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Non-Personal Data Policy Citizens cite risks of targeting, surveillance, data misuse

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Hacker. (File Photo: IANS)
Hacker. (File Photo: IANS)

The citizen feedback on the Non-Personal Data draft policy is not positive as people say there is very little to gain and the risk is of increased targeting, surveillance and data misuse.

According to Local Circles, Non-Personal Data draft policy has gotten the dialogue started amongst citizens and businesses, it needs to be revisited considering the findings of a survey. “From a citizen standpoint, there is very little to gain and the risk is of increased targeting, surveillance and data misuse,” it said.

The nine-member committee set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, released a draft non-personal data policy in mid-July giving the public two months to provide feedback. Per the policy, any data which does not contain any personally identifiable information of an individual is termed as non-personal data.

For example, while order details collected by an e-commerce platform will have the name, age, address and other contact information of an individual, it will be considered non-personal data if specific identifiers like name, address and contact information are removed.

NPD also classified non-personal data into three main categories – public non-personal data, community non-personal data and private non-personal data. Although many experts say that this policy is a forward looking step and will create a culture of data sharing of non-personal data which will bring overall benefits to the country, MSME and startups as well as citizens do not seem to be in favour of the policy in its current form.

Citizen databases in India tend to sell for low prices and if one combines 2-3 of the commonly available databases along with say aggregate data from a large company, an individual can almost be fully profiled.

On the small business front, making the data available for a price is a non-starter and most believe they will be spectators to a data purchase war between large businesses.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed most businesses behind by 2 years or more as far as their turnover and profitability is concerned. Another disruption in form of a mandatory aggregate data sharing program where hundreds of requests for data are coming is something that large businesses are bound to shy away from for the next few years. So let us ask again, who are we trying to really help and then redraft this policy,” Local Circles said.

The best approach at this point is for the government to embark on a massive data aggregation and eventually sharing exercise of the various central, state and local databases which can then be used by startups and MSMEs to build innovative products and services on.

As far as data sharing by businesses go, a voluntary to mandatory aggregate data sharing program say over 3 years for businesses above Rs 500 crore annual turnover where businesses decide what data they share would be a good starting point.

LocalCircles decoded the 72-page detailed document and converted it into a simple survey on the key issues so common citizens, MSMEs and startups can participate and share their feedback. The survey received over 17,000 responses from citizens while over 15,000 responses were received from the startups and MSMEs spread across the country.

The government, via its Non-Personal Data Policy draft recommendation is mandating that Indian authorities can seek anonymised aggregate data of citizens from businesses to better understand the industry or for any other reason. Such data could include purchases made, services availed, calls made, health condition, etc. was the first issue discussed with citizens.

People were asked if they would be willing to give their consent for this and share their data in anonymised form. In response, 27 per cent said they would never want to share their anonymised data while 35 per cent said they will be willing to do so only in a law-order or an investigation situation. Only 30 per cent citizens said they were willing to share their anonymised data with the government for general purposes.

The kind of concerns that were raised by people included misuse of data for targeting specific communities or people residing in a particular area.

One of the examples cited was targeting around elections in terms of a political party or a candidate being able to find out what people of a particular area were searching on an e-commerce site or on the internet.

According to many respondents, the purpose or objective data should be very clear and specific before such information or consent for such information is sought from them. For instance, if the objective is to improve the government’s school education system, the same should be stated beforehand and upfront when the data is sought. Not having to know what the data will be used for in the future creates suspicion according to many citizens.

The Non-Personal Data Policy also proposes that a business that collects user data can sell it to other businesses or a Government body after anonymising it. Citizens were asked if they support such selling of their anonymised data, to which 81 per cent responded in a negative, while only 14 per cent responded in a positive.

Local Circles said this means that only 14 per cent citizens support businesses selling their anonymised data to other businesses and government.

The big concern here amongst people is that if any organisation especially a business is purchasing aggregate data from another business, there is a high likelihood that it will use it to target communities or groups of individuals with their products and services.

This will likely mean unsolicited offers, spam and targeted advertising. Hence, a high majority of the 81 per cent people voted against such a possible move. Even if the purchasing organisation was a government department, people are still concerned that such data will ultimately be misused and reach businesses.

