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This Diwali will be a cracker of a festival for Nisha Chanderwal, a second-year BA student. “I bought a bright red kurta with gold-color zari dupatta from Snapdeal, my first online purchase,” the 19-year-old resident of Alwar’s Umren village told HT recently.

“No courier service reaches my village. So I gave my aunt’s home address in Alwar. They paid in cash…I paid her when I picked up the parcel,” she added, explaining the circuitous delivery and payment process that is common in rural India.

Nisha is elated for one more reason: She has finally got even with her 20-year-old brother, Ashok. “He has a smartphone but doesn’t even let me touch it, saying girls should not use the Internet. But now, thanks to Google’s Internet Saathi Programme (ISP), I don’t need his phone or his help,” said an elated Nisha.

Internet to women in rural India

In July 2015, technology giant Google launched ISP in partnership with Tata Trusts, one of the country’s oldest philanthropic organizations, to bring rural women online in India. Today, the initiative is life in 25,000 villages across 10 states with 1,900 this. The final mission is to reach 300,000 villages. Google is adding up to 500 additional ‘saathis’ per week. More than 100,000 women have been trained so far.

Google started this program because Internet usage by women in rural areas is low. “Only one in 10 Internet users in rural India is a woman,” Sapna Chadha, marketing head, Google India, told HT. “With ISP, we are creating an enabling environment that empowers them while also bridging the technology gender divide. We believe that easy access to information can transform lives. Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible”.

Along with access to information, getting more and more women online has other benefits: “If women are a minority online, they become vulnerable to harassment and violence. Women can’t only be consumers of the Internet but must contribute their views, and make the space equitable,” said Rohini Lakshané of the Bangalore-based The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), which the Kusuma Trust funds.

Google and Tata Trusts are leveraging their core strengths for ISP. Simultaneously, Google provides the hardware (phones and tablets), training, and Internet connectivity. Tata Trusts does the identification of this and the monitoring.
“We tie up with government departments to roll out the project. For example, in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, we are working with the rural livelihood mission. The government helps us identify villages, set selection criteria and logistics such as venues,” explained Prabhat Pani, project director, Tata Trusts.

The program first chooses a few women and trains them to use a mobile phone, shoot photos and videos, and use the Internet’s basics. Then the women are sent out on bicycles with a smartphone and a tablet to teach others in their villages. The program has opened a new world for many. “Google is like a book. You can get whatever information you need. I am illiterate, but I use voice to search for information,” said Phoolwati, a 45-year-old resident of Nangli Jamawat, Umren.

Her friend Manju is now the village’s undisputed ‘selfie queen.’ “I love taking videos and photos,” she said, adding that she also searches for information on MGNREGA or education loans for her children. According to Google, the new online entrant searches for news, recipes, designs for clothes, images, and information on pilgrimages, farming and cattle-related information, and government schemes.

For Google, it makes immense sense to get more people online. “The company is targeting huge and untapped demographics who are entry-level users. In the future, they will have a huge first-mover advantage if there is scope to monetize Google’s services,” explained Lakshané.

By 2020, about 315 million rural Indians will be connected to the Internet, compared to around 120 million now. That’s about 36% of the country’s online population. By 2020, this share of rural India will jump to 48%, creating a huge opportunity for brands and marketers in places where establishing stores is a challenge,” says a study by the Boston Consulting Group, The Rising Connected Consumer in Rural India.


The first signs of this market potential were evident during the pre-Diwali online festival season sale. E-tailers posted growth in sales compared to last year thanks to growing smartphone penetration in small towns and villages, cheaper data tariffs, and free hotspots. While Google did not divulge the exact revenues that it is spending on ISP, Chadha said it had helped the company understand users’ needs in rural areas and what role the Internet can play. Along with ISP, Google is also working with the Indian government on two projects that aim to give more people access to the Internet.

First, Project Loon uses high-altitude balloons to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G speeds to provide Internet access to rural and remote areas.

Second, the company is partnering with RailTel to provide free wi-fi access in stations. “The ISP has no immediate profits for Google. The average revenue Indian per user is less than, say, a user in the US. But getting more people online helps Google because its search engine is most used,” Praneesh Prakash, policy director, CIS, told HT. “In the long run, the company will earn when people access its services and also from advertising revenue.”

