World
US labels Al Jazeera bureau chief as Al Qaeda member

Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, a Syrian national based in Islamabad, has covered the Taliban and Al Qaeda throughout his career and has conducted a number of interviews with senior Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, The Intercept said

 

The US government has labelled Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Pakistan's capital as a member of Al Qaeda and put him on a watch list of suspected terrorists, an online magazine reported.
 
Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, a Syrian national based in Islamabad, has covered the Taliban and Al Qaeda throughout his career and has conducted a number of interviews with senior Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, The Intercept said on Friday
 
"A slide dated June 2012 from a National Security Agency PowerPoint presentation bears his photo, name, and a terror watch list identification number, and labels him a 'member of al-Qaida' as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. It also notes that he 'works for Al Jazeera'," the report said.
 
The report said the presentation was among the documents provided by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, who disclosed the agency's mass domestic and global spying programme in 2013.
 
It said Zaidan was cited in the document as an example to demonstrate the powers of Skynet, a programme that analyses location and communication data from bulk call records to "detect suspicious patterns".
 
In a phone interview with the magazine, Zaidan "absolutely" denied that he is a member of Al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
In a statement provided through Al Jazeera, he said that his career has spanned many years of work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and required interviewing key people in the region.
 
A spokesman for Al Jazeera cited a long list of instances where its journalists have been targeted by governments on which it reports.

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Auditor alleges favours, Reliance Jio denies

The Comptroller Auditor General of India said by allowing Reliance Industries to offer voice telephony with a broadband licence, the Department of Telecom had caused a loss of Rs3,367.29 crore

 

India's official auditor has alleged that the broadband arm of Reliance Industries was given undue pecuniary favours worth over Rs3,000 crore by the government -- a charge which the company strongly refuted.
 
The Comptroller Auditor General of India said by allowing Reliance Industries to offer voice telephony with a broadband licence, the Department of Telecom had caused a loss of Rs3,367.29 crore.
 
"Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (formerly, M/s Infotel) paid UL entry fee of Rs.15 crore and additional migration fee of Rs1,658 crore in August 2013. This migration, allowed at prices discovered in 2001, resulted in undue advantage of Rs3,367.29 crores to M/s Reliance Jio Infocomm," the CAG said in a report tabled in parliament.
 
"The decision to grant permission to an ISP (Internet) licensee with BWA (broadband) spectrum to operate in the voice telephony space also helped the ISP to circumvent the restrictions imposed by their licence at the time of auction, which were known to the ISP at the time of bidding for BWA spectrum," the audit report added.
 
It said the company -- which is now offering broadband under the Reliance Jio brand name -- was the first to take benefit of this scheme.
 
But the company faulted the audit assessment. "No favour has ever been given," a company spokesperson said.
 
"We have always conducted our business as per the prevailing laws and have abided by the rules and regulations prescribed by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and other regulatory authorities," the spokesperson said.
 
"We have acquired all our spectrum at market prices through open and transparent bidding processes, the conditions for which were same for all bidders. Further, the DoT rules for procuring the relevant licence for services using BWA spectrum too were the same for all successful bidders."
 
CAG said the auction rules "suffered from deficiencies like absence of financial parameters in the eligibility criteria for bidders, absence of lock-in-provision, disparity in scope of usage of BWA spectrum, lack of intermediate milestones in roll out targets etc."
 
While full fledged telecom operators were paying 3 to 5 percent depending on the quantum of spectrum held by them, BWA spectrum winners were asked to pay just 1 percent of its AGR as per the auction rule.
 
"This relaxation would result in significant loss of revenue to the government over 20 year licence period, since the BWA spectrum had potential to provide voice services also in addition to data services," CAG said.

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Competition Commission probing Google in four cases: Jaitley
Two other cases have been filed by Vishal Gupta and Albion InfoTel Ltd against Google Inc, Google Ireland Ltd and Google India
 
The Competition Commission, which had ordered probes against Google in four different cases for alleged abuse of dominant market position, has received a combined investigation report in two cases till date, parliament was told on Friday.
 
"In two cases filed by Consim Info Pvt Ltd and Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), both against Google Inc and Google India Pvt Ltd, a combined investigation report has been submitted by DG (director general), CCI," Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
 
"The cases filed do not allege any financial loss to the government," he added.
 
Two other cases have been filed by Vishal Gupta and Albion InfoTel Ltd against Google Inc, Google Ireland Ltd and Google India.
 
The fair trade regulator has directed its investigation arm, the DG, to investigate these cases under the provisions of the Competition Act, the minister said.
 
Consim Info and CUTS had approached the CCI alleging that Google had abused its dominant position position through practices such as search bias, search manipulation, denial of access, and by creation of entry barriers for competing search engines.
 
In March 2013, the CCI fined Google Rs1 crore for failure to comply with the DG's investigation by not providing all requested information.
 

 

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