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Microsoft on Thursday lobbied for other countries to follow Australia’s lead in calling for news outlets to be paid for stories published online, a move opposed by Facebook and Google.
Microsoft last week offered to fill the void if rival Google follows through on a threat to turn off its search engine in Australia over the plan.
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Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement the company fully supports proposed legislation in Australia that would force Google and Facebook to compensate media for their journalism.
“This has made for an unusual split within the tech sector, and we’ve heard from people asking whether Microsoft would support a similar proposal in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and other countries,” Smith said in a blog post.
The short answer is, yes.”
Facebook and Google have both threatened to block key services in Australia if the rules, now before Parliament, become law as written.
The situation raises the question of whether U.S. President Joe Biden will back away from his predecessor’s objection to the proposal in Australia.
“As the United States takes stock of the events on January 6, it’s time to widen the aperture,” Smith said, referring to a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol building by a mob of Trump supporters out to overturn the election results.
“The ultimate question is what values we want the tech sector and independent journalism to serve.”
Smith argued that internet platforms that have not previously compensated news agencies should now step up to revive independent journalism that “goes to the heart of our democratic freedoms.”
“The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press,” Smith said. “It should copy it instead.”
Bing goes big?
The proposed law in Australia would govern relations between financially distressed traditional media outlets and the giants that dominate the internet and capture a significant share of advertising revenues.
Microsoft’s search engine Bing accounts for less than 5% of the market in Australia, and from 15% to 20% of the market in the United States, according to the tech giant based in Washington State.
“With a realistic prospect of gaining usage share, we are confident we can build the service Australians want and need,” Smith said.
“And unlike Google, if we can grow, we are prepared to sign up for the new law’s obligations, including sharing revenue as proposed with news organizations.”
Under the proposed News Media Bargaining Code, Google and Facebook would be required to negotiate payments to individual news organizations for using their content on the platforms.
Australia’s biggest media companies, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Nine Entertainment, have said they think the payments should amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
If an agreement cannot be reached on the size of the payments, the issue would go to so-called “final offer” arbitration where each side proposes a compensation amount and the arbiter chooses one or the other.
Google and Facebook, backed up by the U.S. government and leading internet architects, have said the scheme would seriously undermine their business models and the very functioning of the internet.
ALSO READ: Street Art Gains A New Life In India
Both Facebook and Google have insisted they are willing to pay publishers for news via licensing agreements and commercial negotiations, and both have signed deals worth millions of dollars with news organizations around the world.
Google has said the bargaining code should focus on facilitating these kinds of negotiations, but it rejected the idea of mandatory “final offer” arbitration. (VOA)
WASHINGTON — U.S. federal law enforcement agencies and Europol announced dozens of arrests to break up a global operation that sold illegal drugs using a shadowy realm of the internet.
At a Department of Justice news conference Tuesday in Washington, officials said they arrested 150 people for allegedly selling illicit drugs, including fake prescription opioids and cocaine, over the so-called darknet. Those charged are alleged to have carried out tens of thousands of illegal sales using a part of the internet that is accessible only by using specialized anonymity tools.
The 10-month dragnet called "Operation HunTor" — named after encrypted internet tools — resulted in the seizure of 234 kilograms of drugs, including amphetamines, cocaine and opioids worth more than $31 million. Officials said many of the confiscated drugs were fake prescription pills laced with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. The counterfeit tablets are linked to a wave of drug overdoses.
"This international law enforcement operation spanned across three continents and sends one clear message to those hiding on the darknet peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet," said U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco speaks during a news at the Department of Justice in Washington, Oct. 26, 2021. Photo credit: VOA
Investigators rounded up and arrested 65 people in the United States. Other arrests occurred in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In addition to counterfeit medicine, authorities also confiscated more than 200,000 ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine pills.
"We face new and increasingly dangerous threats as drug traffickers expand into the digital world and use the darknet to sell dangerous drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine," said Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). "We cannot stress enough the danger of these substances."
The international police agency Europol worked alongside the U.S. Justice Department's Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team.
"No one is beyond the reach of the law, even on the dark web," said Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, Europol's deputy executive director.
The dark web is preferred by criminal networks who want to keep their internet activities private and anonymous. In this case, it served as a platform for illegal cyber sales of counterfeit medication and other drugs that were delivered by private shipping companies.
Investigators said the fake drugs are primarily made in laboratories in Mexico using chemicals imported from China. Prosecutors also targeted drug dealers who operated home labs to manufacture fake prescription pain pills.
FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate, second from left, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, Oct. 26, 2021. Photo credit: VOA
"Those purchasing drugs through the darknet often don't know what they're getting," Associate Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate said. The joint investigation followed enforcement efforts in January in which authorities shut down "DarkMarket," the world's largest illegal international marketplace on the dark web.
Last month, the DEA warned Americans that international and domestic drug dealers were flooding the country with fake pills, driving the U.S. overdose crisis. The agency confiscated more the 9.5 million potentially lethal pills in the last year.
