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Growing trend of online linguistic inclusion

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New Delhi: A growing trend of online linguistic inclusion is evident in India with e-commerce, education and social networking sites incorporating Indian languages in their sites. The move by the companies is aimed at reaching out to the vast unexplored market in India.

The latest entrants in this growing phenomenon are ‘Snapdeal’ and ‘Quickr’. In the past week ‘Snapdeal’ announced that its mobile interface will allow transactions to happen in 12 Indian languages. Furthermore, ‘Quickr’, online classified website, will allow consumers to browse, post ads, search and interact in seven vernacular languages, apart from English.

Admitting the need for linguistic inclusion Rohit Bansal, co-founder and COO, said, “India’s linguistic diversity is a huge opportunity to expand the market to include those users who would prefer to engage online in their native languages. Our decision to go multi-lingual is driven by the feedback that we have received from our users. We are sure this will enable millions of new users to join the digital commerce revolution that is sweeping across India,”

Social networking sites like Facebook and search engine Google have already made this facility available to its consumers.

This growing phenomenon is a result of the burgeoning online user base in India. A report by

A report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), last month, said that “while Internet in India took more than a decade to move from 10 million to 100 million and 3 years from 100 to 200 million, it took only a year to move from 300 to 400 million users. Clearly, internet is mainstream in India today.”

It further added that “currently, India has the third largest Internet user base in the world but it is estimated that by December, India will overtake the US (as the second largest base). China currently leads with more than 600 million Internet users.”

Moreover, the need for providing the option for vernacular languages is the mushrooming internet users in rural India.

The rural mobile user base surged 99 percent to 80 million while the mobile Internet user base in urban India has grown 65 percent over last year to reach 197 million and is expected to grow to 87 million (rural) and 219 million (urban) respectively, the report said.

Other sectors have also sought to take advantage of this phenomenon. Khan Academy, a US-based non-profit organisation and an e-learning website, earlier this month announced that it would launch online tutorials in Hindi.

“We want to work in a way that allows us to reach to the most number of students in India,’’ said founder, Salman Khan.

Thinking on similar lines Google, in early November, announced the formation of an Indian Language Internet alliance (ILIA), in partnership with various Indian content providers. This alliance seeks to allow 300 million Indian language users to become more engaged.

“The ILIA will be critical to make Internet useful to all Indian users and not just English-speaking Indians. Through this initiative we hope to enable 300 million Indian language users to become highly engaged Internet users by 2017,” Google India Vice-President and Managing Director Rajan Anandan had said.

All of this points towards the increasing belief that a digital revolution in India cannot be realised without linguistically inclusive policies. The true potential of the internet can only be unleashed by taking it beyond the English-speaking metros in India. (With inputs from agencies) (Image courtesy: aspoonfulofimagination.files.wordpress.com)

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Facebook, Google Performing an Assault on the Right to Privacy

In a statement given to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said the company is working to give people more control over their data

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Facebook and Google which offer services to billions of people without asking them to pay a financial fee are performing an assault on the right to privacy on an unprecedented scale, a stinging Amnesty International report said on Thursday, stressing that both companies need to change their business models which are threatening basic human rights.

The abuse of privacy that is core to Facebook and Google’s surveillance-based business model is starkly demonstrated by the companies’ long history of privacy scandals.

“Despite the companies’ assurances over their commitment to privacy, it is difficult not to see these numerous privacy infringements as part of the normal functioning of their business, rather than aberrations,” said the report that came out on Thursday.

Google and Facebook’s total revenues come almost entirely from advertising, at 84 percent and 98 percent respectively.

Their information is so attractive to advertisers that the two companies are often described as having a “duopoly” over the market in online advertising.

“But it isn’t ‘just ads’: the information in their data vaults – as well as the computational insights that Google and Facebook derive from that data,  is of intense interest to a host of actors, from companies who set insurance rates to law enforcement agencies,” said the NGO.

While Facebook agreed to pay a $5 billion fine to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the European Union’s antitrust regulators have fined Google 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for abusing its dominance in the online search market by blocking rivals.

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Huawei smartphones are seen in front of the displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

In fresh trouble for Google, 50 US Attorneys General probing its anti-trust market practices have decided to expand the investigation into the tech giant’s Android and Search businesses.

According to the Amnesty report, the surveillance-based business model of Google and Facebook has thrived from a largely hands-off approach to the regulation of the technology industry in key countries such as the US, the companies’ home state.

“But despite the real value of the services they provide, Google and Facebook’s platforms come at a systemic cost. The companies’ surveillance-based business model forces people to make a Faustian bargain, whereby they are only able to enjoy their human rights online by submitting to a system predicated on human rights abuse,” the report noted.

This isn’t the internet people signed up for. Citizens today are paying for the Facebook and Google services with their intimate personal data.

After collecting this data, Google and Facebook use it to analyze people, aggregate them into groups, and to make predictions about their interests, characteristics, and ultimately behavior – primarily so they can use these insights to generate advertising revenue.

“This surveillance machinery reaches well beyond the Google search bar or the Facebook platform itself. People are tracked across the web, through the apps on their phones, and in the physical world as well, as they go about their day-to-day affairs,” said the Amnesty report.

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

In another example of infringing on users’ privacy, Google’s partnership with US healthcare organization Ascension over health data collection of millions of Americans through its “Project Nightingale” has also triggered a federal probe.

According to the NGO report, the companies’ use of algorithmic systems to create and infer detailed profiles on people interferes with “our ability to shape our own identities within a private sphere”.

“Advertisers were the original beneficiaries of these insights, but once created, the companies’ data vaults served as an irresistible temptation for governments as well.”

Ultimately, said the report, it is now evident that the era of self-regulation in the tech sector is coming to an end and further state-based regulation will be necessary.

Also Read: The Reasons of Investing in Luxury Watches

In its reply, Facebook disagreed with it’s business model being “surveillance-based.”

“It is important to note that no one is obliged to sign up for Facebook. Facebook’s business model is not, as your summary suggests, driven by the collection of data about people. Like many other online companies, Facebook is supported through the sale of advertising,” the social networking platform said in a letter which is part of the Amnesty report.

In a statement given to The Verge, a Google spokesperson said the company is working to give people more control over their data. (IANS)