The draft Non-Personal Data policy mandates that a business must sell their customers’ anonymised data to other businesses or government if they are willing to purchase the same. The final question asked how such a clause will impact businesses. 19 per cent said it will help large and heavily funded businesses only, 35 per cent said it will help large and heavily funded businesses and the government, 20 per cent said it will help businesses of all sizes, while 26 per cent were not sure what would happen.

This is one of the most important inputs from startups and MSMEs where they believe that while such a policy may have a stated objective of helping small businesses, it will likely do the opposite if the aggregate data of businesses is requested to or sold by the business as a revenue stream for a price.

Many startups and MSMEs believe that this will lead to one large company buying aggregate data of another large company while small businesses struggle to make ends meet. Most small businesses, be it an Indian startup or an MSME will find it extremely difficult in majority of the cases to pay high prices for such data.

Large companies also in some cases are likely to resist selling their data if its core to their business model, leading to rejection of the data request or going to court.

In the next question, businesses were asked that before the Government mandates businesses to share their aggregate anonymised data, should the Government mandatorily share its aggregate anonymised data like municipal, health, traffic, water, environment, court pendencies, etc, so innovators can build new value added services upon them. 72 per cent answered in a ‘yes’, while 16 per cent said the businesses should do it first. 12 per cent were unsure.

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Business

CMS launches AI-automated ATM security software ‘Algo’

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SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)
SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)

Mumbai, Oct 14 (IANS) CMS Info Systems (CMS) has announced the launch of fully automated, Artificial Intelligence-powered ATM security software application ‘Algo’.

CMS Algo is an end-to-end security encrypted a fool-proof solution to prevent ATM frauds at the time of cash replenishment or maintenance, the company said in a statement.

The application is machine-agnostic and can operate on any ATM manufactured by any OEM.

Rajiv Kaul, Executive Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Whole-time Director of CMS Info Systems, said: “This application can run on any ATM across the world and helps in fraud prevention. The solution is cost-effective in the back-end and low cost in the front-end.”

“The biggest saving is the reduction of fraud, no requirement of a call centre, and restricted access to data and premises,” he said.

He noted that the company has deployed Algo on 52,000 ATMs in India.

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CCI okays Tube Investments’ stake buy in CG Power

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Competition Commission of India
Competition Commission of India

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of shares in CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd by Tube Investments of India Ltd.

The proposed combination envisages acquisition of more than 50 per cent of the equity share capital of CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd (CG Power) by Tube Investments of India Ltd (TIIL).

TIIL is a listed entity and is part of Murugappa group. It has three business verticals including engineering, metal formed products and bicycles. It is engaged in the manufacture of a wide range of products for automotive, railway, construction, mining and agriculture industries.

Also a listed entity, CG Power has two major business units — power systems and industrial systems.

The power systems business unit focuses on power transmission, distribution, power solutions, setting up of integrated power systems among others.

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Uber hires Amazon veteran to lead mobility teams in Bengaluru

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Manikandan Thangarathnam
Manikandan Thangarathnam

Uber on Thursday announced it hired Amazon veteran Manikandan Thangarathnam as senior director to lead all rider and platform engineering teams in Bengaluru.

Uber said it is also hiring 85 more engineers in the country. This is in addition to hiring 140 engineers the ride-hailing service announced last month.

“As the world steps into a new normal, adaptability is going to be a key aspect to usher in growth. I look forward to leading the bright minds at Uber and innovating together for the world, one ride at a time,” said Mani.

At Amazon, Mani helped build several core platforms and products.

He led engineering efforts for the Amazon Appstore and was instrumental in bootstrapping the tech major’s Chennai office and building a vast team of engineers.

The Rider mobility team works on the challenge of enabling the next billion trips by building new services including high capacity vehicles (Uber bus), and car rentals, among others.

The company said the Marketplace team is building a highly-available and scalable self-serve gateway to configure, manage, and monitor Application Programming Interfaces (API) of every business domain at Uber.

Uber recently hired another Amazon veteran Jayaram Valliyur as senior director to lead its global finance technology team, spread across multiple geographies.

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OnePlus investing Rs 100 crore to boost retail footprint in India

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OnePlus to launch 2 Nord smartphones on Oct 26
OnePlus to launch 2 Nord smartphones on Oct 26

Smartphone maker OnePlus is committed to invest Rs 100 crore towards deeper market penetration by taking premium offline experience beyond metro cities and expanding its reach through new online and offline retail partnerships, a top company executive said on Thursday.

