WikiLeaks’ latest release comes at a time when the battle between cyber-activists and government is heating up
The latest WikiLeaks release makes a good example for irony. Not only has Julian Assange and friends delivered a solid upper cut to the US government and its intelligence agencies, to add insult to the injury, they have published the email by Stratfor’s CEO which says he has resigned because WikiLeaks has released confidential cables of his company.
For the latest expose, hackers group Anonymous had teamed up with Julian Assange. Today, WikiLeaks started publishing over five million emails of Stratfor, a Texas-based intelligence provider—which WikiLeaks defines as “a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations”. The ‘corporations’ here includes the infamous Dow Chemicals, responsible for the Bhopal gas tragedy, and a sponsor for the upcoming London Olympics. Moneylife has written about Stratfor’s Bhopal connection here http://moneylife.in/article/us-intelligences-interest-in-bhopal-updates-grows-as-london-olympics-nears/23916.html
Stratfor’s CEO George Friedman resigned yesterday, just before the cables were leaked out. In his email, he says, “In the light of the recent events, especially the release of our company emails by WikiLeaks, I have decided that stepping down is in the best interest of Stratfor and its customer base. We certainly do not condone any criminal activities by groups like Anonymous or other hackers. This is theft and we will continue to co-operate with law enforcement agencies to bring those responsible to justice. But we must acknowledge that this incident would not have been possible if Stratfor had implemented stronger data protection mechanisms.”
Barrett Brown, spokesperson for Anonymous, soon after today’s leak, issued a statement explaining the logic behind hacking the 2.7 million cables by the group. “This wealth of data includes correspondence with untold thousands of contacts who have spoken to Stratfor’s employees off the record over more than a decade. Many of those contacts work for major corporations within the intelligence and military contracting sectors, government agencies, and other institutions for which Anonymous and associated parties have developed an interest since February of 2011, when another hack against the intelligence contractor/security firm HB Gary revealed, among many other things, a widespread conspiracy by the Justice Department, Bank of America, and other parties to attack and discredit WikiLeaks and other activist groups. Since that time, many of us in the movement have dedicated our lives to investigating this state-corporate alliance against the free information movement. The e-mails obtained before Christmas Day will vastly improve our ability to continue that investigation and thereby bring to light other instances of corruption, crime, and deception on the part of certain powerful actors based in the US and elsewhere.”
WikiLeaks’ latest release comes at a time when the battle between cyber-activists and government is heating up. Anonymous and other hacktivists, like Lulszec, had showed their support earlier for Julian Assange, when in 2011, they organised some of the biggest security breaches. Soon after MasterCard and PayPal disabled their services for WikiLeaks, Assange went public with the fact, and even expressed doubts about WikiLeaks’ survival.
Shortly after, MasterCard suffered a breakdown. It was followed by other massive hacks: Websites of FBI, US Senate, CIA, Sun newspaper, gaming and tourist websites—and the biggest: the Sony Playstation data theft. Individually and teaming up on occasions, hacktivists leaked military email addresses and snatched files from Viacom and Universal; and left the US government red faced. Soon after, Piratebay chief and hacker ‘Topiary’ were arrested, but that only gained more public sympathy for the hackers.
Free information activists, and internet users are gearing up for possible fights. Worldwide, attempts are being made to censor the Internet (including India)—but so far, this largely unorganised sector has shown remarkable solidarity and have refused to be pushed over. The biggest proof is the SOPA fiasco; which fell on its face after a day of blackout by leading websites and severe critique in Twitter and Facebook.
Even in India, despite government pressure, Internet companies have refused to be bow down. Although Google and Twitter agreed to offer “region specific” service tailored to ‘countries’ benchmark of free speech, options have been left open for overriding it. And if the latest release is of any indication, WikiLeaks need not fear to die of “lack of support”— at least for now.
Nifty may find support at 5,230 and then at 5,180
The market witnessed a sharp fall today, extending last week’s losses as rising oil prices re-ignited fears of higher inflation. A sell-off in blue-chips by institutional investors also weighed on the market. Both the Sensex and the Nifty closed at their lowest since 2 February 2012 and logged their maximum percentage loss (2.67% on the Sensex and 2.73% on the Nifty) since 22nd September 2011. The fall on the Nifty was sharp with the index closing below its 20-day moving average of 5,385. We may now see the Nifty finding support between 5200-5230, after which there may be small bounce-back. However, if the benchmark continues making a lower low and lower high, we may see it going down to 5,180. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a volume of 86.59 crore shares which is much lower than the 10-day average.
The domestic market opened with small gains on the back of high oil prices and weak cues from its Asian peers. Nymex crude for April delivery was being quoted at $109.54 a barrel in Singapore in early trade while Brent crude for April delivery was at $125.33 a dollar. Concern over Iran’s nuclear programme is putting pressure on oil prices. Back home, the Nifty rose 19 points to resume trade at 5,448 and the Sensex opened at 17,975, a gain of 51 points over its previous close.
The opening figures of the Nifty and Sensex were their intraday highs. The benchmarks soon drifted southwards on a sell-off in blue-chips. Capital goods and banking stocks pushed the benchmarks 1% lower in mid-morning trade.
The market continued its free-fall in the second half of trade as the key European markets were trading in the red on concerns that high oil prices would slow down growth across the globe.
The indices fell to their intraday lows in the last half hour with the Nifty dropping to 5,268 and the Sensex tumbling to 17,382. While the market closed marginally off the lows, it settled lower for the fourth consecutive day. The Nifty lost 148 points to settle at 5,281 and the Sensex dived 478 points to end the day at 17,446.
