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Airtel Announces Successful Trial of 5G Private Network at BOSCH Facility

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 16 July 2022

Bharti Airtel on Friday announced the successful trial of 5G private network at Bosch Automotive Electronics India facility in Bengaluru.

Airtel’s on-premise 5G captive private network was built over the trial spectrum allocated by the Department of Telecom (DoT), according to a statement.

Airtel has deployed India’s first private 5G network at BOSCH facility, it said.

“The trial successfully demonstrates Airtel’s capability to deliver high quality private network solutions for Industry 4.0,” it added.

Airtel has implemented two industrial grade use cases for quality improvement and operational efficiency at Bosch’s manufacturing facility, utilising the trial spectrum.

In both the cases, 5G technology such as mobile broadband and ultra-reliable low latency communications drove automated operations ensuring faster scale up and reduced downtimes, the statement said.

“The private network set up on trial spectrum at the Bosch facility has the capability to manage thousands of connected devices along with delivering multi-GBps throughput,” it added.

Meanwhile, a report last month mentioned that the three private telecom operators — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — are expected to buy spectrum worth Rs. 71,000 crore in the upcoming 5G auction, leaving a vast majority of the radiowaves going under the hammer unsold, according to research firm IIFL Securities.

According to the report releasedy, the government’s in-principle nod to allocate spectrum directly to enterprises is going to have an adverse outcome of the mega auction.

“While supply is abundant, the government has not cut TRAI’s proposed reserve prices despite telcos’ assertion that these were still high. We see telcos bidding only for four of the 10 bands and spectrum should be sold at base price. We estimate spectrum outlay of Rs. 37,500 crore, Rs. 25,000 crore and Rs. 8,500 crore for Jio, Bharti and Vi,” IIFL said.

Cryptocurrency

BlockFi Files for Bankruptcy in the US, Cites Exposure to FTX Amid Crypto Meltdown

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By Reuters | Updated: 29 November 2022

Cryptocurrency lender BlockFi has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it said on Monday, the latest industry casualty after the firm was hurt by exposure to the spectacular collapse of the FTX exchange earlier this month.

The filing in a New Jersey court comes as crypto prices have plummeted. The price of bitcoin, the most popular digital currency by far, is down more than 70 percent from a 2021 peak.

“BlockFi’s Chapter 11 restructuring underscores significant asset contagion risks associated with the crypto ecosystem,” said Monsur Hussain, senior director at Fitch Ratings.

New Jersey-based BlockFi, founded by fintech executive-turned-crypto entrepreneur Zac Prince, said in a bankruptcy filing that its substantial exposure to FTX created a liquidity crisis. FTX, founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, filed for protection in the United States this month after traders pulled $6 billion (roughly Rs. 49,020) from the platform in three days and rival exchange Binance abandoned a rescue deal.

“Although the debtors’ exposure to FTX is a major cause of this bankruptcy filing, the debtors do not face the myriad issues apparently facing FTX,” said the bankruptcy filing by Mark Renzi, managing director at Berkeley Research Group, the proposed financial advisor for BlockFi. “Quite the opposite.”

BlockFi said the liquidity crisis was due to its exposure to FTX via loans to Alameda, a crypto trading firm affiliated with FTX, as well as cryptocurrencies held on FTX’s platform that became trapped there. BlockFi listed its assets and liabilities as being between $1 billion (roughly Rs. 8,170 crore) and $10 billion (roughly Rs. 81,700 crore).

BlockFi on Monday also sued a holding company for Bankman-Fried, seeking to recover shares in Robinhood Markets Inc pledged as collateral three weeks ago, before BlockFi and FTX filed for bankruptcy protection.

Renzi said BlockFi had sold a portion of its crypto assets earlier in November to fund its bankruptcy. Those sales raised $238.6 million (roughly Rs. in cash, and BlockFi now has $256.5 million (roughly Rs. 2,100 crore) in cash on hand.

In a court filing on Monday, BlockFi listed FTX as its second-largest creditor, with $275 million owed on a loan extended earlier this year. It said it owes money to more than 100,000 creditors. The company also said in a separate filing it plans to lay off two-thirds of its 292 employees.

