MeitY Blocks 348 Apps for Transmitting Users’ Information in Unauthorised Manner
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 3 August 2022
The government has blocked 348 mobile applications that were identified by the Home Ministry for transmitting users’ information in an unauthorised manner to servers located outside the country, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
Minister of state for electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a written reply to the Lok Sabha said the apps are developed by various countries, including China.
“Based on the request from MHA, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has blocked those 348 mobile applications since such data transmissions infringes the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India and security of the State,” he said.
There was no mention of the time period when these 348 apps were blocked by the Meity.
Last month, the Battlegrounds Mobile India, or BGMI, was removed from Google Play Store as well as App Store over government’s order. The removal happened without warning. However, Google confirmed that it received a government order directing it to delist the popular online game.
It was later reported that BGMI from the South Korean game development firm Krafton was removed from app stores as there were concerns about its data sharing and mining in China, an Indian government source told Reuters. Section 69A of India’s IT Act allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security, among other reasons.
However, the Skyesports CEO and Founder Shiva Nandy has recently mentioned via Instagram that the ban is temporary. The game will be back in India soon.
Paytm UPI App Records 35 Percent YoY Merchant Growth to Rs. 2.65 Lakh Crore in April-May 2023
By ANI | Updated: 5 June 2023
India’s leading payments and financial services company Paytm on Monday announced its business operating performance for the two months ended May 2023 and that its consumer engagement on the Paytm Super App continues to see a robust expansion of its consumer base.
The consumer base has seen an average Monthly Transacting Users (MTU) for the two months ended May 2023 at 9.2 crore, registering a growth of 24 percent year-on-year.
As it strengthens its leadership in offline payments, the QR pioneer said it achieved a new milestone with 75 lakh devices deployed, an increase of 4 lakh devices in the month of May.
“With our subscription as a service model, the strong adoption of devices drives subscription revenues and higher payment volumes, while increasing the funnel for our merchant loan distribution,” the company said.
Paytm is seeing consistent growth in merchant payments volume with the total merchant Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) processed through the platform for the two months ended May 2023 aggregating to Rs. 2.65 lakh crore, marking a year-on-year growth of 35 percent.
“Our focus over the past few quarters continues to be on payment volumes that generate profitability for us, either through net payments margin or from direct upsell potential,” added Paytm.
The fintech giant’s loan distribution business, in partnership with top lenders, continues to witness accelerated growth with disbursements through the platform for the two months ended May 2023 growing 169 percent year-on-year to Rs. 9,618 crore.
The number of loans disbursed in the two months surged 54 percent to 85 lakh loans.
Paytm said that it currently has seven large lending partners and aims to onboard 3-4 partners in FY24 while it continues to work with lenders to remain focused on the quality of the book.
The company further added that the earlier mentioned system upgrade is now done and its lending partner has resumed disbursing merchant loans, with some pent-up demand from April being met in May.
In its recently announced January-March quarter (Q4FY23) results, Paytm reported a 51 percent Year Over Year (YoY) growth in revenue from operations to Rs. 2,334 crore, driven by growth in payments and loan distribution business.
The company reported an operating profit for the second straight quarter. It reported EBITDA before ESOP cost of Rs. 234 crore, including the full-year UPI incentive. In the previous quarter, Paytm achieved its milestone of operating profitability, much ahead of its September 2023 guidance.
Twitter Hires Former NBCUniversal Executive Joe Benarroch to Handle Business Operations
By Reuters | Updated: 5 June 2023
Former NBCUniversal executive Joe Benarroch will join Twitter on Monday, in a role focusing on business operations, he told Reuters.
Benarroch said in an email that he was looking forward to working with the company’s team to “build Twitter 2.0 together.”
“Welcome to the flock, @benarroch_joe! From one bird to the next,” tweeted incoming Twitter Chief Executive Linda Yaccarino, who was appointed in May. She did not mention the position Benarroch will be taking.
Welcome to the flock, @benarroch_joe! From one bird to the next.
Let’s get to work @Twitter! #timetofly
— Linda Yaccarino (@lindayacc) June 4, 2023
At Comcast’s NBCUniversal, Benarroch oversaw communication strategy for its Advertising and Partnerships division, reporting to Yaccarino, who was advertising chief there before joining Twitter.
Benarroch is being appointed following the departure of a number of executives, adding to Yaccarino’s challenges.
Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, said on Thursday that she has resigned from the social media company.
On Friday, Reuters reported that the head of brand safety and ad quality, A.J. Brown, has decided to leave.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Benarroch’s appointment on Sunday.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
E-Commerce Platform Meesho Crosses 500 Million App Downloads on Google Play, App Store
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 2 June 2023
E-commerce platform Meesho has become the world’s “fastest shopping app” to cross 500 million cumulative downloads across Google Play and iOS App Store, mobile data analytics provider has said.
The company has achieved the 500 million download milestone in six years, data.ai, formerly known as App Annie, said in a statement.
According to data.ai, over half of Meesho app downloads (274 million) came in 2022.
“Indian e-commerce platform Meesho has emerged as the world’s fastest shopping app to cross 500 million cumulative downloads across Google Play and iOS App Store combined, reaching this milestone in six years,” data.ai said.
