This is a rundown of last week’s news updates on Privacy and Antitrust:
Messenger voice and video calls to now be protected by encryption, announces Facebook
In a move reminiscent of blacked out screens and garbled voices, social media platform Facebook on Friday announced that it would now be encrypting voice and video calls made from their social texting app Messenger, adding on to their policy of encryption of text chats. This is seen as a welcome move, given that Messenger clocks in more than 150 million audio or video calls daily. Facebook also announced that it is planning on encrypting group chats and calls on Messenger, and direct messages on Instagram.
Google implements stricter privacy protection measures for users under 18
Global search engine giant Google on Tuesday announced a slew of measures to protect user data and privacy of persons under 18, under growing concerns that it had not taken adequate steps to protect children from online tracking. As part of these measures, videos uploaded on their video sharing site Youtube by users between 13 and 17 years would be set to private by default, which can be viewed only by people they designate. Persons under 18 years old, or their parents or guardians, can also request Google to remove their images from Google Images search results. Finally, location history for all users below the age of 18 would be turned off without the option to turn it back on.
Apple’s NeuralHash too big a bite out of the apple? Child Sexual Image Scanner app faces privacy concerns
Tech giant Apple recently announced the implementation of a tool to identify child sexual images on iPhones, which while being praised by child protection groups, has come under fire for their potential for abuse by governmental and law enforcement agencies. Apple however clarifies that this tool will only work on images uploaded to the iCloud, and will not scan images that are stored locally on iPhone devices. Any images matching known child sexual images will be turned into a hash which can identify the images but cannot be used to create them. The major privacy concerns involved here are firstly, that innocent users would be falsely implicated based on harmless photos, which have been known to fool such systems in the past. The other concern is that of governmental pressure on Apple to enable access to other images present on an individual’s phone. Apple defends this concern by stating that it “will refuse any such demands”.
Supreme Court of India denies Amazon and Flipkart’s petition to stop antitrust probe
The Supreme Court of India, the highest court of the land, had on Monday denied petitions from Amazon and Flipkart to intervene in the Competition Commission of India’s probe of their practices of utilising select sellers that stifled competition. A three judge bench of the Court declined to stop the probe and instead called on the companies to join the investigation. The Court, however, granted the companies a period of four weeks to provide the required information to the CCI. The fallout of this is that Amazon’s and Catamaran Ventures’ joint venture Prione Business Services will not renew its partnership with Amazon India’s Cloudtail India.
No more an exclusive club? New US Antitrust Bill aims at making app platforms more accessible to small businesses
Global tech giants Apple and Google now face a new antitrust challenge at their doorstep. A new Antitrust Bill sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Marsha Blackburn and Amy Klobuchar intends to make it mandatory for software platform companies to allow third party apps to be installed on mobile devices, and allow for the sideloading of software to occur. The Open App Market Act, as the new Bill is termed, would allow small businesses and other creators to get themselves listed on a platform, even if they were initially barred from accessing or were still being vetted for accessing an established platform. However, this new Bill brings data protection concerns, as unverified apps may have malware piggybacking their downloads.
Grasim Industries ordered to curtail its discretionary pricing strategy in the Viscose Staple Fibre industry
The Competition Commission of India found Grasim Industries, an Aditya Birla Group company, to have violated competition law by misusing its dominant position in the Viscose Staple Fibre market by offering discretionary prices. The CCI found that Grasim’s practices of charging discriminatory prices to spinners in India had also denied market access to other players and the supplementary obligations imposed on customers were against the spirit of competition. No additional fine was levied by the CCI, as a Rs. 302 crore penalty had already been levied in March this year in a similar case, but Grasim was ordered to cease and desist these practices.
This post has been authored by Rohan Joshua Jacob.
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