I’m a member of what is likely a reasonably sizable informal group of people who trained to be a CEO but declined the job — in my case, several times. So I don’t envy the position that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is in as he tries to figure out a way to do the right thing concerning the spread of false information and defend his company against an attack by the designated leader of the free world.
I’ve been receiving email and social media queries asking me to use my influence to get Jack to do the “right thing.” There are two issues with this: 1) I don’t know Dorsey personally, and 2) I understand and appreciate that the guy is between a rock and a hard place concerning doing what is right and ensuring the survival of Twitter.
I’ll delve into some of the challenges he faces and then close with my product of the week — AMD and Dell’s fascinating joint effort that resulted in one of the best values in gaming notebooks, the Dell G5.
The Duties of a CEO
Most people who never have studied to be or served as a CEO think it is a dream job. You can do what you want, you don’t have any bosses to keep happy, and you can just sit around and give orders. I’ve seen new CEOs try to operate with this theory, and I’ve never seen that end well.
As the CEO of a public company, you don’t have one boss — you have a lot of them. You report to a board that represents your investors, and on that board are people who hold or control a lot of the firm’s stock. These people often don’t have the same agendas, but they collectively have the power to fire you.
Also, you have to contend with the actual stockholders. If they don’t like you they will sell their stock, driving down the value of the company and prompting those who are on your board to fire you. You have your large customers and pools of smaller customers who control your income, and if enough of them don’t like what you are doing, they can stop buying so your firm’s revenue dries up — and yes, once again, you get fired.
You have the SEC. If the commissioners don’t like what you say, or they think you are misbehaving, they can have you removed from office and incarcerated. You have your CFO who reports to you and the board. A CFO who doesn’t like you can move behind your back to get you removed from office (I’m running out of creative ways to say “fired”).
Yes, the job pays well, and those who fail generally get a golden parachute that makes anyone else’s severance package look incredibly anemic. Still, once you’ve served as a CEO, you are usually thought to be overly qualified for any other job, and failed CEOs who then succeed as advisors, board members, or consultants are rare. You are pretty much done, and since most CEOs value status highly, the massive loss of status can be personally catastrophic.
As CEO of a large public firm, thousands are dependent on your doing the job well. If you don’t, you could face strikes — or in extreme situations, attacks. When at NCR, Mark Hurd had his tires slashed. When one of the CEOs I worked for was burned over most of his body in a plane crash, there was speculation that the collision wasn’t accidental (though that was never proven).
You are the face of the company, so if people get pissed off at your firm, they may take their anger out on you. Further, given your income, you and your family could be targeted by blackmailers or kidnappers.
Finally, you tend to be a minor celebrity, so if you decide to have dinner with a subordinate, customer or stockholder of the opposite sex, there is a high probability you’ll be accused of having an affair. Should you actually have an affair, it may cost you your job and make you unemployable.
Far from enjoying the ultimate freedom, CEOs generally find themselves bound by rules they don’t understand full. Their responsibilities may far exceed their capabilities, and they might face internal and external threats that aren’t associated with any other job in the private sector. Oh, and I should point out that when done right, the job requires a level of commitment that has a history of destroying families. At the end, CEOs may have a ton of money and a lot of personal regrets.
Twitter Chief Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey is
CEO of not one company but two. In addition to Twitter, he runs Square, the leading mobile payments company. If you are buying services, you probably are paying for them over Square (it probably should merge with PayPal). Currently, one of the most powerful investors in Twitter is moving to have Dorsey fired, so he is also at personal risk.
With Twitter’s ad revenue falling broadly, thanks to the pandemic, the firm is at financial risk. In short, Dorsey isn’t Steve Jobs at Apple. (And though it seemed Jobs could do most anything, even he got fired once.)
Dorsey’s exposure means he can’t afford a war with anyone, let alone the president of the United States, given that Twitter is an unlimited company. In terms of power, even the most powerful company tends to be overmatched when fighting a government. Even Google was forced out of China, and Google is nearly as powerful as a small country. It now is at risk of being broken up by the U.S. or the EU.
