PIB Website to Be Revamped; Officials to Get Smartphones, Laptops

Officials of the Press Information Bureau are being provided smartphones and laptops to enable them to effectively use technology for dissemination of information, the government Tuesday said, which is also revamping the PIB’s website.

In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said adequate provisions have been made in the scheme ‘Modernisation of PIB’ to equip the officers with laptops and smartphones.

“PIB’s officers are being equipped with laptops/ smartphones to enable them to effectively use Information Technology to disseminate information,” Rathore said in his reply.

He also said that PIB’s website is also being revamped. He further said that video-conferencing facilities are also being installed to carry out the live-streaming of press conferences by important newsmakers.

The minister was responding to a question on the use of state-of-the-art technology by various departments under the I&B ministry.

PIB was unfortunately most recently in the news for ‘Photoshopping’ an image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It caused a storm in a teacup as people on social media observed that it had clearly been edited. A statement issued by the PIB later clarified that this was done in error, and was regrettable. However, while the statement called it an error of judgement that led to images being merged, it looks like this might actually be a fairly standard practice, as another image from the PIB archive appears to be an edited image of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Opera Mini for Android Update Brings Improved Download Manager

Opera Mini for Android has been updated adding an improved Download Manager offering users additional control while downloading content. Opera Software in a press statement claimed that “download managers are a highly-sought-after feature” for users in India.

The updated Download Manager while offering control on the number of files downloaded simultaneously. It offers option to either restrict Opera Mini to download limited or all files contained in an email when using mobile data or Wi-Fi. The update also adds alerts when downloading files over 15MB in size. The Download Manager also offers an option to set a default location to save all downloaded files.

Announcing the update, Christian Uribe, Product Manager of Opera Mini at Opera Software, said, “With more visual and multimedia content on the web and phones with more memory, people are starting to download more images and videos. This new update offers a better way to organize downloads and smoother experience when you download and browse at the same time.”

The Google Play India listing of the Opera Mini for Android also lists other features such as a new download setting which will ask the user before downloading; also offers simultaneous downloads setting, and grouped download notifications. The update also adds a new file chooser when uploading files while also brings various stability and usability improvements.

Some of the other minor updates now rolling out via Opera Mini for Android update include new address bar colour and category labels for “Classic” app layout; night mode toast on browser restart, and password manager in high data-savings mode for Android 4.4 and higher.

Last month, Opera Mini for Android received an update that notified users when the files finished downloading. The update included enhancements for Facebook notifications and several under-the-hood improvements. The app’s official changelog had added the update to feature Wait-for-Wi-Fi download dialog, which provided an option to remember user preference, and the context menus on pages looked like other Android apps.

Cyberbullying Insurance? That’s a Real Thing One Company Is Offering in the UK

It’s no secret that online trolling can be disruptive. Some of its most extreme forms like swatting – where a harasser fakes an emergency to get police to raid a victim’s home – are real world safety threats.

Now an insurer is offering some customers in the United Kingdom benefits to help offset the costs of trolling. Chubb insurance will include cyberbullying coverage as part of its personal insurance package – providing up to 50,000 pounds, or roughly $75,000 (roughly Rs. 50,00,000), that could be used for things like help from online experts for victims and counseling, or even covering lost income if the victim is off work for more than a week due to the harassment – according to the Telegraph.

The company defines cyberbullying as “three or more acts by the same person or group to harass, threaten or intimidate a customer,” the Financial Times reported. The company did not immediately respond to a Washington Post inquiry about the coverage.

The Internet can sometimes be a pretty nasty place – 73 percent of American adults online have seen someone be harassed online and 40 percent have personally experienced it, according Pew Research center study released last year.

In extreme cases, trolling can almost take over a victim’s life. “I feel helpless,” Amy Stater, the victim of a sustained campaign of online harassment apparently linked to her son’s online activities, told Fusionearlier this year. “I can’t get a job, my marriage is over. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder if it would be easier if I take my own life,” she said.

This new insurance benefit seems to be a shift toward acknowledging just how damaging that type of situation can be.

“We see insurance as helping our clients get back to how they were before the incident occurred – whether it’s an incident that affects their home or as a person,” Tara Parchment, UK and Ireland private clients manager, told the Telegraph. “So we still help to restore homes, cars and belongings that have suffered physical harm or damage, but increasingly it’s about the person and how they cope.”

Yahoo’s Video Guide Makes It Easy to Find Stuff Across Streaming Services

Yahoo’s new “Video Guide” app for mobile devices would make it easier for users to find content from across a long list of competitive video services and networks.

