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Asia

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WhatsApp has hit strides in India, becoming the most popular messaging app, partially due to its simple user interface and its end to end secure encryption.

European Union has come down harshly over privacy concerns for users of popular social media platform WhatsApp. This came in wake of WhatsApp not resolving the concerned authorities’ concerns over the popular apps’ sharing of user data with its parent company Facebook, even a year after it was first issued a warning.

WhatsApp has hit strides in India, becoming the most popular messaging app, partially due to its simple user interface and its end to end secure encryption. WhatsApp changed its privacy policy in mid last year and started sharing users’ phone numbers and their other information of personal nature with Facebook without a proper memo that informs the users of this face. This act drew widespread criticism and regulatory scrutiny across Europe and Asia, and WhatsApp for a time suspended the data sharing for EU users only. Asia still lags behind when dealing with issues concerning cyber security and privacy.

EU data protection authorities, however, taking strict actions, said in a letter, sent to WhatsApp on Tuesday 24th Oct and published on Wednesday, that the company had still not resolved their concerns about sharing user data without their prior consent.

The authorities have noted that the information given to users about the privacy policy update by WhatsApp was highly ambiguous and seriously deficient considering it was related to getting their consent.

The Authorities noted that while there is a balance to be found and regualted between presenting the user with too much of the information and not enough information, the initial alert made no mention at all of the crucial information users needed. They were unable to make an informed choice, and simply clicked the agree button that resulted in their personal data being shared with the company of Whatsapp, i.e. Facebook and its family. This information can be now shared with other partner websites and can be used to present the users with targeted advertisements.

The data protection authority of Ireland, which has final jurisdiction over Facebook in the European Union because the company has its European headquarters in Dublin, said that in April it had hoped to reach a deal over the issue of data sharing with WhatsApp and the partner websites. A WhatsApp spokesperson said that, they have engaged previously with other data protection authorities to explain how their terms and privacy policy update applies to those people who use WhatsApp in Europe. They also said that they remain committed to respecting the applicable law and will continue to work with concerned officials in Europe to address the questions over privacy.

The data protection authorities also raised concern over the argument of users’ consent not being given as freely as WhatsApp claimed. WhatsApp had effectively adopted a ‘take it or leave it approach.’ This ends in users either giving their `consent’ to the sharing of their data or they are from then on unable to avail themselves of WhatsApp’s messaging services.

A new European Union data protection law will come in force in May 2018, which will give regulators the power to fine companies up to 4% of their global turnover for violating the cyber privacy laws.

What we need in India and other Asian countries is a similar outcry for cyber privacy and enactment of strict laws to protect the interests of users on a regular basis.

 

-Archit Upadhyay

 

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On 3rd October, 1978; the auspicious day of Durga Pooja, a baby (later named Durga) was born. However, the specialty of the case was that this baby was the first baby born through in-vitro fertilization. Well! Herein, I wish to tell you the story of Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay, the unsung hero whose efforts were characterized as bogus by the Indian bureaucrats.

In Kolkata, Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay was working with two of his colleagues, Dr. S.K Bhattacharya (gynecologist) and Prof. Sunit Mukherjee (cryobiologist) in a small apartment with handful of equipments in order to help the Agarwal couple to have a baby. Due to certain reasons, the couple could not have a baby naturally thus; they had to switch over in-vitro fertilization which was a budding process across the world. Due to his perseverance, Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay succeeded in the first alive test-tube baby in the world. It is notable that Durga was born 67 days after the recognized test tube baby, Louis Brown from England.

In order to get recognized and accredited for his success, Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay not only tried to approve his work but also found an opportunity to announce his research at the International Conference which was to be held at Japan. However, the Indian Government charged him over falsehood and an Expert Committee was set up to look into the matter. It is notable that the committee members had not seen the embryos in their entire lifespan thus, they were not ready to believe that Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay did a miracle with a small refrigerator and produced the zygote into ampoules which were sealed by heating. Ultimately, Dr. Mukopadhayay was insulted and his was titled as fraud. His work did not get recognition in his entire lifetime. Due to the unbearable insult, Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay lost confidence and ultimately he committed a suicide in 1981. It was in 1986; Dr. T. Anand Kumar wrote extensively about Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay’s work and helped him gain his dignity.

Therefore, the story had a tragic end as the world lost Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay, a diligent genius who would have taken sciences to invincible heights.  It is noteworthy that Dr. Mukopadhayay had two doctorate degrees, one in Reproductive Physiology from the University of Calcutta while other from the University of Edinburgh in Reproductive Endocrinology. It is notable that in the year 2010, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was given to Robert G. Edwards due to his pioneering efforts in the IVF as it was under his guidance that Louis Brown was born who is the first recognized test-tube baby of the world.

To conclude, Indians are no doubts talented but unfortunately the Indian bureaucratic system in never able to recognize the efforts and talents of the person. It is highly unfortunate that we were not able to save Dr. Subhas Mukopadhayay but the most unfortunate fact is that all his efforts and research were considered as bogus thus, insulting him heavily despite of the fact that, Ms. Durga alias Kanupriya Agarwal is still alive and being an MBA graduate from the Symbiosis, Pune; she is working in New Delhi. However, due to the efforts of Dr. Anand; the International Science Committee recognized the efforts of Dr. Subhas Mukpadhayay in the year and today, he is considered as the first Asian pioneering the research and culture of in-vitro fertilization.

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Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince is aggressively working to overhaul  the Kingdom economy. 31-year old powerful Prince under the Vision 2030 calls for giving the Kingdom access to various sources of financing  and relaxing rules to attract foreign investment in Saudi stock market.  

When US President-elect Donald Trump is set to decrease dependence on foreign markets to establish manufacturing units in US thus creating employment opportunities, the Kingdom is opening up its economy  to turn into “an epicentre of trade and the gateway to the world” by becoming a global investment powerhouse. 

It aims to move away form the 80 years of dependence on oil revenues due to plunging of global crude price in recent years. Asian central banks, European sovereign wealth funds and Middle Eastern banks have flocked to purchase Saudi Arabia’s $17.5 billion first global bonds.

It also offers to export gold, phosphate, uranium to Asia, Europe and Africa. The most significant aspect of Vision 2030 is the Kingdom plans to sell a 5% stake in the state oil giant Aramco through an IPO which will raise an estimated $2 trillion in 2018. 

The economic Vision also includes to deploy demographic bulge where 65% of population is under 30 by emphasizing on the digital economy and entrepreneurship and also to  train Saudi youth with new IT skills for the generation Next job market. 

The deputy crown prince and the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Council for Economic and Development Affairs that drafted Vision 2030 said, “Our vision is a tolerant country, with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method.” 

In an effort to be counted among the strong economies of the world, Saudi Arabia is on the lines of diversifying its economy by privatizing some sector to create jobs and will cut subsidies on electricity and water bills. Further government plans to involve private sector in building infrastructure and in education sector specifically constructing schools. 

The Prince is determined  to discard the old values and  bring his country into the main stream  of technologically driven economies.

Article Courtesy : Arti Bali, Senior Journalist & Analyst