Twitter likely to ban cryptocurrency ads: Report

Mar 19, 2018 0

San Francisco– After Facebook and Google, Twitter was now likely to ban cryptocurrency, token sales and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) advertisements on its platform.

According to a Sky News report on Monday, the new Twitter policy will be implemented in two weeks.

“Twitter may also ban all ads for cryptocurrency exchanges, with some limited exceptions, when the policy is launched,” the report added.

Google last week announced that it will ban advertisements for cryptocurrencies and other “speculative financial products” across its ad platforms.

The ban on such advertisements will come into force from June.

“We updated several policies to address ads in unregulated or speculative financial products like binary options, cryptocurrency, foreign exchange markets and contracts for difference (or CFDs),” Scott Spencer, Google’s Director of Sustainable Ads, said in a blog post.

“In June 2018, Google will update the financial services policy to restrict the advertisement of contracts for difference, rolling spot forex and financial spread betting,” Google said.

In 2017, Google took down more than 3.2 billion ads that violated its advertising policies.

Google also blocked 79 million ads in its network for attempting to send people to malware-laden sites and removed 400,000 of these unsafe sites last year.

In January, social media giant Facebook banned all ads promoting cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and ICOs.

The new policy prohibits ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, Facebook said in a statement.

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception.

“That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith,” said Rob Leathern, Product Management Director at Facebook. (IANS)

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Google to help 1 mn Europeans find jobs by 2020

Mar 15, 2018 0

San Francisco– As part of its “Grow with Google” project, the technology giant has pledged to help one million Europeans find a job or grow their businesses by 2020, the company said in a blog post.

“This commitment goes beyond our previous pledge to help people develop digital skills to ensure that we support trainees as they put those skills to use in building careers and businesses,” said Matt Brittin, President (Business and Operations) at Europe, Middle East and Africa).

Launched in 2015 the “Grow with Google” project, has until now trained three million Europeans and more than two million people in Africa in digital skills.

“Grow with Google aims to help everyone in Europe get access to training and products to grow their skills, career, or business, and we’ll continue to partner with governments, city councils, universities, private-sector businesses and non-profits through the support of Google.org to achieve this,” Brittin said.

In 2016, Google launched an independent research to know whether the digital skills training alone can translate into economic impact and improve prospects for those people who invest their time.

Over 1,90,000 Europeans have found a job or started a business following training on the project.

While more than half a million European businesses have grown their business through new customers or revenue, 32,000 small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) have taken on more staff, the research revealed.

As part of the new commitment, in Italy, “Crescere in Digitale”, a partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Chamber of Commerce, will activate 5,000 more internships for young unemployed people at SMBs by 2020, which can lead to full-time employment.

In Spain, Google launched a digital skills employment programme with the Government and in Germany they continue to work with Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) on their “Open Roberta programme” teaching young women how to code. (IANS)

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Apple now using Google servers for storing iCloud data

Feb 27, 2018 0

San Francisco– Apple has provided an acknowledgement for the first time that it is relying on rival Google’s public cloud for data storage for its iCloud services, according to the latest iOS Security document that the Cupertino-headquartered giant updated on its website.

“The disclosure is fresh evidence that Google’s cloud has been picking up usage as it looks to catch up with Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud infrastructure business,” CNBC reported late Monday.

There have been some reports on Google’s iCloud win in 2016 but Apple never provided confirmation.

“For years the document contained language indicating that iCloud services were relying on remote data storage systems from Amazon Web Services, as well as Microsoft’s Azure,” the report added.

The latest iOS Security document which gives a detailed explanation of the technology choices it makes to keep its users from getting hacked, the company disclosed it’s using Google’s Cloud-computing infrastructure to store iCloud data such as photos, files and data backup.

However, there is no indication if Apple is also relying on Google for additional computing work.

When phones powered by Google’s Android software appeared on the market, Apple co-founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs was famously outraged by their similarity to Apple’s competing iOS, according to CNET.

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear on this,” Jobs had reportedly declared.

However, now it appears that Apple is willing to do business with Google. (IANS)

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Google discloses security flaw in Microsoft Edge

Feb 20, 2018 0

San Francisco– Google has made public the details of a medium-level security flaw in Microsoft Edge browser whose patch is still not produced.

The vulnerability was first discovered in November 2017, by the search giant’s Project Zero.

According to Engadget, taking advantage of the flaw, hackers could bypass Microsoft Edge’s existing security measures to inject malicious code into a victim’s computer.

Google, through its Project Zero, notified Microsoft about a bug in November, giving the company the usual 90-day disclosure deadline.

