Category: Information Technology

Is Aadhaar for Social Good

Why in News?

  • Every time a government department asks for Aadhaar linking, people view it with suspicion. 

What is Aadhaar? 

  • A 12-digit unique identity for every Indian individual, including children and infants
  • Enables identification for every resident Indian.
  • Establishes uniqueness of every individual on the basis of demographic and biometric information.
  • It is a voluntary service that every resident can avail irrespective of present documentation.
  • Each individual will be given a single unique Aadhaar ID number.
  • Aadhaar will provide a universal identity infrastructure which can be used by any identity-based application (like ration card, passport, etc.)

About the new regulations:

  • Updating the documents:
  • As per the regulations earlier, residents who were older than 15 years at the time of enrollment were recommended to update their biometric data every 10 years.
  • The process of updating documents is not mandatory. 
  • Ensuring accuracy
  • This process will help in ensuring the accuracy of information in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR).
  • Demographic information 
  • The amendment of the Aadhaar regulation is limited to updating demographic information and does not involve biometric data such as fingerprints. 

Issues with Aadhar:

  • Aadhaar act allows cancellation of Aadhaar number for any reason by the government and citizens have no recourse.
  • A Centralized database is a concern because once it is compromised everyone is at risk.
  • There is no ID or address verification and there is no means of identifying fakes.
  • There is no data protection law in place in India.
  • Enrollment software hacks allowed foreign nationals to create Aadhaar numbers thus creating a national security risk.
  • UIDAI does not have a monitoring mechanism but only an audit mechanism.
  • Data goes to third parties vulnerability increases due to that.

Significance of Aadhar:

  • Eliminate the leakages: Increasing the accuracy of Aadhaar information is likely to help the government eliminate the leakage of benefit transfers from various schemes.  
  • Jhan Dhan Yojana: Aadhaar Card is used as the major document of proof when opening a bank account under the Pradhan Mantri Jhan Dhan Yojana in the nation.
  • Direct Benefit Transfer: Aadhar Card linked bank accounts will get their set of LPG Subsidy directly accredited in the bank account.
  • Monthly Pension and Provident Fund: a person needs to link their Aadhaar Card to their respective pension account and provident fund.
  • Passport and Voter ID: Aadhaar Card will relieve you of the lengthy procedure while obtaining Passport.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) & Aadhar:

  • Aadhaar Act & Establishment of UIDAI:
  • The UIDAI is a statutory authority established under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act 2016”) by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). 
  • Need of UIDAI: UIDAI was created to issue Unique Identification numbers (UID), named as “Aadhaar”, to all residents of India. The UID had to be –
  • Robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and 
  • Verifiable and authenticable in an easy, cost-effective way. 
  • Under the Aadhaar Act 2016, UIDAI is responsible for:
  • Aadhaar enrolment and authentication, including operation and management of all stages of Aadhaar life cycle,
  • Developing the policy, procedure, and system for issuing Aadhaar numbers to individuals and Perform authentication and the security of identity information and authentication records of individuals.

About Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR):

  • It is a central database that stores and manages identity information for individuals and organizations.
  • It is used to authenticate and authorize individuals and organizations for access to government services and information.
  • CIDR also supports the issuance of electronic identity cards and the management of identity information.

Centre Amends Aadhaar Regulation

Why in News?

  • The Centre has recently amended Aadhaar regulations, advising card holders to update documents supporting their information at least once every 10 years from the date of enrolment to ensure the accuracy of the data. 

What is Aadhaar? 

  • A 12-digit unique identity for every Indian individual, including children and infants
  • Enables identification for every resident Indian.
  • Establishes uniqueness of every individual on the basis of demographic and biometric information.
  • It is a voluntary service that every resident can avail irrespective of present documentation.
  • Each individual will be given a single unique Aadhaar ID number.
  • Aadhaar will provide a universal identity infrastructure which can be used by any identity-based application (like ration card, passport, etc.)

About the new regulations:

  • Updating the documents:
  • As per the regulations earlier, residents who were older than 15 years at the time of enrolment were recommended to update their biometric data every 10 years.
  • The process of updating documents is not mandatory. 
  • Ensuring accuracy
  • This process will help in ensuring the accuracy of information in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR).
  • Demographic information 
  • The amendment of the Aadhaar regulation is limited to updating demographic information and does not involve biometric data such as fingerprints. 

Issues with Aadhar:

  • Aadhaar act allows cancellation of Aadhaar number for any reason by the government and citizens have no recourse.
  • A Centralized database is a concern because once it is compromised everyone is at risk.
  • There is no ID or address verification and there is no means of identifying fakes.
  • There is no data protection law in place in India.
  • Enrollment software hacks allowed foreign nationals to create Aadhaar numbers thus creating a national security risk.
  • UIDAI does not have a monitoring mechanism but only an audit mechanism.
  • Data goes to third parties vulnerability increases due to that.

