Citizens' Issues
WhatsApp draws criticism for passing users' information to Facebook
As the deadline to opt out of the new WhatsApp privacy policy which allows users' information to be shared with its parent company Facebook expires on September 25, the move has come for criticism from all quarters.
 
The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) has now threatened legal action against WhatsApp for passing on user information such as telephone numbers to Facebook.
 
"When Facebook took over WhatsApp in 2014, it pledged that the WhatsApp service would remain independent. Consumers trusted that their information would remain with WhatsApp alone and that no information would be transferred to Facebook. Their trust was broken," the consumer watchdog said in a statement on Tuesday. 
 
According to The Local.de, it has given WhatsApp until Wednesday to issue a declaration that it will not implement the changes to user terms. 
 
If it fails to do so, the vzbv will begin legal proceedings against the firm.
 
"We are extremely concerned about this insidious trend: consumers are losing step by step the ownership of their data. Their private sphere is in danger," the consumer watchdog's statement read.
 
According to WhatsApp, data-sharing is to the advantage of the user as they will see advertisements from companies they have already been in contact with rather than from ones they have never heard of, the report added.
 
The Delhi High Court has also sought a response from WhatsApp on a petition against the popular messaging app's decision to share users' data with Facebook.
 
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked WhatsApp to file its response on the plea filed by Delhi-based users who raised concerns over the security of their data shared using the app. 
 
The bench asked WhatsApp to explain the facts about the issue before September 21, the next date of hearing.
 
On August 25, WhatsApp made extensive changes to its privacy policy. Under the new norm, it announced it would and could share users' personal information, including their phone numbers, with its parent company Facebook.
 
WhatsApp had given its users a 30-day period to opt out of the new privacy policy which expires on September 25.
 
"After you agree to our updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, you will have an additional 30 days to make this choice by going to Settings > Account > Share my account info in the app," WhatsApp said on its website. 
 
"If you do not want your account information shared with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences, you can uncheck the box or toggle the control," it added.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Moody's expects India's growth to top 7.7% this fiscal
Listing budget targets, private investment and bank liabilities as the main challenges for India, Moody's has projected India's gross value added (GVA) growth to rise to 7.7% this fiscal with mixed trend in inflation.
 
At a press conference here, Marie Diron, Senior Vice President with Moody's Sovereign Group, saw India's credit rating materialising in the medium term based on reforms, which could potentially stabilise the macro-economic environment that is conducive to fiscal consolidation. 
 
"In the nearer term, challenging budget targets could lead to significant spending cuts late in the fiscal, especially since in the first four months of the fiscal year, 74% of the whole year's budget target has already been reached," Moody's Investors Service said.
 
Besides Diron, the press conference was addressed by Aditi Nayar, Senior Economist with ICRA, an affiliate of Moody's in India, who expected the country's growth-inflation dynamics to display mixed trends during the current fiscal.
 
"Specifically, growth of GVA (gross value added) at basic prices is set to improve to 7.7% from 7.2% in FY2016 on the back of domestic consumption demand, amid a hardening of CPI inflation to an average of 5.1% from 4.9% over the same period," she added.
 
Gross value added as opposed to gross domestic product is considered a better measure of economic performance as it excludes taxes and subsidies while calculating a country's output.
 
According to Moody's, some measures, if effectively implemented, can push India's growth, notably an easing of restrictions on foreign direct investment to foster productivity, bankruptcy law for enhancing investor confidence and measures aimed at ease of doing business.
 
"However, these reforms will ease rather than remove some of the hurdles to robust and sustained investment, and therefore growth in India. In the nearer term, private investment will remain weak as corporates in investment-intensive sectors are burdened by elevated debt," it said. 
 
The economy will also remain vulnerable to monsoon rains due to partial crop irrigation and slow progress in creating food storage and transport infrastructure. Infrastructure will continue to constrain investment, and foreign investment can't make up domestic investment, it added.
 
"Structural hurdles will continue to constrain private sector investment and growth, and banking sector will continue to pose contingent liability risks to the government over the near to medium term," it said.
 
The agency advocated a multi-pronged, but step-wise approach, to reforms to ensure stable, robust growth, moderate inflation and narrower budget deficits. It also expected the monetary policy to focus on containing inflation, and said this was a credit positive for India.
 
"In terms of the monetary policy framework, the Government of India has notified retail inflation target of 4%, within a tolerance band of 2%-6% until March 2021. Such a scenario would help to anchor inflationary expectations," said Diron.
 
Speaking about the shift to a pan-India goods and service tax regime, Moody's said this will only enhance revenue collection for the government over time, through better tax compliance and higher profits, as businesses save on tax administration costs.
 
The agency said banking sector risk will also remain a constraint on India's sovereign ratings.
 
"While bad asset recognition is a first step, the measure does not strengthen the resilience of banks, and therefore does not reduce the contingent liability risks for the sovereign," it said in a statement issued at the conference. 
 