With the three-month deadline over, the team of security analysts employed by Google tasked with finding zero-day vulnerabilities — Project Zero –went public with the details of the security flaw.

The search giant granted a 14-day extension to Microsoft after it said that the problem was complex and it needed more time to fix it.

But, Microsoft even missed the second deadline to produce the patch of the vulnerability. However, given Edge’s small market share, the security issue was unlikely to affect too many people though it is still embarrassing for the company. (IANS)

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EU slams Facebook, Twitter for lack of user terms reforms

Feb 16, 2018 0

Brussels– The European Commission (EC) has warned social media giants Facebook and Twitter of action including enforcement measures if they fail to reform their terms of services to fully comply with the European Union’s (EU) consumer rules.

The Commission on Thursday said that it requested social media companies in March 2017 to do more to comply with EU consumer rules.

“These requests followed numerous complaints by consumers who had been targeted by fraud or scams when using these websites, as well as having been subject to certain terms of services that do not respect EU consumer law,” the Commission said in a statement.

It found Facebook and Twitter wanting in aligning their terms of services with EU consumer protection rules.

It found the changes made by Google+ to be satisfactory.

“While Google’s latest proposals appear to be in line with the requests made by consumer authorities, Facebook and, more significantly, Twitter, have only partially addressed important issues about their liability and about how users are informed of possible content removal or contract termination,” the statement added.

The Commission, however, noted that the changes already made by the social media companies since the requests were made a year ago will benefit more than a quarter of a billion of EU consumers who use these platforms.

EU consumers will not be forced to waive mandatory EU consumer rights, such as their right to withdraw from an on-line purchase, it said.

They will be able to lodge their complaints in Europe, rather than in California, the statement added.

However, the changes only partially fulfil the requirements under EU consumer law, it added, terming the changes “insufficient”.

“While Google+ has set up a protocol, including deadlines to deal with the requests, Facebook and Twitter have only agreed to provide a dedicated e-mail address that national authorities can use to notify infringements, without committing to deal with such requests within specific timeframes,” the Commission said, noting that it would monitor the implementation of the promised changes.

The Commission said that it would propose new legislation in April to modernise the existing consumer law and ensure that they are properly enforced. (IANS)

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Important to build robust, comprehensive framework to regulate crypto space: Koinex CEO

Feb 16, 2018 0

New Delhi– Whether you believe in cryptocurrencies or not, the asset class has gained a lot of traction and acceptability among market participants. India is becoming one of the biggest trading hubs of cryptos and things will only get bigger once policymakers lay out a clear regulatory framework for this space.

Like equities, investors in the crypto space must understand what they are buying into and what value/utility proposition the digital tokens hold in the long term, says Rahul Raj, Co-founder and CEO of Koinex, India’s leading cryptocurrency exchange. Excerpts from an interview:

Q: Your thoughts on what the Finance Minister said about cryptocurrencies in his budget speech: Do you think he has killed India’s cryptocurrency party?
A: The Finance Minister’s comments were leaning towards the need for a regulated framework for the digital currency ecosystem, rather than a complete ban. This was corroborated by Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg in his statement about India hoping to roll out a regulatory framework before the end of this fiscal year. The government, in fact, has replaced the idiom cryptocurrency with crypto-assets, referring to possibly treating it as a commodity under SEBI guidelines. The government is focused on mitigating all possible illegal financing activities which could revolve around Bitcoin and we are in agreement with this thought. It is important to build a robust and comprehensive framework to regulate this space.

Q: Jaitley said India wants to promote the use of blockchain technology but reaffirmed a negative view on crypto-assets. Do you feel that thinking of blockchain independently of cryptocurrency transactions is redundant at the moment?
A: Blockchain technology is a huge technological breakthrough and is evolving every day. If you see how blockchain functions, it is by design, applicable across sectors that use recording and updating of data. So applications of a transactional nature will always be one of the foremost users of this technology — and so we do see crypto-assets as being an integral part of the blockchain universe. However, the technology will also find relevance in various other industries, including advertising, retail and social media, and government sectors like property office, electorate office, judiciary, etc.

Q: Many Indians are trading on your exchange. On some days, volumes in Ripple are the 20th largest globally, according to coinmarketcap.com. What makes you bullish about the future?
A: As per industry sleuths, in the last 18-24 months, $3.5 billion of trade volumes have been recorded in India. It accounts for over 10 percent of the global Bitcoin trading volumes. With the conversations regarding the regulatory roadmap going forward, we are optimistic about the market and find a scalable business opportunity as a lot more participation is expected on the retail front.

