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Daily Digest Of Tech Policy News And Updates (May 3, 2021)


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

Twitter rolls out Spaces through India

Twitter has finally rolled out Twitter Spaces, it’s audio-based networking feature, to all its mobile users, both of Android and iOS, in India. Twitter said it is still working on the ability to bring the feature to its desktop website.

Spaces is a direct competitor to Clubhouse. Twitter announced its entry into the space in March, when it started rolling out the feature to beta users. Twitter Spaces has already gotten quite popular in India, since Clubhouse continues to be an invite-only app only for iOS users. Twitter’s sizeable user base in India — around 1.75 crore — has surely helped engagement.

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US slams government-imposed internet shutdowns

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has condemned the use of partial or complete government-imposed internet shutdowns, terming them as tactics to prevent the exercise of freedom of speech online. Blinked, speaking on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, said that internet shutdowns restrict the ability of independent journalists to serve the public.

“The United States condemns the use of partial or complete government-imposed Internet shutdowns, among other tactics, to prevent the exercise of freedom of expression online and restrict the ability of independent journalists to serve the public. We urge governments to investigate and seek accountability for all crimes against journalists and media workers,” he said.

Blinken said that in an increasingly digital world, press freedom and the free flow of information require internet freedom. “We are concerned by governments’ increased efforts to deprive the public of information and knowledge by controlling Internet access and censoring content, including through the widespread use of network restrictions – some as long as 18 months – that make it impossible for journalists to conduct independent reporting. ”

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Blinken was presumably referring to India, which had imposed an 18-month long internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir, which was only lifted in February this year. Overall, India has been called the Internet Shutdown Capital of the world, with the country imposing more full or partial shutdowns than any country in the world.

Read: Anthony Blinken’s press statement

Google saving $1 billion per year by working from home

COVID19 restrictions helped Google save as much as nearly $268 million in the first quarter of 2021 in expenses from company promotions, travel and entertainment, the tech giant said in a company filing last week. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said that on an annual basis, it has saved $1.4 billion in advertising and promotional expenses in 2020. The savings reportedly allowed Google to hire thousands more workers.

Read: Google Is Saving Over $1 Billion a Year by Working From Home

Chip shortage will persist for a couple of years, says Intel CEO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has predicted that it will be a couple of years before the global semiconductor chip shortage is sorted. Demand for semiconductors is supposedly a result of the pandemic, after it boosted tech adoption across the world; at the same time, global supply chains has been disrupted.

Gelsinger said that Intel has been reworking its factories to increase production and address the shortage int he auto industry. It may take several months for the strain on supply to “even begin easing”, he said.

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Read: Intel CEO says chip shortage will persist for ‘couple of years’

Apple under scrutiny in EU over anti-competitive moves in music streaming

The European Union has accused Apple of distorting competition in the music streaming market, based on a complaint made by Spotify two years ago. Spotify had claimed to EU regulators that Apple unfairly restricted rivals to its own music service Apple Music on iPhones. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement that by setting such rules on the App Store, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition.

Read: EU hits Apple with music streaming charge in boost for Spotify

***Update (1:55 PM, May 3): Added inputs about US criticising the use of government-imposed internet shutdowns. 

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