By Reuters | Updated: 7 September 2021
Singapore has started trialing robots to patrol public areas and deter poor social behaviour in its latest effort to further augment its strong portfolio of surveillance tools.
Ranked one of the safest countries in the world, Singapore has put two autonomous robots on trial to detect bad behaviour such as flouting of COVID-19 safety measures, smoking in prohibited areas, and the improper parking of bicycles, Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency said in a statement on Sunday.
It said the two patrol robots, named Xavier, are equipped with cameras that can detect bad social behaviour and trigger real-time alerts to the command and control centre.
The trial is taking place at an area with high foot traffic in central Singapore.
The agency said that during the three-week trial, the robots would be used for surveillance and displaying messages to educate the public on proper behaviour. A spokesperson from the agency said on Monday the robots would not be used for law enforcement during the trial.
“The deployment of Xavier will support the work of public officers as it will reduce the manpower required for foot patrols and improve operation efficiency,” the agency said.
Singapore’s home affairs minister, K Shanmugam, said in August the city-state aimed to have more than 200,000 police cameras by 2030, more than double the current number of cameras deployed across the island state in Southeast Asia.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
India Orders Blocking of 35 Pakistan-Based YouTube Channels, Websites: Here’s Why
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 22 January 2022
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has ordered the blocking of 35 YouTube channels and two websites which were running anti-India propaganda and spreading fake news “in a coordinated manner”.
The ministry has also issued orders for blocking of two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts and one Facebook account involved in spreading “coordinated anti-India disinformation”.
All these YouTube channels, websites and social media accounts were being operated from Pakistan to spread “anti-India fake news and other contents on sensitive subjects,”.
“We have used the provision of section 69 A of the IT Act to block these channels under the emergency provisions as their contents were totally toxic and against the sovereignty of India, sort of a war of misinformation against the country (India),” Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Secretary Apurva Chandra told a press conference on Friday.
To block Pakistan-based social media accounts and websites, five separate orders were issued under Rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 to the respective intermediaries, internet service provides and the department of telecommunication.
Chandra said Indian intelligence agencies were “closely monitoring” these social media accounts and the websites, and flagged them to the ministry for immediate action.
The orders were issued on Thursday, he added.
The 35 YouTube accounts, which were being operated from Pakistan, had a total subscriber base of over 1.20 crore and their videos had over 130 crore views, the I&B secretary said.
Replying to reporters’ queries, he said Indian intelligence agencies are “now alive to this issue” and that more such channels would be blocked in coming days.
He also called upon people to bring to the notice of the government if they find any YouTube channel, website or social media account running anti-India propaganda.
“We will take action,” he said.
This comes days after 20 YouTube channels and two websites were blocked for spreading anti-India propaganda and fake news on a directive issued by the ministry in December last year.
I&B Minister Anurag Thakur had on Wednesday warned that the government would continue to take such action against those “hatching conspiracy” against the country.
The ministry said all the 35 YouTube accounts, ordered to be blocked on Thursday, were identified as being part of “four coordinated disinformation networks”.
These include the Apni Duniya Network operating 14 YouTube channels and Talha Films Network operating 13 YouTube channels.
“A set of four channels, and a set of two other channels were also found to be acting in synchronization with each other,” it said in a statement.
All these networks “appeared” to be operated with “a single goal” of spreading fake news oriented towards the Indian audience, the ministry said.
“The channels which were part of a network used common hashtags and editing styles. They were being operated by common persons who cross-promoted each others’ content. Some of the YouTube channels were being operated by anchors of Pakistani TV news channels,” it said.
The ministry said the YouTube channels, websites and social media accounts, ordered to be blocked, were used by Pakistan for spreading anti-India fake news about sensitive subjects such as the Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir and India’s foreign relations with other countries.
“It was observed that rampant fake news was spread through the YouTube channels regarding the demise of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat,” the ministry said.
These YouTube channels had also started posting content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states. it said.
“They propagated content to encourage separatism, divide India on the lines of religion, and create animosity among various sections of the Indian society.
Such information was feared to have the potential to incite the audience into the commission of crimes adversely affecting public order in the country, the ministry added.
The ministry secretary hoped that YouTube will block access to the channels across the globe as it had done last time following the ministry’s order to block 20 anti-India channels.