So if Twitter goes to war with the U.S. government, it will be overmatched, and Dorsey currently is at risk as to its CEO.
Dorsey could cut President Trump from Twitter, as some have suggested. However, it’s likely he wouldn’t survive as CEO, and his successor’s first act of self-preservation likely would be to reverse that decision — assuming Twitter survived as a company.
As a result, there is little Dorsey can do that won’t result in his termination and the likely reversal of anything he might do that would materially impact the president’s ability to post falsehoods on the site.
The Recommended Fix
This problem — the inability to ensure the validity of content from the very powerful — is something that surrounds all of the social media players. If it doesn’t get addressed, there is a high likelihood that one or more of them will get nationalized, broken up, over-regulated or shut down.
The firms most at risk are Facebook, Google and Twitter. Now I’m an analyst, and my job isn’t to complain about things but to analyze the problem and suggest a fix that will stand in the face of the threat.
I think the closest model is
Underwriters Laboratories, which is a third-party industry-funded quality assurance organization. The organization is one of the strongest providers of proactive protection against liability for unsafe products.
It isn’t perfect, and there have been products that passed UL tests but performed poorly. Still, it has been far more successful over time than internal quality control when it comes to protecting companies from liability. UL does have a positive impact on overall quality.
It is a science-based organization focused on quality, suggesting its mission might be broad enough to assume responsibility for ensuring the quality of social media posts. It would be a considerable stretch, though, and staffing would be more connected with fact-checkers than systematic hardware and software testing. So you might start with them for the general model but then move to create another fact organization mainly focused on the veracity of information.
Funded by social media companies, the organization’s goal would be to provide a remedy to the spread of false information and protect the firms supporting it from excessive government interference, liability and extreme penalties.
It would need not only fact-checking elements but defensive litigation elements, so that it could both ensure and protect the decisions it makes concerning content and banning users. Bans could cross all social media platforms. Its efforts could include identity solutions that would monitor behavior to identify banned users who tried to reenter using new IDs.
Instead of going after the social media companies individually, governments would be forced to challenge an organization explicitly designed to weather these kinds of attacks. For example, if the president were banned, he likely would be banned on all major platforms.
His recourse would be to attack the regulatory body that already would be ramped for defense. Further, it would have access to both the major news organizations and social media platforms, along with the courts, for to mount itd defense.
If set up properly, it could call on the resources of the combined social media companies to defend their decision and protect their mission.
This group could be focused on addressing other problems, like illegal or illicit behavior on the platforms, with a high probability of mitigating or preventing that behavior before traditional law enforcement got involved, avoiding damage to the related brand image and significantly reducing harmful behavior.
We have a plague of false information, and it costs lives. There is little doubt that once this pandemic settles down, the amount of civil litigation that will result will be unprecedented, and networks that have been promoting false information, as well as the social media networks that have spread it, may face unprecedented liability.
News organizations do have protections that social media companies don’t. Still, I doubt they’ll hold given the massive number of deaths. At an estimated liability of $10M per case, there aren’t a lot of countries — let alone companies — that could bear the economic burden. Creating a collective firewall against that eventuality now could reduce liability significantly. More importantly, by ensuring that information provided is accurate, a significant number of lives could be saved.
What I’m suggesting is adoption of the Underwriters Labs model for information accuracy, with enhanced enforcement and the ability to requisition resources from participating companies to form a defense against powerful politicians who compromise the platforms and put them at risk. The organization’s mission would include the identification and elimination of illegal activity on the platforms as well.
We refer to the Internet as the Wild West. To address crimes in that era, marshals were established as a locally funded law enforcement agency that reduced the need for government-funded law enforcement.
Jack Dorsey and Twitter can’t fight off the president alone, but the technology industry collectively could. It is past time for it to step up to this responsibility, because this pandemic has showcased that the effective use of fake news has put the industry and the nation at mortal risk.
Currently, AMD is unique in the market. Like Qualcomm does for smartphones, AMD provides both high-performance CPU and GPU technology to the platform. As a result, it can create synergy between core elements to provide extra performance. However, this advantage works only if the total solution is implemented. Sadly, that is rarely the case.