Nevertheless, the ISP is addressing a major problem. “Many are afraid to go online because they don’t know how they can benefit. While the Saathi program is not a philanthropic effort, it’s good that Google is addressing this issue through its training programs,” Prakash said.

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Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will closely work with India to focus on its revised mission after the transmission, its president and CEO Goran Marby said today.

ICANN, which matches domain names with appropriate IP address numbers, hosts its 57th meeting from November 3-9. ICANN was given the baton to assign web addresses from the USA’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

“With the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) stewardship transmission behind us, our top priority now is to focus on our revised mission and new bylaws and working with the empowered community. Expanding our outreach is key to our mission.


In this context, we are keen to deepen our ongoing engagement in India further. As the second-largest group of Internet users globally, we welcome India’s voice and participation,” Marby said in his address during the inaugural session.

Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said India had supported the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. ICANN will work with India’s stakeholders, including the Centre, to develop a structured framework to foster the DNS (Domain Name System) industry in India.

The framework will concentrate on capacity building for India’s stakeholders, gearing them up for active participation of all stakeholder models of Internet governance, ICANN said. ICANN 57 is the first post stewardship transition public meeting and the first annual general meeting under the new meeting strategy.


Telangana Minister of IT and Industries KT Rama Rao said the state government has embarked on a novel initiative to provide fiber optic connectivity and drinking water pipelines to households across the state.

India currently leads the world with seven internationalized country code top-level domains delegated, and eight more have successfully passed the evaluation. A Neo-Brahmi script panel defines the rules for the nine scripts used in India for evaluating future top-level domain applications work. This will serve communities using these scripts globally, paving the way for a multilingual and more inclusive Internet.

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Thiruvananthapuram, November 5: The pirated copies of the blockbuster hit ‘Pulimurugan’ became available on the internet last night. The film appeared on four websites, including Tamil Torrent.

The intervention of Cyber dome from the Kerala police had prevented the further downloading of the film. Police had also removed those links from the internet. The police would also be initiating legal action against those who unauthorisedly attempted to spread the movie among the public.


The cinema, released on October 7, has got a warm welcome, nationally and internationally. The film had attained a record collection of 20 crores from the first five days after its release. The total collection to date is approximately 75 crores. The movie is still going successfully in theaters.

The film was released in UAE and GCC on 4th November. It was estimated that Pulimurugan would be the first Malayalam film to enter the 100 crore club.

Earlier, the Malayalam hit film ‘Premam’ was also expected to get into the 100 crore club. But as the censored copy of the film had spread, it affected the collection of the film. Some of the important scenes of Pulimurugan had spread on the internet earlier. Director Vyshakh himself had come forward against this.


The shooting of Pulimurukan was tough as the team had to walk kilometers of distance to reach the site.
Someone is deliberately trying to spoil the hard work of many people by spreading the crucial parts of the film, by capturing it with mobile phones.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet initiative, Digital India, seems to be facing a little hiccup of the virtual kind since Thursday morning.

“This site may have been hacked,” says search engine giant Google on the search results page. In these times of virtual threats, this certainly is not a warning to be taken lightly.

Digital India's website hacked? Google said so! 5

Google support forum explains that this message will appear when google believes that a hacker might have changed some of the existing pages on the site or added new spam pages. “If you visit the site, you could be redirected to spam or malware.”

What raises concern is the recent spike in cybercrime – from financial frauds to denial-of-service attacks on government websites – some by individuals and some by hostile states.


The Digital India program is a flagship e-governance initiative by the Government of India, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 2 last year.

This ambitious project aims to provide services, products, devices, and job opportunities electronically, all under one roof as part of ‘Ekranti: National e-Governance Plan 2.0.’

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Zarget, an Indian startup that helps business customers get more out of their online marketing spending and website traffic, has raised $6 million in funding. The company said in a press release on Thursday. The investment is led by marquee Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and existing investors Matrix Partners, which backs startups from seed to growth stage. Accel Partners has also invested in the round. Zarget will use the money to develop its technology further and add customers.

