WhatsApp Has Not Abused Its Dominant Position in India, Rules NCLAT
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 10 August 2022
The NCLAT has set aside a petition and upheld a 2017 CCI order that dismissed a complaint of predatory pricing against instant messaging platform WhatsApp.
The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) said no doubt WhatsApp has a ‘dominant position’ but it has not ‘abused its dominant position’ based on inputs provided by the appellant, an NGO Fight for Transparency Society.
“We do not find any inconformity in the findings of Competition Commission of India (CCI) and hence, the ‘Appeal’ deserves to be dismissed and accordingly is dismissed,” said the NCLAT order dated August 2, 2022.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on June 1, 2017 rejected the complaint of the NGO alleging predatory pricing by WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, by not charging any subscription fee from the users.
The complaint was rejected by the CCI, following which the NGO challenged the order before the NCLAT, requesting that the fair trade regulator’s order be set aside and direction be issued to launch an investigation in the matter.
The NCLAT observed that simply updation of terms and conditions and the users consenting or non-consenting does not amount to an abuse of dominant position in the relevant market where WhatsApp is operating as one of the service providers in the form of messaging App.
The two-member bench also observed that in the market multiple messaging providers are available.
“In the digital age it has become a common practice,” said NCLAT, which is an appellate authority over the orders passed by the CCI.
The NCLAT also said the law laid down by foreign authorities is not binding on it.
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
Google Pay Rolls Out UPI Payments Support for RuPay Card Holders of These Banks: Details
By ANI | Updated: 23 May 2023
Tapping into the growing popularity of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Google Pay in conjunction with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on Tuesday announced the capability for users to make UPI payments with RuPay credit cards.
With this development, users can link their RuPay credit cards with Google Pay to seamlessly pay at all online and offline merchants where RuPay credit cards are accepted.
This feature is now available to RuPay credit card holders of Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, HDFC bank, Indian Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Punjab National Bank and Union Bank of India. More banks will follow suit shortly.
To activate, users need to add the RuPay credit card to Google Pay. Users can tap on the “RuPay credit card on UPI” option in their profile and select the bank which issued their RuPay credit card.
Thereafter, users will need to set a unique UPI PIN by entering the last six digits of the card number and expiry, and then entering the OTP from their bank. The statement from Google said users are ready to pay merchants on UPI with their RuPay credit card. “They will enter the set UPI PIN, the same way they do for other UPI transactions,” it added.
Sharath Bulusu, Director of Product Management from Google, said, “Google Pay is a partner to India’s financial ecosystem — enabling millions of users to safely and conveniently make digital payments every day… This feature will give Google Pay users more flexibility and choice in making payments, and will drive greater adoption of digital payments in the country.”
Nalin Bansal, Chief Relationship Management and Key Initiatives, Corporate Business from NPCI, said, “The integration of RuPay Credit Card on UPI delivers a remarkable user experience seamlessly combining the convenience of UPI with the benefits of RuPay Credit Card.”
Bansal said, “We believe this service will mature to provide access to digital credit on demand and consumers will be able to make payments by taking benefit of the inherent security and availability of UPI network across both offline and online platforms.”
In recent years, India has witnessed a huge rise in the number of transactions made through UPI. NPCI reported a massive jump in monthly transaction count as the UPI transactions touched 8.7 billion in March 2023. To further bolster growth of digital payments in the country, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed linking of RuPay credit cards to the UPI platform in June 2022.
Meta Faces Record EUR 1.2 Billion Fine in EU Over User Data Transfer to US
By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 22 May 2023
Facebook owner Meta has been fined a record EUR 1.2 billion (nearly Rs. 10,750 crore) for transferring EU user data to the United States in breach of a previous court ruling, Ireland’s regulator announced Monday.
The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), which acts on behalf of the European Union, said the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) had ordered it to collect “an administrative fine in the amount of EUR 1.2 billion”.
The DPC has been investigating Meta Ireland’s transfer of personal data from the EU to the United States since 2020.
It found that Meta, which has its European headquarters in Dublin, failed to “address the risks to the fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects” that were identified in a previous ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The CJEU interprets EU law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all member states.
In response, Meta said it was “disappointed to have been singled out” and the ruling was “flawed, unjustified and sets a dangerous precedent for the countless other companies”.
“We intend to appeal both the decision’s substance and its orders including the fine, and will seek a stay through the courts to pause the implementation deadlines,” Meta president of global affairs Nick Clegg and chief legal officer Jennifer Newstead said in a blog post.
“There is no immediate disruption to Facebook in Europe,” they added.
Initially, the DPC had wanted to force Meta to suspend the offending data transfers, saying that a fine “would exceed the extent of powers that could be described as being ‘appropriate, proportionate and necessary'”.
But its peer regulators in the EU, known as Concerned Supervisory Authorities (CSAs), disagreed.
“All four CSAs took the view that Meta Ireland should be subject to an administrative fine,” said the DPC.
With no hope of consensus, the DPC referred the objections to the EDPB, which ruled that Meta Ireland suspend future transfer of personal data to the United States and pay a fine.
In a blog, Clegg and Newstead said the EDPB decision to overrule the DPC “raises serious questions”.
“No country has done more than the US to align with European rules via their latest reforms, while transfers continue largely unchallenged to countries such as China,” they added.
EU regulators have already hit Meta with fines of hundreds of millions of euros over data breaches by its Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook services.
It is the third fine imposed on Meta so far this year in the EU, and the fourth in six months.
In 2021, Amazon was fined EUR 746 million (nearly Rs. 6,685 crore) in Luxembourg for infringing the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
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