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Indian tech leaders, investors step in to fill the void as the country outlaws 59 Chinese apps, Technology News, ETtech

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Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Prominent Silicon Valley-based angel investor Balaji S Srinivasan is teaming with AngelList founder Naval Ravikant to back Indian versions of the 59 Chinese apps that the government banned on late Monday.

Srinivasan invited proposals along with links of working prototypes through a tweet on Tuesday morning.

“If you are building an Indian version of these apps, @naval and I want to see it. We have set up an email address at india.stands.app@protonmail.com. Please send us links to your working prototypes to try out (not decks!),” said Srinivasan, who was formerly a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s most influential venture capital firm.

Punit Soni, angel investor and co-founder of Suki, also said on Twitter that he would like to help app developers who are building local versions of these apps. “Big businesses might be there to build,” he said.

On Monday, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese mobile applications including TikTok, WeChat, Helo, and Shareit citing the threat posed by these apps to the country’s “sovereignty and security”.

Startup entrepreneurs termed this decision as an opportunity for domestic companies to step in and fill the gaps that are expected to be created with this unprecedented move.

Hours after the announcement, Khatabook co-founder Ravish Naresh tweeted that Monday is “going to be possibly one of the most exciting nights in the Indian startup ecosystem. Hope Indian VCs have enough firepower ready to enable entrepreneurs to quickly fill all the big white spaces made open today”.

In a series of tweets, InMobi co-founder Naveen Tewari said that India has an opportunity to build the fourth tech ecosystem apart from the United States, China, and Russia, and the ban creates a huge gap in the country’s digital landscape, which “every Indian entrepreneur should try to fulfill & let its citizens not feel any vacuum”.

India Quotient general partner Anand Lunia pointed out on Twitter that there are requirements of minimum capitalization, local partnerships and limit to ownership in most sensitive sectors and there is a “huge difference in enforcing law and order” between Indian and Chinese companies

“All the banned apps have no subsidiary in India. They have no CEO in India and have only 3rd party contract employees here. So who do you catch hold of if they are supplying data to an enemy country?” he asked.



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Wells Fargo tells workers to delete TikTok as security, privacy concerns grow

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Wells Fargo is directing employees to delete TikTok from their work phones amid growing concerns over security and privacy from the short-form Chinese-owned video app.

“We have identified a small number of Wells Fargo employees with corporate-owned devices who had installed the TikTok application on their device,” Wells Fargo said in a statement to NBC News on Saturday. “Due to concerns about TikTok’s privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices.”

The move from the nation’s fourth-largest bank came as Amazon clarified Friday it was not telling its employees to do the same, despite an email reportedly sent to some employees that instructed them to do so.

“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok,” a spokesperson for the e-commerce giant said in a statement late Friday.

The company had requested that its workers remove the app from their mobile devices due to “security risks,” according to a memo to employees seen by Reuters.

NBC News has not seen the memo.

The controversy capped a week in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was considering banning TikTok and other Chinese apps.

TikTok is owned by the Beijing tech giant ByteDance and has been eager to show lawmakers in the U.S. and elsewhere that people can trust it with their personal data.

A spokesperson for TikTok told NBC News on Friday that “user security is of the utmost importance” to the company.

“We are fully committed to respecting the privacy of our users,” the spokesperson said.

“While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community. We’re proud that tens of millions of Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection, including many of the Amazon employees and contractors who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

TikTok has become one of the most popular apps in the world, a platform where people, mostly under 30, share creative 15-second videos set to music.

But lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe have raised concerns that the app might be sending people’s data back to Beijing.

There have also been concerns that TikTok is censoring content that might be critical of China’s well-documented human rights abuses, using the social media platform as an outlet to shape its image in the eyes of young people around the world.

TikTok has repeatedly denied this, saying it is not influenced by China or any foreign government and that it has not shared data nor has been asked to do so.

It said Tuesday that it was withdrawing from Hong Kong, making TikTok the latest tech company to review its involvement in the territory following a sweeping national security law passed by Beijing.

TikTok has always been intended for the international market, with parent company ByteDance offering a separate version of the platform, called Douyin, to users in mainland China.

Cristian Santana, Reuters and Alexander Smith contributed.



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Plant-Based Seafood, Third-Party Lawsuit, and Scotland!

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It’s the weekend, yay! Celebrate it at home and wear a mask if you go out.

That is all.

Now enjoy some food tech news.

Good Catch Goes Frozen

Good Catch launched its first line of frozen plant-based seafood this week: New England Style Plant-Based Crab Cakes, Thai Style Plant-Based Fish Cakes and Classic Plant-Based Fish Burgers. Food Dive writes that the new products are made from “a blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans, with umami flavor from seaweed and algae extracts.”

An Uber Eats courier is seen in Bucharest, Romania on May 1, 2019. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)

Anti-trust Suit Filed Against Third-Part Delivery Services

A lawsuit was filed against Uber, GrubHub and Postmates this week, with a complaint around menu pricing. As Nation’s Restaurant News reports, the suit accuses those three services “of monopolizing delivery prices by not allowing restaurants who contract with them to sell menu items to consumers at lower prices on other platforms, including direct orders from the restaurants.” DoorDash, the nation’s largest restaurant delivery platform, was not named in the suit. Not all restaurants mind the higher pricing however.

Image via Visit Aberdeenshire

Vertegrow to Create Scotland’s First Vertical Farm

IGS, an indoor agtech company, completed a deal with Vertegrow to build a four-tower vertical farm in Aberdeenshire, Scotland later this year. Hortidaily wrote, “A 245 m2 insulated superstructure will accommodate four nine-metre-high towers alongside a 1,600 m2 service area on Vertegrow’s site at Waterside Farm in Aberdeenshire. This will provide approximately 1,343 m2 of growing space, producing up to 70 tonnes of produce per annum when fully operational.” The towers should be up and running by early 2021.

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Google to restrict ads for tracking technology, spyware

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By: Bloomberg |

Published: July 11, 2020 12:57:56 pm


The new policy will be implemented globally on August 11

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is changing its policies next month to restrict advertising for spyware and other unauthorized tracking technology.

The change “will prohibit the promotion of products or services that are marketed or targeted with the express purpose of tracking or monitoring another person or their activities without their authorization,” according to the company.

While ads for these products already violate Google’s Enabling Dishonest Behavior policy, the change will make the ban on tracking technology explicit and lead to increased enforcement, a company spokeswoman said.

The policy will prohibit advertisements of spyware and malware “that can be used to monitor texts, phone calls, or browsing history,” according to Google. It will also ban ads for “GPS trackers specifically marketed to spy or track someone without their consent” and of cameras or recorders “marketed with the express purpose of spying.”

The new policy will be implemented globally on August 11, and the accounts of advertisers that violate it will be suspended, according to Google.

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