Significance of Aadhar:

  • Eliminate the leakages: Increasing the accuracy of Aadhaar information is likely to help the government eliminate the leakage of benefit transfers from various schemes.  
  • Jhan Dhan Yojana: Aadhaar Card is used as the major document of proof when opening a bank account under the Pradhan Mantri Jhan Dhan Yojana in the nation.
  • Direct Benefit Transfer: Aadhar Card linked bank accounts will get their set of LPG Subsidy directly accredited in the bank account.
  • Monthly Pension and Provident Fund: a person needs to link their Aadhaar Card to their respective pension account and provident fund.
  • Passport and Voter ID: Aadhaar Card will relieve you of the lengthy procedure while obtaining Passport.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) & Aadhar:

  • Aadhaar Act & Establishment of UIDAI:
  • The UIDAI is a statutory authority established under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act 2016”) by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). 
  • Need of UIDAI: UIDAI was created to issue Unique Identification numbers (UID), named as “Aadhaar”, to all residents of India. The UID had to be –
  • Robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and 
  • Verifiable and authenticable in an easy, cost-effective way. 
  • Under the Aadhaar Act 2016, UIDAI is responsible for:
  • Aadhaar enrolment and authentication, including operation and management of all stages of Aadhaar life cycle,
  • Developing the policy, procedure, and system for issuing Aadhaar numbers to individuals and 
  • Perform authentication and the security of identity information and authentication records of individuals.

About Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR):

  • It is a central database that stores and manages identity information for individuals and organizations.
  • It is used to authenticate and authorize individuals and organizations for access to government services and information.
  • CIDR also supports the issuance of electronic identity cards and the management of identity information.

ModifiedElephant – a hacking group

Why in News?

  • It was recently found by an American Agency that ModifiedElephant, a hacking group, had allegedly planted incriminating evidence on the personal devices of Indian journalists, Human Rights Activists, Human Rights Defenders, Academics and Lawyers.

What is ModifiedElephant? What’s the Issue?

  • ModifiedElephant operators have been infecting their targets using spearphishing emails with malicious file attachments.
  • Spearphishing refers to the practice of sending emails to targets that look like they are coming from a trusted source to either reveal important information or install different kinds of malware on their Computer Systems.

How does it Work?

  • Through mail, the group delivers malware to their targets.
  • NetWire and DarkComet, two publicly-available remote access trojans (RATs), were the primary malware families deployed by ModifiedElephant.
  • It also sent android malware to its victims.

What’s the Difference between Malware, Trojan, Virus, and Worm?

  • Malware is defined as a software designed to perform an unwanted illegal act via the computer network. It could be also defined as software with malicious intent.
  • Malware can be classified based on how they get executed, how they spread, and/or what they do. Some of them are discussed below.
  • Virus: A program that can infect other programs by modifying them to include a possible evolved copy of itself.
  • Worms: Disseminated through computer networks, unlike viruses, computer worms are malicious programs that copy themselves from system to system, rather than infiltrating Legitimate Files.
  • Trojans: Trojan or Trojan horse is a program that generally impairs the security of a system. Trojans are used to create back-doors (a program that allows outside access into a secure network) on computers belonging to a secure network so that a hacker can have access to the secure network.
  • Hoax: An e-mail that warns the user of a certain system that is harming the computer. The message thereafter instructs the user to run a procedure (most often in the form of a download) to correct the harming system. When this program is run, it invades the system and deletes an important file.
  • Spyware: Invades a computer and, as its name implies, monitors a user’s activities without consent. Spywares are usually forwarded through unsuspecting e-mails with bonafide e-mail i.ds. Spyware continues to infect millions of computers globally.

Probe sought into Pegasus case

Why in News?

  • Supreme Court advocate Manohar Lal Sharma has circulated in the media a signed online copy of a plea he claims to have filed in the Supreme Court for an investigation into an allegation made in a New York Times report that India bought Pegasus spyware from NSO of Israel.

Historical Background of the News:

  • The Apex Court stressed that the power of the state to snoop in the name of national security into the “sacred private space” of individuals is not absolute.
  • The court said it consciously avoided “political thickets” but could not cower when allegations involved a “grave” threat to the privacy and free speech of the entire citizenry and raised the possibility of involvement of the Government, or even a foreign power, behind the surveillance.
  • The court said the petitions filed before it, including ones by veteran journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar, Editors Guild of India and victims of alleged snooping, had raised “Orwellian concerns” about an all-pervasive technology like Pegasus.
  • The court said India could not remain mute in the face of Pegasus allegations when other countries across the globe had taken them seriously.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana had, in a 46-page order on October 27, set up an expert technical committee monitored by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice R.V. Raveendran, to inquire into the allegations of spying and file a report.
  • The order came after the Union government did not file a “detailed affidavit” in the court in response to the petitions, citing national security reasons, among others.
  • The Justice Raveendran committee recently invited persons who suspect themselves of being snooped on to come forward and hand over their electronic equipment for technical examination to detect the presence of the spyware.

What is Pegasus?

  • It is a type of malicious software or malware classified as a spyware designed to gain access to devices, without the knowledge of users, and gather personal information and relay it back to whoever it is that is using the software to spy.
  • Pegasus has been developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group that was set up in 2010.
  • The earliest version of Pegasus discovered, which was captured by researchers in 2016, infected phones through what is called spear-phishing – text messages or emails that trick a target into clicking on a malicious link.
  • Since then, however, NSO’s attack capabilities have become more advanced. Pegasus infections can be achieved through so-called “zero-click” attacks, which do not require any interaction from the phone’s owner in order to succeed.
  • These will often exploit “zero-day” vulnerabilities, which are flaws or bugs in an operating system that the mobile phone’s manufacturer does not yet know about and so has not been able to fix.

Who were the Targets?

  • Human Rights activists, journalists and lawyers around the world have been targeted with phone malware sold to authoritarian governments by an Israeli surveillance firm.
  • Indian ministers, government officials and opposition leaders also figure in the list of people whose phones may have been compromised by the spyware.
  • In 2019, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit in the US court against Israel’s NSO Group, alleging that the firm was incorporating cyber-attacks on the application by infecting mobile devices with malicious software.

