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Explained: Why WhatsApp has threatened to exit India

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New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Sparking a debate in India, Meta-owned popular messaging platform WhatsApp has said it will exit the domestic market if asked to break message encryption.

The government had said earlier that if there is no way to find the originator of messages without breaking encryption, then the company should come up with some other mechanism.

In 2019, the Centre asked the messaging platform to implement an identifier. It will allow the government and WhatsApp to pinpoint who sent which message, without having to read its contents.

Now, during a hearing of WhatsApp and Meta’s petition challenging a rule of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 in the Delhi High Court, the company has threatened to quit the Indian market, if asked to do so.

The bench will now hear the cases on August 14.

What is the case?

Rule 4(2) in IT Rules, 2021 states that social media companies engaged in providing messaging services should reveal who sent a message if there is an order to do so by a court or a competent authority.

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“A significant social media intermediary providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource as may be required by a judicial order passed by a court of competent jurisdiction or an order passed under section 69 by the Competent Authority as per the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for interception, monitoring and decryption of information) Rules, 2009,” the rule states.

The rule, though comes with a caveat that the information will only be sought for offences related to national security, public order, or those related to rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material, which provide for a minimum jail term of five years.

It also stated that an order of this nature will not be passed if less intrusive means can identify the originator of the information.

What did WhatsApp say?

In its petition, WhatsApp has sought that the rule be declared “unconstitutional and that no criminal liability should accrue to it for non-compliance”.

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The traceability requirement, the petition said, would force the company to break end-to-end encryption and violate the fundamental rights to privacy and free speech of the hundreds of millions of users who use WhatsApp’s platform to communicate.

Advocate Tejas Karia, appearing for WhatsApp, told the Delhi High Court that people use the messaging platform because it guarantees privacy with its end-to-end encryption.

“As a platform, we are saying, if we are told to break encryption, then WhatsApp goes,” he told the bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, according to a Bar and Bench report.

“We will have to keep a complete chain and we don’t know which messages will be asked to be decrypted. It means millions and millions of messages will have to be stored for a number of years,” he was quoted as saying in the report.

The bench then asked if the rule was in place anywhere else in the world.

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“No, not even in Brazil,” the advocate replied.

The bench then responded that privacy rights are not absolute and “somewhere balance has to be done” after the Central government counsel said the rule was needed to trace the originator of messages on such platforms in cases like those related to communal violence.

The Centre also told the court that WhatsApp and Facebook monetise users’ information and are not legally entitled to claim that it protects privacy. Efforts to make Facebook more accountable are underway in various countries, it pointed out.

–IANS

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DGFT rolls out Faceless Automation system to fix Input-Output Norms for exporters

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New Delhi June 20 (IANS) In line with ongoing efforts to modernise and streamline foreign trade procedures the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has decided that ad-hoc Input Output Norms will be determined through a rule-based, system-driven process, aimed at improving the ease of doing business for exporters, the Commerce Ministry said on Thursday.

The DGFT administers the Advance Authorisation Scheme of the Foreign Trade Policy, facilitating duty-free import of inputs for export production, which includes replenishment of inputs or duty remission. The eligibility of inputs is determined by sector-specific Norms Committees based on input-output norms.

The switch to faceless automation aligns with a broader policy shift towards a facilitating regime that embraces technological interfaces and collaborative principles, according to the Ministry’s statement

The DGFT is actively pursuing similar automation initiatives for other Foreign Trade Policy processes and procedures, emphasizing its commitment to modernisation and efficiency enhancement in trade facilitation.

Since the announcement of the new Foreign Trade Policy in April 2023, the DGFT has been actively revamping its systems to expand automated, rule-based processes under the FTP framework. These improvements encompass post-issuance audit capabilities and risk mitigation functions. Notably, several processes, including the issuance and amendment of Importer-Exporter Code (IEC), issuance of Status Holder Certificates, renewal of RCMC, and the issuance, revalidation, extension, and invalidation of Advance Authorizations, as well as certification for installation under the EPCG Scheme, are already being conducted through a Rule-Based Automatic process.

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–IANS

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Healthy BMI, no smoking effective ways to reduce risk of kidney cancer: Experts

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) and refraining from smoking are two of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of kidney cancer, experts said on World Kidney Cancer Day on Thursday.

