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Daily Digest of Tech Policy News and Updates (April 27, 2021)

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

Global tech giants and Indian startups join fight against COVID-19 tsunami

Global tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon are stepping up their efforts to help India’s healthcare workers and administration deal with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. While startup founders and entrepreneurs have been working on providing logistical support and information about hospital beds, oxygen suppliers and other resources, many of these companies are making product changes to raise funds and provide logistical support.

Google announced that it would donate Rs 135 crore to Give India and UNICEF. “We’re increasing our support today with an additional Rs 112 crore in Ad Grants to local health authorities and nonprofits for more language coverage options,” it said. Google has integrated COVID-19 information features into Google Search, Maps, Youtube and Ads.

In a tweet, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said that the company will use its resources and technology for relief efforts and support for buying oxygen devices.

Amazon is airlifting over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore. “Amazon India is also procuring over 1500 oxygen concentrators and other critical medical equipment that will be donated to hospitals and medical facilities in partnership with multiple non-profits including Swasth, Concern India and impact organizations like ACT Grants and Sattva Consulting,” it said.

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Industry-led efforts

  • Several startup founders have pledged to raise Rs 75 crore for home health management, oxygen solutions, vaccinations and supplement medical workforce under Action Covid-19 Team Grants.
  • Several startup founders and entrepreneurs are raising funds under Mission Oxygen. So far they have raised Rs 7.5 crore and has ordered over 800 oxygen cylinders to be delivered before May 1. It aims to procure 1,000 10 litre oxygen concentrators directly from Chinese manufacturers.
  • Zomato has partnered with Delhivery to source oxygen concentrators and other supplies to help hospitals and families in need. It is also looking to raise Rs 50 crore under its Feeding India campaign.
  • Vivekananda Hallekere, co-founder of Bounce and Venture capitalist Prakhar Khanduja are running multiple public groups on WhatsApp, where requests for COVID-19 resources are being addressed. They are also collecting donations on behalf of patients and families who cannot afford hospital treatment.
  • Sandeep Naliwal, co-founder of blockchain firm Polygon, is working with other crypto entrepreneurs to raise funds through the global crypto community. Naliwal along with others has created a new crypto address to accept donations in Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin and other crypto-currencies.
  • Veteran investor and silicon valley executive, Balaji Srinivasan has joined hands with Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, to raise funds for India.

Company-led initiatives

  • Apart from a vaccine drive, PharmEasy is allowing users to order soaps, sanitizers, masks, & other COVID-19 essentials on their app
  • Razorpay is allowing non-government organisations to create a payments page and account within 24 hours. The company will charge 0% in fees for all donations received by an NGO, upto Rs 10 lakh.
  • Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that it had internally raised Rs 2 crore to source 10,000 oxygen concentrators. The company has now enabled its users to make donations on the app, and said that it will match the total contributions.
  • CRED is allowing its users to use CRED Coins, or points earned by users on the app, as a form of donation. Users can donate their coins towards procuring oxygen cylinders. The company has partnered with Milaap and aims to purchase 1 billion litres worth of oxygen supply
  • MyGate wants to set up vaccinations camps across its network of 18,000 MyGate communities in India. It is working with state government, internal leadership, local municipal corporations and several healthcare companies.
  • Wingify wants to set up a 10-bed COVID treat facility in New Delhi, at a cost of Rs 50-60 lakh. It is working with a hospital to expand their care to patients who can’t afford care and has started disbursing funds. “The next line of action is to partner with agencies to enable free vaccinations in densely clustered areas in Delhi,” it said.
  • MapMyIndia has upgraded its platform to track vehicles carrying oxygen, vaccines and other medical infrastructure transport. “Our contribution to the #COVID crisis is to offer anybody and everybody a free #GPS system for their entire fleet of vehicles involved in transportation of these essential medical equipment,” it said.

Top Stories From MediaNama


Apple and Google working to kill Ad Cookies

Ad Cookies that are used by advertisers to target ads and monitor online activity may be coming to an end. While Apple has instructed all app developers on its platform(s) to seek consumer permission before tracking user activity, Google is building a cookie alternative which will let advertisers target consumers without using an individual’s web history. The decision by the tech giants could affect mobile advertising.

Under Apples’ App Tracking Transparency strategy, app developers will need to prompt users prior to tracking their activity and targeting ads. If a large number of users opt out of tracking cookies, it could affect the effectiveness of social media advertising on Apple devices and platforms.

Google’s Chrome browser will remove third-party cookies that target ads based on individual learning. “When the Privacy Sandbox technology for interest-based advertising (FLoC) was first proposed last year, we started with the idea that groups of people with common interests could replace individual identifiers,” Google said in a blogpost. “Our tests of FLoC to reach in-market and affinity Google Audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising,” it said.

Read: Apple and Google Are Killing the (Ad) Cookie. Here’s Why [Bloomberg]

Pi ventures launches second fund

Early-stage venture capital fund Pi Ventures has received regulatory approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to launch its second fund with a target corpus of Rs 585 crore. The firm, which backs Artificial Intelligence and deep tech startups, plans to back 25 companies through the fund and aims to raise the necessary capital by the end of the year.

The VC firms’ first fund had a corpus of Rs 225 crore, which was used to back AI-driven breast cancer solutions provider Niramai, logistics planning software firm Locus and space technology startup 3D-printed a rocket engine developer Agnikul, among others.

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Read: Pi Ventures gets Sebi nod to launch its second fund [Economic Times]

Karnataka carves exception for e-commerce under new lockdown

The Karnataka Government has allowed e-commerce companies to continue their operations and deliveries during the 14-day statewide lockdown, that was announced by the state government on Monday. The lockdown begins from Tuesday midnight onward.

The government has allowed both physical stores and e-commerce companies to continue delivering goods to households, balancing the demands of offline traders and e-commerce firms. It has also said that deliveries can be made 24×7 to “minimise the movement of individuals outside their homes.” Shops selling groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meats have been restricted to sell goods only between 6am and 10am, according to guidelines issued by the state.

Read: Karnataka will allow all e-commerce deliveries during 14-day lockdown [Economic Times]

OneWeb successfully launches 36 satellites

Bhart Groups’ Low Earth Orbit satellite communications company OneWeb launched a batch of 36 satellites on Monday, bringing the company’s total operative satellites to 182. “These will form part of OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity, and represents 60 percent of the constellation required to enable its connectivity solution to reach all regions north of 50 degrees latitude by June 2021,” the company said in a statement.

The latest launch is the third out of five planned launches by the company. Eventually, the company aims to offer services across the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Artic Seas and Canada. The service will be ready by the end of the year and by 2022, OneWeb will have launched its global services available, the company said.

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Read: Bharti backed OneWeb Completes 6th Launch taking its in-orbit constellation to 182 satellites [Bharti OneWeb #Launch6 Press Release]

Written By

Reports on banking, payments, fintech and crypto-curencies. Additional reporting on media regulations, data protection and other areas.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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