Recent Steps Taken in India against Cyber Crime:

  • Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative: It was launched in 2018 with an aim to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments.
  • National Cyber security Coordination Centre (NCCC): In 2017, the NCCC was developed to scan internet traffic and communication metadata (which are little snippets of information hidden inside each communication) coming into the country to detect real-time cyber threats.
  • Cyber Swachhta Kendra: In 2017, this platform was introduced for internet users to clean their computers and devices by wiping out viruses and malware.
  • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): I4C was recently inaugurated by the government.
  • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal has also been launched pan India.
  • Computer Emergency Response Team – India (CERT-IN): It is the nodal agency which deals with cybersecurity threats like hacking and phishing.
  • Legislations in India:
  • Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.

International Mechanisms:

  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU): It is a specialized agency within the United Nations which plays a leading role in the standardization and development of telecommunications and cyber security issues.
  • Budapest Convention on Cybercrime: It is an international treaty that seeks to address Internet and computer crime (cybercrime) by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations. It came into force on 1st July 2004. India is not a signatory to this convention.

ICUBE REPORT

Why in News?

  • Recently, the Kantar insights and consulting company released its ICUBE 2019 report on digital adoption and usage trends in India.

Highlights:

  • It is an annual tracking study, which considered to be the currency for digital adoption in the country, gauges the changing digital ecosystem in India, measuring Internet usage by demographic, activity and device segments.
  • It estimated at 574 million, the number of monthly active Internet users have registered an annual growth of 24% indicating an overall penetration of 41%.
  • It projects 11% growth for 2020; estimates 639 million monthly active Internet users.
  • All monthly active Internet users use a mobile phone as one of the devices to access the Internet.
  • It shows about 84% of users access the Internet for entertainment purposes.
  • At 38%, school-going children segment in the age group of 15 years or below has shown a promising growth on internet usage.
  • The access to information and education, social media, gaming and entertainment, especially, Sports, are driving the adoption. Content is the king and is driving the surge in daily internet usage.
  • The Rural India registered a 45% growth in the monthly active internet users in 2019. It is now estimated that there are 264 million internet users in rural India, and this is expected to reach 304 million in 2020.

Important Factors for the Growth:

  • The convenience of content availability across devices and on the go low-cost Internet service resulted in a significant growth in the entertainment consumption in the last year.
  • The Local Language and video are the underlying factors for the internet boom in rural. This is expected to continue in 2020 too, especially in view of the lockdown.

Way Forward:

  • The Children and housewives will be the new Internet adopters in the next year or two.
  • It will be more about breaking the mind set barriers to access the web and most of these users already have Internet at home
  • The Video, Voice and Vernacular (3 Vs) will be significant usage factors for the Internet users.
  • It will drive higher Engagement and frequency of usage, thereby, Helping the users Mature in their Internet Journey.
  • IOT and Smart Devices will make the internet as much a Household Phenomenon as it is an Individual Phenomenon.

OFFICIAL DIGITAL CURRENCY OF CHINA

Why in News?

  • Recently, China has started testing its official digital currency which is unofficially called “Digital Currency Electronic Payment, DC/EP”.

About the News:

  • The digital currency of China has not been officially released but internal pilot tests are being carried out in four cities of China.
  • China is expected to officially make the sovereign digital currency available to the public later in 2020.
  • It could be considered the world’s first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) if it is officially issued by state bank People’s Bank of China.
  • The total size of China’s digital currency could reach one trillion yuan ($140 billion), equivalent to about one-eighth of China’s cash.

What is Digital Currency?

  • Digital currency is a payment method which exists only in electronic form and is not tangible.
  • Digital currency can be transferred between entities or users with the help of technology like computers, smartphones and the internet.
  • Although it is similar to physical currencies, digital money allows borderless transfer of ownership as well as instantaneous transactions.
  • Digital currency is also known as digital money and cyber E.g. Cryptocurrency.

About Cryptocurrency:

  • A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security.
  • Cryptocurrencies use decentralized technology to let users make secure payments and store money without the need to use their name or go through a bank.
  • They run on a distributed public ledger called blockchain, which is a record of all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
  • The most common cryptocurrencies are Bitcoin, Libra, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin.

What is India’s Stand on Digital Currency?

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had banned cryptocurrencies in 2018.
  • RBI had considered cryptocurrencies as a poor unit of account and also demonstrated by their frequent and high fluctuation in value.
  • RBI also stated that it poses several risks, including anti-money laundering and terrorism financing concerns (AML/CFT) for the state and liquidity, credit, and operational risks for users.
  • It had also said that it would seriously consider developing a sovereign digital currency when the time is appropriate.
  • Subsequently, the Supreme Court has struck down a circular of the RBI, which bans financial institutions from enabling deals in digital or cryptocurrencies.
  • The ban was challenged by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMA) sighting that dealing and trading in cryptocurrency was a legitimate business activity and that the RBI did not have jurisdiction over it as these assets could be classified as commodities rather than Currency.

EU’S DATA STRATEGY

Why in News?

  • The European Commission has released a ‘European strategy for data to ensure the human-centric development of Artificial Intelligence’ and a white paper on Artificial Intelligence.