World Kidney Cancer Day is observed every year on the second Thursday of June to raise awareness about this disease.

According to experts, several key risk factors have been identified in kidney cancer, such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney cancer, and exposure to toxins found in some industrial settings.

“Being aware of these risk factors can empower individuals to make informed choices about their health and potentially reduce their risk of developing kidney cancer,” Dr. C.N. Patil, HOD and Lead Consultant – Medical Oncology & Haemato-Oncology, Aster International Institute of Oncology, told IANS.

As per data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), kidney cancer is one of the top 10 cancers in India and accounts for about 2 to 3 per cent of all cancer cases.

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“Kidney cancer constitutes about 2 to 3 per cent of all cancers in our country, with around 15,000 new cases diagnosed annually. The incidence is notably higher in men than in women, with a male-to-female ratio of approximately 2:1,” said Dr. Raghunath S.K., Senior Consultant and Director of Uro-oncology and Robotic Surgery, HCG Cancer Centre, Bengaluru.

Early-stage kidney cancer often presents no symptoms. However, experts suggested to be vigilant for warning signs like blood in urine, persistent back or flank pain, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue.

The experts highlighted that lifestyle changes play a crucial role in kidney cancer prevention.

“Regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and staying hydrated are essential practices for overall kidney health,” said Dr. P.N. Gupta, Director and HOD – Nephrology and Kidney Transplant, Paras Health, Gurugram.

“Adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, coupled with regular physical activity, can significantly lower cancer risk. Additionally, avoiding tobacco in all forms is imperative, as smoking is a major risk factor for many types of cancer, including kidney cancer,” he added.

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Experts also mentioned that the outlook for kidney cancer patients has improved considerably due to advancements in treatment.

The most common approach is surgery, which may involve removing the entire kidney or just the cancerous portion. Targeted therapies and immunotherapy have improved survival rates and quality of life for patients, they noted.

–IANS

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Indian scientists decode new class of materials for energy harvesting, power generation

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) Bengaluru, an autonomous institution under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), on Thursday provided groundbreaking insights into a new class of materials for energy harvesting and power generation.

Their work unraveled the electronic mechanisms governing chemical bonding of new class of materials called incipient metals with metavalent bonding (MVB) within a single 2D layer of Group IV “chalcogenides” that can boost energy harvesting and power generation.

Chalcogenides can transition reversibly between amorphous and crystalline phases in response to changes in temperature, pressure or electrical fields.

The study by Professor Umesh Waghmare from Theoretical Sciences Unit at JNCASR, explored the possibility of introducing the metavalent bonding (MVB) within a single 2D layer of Group IV chalcogenides, investigating its mechanisms and the resulting consequences on material properties.

“These materials, termed incipient metals, possess a combination of properties that defy conventional understanding. They exhibit electrical conductivity akin to metals, high thermoelectric efficiency characteristic of semiconductors, and unusually low thermal conductivity, creating a triad of properties that cannot be explained by traditional chemical bonding concepts,” explained Professor Waghmare.

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The study, published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition and supported by JC Bose National Fellowship of the Science and Engineering Research Board-DST and JNCASR research fellowship, provides a first-principle theoretical analysis focusing on the bonding nature within five different 2D lattices of Group IV chalcogenides.

This category includes compounds which exhibit remarkable properties, transitioning reversibly from a glassy amorphous structure to a crystalline form in less than 100 nanoseconds when subjected to heating or cooling.

Driven by an idea presented by Professor CNR Rao, the study aimed to unravel the electronic mechanisms governing the chemical bonding in these materials.

The findings, which took nearly two years of theoretical and computational work, have shed light on the unique properties of these materials, challenging conventional chemical bonding ideas.

–IANS

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TRAI releases recommendations for formulation of National Broadcasting Policy 2024

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday released recommendations on inputs for the formulation of ‘National Broadcasting Policy-2024’ to establish a robust broadcasting ecosystem.

In a bid to make India a global leader in the broadcasting sector, the policy aims to target a broad roadmap for 10 years with a special focus on the next 5 years.

“The National Broadcasting Policy-2024 envisages to establish a robust broadcasting ecosystem by enabling growth-oriented policies and regulations through data-driven governance,” the TRAI said in a statement.