I’m into cars, and I just received a reminder of why it is essential to have a single entity undertake the solution. In my case, instead of using an engine builder to create a high-performance engine, I had my mechanic slap together a bunch of high-performance parts, and the result is that I’m around 125 HP off from where I should have been.
Now, this isn’t a typical mistake for me, but it resulted from finding out too late that my existing engine was crap, and I didn’t want to toss out the work we’d done and start over, even though in hindsight, that is what should have happened. In my defense, I’d wanted to do that, but my mechanic convinced me it would be a waste of money. I now have a new mechanic.
Dell G5 15E is one of the rare exceptions in which the performance components were specified mainly by AMD against a Dell requirement. The result is a gaming laptop that performs in line with other gaming laptops, costing half-again as much.
Should you ever make it back into an office, this laptop looks like a business machine, so it doesn’t carry the stigma that bringing a more traditional gaming laptop into the office might create. What also makes this laptop unique is that Frank Azor, known for Dell’s highly successful Alienware and XPS efforts, left Dell and joined AMD during the development of this product and formed a powerful bridge between the firms.
I think efforts like this are critical to returning excitement to this segment. Much like the Corvette C8 is making supercars affordable, for example, it will help make PCs exciting again. Oh, and it is a bargain, so it is a natural candidate for my product of the week.
After migrating a WordPress site to a new URL either to a live production site or a testing development server, the new URL strings in the MySQL database need to be changed and updated in the various MySQL database tables.
This method just uses the whole MySQL database rather than a WordPress export/import from within and is best suited for a straight swap. So you would copy all the WordPress files/folders to the new destination, set the correct ownership to those files
WordPress uses MySQL database to store all its data, including site URLs. So if for some reason you need to change your WordPress URL, it’s necessary to tweak some data in MySQL. Keep reading to know how to do it!
1. Determining the Name of WordPress MySQL Database
You can skip this part if you only have one MySQL database. However, if you have multiple databases and not sure which one is connected to WordPress, then follow the steps below.
WordPress stores MySQL database name and its credentials (user name & DB Password) in the wp-config.php file. You can find this file in your root file directory:
- Access your CPanel and open File Manager or access using FTP.
- Select the domain name, then click Go to File Manager
3. Open wp-config.php and search for DB_NAME. The value of this parameter is your database name. For instance, the name of our MySQL database “Give new DB Name”
2. Changing WordPress URLs in MySQL Database
Replacing your old URL is not difficult at all. Here’s what you need to do:
- Go to phpMyAdmin via your website control panel.
- The left panel list all of your databases. Select the one connected to your WordPress site and head to the SQL tab
Enter the following SQL query
- UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = replace(option_value, ‘oldurl.com’, ‘newurl.com’) WHERE option_name = ‘home’ OR option_name = ‘siteurl’;UPDATE wp_posts SET guid = replace(guid, ‘oldurl.com’,‘newurl.com’);UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, ‘oldurl.com’, ‘newurl.com’);
- UPDATE wp_postmeta SET meta_value = replace(meta_value,‘oldurl.com’,‘newurl.com’);
Replace oldurl.com with your current WordPress address and newurl.com with your new WordPress address.
Your table prefix might not be wp_. See the correct table prefix on the left panel of phpMyAdmin, and update the SQL query.
- Press Go. You will see success messages along with the number of changed rows. Note that the number of rows will be different for each WordPress website.
The last thing we need to do is verify the changes. Open the wp_options table and check the option_value of siteurl and home. You should see your new URL.
If you get error messages and the queries are not executing, check your code for syntax errors and make sure you are using the correct table prefix. Contact the hosting support for further assistance if the error persists.
I hope this tutorial can give you clear guidance on how to change WordPress URLs in the MySQL database. Kindly leave any questions you have below!
Note that there are additional concerns with other methods, as references to the old URL will persist in the database. Two known issues that users face frequently are:
- Old URLs in widgets and menus: The old URL can exist not only in posts but also in widgets and menus.
- Broken Image and Video links: If you have successfully replaced the site URL, it is possible that the images are not functioning properly. This can cause issues with page display if you do not update image URLs.
