Citizens' Issues
All four involved in attack on Indian consulate in Afghanistan killed
All the four gunmen, who had stormed the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's Herat province early Friday, have been gunned down
 
Gunmen armed with heavy weapons including rocket propelled grenades on Friday attacked the Indian Consulate in Afghanistan's Herat province. All the diplomatic staff were safe.
 
All the four gunmen, who had stormed the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's Herat province early today, have been gunned down, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) chief Subhas Goswami said. 
 
In a pre-dawn assault, the gunmen attacked the building which houses the residence of Consulate General, Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha said, adding that there were nine Indians in the mission apart from local Afghans. 
 
One attacker was killed while climbing the wall to enter the premises of the consulate, Sinha said. 
 
The Director General also said that security at the Indian Embassy in Kabul and consulates in Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Khandhar besides Herat has been beefed up and a high alert sounded to all Indian assets based across Afghanistan.
 
Meanwhile, a spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi said, "India's Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan attacked. Brave ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) personnel and Afghan soldiers rebut attackers. All are safe." 
 
"India-Afghanistan officials (were) in touch on attack on India's Consulate in Herat. Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh (was) monitoring (the) situation," the official said. 
 
Afghan police officials earlier said gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades opened fire on the consulate early this morning from a nearby home. One attacker is still firing. 
 
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. 
 
Afghanistan has experienced a rise in the Taliban attacks as foreign troops plan to withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of the year. 
 
In August last year, a failed bombing against the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad city near the border with Pakistan killed nine people, including six children. No Indian officials were hurt. 
 
The Indian Embassy in Kabul was attacked twice in 2008 and 2009 that left 75 people dead. 
 
India has invested in some major infrastructure projects in Afghanistan like Salma hydroelectric dam in Herat province and the Afghan parliament building in Kabul. 
 
India's development assistance programme for Afghanistan currently stands at $2 billion, making it the leading donor nation among all regional countries.

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RBI defers Aadhaar-based payment system?
The Reserve Bank, which was adamant in enforcing biometrics-based Aadhaar on bank customers, has now reportedly asked banks to examine technical difficulties and time frame for the Aadhaar-based payment system, including ATMs and PoS
 
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which was forced to take back its diktat on making Aadhaar authentication using biometrics mandatory, has now reportedly decided to defer its decision of using the unique identification (UID) in payment systems.
 
According to a report from the Economic Times, a fortnight ago, RBI told banks — perhaps due to the uncertainty of Aadhaar under a new government — to examine the technical difficulties of the proposed payment system and the time frame for implementing it. "It took a while for RBI to take the decision... that we believe is because of the importance that the UPA II government had placed on Aadhaar. It was a favourite project under Nandan Nilekani, who everyone thought was very close to the power centres. The panel's report was not made public," the report said quoting a banker. 
 
Moneylife has been raising the issue of using the biometrics-enabled Aadhaar for payment systems, including automated teller machines (ATMs). Last year in September,  Moneylife Foundation hosted a round table with leading organisations such as All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Depositors Association (AIBDA), Council for Fair Business Practices (CFBP), V Citizens Action Network (V-CAN), Consumer Education and Research Centre, Ahmedabad (CERC), India Against Corruption (IAC), Forum for Fast Justice (FFJ), Forum of Free Enterprise (FFE), Nagrik Chetana Manch (NCM), All India Business Council (AIBC) and Women Graduates Union, Mumbai (WGU), as well as concerned citizens to discuss the issue of Aadhaar enabled ATMs and PoS.
 
The key issue during the round table was: Who will bear the huge technology cost involved in the project? Activists feared that the banking system was being used by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to create nationwide infrastructure of biometric readers and scanners at the cost of bank consumers. Further, UIDAI was planning to charge a fee for each Aadhaar authentication, which would also have to be borne by consumers.
 
Among the issues raised at the discussion were the fact that biometric-enabled ATMs had been launched with much fanfare between 2004 and 2007 but were an unmitigated disaster. Most participants felt that there ought to be a pilot project to justify the technology, safety as well as the bandwidth required for the UIDAI authentication, before such a big cost burden was imposed on the banking system.
 
The group then together drafted and sent a memorandum to RBI governor Dr Raghuram Rajan. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, member of Parliament (MP) as well as member of the Standing Committee on Finance, then requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to relook at the RBI's proposal on Aadhaar authenticated biometric automated teller machines (ATMs).
 
He also raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha. In its reply in the Rajya Sabha, the ministry of finance said that the RBI had set aside its earlier decision of Aadhaar authentication using biometrics saying it was not mandatory upon banks to adopt Aadhaar as additional factor of authentication. The RBI then notified that banks can continue with the EMV Chip and Pin technology for securing the card present payment infrastructure.
 
Various Aadhaar programmes have already seen thousands of crores of taxpayers’ money being spent aimlessly without proper understanding of the issue. "There is neither a parliamentary debate —or approval —nor any effort by the government to have a public consultation in order to ascertain whether Aadhaar series of measure is beneficial to the nation. Aadhaar programme is being funded using public money, and needs to be reviewed immediately. The programme’s objectives should be clearly defined given the fact that Supreme Court order decided not to make subsidies conditional upon Aadhaar,” Chandrasekhar had said.
 
Moneylife has been pointing out that the directive from RBI would have involved additional expenses, which bank depositors will end up bearing under the guise of technology costs. So far, Aadhaar has made no mention of who will bear the cost of biometric point of sales (POS) readers (according to a senior banker, they will cost Rs8,000 each) and biometric ATMs (Rs4 lakh for the machine plus installation, maintenance, electricity, etc).
 