Under a deal signed with FTX in July BlockFi was to receive a $400 million (Rs. 3,270 crore) revolving credit facility while FTX got an option to buy it for up to $240 million (roughly Rs. 1,960 crore).

BlockFi’s bankruptcy filing also comes after two of BlockFi’s largest competitors, Celsius Network and Voyager Digital, filed for bankruptcy in July, citing extreme market conditions that had led to losses at both companies.

Crypto lenders, the de facto banks of the crypto world, boomed during the pandemic, attracting retail customers with double-digit rates in return for their cryptocurrency deposits.

Crypto lenders are not required to hold capital or liquidity buffers like traditional lenders and some found themselves exposed when a shortage of collateral forced them – and their customers – to shoulder large losses.

BlockFi’s first bankruptcy hearing is scheduled to take place on Tuesday. FTX did not respond to a request for comment.

Creditor list

BlockFi’s largest creditor is Ankura Trust, which represents creditors in stressed situations and is owed $729 million ( roughly Rs. 5,600 crore). Valar Ventures, a Peter Thiel-linked venture capital fund, owns 19 percent of BlockFi equity shares.

BlockFi also listed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as one of its largest creditors, with a $30 million (roughly Rs. 245 crore) claim. In February, a BlockFi subsidiary agreed to pay $100 million (roughly Rs. 820 crore) to the SEC and 32 states to settle charges in connection with a retail crypto lending product the company offered to nearly 600,000 investors.

Bain Capital Ventures and Tiger Global co-led BlockFi’s March 2021 funding round, BlockFi said in a press release issued at the time. Both firms did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a blog post, BlockFi said its Chapter 11 cases will enable the company to stabilize its business and maximize value for all stakeholders.

“Acting in the best interest of our clients is our top priority and continues to guide our path forward,” BlockFi said.

In its bankruptcy filing, BlockFi said it had hired Kirkland & Ellis and Haynes & Boone as bankruptcy counsel.

BlockFi had earlier paused withdrawals from its platform.

In a filing, Renzi said Blockfi intends to seek authority to honor client withdrawal requests from its customer wallet accounts, in which crypto assets are held in custody. However, the company did not disclose plans for how it might treat withdrawal requests from its other products, including interest-bearing accounts.

“BlockFi clients may ultimately recover a substantial portion of their investments,” Renzi said in the filing.

Origins

BlockFi was founded in 2017 by Prince, currently the company’s chief executive officer, and Flori Marquez. Though headquartered in Jersey City, BlockFi also has offices in New York, Singapore, Poland and Argentina, according to its website.

In July, Prince had tweeted that “it’s time to stop putting BlockFi in the same bucket / sentence as Voyager and Celsius.”

“Two months ago we looked the ‘same.’ They shut down and have impending losses for their clients,” he said.

According to a profile of BlockFi published earlier this year by Inc, Prince was raised in San Antonio, Texas, and financed his college education at the University of Oklahoma and Texas State University with winnings from online poker tournaments. Before starting BlockFi with Marquez, he held jobs at Orchard Platform, a broker dealer, and at Zibby, a lease-to-own lender now called Katapult.

Marquez previously worked at Bond Street, a small business lending outfit that was folded into Goldman Sachs in 2017, according to Inc.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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TRAI Working on Technology to Detect Pesky Calls, Messages; Joint Action Plan on Financial Fraud

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 29 November 2022

Telecom regulator TRAI on Monday said that it is working on various technologies to detect pesky calls and messages along with a joint action plan with other regulators to curb financial frauds.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC) or pesky communication is a major source of inconvenience to the public and impinges on the privacy of individuals.

“Now complaints are reported against Unregistered Telemarketers (UTMs), where a surge has been seen in pushing various kinds of UCC SMSes. Additionally, UCC calls are also one of the concerns which need to be dealt with equally along with UCC SMSes,” it said.

TRAI in coordination with various stakeholders is taking necessary steps to check UCC from UTMs also. These steps include implementation of UCC detect system, provision of Digital Consent Acquisition, intelligent scrubbing of the Headers and Message templates, using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Language), etc,” the statement said.

To curb the menace of pesky calls and messages, TRAI issued the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 that created an ecosystem based on blockchain (Distributed Ledger Technology-DLT).