The URLs are stored in many database tables and you can change them manually. The URLs for custom menu items are present in the meta_value field in the wp_postmeta table. The image URLs are present inside the posts_content field in the wp_posts table. For the old link manager, the image URLs are present in the link_image fields in the wp_links fields. You need to be careful in what you replace. So be sure you are aware of the meaning of the field before you change it. Here’s a quick list of places where you can find the URL:
- Inside posts and pages: “posts_content” field in the “wp_posts” table
- The old link manager: “link_url” and “link_image” fields in the ‘wp_links” table
- URLs of Custom Menu items: “meta_value” field in the “wp_postmeta” table
- Options or themes and plugins: “option_value” field in the “wp_options” table
- URLs inside comments: “comment_content” field in the “wp_comments” table
You can update old URLs in the database by making the change in each of the above-mentioned tables and fields. But this method is cumbersome and highly time-consuming. Basically, we choose to implement tools and plugins which are easy, safe and quick to use.
Betaal — the supernatural zombie horror series releasing this Sunday — is the second Netflix original for Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies, after Bard of Blood last year. And though Khan is an uncredited producer — as he prefers — on Betaal, he had a creative role to play as well. For one, Khan is responsible for the Netflix series’ exact title, Betaal creator Patrick Graham revealed to Gadgets 360: “It was originally Betal with one ‘a’. Now it’s Betaal, so that’s Shah Rukh who put the extra ‘a’ in.”
More importantly, Khan advised the makers of Betaal on the script stage, giving them tips on how to make it more accessible to Indians — Betaal is arguably the first zombie series in the country — and offering suggestions on a plot level to make the events more emotionally resonant.
Graham said Khan’s script feedback was “excellent”, while his co-director Nikhil Mahajan called him “highly intelligent”. For Mahajan, who came to Mumbai and the film industry because of Khan, meeting him was also like the poetic end to a circle.
“We had this wonderful three-hour narration with Shah Rukh and he’s the only person I’ve ever narrated to who actually looked me in the eye throughout,” Graham added. “He never once got distracted, he didn’t look at his phone. It was actually a really remarkable experience; I will never forget it.”
Mahajan noted that Khan sat with a small notebook and diligently wrote in it: “And when the narration was over, he took us through the pointers that he had written down.”
Graham said: “He gave us 12 points of feedback, that me, the co-director, and the co-writer [Suhani Kanwar] all sat and wrote down. And I think we actually enacted most of what his suggestions were, because they were great suggestions.”
Mahajan added: “It was very inspiring to see an actor and a star of his stature to do something that is fundamentally the most basic thing: writing things down so that you don’t forget. It was really sweet and humbling. And of course, he had extremely valuable insights which helped us tremendously.”
Neither Graham nor Mahajan would be drawn on the specific insights though, because they apparently involve spoilers for the Netflix series.
“Mostly, it was coming from a very strong understanding of how the audience perceive things, and how we can make slight changes to make it more accessible,” Mahajan said. “It was small things, like emotional beats, that would make things more palatable for an audience. It was stuff like that, which was very nice to see because they were right there in front of us and we couldn’t see it.”
NASA gave the green light on Friday to next week’s launch of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX vessel — the first crewed space flight from US soil in nine years and a crucial step towards ending American dependence on Russian rockets. Top officials at the US space agency and Elon Musk’s company had been meeting since Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final checks of the Crew Dragon space capsule ahead of its maiden May 27 crewed mission.
“At the end we got to a go,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters by video of the meticulous Flight Readiness Review, which provided the go-ahead.
US astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are scheduled to blast off from Kennedy’s historic Launch Pad 39A at 2:03 am IST on Thursday for the International Space Station, arriving the next day.
Asked about going ahead with the mission in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Behnken told reporters: “Where there’s a will, there’s away.”
Behnken and Hurley have been in strict quarantine since May 13 because of the pandemic, but they said their actual isolation began as far back as mid-March.
“We have been in quarantine probably longer than any other space crew has ever been in the history of the space program,” Hurley said.
