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Modi eyes Silicon Valley for Digital India

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Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has already roped in Indian Americans on the East Coast and US big business to ‘Make in India’ last year, is now set to win over the Silicon Valley for his Digital India initiative.

Photo credit: mygov.in
Photo credit: mygov.in

The first Indian leader to visit California in more than 30 years later this month, Modi will go to Facebook headquarters for a town hall style question answer session and visit other top tech companies like Google and Adobe Systems and electric carmaker Tesla.

As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Sunday about the September 27 town hall visit of PM Modi at the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters will “discuss how communities can work together to address social and economic challenges.”

credit: www.s3.india.com
Photo credit: www.s3.india.com

Modi, who has more Facebook fans than any politician except for Barack Obama, is the first Indian prime minister to visit the Bay Area since Morarji Desai picked up an award at University of California, Berkeley in 1978 and Indira Gandhi visited Los Angeles in 1982.

Besides meetings with Sundar Pichai and Shantanu Narayen, India born chief executives of Google and Adobe respectively, he is also expected to attend events with Indian American entrepreneurs and social investors.

At Tesla, more than the zero emission cars that it makes, Modi may be interested in its “Powerwall”, a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, for India’s clean energy initiative.

Modi’s visit to the Bay Area, home to a large number of Indian techies, is arranged to win support for his “Digital India,” initiative that aims to expand Internet access, boost electronics manufacturing and develop apps to improve the delivery of government services.

“The visit allows Modi to build relationships with tech firms that want to invest in India, while also fostering support from the Bay Area’s influential Indian-American community,” Venktesh Shukla, president of the Silicon Valley branch of non-profit organization TiE, also known as The Indus Entrepreneurs, told the San Jose Mercury News.

For Modi, “it’s a very well thought effort to capitalise on the connection he has with the diaspora and involve them at a point in time when India is perceived to be on a positive track in terms of governance,” Subimal Bhattacharjee, a cyberspace policy analyst and former India head of General Dynamics, the US defence contractor, told the Los Angeles Times.

Modi, who last year got a rock star like reception when he gave a speech at New York’s Madison Square Garden, is expected to do it again on Sep 27 in San Jose.

An Indian-American group organizing a community reception for Modi at the 19,000-seat SAP Centre says that more than 45,000 people have registered for free passes.

After the San Jose event, Modi flies back to New York for a summit meeting with US President Barack Obama on Sep 28.

The Modi-Obama meeting in New York would cap a week long high level India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in Washington DC.

(IANS)

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Google Remove Stalker Apps That were Available on its Play Store

In April, Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Lab said it would start flagging stalkerware as malicious. In 2018, it detected stalkerware on 58,487 mobile devices

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google, online tracking
A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

Google has removed seven stalker apps that were available on its Play Store as apps for children’s safety or finding stolen phones but were being used to stalk employees, romantic partners or kids.

The apps were able to track the surveilled person’s location, collect their contacts, SMS and call history.

Mobile threat researchers at anti-virus company Avast detected the apps on Google Play Store that were all likely designed by a Russian developer.

Avast reported these apps to Google which then removed them from the Play Store.

The apps have been installed a combined 130,000 times, with the most-installed apps being Spy Tracker, and SMS Tracker, both with more than 50,000 installs.

“These apps are highly unethical and problematic for people’s privacy and shouldn’t be on the Google Play Store,” Nikolaos Chrysaidos, Avast’s head of mobile threat intelligence and security, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“They promote criminal behaviour, and can be abused by employers, stalkers or abusive partners to spy on their victims. We classify such apps as stalkerware,” he added.

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

It’s hard to tell if your device has stalkerware installed on it as you will not see an app icon on your smartphone.

The apps require the person to have access to the phone they want to spy on. The person can download the apps from the Google Play Store and install them on the target device.

The app then prompts the person who installed the app to enter their email address and password. The spying app is sent there.

“Upon setup, there is no app icon, so the targeted person does not see any sign of the stalkerware app installed on their phone,” said Avast.

For example, the description of “Spy Tracker” app on Google Play read: “Find out more about your child’s life, interests, friends and plans. Parents are responsible for every step that their kids make. So this app is created to monitor them and protect them from dangers that can be revealed via cell phone.”

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According to SMS Tracker, “our app will help you monitor work time of your employees to save time and save money. Notify the users of work phones that you are going to install the app. It will teach your employees to use their time at work wisely, to reduce time spent on messengers and arrive to work in time”.

In April, Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Lab said it would start flagging stalkerware as malicious. In 2018, it detected stalkerware on 58,487 mobile devices. (IANS)