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.

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.

Cisco Readies Plan to Set Up Manufacturing Plant in India

Cisco Readies Plan to Set Up Manufacturing Plant in India

Technology major Cisco is working on a plan to establish a manufacturing facility in India and is in talks with the government for the same, a top official of the company has said.

Terming India as one of its “best bases”, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said the company is “very actively involved in India across the board” and working on a broader base from digitisation to smart cities in the country.

He was interacting with reporters at the Cisco Live 2016 annual conference in Las Vegas.

On expansion plans in India, Robbins said, “… Prime Minister Narendra Modi is very committed to manufacturing. We worked through a business case and… presented to him that… That was fantastic and we have been moving forward.”

He disclosed that India is moving forward on various healthcare and security initiatives, with a lot happening on the digital cities front.

Cisco is engaged in over 15 smart cities projects in the country. The company is also working with Andhra Pradesh government for rolling out Bharat Net.

The company views India as one of the best bases and is focusing a lot on education as well, Robbins added.

The country is home to Cisco’s second-largest site, which has about 11,000 employees. It is offering education to 24,000 students spread across 47 schools.

Google Says Its Anti-Piracy Efforts Have Paid Out $2 Billion to Copyright Holders

Google Says Its Anti-Piracy Efforts Have Paid Out $2 Billion to Copyright Holders

Google said Wednesday its efforts to fight online piracy have yielded $2 billion (roughly Rs. 13,409 crores) paid out to copyright holders whose content is shown on its YouTube platform.

The US online giant, updating its anti-piracy efforts, said its system has been generating income for copyright holders when content is posted to YouTube.

At the same time, Google is also offering “more convenient, legitimate alternatives” that allow consumers to buy music, films and other content, according to a statement.

“We take protecting creativity online seriously, and we’re doing more to help battle copyright-infringing activity than ever before,” said a blog post from senior policy counsel Katie Oyama.

Google and YouTube have been using a system called ContentID, where a copyright holder can notify the company if its music or other content is being shown on YouTube.

The copyright owners have an option to remove the content or leave it up and reap advertising revenue from it, and 95 percent of music owners choose the latter option, according to Google.

“Half of the music industry’s YouTube revenue comes from fan content claimed via Content ID,” Oyama said.

Another part of the effort to combat online piracy, Oyama said, is filtering search results.

“Thanks to the efforts of Google’s engineers, the vast majority of media-related queries that users submit every day return results that include only links to legitimate sites,” she said.

Google is also cutting out sites specializing in piracy from its advertising network.

“Rogue sites that specialize in online piracy are commercial ventures, which means that one effective way to combat them is to cut off their money supply,” Oyama said.

“As a global leader in online advertising, Google is committed to rooting out and ejecting rogue sites from our advertising services. Since 2012, Google has blacklisted more than 91,000 sites.”

She added that Google has paid out some $10 billion (roughly Rs. 67,051 crores) to creators for content purchased on Google Play and YouTube.

Megaupload Coming Back? Founder Kim Dotcom Plans a Relaunch in 2017

Megaupload Coming Back? Founder Kim Dotcom Plans a Relaunch in 2017
  • Kim Dotcom hinted on Twitter that Megaupload 2.0 is in works
  • Megaupload, the controversial online storage, was shut down in 2012
  • Kim Dotcom was in the news due to Megaupload’s illegal course then

Flamboyant German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is planning to relaunch file-sharing website Megaupload in January 2017, five years after the US government took down the site accusing it of piracy.

Megaupload, founded in 2005, had boasted of having more than 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors. At one point, it was estimated to be the 13th most frequently visited website on the internet.

Dotcom, who announced his plans in a series of tweets on Friday, said most of the Megaupload users would get their accounts reinstated with premium privileges.

He also hinted and that the new website will use Bitcoins.

Dotcom did not immediately respond to a mail seeking comment.

Dotcom and three others were arrested on January 20, 2012, after armed New Zealand police raided his country estate at the request of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

US authorities had said Dotcom and three other Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows.

Dotcom, who has New Zealand residency, has denied charges of internet piracy and money laundering and has been fighting extradition to the United States.

He has contended that the website was merely a storage facility for online files and should not be held accountable if stored content was obtained illegally.

A New Zealand court in 2013 granted Dotcom access to all evidence seized by police in the raid of his house.

While Kim Dotcom’s net worth was not known, he became well known for his lavish lifestyle as much as his computer skills.

He used to post photographs of himself with cars having vanity plates such as “GOD” and “GUILTY”, shooting an assault rifle and flying around the world in his private jet.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated in 2012 that Dotcom personally made around $115,000 (roughly Rs. 77 lakhs) a day during 2010.

The assets seized earlier included nearly 20 luxury cars, one of them a pink Cadillac, works of art, and NZD10 million invested in local finance companies.

“I’ll be the first tech billionaire who got indicted, lost everything and created another billion $ tech company while on bail,” he tweeted on Sunday.