With over 5,000 offline stores including partnered stores across the country, the smartphone maker is planning to scale up to more than 8,000 stores in the coming quarters, Navnit Nakra, VP and Chief Strategy OnePlus India told IANS.

“At present, we have over 30 OnePlus experience stores across India and will be opening 14 new experience stores in the next six months.

“We’ll launch our biggest experience store globally, the OnePlus Nizam Palace in Hyderabad later this year. We are also working towards covering 100 cities through our service centre network in the next year,” Nakra informed.

The smartphone maker launched its India R&D centre in 2019 and is committed to achieve long-term growth in the country.

Currently, the company has 300 employees in the R&D team and hope to double that number in the coming months.

Nakra said that India continues to be a key market for OnePlus since the brand’s entry in 2014.

“We began our commitment to Make in India initiative in February 2018 and since then, we have been manufacturing our devices in the country. We have also commenced the manufacturing of the OnePlus TVs and OnePlus Nord in India,” Nakra told IANS.

By 2021, all OnePlus TVs will be manufactured locally in India.

“On our smart TV portfolio, we commenced the manufacturing of the Y series in India and by 2021, all OnePlus TVs will also be manufactured locally including the Q and the U series,” Nakra informed.

He said that 100 per cent of OnePlus smartphones are being manufactured in India including OnePlus 8 series, OnePlus Nord and the recently launched OnePlus 8T.

OnePlus has launched its new flagship 5G smartphone the ‘OnePlus 8T’ with 120Hz Fluid AMOLED display and quad-camera set up, in India.

The OnePlus 8T will be available in two colours, aquamarine green and lunar silver at Rs 45,999 (12GB RAM+ 256GB internal storage) and Rs 42,999 (8GB RAM+128GB internal storage).

“OnePlus is consistently exploring opportunities to fuel its growth and meet the needs of more users, by starting to strategically diversify into new product categories and new price points but, at the same time, not compromising on our OnePlus promise,” Nakra told IANS.

OnePlus Nord series is also likely to get new entrants this month, according to multiple reports.

The rumoured OnePlus Nord N10 5G and OnePlus Nord N100 are said to be launching as soon as the end of October, first in the US market.

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Sensex in red amid volatility on global cues

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Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). (File Photo: IANS)
Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). (File Photo: IANS)

Amid a largely volatile trade, the key Indian equity indices traded in negative on Thursday morning.

Weakness across Asian markets and fading hopes of a further stimulus in the US, weighed down on the investor sentiments, analysts said.

At 10.25 a.m., Sensex was trading at 40,643.97, lower by 150.77 points or 0.37 per cent from its previous close of 40,794.74.

It opened at 41,048.05 and has so far touched an intra-day high of 41,048.05 and a low of 40,541.13 points.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was trading at 11,953.30, lower by 17.75 points or 0.15 per cent from the previous close.

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US stocks drop as stimulus hopes wane

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New York Stock Exchange. (File Photo: IANS)
New York Stock Exchange. (File Photo: IANS)

Wall Street’s major averages finished lower on Wednesday as investors grew concerned over the uncertain fate of a US coronavirus stimulus deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 165.81 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 28,514.00. The S&P 500 fell 23.26 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 3,488.67. The Nasdaq Composite Index sank 95.17 points, or 0.80 per cent, to 11,768.73, Xinhua news agency reported.

Eight of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors declined, with consumer discretionary down 1.43 per cent, leading the laggards. Industrials closed up 0.54 per cent, the best-performing group.

US-listed Chinese companies traded mostly lower, with six of the top 10 stocks by weight in the S&P US Listed China 50 index ending the day on a downbeat note.

Investors continued to look for clues on new stimulus. An impasse among US lawmakers in Washington has somewhat dimmed hopes that more Covid-19 relief aid would come to fruition before the election.

“We have two sides that are very far apart in terms of arriving at some form of stimulus, and I do not think it is likely we see a breakthrough before the election,” Mitch Zacks, CEO at Zacks Investment Management, said in a note on Wednesday.

Looking ahead, analysts said markets will remain sensitive to news of fiscal support in the lead-up to the election.

Meanwhile, Wall Street pored through newly-released earnings reports.

Goldman Sachs on Wednesday delivered quarterly results that well exceeded consensus estimates. Its shares rose 0.2 per cent.

Bank of America shares fell more than 5 per cent after its earnings topped expectations and overall revenue missed estimates.

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