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Daily Digest Of Tech Policy News And Updates (April 15, 2021)

Bringing you quick updates on the tech space, policy making and digital rights from India and across the globe.

Gautam Adani turns his sights on tech infrastructure

After dominating in the physical infrastructure space, Gautam Adani’s Adani Enterprises Ltd has turned its sights on becoming a big player in the technology infrastructure space.

In February, AEL announced a joint-venture partnership with European firm EdgeConnex to create a full range of data center solutions and multiple data centres strategically located throughout India. And earlier this week, the group announced a partnership with Flipkart to strengthen the e-commerce players’ its supply chain operations. While Flipkart will lease a 5.34 lakh sq. ft. space at Adani’s logistics hub in Mumbai, Adani will construct the fulfilment centre for Flipkart to support its operations in Western India. Further, as part of the deal Flipkart will set up a data centre at AdaniConnexx’s facility in Chennai.

“The AdaniConneX JV will focus on building a network of hyperscale data centers in India, starting with the Chennai, Navi Mumbai, Noida, Vizag and Hyderabad markets. Development and construction at these sites have already begun,” the company said at the time.n The two companies will invest significant amounts of capital over the next decade to build a pan-India “green data centre platform”, it said.

On Thursday, the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority allotted land to AEL for the proposed data centre. Adani was alloted 39,146 square metres of land by the Noida Authority, which had allotted a total of 199,848 sq metres of land to various tech companies. While Adani Enterprises plans to invest Rs 2,500 crore in the project, the authority expects investments worth of Rs 3,870 crore to come into the region.

The Adani Group is clearly one of the most dominant players in the infrastructure sector. It is the second largest airport operator in the country today, it owns several mines and has a large network of gas and renewable energy projects. It operates one of the busiest ports in the country in Gujarat, and could soon grab a third of all port traffic in India. The group is reportedly eyeing railway projects as well.

The 55-year old billionaire is now the second richest person in the country with a net-worth of $50.5 billion. Last week, the market cap of Adani’s six listed entities crossed $100 billion, only the third Indian group to do so.

The Adani Group has so far stayed out of the technology space. But with the demand for cloud computing growing, from institutions and startups, and Google, Microsoft and Amazon vying to capture a large share of the cloud/data services industry in India, clearly Gautam Adani sees a massive opportunity in this area.

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Ahead of IPO, Zomato converts to public limited company

Zomato has converted itself into a public limited company and will known be known as Zomato Limited. The company is working on its initial public offering and will soon file a prospectus with the regulator and stock exchanges. Bankers roped in as part of the IPO include Kotak Mahindra Bank, Morgan Stanley, Citi Bank, Credit Suisse and Bank of America.

“The company is considering filings of the draft red herring prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Board of India and relevant stock exchange(s) and listing of the equity shares on one or more of the stock exchanges. In order to undertake the same, the company is required to be converted into a public limited company,” the filings said as per reports.

The company also allotted over 44 billion equity shares to its preference shareholders, as they converted various compulsorily convertible preference shares held by them. It also issued over 2.47 billion bonus shares to its existing shareholders. These shares were allotted to 17 shareholders including InfoEdge, Temasek, Fidelity Group, the ESOP Trust, Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah.

Read: Exclusive: Ahead of IPO, Zomato becomes public limited company and finalises bankers [Entrackr]

Rajeev Chandrasekhar says internet intermediaries need light-touch regulation

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party, said that India needs “modern, light-touch regulation” for internet intermediaries, which give consumers and the government to seek accountability from platforms. “I don’t think regulations for regulating internet intermediaries have to be a heavy-handed regulation or you need a policeman of the internet. There has to be an approach to develop a rule-based internet,” he said.

Chandrasekhar was on a panel discussion organised by the Observer Research Foundation. He said that as a Parliamentarian it was his job to protect consumers and give them access to an open internet.

Read: India needs ‘modern, light-touch regulation’ for internet intermediaries: Rajeev Chandrasekhar [Economic Times]

DoT examining Elon Musks’ Starlink internet service

The Department of Telecommunications is examining if Elon Musk-backed Starlink is in violation of existing telecom and technology rules and laws. In February this year, Starlink began taking pre-orders for a broadband connection for Rs 7,000 in India. The internet would be provided to Indian users through satellites launched by SpaceX.

Since Musk has not sought telecom or broadband licenses from the government, the DoT is looking to see if Starlink is in violation of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and the Satellite Communication (SatCom) Policy of India, 2000.The government is examining Starlink from a consumer interest and national security perspective.

In April, the Broadband India Forum asked the telecom regulator to block the pre-sales of the beta version of the Starlink satellite internet service. It also said that Starlink does not have authorisation from the Indian Space Research Organisation to operate certain satellite frequencies for internet services.

Read: DoT examines Elon Musk-backed Starlink broadband for commercial usage in India [India Today]

Ireland to conduct inquiry into Facebook data leak

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission has launched an inquiry into Facebook Inc, after reports emerged that personal data of over 500 million users was made public recently. Users from 106 countries, including 32 million in the United States, 11 million users in the United Kingdom and 6 million Indians have been affected.

The data protection authority said that one or more provisions of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation “may have been, and/or are being, infringed in relation to Facebook Users’ personal data.”

The data surfaced a couple of months ago in January and was reportedly scraped two years ago by hackers, through a vulnerability which was patched in 2019. The DPC said that previous data leaks were published in 2018 and 2019, through large-scale scraping of the website . Facebook said that this scrapping occurred between June 2017 and April 2018, prior to the implementation of GDPR.

Read: Ireland launches inquiry into Facebook after reports of data leak [Reuters]

Twitter announces Responsible Machine Learning Initiative

Twitter Inc. announced that it will study the fairness of its algorithms under its new Responsible Machine Learning Initiative. The company says it will conduct an “in-depth analysis and studies to assess the existence of potential harms in the algorithms we use,” including those related to gender and racial bias, as well as political and ideological content. Twitter has set up an ML Ethics, Transparency and Accountability (META) team, which includes engineers, researchers, and data scientists who will collaborate across the company for the study.

“Responsible ML is a long journey in its early days. We want to explore it with a spirit of openness with the goal of contributing positively to the field of technology ethics,” it said.

Read: Introducing our Responsible Machine Learning Initiative [Twitter]

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