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MediaNama Daily: Fraud vs Fintech

Event stories covering our discussion on anonymity, privacy and user verification, a conference on the Internet Of Things, and more

🥇If There’s One Story To Read Today 

Should you be investing in the Fraud Stack? 

It should be clear at this point that the number of scams perpetrated in India is a grave concern. The country has embraced digital payments through UPI, but its affection for UPI is also not lost on scammers. However, identity verification is not going to rein in scammers as is evident from the presentation by Anand Venkatnarayan at MediaNama’s roundtable exploring user verification. 

The roundtable explored the future of anonymity and privacy in India, amid broadening government mandates to “verify” users online for security reasons, among others. 

He had fascinating insights to share about how the business of fraud is more lucrative than any fintech company in India because of the sheer volume of their income. Anand informed that these gangs found ways to procure legitimate IDs, circumvent verification, and defraud unsuspecting users with the ease of a start-up offering payment solutions.  

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The problem of poor implementation is being packaged as a problem of privacy, Anand proclaimed during his presentation. Read this 5-minute story here.

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📺 In Case You Missed It

Our hybrid roundtable on ‘Exploring User Verification’ held in Delhi on March 23, 2023, saw some pretty intense discussions on the topic 👀
Watch the full video here.

🗓 Your Tech Policy Agenda

  • FoE 2023: Newslaundry and the Internet Freedom Foundation are holding the 2023 edition of their annual forum FoE, which aims to explore the interplay between media, law and policy, on April 1, 3pm onwards at Kamala Devi Complex, India International Centre, Delhi. Find their program here; register here
  • Technology and Humans: ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems is an international hybrid conference from 23-28 April around interactive digital technologies. There are various workshops as well. Register here
  • Applications of IoT: SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai, is conducting the Fourth International Conference on INTERNET OF THINGS (ICIoT 2023) from 26th-28th April 2023. Click here to know more, and register here to attend. 

🚨Today’s Top Stories


Times they are a-changin for Google: It is now official that Google has exhausted all options in its appeal against two CCI orders directing it to cough up fines of more than Rs 2100 crore. It has lost one appeal in the NCLAT which means that it will have to pay Rs 1337.76 crore, and implement changes to the Android ecosystem. It remains to be seen if Google gives up or there’s another twist left in the story. [Read 🔒, 3 minutes]   


Copyright vs free speech: In yet another case of copyright infringement, content blocking orders by an Indian Court has underlined the intersection of copyright and freedom of speech and expression. This time, it concerns a well-known YouTuber Dhruv Rathee’s take on the nutritional value of packaged fruit juices. As the battle between Real fruit juice company Dabur and Rathee rages on, there’s also platform liability that comes into the picture. Find out why. [Read 🔒, 4 minutes]

India reaps the benefit of taxing crypto assets: A response in the Parliament revealed that the government managed to collect Nearly Rs 157 crore as TDS on transfer of crypto assets. It may not be much compared to what the government is used to collecting but it does mean that the tax is here to stay, much to the chagrin of crypto exchanges. [Read 🔒, 2 minutes]


There’s a new sheriff in town: And its name is the Chhattisgarh Gambling (Prohibition) Act, 2022. The law replaces its 150-year-old predecessor, providing a modern regulatory framework for the gambling sector in the state. In short: almost everything’s banned, whether online or offline. Lengthy prison terms and hefty fines are also on the cards if you violate the law. What we’re more interested in: the Act’s very long definitions for online gambling, which inversely, make very little sense to us. [Read 🔒, 4 minutes]

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Do we really have to give up privacy to be safe online? That’s the question that tech policy experts grappled with at our roundtable on user verification last week. Some wondered if verifying the identity of users on all platforms was practically feasible. Others argued that the government needs to think of more pre-emptive measures to protect people. A few noted that with widening verification mandates, companies lose their ability to choose how they will identify customers. We round up the discussion highlights. [Read, 9 minutes]

Does anonymity online protect marginalised groups? While discussing a framework for the gradation and proportionality of verification, experts at MediaNama’s ‘Exploring User Verification’ event discussed this much-touted axiom about online harms. Experts Pallavi Bedi and Pranesh Prakash pointed out that there is no single stance within the LGBTQIA+ community regarding anonymity. But then there’s past evidence of mandatory verification hurting marginalised individuals. Read to find out the possible resolution in this contradiction. [Read, 3 minutes]  

Encryption or anonymization? Experts at MediaNama’s recent roundtable discussion weighed in on the existing methods for protecting user anonymity. While encryption is a useful tool to protect data in transit, it’s not a foolproof solution for anonymity. So, what’s the answer? From holomorphic encryption to zero-knowledge proofs, there’s more to techniques for preserving privacy. [Read, 4 minutes]

No data on insured vehicles: So, we decided to ask the IRDAI how many vehicles were insured in India in light of the mandatory third-party insurance proposal last month. Uninterestingly, the government authority said it has “no information” on the number of insured vehicles. Yet interestingly, the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry does have data on the number of uninsured vehicles. On what basis is the government planning this third-party insurance? [Read 🔒, 2 minutes]

🌏 Tech Policy from Around the World

Google’s $160 Million Antitrust Fine Upheld by India Court [Read] (Shruti Mahajan, Sankalp Phartiyal/Bloomberg)

Alibaba’s breakup lifts hopes China’s regulatory winter is thawing [Read] (Ankur Banerjee/Reuters)

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Google Violated Order to Save Evidence, Antitrust Judge Says [Read] (Malathi Nayak/Bloomberg)

Big Tech companies cut AI ethics staffers raising safety concerns [Read] (Cristina Criddle, Madhumita Murgia/Financial Times)

1,100+ notable signatories just signed an open letter asking “all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months” [Read] (Connie Loizos/TechCrunch)

Apple launches ‘buy now, pay later’ service in the US [Read] (Patrick McGee/Financial Times)

Chatbot dreams drive frenzied tech rally in China [Read] (Jason Xue, Tom Westbrook/Reuters)

Tweet replies no longer show who users are replying to [Read] (Jay Peters/The Verge)

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



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