The regulation mandates registration of all commercial promoters and telemarketers to register on DLT platform and seek customer consent for receiving various kinds of promotional messages at time and day of their choice.

Under the framework, about 2.5 lakh principal entities have been registered with more than 6 lakh headers and approximately 55 lakh approved message templates which are being pushed to consumers through registered telemarketers and TSPs using DLT platforms.

The regulator said that the framework has resulted in substantial reduction of customer complaints to the extent of 60 per cent for the registered telemarketers. However, non-registered pesky callers continue to spam mobile subscribers.

TRAI said that it has further taken an initiative to form a Joint Committee of Regulators (JCOR) comprising Reserve Bank of India, Securities & Exchanges Board of India (Sebi) and Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MoCA) to frame a joint action plan to curb financial frauds using telecom resources. “In the recent meeting of JCOR held on November 10, 2022, which was attended by the representatives of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also, measures to curb the UCC further were deliberated in detail,” TRAI said.

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Social Networking

Facebook Fined EUR 265 Million by Irish Data Privacy Regulator After Investigation Into Data Scraping

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By Reuters | Updated: 29 November 2022

Ireland’s data privacy regulator imposed an EUR 265 million (roughly Rs. 2,250 crore) fine on social media giant Facebook on Monday, bringing the total it has fined parent group Meta to almost EUR 1 billion (roughly Rs. 2,250 crore). The penalty resulted from an investigation, started last year, into the discovery of a collated set of personal data that had been scraped from Facebook between May 2018 and September 2019, and made available online. Facebook was also ordered to make a range of corrective measures.

Meta said it had cooperated fully with the investigation by Ireland’s Data Privacy Commissioner (DPC) and made changes to its systems during the time in question, including removing the ability to scrape its features in this way using phone numbers.

Monday’s fine is the fourth the DPC has levied against one of Meta’s companies. It is Meta’s lead privacy regulator within the European Union, and has 13 more inquiries into the social media group outstanding.

In September the watchdog hit its Instagram subsidiary with a record fine of EUR 405 million (roughly Rs. 3,435 crore), which Meta plans to appeal. Meta added in its statement on Monday that it was reviewing the decision related to the latest fine.

The DPC regulates Apple, Google, Twitter, Tiktok and other technology giants due to the location of their EU headquarters in Ireland. It currently has 40 inquiries open into such firms, including the 13 involving Meta.

The regulator has the power to impose fines of up to 4 percent of a company’s global revenue under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) “One Stop Shop” regime introduced in 2018.

The DPC said mitigating factors in Monday’s decision – which had been approved by all other relevant EU regulators – included the actions Facebook had taken.

“We’ll keep going until the behaviour does change,” Ireland’s Data Privacy Commissioner (DPC) Helen Dixon told Irish national broadcaster RTE on Monday.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Cryptocurrency

Hackers Said to Demand Rs. 200 Crore in Cryptocurrency From AIIMS-Delhi, Server Remains Down for Sixth Day

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 29 November 2022

Hackers have allegedly demanded an estimated Rs 200 crore in cryptocurrency from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi as its server remained out of order for the sixth consecutive day, official sources said on Monday.

It is feared that data of around 3-4 crore patients could have been compromised due to the breach detected Wednesday morning.

Patient care services in emergency, outpatient, inpatient and laboratory wings are being managed manually as the server remained down, the sources said.

The Delhi Police, however, issued a statement, saying “no ransom demand as being quoted by certain sections of the media has been brought to notice by AIIMS authorities.” The India Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN), Delhi Police and representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs are investigating the ransomware attack.

A case of extortion and cyber terrorism was registered by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit of the Delhi Police on November 25.

Official sources said Internet services are blocked on computers at the hospital on the recommendations of the investigating agencies.

The AIIMS server has stored data of several VIPs, including former prime ministers, ministers, bureaucrats and judges.

“Hackers have allegedly demanded around Rs 200 crore in cryptocurrency,” one of the sources told PTI.

Meanwhile, the NIC e-hospital database and application servers for e-hospital have been restored. The NIC team is scanning and cleaning infection from other e-hospital servers located at AIIMS which are required for delivery of hospital services, an official source said.

