World
9 consumer privacy groups walk out to protest US facial-recognition policies
The 16-month-long series of meetings NITA, tech-company trade associations and various consumer- and privacy-protection groups completely broke down last week
 
Nine privacy and consumer groups walked out of the talks held by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NITA) because, they did not believe that the NTIA process is likely to yield a set of privacy rules that offers adequate protections for the use of facial-recognition technology, says ConsumerAffairs.com in a report.
 
According to ConsumerAffairs.com, a consumer news and advocacy organization founded in 1998 by James R Hood, the NITA, a division of the Commerce Department, has hosted talks with tech-company trade associations as well as various consumer- and privacy-protection groups in hope of developing a set of guidelines tech companies could follow to protect consumers' privacy when the companies use facial recognition technology. However, the efforts have gone badly with nine privacy and consumer groups walked out from the 16-month-long series of meetings.
 
A joint statement from American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Federation of America and a half-dozen other organisations says, “At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they’ve never heard of are tracking their every movement — and identifying them by name – using facial recognition technology. Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise.”
 
Facial-recognition technology, a form of biometric data collection, has concerned privacy advocates for years. In summer 2011, for example, privacy groups raised an outcry after Facebook started using facial-recognition technology to make it easier for users to “tag” (identify) people in photographs they posted. At that time, the FBI was already compiling (.pdf) a nationwide facial recognition service, the Next Generation Identification (or NGI) program, currently estimated to hold at least 51 million photographs in its database, with more added every day, the report says.
 
However, ConsumerAffairs.com, says, the NTIA’s meeting with trade groups and consumer-privacy organizations focused on the biometric data collection activities of private companies rather than government organizations. NTIA held its first meeting in February 2014 and has hosted 12 meetings to date. None of those meetings went particularly well (at least from a pro-consumer privacy perspective) but, as the Washington Post reports, the final straw landed during last Thursday's meeting, it added.
 
During the meeting, Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Law, asked if companies could agree to making opt-in for facial recognition technology the default for when identifying people - meaning that if companies wanted to use someone's face to name them, the person would have to agree to it. No companies or trade associations would commit to that, according to multiple attendees at the meeting.
 
Then Justin Brookman, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology's consumer privacy project, asked if companies would agree to a concrete scenario: What if a company set up a camera on a public street and surreptitiously used it identify people by name? Could companies agree to opt-in consent there? Again, no companies would commit, according to several attendees, the report added.
 
Quoting the Center for Digital Democracy, the report from ConsumerAffairs.com said that “the approach the Administration embraced to protect consumers’ rights to their personal information was flawed. It relied on the data collection and digital marketing industry to support significant new policies that would empower individuals to make decisions about how their information can be collected and used …. It never made sense to expect industry to turn away from business practices that reap billions of dollars.”
 
What is the scene about privacy and cyber protection in India? To understand the situation in India and concerns you can attend our seminar on 20th June titled How Cyber Fraud & Privacy Concerns Affect You.
 
 

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Knees hurting at young age? Watch your steps
According to orthopaedic surgeons, although poor lifestyle, lack of exercise and a desk job do harm knees, being a fitness freak and trying to gain maximum output over weekends in the gym can hurt the knees more, especially if you are young
 
Aspiring to be fit and healthy, Ranjitha, 35, decided to hit the gym hard every morning. Soon, running on treadmill became her passion. Little did she realise that her weak ligaments and cartilage were not in a position to take the burden of intense running. The result: knee arthritis.
 
Madhumita, barely 32, suffering from persistent pain in her knees, was shocked after the diagnosis came in recently -- arthritis. Like most of us, she believed that arthritis has something to do with old age.
 
According to orthopaedic surgeons, although poor lifestyle, lack of exercise and a desk job do harm knees, being a fitness freak and trying to gain maximum output over weekends in the gym can hurt the knees more, especially if you are young.
 
"We are witnessing a steep rise in the number of younger patients grappling with osteoarthritis or other joints and ligaments problems," says Dr Rajeev K Sharma, senior consultant (orthopaedics) and joint replacement surgeon from Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi.
 
"It is part of a lifestyle disorder syndrome that is responsible for a spurt in a number of lifestyle diseases among young people," Dr Sharma, who is treating many young patients like Madhumita, told IANS.
 