Highlights:

  • The new documents present a timeline for various projects, legislative frameworks, and initiatives by the European Union, and represent its recognition that it is slipping behind American and Chinese innovation.
  • The strategy lays out “why the EU should act now”. The blueprint hopes to strengthen Europe’s local technology market by creating a “data single market” by 2030 to allow the free flow of data within the EU.
  • To aid a “data-agile economy”, the Commission hopes to implement an enabling legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces by the latter half of the year.
  • Between 2021 and 2027, the Commission will invest in a High Impact Project to jump-start data infrastructure. Several other initiatives are laid out, including a cloud services marketplace.

Reason for the Policy:

  • The EU has the potential to be successful in the data-agile economy. It has the technology, the know-how and a highly skilled workforce. However, competitors such as China and the US are already innovating quickly and projecting their concepts of data access and use across the globe.
  • With American and Chinese companies taking the lead on technological innovation, Europe is keen to up its own competitiveness.

Indian Context:

  • The Economic Survey of 2018 envisioned a similar use of non-personal data. Just as the EU’s strategy discusses “data for public good”, the chapter titled “Data ‘Of the People, By the People, For the People’” advocated that the government step in to sectors that private players ignore, marking the first time India’s Economic Survey has isolated “data” as a strategic focus.
  • Other data integration efforts have been announced or implemented by NITI Aayog (the National Data & Analytics Platform), the Smart Cities Mission (India Urban Data Exchange), and the Ministry of Rural Development (DISHA dashboard).
  • In 2018, the National Informatics Centre worked with PwC and other vendors to create a Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics aimed at providing data analysis help to Government Departments.

PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION BILL, 2019

Why in News?

  • The Personal Data Protection Bill, which was tabled in Parliament by the Electronics and IT Minister recently, has now been referred to a joint committee.

Types of Personal Information:

  • Sensitive Data constitutes or is related to passwords, financial data, health data, official identifier, sexual orientation, religious or caste data, biometric data and genetic data. It may be processed outside India with the explicit consent of the user.
  • Critical Data will be characterised by the government every once in a while, and must be stored and handled only in India.
  • General Data is any data that is non-critical and non-sensitive and are categorised as general data with no limitation on where it is stored or managed.

About the Bill:

  • As per the bill, it is the individual whose data is being stored and processed.
  • The government is qualified to order any data fiduciary to acquire personal and non-personal/anonymised data for the sake of research and for national security and criminal investigations.
  • Social media companies, which are deemed significant data fiduciaries based on factors such as volume and sensitivity of data as well as their turnover, should develop their own user verification mechanism.
  • An independent regulator Data Protection Agency (DPA) will oversee assessments and audits and definition making.
  • Each company will have a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who will liaison with the DPA for auditing, grievance redressal, recording maintenance and more.
  • The bill also Grants Individuals the right to data portability, and the ability to access and transfer one’s own data.
  • The right to be forgotten: this right allows an individual to remove consent for data collection and disclosure.

Why does Data Protection matter?

  • With a population of over a billion, there are about 500 million active web users and India’s online market is second only to China.
  • Large collection of information about individuals and their online habits has become an important source of profits.
  • It is also a potential avenue for invasion of privacy because it can reveal extremely personal aspects.
  • Companies, governments, and political parties find it valuable because they can use it to find the most convincing ways to advertise to you online.
  • Besides, presently, there are no laws on the utilisation of individual information and forestalling its abuse, even though the Supreme Court maintained the right to privacy as a fundamental right back directly in 2017.

Important recommendations of Justice BN Srikrishna Committee:

  • The Justice Srikrishna committeeon data privacy has made specific mention of the need for separate and more stringent norms for protecting the data of children.
  • It recommended that companies be barred from certain types of data processing such as behavioural monitoring, tracking, targeted advertising and any other type of processing which is not in the best interest of the child.
  • It is widely accepted that processing of personal data of children ought to be subject to greater protection than regular processing of data.
  • Safeguarding the best interests of the child should be the guiding principle for statutory regulation on protecting data of children.
  • The committee noted that, at present, there were two types of entities processing the personal data of children.
  • The first type was services offered primarily to children, such as YouTube Kids, Hot Wheels and Walt Disney, and the second were social media services such as Facebook and Instagram.
  • The committee’s recommends that the Data Protection Authority will have the power to designate websites or online services that process large volumes of personal data of children as “guardian data fiduciaries”.

Why there are Concerns over the Bill?

  • The bill is like a two-sided sword. While it protects the personal data of Indians by empowering them with data principal rights, on the other hand, it gives the central government with exemptions which are against the principles of processing personal data.
  • The government can process even sensitive personal data when needed, without explicit permission from the data principals.

Recent Issues over Data Protection:

  • Recently, messaging platform WhatsAppsaid that some Indian journalists and rights activists were among those spied using technology by an Israeli company, which by its own admission only works for government agencies across the world.
  • Google too had alerted 12,000 users, including 500 in India, regarding “government-backed” phishing attempts against them.
  • The Indian Government has still not come out in the clear convincingly regarding these incidents.

5G ROLLOUT: HOW FAR HAS INDIA PROGRESSED, AND WHERE DOES IT STAND ON HUAWEI?

What is Huawei?

  • Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is a Chinese multinational technology company that provides telecommunications equipment and sells consumer electronics, including smartphones, headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong.
  • Although successful internationally, Huawei has faced difficulties in some markets, due to cybersecurity allegations—primarily from the United States government—that Huawei’s infrastructure equipment may enable surveillance by the Chinese government.
  • Especially with the development of 5G wireless networks (which China has aggressively promoted).

Why did US blacklist Huawei?

