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Daily Digest Of Tech Policy News And Updates (May 5, 2021)

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

COAI welcomes 5G trials, but cautious on pricing

The Cellular Operators Association of India said in a statement shared with the press that it welcomed the recently announced 5G trials. “We welcome the government’s decision to start exhaustive 5G trials in different categories of locations across India. It will stimulate local R&D ecosystem to develop innovative applications tailored to commercial needs. It will enable TSPs to validate 5G technologies and use cases such as IoT and Industry 4.0. We hope the Government will also look into the industry’s call for revisiting the 5G spectrum pricing,” COAI said. The demand that pricing for 5G spectrum be lowered is a longstanding one, considering the precarious financial situation that Airtel or Vi might face if forced to make such a significant investment into spectrum on new airwaves. After six months of the trials are over, the sticky questions around spectrum pricing will probably take the front seat again.

India notifies threshold for equalisation levy

The government on Monday notified the threshold for when a foreign firm providing digital services in India should start paying digital taxes on their sales: 300,000 users, and Rs 2 crores in revenue. This is going to be effective from April 2022. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that foreign firms will actually start paying taxes that they didn’t used to pay immediately — Business Standard reports that the notification of this threshold does not supersede bilateral treaties on avoidance of double taxation that India signed with other countries like the US, and as such, those treaties would have to be renegotiated for these new thresholds to have a practical impact.

Twitter acquires news subscription aggregator Scroll

Twitter announced on Tuesday that it was acquiring the news aggregation service Scroll (not to be confused with the Indian news publication with the same name). Scroll is a US$5 subscription that is shared across several sites, like Vox, The Verge, The AV Club and Salon, among others. The flat subscription fee is distributed to publishers depending on which publications users read. Users get to read these sites without ads, something Twitter says it will leverage to bolster its own upcoming subscription plans. The company probably intends on integrating Scroll’s product into Twitter to get an experience like Instant Articles on Facebook. New signups on Scroll have stopped as Twitter works on integrating the service into its platform.

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Facebook Oversight Board to rule on Trump ban today

Facebook’s Oversight Board, the company’s appellate mechanism for moderation decisions, will issue its ruling today on whether Donald Trump is allowed to stay on the platform, after he was banned from the platform for encouraging the storming of the US Capitol. Facebook says that the Oversight Board’s decisions are binding on the company, unless it believes that compliance would be illegal. The ruling will be out today at 6:30pm IST. Recently, the Oversight Board overturned the takedown of a post in India critical of the BJP and its ideological parent, the RSS. The decision on whether President Trump, who has started microblogging on his own website, can return to Facebook, is the Board’s most significant case to date.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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