In no particular order, here are MediaNama’s top 10 stories of the week ended 24th November 2019

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Day after posting a Rs 50,897 cr loss, Vodafone Idea CEO calls for generous payment option for AGR dues

A day after Vodafone Idea posted a staggering loss of Rs 50,897 crore for Q2FY20, its MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar said that it would be “very, very helpful” if the government allowed the company a generous payment plan, spread over a large period of time to pay the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues. Read it here

Bharti Airtel looking to raise Rs 21,000 crore to pay AGR dues: Report

Bharti Airtel is looking to raise around Rs 21,000 crore ($3 billion) so that it can pay the Supreme Court-directed Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues. Its current cash flows are not large enough to pay the dues in full in a short period of time, according to a Business Standard report. Read it here

India adds 9.46M debit cards, 0.82M credit cards in September 2019

In September 2019, the number of debit cards grew to 835.6 million, a 9.46 million increase over August. At the same time, a total of 52.6 million credit cards were in operation, with the addition of 0.82 million cards, according to the Reserve Bank of India. Between September 2018 and September 2019, India added some 10.8 million credit cards and lost over 146.9 million debit cards. Read it here

A new day, a new WhatsApp vulnerability, this time via an MP4 file

It appears that there is no end in sight to WhatsApp’s security troubles. A fortnight after it sued the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group for exploiting a VoIP call vulnerability to plant its most sophisticated spyware Pegasus in victims’ phones, Facebook, its parent company, issued an advisory on November 14 warning users that “a specially crafted MP4 file” could do much the same. Read it here

WhatsApp told MeitY in September that 121 Indians were targeted by Pegasus, MeitY reveals in Parliament

WhatsApp informed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on September 5, 2019, that approximately 121 users in India may have been breached by Pegasus. MeitY revealed this in a written response (available below) to Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s question raised in Parliament today. Read it here

Amit Shah says internet in J&K will be restored when local administration sees fit; cites national security

Home Minister Amit Shah said that internet services in Jammu & Kashmir — which have been suspended for over 100 days — would be restored the territory’s administration think it fit to do so. Shah did not clarify when internet services in the union territory — erstwhile a state — would be restored, stating that “when it is the matter of India’s security, Kashmir valley and its people’s security, and a fight against terrorism, we have to set our priorities”. Read it here

Face recognition systems active at Chaayos outlets without opt-out feature; some questions

Chaayos, a popular tea store chain in India, has installed facial recognition systems at its outlets to replace mobile number OTP. MediaNama encountered one such system installed at one of Chaayos’ Delhi outlets. The interface did not display any terms and conditions regarding the use of the facial data that the terminals would collect. Read it here

Union cabinet approves proposals to mitigate telecom sector’s financial stress

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved proposals for mitigating financial stress being faced by telecom service sector on November 20. Under the approval, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) will provide an option to telecom companies to defer payment of the spectrum auction installments that are due for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, either for one or both years. Read it here

NATGRID will be operational by December 2020, Home Ministry informs Parliament

Intelligence program NATGRID will be operational by December 31, 2020, Minister of State for Home Affairs, G. Kishan Reddy informed the Parliament in response to a question. The physical infrastructure is planned to be completed by March 31, 2020. NATGRID has already developed an application software for proof of technology which is yet to be fully rolled out. Read it here

Between 2016 and 2019, govt has blocked more than 8,000 URLs from social media

In the last three years, the government has ordered that 8,250 URLs from social media platforms be blocked, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad revealed in Lok Sabha on November 20. In 2016, 633 URLs were blocked, while in 2017, that number more than doubled to 1,385. 2,799 URLs were blocked in 2018. In 2019, 3,433 URLs had been blocked till October 31. Read it here