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Paytm Moves Delhi High Court, Claims Telcos Not Preventing Phishing Activity

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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 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 a 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 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.

Disclosure: Paytm’s parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.

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Facebook Repairs Bug That Prompted Brief iOS App Outages

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 11 July 2020

Popular smartphone apps including Spotify and Pinterest suffered outages Friday for a few hours due to a bug in Facebook’s systems.

Facebook has resolved the problem, a spokesperson said.

“Earlier today, a code change triggered crashes for some iOS apps using the Facebook SDK,” or software development kit, the spokesperson said.

“We identified the issue quickly and resolved it. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

App users began reporting on Twitter early Friday that they were unable to open Spotify and other sites.

Downdetector, which monitors for internet problems in real time, showed a rise in problems for a number of applications, including Spotify, Pinterest, Waze, and The New York Times.

It reported a major spike in problems around 10:30am GMT (4pm IST), and a decline in user issues at around 1pm GMT (6:30pm IST).

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Amazon Bans, Then Un-Bans TikTok From Employee Mobile Devices

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 11 July 2020

Amazon on Friday said it mistakenly sent workers an email telling them to dump the TikTok mobile application from their cell phones because of security concerns.

The internal message told workers they could still access the popular video-snippet sharing platform using laptop web browsers, but would lose access to company email on smartphones that have TikTok.

“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error,” an Amazon spokesperson said in reply to an AFP inquiry without going into detail.

“There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”

The concern expressed in the internal message appeared to be that the TikTok mobile app could access Amazon company email, according to a copy posted online.

“User security is of the utmost importance to TikTok -– we are fully committed to respecting the privacy of our users,” a spokeswoman for the company said in reply to an AFP inquiry.

She added that TikTok welcomed “a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have.”

The Democratic National Committee is advising campaign staff to avoid using TikTok on personal devices and, if they do, to keep the app on a smartphone separate from that used for work, given the amount of data it can track, a DNC official told AFP.

TikTok this week withdrew from Hong Kong in an exit seen partly as an effort to shake off the “label of it being a company that is controlled by China and shares data with the Chinese government,” Zhu Zhiqun, a political science professor at Bucknell University in the United States, told AFP.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China.

The app’s feeds of 15- to 60-second video clips are often fun and humorous, featuring everything from make-up tutorials to dance routines.

However, with its rising popularity in the United States, TikTok has also come under increasing scrutiny from the government here.

US President Donald Trump said this week he was considering banning it as a way to punish China over the coronavirus pandemic.

Top US lawmakers have raised concerns over the potential for TikTok to leak user data to the Chinese government.

India — where TikTok is also wildly popular — recently blocked the platform on national security grounds following a deadly border clash between its soldiers and Chinese forces.

TikTok staunchly denies snooping allegations.

“We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.

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TikTok Says Removed Over 49 Million Videos in Second Half of 2019

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By Reuters | Updated: 10 July 2020

Social media app TikTok said on Thursday it removed more than 49 million videos from its platform in the second half of last year for violating its guidelines.

These videos accounted for less than 1 percent of the total posted on the platform and fell under categories such as “violent and graphic content, hate speech and adult nudity”, it said in a report released on its website.

About one-third of the videos were from India, followed by the United States, and Pakistan, it added.

The transparency report comes days after the company owned by China’s ByteDance was banned from India, one of its biggest markets, after a Sino-India border clash. The short-form video making app also decided to exit the Hong Kong market following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

TikTok launched a new platform to court small business advertisers on Wednesday. The platform, however, was fraught with challenges, especially after the Trump administration’s threat this week to impose a ban on China-based social media apps.


© Thomson Reuters 2020

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