More than 93,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2020, the highest number on record, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. U.S. health officials attribute the rise to the use of fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine.
U.S. officials said investigations are continuing and more arrests are expected. (VOA/RN)
(This article is originally wriiten by Chris Simkins)
Keywords: Drug Vendors, Investigation, DEA, Illegal purchase, Police Operation, Internet
Facebook-owned WhatsApp may soon ask users to verify their identity to make payments on the platform. According to XDA Developers, new strings spotted in the latest WhatsApp beta release suggest that the messenger will require users to upload verification documents to continue using payments on WhatsApp. Currently, when users set up WhatsApp Pay in India, the service only verifies the phone number linked to your bank account to enable UPI-based transactions. In Brazil, the messenger uses Facebook Pay to validate users' credit or debit cards to facilitate payments.
At the moment, the service doesn't require users to submit any identity verification documents to make payments. However, that might change soon, the report said. WhatsApp v126.96.36.199 beta includes a few new strings which suggest that users might have to submit identity verification documents to continue using payments.
The identity verification might be limited to those who use WhatsApp Pay to receive payments for their businesses. UPI-based apps, like Google Pay, PhonePe and even WhatsApp Pay don't require users to submit any documents to transfer or receive money. However, wallet apps like PayTM do ask for KYC verification as per RBI guidelines.
WhatsApp is yet to make an official announcement regarding this change. Since the new strings have just made their way to the beta version, it might be a while before the company reveals any details, the report said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: WhatsApp, UPI, payments, verify, identity, documents
By Rajesh U. Pandya
Although the world is recovering from coronavirus pandemic, we must not lower our guards and stay alert when it comes to hand hygiene to curb the spread of the deadly virus. But are we paying sufficient attention to our nail hygiene? Our nails are the index of well-being for our entire body. The manifestations of several critical diseases were first detected within the dirty nails.
The ignorance towards our nails becomes the breeding ground of harmful bacteria. These germs enter our body through our hands because in India we eat through our bare hands. Therefore, nail hygiene is crucial and without it hand hygiene is incomplete.
Practising good nail hygiene involves following a systematic process to ensure the longevity of our nail health. It includes ensuring that food particles, dirt and dust are not sticking to our nails and there is no build-up of nail bacteria. Thankfully, contrary to popular belief, it is not that difficult to maintain good nail hygiene. A little diligence, awareness and attention are sufficient to keep our nails healthy.
Avoiding nail hygiene makes you prone to viral infections
Due to constant negligence towards the cleanliness of the nails, many serious issues like bacterial and viral infections arise. Often these lead to serious health problems. Our hand hygiene is not perfect till the time we clean the undersides of our nails besides washing hands regularly. Most people don't mind sharing nail clippers with others. This is however an extremely unhygienic practice. When we don't share any of our personal hygiene products then why do we share our nail clippers? Nails harbour abundant germs, bacteria and viruses and sharing nail clippers is equivalent to exchanging those microorganisms.
Nails harbour abundant germs, bacteria and viruses and sharing nail clippers is equivalent to exchanging those microorganisms.| Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Keep fingernails dry and clean
It prevents bacterial and fungal infections from growing under our nails. It has been observed that prolonged exposure to water can break nails. It is always recommended to wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals. In order to follow good nail hygiene, we have to be careful about our nail care products. Use a sharp stainless-steel nail clipper with a grime remover, that can remove the hidden germs and grime below the nails. Trim nails straight, then round the tips into a gentle curve. Always wash hands and under nails with soap and water after a nail clipping session.
Always wash hands and under nails with soap and water after a nail clipping session. Photo by rashid khreiss on Unsplash
Keep hands and nails moisturized to avoid the cuticles from overgrowing. Frequent use of nail paint remover, hand sanitisers and harsh soaps can result in the dryness of cuticles along with nails. Keep nails short, trim them regularly and wash hands for at least 20 seconds and then moisturize them, This will make the chance of diseases slimmer and can prevent any kind of viruses. KAI India nail clipper comes with unique features like 100 per cent stainless steel, nail filer, grime remover, nail tray and non-chromium coating making them safe and most effective for maintaining proper nail hygiene.
Here are some of the more ways through which we can keep our nail hygiene intact, thereby protecting it from the damage to nails:
* Stay away from chewing fingernails: It has the potential of damaging the nail bed as a minor cut can cause infection. Moreover, when we bite our nails, germs enter our mouths directly.
* Be gentle towards hangnails: Never pull off your hangnails. Rather, be gentle towards them and carefully clip them off. Stop using those products which are harsh on nails. Always go for acetone-free products.
* Go for a regular nail checkup: If you have a persistent nail problem, consult a doctor or dermatologist for an evaluation.
* Do not share: Try not to share your nail clipper, as they contain germs. Wash the nail clipper with lukewarm water and wipe with a soft cloth. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Nails, hygiene, covid, clipper, products, infections