Q: While registering on Koinex, there is a thorough KYC process. What challenges do you see going ahead, especially with respect to your payment partners?
A: We were the first open-book, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange (launched in August 2017). We were also the first to deploy a thorough KYC system… We need users to upload their PAN details, Aadhaar details, and their picture (which is verified using image mapping). Our payment systems were running smoothly, but we did face a few hiccups in the light of the recent apprehensions of the government. But we hope that when policymakers lay out a clear regulatory framework, the financial institutions will be open to partner with us. In terms of what more can be done, there can be a multi-tiered KYC process where we can categorise users in different groups such as HNIs, high traders or politically-exposed individuals. We have also launched our Koinex app to help users trade on the go.

Q: Do you see a good level of coordination between, say, the IT department, the RBI and the Finance Ministry when it comes to formulation of policy?
A: Absolutely. A committee was formed in December which includes members from all of the above. We are sure that all stakeholders will be involved after this committee releases its report on the cryptocurrency landscape in India, with its suggestions. We believe there will be a democratic process and there will be a public and industry opinion on the framework such that every stakeholder’s interests are best represented.

Q: The most iconic exchange in the world has launched Bitcoin futures in Chicago. Ethereum Exchange Traded Notes are being traded by institutional money on the Stockholm NASDAQ. Do you see crypto futures being traded in India?
A: Crypto-assets are still in their nascent stage in India and so it will be some time before we match up with the regulated markets. These are derivative products which need even more regulation. Derivative products are one step further than trading the asset itself.

Q: What security measures you have put in place to avoid a large-scale hack?
A: Most exchanges store their crypto pool offline in hardware wallets and it is not connected to the internet and hence is safe. We also administer traditional web layer security and blockchain security which armours the system from perils of session hijackings, SQL injections and DDoS attacks. We also have complete monitoring of all events and activities on the platform along with full record of this on a minute level. Koinex is India’s first multi-currency exchange with an open-book ledger format; in a short time the company grew to be one of the largest trading portals by volume. One of the key reasons for its success is the cutting-edge technology, proprietary trading engine, wallet and platform architectures, grade A security, user-centric UI/UX and tonnes of user-demanded features that makes it seamless for the users.

Q: Do you plan on introducing more products such as alt coins?
A: Yes, we always are looking at enhancing our product offerings, but these launches are strategic. A lot of due diligence is done on which new products to launch. We have a robust internal framework of many evaluation parameters to determine the relevance of the product in the market. The parameters include details of the parent company, the tech platform, acceptance, market cap, volumes, investor-backing, etc. Once the coin manages to score satisfactory results on these parameters we consider it for a launch.

Q: When do you think the market will be mature enough to take fiat, ie. the Indian Rupee, out of the picture? Do you believe if you offer XRP/BTC, there will still be substantial demand?
A: Crypto to crypto exchanges exist in overseas markets and this is something we will like to introduce as our users mature and the market gets bigger.

Q: What about the arbitrage opportunities that exist between domestic exchanges (like, say, BTC Zebpay and Koinex) as well as the price differential that exists between international markets and India?
A: Every exchange is a local market and thus illiquidity can lead to different prices. Arbitrage opportunities do exist. We want to make it clear that all the bids and asks you see in the publicly available order book are our users’, and we do not do any market-making or proprietary trading. The pricing mechanism is efficient and driven only by supply and demand dynamics. On the point about the premium of domestic crypto prices over the international dollar price, we can again attribute that to strong demand for these assets.

Q: The stance on the crypto universe seems too binary: Either people are for it or massively against it. What is your long-term structural view in this space?
A: Every new disruptive technology or innovation faces strong opposition because, as a society, we are averse to change. Technology will always be a step ahead because innovation comes first, followed by regulation. But like all other transformational technology, be it World Wide Web or artificial intelligence, even blockchain technology will bring a paradigm shift in our ecosystem. It is here to stay. Blockchain technology offers a transparent, secure and efficient peer-to-peer value transaction proposition and will eventually attain mainstream acceptance.(IANS)

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Apple may introduce 3 new iPhones this year

Feb 15, 2018 0

San Francisco– Apple is reportedly gearing up to introduce three new iPhones this year and one of them will be more popular than the others, a top analyst with Taiwanese business group KGI Securities has said.

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the most famous analyst with KGI Securities when it comes to Apple, the Cupertino-headquartered giant will aim to sell 100 million units of “a 6.1-inch iPhone it’s planning to release this year”.

“The 6.1-inch LCD iPhone will apparently resemble the iPhone X with a similar full-screen design, but at a more accessible price for customers. The analyst expects this new iPhone to be priced to replace iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, as cheap as $699,” 9to5Mac reported late on Wednesday.

