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Supreme Court quashes RBI ban on cryptocurrency trade

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed an order by the Reserve bank of India (RBI) banning financial services firms from trading in virtual currency or cryptocurrency.

Its decision comes after hearing several petitions challenging RBI’s April 2018 order imposing a ban on financial firms or individuals in India from trading in cryptocurrencies.

The development comes almost two years after trading in virtual currency was banned by RBI. While the order revoked the ban on illegal cryptocurrency trade, it is worth noting that the government already prepared a draft bill that seeks to prohibit mining, holding, selling, trade, issuance, disposal or use of cryptocurrency in the country.

It is worth mentioning that under the draft bill, all the aforementioned activities can be punished with a fine or imprisonment up to 10 years, or both in some cases.

The draft bill was prepared by a government panel which also called for the launch of an official government-backed digital currency in India to function like banknotes, to be issued through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Meanwhile, there continues to be global uncertainty on virtual currency trade, especially with regulatory issues.

The Indian government has issued repeated warnings against investing in digital currencies, saying these were like Ponzi schemes that offer unusually high returns to early investors.

The government panel, headed by the then finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, recommended a fine of up to 250 million rupees ($3.63 million) and imprisonment for up to 10 years for anyone who mines, generates, holds, sells, transfers or issues cryptocurrency.

There is no underlying intrinsic value of these private cryptocurrencies, the panel said in its report submitted to the finance ministry.

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Google to publish user location data to help governments tackle virus

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PARIS — Google will publish location data from its users around the world from Friday to allow governments to gauge the effectiveness of social distancing measures put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the tech giant said.

The reports on users’ movements in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography,” according to a post on one of the company’s blogs.

Trends will display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, not “the absolute number of visits,” said the post, signed by Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps, and the company’s chief health officer, Karen DeSalvo.

“We hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said.

“This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”

Like the detection of traffic jams or the measurement of traffic on Google Maps, the new reports will use “aggregated, anonymized” data from users who have activated their location history.

No “personally identifiable information,” such as a person’s location, contacts or movements, will be made available, the post said.

The reports will also employ a statistical technique that adds “artificial noise” to raw data, making it harder for users to be identified.

From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens’ movements in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, which has infected more than a million people and killed over 50,000 worldwide.

In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing “anonymized” smart phone data to better track the outbreak.

Even privacy-loving Germany is considering using a smart phone app to help manage the spread of the disease.

But activists say authoritarian regimes are using the coronavirus as a pretext to suppress independent speech and increase surveillance.

And in liberal democracies, others fear widespread data harvesting and intrusion could bring lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.

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Facebook Coronavirus Helpdesk: Indian Govt. Launched Facebook Messenger Chatbot For COVID-19 Information

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Social media giant Facebook on Friday launched a COVID-19 Chatbot on its messaging platform, Facebook Messenger Chatbot in partnership with the Union Health Ministry and MyGov in India. The Corona Helpdesk Chatbot on Messenger will help provide authentic and accurate information and bust fake news about new coronavirus.

Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook India said, “In these difficult times, people are using our family of apps more than ever to stay connected with friends, family, and communities. We are grateful for the opportunity to support the government across ministries with communications tools and resources to share timely, accurate information on the coronavirus to keep people safe and informed. We will continue to do everything we can to help the country’s efforts.”

To contact the Chatbot, users can go to the Facebook page on MyGov Corona Hub and then start a chat by typing ‘Get Started’, which will prompt them to either type in a query or choose from a list of frequently asked questions. Depending on the question, users will receive verified information in the form of a video, infographic or text. The initiative comes in the backdrop of a sea of misinformation that has been floating around on WhatsApp and other social media platforms regarding the novel coronavirus. The Chatbot has both English and Hindi language capabilities.

Before this, the government had also rolled out a WhatsApp chatbot – MyGov Corona Helpdesk – to spread awareness on the coronavirus in real-time. When the chatbot receives a message, it uses machine learning (ML) to understand and address the query. Users can text on 93213-98773 to get all the required information. The government roped in conversational AI startup Haptik to build the tool.

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Indian Government Asks Facebook, Tiktok, Twitter, Other Social Media Firms to Control Coronavirus Fake News

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Seeing a massive surge in fake news and misinformation related to new coronavirus (COVID-19) on social media platforms in India. The Indian government has written to top social media firms including Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, ShareChat and Twitter, to control the spread of misinformation on Covid 19, popularly known as Coronavirus.

The government suggest the social media firms to start awareness campaigns and promote true information on the new coronavirus.

The government in its advisory said that the coronavirus the rash has become a global concern and it has been reported that there is a trend of circulation of misinformation and sharing anonymous data related to the virus, creating panic among the public.

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