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SAN FRANCISCO — Very few companies can boast of having their name also used as a verb. Zoom is one of them. The popularity of the videoconferencing platform continues to grow around the world despite continued questions about whether Chinese authorities are monitoring the calls.
Since Zoom became a household word last year during the pandemic, internet users including companies and government agencies have asked whether the app's data centers and staff in China are passing call logs to Chinese authorities.
"Some of the more informed know about that, but the vast majority, they don't know about that, or even if they do, they really don't give much thought about it," said Jack Nguyen, partner at the business advisory firm Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.
He said in Vietnam, for example, many people resent China over territorial spats, but Vietnamese tend to Zoom as willingly as they sign on to rivals such as Microsoft Teams. They like Zoom's free 40 minutes per call, said Nguyen.
Whether to use the Silicon Valley-headquartered Zoom, now as before, comes down to a user-by-user calculation of the service's benefits versus the possibility that call logs are being viewed in China, analysts say. China hopes to identify and stop internet content that flouts Communist Party interests.
The 10-year-old listed company officially named Zoom Video Communications reported over $1 billion in revenue in the April-June quarter this year, up 54% over the same quarter of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic drove face-to-face meetings online. In the same quarter, the most recent one detailed by the company, Zoom had 504,900 customers of more than 10 employees, up about 36% year on year.
Zoom commanded a 42.8% U.S. market share, leading competitors, as of May 2020, the news website LearnBonds reported. Its U.S. share was up to 55% by March this year, according to ToolTester Network data.
Tech media cite Zoom's free 40 minutes and capacity for up to 100 call participants as major reasons for its popularity.
University of California professors Lisa Wymore and Greg Niemeyer look at the Zoom screen showing students in their online Collaborative Innovation course in Berkeley, March 12, 2020. Photo credit: VOA
Links to China?
Keys that Zoom uses to encrypt and decrypt meetings may be sent to servers in China, Wired Business Media's website Security Week has reported. Some encryption keys were issued by servers in China, news website WCCF Tech said.
Zoom did not answer VOA's requests this month for comment.
Zoom has acknowledged keeping at least one data center and a staff employee in China, where the communist government requires resident tech firms to provide user data on request. In September 2019, the Chinese government turned off Zoom in China, and in April last year Zoom said international calls were routed in error through a China-based data center.
"Odds are high" of China getting records of Zoom calls, said Jacob Helberg, a senior adviser at the Stanford University Center on Geopolitics and Technology.
"If you have Zoom engineers in China who have access to the actual servers, from an engineering standpoint those engineers can absolutely have access to content of potential communications in China," he said.
Zoom said in a statement in early April 2020 that certain meetings held by its non-Chinese users might have been "allowed to connect to systems in China, where they should not have been able to connect," SmarterAnalyst.com reported.
A student takes classes online using Zoom in El Masnou, north of Barcelona, Spain, April 2, 2020. Photo credit: VOA
Excitement and caution
Zoom said in 2019 it had put in place "strict geo-fencing procedures around our mainland China data center."
"No meeting content will ever be routed through our mainland China data center unless the meeting includes a participant from China," it said in a blog post.
Among the bigger users of Zoom is the University of California, a 10-campus system that switched to online learning in early 2020. Zoom was selected following a request for proposals "years" before the pandemic, a UC-Berkeley spokesperson told VOA on Thursday.
Elsewhere in the United States, NASA has banned employees from using Zoom, and the Senate has urged its members to avoid it because of security concerns. The German Foreign Ministry and Australian Defense Force restrict use as well, while Taiwan barred Zoom for government business last year. China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, which has caused decades of political hostility.
"For Taiwan, there's still some doubt," said Brady Wang, a Taipei analyst with the market intelligence firm Counterpoint Research, referring particularly to Zoom's encryption software. "And in the final analysis, these kinds of [video app] choices are numerous, so it's not like you must rely on Zoom."
LinkedIn's withdrawal from China announced this month may spark new scrutiny over Zoom, said Zennon Kapron, founder and director of Kapronasia, a Shanghai financial industry research firm.
"I think when you look at the other technology players that are currently in China or that have relations to China such as Zoom, there will be a renewed push probably by consumers, businesses and even regulators in some jurisdictions to really try to understand and pry apart what the roles of Chinese suppliers or development houses are in developing some of these platforms and the potential security risks that go with them," Kapron said.
(This article is originally written by Ralph Jennings) (VOA/RN)
Keywords: China, Zoom, Popularity, Kapron
Since the 7th of December 1949, the Armed Forces Flag Day has been observed in India, annually. This one day is dedicated towards collection of funds from the citizens of India for the welfare of the ‘Indian Armed Forces personnel’. It has become a tradition to pay respect to the people who have served in the army, Navy and Airforce, on this day.
“The idea behind observing a Flag Day was to distribute small flags to the general population and in return collect donations.” The color-scheme of the flag is very similar to the ones used by fellow Commonwealth members like Cyprus, Kenya and Nigeria. The Flag Day signifies that it is the responsibility of the citizens of India to take care of the families and dependents of the armed forces personnel who fight for the country.
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A need for such a day was realized by the Government after India gained Independence from the British rule. In order to manage the welfare of its defence personnel, the Defence Minister of India and a committee together decided to recognize 7th December as the Flag Day. This decision was taken on the 28th of August 1949.