He said he and Behnken have been tested twice so far for COVID-19 and “rumor has it we might be tested again before we go.”
American astronauts have been flying to the ISS, which currently houses two Russians and one American, on Russian rockets since the US space shuttle program was shelved in 2011 after three decades of service.
Should the SpaceX mission succeed, the United States will have achieved its goal of no longer having to buy seats on Russian Soyuz rockets to send astronauts to the ISS, which has been occupied by US and Russian astronauts since 2000.
NASA has awarded contracts worth $3.1 billion (roughly Rs. 23,552 crores) to SpaceX and $4.9 billion (roughly Rs. 37,228 crores) to Boeing in a bid to give the US independent access to space once again.
The original target for crewed flights replacing the shuttle was 2015, a hiatus that the late Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, once described as “embarrassing.”
Behnken and Hurley have been training for five years on the Crew Dragon capsule, which features touchscreens as opposed to the switches and buttons of the Apollo capsules of the 1960s.
Unlike the space shuttle — which suffered two fatal accidents — the SpaceX capsule includes an emergency escape system in the event there is a problem after liftoff.
At the end of the mission, which is expected to last several months, Crew Dragon will splashdown in the ocean like the Apollo capsules did slow down by four enormous parachutes.
SpaceX and Boeing are being called upon to carry out six crewed voyages each to the ISS over the next few years.
If next week’s Crew Dragon mission — baptized Demo-2 — is successful SpaceX will be the first private company ever to deliver astronauts to the ISS.
Demo-1 was a flight conducted successfully in March 2019 with a mannequin aboard.
Boeing conducted an uncrewed test flight of its capsule, known as Starliner, in December but it suffered multiple glitches.
US-Russia cooperation is not expected to end once Crew Dragon goes into service. NASA plans to use Soyuz rockets to send some astronauts into space.
SpaceX will also provide flights to non-American astronauts and Musk’s company wants to eventually send tourists into space.
A private three-passenger mission is planned for the second half of 2021 with tickets expected to run in the tens of millions of dollars.
OnePlus truly wireless earbuds could be known as the OnePlus Buds, according to tipster Max J. Earlier this month, he suggested that OnePlus TWS Buds will be launched in July, possibly alongside the rumoured OnePlus Z phone. At the moment, the key details of the rumoured TWS earbuds are unclear and OnePlus has also not confirmed their launch. The TWS earbuds were earlier expected to come out alongside the OnePlus 8 series in April, but instead, OnePlus unveiled its new neckband earphones OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z — currently sold in India for Rs. 1,999.
The tipster, Max J also shared a sketch of the rumoured OnePlus Buds that heavily resembles the Apple AirPods. Interestingly, the case of the TWS earbuds resembles the case of Google Pixel Buds. However, it’s worth pointing out that Max himself says to take this with a pinch of salt, saying that the leak comes from a seemingly reliable, but new, source.
As mentioned, the earbuds were expected to launch alongside the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro last month. However, the tipster tweeted a few days before the launch that the company would “sadly not” launch the true wireless earbuds at the OnePlus 8 launch event.
Meanwhile, the OnePlus Buds are expected to debut alongside the OnePlus Z smartphone, which was initially rumoured to be called OnePlus 8 Lite. Max J in April had claimed that the phone will launch in July. Moreover, the same tipster earlier this month had indicated that the OnePlus Z phone will pack Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G SoC that supports 5G connectivity.
The phone may come with a 6.4-inch display, triple rear cameras and a 4,000mAh battery with support for 30W fast charging, as per a previous report.
WordPress Course Contents
• Install WordPress on your PC or Mac computer, so you can learn without having to pay hosting or domain fees.
• Navigate around the WordPress dashboard, know what everything does and how to use it.
• Understand the main features of WordPress
• Create pages and posts, and most importantly, know the difference between the two.
• Correctly use post categories and tags and understand why these can cause you problems at the search engines if used incorrectly.
• Know how to configure WordPress for best results
• Create a static homepage useful for most websites, or a blog like a homepage useful for bloggers.
• Create a Responsive Website that looks good on any browser
This course will teach anyone to build a functional, beautiful, responsive website with WordPress.
