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As the Indian government steps up the pressure on Internet and social media giants to store consumers’ data locally — especially the payments-related data — the road ahead is not easy for over one billion citizens as Internet giants have lobbied against the data protection law in the country for long, says the man who has taken the Facebook-owned WhatsApp to the court.
Reacting to an ET report that WhatsApp has set up data storage facilities in India for its soon-to-be-launched Payments service, advocate Virag Gupta said on Thursday that the truth would only come out on July 17 when the Supreme Court takes up the next hearing in the NGO’s plea against WhatsApp.
“I do not know whether there is any truth here. Internet giants have lobbied against data protection laws for long. Right noises are also being made at the G-20 and World Economic Forum but why should the sovereign Parliament wait? India should promptly enact data protection law and notify IT Intermediary Rules,” Gupta told IANS.
“In addition, Internet giants ought to comply with the Indian laws, including the appointment of Grievance Officer in India and data localisation,” added Gupta who represents Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) which says WhatsApp has not complied with the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) circular on data localisation norms.
In the last hearing on May 3, WhatsApp told the Supreme Court that the company is conducting a trial run of its payment service and will fully comply with the RBI norms on data localisation.
WhatsApp conducted the Payments trial last year with almost 1 million people to send money to each other in a simple and secure way.
“In response to India’s payments data circular, we’ve built a system that stores payments-related data locally in India,” a WhatsApp spokesperson has earlier told IANS.
With over 200 million users, India is the largest market for WhatsApp.
“WhatsApp payment is useful for people in their daily lives and we hope to expand the feature to all of India soon so we can contribute to the country’s financial inclusion goals,” the spokesperson added.
According to Gupta who represented RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya before the Delhi High Court in 2012, Internet companies make huge money out of selling consumers’ data.
“Sadly, few Indians are concerned over data misuse. Overall, data is the new oil wherein India despite its biggest user base, hardly gets any value out of it. This is primarily because the internet giants are not taxed properly in India,” said Gupta who has just released a new book titled “Taxing Internet Giants: American Companies & Data Protection in India”.
“The top 15 Internet companies alone have amassed a value of over Rs 20 lakh crore due to their Indian users. The companies’ value could be a major chunk of the Indian economy but is serving no purpose to Indians,” he lamented.
On June 14, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTy) has finalised the much-anticipated Personal Data Protection Bill and the next required step is a Cabinet approval before the Bill goes to the Parliament.
“We have finalised the data protection law. I will take it to the Cabinet. We have had 3-4 rounds of consultation,” Prasad said while addressing the CII’s National Council meeting in the Capital.
Emphasising on data security and the country’s hold over its data, the Minister said: “India will uphold its data sovereignty. It will not be negotiable. India is a huge country producing a lot of data.”
With the government saying it will not relax the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) norms for data localisation, the road ahead has become tough for global digital payment providers who have sought more time to comply with the guidelines.
The RBI guidelines say that all digital payment firms like Google Pay, WhatsApp and others must store data locally for their businesses.
“The entire payment data shall be stored in systems located only in India. The data should include end-to-end transaction details and information pertaining to payment or settlement transaction that is gathered / transmitted/processed as part of a payment message/instruction,” say RBI guidelines. (IANS)
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.