"Moody's estimates that fiscal costs of equity injections in public sector banks are manageable, although they are larger than currently budgeted and will add to the government's challenge in meeting its fiscal targets."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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App-based cab services push 'kaali-peelis' to the brink
The age-old proverb "old is gold" may not hold true for traditional black-yellow taxis any more, given the people's increasing preference for app-based cab services for intra-city movements.
 
And, why not? After all, who would not opt for a service that comes cheaper and at less waiting time.
 
In an age of technology, when almost every sphere of human activity is touched by high-tech gadgets and gizmos, making things faster at lesser cost, people going for cab aggregation apps does not come as a surprise. Change is the rule of nature, and the change is here, in the form of Ola, Uber and many more lesser known online cab aggregators.
 
Today, Ola has captured over 75 per cent of the taxi market share in the metros. It has nearly 250,000 cars linked to its online app across over 100 cities in the country, leaving little room for the traditional "kaali-peeli" (black and yellow) taxis.
 
In Delhi-NCR alone, there are over 80,000 cabs operating with the app-based taxi companies, while the number of traditional taxis stands at a meagre 7,000, approximately. That says it all.
 
Most of the "kaali-peeli" taxi stands across the city wear a deserted look, with vehicles lined up and awaiting their turn on a call from passengers. Drivers can easily be found dozing off in the adjacent rest rooms for want of taxi-seekers.
 
"I have been in this business since 1989 and have eight vehicles with me. But ever since the emergence of these private cab aggregators, our business has been badly hit," Jaspal Singh, 58, owner of Sant Longwal Taxi Service in east Delhi's Mayur Vihar area, told IANS.
 
Jaspal pointed out that against the government-fixed rate of Rs 12 per kilometre, the cab aggregators ply at Rs 6 per kilometre -- and it is this disparity in rates that has dealt a body blow to their business.
 
He alleged that the government is hand in glove with the cab aggregators. "The government has asked the private cabs to put meters in their vehicles, but that is being violated every day, and it has failed to act against those violating rules with impunity.
 
Dilip, a "kaali-peeli" driver, said that earlier, they would get at least four to five customers every day, but now they have to keep waiting for even a single call.
 
But what is it that made the people switch loyalties so fast?
 
"Well, it is solely because of refusals by the taxi drivers, fleecing by a section of them and security concerns that have gone against the 'kaali-peelis' and for the cab aggregators," said Arindam Choudhury, a Kolkata commuter.
 
Today, not more than 27,000 traditional taxis are left on the roads of the 'City of Joy'.
 
"You call out five taxis and they refuse, the sixth one does agree, but demands Rs 30 to Rs 50 extra. So, the best option is to go for the cab aggregators, especially when you are travelling late at night, as GPS devices fitted to their vehicles give a sense of security," said another commuter, Pratyush Singh, a 30-year old bank employee.
 
Similarly, if for businessman R. Tapadia, app-based services are more professional, entrepreneur T. Ghosh finds their services safer for women.
 
However, following repeated pleas to address their concerns, the West Bengal government has come out with a notification, stating that Kolkata's all-yellow taditional cabs will be GPS enabled and can be booked through mobile phone apps, which will also be connected to the police headquarters. Just like the new-age cabs, these taxis will also have an emergency button, closed-circuit TV cameras and the like.
 
One can expect the new-look services ahead of next month's Durga Puja festival.
 
Mumbai is another major city that has been taxi-dependent since long for last-mile connectivity. While previously the traditional "kaali-peeli" cabs were the sole option, now those are under severe pressure from the cab aggregators.
 
"In barely one-and-a-half years, we have lost 60 per cent of our business to them," bemoaned Bombay Taximen's Union General Secretary A.L. Quadros. "The 'kaali-peelis' have been badly hit, as customers now prefer the app-based or on-call cabs."
 
"In 1997, when the Maharashtra government had frozen fresh permits for the black-yellow cabs, there were 63,000 plying in Mumbai, which had a population of nine million. After 20 years, only 40,000 black-yellow cabs are there though the city's population has touched a whopping 16 million," Quadros pointed out.
 
"In line with the court orders, the authorities must fix a uniform minimum-maximum rate for all cabs, which will help us get back our customers," Quadros said.
 
Similarly, the entry of autorickshaws in large numbers in Chennai several decades back forced the black-yellow taxis out of the city roads by serving the inbound travellers at Chennai airport, and Central and Egmore railway stations. But the entry of radio taxis or 'call taxis', like FastTrack, Ola and others, have virtually sounded a death knell for them, according to G. Kannan, Joint Secretary, Chennai Airport Pre-paid Taxi Owner-Driver Association.
 
On the reasons for the loss of customers, though he did not rule out the cost factor, he also stressed that the customer preference is fast changing now. "Many commuters do not like to be seen in the black-yellow vehicles," Kannan said, adding that perhaps travelling in app-based taxis looks more "hep" these days.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

SRINIVAS SHENOY

8 months ago

The black yellow taxi services were and are indeed poor. When app based airconditioned Ola and Uber cabs are available at the drop of a hat, naturally the customers would always prefer such a service. Add to it the fare is reasonable and the service is pleasant.

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