WhatsApp’s new privacy terms give it the right to share user data, including location, phone number, contacts list and usage pattern, with Facebook and its units such as Instagram and Messenger. The move has been questioned by privacy advocates, entrepreneurs such as Tesla founder Elon Musk, and certain government agencies abroad, citing Facebook’s poor track record in handling user data.
‘We know WhatsApp has to compete for users’ trust on issue of privacy’
Sources said the government’s concern stems from a variety of factors, including the ‘regulatory vacuum’ in the data protection space in India in the absence of a data protection law in the country. A bill for a data law is in the Parliament, but a law may be sometime away.
“Also, the privacy update sought by WhatsApp in user agreement in European Union is seen as lenient while in India it is wide-ranging and may have terms that may potentially harm user privacy,” the official source said.
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A detailed questionnaire sent to WhatsApp did not get any response.
The government has already had many run-ins with WhatsApp and Facebook over several matters, including on the Cambridge Analytica data leak matter (where a CBI inquiry is on) and regarding the spate of lynching incidents that were blamed on the spread of fake messaging on WhatsApp. The messenger at that time had downright refused to pay heed to the government’s request to help disclose/identify the source of fake, inflammatory messages, saying its user chats are fully encrypted.
The current issue is being discussed at the highest level in the IT Ministry, and any action or step on the matter will be taken only after that.
The government may also seek certain explanations from WhatsApp regarding the proposed changes, though the company did not answer TOI’s queries to this effect.
India sees 19 IPOs worth $1.84 bn in 2020 Dec qtr: Report
Leading consultancy EY’s India IPO Trends Report: Q4 2020 showed that there were a total of 10 Initial Public Offers (IPOs) in the main market and 9 in the SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) segment during this period.
In the latest December quarter, there were 19 IPOs valued at USD 1.836 billion and the largest was that of Gland Pharma with an issue size of USD 869 million. There were just 11 IPOs in the year-ago period.
India ranks ninth globally in terms of the number of IPOs in 2020 with 43 IPOs raising USD 4.09 billion, as per the report.
“There is a strong momentum in the IPO markets, and we are seeing an increased interest from companies across sectors looking to raise capital in the near term. Additionally, companies are keenly awaiting guidelines for direct listing in overseas markets. The market sentiment remains positive for what could be a stellar 2021,” Sandip Khetan, Partner and National Leader, Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) at EY India, said.
During the 2020 December quarter, main markets had 10 IPOs compared to 5 in the same period a year ago.
Real estate, hospitality and construction and diversified industrial products were the most active sectors (in terms of the number of IPOs) with three IPOs launched in each sector (including main and SME markets), the report said.
The report said that in 2020, global IPO volumes continued to accelerate, increasing by 19 per cent to 1,363 while proceeds increased 29 per cent year-on-year to a total of USD 268 billion.
Last year, IPO activity proved resilient to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic supported by low interest rates and expansionary monetary policies, it said.
“Despite a challenging year, 2020 activity in the Asia-Pacific region surpassed 2019, increasing 20 per cent (822) by volume and 45 per cent (USD 136.2 billion) by proceeds in 2020.
“In fact, the region saw the highest proceeds since 2010. Industrials led the sectors with 181 IPOs raising USD 20.8 billion in proceeds, followed by technology with 180 IPOs and USD 38.7 billion in proceeds, and materials, which saw 95 IPOs raising USD 7.4 billion,” the report said.
PM likely to address World Economic Forum on Jan 28
Chinese President Xi Jinping will also address the forum.
The WEF 2021 will be held virtually from January 26 to 29 at Davos in Switzerland, on the theme “The Great Reset” representing a commitment to jointly and urgently build the foundations of the global economic and social system for a more fair, sustainable and resilient future.
The meeting will be organised in a “twin” format, being both in-person and virtual, connecting key global governmental and business leaders in Davos with a global multi-stakeholder network in 400 cities around the world for a forward-oriented dialogue driven by the younger generation.
In addition, the Forum has scheduled an extraordinary meeting this year in Singapore, that will take place between May 13 and 16, according to the organisation.
This decision has been taken factoring in criteria concerning the evolution of the pandemic in Asia and Europe. In 2022, the Forum expects to be able to convene again face to face in Davos.
Biden orders faster relief checks, more food aid
In the opening days of his administration, Biden is emphasizing that the government must tackle the coronavirus crisis with urgency after his predecessor Donald Trump largely played it down.
More than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus and millions of jobs have been lost.
“It’s not just to meet the moral obligation,” Biden said in remarks at a White House event to sign two executive orders. “This is an economic imperative.”
Biden said his stimulus package to address the economic effects of the pandemic has support from business, labor, Wall Street and Main Street.
“A lot of America is hurting. The virus is surging. … Families are going hungry. People are at risk of being evicted. Job losses are mounting again. We need to act. No matter how you look at it, we need to act,” Biden said.
Republican lawmakers have questioned the price tag on pandemic aid and a separate investment proposal for infrastructure, green energy projects, education and research.
Biden says we need to act ‘decisively and boldly’
Earlier on Friday, White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese said he would speak with lawmakers on Sunday to push for relief.
“We’re at a precarious moment for the virus and the economy. Without decisive action, we risk falling into a very serious economic hole, even more serious than the crisis we find ourselves in,” Deese said.
Biden’s actions were not a substitute for legislative relief, Deese said, with about 16 million people now receiving some type of unemployment benefit and an estimated 29 million who do not have enough to eat.
A major pillar of the Biden plan is greatly increasing the number of people who are being vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. In December, Biden set a goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office and on Friday he spoke of exceeding that number.
“We’re going to, God willing, not only do 100 million, we’re going do more than that,” he said.
The US Centers for Disease Control said it had administered 19.1 million doses of the vaccine as of Friday.
Women, minorities and low-income service workers have been disproportionately hurt, with Black and Hispanic workers facing higher jobless rates than white workers.
In an early test of whether Republicans might support Democrat Biden’s plans for coronavirus relief, infrastructure investment and tax increases, the US Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously on Friday to approve Janet Yellen, Biden’s choice for Treasury Secretary, paving the way for her confirmation by the full chamber.
Biden’s hopes for speedy action on his legislative agenda and Cabinet appointments are complicated by the expected trial of Trump in the Senate as early as next week and bipartisan squabbling over operations in an evenly split Senate.
In an executive order on Friday, Biden asked the Treasury Department to consider taking steps to expand and improve delivery of stimulus checks, such as by establishing online tools for claiming payments.
Biden also said that under his executive order he expected the Department of Labor “to guarantee the right to refuse employment that will jeopardize your health, and if you do so you’ll still be able to qualify for (unemployment) insurance.”
Unemployment benefits are largely administered by the states, which set their own eligibility requirements, and it was unclear how the federal agency would put this directive into effect.
Biden is also asking the agriculture department to consider issuing new guidance to increase the aid given to families who normally rely on schools to provide a daily main meal for their children. It could provide a family with three children more than $100 of additional support every two months.