The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the day saying that,
“A few weeks ago, I visited Indo-China and saw our officers and men attached to the International Commission there. It gave me a thrill to see their smart bearing and the good work they were doing in that distant land. What pleased me still more was their general popularity with the people there. By their efficiency as well as their friendliness, they enhanced the reputation of India. Among them were people from all parts of India. They observed no provincial or other differences amongst themselves. I am sure my countrymen will be pleased to learn of them and would like to indicate their appreciation of these young men who serve our country both here and elsewhere so well. A way to indicate that appreciation is to contribute to the Flag Day Fund.”
The fund is collected through official and non-official means with the help of voluntary organizations. The Kendriya Sainik Board, which is under the Ministry of Defence, arranges for the collection of the fund.
The Defence Ministry of India decided to integrate all the related welfare funds into a single unit called the Armed Forces Flag Day fund. The funds that were integrated are:
- Amalgamated Special Fund for War Bereaved, War Disabled and other ex-Servicemen/Serving Personnel
- Flag Day Fund
- St Dunstan's (India) and Kendriya Sainik Board Fund
- Indian Gorkha Ex-Servicemen's Welfare Fund
The Flag Day signifies that it is the responsibility of the citizens of India to take care of the families and dependents of the armed forces personnel who fight for the country.Unsplash
Problems have to be resolved by and welfare of the ex-servicemen and dependents are mostly settled by the States and the Union Territories, although it was to be a shared responsibility between the Union Government, the State Governments and the governments of the Union Territories. In order to help the Central Government in carrying out this process, there are 32 Rajya Sainik Boards and 392 Zila Sainik Boards. The Kendriya Sainik Board, the Rajya Sainik Board and the Zila Sainik Board are all responsible for the policy formulation and implementation of resettlement and welfare schemes for ex-servicemen, widows and their dependents residing in their respective States or Union Territories or Districts.(Keywords : armed, forces, flag, india, independance, donation, citizen, army, navy, airforce, tradition, respect, government, state, center, union territory, district, funds.)
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A large majority of Indians seem convinced that social media is responsible for the increased gulf between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the country.
This was revealed by a nationwide poll conducted by IANS-CVoter with a sample size of 1942 using random sampling on December 5, one day before the beginning of the 30th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
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Close to half the respondents surveyed, 48.2 per cent to be precise felt that social media had increased the gulf between the communities to a large extent.
About 23 per cent of the respondents felt that social media had increased the gulf to some extent. In effect, more than 71 per cent Indians hold social media responsible for the recent friction between the two communities.
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In contrast, 28.6 per cent were of the opinion that social media had no role to play in this phenomenon. If you look at political divides, 40.7 per cent of NDA voters felt social media was responsible to a large extent while 53.6 per cent of opposition voters felt the same.
48.2 per cent to be precise felt that social media had increased the gulf between the communities to a large extent.Unsplash
Social media platforms have come under increased scrutiny of late for their alleged role in spreading misinformation, fake news, abusive and defamatory content and direct incitement to violence. It has become routine for state and local level administrations to temporarily ban access to social media platforms in areas that report tension and fears of violence.
A parliamentary committee has recently submitted a set of recommendations to regulate social media platforms. One major recommendation is to treat them as publishers while the other is to form a regulatory body on the lines of Press Council of India to regulate their activities. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : social media, Hindu, Muslim, community, country, poll, respondents, political, religious, misinformation, violence. abuse, regulations)
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Final preparations are in full swing at Six Senses Fort Barwara which will host the much talked about wedding of celebrity couple Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif.
According to sources, the event company working for this wedding has procured crystal balls and chandeliers from abroad to give a royal look to the wedding. These will be installed in the hotel soon.
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Six Senses Hotel has also parked indicator vehicles on the road at frequent intervals for the guests to reach the hotel easily. A glass 'mandap' has been prepared and decorated in Rajwada style for the couple to take 'pheres' (rounds around the fire) as per Hindu rituals. Moreover, the glass carvings on the mandap is such that it creates an optical illusion.
This wedding ceremony will be held amidst tight security arrangements. Secret codes have been given to each of the guests, so that it is impossible to know which guest is staying in which room.
Mobile phones have been banned inside the venue. International photographers have been hired to shoot the entire wedding. The ceremonies will be held from December 7 to December 9, with bouncers and police personnel looking after the security arrangements. As many as 100 bouncers have arrived from Jaipur to look after security arrangements at the wedding.
Katrina and Vicky's wedding is to be solemnized on December 9.Unsplash
Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif's outfits have been designed in Mumbai which they will wear during different wedding ceremonies.
As per information, Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal are scheduled to reach Hotel Six Senses Fort Barwara located at Chauth Ka Barwara, by 9 p.m. on Monday, via car from Jaipur where both are expected to receive a grand welcome by the hotel management.
Along with Vicky and Katrina, their family members too will reach the hotel on Monday. However, some close family members and other guests will reach the venue separately. Katrina's sister Natasha and friends reached Jaipur airport on Monday afternoon from where they left for the wedding venue by car.
Katrina and Vicky's wedding is to be solemnized on December 9. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : wedding, Bollywood, Vicky Kaushal, Katrina Kaif, Rajasthan, hotel, Fort Barwara, ceremony, photographer, bouncer, outfit)
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