Monday December 11, 2017
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Net Neutrality: Decide if you want free Whatsapp, Hike, Hangout or not

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By Shilpika Srivastava

A lot is going on over the issue of net neutrality, and the growing resistance to it by Internet users.

But, have you ever really thought why the world, especially the Indians are raising a ruckus over it?

Maybe you simply allowed the issue to take a back seat in your mind, and started to watch that funny cat video on You Tube. But, do you know you might just not be able to freely and fully ‘enjoy’ the Internet, and watch that funny cat videos too, from the coming April 24?

So people, kindly lend me your eyes and minds just for a few moments, so that I can explain the sensitivity of the issue, how India’s telecom regulators are trying hard to hoodwink you. Yes, your world might just change, in twelve days!

What exactly is Net Neutrality?

According to Wikipedia, Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers and government should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, mobile application or mode of communication.

What’s the fight for?

Sometime back the telecom companies enjoyed a profitable position in the market, fetched huge revenues during a period when the mobile users in India touched a number of 800 million people. This was the time when they largely focused on selling voice minutes, but what they really did was that they used Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) to connect the users with other telcos. In simple terms, they just transferred the calls through Internet.  And, its no rocket science to understand the difference of the cost between VOIP and the traditional voice calls.

Recently, what scared the telecom companies to the core was the easy accessibility to message or call someone provided by the platforms, like Whatsapp, Hangout, Hike and so on, and that too at the cost of Internet prices.

How it all started?

The argument over Net Neutrality picked up the hype when the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lost its case against Comcast in the US Supreme Court in 2010. In India, a telecom giant, Airtel, planned to charge higher tariffs for phone calls (or VOIP) made through Skype or Viber on its network through Internet. This clearly breaches the principle of ‘Net Neutrality.’

No doubt, it attracted an uproar among the users that forced Airtel to withdraw the plan.

If this, happens in India, then you will have to pay for each site you visit. It will be the carrier who will have full control on your activities online. They want that ‘right’ to charge whatever they want.

For an example, Airtel may allow you to use Hike absolutely free as it is their own product, but on the other hand, they might charge you a bomb  when you share your jokes on Whatsapp.

You might not just believe that Reliance has already gone a step further with Internet.org. You can use Bing absolutely free, but have to pay when you ‘Google’ something. You have the right to share your thoughts on Facebook for fee, but not on Twitter.

Tell’em that #IndiaWantsNetNeutrality 

TRAI has framed 20 questions regarding Net Neutrality seeking answers from public and telcos based on which TRAI will take its decision. The questions can be found on pages 113 to 116 of the official consultation paper at TRAI Consultation. File your answers via an email to advqos@trai.gov.in by 24 April, 2015 (read ASAP).

If you find answering tricky, then simply sign this petition here.

This is a call to arms, a time to set your foot down and say, NO. Because, if we don’t act now, we may lose our freedom to ‘enjoy’ Internet in just 12 days.

 

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Afghanistan temporarily blocks Social Media Services Whatsapp and Telegram citing security concerns

The restrictions on social media come as the Taliban intensifies attacks on Afghan security forces, inflicting heavy casualties.

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A WhatsApp logo is seen behind a smartphone, Feb. 20, 2014. Authorities in Afghanistan are temporarily blocking WhatsApp and Telegram social media services in the country. VOA

Islamabad, November 4, 2017 : Authorities in Afghanistan are temporarily blocking WhatsApp and Telegram social media services in the country, citing security concerns, officials confirmed on November 3.

An official at the Afghan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, ATRA, told VOA the social media tools will be suspended for 20 days. The temporary ban on Whatsapp and Telegram follows a request from state security institutions.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a formal announcement is expected Saturday.

Whatsapp and Telegram
The messaging app Telegram is displayed on a smartphone, July 15, 2017. VOA

ATRA has ordered telecom companies to shut down the services November 1, according to a copy of official instructions appearing in Afghan media.

Social media users have complained of technical problems while using the two services in recent days.

The controversial move has sparked criticism of the Afghan government, and it is being slammed as an illegal act and an attack on freedom of expression.

The outage prompted the telecom regulator to issue a statement Friday, saying the ban is meant to test “a new kind of technology” in the wake of users’ complaints.

It went on to defend the restriction, saying WhatsApp and Telegram are merely voice and messaging services and their temporary suspension does not violate the civil rights of Afghans. The government is committed to freedom of expression, the ministry added.

Afghan journalists and activists on Twitter dismissed the statement.

“This seems to be the beginning of government censorship. If it’s not resisted soon the gov’t will block FB & twitter,” wrote Habib Khan Totakhil on Twitter.

“Gov’t fails to deliver security, now it seeks to hide its incompetence by imposing ban on messaging platforms. Totalitarianism?,” said the Afghan journalist.

“#Censorship is against what freedom we stood for in #Afghanistan post 2001. Gains shouldn’t go to waste,” tweeted activist Nasrat Khalid.

