NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday said the Zoom meeting app is not a safe platform for video conference, issuing a set of guidelines for the safety of private users who “still would like to use Zoom for a private purpose“.
According to the advisory, MHA has deemed Zoom as an unsafe platform and it is asking individuals using the video conferencing app to adhere to certain security settings in a bid to safeguard their meetings from malicious attackers.
The Ministry said, “Zoom is not a safe platform.”
The government said it will prevent unauthorised entry in the conference room and even malicious activity by authorised participants on terminals of the other participants. It would also avoid DOS attack by restricting users through passwords and access grant.
“Most of the settings can be done by login into users zoom account at website or installed application at PC/Laptop/Phone and also during the conduct of the conference. However certain settings are possible through certain mode/channel only,” the guidelines from the Union home ministry read.
The ministry in a two-page long document is asking to enable security settings, such as the Lock Meeting feature, while on a conference call to safeguard their data.
The ministry has also detailed a list of checks or the features that users can adhere to in order to safeguard their meetings and their data from hackers.
Read the complete MHA Advisory Here:
Here is the list of checks shared by the MHA:
- Setting a new user ID and password for each meeting.
- Enabling the Waiting Room feature in order to ensure that a user can enter only when the host conducting the meeting permits him to.
- Disabling join before host feature.
- Allowing screen sharing by host only — Disabling “Allow removed participants to re-join” feature.
- Restricting file transfer option.
- Restricting recording feature.
- Ending the meeting and not just leaving it.
The MHA said that that adhering to these safety practices would not only prevent unauthorised entry into the meeting rooms, but it would also DOS attacks and prevent authorised people to carry out malicious tasks within various conferences.
It is worth noting that the document on the usage of Zoom app comes weeks after the Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In) issued an advisory on the safety issues of the video conferencing app.
“Insecure usage of the platform (Zoom) may allow cyber-criminals to access sensitive information such as meeting details and conversations,” the cyber-security agency said in its advisory urging users to enable features such as Waiting Room and Scheduling Privilege while using the video conferencing platform.
Trump Vs Twitter: Here’s The “Executive Order On Preventing Online Censorship”
The executive order challenges lawsuit protections for “unrestricted speech” on the internet.
WASHINGTON DC (United States): A day after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey slammed Donald Trump, the US President on Friday signed an executive order challenging lawsuit protections that have served as a bedrock for the unrestricted speech on the internet.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 28, 2020
Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter amounting to political activism and that such actions should cost social media companies their liability protection for what is posted on their platforms.
Here is the complete executive order, as released by The White House:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.
In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.
The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology. Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms. As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.
As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls, and our homes. It is essential to sustaining our democracy.
Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse. Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among other troubling behaviors, online platforms “flagging” content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service; making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.
Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets. Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called ‘Site Integrity’ has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.
At the same time online platforms are invoking inconsistent, irrational, and groundless justifications to censor or otherwise restrict Americans’ speech here at home, several online platforms are profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments like China. One United States company, for example, created a search engine for the Chinese Communist Party that would have blacklisted searches for “human rights,” hid data unfavorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and tracked users determined appropriate for surveillance. It also established research partnerships in China that provide direct benefits to the Chinese military. Other companies have accepted advertisements paid for by the Chinese government that spread false information about China’s mass imprisonment of religious minorities, thereby enabling these abuses of human rights. They have also amplified China’s propaganda abroad, including by allowing Chinese government officials to use their platforms to spread misinformation regarding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to undermine pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
As a Nation, we must foster and protect diverse viewpoints in today’s digital communications environment where all Americans can and should have a voice. We must seek transparency and accountability from online platforms, and encourage standards and tools to protect and preserve the integrity and openness of American discourse and freedom of expression.
Sec. 2. Protections Against Online Censorship. (a) It is the policy of the United States to foster clear ground rules promoting free and open debate on the internet. Prominent among the ground rules governing that debate is the immunity from liability created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act (section 230(c)). 47 U.S.C. 230(c). It is the policy of the United States that the scope of that immunity should be clarified: the immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech, but in reality use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.