• Create custom menus and navigation systems that both visitors and search engines will find useful.
• Understand plugins & themes and how to find/install them
• Protect their WordPress website from hackers and spammers
• Create an affiliate site for passive, recurring income
• Create Ecommerce Website using WordPress.
• No prior knowledge of WordPress is required as everything will be covered in this course.
• You will need a working computer and a web browser connected to the internet.
• You don’t need any coding experience at all. That is the beauty of WordPress.
Switzerland this week launched a pilot program for SwissCovid, a contact tracing app based on Apple and Google’s jointly developed APIs.
The APIs will work with iOS 13.5 and devices running Android 6.0 or higher.
The pilot involves several thousand workers at Ecole polytechnique fdrale de Lausanne, ETH Zurich, the Swiss Army, and staff at some hospitals and cantonal administrations.
The app will monitor people in real-world situations, notifying participants who have been in contact with someone who was diagnosed COVID-positive.
It will run until the Swiss Parliament debates its legal basis in June. The aim is to launch it nationwide in mid-June.
However, the app was
publicly available in the Google Play Store for several hours on Monday.
Access was restricted on Tuesday, according to EFPL spokesperson Emmanuel Barraud.
Although the number of unauthorized downloads has not been disclosed, the unintended access should not affect the pilot’s effectiveness, Barraud said.
How SwissCovid Works
SwissCovid uses Bluetooth Low-Energy beacons to exchange and record the ephemeral proximity identifiers of phones in a user’s vicinity. The identifiers are kept on the phone unless the user tests positive for COVID-19.
The app signals a user who has been in prolonged contact with one or more people who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. The user must have been in contact with a COVID-positive person for more than 15 minutes or must have been less than two meters away — about six feet.
SwissCovid indicates the day of exposure the risk and tells the user what procedures to follow.
Users who test positive are given a single-use code by their doctor, which lets them voluntarily send their phone’s ephemeral keys, for the days they are contagious, to a server managed by the Swiss administration.
SwissCovid uses the Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (DP3T) protocol to minimize the collection and sharing of information.
The protocol, from EPFL’s Security & Privacy Engineering Laboratory, is the joint work of 25 academics from research institutions across Europe.
“Our goal is to offer a solution that can be adopted in Europe and around the world,” said Carmela Troncoso, an assistant professor at EFPL and head of its SPRING Lab.
The EU plans
to adopt common rules for using mobile apps to track the spread of the coronavirus.
Security and Privacy
Contact tracing has raised a number of concerns about security and privacy.
Apple and Google have tried to forestall obstacles stemming from privacy and security concerns by requiring public health authorities (PHAs)
to sign legal agreements governing use of the Apple-Google API:
- Apps built using the APIs can be used only to fight the coronavirus epidemic;
- The amount of data collected must be minimized;
- The PHAs must get user consent at multiple stages;
- Users can turn exposure notifications on and off;
- They cannot ask permission to use a smartphone’s location services;
- They cannot employ user data collected for things like targeted advertising; and
- The API will be available for only one app per country or region, depending on the government’s approach.
All metadata associated with Bluetooth will be encrypted.
Centralized vs. Decentralized
There is considerable debate in Europe over whether to adopt a centralized or decentralized approach. The UK has taken a centralized approach, while SwissCovid is decentralized, storing personal data it collects only on users’ phones.
“Governments prefer centralized proximity tracking because they receive the richest amount of information. They have more detailed information on users and citizens to understand deeper trends,” noted Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research.
However, the success of that approach relies on trust in the collector, and “privacy advocates are worried about the social graph moving into the hands of governments,” Wang told TechNewsWorld. “Privacy advocates prefer the decentralized approach.”
Decentralized models “tend to be faster. They can be more resilient if a massive breach of the data is also decentralized, and they can better conform to localized regulations and concerns,” remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
However, they are more difficult to secure overall because of their increased complexity, greater contact surface, and numerous weak links, Enderle told TechNewsWorld. Further, analysis “is often slower and less comprehensive.”
Centralized systems are easier to secure and manage, faster to analyze, and less expensive to deploy, Enderle said. They often are also more robust.
