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Andhra Pradesh Government Flags Off The Blockchain Business Conference

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The Andhra Pradesh Government, in a bid to make Vishakhapatnam the blockchain capital of India, launched the Blockchain Business Conference yesterday. This flagship initiative by the Government of Andhra Pradesh marks the second leg of the Fintech Valley Vizag initiative that was started in March 2017, with the Fintech Spring Conference.

The two day conference will explore blockchain technologies, its applications and how it will impact the financial services industry. Regional and international experts, startups, corporates, regulators, entrepreneurs, policymakers and academics will be participating in this event. More than 50 startups from across the world will be showcasing their products and solutions in the fintech and blockchain domains.

Speaking at the conference, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu said, “I want to make Visakhapatnam not only India’s capital for fintech or blockchain technologies, it will be a center of excellence for the global community.

ICICI Bank and Mahindra Finance also inaugurated two new accelerator programs at the conference which will mentor and finance 30 startup companies and help them in solving problems. The Government is also looking to triple the size of their Rs. 100 crores angel fund by bringing in co investors and domestic institutions. A Rs. 500 crores fintech fund will also be set up, which will function separately from the innovation focused angel fund. With a target to engage with 50 startups this fiscal year, the fintech fund will receive Rs. 100 crores from the government and the remaining amount will be raised from co investors such as the Small Industries Development Bank of India.

Along with the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Lokesh Nara, the IT Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Gulshan Rai, the Special Secretary of Cybersecurity and Prime Minister’s Advisory, Mr. Ravi Menon were the other keynote speakers at the event. Speaking about the disruptive blockchain technology, Lokesh Nara said Andhra Pradesh was the first state to use blockchain pilots and the technology has also been already taken up by the IT sector.

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Elon Musk’s Tesla Makes Inroads Into India By Registering Company In Bengaluru

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Commonly known as the Nikola Tesla of our generation, Elon Musk is a technology entrepreneur, engineer and investor.  The self made billionaire managed to convert his scientific imaginations into reality and tried his hands at various fields, spread across technology, science and exploration.   Automaker Tesla has been in the news for the last few months for breaking records and creating new milestones.  In the first week of January 2021, Tesla surpassed Facebook, in terms of market cap and is currently the fifth most valuable company in the United States of America.  

There have been calls of bringing Tesla to the Indian market since a couple of years ago and now the dream finally turned into reality.  In what can be termed as a momentous occasion, Tesla makes inroads into the Indian market as Elon Musk registers a new company in Bengaluru, India.  On January 8, Tesla Motors India and Energy Private Limited was established with its registered office in Bengaluru, also known as the IT capital and the Silicon Valley of India. 

ALSO READ: 5 Companies Founded By Elon Musk That Are Not Tesla

Reportedly, Tesla would launch their Model 3 first in the Indian market for an estimated price of INR 60 lakhs.  Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways confirmed in December, Tesla is coming to India in early 2021 and will first start off with sales, and then look at assembly and manufacturing based on the response it receives.  According to Republic TV, other than Karnataka, Tesla is in talks with the governments of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to establish offices.

 

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Users Flock To Signal Messaging App After Whatsapp’s Latest Privacy Policy Update

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Users Flock To Signal Messaging App After Whatsapp’s Latest Privacy Policy Update

If you own a smartphone, there is a very high chance that you are a WhatsApp user.  The simple and lightweight online messaging application has embedded itself into our lives and has become indispensable.  Family groups, friend groups, office groups, play groups and many other groups like these see millions of conversations happening on a daily basis.  Millions of people across the world use Whatsapp for multiple purposes.  Beginning from a simple user to user online text messaging app, over the years Whatsapp has grown exponentially by adding a lot of features like payments, location sharing, pictures and video sharing, document sharing, group chats and calls.

Whatsapp users received a message upon opening the app on their phone which conveyed information regarding a privacy policy update.  The notification carried information regarding how Whatsapp processes user data and how Whatsapp partners with Facebook to offer integration across Facebook company products.  Failure to accept the policy meant a user could not use Whatsapp anymore after February 8th, 2021.  This led to a huge outcry on social media about how Whatsapp is abusing user data and user privacy.  Facebook and Whatsapp have always been in the spotlight time and again around discussions regarding user data privacy.  But the latest policy update from Whatsapp looked like the last straw.

Millions across the world were looking for alternate platforms to migrate to from Whatsapp where they felt their data would be protected.  Telegram and another recent app named Signal, suddenly saw an influx of new users following the recent Whatsapp privacy policy update.

Signal in particular saw a huge spurt in registrations following Tesla founder Elon Musk’s tweet which said Signal in response to a user asking Musk what is a good alternative to Whatsapp. 

On January 12th, 2021, nearly 800,000 users installed Signal globally.  Signal could not handle the influx and their SMS verification failed to function properly.  Signal has since then added more servers to cope with the surge in app downloads.  Signal said the only information it collects is the phone number and they do not assign a name to the number.  Whatsapp on the other hand collects a slew of data as shown in the picture below.

Whatsapp released a statement which said it is committed to protecting user data privacy and that their end to end encryption still works.  Their response says “Our privacy policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family (sic.)”

ALSO READ: How Does WhatsApp Generate Revenue

Whatsapp data is instead used to improve Facebook user experience.  Facebook is benefiting from Whatsapp by generating a huge wealth of consumer behavior data which inturn is being used to improve the ads on Facebook.   

In this day and age when the internet is making its way to every nook and corner of the world, companies are increasingly developing an internet ecosystem in order to make lives easier.  These ecosystems learn from gathering continuous data.  While it is hard to pinpoint how much data should be collected and kept private and how much could be used to improve quality of lives, the choice ultimately lies with the individual.

Let us know if you are going to continue using Whatsapp or will move to SIgnal in the comments below.

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Google Employees Form A Labour Union Amid Growing Disgruntlement

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In what can be termed as a rarity in the silicon valley, a group of Google employees formed a labour union.  More than two hundred employees of Google’s parent company Alphabet and Google, have come together to form a union.  Although the number of people in the union is far below the threshold for the numbers needed to get formal recognition as a union, the move  has definitely shocked many.

This union will be affiliated to Communication Workers of America and says it will be a structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company.  The union members say they want more of a voice not just on wages, grievances, benefits and protection against discrimination and harassment but also on the ethics of Google’s practices.  

Google software engineer Chewy Shaw, who has been elected to the new union’s executive council, believes the union needed to be formed because of employees being asked to leave due to workplace activism.  

The communications director of the union, Beth Allen said “One of the reasons why it’s taken a while for workers to get to this point is because the leaders of these companies did a good job of convincing workers they were these benevolent folks who were going to provide for them, kind of a paternalistic model (sic.)”

ALSO READ: Google’s Hum To Search Feature Is Here To Make Searching For Songs Easier

The National Labor Relations Board typically recognizes petitions to form new unions when they get interest from at least 30% of employees in a given location or job classification in the United States.   Alphabet has a global workforce of 1,20,000.  While the number of members in the union might look like a tiny fraction, various other silicon valley giants will be watching this story develop with keen eyes.

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