Loss of cartilage, depleting calcium, wear and tear of the ligaments or excessive weight - all these factors contribute to the onset of osteoarthritis that affects over 15 million Indians each year.
 
According to Dr Rajeev Thukral, senior consultant (orthopaedics) at the Max Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi, walking on the treadmill is fine if you are not obese, have done a warm-up before stepping on the treadmill, are wearing right shoes and have the correct guidance from a fitness expert.
 
He, however, advises against excessive running on the treadmill as it leads to massive wear and tear of the knees." 
 
"Raising the incline on your treadmill is not good for knees. However, any physical activity should be done under the supervision of a certified trainer," stresses Dr Sanjeev Jain, consultant (joint replacement surgeon) at Dr. L.H. Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai.
 
According to Dr Jayant Arora, senior consultant (orthopaedics and joint replacement surgery) at Columbia Asia Hospital-Gurgaon, if you are a running freak, change shoes every six months.
 
"Go for good-quality running shoes. Run easy. Two-day resting time in a week is important to prevent knee injury," he says.
 
"Flat-footed people should wear shoes with arches inside and warm up before you step on the treadmill," Dr Thukral adds.
 
If you are obese, hire a proper fitness instructor and consult your doctor for precautions.
 
Knee and neck pain has become common among youngsters primarily because of long sitting hours in front of computers without adequate exercise or movement.
 
"Walking to work, cycling to school or college, taking stairs rather than elevators - all these activities that were a regular part of the last generation have ceased to exist in the youth today," Dr Sharma points out.
 
Unfortunately, these have not been replaced by adequate consciousness about the need for regular exercise, he laments.
 
Once diagnosed with knee pain, first thing you must do is not to miss on sleep.
 
"Sleep is when your repair process occurs. A good night's sleep means proper repairing of the knees. This is most important as you age," emphasises Dr Thukral.
 
Bring some lifestyle changes to avoid activities that give stress to knees.
 
"Avoid unnecessary yoga or exercise, shun smoking as it can weaken your bones; reduce weight and go for regular physiotherapy," advises Dr Jain.
 
If you are an adventure lover, go ahead and indulge in hiking, trekking and mountaineering. This will not only fulfill your penchant for fun but also help build your bones.
 
"Dancing is a better activity; it is extremely good for your bones and muscles. You may also take to aerobics," Dr Arora points out.
 
For those who are not fit enough to perform such activities, do brisk walk for 30 minutes daily.
 
Postures and movements that result in excess wear and tear should be avoided.
 
Avoid sitting cross-legged on your knees on the floor. Get enough sunlight," sums up Dr Thukral.
 
Meanwhile, get off the "dreadmill" and try that great heart-pumping run on the dirt track in your neighbourhood park instead.

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India's fast breeder reactor project to start by September: Officials
With authorities working to complete all tests and ensure regulatory compliances, India's first indigenously designed 500-MW fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam would start nuclear power generation by September, nuclear power officials said.
 
"We are closely working with Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to complete all tests and ensure regulatory compliances. We hope to start power generation this September," P. Chellapandi, chairman and managing director, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI), told IANS.
 
The project site at Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, around 80 km from here, has been undertaken by BHAVINI, the country's second nuclear power plant operator tasked with operating fast breeder reactors.
 
"The plant is expected to be commissioned this year. Different processes are expected to be over in one or two months. Thereafter, fuel will have to be loaded into the reactor," Sekhar Basu, a member of Atomic Energy Commission and director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), told IANS.
 
The prototype fast breeder reactor will use a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide for fuel, called MOX fuel.
 
Chellapandi said the unit would be connected to the southern grid and start feeding power to the tune of 30 percent of its total capacity.
 
According to Basu, also a director at Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), the second 1,000-MW unit at Kudankulam plant is also expected to be commissioned this year.
 
The NPCIL has set up two 1,000-MW nuclear power plants at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, around 650 km from here.
 
Both units are supplied by Russian company Rosatom.
 
The first unit was connected to the southern grid in December 2014 and is now operating at around 60 percent of its capacity.
 
Basu said the first unit would be refuelled. One third of fuel pins have to be changed every year.
 
He said the refuelling process is being prolonged since the second unit is yet to go on stream.
 
According to NPCIL, the second unit at Kudankulam has achieved a physical progress of 98.23 percent as on May 2015.

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