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Google Project Loon to solve Indian rural internet issues


Indian government, in collaboration with Google, is doing a trial run to provide internet connectivity to disadvantaged villages under ‘Project Loon’. The project is expected to deliver internet connectivity to places in India which don’t have on ground cyberspace connectivity.

Google’s Project Loon, as per the Google blog on this technology, creates a loop of Super pressure air balloons in the stratosphere with the help of air direction and software algorithm. Beneath each lighter than air layer, balloons are hung.

These balloons travel to places where they are needed by descending or rising into the layer of wind traveling in the wanted direction. Two radio transceivers receive and send data streams.

The Loon project can help India by partnering with telecommunication companies and share cellular spectrum where people will be able to connect to the balloons directly from their computers and phones. The signal would then be passed across the balloon network, and yet again to Earth for global network use.

This technology is expected to be a cheaper solution than installing fibre optic cables or building mobile phone masts across the country, which could be lost in the vicious circle of corruption (hence, increasing the value of product) and infrastructural problems (which already subsist).

People living in areas without any existing internet infrastructure would be directly connected to the internet without any mediating technology. It would thus help them to easily access the information and opportunities of the world-wide web.

At present, Indian entrepreneurs, as well as the government, are foraying into developing user-targeted online education systems.

In this regard, this technology will be able to connect the remotely situated students to easy access of online education centres.

On the other hand, farmers of isolated villages would be able to utilize easy connectivity for learning new cultivating, fertilizing, pest control, weeding and harvesting techniques.

If the Project Loon initiative by Google, in collaboration with the Indian government, falls on the right trajectory, then India would get benefitted by this technology in many ways. The rural and isolated parts of our country could straightforwardly become a part of the ‘Digital India’ campaign.

Most importantly, mere 15% of Indians use the internet at all, according to a new report by the Economic World Forum (WEF). In this age of digitization, Indians would be greatly benefited from projects such as Loon, which can help bridge the information gaps in the areas of agriculture, education and communications.


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Google Is Run Without Any Political Bias: Sundar Pichai

Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010 after China insisted on censoring search results.

Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Google CEO Sundar Pichai insisted Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee that he runs the U.S. technology giant without political preference.

“We find that we have a wide variety of sources, including sources from the left and sources from the right. And we are committed to making sure there are diverse perspectives,” Pichai told the panel.

Pichai defended the company after accusations from Republican lawmakers that Google has developed online search algorithms to suppress conservative voices.

“There are numerous allegations in the news that Google employees have thought about doing this, talked about doing this and have done it,” Republican committee chairman Robert Goodlatte said.

Google, Sundar Pichai
A demonstrator holds up a sign in the doorway as Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee on greater transparency in Washington. VOA

Republican Congressman Lamar Smith cited a study by P.J. Media that concluded 96 percent of Google’s search results for President Donald Trump were from “liberal media outlets.”

“In fact, not a single right-leaning site appeared on the first page of search results. This doesn’t happen by accident but is baked into the algorithms. Those who write the algorithms get the results they must want and apparently management allows it.”

Smith also cited a study by “Harvard-trained psychologist” Robert Epstein that said Google’s alleged bias “likely swung” more than 2.5 million votes to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“Google could well elect the next president with dire implications for our democracy,” Smith added.

Sundar Pichai, USA
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, arrives for the testimony of Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington, VOA

“I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” Pichai said. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests.”

Top committee Democrat Jerry Nadler said Republican accusations of bias is “a completely illegitimate issue, which is the fantasy dreamed up by some conservatives that Google and other online platforms have an anti-conservative bias. As I’ve said repeatedly, no credible evidence supports this right-wing conspiracy theory.”

President Donald Trump is among those who have accused the company of censoring conservative content, tweeting in August that Google is “RIGGED” and that “Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.”

‘Dragonfly’ project

Pichai’s testimony came after he angered committee members in September by declining an invitation to testify about manipulation of online services by foreign governments to influence U.S. elections.

Google, Australia, encryption, Sundar pichai
A smartphone and computer screen display the Google home page. Australia is one step closer to forcing tech firms to give police access to encrypted data. VOA

The CEO was also questioned about the company’s planned “Dragonfly” project, a censored search engine for China and “next generation technology” that Congressman Smith said Google is “developing on Chinese soil.”

“This news raises a troubling possibility, that Google is being used to strengthen China’s system of surveillance, repression and control,” Smith said. “We need to know that Google is on the side of the free world, and that it will provide its services free of anti-competitive behavior, political bias and censorship.”

An international group of 60 human rights and media groups submitted a letter Tuesday to Pichai, calling on him to abandon the project, warning that personal data would not be safe from Chinese authorities.

Also Read: Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Reporters Without Borders, a signatory to the letter, said China ranked 176 out of 180 countries in its Freedom of the Press Index.

Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010 after China insisted on censoring search results. (VOA)