It would support the creation of a resilient, adaptive and tech-agile infrastructure fostering R&D, technology innovation and indigenous manufacturing.

The new broadcasting policy will also facilitate a level playing field and healthy competition, promote ease of doing business and stimulate economic growth by enabling the reach of broadcasting services to all.

The aim is to position India as an ‘Uplinking Hub’ for television channels, attracting investments, generating employment opportunities and promoting skill development. The policy would also support quality content production and distribution for television, radio and OTT broadcasting services while encouraging the proliferation of Indian content, both locally and globally.

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In July 2023, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) had requested the TRAI to provide its considered inputs under Section 11 of the TRAI Act, 1997 for the formulation of the National Broadcasting Policy.

As a first step, the TRAI issued a pre-consultation Paper on September 21, 2023, to elicit the issues which were required to be considered for the formulation of the National Broadcasting Policy. Based on the comments received, the TRAI released the consultation paper on ‘Inputs for formulation of National Broadcasting Policy-2024’ on April 2. The TRAI received comments from 42 stakeholders including service providers, organisations, industry associations, consumer advocacy groups and a few individuals.

“The broadcasting sector is a sunrise sector having huge potential to contribute towards the growth of the Indian economy,” the TRAI said.

–IANS

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Upcoming Union Budget a blueprint of path towards Viksit Bharat by 2047: PHDCCI

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Terming the upcoming Union Budget 2024-2025 a blueprint of the path towards becoming Viksit Bharat by 2047, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) said on Thursday that calibrated steps to enhance domestic sources of growth would be crucial to maintain a higher economic trajectory of the country.

In a pre-budget memorandum presented to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman by Sanjeev Agrawal, President, PHDCCI, and other chamber members, as she met industry leaders to chalk out the budget strategy, the top industry body said the Union Budget is being presented at a crucial juncture of global headwinds.

“The global economy is gradually rebounding from the effects of Covid-19 and the ongoing geopolitical issues, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting 3.2 per cent growth for 2023-2025. India’s economy remains resilient, with growth rates of 9.1 per cent in 2021-22, 7.2 per cent in 2022-23, and 7.6 per cent in 2023-24, and is expected to surpass 8 per cent in 2024-25,” according to the document.

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The PHDCCI document suggested that as the country prioritises a “green economy” under the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union Budget should encourage “reputable organisations” to promote green project financing by offering lower interest rates and boosting investments in the green sector.

It should also “facilitate the transition of wind original equipment manufacturers in India to higher mega-wattage turbines by improving road infrastructure for transportation of large-sized blades”, according to the industry body.

The budget can further stimulate manufacturing sector growth to boost GDP contribution beyond 25 per cent, fueled by the increasing export trend in high-technology products. Over the years, India’s manufacturing sector has maintained significant momentum. In FY 2023-24, the manufacturing sector achieved a growth rate of 9.9 per cent. Further reforms will enhance the manufacturing share in GDP by at least 1 percentage point every year, said the industry body.

According to PHDCCI, India is emerging as one of the most attractive destinations for investments.

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“Government initiatives are enhancing the ease of doing business. Reduced costs of doing business, including costs of capital, costs of power, costs of logistics, costs of land, and costs of compliances, will boost competitiveness and decrease imports in sectors where India is capable,” it noted.

The industry body also suggested expanding the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme beyond the 14 sectors to include medicinal plants, handicrafts, leather and footwear, gems and jewellery and the space sector, among others. India is emerging as the startup hub of the world and has over 100 unicorns. “Hand-holding is required for enhanced access to the government e-marketplace (GeM), technology and artificial intelligence (AI)-based development, and strengthening the incubation framework,” read the document.

The logistics sector is the backbone of the functioning of all the other sectors of India’s economy. “To improve logistics development in the nation, the application of advanced technology is recommended, including rail-road connectivity, the Internet of Things (IoT), and AI, among others,” said the PHDCCI.

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To boost private investments, focus on taxation and cost rationalisation is essential. “In the direct tax segment, the government should include requests for reduction in rates of taxation for individuals and Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) concerns, promotion of electric vehicles by allowing higher depreciation and extending benefits and increasing limits for prosecution in TDS matters to Rs 50 lakh to ensure prosecution only in large and sensitive matters along with a reduction in the rate of compounding in prosecution matters, among others,” it noted.

–IANS

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