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TLDR: Amazon Prime, Apple Pay, Russia, Ukraine, cyber attacks, targeted ads, antitrust

Nations commit to future of open internet, India not among them

The United States and 60 other countries have committed to a set of principles that looks to promote a single global internet, according to a White House press release. These principles concern the fostering of competition, privacy, and respect for human rights online.

“Globally, we are witnessing a trend of rising digital authoritarianism where some states act to repress freedom of expression, censor independent news sites, interfere with elections, promote disinformation, and deny their citizens other human rights. At the same time, millions of people still face barriers to access and cybersecurity risks and threats undermine the trust and reliability of networks.” — The White House

It also added that there’s still room for other countries like India to endorse the declaration.

India not in a hurry to regulate cryptocurrency: Finance Minister

India will not rush into finalizing a policy on cryptocurrencies and virtual digital assets but it will take an informed decision after due deliberations across multilateral fora, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a Standford University event. Sitharaman recently batted for a unified approach toward crypto regulations in order to keep an eye on issues related to money laundering. She has also repeatedly clarified that taxes on crypto transactions does not mean it has been legalised.

Amazon’s movie rental feature rolled out in India

Titles on Amazon Prime Video will now be available for rent to both Prime and non-Prime customers. The company’s Transactional Video-On-Demand (TVOD) Movie Rental service will allow customers to get early access to new Indian and foreign movies, according to a TechCrunch report. Amazon also announced 41 new additions to its slate of movies and TV shows in India that will be available in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu languages.

Home Ministry advised on how to brace for drone attacks

In order to deal with the menace of illicit use of drones, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs recommended that the MHA “create a central pool of anti-drone technology at the earliest and give its access to all States/UTs,” Moneycontrol reported. The committee has also suggested roping in the private sector for this purpose, the report added.

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Crypto assets legalised in Panama

Lawmakers in Panama have voted to pass a bill that allows the use of cryptocurrency assets as means of payment for any civil or commercial operation not prohibited by law in the country, Reuters reported. The new legislation also opens the door for people to pay their taxes with cryptocurrencies. However, in view of Panama’s reputation as a hub for offshore financial services, experts reportedly cautioned that the commercialisation of crypto assets is likely to make matters worse.

Amazon uses data from Echo devices to serve targeted ads

A study by researchers associated with several US universities has found that Amazon (as well as some third parties) uses voice data from Alexa smart speakers to target users with ads, The Verge said in its report. “Similar to what you’d experience if you made a purchase on Amazon.com or requested a song through Amazon Music, if you ask Alexa to order paper towels or to play a song on Amazon Music, the record of that purchase or song play may inform relevant ads shown on Amazon or other sites where Amazon places ads,” a company spokesperson confirmed to the tech news site.

Apple Pay comes under regulatory scrutiny in Brussels

Apple’s antitrust woes seem never-ending as it faces new allegations in Brussels, this time over its mobile payments system. Regulators plan to accuse the tech giant of unfairly blocking groups like PayPal and leading banks away from accessing Apple Pay, the Financial Times reported. What are the consequences for Apple if the charges hold up? Fines that are worth up to 10% of its global turnover.

Big Tech fell for bogus requests to fork over user data: Report

A Bloomberg investigation has revealed that major tech companies including Twitter, Meta, Google, and Discord were tricked into complying with fake legal requests to provide sensitive personal information of their respective customers. But it gets worse. The data obtained by fraudulent means was reportedly used to “harass and even sexually extort minors”.

Russia’s cyber attacks are meant to collect data on Ukraine

Several news reports have pointed out that cyber attacks amid the war between Russia and Ukraine have not taken place on an unprecedented level. However, that may have something to do with Russia’s cyberwar strategy which primarily involves data collection, according to an AP report. After quietly breaching government agencies and accessing national databases, the information is being pieced together by the Russian side to reveal extensive details about Ukraine’s population, cybersecurity, and military intelligence, the report said.

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