s legal officer, Belinda Johnson, said. The effort is led by Laura Murphy, former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington, D.C., legislative office. The findings may include suggestions for design changes to the website.

Trai Recommends Flat Spectrum Usage Charge

Trai Recommends Flat Spectrum Usage Charge

Telecom regulator Trai on Tuesday reiterated its suggestion of charging mobile operators a flat spectrum usage charge as it found loopholes in existing method used by government to collect levy for use of airwaves.

“While taking a view on this matter, all possible steps should be considered by the DoT (Department of Telecom) to move to a simple, transparent and flat ad valorem SUC (spectrum usage charge) regime in accordance with law,”Trai said in its reply to reference sought by the DoT.

It has said that present ‘weighted average’ based formula may have a significant impact on the revenue payable to the government.

“The over-all SUC rate arrived at by the weighted average formula is also impacted by SUC rate fixed for each band…This may have a significant impact on the overall spectrum usage charge that is payable to the government,” Trai said.

The Cabinet last month approved rules for mega-spectrum auction in which airwaves worth Rs 5.66 lakh crore will be put for sale except spectrum usage charges (SUC) recommended by the inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission. The Cabinet asked telecom ministry to seek Trai’s view on SUC before it approves the rule.

As per Trai, government considers only quantum of spectrum held by a telecom operator to calculate spectrum usage charge but this may not give correct value as intended under the concept of collecting this charge.

“While quantum of spectrum will certainly be a factor in any weighted average formula, this may not be the sole factor to estimate the revenue from a given band. It is widely accepted that currently some spectrum bands generate greater revenue than others even if the holding is smaller than in other bands,” Trai said.

It has suggested to DoT to take into account benefit that a spectrum band delivers and bid price of the airwaves can be used as one of the factor to determine an ‘approximate’ value for calculating SUC.

A DoT committee has said that it is not possible to segregate revenue that a telecom operators earns from a particular band as various bands can be clubbed to deliver 3G or 4G mobile services.

The DoT fixes percentage of amount that it will charge from revenue telecom operators earn by providing services. The percentage was earlier fixed based on slab rate ranging between 3-8 percent of telecom services revenue while exact percentage was levied based on spectrum holding of the firm.

The government, in January 2014, decided to cap SUC at a flat 5 percent for spectrum that was to be procured in the future auctions. The government imposed weighted average formula on companies holding spectrum allocated in past and buying spectrum in future.

“Accordingly, if DoT chooses to adopt weighted average rate of SUC, then it would be appropriate for it to carefully explore alternate proxies which may be used for computing the weighted average like technical efficiency factor and the market-determined price for such spectrum band,” Trai said.

Trai has said that the method suggested by it is only a temporary solution and all possible steps should be considered by the DoT to move to towards a simple and flat rate regime.

The Trai had recommended SUC at a uniform rate of 3 percent across the industry and gradually bringing it down to 1 percent of revenues from telecom services.

Trai said that the DoT has neither sought the opinion or recommendation of Trai on weighted average based SUC formula

in the past nor has there been any consultation on it.

The SUC has been a highly contentious issues of late with the industry. Reliance Jio has opposed levying of uniform SUC rates, as suggested by Trai, as it pays only 1 percent on its spectrum in 2300MHz band (broadband wireless access).

Moving towards lower or flat spectrum regime, the telecom ministry proposed 3 percent SUC rates from upcoming auction and weighted average for companies holding old spectrum.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the Telecom Commission took the opinion of Attorney General on SUC after recommendation of Trai was received and hence there was need to consult the regulator again before a final call was taken.

“While the optimal solution in the view of the Authority is to move to a flat rate regime, we are constrained to limit ourselves to examine the weighted average solution as suggested by Ld. AG (Attorney General) and proposed by DoT,” Trai said

Jaguar Land Rover to Test Over 100 Autonomous Cars in Britain by 2020

Jaguar Land Rover to Test Over 100 Autonomous Cars in Britain by 2020

Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover said it will create a fleet of more than 100 research vehicles over the next four years to test autonomous and connected technology, with the first models to hit the streets later this year.

Jaguar Land Rover, maker of Range Rover 4x4s and sportier luxury saloons, will drive the initial models on a new 41-mile (66 km) test route on motorways and urban roads near its headquarters and plants in central England.

The market for autonomous driving is worth GBP 900 billion ($1.29 trillion or roughly Rs. 86,63,473 crores) worldwide, according to the government, but needs to overcome legal obstacles including determining who would be responsible in the event of an accident.

Britain announced plans in March to test cars on motorways and launched a consultation on Monday to change insurance and motoring rules as it pursues plans to allow the public to use driverless cars on the streets by 2020.

Jaguar Land Rover’s Head of Research Tony Harper said the firm’s technology, which includes a three-dimensional advanced view of the street ahead to recognise barriers and radio signal communication between cars, could reduce hazards.

“Our connected and automated technology could help improve traffic flow, cut congestion and reduce the potential for accidents,” Harper said.

Carmakers are ploughing billions of pounds into autonomous technology with Ford already part of a government-sanctioned autonomous testing project in England and Volvo planning to test driverless cars in London next year.

Japan’s Nissan aims to build its first mass-market autonomous car at its north of England facility in Sunderland, Britain’s biggest single car plant.

However, traditional automakers face competition from rivals such as Tesla and technology firms such as Alphabet Inc unit Google, which wants eventually to be able to deploy fully autonomous vehicles without human controls.