Fiat Chrysler Offers Rewards to Hackers Who Help It Find Security Flaws

Fiat Chrysler Offers Rewards to Hackers Who Help It Find Security Flaws
  • A Fiat Chrysler Jeep was hacked last year by some security experts
  • It alarmed other car makers to update security options in their cars
  • Car makers are giving out bounties to ethical hackers for nitpicking security flaws

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will offer rewards of as much as $1,500 to ethical hackers who tell the auto maker about data security weaknesses in its vehicles, the company said.

FCA’s move comes a year after independent cyber-security researchers used a wireless connection to turn off a Jeep Cherokee’s engine. The hack, reported in Wired Magazine, alarmed auto makers and regulators, and it led FCA to recall 1.4 million vehicles to prevent the use of a wireless connection to gain control of the vehicle.

FCA officials said Bugcrowd Inc of San Francisco, which manages similar programs for a range of companies including Tesla Motors Inc will manage its “bug bounty” program.

Casey Ellis, Bugcrowd’s chief executive, said in a media briefing that his company has 32,000 researchers that work through its service. Bugcrowd rates researchers based on the quality of their work, he said.

Auto makers have stepped up efforts to address concerns that vehicles equipped with high-speed Internet connections could be vulnerable to cyber intruders and criminals who could seek to harvest personal data through vehicle systems, or perpetrate other mischief such as disabling a car and demanding a ransom to bring it back to life.

In July 2015, several major auto makers formed an Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center, or Auto-ISAC, to serve as a clearing house for information about cyber threats. The group said in a statement this week its members now account for 99 percent of light duty vehicles on the road in North America.

Titus Melnyk, FCA senior manager for security architecture, said FCA could share information generated by the Bugcrowd program with other automakers through the Auto-ISAC. “We’ll err on the side of what’s right for the industry,” he said in a briefing for reporters.

General Motors Co has a program managed by San Francisco cyber-security company Hackerone that offers recognition, but not cash, to researchers who identify and share cyber-security gaps with the company. The company has also begun hiring outside cyber-security experts and has a group of employees that test the company’s systems, Jeffrey Massimilla, GM’s chief product cyber-security officer, told Reuters.

Massimilla said GM may offer cash bounties to ethical hackers, but said, “If you put up a small bounty you aren’t going to get good research.”

Google Search Update Makes Finding Flight, Hotel Deals Easier

 Google Search Update Makes Finding Flight, Hotel Deals Easier
  • Google’s hotel search now includes specific filters
  • Google will start highlighting deals where you get discounted rates
  • The company is also working on easing shopping searches

Google, on Tuesday at a press event in New York, announced new updates to its search engine that will ease your travel preparations and will help you find cheap flights and book hotels according to your needs. The motive behind these updates seems primarily to get travellers economically favourable deals.

For example, while searching for hotels, you can search by typing “hotels with sea-view rooms in Goa”. After the list of hotels with the searched criteria turns up, you can further zero in by using filters such as “under $300”, which would filter and only show you the hotel rooms with sea-view that are available for under $300.

You can various criteria such as smoke-free, pet-friendly, kid-friendly, and with laundry service, to find hotels that suit you best. You can choose whether you wish to stay at a luxury or budget hotel as well by selecting the corresponding filter.

Google will now also start highlighting deals where a hotel is available at a rate lower than its normal rate. “These deals are automatically identified by our algorithms when we see a significant reduction in price. In our early tests, we’ve seen that hotels marked as deals receive about twice as many bookings as other hotels,” the company said in an AdWords blog post.

The search engine giant now also allows users to track fare changes for particular flights and get a notification if the rates increase or decrease through email and Google Now cards. It said that the feature is rolling out over the course of the next few weeks in all 26 countries where Google Flights is available currently.

The company also announced some updates to its advertisement section. The company will start showcasing shopping ads on YouTube via a companion banner. The company is also working on a currency conversion tool in results that would let you know the price when you purchase goods from another country

IT Spending to Remain Flat in 2016 Globally

IT Spending to Remain Flat in 2016 Globally: Gartner

Spending on information technology globally is forecast to be flat this year – totaling $3.41 trillion (roughly Rs. 2,29,55,347 crores) – slightly up from last quarter’s forecast of negative 0.5 percent growth, market research firm Gartner said on Thursday.

The current Gartner Worldwide IT Spending Forecast assumed that the UK would not exit the European Union.

“With the UK’s exit, there will likely be an erosion in business confidence and price increases which will impact the UK, western Europe and worldwide IT spending,” said John-David Lovelock, research Vice President at Gartner, in a statement.

Data centre systems’ spending is projected to reach $174 billion (roughly Rs. 11,71,367 crores)  in 2016 – a 2 percent increase from 2015.

Global enterprise software spending is on pace to total $332 billion (roughly Rs. 22,36,675 crores) – a 5.8 percent increase from 2015.