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, “Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment and the No. 2 vendor of smartphones, ahead of Apple Inc. and behind only Samsung Electronics Co”.
  • However, notwithstanding its dominance, the US has effectively banned Huawei from selling its products after a 2012 congressional report stated that Huawei could be a security risk.
  • According to the US, Huawei’s owners have close links with the Chinese military and, as such, the company cannot be trusted with data.
  • The treatment of Huawei has become a massive reason for further straining the already fraught diplomatic relations between the US and China.

Where does India stand on the Huawei controversy?

  • Following Huawei’s blacklisting by the US administration, several countries were asked to take a stand on whether or not to allow the company to operate. Certain countries such as the UK did not follow the US and cited benefits to operators from Huawei’s cost-efficient technology as the reason behind not banning the firm.
  • While India is yet to take a stand on whether or not to allow Huawei in 5G trials, officials at the teslecom department have indicated that a decision will be taken in consultation with the ministries of home affairs and external affairs. Huawei, however, has said that it is ready to sign a “no-backdoor” agreement with the Indian government and telecom companies to ensure that no snooping is allowed on its network.

Where does India stand on the rollout of 5G vis-a-vis other countries?

  • Deliberations are still on whether to give spectrum for 5G in the 25 GHz and 28 GHz bands. This is one of the factors causing a delay in the auction of airwaves necessary for 5G deployment.
  • Industry players have deemed availability of spectrum as the prerequisite for the commercial rollout of 5G.
  • In February last year, Airtel and Huawei conducted a lab trial for 5G during which a user throughput of 3 Gbps was achieved. However, not much has moved since then.
  • A committee of the telecom ministry recently cleared the proposal to allow Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio to conduct 5G spectrum trial from next month onwards for a period of three months. For these trials, equipment vendors — Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson — have been selected.
  • Despite assertions from the government that India “cannot afford to miss” the 5G bus — indicating that the country will see rollout of the latest generation of mobile telephony along with the world — none of the Indian telecom companies figures in the list (put out by mobile and broadband network intelligence firm Ookla) of 303 5G deployments by 20 operators in 294 locations across the globe.
  • Additionally, the debt-ridden telecom industry of the country has indicated apprehension towards even bidding for 5G airwaves given their weak financial situation.

What happens after field trials are conducted?

  • Field trials allow operators and equipment makers to prove that the network they have built in a laboratory also works outside in a field. Even after conducting the field trials, operators will have a long way to go before commercial rollout primarily because of the lack of availability of the necessary spectrum.
  • Some telecom companies, however, have questioned the need for rolling out 5G in India given that focus is still on the propagation of 4G services, especially in the hinterlands of the country.

Why is 5G required?

  • The primary use cases of the fifth generation of mobile telephony are being pegged as B2B use cases.
  • Lower latency and lesser outage scenarios for 5G would allow use cases such as automated driving and telemedicine to flourish.
  • While there is a consumer angle that would allow end-consumers to enjoy faster internet speeds, B2B or business use cases are being seen as the main revenue generating engine for operators with 5G.
  • In financial terms, some estimates suggest that operators are expected to rake in an additional $582 billion globally from digitalisation of the economy through 5G technology by 2026, and the largest opportunity for revenues created or enhanced by 5G will be in the manufacturing, energy and utilities sectors.
  • A panel set up by the Department of Telecommunications in September 2017 to prepare a roadmap for the rollout of 5G noted in its report that 5G services would have a cumulative economic impact of more than $1 trillion by 2035.

WHY IS INDIA SETTING UP A MOBILE PHONE HANDSETS DATABASE?

    • Context: The National Telecom Policy of 2012 calls for the establishment of a National Mobile Property Registry to address the issue of “security, theft, and other concerns including reprogramming of mobile handsets”.
  • Based on this, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under the Ministry of Communications initiated a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) for mobile service providers. The DoT issued a memorandum in July 2017 announcing the CEIR with a pilot project led by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited in Maharashtra. In January 2018, this project was handed over to the Centre for Development of Telematics (CDoT). Now, it is all set to roll out.

What is CEIR?

  • Based on a 2008 order from the DoT, every mobile network provider in India has an Equipment Identity Register (EIR), or a database of the phones connected to its network. These EIRs will now share information with a single central database, the CEIR.
  • In essence, it will be a repository of information on all mobile phones connected to networks across India.
  • There were over 1,026 million active wireless phone connections by the end of 2018, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
  • As per the DoT’s 2017 memorandum, the CEIR will have information on the device’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number (every phone or mobile broadband device has this unique 15 digit code that precisely identifies the device), model, version, and “other information”.
  • It will also know if the phone is blacklisted, and the reason why it has been blacklisted.
  • Phones are identified based on the IMEI number, which you can find under the battery in many mobiles or by dialling ‘*#06#’ on the device. Mobile phone manufacturers assign IMEI numbers to each device based on ranges allotted to them by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association. Dual SIM phones will have two IMEI numbers.

What is the purpose of a CEIR?

  • Such centralised databases are meant to identify and block stolen or illegal mobile phones across networks.
  • Currently, when a customer reports a mobile phone as missing or stolen, mobile service providers have the ability to blacklist the phone’s IMEI in their EIRs and block it from accessing their network.
  • But if the SIM is changed to a new network, it can continue to be in use. With a CEIR, all network operators will be aware that the phone is blacklisted.
  • The CEIR will also access the GSMA’s database of IMEI numbers to check whether the phone is authentic.
  • There are cases of phones being in use with duplicate IMEI numbers, or with all zeroes instead of an authentic IMEI number.
  • Most importantly, as per the DoT’s 2017 memorandum, the CEIR will be able to block services to subscribers. This ability had rested with individual networks till now. The memorandum also mentions enabling “IMEI-based lawful interception”, which means allowing legal authorities to use CEIR data.