The app allows users to search from one place and then offers links to buy or start streaming the content in other apps like iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, HBO GO, and many others, Engadget reported.

For instance, you want to watch a TV show and searched Netflix only to find it was not available on the service. Next, you tried Hulu. No success. Then you find it on Amazon, where you had to rent the video because it was not in free library.

Rather than waste time hunting for what you are after, Yahoo’s Video Guide app searches across a host of streaming services, in addition to iTunes and Google Play, to find the content you are looking for.

Simply search for the show or movie you want to watch, and the app will let you know all of the places it’s available.

After you select your preference, Video Guide will send you over to the appropriate streaming library in a flash.

Additionally, the app also has a Mood Picker feature that lets users pick from GIFs to search through curated lists.

After Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai Comes Out in Support of Muslims

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After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has come out in support of Muslims, saying that we must support Muslim and other minority communities in the US and around the world.

Responding to a recent wave of prejudice against Muslims – especially in the wake of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump asking for a ban on Muslims entering the US – the Indian-born top Google executive reiterated his own experience and said let us not let fear defeat our values.

“I came to the US from India 22 years ago. I was fortunate enough to gain entry to a university here, and time after time, I saw that hard work opened other doors. I have built a career and a family and a life here. And I’ve felt as much a part of this country, as I felt growing up in India,” he posted on the social message platform Medium on Saturday.

“My experience is obviously not unique. It’s been said a million times that America is the “land of opportunity” – for millions of immigrants, it’s not an abstract notion, but a concrete description of what we find here. America provided access to opportunities that simply didn’t exist for many of us before we arrived,” he added.

“That is why it’s so disheartening to see the intolerant discourse playing out in the news these days”, he further said, adding that “statements that our country would be a better place without the voices, ideas and the contributions of certain groups of people, based solely on where they come from, or their religion”.

According to Pichai, open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance of new Americans is one of the country’s greatest strengths and most defining characteristics.

“And that is no coincidence – America, after all, was and is a country of immigrants,” he posted.

Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg said that his company would “fight to protect” the rights of Muslims, and work to “create a peaceful and safe environment”.

In a post, the Facebook founder wrote: “I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world”.

“After the Paris attacks and hate this week, I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others,” he added.

Zuckerberg, who was blessed with a girl recently, urged the world not to “succumb to cynicism”.

Pichai supported his views: “I firmly believe that whether you’re building a company or leading a country, a diverse mix of voices and backgrounds and experiences leads to better discussions, better decisions, and better outcomes for everyone”.

“I debated whether to post this, because lately it seems that criticism of intolerance just gives more oxygen to this debate. But I feel we must speak out – particularly those of us who are not under attack. Everyone has the right to their views, but it’s also important that those who are less represented know that those are not the views of all,” Pichai explained.

Trump, the Republican front-runner for the November 2016 presidential election, has proposed banning Muslims from entering the US.

With New Google Wallet, Send Money to Anyone With a Phone Number

Google on Thursday announced a new and easier way to send money from its Google Wallet app. The app will soon let users transfer money even to those who don’t have a Google Wallet account.

As elaborated by the search giant, the Google Wallet update will enable Android and iOS users to send money via a link through SMS. Before this, users were required to have a Google Wallet account to send and receive money via an email address.

Google Wallet users can send money by sharing a secure link with the recipient. The recipient will have to open the link and fill a form with the debit card number and other account details. Once the form has been filled and submitted, the funds will transfer automatically ‘within minutes’ according to Google. This feature is restricted to users in the US.

While Google says the updated apps with support for these features will be available in the “next few days”, it seems the iOS app has already been updated to support this feature, while Android users may have to wait longer to receive the update.

The company in September redesigned the interface of Google Wallet app for iOS. The new UI gave users easy access to view their Wallet balance and their purchase history. The update made it easier to send money using debit cards, linked bank account, or the existing Wallet balance. It additionally made iOS users easily request for a Wallet Card using the Wallet app. Google in the same month launched a new version of its Google Wallet app for Android, called Google Wallet (New). The old app was renamed to Android Pay when the revamped service launched.

Turkey Fines Twitter Over Terrorist Propaganda

Turkey’s communications regulator has imposed an unprecedented fine on Twitter for allowing the publication of content deemed to justify terror, the state-run Anatolia news agency said Friday.