Devices spending is projected to total $627 billion (roughly Rs. 42,24,083 crores) by the end of 2016. Spending in the IT services market is expected to increase 3.7 percent, totaling $898 billion (roughly Rs. 60,53,592 crores).

“Japan is the fastest-growing region for IT services spending with 8.9 percent growth,” the report said.

Communications services spending is projected to total $1.38 trillion (roughly Rs. 93,02,847 crores) in 2016 – down 1.4 percent from 2015.

“2016 marked the start of an amazing dichotomy. The pace of change in IT will never again be as slow as it is now, but global IT spending growth is best described as lackluster,” Lovelock added.

TP-Link Forgets to Renew Domain, Leaves Routers Open to Hijack

TP-Link Forgets to Renew Domain, Leaves Routers Open to Hijack
  • tplinklogin.net and tplinkextender.net are the two domains
  • New owner is reportedly asking for $2.5 million
  • TP-Link says the two domains have not been used since 2014

If you’ve ever configured a network router, you might have come across a domain on the back of your device or in the manual that helps you quickly set the thing up, instead of having to search for the IP address. With TP-Link, it used to be tplinklogin.net. At least on some of its older devices, until the company forgot to renew its license for the same.

That’s not the only domain name affected by TP-Link’s oversight, though. While tplinklogin.net was used on routers sold until 2014, tplinkextender.net was used by wireless range extenders made by the company. Now, both the domains are not owned by TP-Link anymore, and have been registered by someone else, who’s reportedly asking for $2.5 million (roughly Rs. 16.8 crores) to return control for one of the domains.

The reason this could result in a problem is down to how redirection works. When you’re initially setting up your TP-Link router, it’s still offline and hence typing in tplinklogin.net will send you to the proper local IP address, which in most cases is either 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1. But once you’re connected to the Internet, your browser will use the system DNS server to resolve the IP address for the website, which will now point to the squatter’s website.

Anyone who owns these domains could use them for phishing purposes – be it to get router credentials from people or even use it to upload a modded firmware onto your router. So you would think TP-Link would do its best to buy back the domains, but it has chosen not to in light of the asking price,according to a Twitter user.

Instead, the company is changing the online documentation on its websites and asking users to use tplinkwifi.net for routers and tplinkrepeater.net for extenders. To go with that, TP-Link has also issued a statement to Slashgear: “TP-LINK has not been using the domain tplinklogin.net- and this domain has not been used since 2014. Any products purchased at that time using the old domain will be automatically redirected to the internal set-up page, so there will not be any security issues.”

But it seems the process is still underway. At the time of writing, one TP-Link FAQs page was still using the old domain – tplinklogin.net.

Digital Incubator for Students to Be Launched in Kerala

Digital Incubator for Students to Be Launched in Kerala
  • The Digital Incubator has received around 1,000 applications so far
  • Students who want to apply can go to Startup Village’s website
  • The application fee per founder is Rs. 1,000

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, who is also the chief mentor of Kochi Startup Village, and others will launch the world’s first digital incubator for student startups, in Thiruvananthapuram on July 13, a statement said.

The statement by the Kochi Startup Village said the country needs more than one million new jobs a month for the next 20 years to employ all its youth and these jobs would mostly come from new start-ups if the right environment is created.

It said the Digital Incubator, which was built over the last 12 months, has already received more than 1,000 applications from students from across Kerala as well as towns like Vadodara in Gujarat and Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh in its beta stage.

“It does not matter if you are from a village or a town. All one needs is to have hunger to succeed, and we are looking for you. Visit www.sv.co/apply and be part of building the future of India,” said Startup Village chairman Sanjay Vijayakumar.

Gopalakrishnan said that students, especially from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, are deprived of access to the best faculty and mentors from startup nerve centres like Bengaluru or Silicon Valley and this venture “would address the problem to a large extent”.

Students can now form teams and apply for admission to the digital incubator. Once selected, they will be guided right from selecting an idea to building a prototype and its launch to early customers within six months. Based on whether customers like the product, teams can then graduate to incubators, accelerators, raise Angel Funding, and even get acqui-hired as a team or hired to other startups or go for higher studies.

In a related development, the Startup Village, the country’s first PPP model incubator, launched as a trailblazing initiative four years ago in Kerala to build a startup culture among the state’s youth and become a blueprint for the nation, is all set for a national scale up with the Union Department of Science and Technology approving its Phase 2 in its completely digital avatar.

The Startup Village Phase 2 is in tune with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Startup Indiaprogramme and will focus on creating an entrepreneurial culture amongst the country’s five million engineering students by providing them a completely digital incubation framework.

Phase 1’s original mandate was to incubate 48 startups during the period 2012-15, but it went on to receive an overwhelming 6,000 plus applications. Also, 3,000 new jobs were created by the young start-ups, which raised more than Rs. 45 crores in funding.