What are the issues with having a CEIR?

  • In its 2010 consultation paper on “issues relating to blocking of IMEI for lost/stolen mobile handsets,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) raises a key issue with the CEIR — who should maintain such a high-value database? Should it be the service provider, or a neutral third party?
  • In their responses to the consultation paper, many major service providers preferred having a third party, ranging from international bodies to TRAI itself as suggested by the BSNL.
  • The CDoT, which is reportedly readying to roll out the service, is an autonomous entity under the DoT.
  • Another major issue is cloning, or reprogramming stolen or unauthorised mobile phones to attach existing genuine IMEI numbers. Blocking cloned IMEI numbers could result in the authentic ones also being blocked.
  • While the actual numbers on phones in circulation with cloned or inauthentic IMEIs are hard to pin down, Parliament, in 2012, was informed of two cases of 18,000 phones using the same IMEI number. In 2015, the government banned the import of mobile phones with fake IMEI numbers. In 2017, the DoT framed the “prevention of tampering of the Mobile Device Equipment Identification Number, Rules, 2017” that makes it punishable to tamper with the IMEI number of a device or knowingly use such a device. However, tools to reprogramme phones remain available online, and cases of such activities are reported frequently.
  • On this issue, the DoT memorandum of 2017 says the IMEI Cloning and Duplication Restriction (ICDR) software is to be integrated in the CEIR.

FBI Chief Tells us Congress that China Poses Bigger Security Threat Than Russia

Why in News:

  • China came under renewed criticism by US government officials and lawmakers on a range of issues, including charges of human rights violations against Chinese dissidents and minority groups and being a threat to US

background:

  • FBI Director Chris Wray says Russia still poses a significant counterintelligence threat to the
  • S. and continues to use social media campaigns to try and influence American politics. They use social media to try and spin us up and pit us against each other and to undermine Americans faith in democracy, Wray said at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. Wray said Russia used those tactics in the 2018 midterms but that his agency saw “no material impact on election infrastructure or campaign infrastructure” during the election.
  • Beyond the threats Russia poses to American elections, Wray said, the FBI was increasingly focused on the threats posed by China, especially in regard to its attempts to get its hands- on American technology and
  • “No country poses a broader threat …. than China,” Wray said.

Cyber Security Issues in India:

  • Emerging technologies and waves of digitisation have brought in their wake new challenges and exposed organisations to new
  • It is estimated that cyber-attacks cost companies an estimated $500 billion in damages every year. The primary concern facing organisations is that security breaches to technology and physical infrastructure could lead to data loss, financial losses, regulatory sanctions, reputational damage, operational disturbances, among other
  • Increasing global interconnectedness and the complexity of systems make large-scale cyber- attacks on financial market infrastructure even more pertinent and threaten the stability of financial

What measures are planned to address such issues?

  • The strategies adopted for cyber risk management currently focus on reducing the risk of a cyber-attack and minimising the impact of a
  • There are also plans for building resilience, that is, detecting and recovering quickly from the impact of a breach. Globally, organisations are investing in developing a comprehensive set of cyber risk management capabilities that cover the entire value chain and ensure the risk is efficiently managed across the

What measures were taken by government in this regard?

  • Indian regulators have focused on cyber security as a core concern for several years now. Securities market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, issued guidelines on cyber security and cyber resilience to market infrastructure providers in 2015 and developed guidelines for registrars in 2017.
  • In 2016, the RBI released a comprehensive set of requirements for internal cyber security frameworks. The government has also undertaken initiatives including the Information Technology Act, It has set up the nodal cyber security agency, CERT-In, to respond to computer security incidents.
  • The National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre, is the central agency to facilitate safe, secure and resilient information infrastructure for critical sectors of the economy.

Satellite Images help Assess Poverty

Details:

  • High-resolution satellite data can precisely assess the status of poverty at household level in rural areas of developing countries, according to a study.
  • According to a study, if countries are to achieve the U.N. sustainable development goals, it is particularly important to track the living conditions in poor nations around the world where the future population growth is highest.
  • Based on high-resolution satellite images, the status of poverty at household level in rural areas in developing countries can be precisely assessed.

Applications of Satellites:

  • The reconnaissance satellites are used to spy on other countries, they provide intelligence information on the military activities of foreign countries, they can detect the missile launches or the nuclear explosions in space.
  • The ocean surveillance satellites are used to search for the ships or the submarines, they can spot the nuclear vessels, and new advancements may allow them to scan the depths of the ocean.
  • The satellites provide the meteorologists with the ability to see the weather on a global scale The satellites are used in the field of oceanography, use the satellites to detect the oceans affect on environment; they can analyze the wave patterns.
  • The satellites are the best sources of data for the climate change research, they monitor the ocean temperatures and the prevailing currents, the data acquired by the satellite-borne radars were able to show the sea levels have been rising by three mm a year over the last decade.
  • Imaging satellites can measure the changing sizes of the glaciers which is difficult to do from the ground due to the remoteness and darkness of the Polar Regions, the satellites can determine the long-term patterns of the rainfall, the vegetation cover, and the emissions of the greenhouse gases.
  • Earth observation satellites can monitor the ocean and the wind currents, the extent of the forest fires, the oil spills, and the airborne pollution, this information helps organize the emergency responders and the environmental clean-up.