On the other hand, centralized systems don’t conform as well to local rules such as moving data, Enderle pointed out. They make it easier to capture the entire database if breached and can be destroyed totally in a catastrophic event.
Coming to America
There is no clear-cut indication as to which approach would be best in the U.S.
“I think the question is which solutions protects the rights of people best,” said Mike Jude, research director at IDC.
“Obviously, this would be a decentralized application,” he told TechNewsWorld. “However, that’s a very American point offer — that freedom is more important than centralized control.”
Still, both approaches are dangerous because “we’re building an infrastructure that can easily be perverted by a police state,” Jude said. “Any system like this can and will be used for nefarious purposes.”
A group of 200 scientists worldwide expressed concern that tracking apps could be misused for surveillance purposes.
Despite issues in the U.S., “if the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t pan out,” Jude said, “or there’s a second wave that’s more intense than the first, people might demand contact tracing.”
One97 Communications Ltd, which runs the online payment platform Paytm, has moved the Delhi High Court alleging that telecom service providers are not blocking fraudsters who are defrauding its customers by “phishing” activities over the various mobile networks.
Paytm has claimed that millions of its customers have been defrauded by the phishing activities over the mobile networks and the failure of the telecom companies to prevent the same has “caused financial and reputational loss” to it for which it has sought damages of Rs 100 crore from them.
Phishing is a cybercrime where people are contacted by email, phone calls or text messages by someone posing as a legitimate representative of a organisation to lure them to part with their sensitive data, including banking and credit card details and passwords.
Paytm, in its petition, has contended that the telecom majors — Airtel, Reliance Jio, BSNL, MTNL, and Vodafone — are violating their obligations under the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preferences Regulations (TCCCPR) 2018 which was notified by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to curb the problem of unsolicited commercial communications.
Paytm has contended that under the regulations, the telecom companies are required to verify purported telemarketers seeking registration (called registered telemarketers or RTMs) with them before granting access to their customer data and also take action immediately against all fraudulent RTMs.
The petition has contended that the telcos “failure” to undertake proper verification prior to such registration enables fraudulent telemarketers to carry out phishing activities against customers of Paytm and its associate companies.
It has further contended that under the statutory regime it is the telecom companies responsibility to prevent such fraud and deter the fraudsters through blocking and/or financial disincentives.
Explaining the modus operandi of the fraudsters, Paytm has said that such people or entities get registered with the telecom companies and get assigned themselves headers, like Paytm, PYTM, PTM, IPAYTN, PYTKYC and its derivatives, which are similar to official headers of Paytm — including BPaytm, FPaytm, PAYTMB, Ipaytm and mPaytm — and then send messages to its customers for getting their sensitive and private information, including account details and passwords.
The messages usually contain some link which when clicked installs software on the phone allowing the fraudster to get the customer’s financial account details stored on the device, the petition has said.
Some fraudulent RTMs call the customers and seek their private information under the pretext of completing their KYC (know your customer) requirements for making their Paytm wallets operational, it said.
Paytm has sought directions from the court to TRAI to ensure complete and strict implementation of TCCCPR provisions to curb fraudulent unsolicited commercial communications sent over mobile networks and to take action against the telecom companies for violating their obligations to verify telemarketers under the regulations.
It has also sought a direction to the Centre to ensure no sim care is sold without proper verification and to establish an inter-agency task force to coordinate action for limiting fraud taking place over telecom networks.
Paytm has alleged that even after violations were brought to the notice of the telecom companies they failed to take prompt action to block the fraudulent RTMs and impose financial disincentives against them.
It has sought a direction to the telecom companies to take effective action under the TCCCPR to block the phone numbers of the telemarketers who are sending unsolicited commercial communications.
Paytm has also claimed that certain TCCCPR provisions provide for action only against those telemarketers who make unsolicited communications in bulk and provide for only graded penalties and had has sought an order declaring such regulations as unconstitutional and ultra vires the TRAI Act.
It has also sought a declaration from the court that under the regulations the telecom companies are obligated to put in place mechanisms to register reports of violations from customers.