Section 230(c) was designed to address early court decisions holding that, if an online platform restricted access to some content posted by others, it would thereby become a “publisher” of all the content posted on its site for purposes of torts such as defamation. As the title of section 230(c) makes clear, the provision provides limited liability “protection” to a provider of an interactive computer service (such as an online platform) that engages in “‘Good Samaritan’ blocking” of harmful content. In particular, the Congress sought to provide protections for online platforms that attempted to protect minors from harmful content and intended to ensure that such providers would not be discouraged from taking down harmful material. The provision was also intended to further the express vision of the Congress that the internet is a “forum for a true diversity of political discourse.” 47 U.S.C. 230(a)(3). The limited protections provided by the statute should be construed with these purposes in mind.
In particular, subparagraph (c)(2) expressly addresses protections from “civil liability” and specifies that an interactive computer service provider may not be made liable “on account of” its decision in “good faith” to restrict access to content that it considers to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable.” It is the policy of the United States to ensure that, to the maximum extent permissible under the law, this provision is not distorted to provide liability protection for online platforms that — far from acting in “good faith” to remove objectionable content — instead engage in deceptive or pretextual actions (often contrary to their stated terms of service) to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree. Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike. When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct. It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.
(b) To advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section, all executive departments and agencies should ensure that their application of section 230(c) properly reflects the narrow purpose of the section and take all appropriate actions in this regard. In addition, within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), in consultation with the Attorney General, and acting through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), shall file a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting that the FCC expeditiously propose regulations to clarify:
(i) the interaction between subparagraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of section 230, in particular to clarify and determine the circumstances under which a provider of an interactive computer service that restricts access to content in a manner not specifically protected by subparagraph (c)(2)(A) may also not be able to claim protection under subparagraph (c)(1), which merely states that a provider shall not be treated as a publisher or speaker for making third-party content available and does not address the provider’s responsibility for its own editorial decisions;
(ii) the conditions under which an action restricting access to or availability of material is not “taken in good faith” within the meaning of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) of section 230, particularly whether actions can be “taken in good faith” if they are:
(A) deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service; or
(B) taken after failing to provide adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard; and
(iii) any other proposed regulations that the NTIA concludes may be appropriate to advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section.
Sec. 3. Protecting Federal Taxpayer Dollars from Financing Online Platforms That Restrict Free Speech. (a) The head of each executive department and agency (agency) shall review its agency’s Federal spending on advertising and marketing paid to online platforms. Such review shall include the amount of money spent, the online platforms that receive Federal dollars, and the statutory authorities available to restrict their receipt of advertising dollars.
(b) Within 30 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall report its findings to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
(c) The Department of Justice shall review the viewpoint-based speech restrictions imposed by each online platform identified in the report described in subsection (b) of this section and assess whether any online platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.
Sec. 4. Federal Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices. (a) It is the policy of the United States that large online platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and ideas today, should not restrict protected speech. The Supreme Court has noted that social media sites, as the modern public square, “can provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard.” Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730, 1737 (2017). Communication through these channels has become important for meaningful participation in American democracy, including to petition elected leaders. These sites are providing an important forum to the public for others to engage in free expression and debate. Cf. PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 85-89 (1980).
(b) In May of 2019, the White House launched a Tech Bias Reporting tool to allow Americans to report incidents of online censorship. In just weeks, the White House received over 16,000 complaints of online platforms censoring or otherwise taking action against users based on their political viewpoints. The White House will submit such complaints received to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
(c) The FTC shall consider taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, pursuant to section 45 of title 15, United States Code. Such unfair or deceptive acts or practice may include practices by entities covered by section 230 that restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities’ public representations about those practices.