Indian Institute of Skills

  • The Union Cabinet gave its approval for setting up of Indian Institute of Skills at different locations across the country. The IISs will be set up in public private partnership mode.

About:

  • • The setting up of IISs will help augment the global competitiveness of key sectors of Indian economy by providing high quality skill training, applied research education and a direct and meaningful connection with industry.
  • It will provide opportunity to aspiring youth across the country to have access to highly skilled training, and enhance the scope of accountability through its linkage with industry and global competitiveness across sectors, the release added.
  • The institute shall be equipped with state-of-the-art facility to impart skill development courses to the trainers and assessors along with training of candidates in new age courses catering to the needs of the industry, designed keeping in mind the youth of the institutes’ catchment areas. Skill India is a demand driven program which trains people in job roles which are market relevant and of current industry needs and standards

Significance:

  • • Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development for any country. Countries with higher and better levels of skills adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities of world of work.
  • The skill development initiatives support the supply of trained workers who are adjustable dynamically to the changing demands of employment and technologies. This policy will promote excellence and will meet the requirements of knowledge economy.
  • • Skill development will help actualize the potential of huge demographic dividend.
  • Bringing the PPP institute will make equitable access to all who are deprived of skill training. Creating effective convergence between school education, various skill development efforts of government and between government and Private Sector initiative.
  • It helps in achieving India’s target of creating 500 million skilled workers by 2022.
  • Improving productivity and living standards of the people. Strengthening competitiveness of the country which will attract investment in skill development.

Bharat – WI-FI project

  • The Indian telecom industry will rollout 10 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in the country by December,2019.

About:

  • • The project has been named as Bharat Wi-Fi, which is a country-wide common inter-operable platform of one million Wi-Fi Hotspots, owned and operated by Telecom Service Providers, Internet Service Providers and Virtual Network Operators.
  • This initiative allows consumers to access Wi-Fi Hotspots of any of the partnering operators, it is believed that it will help generate 5 lakh employment opportunities.
  • The move is part of the infrastructure called Bharat Wi-Fi, and is believed to be a fresh step in Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative.
  • Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications announced it in India Mobile Congress (IMC), one of the biggest marquee Mobile, Internet, and Technology event for South and South-East Asia.
  • The need for data hungers drastically rises in India, even more, when Jio creates the Data Revolution in India. It also provoked the rural areas as well for data. So, the Government considers deploying some of these hotspots across rural areas or not.
  • One thing was sure about, if the Government completes this Project successfully then, India will become the highest data usage country in the World.
  • India’s data-led growth and digital revolution would help realise four ambitious goals of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, namely – doubling farmers’ income, Ayushman Bharat Scheme, quality education and employment generation.
  • • With world-class digital infrastructure in place India is now ready to not only embrace but actually lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will make each one of the 130-crore people of India can now productively participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

India Mobile Congress:

  • • India Mobile Congress was a first of its kind event in the Indian Subcontinent, bringing together Mobile, Internet, and Technology companies on one platform, under the theme, “Connecting the Next Billion”.
  • The event was attended by more than 2,000 delegates, 32,000 visitors, 150 Speakers, 100 Exhibitors and 100 start-ups. IMC 2017 firmly established the India Mobile Congress platform as South Asia’s largest digital forum where voice, data and a billion people converge.
  • This year, IMC 2018, is envisaged to be an even bigger event with its theme “New Digital Horizons. Connect. Create. Innovate.”. This technology mega event will be held from 25th to 27th October 2018, at Aerocity, New Delhi, organized by the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). The second edition of IMC expects to bring together the largest congregation of global professionals from the digital ecosystem, encompassing 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart Cities, Start-ups in the technology space and allied industry sectors.
  • The platform will see a greater International presence with the participation of policy makers and regulators from partner countries in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) regions.

Centre Launches two Schemes to Promote Higher Education Research

Why in News?

The Centre announced two schemes to promote higher education research in India:

  • IMPRESS, dealing with social science research projects and coordinated by the ICSSR.
  • SPARC, involving foreign collaboration mainly in science research, coordinated by IIT Kharagpur.

IMPRESS:

  • The Union Minister for Human Resource Development launched the web portal of the Scheme “Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS)”. Indian Council of Social Science and Research (ICSSR) will be the project implementing agency.
  • Under the Scheme, 1500 research projects will be awarded for 2 years to support the social science research in the higher educational institutions and to enable research to guide policy making.
  • The broad objectives of the scheme are:
    • To identify and fund research proposals in social sciences with maximum impact on the governance and society.
    • To focus research on (11) broad thematic areas such as: State and Democracy, Urban transformation, Media, Culture and Society, Employment, Skills and Rural transformation, Governance, Innovation and Public Policy, Growth, Macro-trade and Economic Policy, Agriculture and Rural Development, Health and Environment, Science and Education, Social Media and Technology, Politics, Law and Economics. The Sub-Theme areas will be decided on the basis of Expert Groups’ advice before notifying the scheme and calling for applications.
    • To ensure selection of projects through a transparent, competitive process on online mode.
    • To provide opportunity for social science researchers in any institution in the country, including all Universities (Central and State), private institutions with 12(B) status conferred by UGC.
    • e) ICSSR funded/recognised research

SPARC:

  • • The Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Prakash Javadekar launched the web portal of the Scheme “Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)”. SPARC scheme aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions in the world.
  • Salient Features of SPARC are : This scheme will improve research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions [overall top-100 or category-wise top-100 in NIRF ( including such Private Institutions which are recognized under 12(B) of UGC Act)] and the best institutions in the world (top-500 overall and top-200 subject-wise institutions listed in QS World University Ranking) from 28 selected nations [Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom(UK), United States of America(USA)] to jointly solve problems of national and international relevance. As per the criteria mentioned above, 254 top Indian Institutes and 478 top ranked global Institutes have been already identified.
  • A set of 5 Thrust Areas (Fundamental Research, Emergent Areas of Impact, Convergence, Action-Oriented Research and Innovation-Driven) and sub-theme areas in each thrust area has been identified for collaboration under SPARC based on emergent relevance and importance for the nation.
  • Each Thrust Area will have a Section Chair. The role of Section Chair of each Thrust Area is to review shortlist and recommend the potential joint-proposals submitted under SPARC scheme.
  • A set of Nodal Institutions (NI), from India, for each participating foreign country has been identified. The role of a NI is to help, handhold and coordinate with willing Participating Indian (PI) Institutions to forge alliance with the Institutions of concerned participating foreign country, for academic and research collaboration. 25 such reputed Institutions have been notified as Nodal Institutions.
  • SPARC proposes to enable productive academic cooperation by supporting the following critical components that can catalyse impact making research : i) Visits and long-term stay of top international faculty/researchers in Indian institutions to pursue teaching and research , ii) Visits by Indian students for training and experimentation in premier laboratories worldwide , iii) Joint development of niche courses, world-class books and monographs, translatable patents, demonstrable technologies or action oriented research outcomes and products , iv) Publication , Dissemination and Visibility through a high profile annual international conference in India .
  • This Scheme is expected to have a major impact in providing the best international expertise to address major national problems, expose Indian academicians to the best collaborators abroad, enable international faculty to stay in India for a longer duration, provide Indian students an opportunity to work in the world class laboratories, to develop strong bilateral relationships in research, and improve the international ranking of Indian Institutes.

5g Technology

TRAI gives nod for sale of 5G spectrum

About:

  • It is a mobile network connectivity that would ensure fast broadband Speeds along with capacity to perform well without barrier’s

Characteristics:

  • Fast speed compared to previous generation
  • Reliability
  • Higher Bandwidth
  • How Latency ratio
  • Can increase the number of interconnected devices

Challenges Faced:

  • Infrastructure : Lack of infrastructure for 5G services and lack of allocation of spectrum.
  • Communication, Navigation and sensing : It requires large radio spectrum to transmit signals and we lack this infrastructure
  • Security and privacy : 5G has to define the uncertainties related to security threats including, trust, privacy, cybersecurity which are growing across globe.
  • Legislation : Cybercrime and online Fraudent activities will increase with increase in technology. Therefore a good Cybersecurity initiative is mandatory

Impact of 5G Technology:

  • It makes data sharing, enabling and transfer and processing more quickly which will result in enhanced application like internet of things even more faster and larger.
  • This Technology will be a short in the arm for sister technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud computing
  • This Technology will gather all networks in one platform and provide a huge broadcasting data.
  • Will make possible to provide uninterrupted connectivity with uniform high speeds across the world.
  • It will boost the ambitious project of ‘Digital India’ by making possible the last mile connectivity whereby enhancing the governance.

India Science Technology And Innovation Portal

Why in news?

  • The Union science ministry’s communication wing, Vigyan Prasar, has launched the India Science Technology and Innovation portal.

About the portal:

  • The portal can be queried for information about the status of the technology, organisations carrying out research, those funding them, international collaborations, the scientists involved in the research, the states in which they are being carried out, their achievements and impact.
  • A major thrust of the portal is to reach out to students, researchers, scholars, scientists both from India and abroad, so that they can choose from the mineof fellowships, scholarships and funding and start up opportunities that India puts on their plate.
  • The portal follows a launch this week of India Science (indiascience.in), an Internet-based science channel, to showcase the developments in science and technology in India.
  • Both the portal and the channel are part of a push by the Science Ministry to improve its public outreach.

Vigyan Prasar:

  • Vigyan Prasar (VP) is an autonomous organization under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
  • Vigyan Prasar is focused on enabling access to appropriate information in a timely manner aligned with India’s developmental imperatives so that her citizens will be able to acquire the necessary scientific insights to improve their core strengths in all sectors of learning with implications for sustainable development.
  • The logical framework of science communication, therefore, emphasizes enriched learning and enhanced abilities for well-informed action.
  • The principal objective of VP is to serve India’s science popularization agenda.

E-Census Date

  • The data collected during the 2021 Census will be stored electronically. first time since the decennial exercise was conducted in 1951 in Independent India.
  • Till now census data being stored in a physical form at the government’s storehouse in Delhi, the data is preserved for 10 years and then it is destroyed.
  • For this census rules 1990 was amended & electronic record(data) linked to Information Technology Act,2000.
  • If any tampering with the data will invite punishment under the Information Technology Act, 2000

Census in INDIA:

  • It is an decennial operation.
  • Still now 15 census was conducted (prior to independence conducted from 1865 to 1947)
  • 1865-first proper census conducted but it covered only some parts of India
  • 1872-only British administrative area was censused.
  • 1881-First decennial all India census conducted.
  • Post-Independence Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India was created under ministry of Home Affairs which take census.
  • Census data was collected in 16 languages and the training manual was prepared in 18 languages.

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