Replying to queries, he said that role of the intermediaries is “important” in checking the spread of fake news and misinformation on the Internet and suggested that they should create certain mechanisms to identify such accounts and block them.
“We have got a good response from the intermediary. Last time they blocked the (20) YouTube channels across the global level, taking action within 24 hours. We expect from them that they have a system in place so that such things doesn’t find way… They should have some system that red flags such channels,” he said.
Big Basket May Soon Have a New Home Delivery Rival, as Big Bazaar Partners With Ercess Live
By ANI | Updated: 12 January 2022
Ercess Live, a Bangalore-based event marketing technology startup has signed a contract with Big Bazaar to help the company to market its new home delivery services across the South Indian market.
The brand will be leveraging its huge network of influencers in India and a variety of marketing strategies to help Big Bazaar take on the likes of Big Basket, and Jio Mart.
The contract was signed in December 2021 and is planned to bring into action around the middle of January 2022. Under this collaboration, Big Bazaar is preparing to provide its customers with exceptional shopping offers, benefits of which can be redeemed at the time of checkout.
Ercess Live will be handling the overall aspect of Influencer Marketing for this collaboration. The marketing technology startup is targeting a variety of influencers ranging from micro to macro including a lot of mompreneurs, mom-bloggers, and food bloggers especially as they are very relevant to the segment.
Talking about the current market situation, the founder of Ercess Live Vishal Jaiswal says, “we are seeing a rapid increase and adaption of influencer marketing among many big brands across the world. The entire industry is effectively making its transition from the processes of traditional marketing to influencer marketing to reach a larger and much broader audience. I believe that within this decade, influencer marketing will surpass the paid advertisement segment completely.” “We are glad to collaborate with Big Bazaar to launch their Q-commerce segment”, he added.
In an attempt to use their resources in helping to safeguard mother nature, Ercess Live is also working on their initiative where they are planting a tree for every subscription they sell.
Prior to this collaboration, Ercess Live has already worked with a large number of big companies across India and had even manifested a strong foothold in the International markets. According to their reports, they have worked with 700 brands and managed campaigns worth millions of dollars to date. It also has a wide range of marketing products that can be used by event organizers to promote and sell their event tickets. As a leading MarTech startup, Ercess Live is bringing very creative marketing strategies to the table to help brands and businesses manage their event marketing from a central system effectively.
Apple Plans to Allow Third-Party Payment Systems in South Korea’s App Store, Regulator Says
By Reuters | Updated: 11 January 2022
South Korea’s telecommunications regulator said on Tuesday that Apple had submitted plans to allow third-party payment systems on its app store, to comply with a law banning major app store operators from forcing software developers to use their payments systems.
The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) had requested Apple and Alphabet’s Google to submit compliance plans after the bill was passed in August last year. The law went into effect in September.
Google announced its plans to allow alternative payment systems in South Korea in November to comply with the amended Telecommunication Business Act, dubbed the “anti-Google law”.
“Apple has a great deal of respect for Korea’s laws and a strong history of collaboration with the country’s talented app developers … We look forward to working with the KCC and our developer community on a solution that benefits our Korean users,” Apple said in a statement.
The KCC said Apple plans to allow alternative payment systems for a lower service fee versus the current 30 percent commissions.
Apple did not provide details, such as timeline of when the change will take effect or commission fee rates, but it plans to discuss further details with the KCC, the regulator said.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
China’s Chang’e 5 Lunar Lander Finds First On-Site Evidence of Water on Moon
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 11 January 2022
China’s Chang’e 5 lunar lander has found the first-ever on-site evidence of water on the surface of the moon, lending new evidence to the dryness of the satellite.
The study published on Saturday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances revealed that the lunar soil at the landing site contains less than 120 parts-per-million (ppm) water or 120 grams water per ton, and a light, vesicular rock carries 180ppm, which are much drier than that on Earth.
The presence of water had been confirmed by remote observation but the lander has now detected signs of water in rocks and soil.
A device on-board the lunar lander measured the spectral reflectance of the regolith and the rock and detected water on the spot for the first time.
The water content can be estimated since the water molecule or hydroxyl absorbs at a frequency of about three micrometers, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
It was the solar wind that contributed to the most humidity of lunar soil as it brought hydrogen that makes up the water, the researchers said.
The additional 60ppm water in the rock may originate from the lunar interior, according to the researchers.