The investment reflects investors’ preference for startups solving important problems for business customers—versus consumer-oriented products, which are yet to mature in India’s nascent startup scene. Chennai’s Freshdesk, which makes internet-based customer management software, recently raised an additional $55 million from investors, including Sequoia and Accel.

web optimisation


“Zarget has an exceptionally talented team of product engineers who’ve spent the past 10 years developing customer relationship management business automation software that’s already in use by leading enterprises today,” Shailesh Lakhani, managing director at Sequoia India, said in the press release. “We’re excited to back a team with such proven capabilities and believe their marketing platform will become an essential fixture within the SMB marketplace for many years to come.”

Venture investment in India rebounded in the three months ended September 30, 2016, versus the previous quarter, but “investment dollars are still more than 75 percent below the peak experienced in the third quarter of the calendar year 2015,” research firm CB Insights and consultancy KPMG said in their latest report on global VC investment trends, released in October. “Investors have focussed on companies with clear business models and greater profitability potential,” CB Insights and KPMG say in the report.


“Today, marketers are swamped with several fragmented optimization solutions with poor integration capabilities,” Tarun Davda, managing director at Matrix India, said in the release. Zarget’s platform “provides small-and-medium businesses a comprehensive and affordable way to scale conversions with a superior customer experience… we’ve been very impressed by the traction they’ve gathered so far.”

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Panaji: More than a month after the alleged hacking of some government websites by hackers from Pakistan in retaliation to surgical strikes by India, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) website continues to be in a state of paralysis, causing inconvenience to litigants and others.


The site could not be accessed for several days, sources said. After a few days, the homepage page could be retrieved.
More than a fortnight later, litigants, respondents, and lawyers find it difficult to access various links providing information on daily orders, judgments, and archive details.

“We would get to know the date of the next hearing if it was changed, details about orders passed, and guidelines to make amendments to applications,” social activist Kashinath Shetye said. He, however, clarified that while the orders of the principal bench could be accessed online, archives of previous orders and judgments of the Pune branch couldn’t be retrieved.


“No information on the zonal branch of Pune can be accessed, barring the daily cause list. Not getting access to daily orders is a big handicap,” Shetye added. Besides litigants who face problems in deciding their future course of action, the media is also handicapped due to lack of information, sources said.

Activists from Goa file a sizeable number of applications before the Pune branch. “There was a demand to shift the branch to Goa as many applications were being received from the state,” a source said.

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WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg has taken exception to the editor used in Wix’s mobile app, alleging that the do-it-yourself web building service has copied his platform’s editor and failed to give proper attribution and adhere to the general public license (GPL) — basically, to open source the work.Wordpress CEO Matt Mullenweg.

“If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub complete with original commits from Alex and Maxime, two developers on Automattic’s mobile team,” he wrote in a blog post. “Wix has always borrowed liberally from WordPress — including their company name, which used to be Express Ltd. — but this blatant rip-off and code theft is beyond anything I’ve seen before from a competitor.”

At the center of this controversy is the Wix app that was released earlier this month and allows Wix’s customers to manage their websites while on the go in real time. It comes with features such as the ability to have live chat, manage your e-commerce store, the blog on the go, manage hotel bookings, and receive updates on your business operations. The company is in a similar space as WordPress, enabling users to quickly get a website up and running while keeping the content fresh — all without needing to hire a developer.

The issues may not be apparent without digging deeper into the code, but Mullenweg is bothered by the overall transaction. He says it’s not that he minds anyone borrowing the work for themselves, but that it’s important to abide by both the letter and the spirit of the GPL — essentially to pay it forward. It’s through this principle that WordPress’ creator says the platform has been able to flourish. WordPress now powers 25 percent of the web, including VentureBeat, which it has for more than a decade.

Mullenweg puts it this way: “If you want to close the door on innovation, Wix, that’s your decision to make — just write your own code. If you’re going to join the open source community, play by the open source rules.”

He said that Wix can make things right by open sourcing its app under the GPL and have the source code on GitHub so everyone can take advantage of the contributions.

We’ve reached out to Wix for comment and will update if we hear back.