(d) For large online platforms that are vast arenas for public debate, including the social media platform Twitter, the FTC shall also, consistent with its legal authority, consider whether complaints allege violations of law that implicate the policies set forth in section 4(a) of this order. The FTC shall consider developing a report describing such complaints and making the report publicly available, consistent with applicable law.
Sec. 5. State Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices and Anti-Discrimination Laws. (a) The Attorney General shall establish a working group regarding the potential enforcement of State statutes that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The working group shall also develop model legislation for consideration by legislatures in States where existing statutes do not protect Americans from such unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The working group shall invite State Attorneys General for discussion and consultation, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.
(b) Complaints described in section 4(b) of this order will be shared with the working group, consistent with applicable law. The working group shall also collect publicly available information regarding the following:
(i) increased scrutiny of users based on the other users they choose to follow, or their interactions with other users;
(ii) algorithms to suppress content or users based on indications of political alignment or viewpoint;
(iii) differential policies allowing for otherwise impermissible behavior, when committed by accounts associated with the Chinese Communist Party or other anti-democratic associations or governments;
(iv) reliance on third-party entities, including contractors, media organizations, and individuals, with indicia of bias to review content; and
(v) acts that limit the ability of users with particular viewpoints to earn money on the platform compared with other users similarly situated.
Sec. 6. Legislation. The Attorney General shall develop a proposal for Federal legislation that would be useful to promote the policy objectives of this order.
Sec. 7. Definition. For purposes of this order, the term “online platform” means any website or application that allows users to create and share content or engage in social networking, or any general search engine.
Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Aarogya Setu Android App Is Now Open Source
The App has over 114 million users, which is more than any other Contact Tracing App in the world.
NEW DELHI: On April 2, 2020, India launched Aarogya Setu mobile App for helping augment the efforts of limiting the spread of COVID19, with an objective of enabling Bluetooth based contact tracing, mapping of likely hotspots and dissemination of relevant information about COVID19.
The App has over 114 million users as on May 26, which is more than any other Contact Tracing App in the world.
The App is available in 12 languages and on Android, iOS and KaiOS platforms. Citizens across the country are using Aarogya Setu to protect themselves, their loved ones and the nation.
Setu has been transparency, privacy and security and in line with India’s policy on Open Source Software, the source code of Aarogya Setu has now been made open source.
The source code for the Android version of the application is available for review and collaboration at:
The iOS version of the application will be released as open-source within the next two weeks and the server code will be released subsequently. Almost 98% of Aarogya Setu Users are on the Android platform.
Aarogya Setu’s development has been a remarkable example of collaboration between Government, Industry and Academia and citizens.
With the release of the source code in the public domain, the government is looking to expanding collaboration and to leverage the expertise of top technical brains amongst the talented youth and citizens of our nation and to collectively build a robust and secure technology solution to help support the work of frontline health workers in fighting this pandemic together.
The App offers a comprehensive suite of interventions against COVID-19 and has registered several firsts in the eight weeks since its launch.
The App possibly has the most reach and impact when compared to all other COVID-19 contact tracing and self-assessment tools combined globally, while pioneering new data driven epidemiological flattening of the curve through syndromic mapping.
Of the more than 114 million registered users, two-thirds have taken the self-assessment test to evaluate their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The App has helped identify about 500,000 Bluetooth contacts. Those who are identified as Bluetooth contacts of COVID19 positive cases or are classified as needing assistance based on their self-assessment are contacted by National Health Authority.
So far, the platform has reached out to more than 900,000 users and helped advise them for Quarantine, caution or testing.
Amongst those who were recommended for testing for COVID19, it has been found that almost 24% of them have been found COVID19 positive. Compare this to the overall COVID19 positive rate of around 4.65% – 145380 COVID19 positives from a total of 3126119 tests done as on 26th May 26, 2020.
This clearly illustrates that Contact tracing is helping focus efforts on those who need testing and this will greatly augment the efforts of the Government in containing the pandemic. Analytics of Bluetooth contacts and location data has also helped identify potential hotspots with a higher probability of COVID cases allowing State Governments and District Administration and Health authorities to take necessary steps for containment of the pandemic, early, which is critical for controlling the spread of the pandemic.