Four physical servers arranged for restoring e-hospital services have been scanned and prepared for the databases and applications.

Also, the AIIMS network sanitisation is in progress. Antivirus solutions have been organised for servers and computers. It has been installed on nearly 1,200 out of 5,000 computers. Twenty out of 50 servers have been scanned and this activity is ongoing 24×7, the source said.

“The full sanitisation of the network is likely to continue for five more days. Thereafter, e-hospital services can be rolled out in a phased manner. Patient care services including emergency, outpatient, inpatient,laboratory etc services are being continued on manual mode,” the source said.

The AIIMS-Delhi in a statement said, “The data restoration and server cleaning is in progress and is taking some time due to the volume of data and large number of servers for the hospital services. Measures are being taken for cybersecurity.” All hospital services, including outpatient, in-patient and laboratories, continue to run on manual mode, it added.

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Elon Musk Claims Apple Threatened to Pull Twitter From App Store, Ready to ‘Go to War’ Over In-App Purchases

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By Reuters | Updated: 29 November 2022

Elon Musk accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter Inc from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets on Monday that also said the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on the social media platform. The billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands.

The action, unconfirmed by Apple, would not be unusual as the company has routinely enforced its rules and previously removed apps such as Gab and Parler. The latter, which is popular with US conservatives, was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices, the companies said at the time.

Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?,” Musk last month, said in a tweet.

He later tagged Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking “what’s going on here?”

What’s going on here @tim_cook?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It wasn’t clear to me how far up the Apple food chain that idea went internally and without knowing that, it isn’t clear how seriously to take any of this,” said Randal Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

The world’s most valuable firm spent an estimated $131,600 (roughly Rs. 1,07,42,900) on Twitter ads between November 10 and November 16, down from $220,800 (roughly Rs. 1,80,23,385) between October16 and October 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48 million (roughly Rs. 391 crore) and accounting for more than 4 percent of total revenue for the period, the Washington Post reported, citing an internal Twitter document.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the report.

‘Go to war’

Among the list of grievances tweeted by Musk was the up to 30 percent fee Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases, with Musk posting a meme suggesting he was willing to “go to war” with Apple rather than paying the commission.

Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store? https://t.co/LGkPZ4EYcz— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

The fee has drawn criticism and lawsuits from companies such as Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, while attracting the scrutiny of regulators globally.

The commission could weigh on Musk’s attempts to boost subscription revenue at Twitter, in part to make up for the exodus of advertisers over content moderation concerns.

Companies from General Mills to luxury automaker Audi of America have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition, and Musk said earlier this month that the company had seen a “massive” drop in revenue.

Ad sales account for about 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue.

The self-described free speech absolutist, whose company has in the past few days reinstated several Twitter accounts including that of former US President Donald Trump, has blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers.

Ben Bajarin, the head of consumer technologies at research firm Creative Strategies, said that Musk may be reading too much into a regular process Apple goes through in app review.

“App review from Apple is not perfect by any means and a consistently frustrating process for developers but from what I hear it is a two-way conversation,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Cryptocurrency

WazirX Received 828 Requests From Indian, International Law Enforcement Agencies During April-September

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 28 November 2022

WazirX has received 828 complaint requests from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Interpol, among other international agencies, and Indian law enforcement agencies such as the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), according to the cryptocurrency exchange. The requests were received against a total of 10 million transactions during April-September 2022. The exchange maintained its record of a 100 per cent compliance rate for all 828 requests received from Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA), said a report released by WazirX.

The exchange on Monday released the third edition of its Transparency Report. According to the report, only 0.008 per cent of all transactions during this period were reported or investigated by law enforcement agencies. Out of 828 queries received, 764 were by Indian law enforcement agencies, whereas the foreign agencies made 64 requests.

The greatest number of requests came in from regulators and law enforcement agencies in Maharashtra, it said. Illegal fund transfers, crypto scams, cheating, and forgery were the most common types of crimes reported, resembling scams in the traditional financial sector.

Over 700 accounts were blocked during this period. The majority of them were due to requests that came in from users.

In its continued effort to provide transparency to users and safeguard their assets, it launched the third edition of the Transparency Report.