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Almost 1,500 people were arrested last year under Section 377, India’s colonial-era anti-gay law, the Times of India and Equal Eyes reported. It was unclear how many of those arrested, if any, were involved in consensual same-sex relations. The figure was more than double the figure in an earlier report on the number of arrests under Section 377 during the previous year.

Les manifestants cherchent abrogation de l'article 377. (Photo du

The Times article, however, cited a more modest increase: From 1,148 cases in 2014 to 1,347 cases in 2015 involving 1,491 arrests. Some observers believe that the vast majority of arrests under India’s Section 377 have been for the sexual assault of minors, especially boys. Before the passage of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act in 2012, Section 377 provided a convenient tool for prosecuting cases of sexual assault on boys.

Equal Eyes stated:

India: Hundreds arrested last year under colonial-era anti-gay law

Close to 14% of those arrested in 2015 under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code for unnatural offenses were minors. The figures were revealed in the latest report brought out by [India’s] National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Police in different states and Union Territories arrested 1,491 people under Section 377, including 207 minors and 16 women, in 2015.

Section 377 says, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” While the offense is punishable with life imprisonment, minors come under the special juvenile law, which says that if convicted, they can be put in a shelter home for three years. The recent amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act, though, allows children aged between 16 and 18 years in conflict with the law to be tried as adults in cases of heinous offenses.


A curative petition seeking the decriminalization of Section 377 for consenting adults is pending before the Supreme Court. A lawyer who is part of the case stressed that the decriminalization plea does not apply in cases where the victims are children or non-consensual offenses. “The case in the Supreme Court specifically seeks a reading down of the provision so that in cases where both the parties are consenting adults, Section 377 is not used as a tool to harass, torture or criminalize them,” said the lawyer, adding, “The government has also made a strong law, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which covers all cases of sexual abuse of children.”

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has unsealed an indictment charging 61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in an Indian call center scam that victimized tens of thousands of people in the United States, resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a DOJ press release.

The DOJ – the primary federal criminal investigation and enforcement agency – arrested 20 individuals in the United States and charged 32 individuals and five call centers in India for their alleged involvement in the scam. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities.


The DOJ indictment alleges the defendants were involved in a sophisticated scheme organized in India that included a network of call centers in Ahmedabad and charges them with conspiracy to commit identity theft, false personation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud, and money laundering.

Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, the DOJ indictment claims the call center operators allegedly called potential victims while impersonating officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

According to the DOJ indictment, call center operators threatened potential victims with arrest, prison, fines, or deportation if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government. If the victims agreed to pay, the call centers turned to a network of U.S.-based co-conspirators to liquidate and launder extorted funds.

The defendants allegedly used prepaid debit cards often registered using personal identifying information (PII) of thousands of identity theft victims and wire transfers directed by the criminal associates using fake names and fraudulent identifications to launder extorted funds, according to the DOJ indictment.

The co-conspirators allegedly used “hawala” – where money is transferred internationally outside of the formal banking system – to direct the extorted funds to accounts belonging to U.S. individuals. These individuals were expecting the hawala transfers but were not aware of the illicit nature of the funds.

The indictment also alleges that the defendants extorted $12,300 from an 85-year-old victim in San Diego, California, and $136,000 from another victim in Hayward, California, while fraudulently pretending to be IRS agents and demanding payment for fictitious tax violations.

“This is a transnational problem and demonstrates that modern criminals target Americans both from inside our borders and from abroad,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said about the India call center scam in the DOJ press release.

A special DOJ website has been established to provide information about the case to identified victims, potential victims, and the public. Anyone who may be a victim of fraud or identity theft related to this investigation or other scam phone calls may contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at this website.

The complete DOJ press release ‘Dozens of Individuals Indicted in Multimillion-Dollar Indian Call Center Scam Targeting U.S. Victims’ is available online

NOTE: An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers a complimentary whitepaper by ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen entitled “The Dangers of Offshoring Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Outside of United States.”

The whitepaper, which reveals problems associated with the sending personal information of consumers used in background checks outside of the country for processing and beyond the reach of U.S. privacy and identity theft laws


NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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