The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) has fined Twitter TRY 150,000 ($50,700 or roughly Rs. 33,97,000), the first time it has issued such a penalty to the company.

Despite repeated warnings, Twitter failed to withdraw content “praising terrorism, targeting the security forces and inciting hatred and violence”, it said.

There were no further details on the nature of the offending content but Turkish officials have repeatedly expressed irritation over the presence of material on social media in favour of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The authorities have been waging a months-long crackdown on the PKK whose fighters have responded with deadly attacks on the Turkish security forces.

The authorities have repeatedly imposed temporary blocks on Twitter and other social media during times of crisis.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a chequered relationship with Twitter, previously comparing social media to a “knife in the hand of a murderer” and saying “I don’t like to tweet, schmeet.”

But in February he started tweeting for the first time from his personal account @RT_Erdogan, which has now become one of his main communication platforms.

Erdogan’s suspicion of social media dates back to the mass protests in June 2013 against his rule, which were largely mobilised by posts on Twitter and Facebook.

The government blocked Twitter and YouTube in March 2014 after they were used to spread a torrent of audio recordings implicating the prime minister and his inner circle in an alleged corruption scandal.

That ban on social media was later overturned by the country’s top constitutional court.

In April this year, Turkey also blocked access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube over the publication of images of a Turkish prosecutor killed by leftist militants during a hostage standoff.

China’s Cyber Chief Defends Censorship Ahead of Internet Conference

China’s cyber chief rejected criticism on Wednesday that the country’s Internet was too censored, arguing ahead of a major state-sponsored Internet conference that order was a means to online freedom.

China has the world’s most sophisticated online censorship system, known elsewhere as the ‘Great Firewall’, and experts have said China’s inaugural World Internet Conference last year in Wuzhen, southwest of Shanghai, was part of Beijing’s effort to shape global Internet governance rules.

This year, the government is upping the scale of the event, to be held from December 16-18, which will include a speech by President Xi Jinping and be attended by prime ministers from Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Lu Wei, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, defended the blocking of some websites and censoring of online posts, saying that if the government were being too restrictive with the Internet, the country’s online market would not be developing so rapidly.

“Indeed, we do not welcome those that make money off China, occupy China’s market, even as they slander China’s people. These kinds of websites I definitely will not allow in my house,” Lu told reporters at a briefing on the conference.

Lu reiterated earlier vows that China would pick and choose its friends when it comes to the Internet.

“I, indeed, may choose who comes into my house. They can come if they are friends,” Lu said.

“Freedom is our goal. Order is our means,” he said.

China has the world’s largest population of Internet users, around 650 million, and is home to some of the biggest Internet firms such as Tencent Holdings, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding.

The government aggressively censors the Internet, blocking many sites it deems could challenge the rule of the Communist Party or threaten stability, including Western sites such as Facebook and Google’s main search engine and Gmail service.

Authorities have launched numerous operations to combat illegal online behaviour, from pornography to gambling.

Recent moves, however, have coincided with a crackdown on online freedom of expression, which has intensified since Xi came to power in 2013.

China this year has also advanced a series of laws and regulations that contain “secure and controllable” provisions, which many foreign technology firms fear could mandate the handover of commercial secrets.

China says that the rules are necessary in light of growing national security challenges and the global threat of terrorism.

Trump Tower Website Has Outage After Anonymous’ Anti-Trump Rant

The website for Trump Towers, Donald Trump’s glitzy signature skyscraper in Manhattan, went offline for at least an hour on Friday after activist hacking group Anonymous denounced the real-estate mogul and Republican presidential front-runner for his anti-Muslim comments.

The website for the 68-story Trump Towers (trumptowerny.com), often used for his presidential campaign, was down after a tweet from an account associated with the anonymous hacking collective that said: “Trump Towers NY site taken down as statement against racism and hatred.www.trumptowerny.com/(what you see is cloudflare offline backup)”

Earlier this week, a handle claiming to be “Anonymous Operations” posted a video on YouTube with the message: “The more the United States appears to be targeting Muslims, not just radical Muslims, you can be sure that ISIS will be putting that on their social media campaign.”

The post added, “Donald Trump think twice before you speak anything. You have been warned Mr. Donald Trump.”

A spokesperson for Trump Towers was not available for comment.

The group’s warning to Trump came days after the outspoken billionaire proposed to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States in response to last week’s shooting spree in San Bernardino by two Muslims who the FBI said had been radicalised.