This approach of syndromic mapping, a novel approach of combining principles of path tracing and movement patterns of COVID-19 positive people, population-level epidemiology modelling and the prevalence of COVID-19 in different regions of the country, the Aarogya Setu team has identified more than 3,500 hotspots across the country at the sub-post office level.
The Aarogya Setu data fused with historic data has shown enormous potential in predicting emerging hotspots at the sub-post office level and today around 1264 emerging hotspots have been identified across India that might otherwise have been missed.
Several of these predicted hotspots have been subsequently verified as actual hotspots in the next 17 to 25 days.
As an example, a district with 3 cases on a particular date when Aarogya Setu engine predicted it as a hotspot registered 82 cases in the next 15 days. The precision achieved by this unique combination of Bluetooth-based contact tracing and identification of hotspots may hold the key to effectively breaking the chain of infection, flattening the curve and saving lives.
Releasing the source code of a rapidly evolving product that is being regularly used by more than 114 million users, is challenging. Developing and maintaining the source code is a huge responsibility, both for Team Aarogya Setu and the developer community.
The repository now being shared is the actual production environment. All subsequent product updates will also be made available through this repository.
The process of supporting the open-source development will be managed by National Informatics Centre (NIC).
All code suggestions will be processed through pull request reviews. Aarogya Setu’s source code has been licensed under Apache License
Version 2.0, and is available on “As-Is” basis. Any reuse of the source code with changes to the code requires the developer to carry a notice of a change.
More details can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions document available at:
While making the code Open Source, Government of India also seeks the developer community to help identify any vulnerabilities or code improvement in order to make Aarogya Setu more robust and secure.
Towards this objective, the government has also launched a Bug Bounty Programme with a goal to partner with security researchers and Indian developer community to test the security effectiveness of Aarogya Setu and also to improve or enhance its security and build user’s trust.
Details of the Bug Bounty Programme along with the rewards therein are being shared separately. Details of the Bug Bounty Program is available on the innovate portal of MyGov at:
The Government of India, by opening the product design and code, has also demonstrated its strong commitment to contributing to the global good. India is keen to share learnings from our approach to technology to fight COVID-19 and make the benefits of the solution available to the rest of the world and any government can use it for fighting the pandemic.
‘Digital India’ Provides Hope For Poor And Developing Nations: Commonwealth S-G
“India is developing these things at scale and at a cost which looks accessible to so many. That brings hope.”
NEW DELHI: In a very encouraging endorsement of the success of Digital India programme initiated by the Government led by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Patricia Scotland has expressed her appreciation for this initiative and has called it “new hope for other developing and aspiring countries of the Commonwealth“.
Commonwealth @commonwealthsec secretary general Patricia @PScotlandCSG speaking to @WIONews says “many people are impressed by what India has done on Information and communications technology (ICT)” pic.twitter.com/b548H0z9E3
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) May 22, 2020
Scotland, in an interaction with a private news channel recently said that the way India has tried to address the aspirations of the people with innovation and opportunities by offering affordable digital services is commendable.
She further said, “if you look at our poorer countries, our smaller, our developing countries, many of them look to the developed nations and they fear that they cannot aspire to do or replicate what the developed countries have done because of the cost. But when they look at India and fact that India is developing these things at scale and at a cost which looks accessible to so many. That brings hope.”
She also mentioned about her visit to India during January 2020 where she interacted with the Ministers in Government of India and technology experts.
During these interactions, she got to understand that India was really focusing on helping the small, the vulnerable and the developing. “I very much welcome that”, she added further.
Conveying her appreciation for the contributions made by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Electronics and IT, in the success of Digital India, Scotland further added that the Minister has been in the forefront of these developments.
Talking about what Ravi Shankar Prasad has done she remarked, “he has electrified the other members of our Commonwealth family.”
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