The advance-decline ratio on the NSE was tilted towards the losers at 260:1536.
The broader indices badly mauled in today’s decline and underperformed the Sensex. The BSE Mid-cap tanked 3.02% and the BSE Mid-cap index tumbled 3.26%.
With the exception of the BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods index (up 0.29%), all other sectoral gauged settled in the red. The top losers were BSE Realty (down 5.29%); BSE Metal (down 4.86%); BSE Power (down 4.03%); BSE Bankex (down 3.97%) and BSE Capital Goods (down 3.56%).
ITC (up 1.36%) and Sun Pharma (up 0.02%) were the sole gainers on the Sensex today. The key losers were Tata Steel (down 7.03%); Hero MotoCorp (down 6.62%); Hindalco Industries (down 5.35%); DLF (down 5%) and Jindal Steel (down 4.93%).
The Nifty gainers were ITC (up 1.34%); ACC (up 0.17%); Dr Reddy’s (up 0.04%) and Cipla (up 0.03%). Sesa Goa (down 10.15%); SAIL (down 8.55%); Reliance Power (down 8.43%); Reliance Infrastructure (down 8.28%) and IDFC (down 7.49%) were the main losers on the index.
Markets in Asia settled mostly lower on worries that higher oil prices would stifle growth. South Korean finance minister last week said that oil costs would see inflation rising more than 3.2%, estimated for the entire year.
The Hang Seng dropped 0.88%; the Jakarta Composite declined 0.86%; the Nikkei 225 fell 0.49%; the Straits Times tanked 1.05% and the Seoul Composite tumbled 1.42%. On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite gained 0.30%; the KLSE Composite added 0.02% and the Taiwan Weighted rose 0.285. At the time of writing, the key European indices were trading with cuts of 0.62% to 1.09% and the US stock futures were in the negative.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares totalling Rs8,955.30 crore on Friday while domestic institutional investors were net sellers of shares amounting to Rs836.71 crore.
Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), the country's largest power equipment maker, today said it has secured a Rs774 crore order from oil exploration company ONGC to supply onshore drilling rigs. While the mechanical equipment will be manufactured by BHEL’s Hyderabad plant, electricals like motors will be manufactured by the company’s Bhopal plant. BHEL tanked 4.99% to close at Rs288.65 on the NSE.
Core Education & Technologies, a leading global education solutions provider, has marked its first international foray in higher education, by entering Middle East.
Core is establishing its academic learning centre at Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) in an agreement with Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi, offering programs in engineering, architecture and business administration. The company also plans to launch an executive MBA programme in this academic year in collaboration with a leading international university at RAK campus. Core gained 0.24% at Rs271 on the NSE.
Infotech Enterprises has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Health Awareness Promotion Project India (HAPPI), to create awareness amongst the associates regarding non communicable diseases (NCDs). HAPPI is a voluntary project of the Prevent NCD Foundation consisting of eminent cardiologists, entrepreneurs and fitness management experts. The stock fell 1.02% to close at Rs145 on the NSE.
“The current situation has put at risk the existing investment of billions of dollars in mobile network infrastructure, in a sector that either directly or indirectly employs almost 10 million people and serves more than 894 million consumers,” global telecom body GSM Association said in a letter to TRAI
New Delhi: Following the Supreme Court’s order quashing 122 telecom licences, global telecom body GSM Association (GSMA) has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to outline quickly the future course of action to bring in transparency and certainty to investments made in the sector, reports PTI.
In a letter to the TRAI, GSMA said, “it is important to now move quickly to outline the process that will provide a rapid resolution to this situation”.
“Key to this will be to ensure that the new process guarantees the principles of fairness, transparency and certainty, to all who have been investing in India in good faith,” GSMA said in the letter.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court cancelled 122 licences allocated by the then telecom minister A Raja.
Since then, two foreign companies—Bahrain Telecom and Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat—have announced their exit from India.
Another operator Loop has written to prime minister Manmohan Singh, asking the government to return the licence fee paid by the company along with interest.
“The current situation has put at risk the existing investment of billions of dollars in mobile network infrastructure, in a sector that either directly or indirectly employs almost 10 million people and serves more than 894 million consumers,” GSMA said.
Since the deployment of mobile networks is capital intensive and the return is long-term, “uncertainty is particularly damaging to the future growth of India’s mobile sector”, it added.
GSMA said the uncertainty generated by the current legal situation also runs the risk of deterring the much-needed investment in 3G and 4G networks.
The GSMA has also extended its participation in an open dialogue on this situation with the government, to ensure fairness in the future auction process and maintain confidence in India's position as a secure place to do business.
Exuding confidence in the world’s second largest mobile market, GSMA said India is in a strong position to shape the mobile industry of the future.
“Unless the government moves swiftly to clarify the process of licence reallocation, further investment in India could be deferred,” it said.
It added that this will have a “knock-on impact” on a number of key sectors of the Indian economy.
According to a recent GSMA report, a 10% increase in broadband penetration in India would contribute a combined $80 billion (Rs3,50,600 crore) of net revenues across the country’s transport, healthcare and education sectors by 2015.
Operators have been seeking clarity in rules to safeguard the multi-crore investments made by these players.
The government has already made a few proposals like de-linking license from spectrum, tenure of new licenses at 10 years and market-linked pricing of spectrum to be a part of the new telecom policy.