In November 2013, the RBI advised banks to choose either EMV chip and PIN or Aadhaar’s biometric validation as additional factor for authentication and securing the card present payment infrastructure. However, several mainstream media reported that RBI has asked banks to adopt Aadhaar authentication only. 
 
However, the RBI advised banks to keep their new card present infrastructure enabled to use both EMV chip and PIN and Aadhaar (biometric validation) acceptance. It may be noted that EMV cards are 'smart' cards that have an embedded chip while PIN authentication involves the card-holder to punch in a secret code on the card-swiping machine, for each transaction.
 
Interestingly, about 90% of the existing POS terminals in the country, managed by 21 acquires (among them Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank), can accept EMV chip cards and PIN. However, following RBI directive banks will have to scrap the whole infrastructure and buy new one with biometric readers, which costs a bomb.
 
In addition, several experts have pointed out that using Aadhaar for identification is completely different than using it for authentication. Especially, when it comes to using biometric data of Aadhaar for payment transactions, the facts are not too encouraging. Several poor people like housemaids and construction labourers are finding it difficult to even enrol for Aadhaar due to lack of a clean fingerprint sample. Some could not even submit sample of their iris due to cataract. In such cases, how would the Aadhaar help in authenticating the card present transaction? Also, why burden the entire banking system with high costs, which will have to be paid by hundreds of million account holders who have no need for biometric identification and have no reason to support biometric authentication systems? 
 
Unfortunately, instead of addressing all the problems related with the Aadhaar, the UPA government was forcing its usage and acceptance, that too without any Parliamentary approval for the UIDAI scheme. The hard push for biometric ATMs is just one of the examples about how technology was being used to exclude the needy, without even thinking about the cost. Hopefully, the new government under Narendra Modi would help stop harassment of bank customers by curtailing such ideas.

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COMMENTS

Mukesh kamath

3 years ago

Better to give flexibility to the banks to decide whether they want to use biometrics or not. Some bank which wants to capture the market may use e-kyc afforded by aadhaar to create accounts superfast and also let illiterate people transact. This biometric based system is not for the elite. It is for the anghuta chap.

Social media settlements with the FTC on privacy breach
Almost every big player in the social media has settled with the FTC at some point over privacy issues, and most agreed to halt misrepresenting privacy protection and to establish a privacy program for 20 years
 
Snapchat settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week over charges that it deceived users when it advertised that photos would “disappear forever.” Clever Snapchatters were able to save pictures with workarounds, many of which Snapchat itself knew about, claimed the FTC. It also charged that the company misleadingly promised it did not track or access a user’s location specific information and that it collected information, without initially informing users, on all the contacts in the user’s mobile device address book. 
 
Under terms of the settlement, Snapchat is barred from misrepresenting the extent to which it protects privacy, and it must establish a privacy program that will be monitored by a third party for 20 years.
But the photo-sharing app’s settlement isn’t the first by a social media company, and if the settlement terms sounds familiar, it’s because they are. Almost every big player in the social media world has settled with the FTC at some point over privacy issues, and most agreed to halt misrepresenting privacy protection and to establish a privacy program for 20 years. Here’s five social media companies who have also settled with the FTC.
 
1. Myspace 
The deed: The FTC charged that Myspace was providing advertisers information on its users despite pledging to users not to share personally identifiable information. The company gave advertisers access to users Myspace ID, which often allowed advertisers to match Myspace navigation (what users were looking at on the site) with their full names. The sides settled in 2012.
 
The punishment: Myspace is barred from making privacy misrepresentations, had to implement a comprehensive privacy program, and submit to regular, independent privacy assessments for 20 years.
 
2. Twitter 
The deed: The FTC charged that Twitter — despite its privacy policy stating otherwise –did not properly safeguard its users’ data and put their privacy at risk. The FTC’s complaint alleged that hackers were twice able to gain administrative control over the website and access all its users’ data. The sides settled in 2011.
 
The punishment: Twitter is barred from misleading consumers about the extent of its privacy safeguards for 20 years. It also had to maintain a comprehensive security program assessed by an independent auditor for ten years.
 
3. Google 
The deed: The FTC charged that Google had tracked users of Apple’s Safari browser with cookies, despite telling users they would be protected by the browser’s default settings. According to the complaint, Google circumvented the do-not-track setting to target users with ads. The sides settled in 2012
 
The penalty: A big one — Google agreed to pay a $22.5 million fine for violating a previous settlement with the FTC. In 2011, Google had agreed to the standard “stop making misrepresentations and implement a privacy program for 20 years” plan for alleged privacy violations in the rollout of its Google Buzz social network. Because Google had violated a previous settlement, it agreed to the record fine.
 
4. Facebook 
The deed: The FTC charged that Facebook had repeatedly told users they could keep their information private on Facebook, only to repeatedly make it public without users’ consent. The sides settled in 2012.
 
The penalty: Facebook must give its users notice before sharing their information, and obtain consent before sharing the information beyond their privacy settings. Facebook also must maintain a privacy program and obtain biennial privacy audits from a third party for … drumroll … 20 years. Facebook continues to face criticism from consumer advocates that it is violating the FTC order because of recent privacy changes it has made as a result of a class-action lawsuit. 
 
5. Path 
The deed: Path’s privacy policy told users that its app only collected certain user information, such as IP address and browser type. But the FTC charged that Path was really collecting information about the contacts in users’ address books — including names, addresses, phone numbers, email address, Facebook and Twitter account info, and dates of birth — every time users downloaded or opened the app. Path also allegedly collected information about children under 13 without getting their parents’ permission. The sides settled in 2013.
 
The penalty: Path agreed to pay $800,000 to settle the charges that it collected information on children. It also agreed to establish a privacy program and obtain privacy assessments every two years for the next 20 years. 
 

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