Policy Wrap: US senators question Meta on developers’ access to sensitive data, SC refuses to modify order against Google in Android antitrust case, and more
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US senators question Meta on developers of China, Russia among other countries having access to sensitive data
The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's chair and vice chair, Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, wrote to Facebook parent company Meta Platforms on Monday regarding documents that show the company was aware that developers in China and Russia had access to user data that could be used for espionage.
These records suggest that Facebook was aware, at least since September 2018, that a large number of developers in nations it considered to be "high risk," such as the People's Republic of China, had access to sensitive user data.
The letter claimed that despite Facebook's inability to operate in China, an internal Meta document revealed that approximately 90,000 developers in China had been granted access to user information, including profile data, images, and private messages.
The data was also accessible to over 42,000 developers in Russia, as well as thousands in Iran and North Korea.
Meta’s EU anti-trust breach
In December, the European Commission announced that it had issued a warning to Facebook's parent company Meta that it was violating EU antitrust laws by stifling competition in the online classified ad sector and abusing its dominant position.
If there is sufficient proof of a violation of European Union regulations, the Commission stated in a preliminary view that it would conduct further investigation and that it might impose a fine of up to 10% of the company's annual global turnover.
The European Union competition watchdog stated in a statement that they are concerned about the way Meta ties its flagship social network Facebook to its online classified ad service, Facebook Marketplace. This means Facebook users have no choice but to have access to Facebook Marketplace, they added.
SC refuses to modify order against Google in Android antitrust case, NCLAT hearing scheduled next week
Last week, the Supreme Court declined to overturn its decision which it had announced on January 19, 2023 by rejecting Google’s appeal of overruling the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) decision against the tech giant.
The CCI had issued an order on October 20 directing Google to make modifications to its Android ecosystem and had imposed a penalty of 1,337.76 crore. The tech behemoth then sought a stay on the remedies through an appeal with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), and later with Supreme Court, which was rejected by both.
Google had time till January 19, 2023 to make the necessary changes as per remedies suggested in the CCI judgement, which the apex court extended by one more week. The CJI's Bench had upheld the CCI's decision and requested that the appellate panel quickly rule on Google's appeal.
The matter will be heard by the NCLAT this week.
Vodafone, Orange, Telefónica, and Deutsche Telekom Collaborate on Digital Advertising to take on Bigtechs
According to reports, telecom behemoths Vodafone, Orange, Telefónica, and Deutsche Telekom are preparing to take on Big Tech with their own joint venture for advertising.
Through the joint venture, the telecom industry will make its first attempt to compete with Meta Platforms and Google in the lucrative internet advertising market and diversify its revenue sources.
The joint venture is a privacy-led, digital identity solution to assist the digital marketing and advertising operations of brands and publishers, according to the EU competition enforcer.
BEUC, a pan-European consumer advocacy organisation, expressed reservations about how the joint venture would gather data and how the partners intended to obtain consumers' consent earlier this week. It requested Margrethe Vestager, head of the EU's antitrust agency, to make sure the joint venture conforms with the EU's privacy laws and that the businesses do not obstruct rivals who might provide a more privacy-friendly product. The joint venture anticipates unconditional EU antitrust approval for the same.
With the company generating around 80% of its revenue, Google dominates the market for online advertising, far outpacing Meta.
RBI wants to ensure only regulated digital lenders are hosted on app stores
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has provided Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) with a list of Digital Lending Apps (DLAs) used by Regulated Entities (Res), which in turn shared the same with the appropriate intermediaries (app stores) and requested them to host only those apps which feature in it in their app stores.
This has taken place after the MeitY issued an order to ban a host of loan and betting apps with alleged Chinese links.
The Central Bank has also released a master circular, in which banks and financial institutions are urged to follow specific customer identification processes when opening accounts and keeping an eye on any questionable activity to prevent money laundering.
Additionally, the RBI released digital lending guidelines in September 2022, which advise measures like due diligence of loan service providers (LSPs), direct loan disbursement from lender bank account to borrower bank account without any pass-through/pool or third-party accounts to avoid layering, publishing of the list of DLAs and LSPs engaged by REs, and details of activities to avoid anonymity.
Startup crisis: Over 4000 employees fired in January alone as funding continues to plummet
According to a CIEL HR Services report, startups in India sacked 6,000 employees between October and December 2022 and another 4,000 or more in just January 2023.
Many unicorns and companies have slowed down hiring or even turned to terminating staff as a result of investors tightening their purse strings, due to the instability in the global economy. In India, where there are 2 lakh startups, there were around 2% fewer layoffs from December to January.
In startups and unicorns, job losses are more common at the junior to mid-level positions. This is mostly due to factors like the learnability quotient, talent gaps, laxer access barriers, and poor recruiting practises.
According to numerous investors and founders, the next 10 to 12 months will be unpredictable for startups as businesses, big and small, attempt to further cut costs while the sector experiences a huge decline in financing.
Due to the poor rate of fundraising, Indian entrepreneurs only raised $1.38 billion in January, almost 70% less than they did at the same time last year.
RBI promoting UPI by allowing travellers from G20 nations to use it for payments; launching pilot for QR Code-based vending machine
The Reserve Bank of India permitted visitors from G20 countries arriving at specific Indian airports to utilise UPI services for making payments while they were there. Later, the Central Bank even suggested opening up the service to travellers from all nations.
While announcing the most recent monetary policy, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das stated that it is now recommended to allow all foreign visitors to India to use UPI for their merchant payments (P2M) while they are in the nation.
In addition to this, in partnership with a few top institutions, the Reserve Bank of India announced on Wednesday that it is putting together a pilot project for coin vending machines based on QR codes. The QCVM is a cashless coin dispenser that releases coins in exchange for a debit to the customer's bank account through the use of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). According to the RBI, the QCVM will do away with the necessity for actual banknote tendering and authentication.
Customers will also be able to withdraw coins from QCVMs in the necessary quantities and denominations. The trial project will initially be implemented in 12 locations across the nation. These vending machines are designed to be positioned at public locations like train stations, malls, and markets to improve convenience and accessibility.
Changes in income tax laws not to apply to start ups recognised by DPIIT
The proposed amendments to the income tax legislation regarding the issuance of shares to foreign entities or foreign angel investors would not apply to government-recognized enterprises.
Anurag Jain, secretary of the Department for the Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), stated that the proposed amendments to the Income Tax Act would apply only to businesses or startups that are not recognised by DPIIT.
According to one of those amendments, any sum raised by a startup that exceeds its fair market value is considered income from other sources and is subject to a 30% tax.
This clause was introduced in 2012 and was promoted as an anti-abuse measure. Due to its effects on angel investors' investments in fledgling businesses, it is known as the "angel tax."
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