According to data.ai, with just 13.6 MB size, Meesho’s android app is the lightest e-commerce app in India on Play Store, which makes it compatible with low-end smartphones.
“We are delighted to partner with them and provide them with the insights they need to continue to grow their business,” data.ai, Head of Insights, Lexi Sydow said.
Meesho, CXO for user growth, Megha Agarwal said India has 750-800 million people with smartphones and internet access, and it presents a huge opportunity for the company to spark the next wave of e-commerce adoption in India.
“This milestone is a great validation of our User-First mantra, which helps us continuously spot and address customer pain points to deliver an immaculate online shopping experience,” Agarwal said.
Earlier, Meesho announced that it recorded 140 million annual transacting users on its platform in 2022.
WhatsApp Launches New Global Security Centre Page With 10 Indian Languages
By ANI | Updated: 1 June 2023
Instant messaging application WhatsApp has launched a new global ‘Security Center’ page which will act as a one-stop window for users to learn more about how to protect themselves against spammers and any unwanted contacts.
WhatsApp on Thursday said it has created this page to build awareness about the various safety measures and in-built product features that empower users to take control of their safety.
The ‘Security Center’ will be available in English and 10 Indian languages — Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Urdu, and Gujarati.
“Protecting personal messages with end-to-end encryption is one of the best lines of defence against scammers and fraudsters and in addition to that WhatsApp is consistently working on new and innovative ways to enhance people’s safety and privacy,” it said.
The new feature will inform users about the layers of privacy that WhatsApp provides and lists some top tips to give users more control over their accounts, including two-step verification, scams, and identifying fake accounts, among others.
Last month, WhatsApp launched an integrated safety campaign ‘Stay Safe with WhatsApp’ in India highlighting product features that empower users to take control of their online safety and ensure a safer messaging experience.
The campaign focused on educating users about WhatsApp’s safety features and tools like two-step Verification, block and report and privacy controls that equip people with the necessary safeguards to help protect them from online scams, frauds and account-compromising threats.
Google Removes ‘Slavery Simulator’ Game From Play Store After Racism Outcry in Brazil
By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 27 May 2023
Google has withdrawn a gaming app that allowed players to buy, sell and torture Black virtual “slaves” after a racism outcry in Brazil.
Dubbed “Slavery Simulator,” the Portuguese-language game saw players trade in slaves and strategise to prevent the abolition of slavery in order to amass virtual riches.
The prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation for “hate speech” related to the game downloaded by hundreds of people.
The app itself had come with a disclaimer condemning “all types of slavery” and insisting the game was “solely for entertainment purposes.”
After withdrawing the app from its Play Store, Google said in a statement that “applications that promote violence or hated against groups of people or individuals because of their skin colour or ethnic origin” would not be allowed on its platform.
The company invited users to report offensive content.
Brazil’s ministry of racial equality said it had asked Google to put in place measures “to filter out content containing hate speech, intolerance and racism” and “to prevent it from spreading so easily, without moderation.”
Racism is still a problem in Brazil, the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888. More than 56 percent of the population is Afro-Brazilian.
“Brazil is one of the countries with the most consumers on Google’s platforms, and there one finds this app that recalls the era of slavery, with bonuses for those who torture the most,” said Renata Souza, a leftist regional lawmaker in Rio de Janeiro.
“This is not only racism, but also fascism,” she told AFP. “Here in Brazil, we have a neo-fascist movement that is not afraid to show itself… because of the lack of regulation on social networks.”
Google has spoken out against a bill seeking to stem online disinformation in Brazil, saying it “seriously threatens free speech.”
Supporters call the bill a badly-needed defense against disinformation and online extremism, but detractors say it amounts to censorship.
A Supreme Court judge ordered an investigation of Google and Telegram over what he called their “abusive campaign” against the bill.
Racism has been on the minds of Brazilians since “monkey” insults were hurled Sunday against their own Vinicius Junior, playing for Real Madrid in Spain.
The lights on the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro were turned off for an hour in solidarity with the player.
Netflix Expands Crackdown on Password Sharing; Alerts Users in Over 100 Countries
By Reuters | Updated: 24 May 2023
Netflix on Tuesday expanded its crackdown on password sharing to the United States and more than 100 other countries, alerting users that their accounts cannot be shared for free outside of their households.
The streaming video pioneer has been looking for new ways to make money as it faces signs of market saturation, with efforts including limits on password borrowing and a new ad-supported option.
Netflix on Tuesday said it was sending emails about account sharing to customers in 103 countries and territories, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Mexico and Brazil.
The emails state that a Netflix account should only be used in one household. Paying customers can add a member outside of their homes for an additional fee. In the United States, the fee is $8 (roughly Rs. 700) per month.
Members can also transfer a person’s profile so the user can keep their viewing history and recommendations.
Netflix last year said it was going to limit account sharing and was testing various approaches in some markets.
The company had estimated that more than 100 million households had supplied their log-in credentials to friends and family outside their homes. As of the end of March, Netflix’s paying customers totalled 232.5 million globally.
Under the new policies, people within the same household can continue sharing a Netflix account and can use it on various devices when travelling, the company said.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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