In Britain, driverless car testing will need a person to be present and able to take control should the need arise, the Department for Transport has said.

iPhone 7 Plus Leaked Images Tip Dual Cameras Addition, Mute Switch Removal

iPhone 7 Plus Leaked Images Tip Dual Cameras Addition, Mute Switch Removal
  • The images reveal a new Apple logo design
  • The leak also reveals the dual camera setup at the back
  • The mute switch seems to be absent

After a clear look at an iPhone 7 earlier this week, we now get to see how the larger variant is designed. The latest leaked images give us a glimpse of the iPhone 7 Plus from all angles, confirming some key rumours about the smartphone.

The image first appeared on Weibo (via GSMArena), and shows the iPhone 7 Plus from the side, front, and back. The back of the smartphone confirms the much rumoured dual camera setup. It even reveals the Smart Connector at the back (a feature that many think may not be introduced this year), and the logo also seems to be a bit different. Instead of a black Apple logo, a new carved logo sits at the back. The front looks the same, with no evident design changes.

The antenna bands have been shifted to the edges, and interestingly the mute switch seems to be absent from the sides. Traditionally, Apple includes the mute switch above the volume buttons, but that seems to be missing in these images. Of course, there is no authenticity of these images so we recommend you take the news with a pinch of salt.

If Apple is to follow tradition, then the new iPhone 7 will be released in September. The smartphone will be released in three variants – iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone 7 Pro. The iPhone 7 will sport new A10 processors, and the large variant will see a 3GB RAM bump to accommodate new camera hardware. If Apple decides to skip the 3.5mm audio jack, then the smartphone is expected to sport waterproof capabilities.

Google Given Extra Time to Answer EU Antitrust Charges on Android

Google Given Extra Time to Answer EU Antitrust Charges on Android

Alphabet Inc’s Google has been given an extra 6 weeks to early September to respond to EU charges that it uses its dominant Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals, EU antitrust regulators said on Tuesday.

The US technology giant found itself under fire in April as the European Commission said its requirement that mobile phone manufacturers pre-install Google Search and the Google Chrome browser in order to get access to other Google apps may harm consumers and competition.

The EU watchdog had originally given Google until July 27 to reply to the charges.

“The Commission has agreed to extend Google’s deadline to respond to its Statement of Objections concerning Android and its applications until 7 September. Google asked for additional time to review the documents in the case file,” Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an email.

Google, which can face fines up to $7.4 billion (roughly Rs. 49,684 crores) or 10 percent of its global turnover for each antitrust case, did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

Google is also fighting an EU accusation that it favours its shopping service in Internet search results over rivals.

Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 2 With Wrist Gestures Now Available

Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 2 With Wrist Gestures Now Available

  • Second developer preview brings wrist gestures for developers
  • Developers can test the preview on Watch Urbane Edition LTE, Huawei Watch
  • Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview was released at I/O

Google has started rolling out the second developer preview of Android Wear 2.0, bringing new functionalities and bug fixes. At I/O 2016, Google revealed the Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview, giving developers early access to the next major release of Android Wear. The preview introduced the option of standalone apps, input methods, a new notification design, and an API for “complications”.

The latest developer preview brings features such as wrist gestures for developers – thus extending the functionality to third-party apps. Google says that the new Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview comes with an updated SDK with tools and system images and developers can test it on the LG Watch Urbane Edition LTE and the Huawei Watch.

Notably, wrist gestures have been available to users since last year and they allow scrolling through the notification stream via wrist gestures. Google has no opened this system to developers to use within their apps. The company believes that the feature will help apps improve single hand usage. Google clearly notes that the second developer preview is a work in progress, and is not yet intended for daily use.

“Since I/O, feedback from the developer community has helped us identify bugs and shape our product direction. Today [Tuesday], we are releasing the second developer preview with new functionalities and bug fixes. Prior to the consumer release, we plan to release additional updates, so please send us your feedback early and often.”

The second developer preview also bumps the Android Platform API version number to 24 to match Nougat. The new preview is also adding additional support for wearable drawer peeking, which makes it easier for users to access the drawers as they scroll. Some of the other UI improvements include automatic peek view and navigation drawer closure.

COAI Backs Trai Proposal on Flat Spectrum Usage Charge

COAI Backs Trai Proposal on Flat Spectrum Usage Charge

Government should move to a flat levy for spectrum usage charge as suggested by Trai or clearly specify a timeline in case it decides to adopt an interim weighted average formula, industry body COAI said on Wednesday.

Welcoming Trai sticking to its stated position for a flat spectrum usage charge (SUC), COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews told PTI, “We believe this should move to the flat 1 percent previously recommended by Trai.”

Talking about the “constraints” of the regulator due to the terms of reference, Mathews said, “The Cabinet and the Telecom Commission are not so constrained and should move to what Trai sees as the appropriate SUC regime, which is a flat SUC rate, and not a weighted average approach.”

He further said that if the Cabinet decides to adopt an interim weighted average method, it should clearly specify in the NIA (Notice Inviting Applications) when it intends to move to a flat spectrum usage rate, as recommended by the telecom watchdog.

Trai on Tuesday stuck to its suggestion of charging mobile operators a flat spectrum charge as it picked holes in the existing method used by the government to collect levy for use of airwaves.

It also suggested using alternative elements to determine the weighted average formula, saying DoTshould take into account benefit that a spectrum band delivers and bid price of airwaves as factors to determine an “approximate” value for calculating SUC.

“Each spectrum band has its characteristics in terms of range, penetration, capacity, ecosystem, and the like. Accordingly, if DoT chooses to adopt weighted average rate of SUC, then it would be appropriate for it to carefully explore alternate proxies… like technical efficiency factor and the market-determined price for such spectrum band,” Trai said.

The Cabinet last month approved rules for mega-spectrum auction in which airwaves worth Rs. 5,66,000 crores will be put up for sale except SUC as recommended by inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission. The Cabinet asked the telecom ministry to seek Trai’s view on SUC before it approves the rule.