“The replacement for iPhone X is believed to consist of a three-SKU 2018 iPhone lineup. A new iPhone X style device with improved internals, a larger ‘iPhone X Plus’ with a 6.5-inch OLED display and the 6.1-inch LCD model,” the report added.

Kuo also expects iPhone X to ship a total of 62 million units in its lifetime, adding the company will cease production of this particular model mid-year.

All three devices are expected to feature “Face ID” feature and lose the home button in favour of iPhone X’s gestural navigation.

The 6.1-inch iPhone device will not get a dual camera nor 3D Touch, according to a previous KGI report. (IANS)

 

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US intelligence warns against use of Huawei, ZTE smartphones

Feb 14, 2018 0

Washington– Top US intelligence officials have reportedly warned Americans not to use smartphones from Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE.

According to a CNBC report, the heads of CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of national intelligence expressed these concerns during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing late on Tuesday.

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” FBI Director Chris Wray was quoted as saying.

“It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage,” Wray added.

Huawei responded to the concerns in a statement to CNBC, saying the company was aware of a range of US government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the US market.

“Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cyber security risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities,” the company said.

According to The Verge, Huawei is trying to sell the “Mate 10 Pro” device unlocked in the US but “the effort seems to have pushed the company to desperate measures – including getting users to write fake reviews for the handset”.

US lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would ban government employees from using Huawei and ZTE smartphones.

“The focus of my concern is … Chinese telecoms like Huawei and ZTE … are widely understood to have extraordinary ties to the Chinese government,” Republican Senator Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was quoted as saying. (IANS)

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Google shipped 3.9 mn Pixel devices in 2017

Feb 13, 2018 0

New Delhi– Google shipped 3.9 million Pixel and Pixel 2 devices in 2017 which is nearly double the units it sold in 2016 but a tiny fraction of the global smartphone market that numbers 1.5 billion units.

According to Francisco Jeronimo, Research Director at International Data Corporation (IDC), “#GooglePixel shipments continue to grow, but they still represent a tiny portion of the smartphone market.”

The Pixel sales is also less than a typical week’s worth of iPhone sales for Apple, 9to5google.com reported.

“Presumably, the jump to 3.9 million is largely thanks to the Pixel 2 but discounts on the original Pixel earlier in the year (and following the 2’s debut) could tip the numbers in the other direction,” the report added.

Google recently acquired Taiwan-based HTC’s smartphone design team for $1.1 billion. Google now has access to HTC’s intellectual property to support the Pixel smartphone family.

This is the second time Google has acquired a smartphone manufacturer. It announced a $12.5 billion buyout of Motorola Mobility six years back and in 2014, sold it again to Lenovo.

Last month, the price of the first-generation Rs 76,000 Pixel XL “quite black” colour variant was slashed by Rs 36,000 on e-commerce platform Amazon in India. (IANS)

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New system allows drones to fly through forests, cities

Feb 12, 2018 0

New York– Companies like Amazon have big ideas for drones that can deliver packages right to your door and a new mapping system developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) can help achieve that.

The new system, called NanoMap, allows drones to consistently fly 32 km per hour through dense environments like forests, the researchers said.

Being able to avoid obstacles while travelling at high speeds is computationally complex, especially for small drones that are limited in how much they can carry on-board for real-time processing.

The new system considers the drone’s position in the world over time to be uncertain and actually models and accounts for that uncertainty.

“Overly confident maps won’t help you if you want drones that can operate at higher speeds in human environments,” said Pete Florence, lead author on a new related paper.

“An approach that is better aware of uncertainty gets us a much higher level of reliability in terms of being able to fly in close quarters and avoid obstacles,” Florence added.

Specifically, NanoMap uses a depth-sensing system to stitch together a series of measurements about the drone’s immediate surroundings, according to the study to be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), scheduled in May in Brisbane.

This allows it to not only make motion plans for its current field of view but also anticipate how it should move around in the hidden fields of view that it has already seen.

“It’s kind of like saving all of the images you’ve seen of the world as a big tape in your head,” Florence said.

“For the drone to plan motions, it essentially goes back into time to think individually of all the different places that it was in,” he added.

The team’s tests demonstrated the impact of uncertainty.

For example, if NanoMap was not modelling uncertainty and the drone drifted just five per cent away from where it was expected to be, the drone would crash more than once every four flights.

Meanwhile, when it accounted for uncertainty, the crash rate reduced to two per cent.

The team believes that the system could be used in fields ranging from search-and-rescue and defence to package delivery and entertainment and can also be applied to self-driving cars and other forms of autonomous navigation. (IANS)

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