An estimated 6 million people in war-torn Afghanistan can access internet-based services. The growth of media and social media activism have been among the few success stories Afghanistan has seen in the post-Taliban era.

Classifying numbers

The restrictions on social media come as the Taliban intensifies attacks on Afghan security forces, inflicting heavy casualties.

The insurgent group also relies heavily on WhatsApp and Telegram, Twitter and Facebook to publicize its battlefield gains.

The Afghan government has lately barred the United States military from releasing casualty numbers, force strength, operation readiness, attrition figures and performance assessments of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, while briefing members of Congress on Wednesday, severely criticized the classification move. He maintained American taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent.

“The Taliban know this [Afghan casualties], they know who was killed. They know all about that. The Afghans know about it, the U.S. military knows about it. The only people who wouldn’t know are the [American] people who are paying for it,” Sopko noted.

The United States has spent nearly $120 billion on reconstruction programs in Afghanistan since 2002. More than 60 percent of the money has been used to build Afghan security forces. (VOA)

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#Whatsappdown : Here is what happened when people took to Twitter to check if Whatsapp is down

Whatsapp, the most popular instant messaging app, is more than a need; it is a necessity. You may miss reading the morning newspaper, but we are sure you can never afford to not check your Whatsapp messages.

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Were you experiencing troubles with Whatsapp? Fret not, you werent alone. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 3, 2017 : Who doesn’t check their Whatsapp first thing in the morning immediately after waking up?

Whatsapp, the most popular instant messaging app, is more than a need; it is a necessity. You may miss reading the morning newspaper, but we are sure you can never afford to not check your whatsapp messages.

In such a scenario, Whatsapp users around the globe, including India, were faced with horror when they were unable to log into the app on November 3.

Whatsapp users from all around the world complained of connectivity issues as they encountered problems sending or receiving texts and were unable to log into the Facebook-owned Whatsapp.

WhatsApp was previously down for a few hours in May this year too, as users in all parts of the world went into frenzy and panic.

On Friday again, several users took to Twitter to confirm if there really is a problem or they are lone sufferers, and soon began a trend as reactions ranging from pure confusion, to agony to frustration to humor surfaced on the internet. The hashtag #whatsappdown was also trending on the micro-blogging site.

We bring you a glimpse of how the users took to Twitter to vent their frustration,

Seems like everybody was hooked onto Twitter for only one reason. Yes, we were all in this together!

Everyone is checking Twitter to see if whatsapp is down 🤣😅😅#WhatsappDown 👨🏽‍💻 pic.twitter.com/VOmkuEG8Uk

— Smik The Deejay® (@dj_smik) November 3, 2017

Twitter users were quick to explain their frustrating using hilarious GIFS.

We cannot argue how factually sound this user is.

Optimism at its best, we would say!

When it’s back up and you’ve zero notifications #WhatsappDown pic.twitter.com/DYmv1KmsYa

We all know how that feels.

But Whatsapp is back again, and lets all heave a sigh of relief!

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Facebook reports $4.7 bn profit, 2.07 bn monthly users in Q3

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Source: Wikimedia Common

San Francisco,November 2,2017:  With 1.37 billion daily active users and 2.07 billion monthly active users, Facebook again topped expectations when it reported 79 per cent increase in its quarterly profit and nearly 50 per cent rise in revenues in the third quarter.

With apparently no influence of the ongoing hearing regarding its role in Russia meddling, Facebook late on Wednesday published its financial results for the quarter that ended on September 30, reporting that its profitability hit $4.7 billion mark and earned $10.3 billion in revenue compared to an estimate of $9.84 billion.

 “Our business is doing well,” company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don’t bring people closer together.

“We are serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We are investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximising our profits,” he said.

Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 88 per cent of advertising revenue for the third quarter of 2017, up from approximately 84 per cent of advertising revenue in the third quarter of 2016.

The average revenue per daily active user reached $7.51 compared to $5.95 a year ago showing a 26 per cent increase.

That is due to a 16 per cent growth in its daily active users over the year and 3.8 per cent increase quarter-over-quarter touching 1.37 billion mark.

Facebook now has 2.07 billion monthly active users — an increase of 16 per cent year-over-year. The growth is 3.19 per cent compared to last quarter’s 2.006 billion and it grew at 3.4 per cent.

According to Tech Crunch, Facebook’s share price closed at $182.66 prior to the earnings announcement and climbed 1.28 per cent in after-hours trading.

Facebook CFO David Wehner said Facebook will boost its expenses 45-60 per cent in 2018 in order to fund security efforts following the Russian intrusion as well as in furthering original video content, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

The company said it would hire 10,000 people to monitor content and ads, though some will be contractors. It plans to double its security engineering work force.

As of September 30, the headcount at Facebook was 23,165 — an increase of 47 per cent year-over-year.

Zuckerberg also said that Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status both now have 300 million daily active users — up from 250 million in June (Instagram) and July (WhatsApp).

–IANS