A recent poll by New York Times/ CBS News showed Americans are more fearful about the likelihood of another terrorist attack than at any other time since the weeks after Sept 11, 2001. A gnawing sense of dread has helped lift Trump to a new high among Republicans who will vote in primaries to choose their party’s nominee for the November 2016 presidential election.

Anonymous, a loose-knit international network of activist hackers, or “hacktivists,” is famous for launching cyber-attacks on groups such as the Islamic State following the attacks in Paris last month that killed 129 people.

Yahoo to Keep Alibaba, Spin Off Core Business

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Yahoo flipped its reorganization plan Wednesday, announcing it would keep its stake in China’s Alibaba but spin off its core Internet business creating new uncertainties for the struggling tech giant.

The decision marks a U-turn on a previous plan to spin off Yahoo’s vast holdings in e-commerce giantAlibaba, which could have exposed it to a huge tax bill.

But the tech firm stuck by its intention to separate out its activities under the new structure, a move that could open the door to a sale of Yahoo’s core online operations amid speculation the group may be headed for a break-up.

The company denied this was on the cards as it reaffirmed confidence in chief executive Marissa Mayer’s ability to revive its fortunes.

Board chairman Maynard Webb said during a conference call that “there is no determination by the board to sell the company or any part of it,” and added that Yahoo is “tremendously undervalued.”

Asked on CNBC if the board retains full confidence in Mayer after her three years at the helm, Webb said: “Absolutely… I’ve never met anybody that works harder, that’s smarter, and cares more.”

“So we want to help her return this great company to an iconic place where it belongs,” Webb said.

When asked if Yahoo would entertain an offer to buy its online operations, Webb told CNBC that Yahoo’s board would have a fiduciary duty to consider it. But he told the New York Times that if a bid were to emerge, “it would probably be a lowball offer.”

Some reports say there could be interested buyers for some Yahoo assets, and Verizon’s top executive this week suggested the telecom giant may be interested in parts of Yahoo that could fit with its newly acquired AOL unit.

‘On the right path’
Mayer told a conference call Yahoo is readying a new strategic plan to be unveiled early next year.

“I remain convinced that Yahoo is on the right path,” she said.

The plan, expected to sharply cut back some of Yahoo’s operations and likely reduce the workforce of some 11,000, would create “greater transparency to ensure that Yahoo’s business operations are accurately valued,” Mayer said.

Yahoo’s market value based on its share price is more than $32 billion (roughly Rs. 2,13,788 crores), but most of that rests on the value of its Alibaba holdings.

Yahoo bought a 40 percent stake in Alibaba in 2005 for $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,680 crores). The current stake of some 15 percent is now worth around $30 billion (roughly Rs. 2,00,450 crores).

Based on its cash holdings and its investment in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s market value suggests the core operations are worthless or may even have a negative value.

Yahoo shares slipped 1.3 percent on the latest news to close at $34.40.

‘Still valuable’
Roger Kay, analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, said the notion of a negative value for Yahoo’s core was an aberration.

“Its ad business is declining but it’s still a valuable property and will be for many years,” Kay told AFP.

“I think it’s the right thing not to sell the core assets. At some point they will shine.”

Yahoo’s finances have long been skewed by its large Alibaba holdings, but simply selling the stake would lead to a hefty tax bill.

The company approved a proposal earlier this year to create a new holding company for the Alibaba assets, a plan designed to be tax-free for shareholders.

But US tax authorities said they could not guarantee such a plan would not trigger taxes.

Chief financial officer Kenneth Goldman said the new plan was “an operational mirror image of the original proposal,” and that it was decided because resolving questions of tax liability “could take years.”

Under it, Yahoo’s assets and liabilities other than the Alibaba stake would be transferred to a newly formed company, shares of which would be distributed to Yahoo shareholders.

The move does not affect the California company’s stake in Yahoo Japan, which is also under review.

Mayer said that Yahoo Japan “is a very important business partner,” but that for the moment “the highest priority is the Alibaba equity stake and we’re focused on that.”

Analyst Kay said the revised plan “means Marissa Mayer is not ready to let go of the core Yahoo assets without a fight.”

“I don’t know if Marissa Mayer is the right person to lead the company out of the desert but it can be done,” Kay told AFP.

Bob O’Donnell of the consultancy Technalysis Research said success was by no means guaranteed.

“This is not the first time they have tried to revitalize the core business, and they have failed,” O’Donnell said.

As for Mayer’s future, O’Donnell said, “It remains to be seen what kind of magic she can pull out of her hat.”