Therefore, the rock is estimated to hail from an older, more humid basaltic unit before being ejected onto the landing site to be picked up by the lunar lander.
The study revealed that the moon had turned drier within a certain period, owing probably to the degassing of its mantle reservoir.
The Chang’e-5 spacecraft landed on one of the youngest mare basalts located at a mid-high latitude on the moon. It measured water on the spot and retrieved samples weighing 1,731 grams.
“The returned samples are a mixture of granules both on the surface and beneath. But an in-situ probe can measure the outermost layer of the lunar surface,” Lin Honglei, a researcher with the Institute of Geology and Geophysics under CAS, told Xinhua.
Lin also said that to simulate authentic lunar surface conditions on Earth is challenging, thus making the in-situ measurement so essential.
The results are consistent with a preliminary analysis of the returned Chang’e-5 samples, according to the study.
The findings provide more clues to China’s Chang’e-6 and Chang’e-7 missions. The investigations of lunar water reserves come into the limelight as the building of manned lunar stations are in the pipeline in the next decades, the report said.
GTA Maker Take-Two Buys Zynga of Farmville Fame in $12.7 Billion Deal
By Associated Press | Updated: 10 January 2022
Take-Two Interactive, maker of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, is buying Zynga, maker of FarmVille and Words With Friends, in a cash-and-stock deal with an enterprise value of about $12.7 billion (roughly Rs. 94,030 crore).
Zynga shareholders will receive $3.50 (roughly Rs. 260) in cash and $6.36 (roughly Rs. 470) in shares of Take-Two common stock for each share of Zynga outstanding stock at closing.
Take-Two said Monday it anticipates $100 million (roughly Rs. 740 crore) in annual cost savings.
The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of Take-Two’s fiscal 2023, ending June 30. It still needs approval of both Take-Two and Zynga stockholders.
Shares of Zynga, based in San Francisco, jumped 52 percent to $9.14 (roughly Rs. 680). Shares of Take-Two Interactive Software, based in New York City, fell more than 8 percent to $150.66 (roughly Rs. 11,160).
“Combining Zynga’s expertise in mobile and next-generation platforms with Take-Two’s best-in-class capabilities and intellectual property will enable us to further advance our mission to connect the world through games while achieving significant growth and synergies together,” said a statement from Take-Two Interactive on the announcement.
The company said the transaction is expected to establish Take-Two as a leader in mobile gaming, with mobile expected to comprise over 50 percent of its net bookings in FY 2023 (as compared to an estimated 12 percent in Fiscal Year 2022).
5G Buffer Zones Will Be Set Up in 50 US Airports: Federal Aviation Administration
By Reuters | Updated: 8 January 2022
The FAA said it does not “not necessarily” mean that low-visibility flights cannot occur at airports that are not among the 50.
AT&T and Verizon, which won nearly all of the C-Band spectrum in an $80 billion (roughly Rs. 5,93,850 crore) auction last year, declined comment.
On Thursday, the FAA renewed warnings that despite the agreement 5G wireless service could still disrupt flights, saying “even with the temporary buffer around 50 airports, 5G deployment will increase the risk of disruption during low visibility” including “flight cancellations, diverted flights, and delays during periods of low visibility.”
Some major airports such as Denver, Atlanta, and Ronald Reagan Washington National are not on the list because 5G is not yet being deployed, while others are not on the list because “5G towers are far enough away that a natural buffer exists.”
Other airports not listed do not currently have the ability to allow low-visibility landings, the FAA said. It said the delay would allow it to evaluate ways to minimise disruptions, and also gives companies more time to prepare.
“If there’s the possibility of a risk to the flying public, we are obligated to pause the activity, until we can prove it is safe,” the FAA said.
ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke, who heads the association representing US and Canadian airports, said on Friday the FAA list “is largely irrelevant because the entire aviation system is about to be adversely impacted by this poorly planned and coordinated expansion of 5G service in and around airports.” He said the “so-called fix will create winners and losers within the airport community, and the entire aviation system will suffer under the terms of this deal.”
Airlines for America, a trade group representing US passenger and cargo carriers, said it appreciated the “FAA’s efforts to implement mitigations for airports that may be most impacted by disruptions generated by the deployment of new 5G service.”
© Thomson Reuters 2021
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