The report highlights the company’s initiatives in boosting awareness about Web3, assisting law enforcement in identifying bad actors and implementing a full-proof onboarding process to ensure the security of users.

“We have also outlined some common trends observed in crypto scams over this time period which users should be aware of,” it said.

Some of the Indian and Foreign Law Enforcement Agencies that WazirX has worked with during this period are: the National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, State Cyber Crime Cells, Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Ops (IFSO) Delhi, Special Task Force, Narcotics Control Bureau, Bhopal Police, Crime Branch and CID, Toronto Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), German Police Agencies, United Kingdom Police, Interpol, Dutch Police, Austrian Police, Europol, etc.

“We still have some way to go to prevent security risks in crypto. The level of awareness around crypto needs to extend to its ill uses too. Only then can mainstream adoption take place in an environment of trust. We will continue our efforts to educate Indians about crypto, and comply with regulators to ensure any form of fraud with virtual digital assets is tackled,” Nischal Shetty, CEO and Founder at WazirX.

According to the report, around 40 per cent of the scams are happening in Ponzi schemes and social engineering scams, 34.7 per cent of cases of Impersonation type, 21.1 per cent of cases are in Phishing / Airdrop Scams and 4.2 per cent are in other categories.

As per the report, in a recent case, a Bitcoin racket being run from Delhi came to the notice of the CBI on being alerted by the Austrian police. Imposters posed as Europol officers and other law enforcement agencies to tell their victims that their identities had been stolen and used for narcotics businesses. The criminals would target foreign nationals for the same. WazirX’s legal team, with assistance from Chainalysis, collaborated with the CBI on this case to block the operation. They identified the accounts which were being used to carry on this racket and blocked the withdrawal of the assets that were gained from the criminal proceedings.

In one of the first disproportionate asset cases involving crypto, WazirX helped Bhubaneswar Police identify the crypto accounts of an engineer who did not reveal his investments in Digital Assets. Upon scrutiny by the team, it was discovered that he had 50-odd crypto wallets and an investment worth Rs. 2 crores.

In another incident, the legal team assisted the Kolkata police in nabbing criminals who were defrauding people through a mobile gaming platform. In this case, a large sum of money was collected from the public via the platform called e-nuggets. The culprits then disabled the withdrawal of money and also removed all data from the app. WazirX helped ED freeze crypto assets worth Rs 12.83 Crores.

A few months ago, a group of criminals from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, created an elaborate fake trading app to lure customers and dupe them of huge sums of money. WazirX assisted the Ghaziabad Police real-time in identifying the identities that were linked to the culprits which led to their arrest.

In Bandra, Mumbai (Maharashtra) the WazirX team helped identify wallets linked to Chinese loan apps which were used to dupe people through fraudulent transactions. The team worked closely with the law enforcement agency to identify the accused and block their operations using crypto.

WazirX cooperated with the investigators by providing them with all the necessary details, information, and documents of the alleged accused companies who used the WazirX platform. After an in-depth internal investigation, WazirX noticed that most of the users whose information was sought by ED were already identified as suspicious by WazirX internally and were blocked in 2020-2021. Due to the active cooperation extended by WazirX and active Anti-money laundering (AML) checks, suspected users were identified.

WazirX also modified the procedure to raise a Law Enforcement request. To submit a Law Enforcement request under relevant provisions of law, the requester must be a law enforcement agent or government official authorized to Gather evidence in connection with an investigation or Make a formal law enforcement request.

They can send an email to legal@wazirx.com from the official email ID of the law enforcement agency along with a duly authorized written request.

WazirX has continued its association with TRM Labs, a virtual digital asset compliance platform, to sustain and scale up its efforts of security. It also collaborated with Chainalysis, a platform to analyze blockchain data. WazirX also joined hands with other industry players in the country to form a new crypto advocacy group called Bharat Web3 Association (BWA).

WazirX launched a course on Blockchain Technology to educate individuals. This was in collaboration with Gurukula Kangri in Haridwar, a deemed-to-be university, as per the University Grants Commission (UGC). Since its initiation, the course has seen more than 20,000 enrolments. We recently awarded the completion certificate to over 400 individuals. 7.4 per cent of them were females. Uttar Pradesh saw the highest number of enrolments in the program (25.4 per cent) among all participating states.

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