Government Releases Retail Inflation Data For November

Consumer inflation eased to 2.33 per cent in November, provisional data from the government showed on Wednesday. That marked the lowest level of consumer inflation recorded since 1.46 per cent in June last year. Determined by Consumer Price Index (CPI), the rate of increase in prices was better than economists’ estimates. Retail inflation was expected at 2.80 per cent in November in a poll of 40 economists, according to news agency Reuters. Consumer inflation stood at a final 3.38 per cent in the previous month, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said in its statement.

November marked the fourth consecutive month in which inflation was within the Reserve Bank of India’s medium-term goal of 4 per cent. Wednesday’s data supported the central bank’s decision to hold interest rates in its policy statement earlier this month.

The central bank, which tracks CPI primarily to decide its monetary policy, had in its December 9 lowered its consumer inflation projection to 2.7-3.2 per cent for the second half of the current fiscal year, citing normal monsoon and moderate food prices. The RBI had maintained status quo in monetary policy announcement, leaving the key interest rate unchanged at 6.5 per cent.

Separate data on Wednesday showed growth in factory activity, measured by Index of Industrial Production (IIP), was at a better-than-expected 8.1 per cent in October. Industrial output growth was expected at 5.7 per cent for the month, according to the Reuters poll.

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Massive Marriott Data Breach Traced To Chinese Hackers: Report

Marriott said that a hack that began 4 years ago had exposed the records of up to 500 million customers.

Hackers behind a massive breach at hotel group Marriott International Inc left clues suggesting they were working for a Chinese government intelligence gathering operation, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Marriott said last week that a hack that began four years ago had exposed the records of up to 500 million customers in its Starwood hotels reservation system.

Private investigators looking into the breach have found hacking tools, techniques and procedures previously used in attacks attributed to Chinese hackers, said three sources who were not authorized to discuss the company’s private probe into the attack.

That suggests that Chinese hackers may have been behind a campaign designed to collect information for use in Beijing’s espionage efforts and not for financial gain, two of the sources said.

While China has emerged as the lead suspect in the case, the sources cautioned it was possible somebody else was behind the hack because other parties had access to the same hacking tools, some of which have previously been posted online.

Identifying the culprit is further complicated by the fact that investigators suspect multiple hacking groups may have simultaneously been inside Starwood’s computer networks since 2014, said one of the sources.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to comment directly on the issue, but said China strongly opposed any form of hacking.

“If the relevant side has any evidence, they can provide it to the Chinese side, and relevant authorities will investigate in accordance with the law,” he told a daily news briefing.

“But we resolutely oppose gratuitous accusations when it comes to internet security,” he added.

If investigators confirm that China was behind the attack, that could complicate already tense relations between Washington and Beijing, amid an ongoing tariff dispute and U.S. accusations of Chinese espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

Marriott spokeswoman Connie Kim declined to comment, saying “We’ve got nothing to share,” when asked about involvement of Chinese hackers.

Marriott disclosed the hack on Friday, prompting U.S. and UK regulators to quickly launch probes into the case.

Compromised customer data included names, passport numbers, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and email addresses. A small percentage of accounts included scrambled payment card data, said Kim.

Marriott acquired Starwood in 2016 for $13.6 billion, including the Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, St. Regis, Aloft, Le Meridien, Tribute, Four Points and Luxury Collection hotel brands, forming the world’s largest hotel operator.

The hack began in 2014, shortly after an attack on the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) compromised sensitive data on tens of millions of employees, including application forms for security clearances.

White House National Security advisor John Bolton recently told reporters he believed Beijing was behind the OPM hack, a claim first made by the United States in 2015.

Beijing has strongly denied those charges and also refuted charges that it was behind other hacks.

Former senior FBI official Robert Anderson told Reuters that the Marriott case looked similar to hacks that the Chinese government was conducting in 2014 as part of its intelligence operations.

“Think of the depth of knowledge they could now have about travel habits or who happened to be in a certain city at the same time as another person,” said Anderson, who served as FBI executive assistant director until 2015.

“It fits with how the Chinese intelligence services think about things. It’s all very long range,” said Anderson, who was not involved in investigating the Marriott case and is now a principal with Chertoff Group.

Michael Sussmann, a former senior Department of Justice official for its computer crimes section, said that the long duration of the campaign was an indicator that the hackers were seeking data for intelligence and not information to use in cyber crime schemes.

“One clue pointing to a government attacker is the amount of time the intruders were working quietly inside the network,” he said. “Patience is a virtue for spies, but not for criminals trying to steal credit card numbers.”

FBI representatives could not immediately be reached for comment on the evidence linking the attack to China. A spokesperson said on Friday that the agency was looking into the attack, but declined to elaborate.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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BSNL Broadband Unlimited Plans Updated to Offer Up to 6 Times More High-Speed Data

After revising its Rs. 299 broadband plan to offer more speed and data, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is now again revising a slew of its unlimited broadband plans to offer more data benefits. The company has also introduced daily FUP limits on these plans, which wasn’t the case earlier, but it has increased the data offering by up to six times. The revised BSNL unlimited broadband plans include Rs. 675, Rs. 845, Rs. 999, Rs. 1,199, Rs. 1,495, Rs. 1,745 and Rs. 2,295 plans, with the most premium plan offering up to 35GB of data per day.

The revised BSNL BBG Combo ULD 675 broadband plan offers 5GB data per day at 10Mbps speeds. Therefore, the plan now offers 150GB of data benefit per month, instead of the earlier prescribed 35GB data. Apart from the daily 5GB data, this plan also offers unlimited voice calling benefits (local +STD) on any network within India.

The BSNL BBG Combo ULD 845 broadband plan now offers 10GB of data per day at 10Mbps speeds, offering 300GB of data instead of 50GB that was offered earlier. Post FUP limit speed and unlimited voice calling facility is also offered with this plan. Similarly, there’s also the BSNL BBG Combo ULD 999 and Combo ULD 1199 broadband plans that now offer 15GB of data per day and 20GB of data per day respectively, at 10Mbps speeds.

The BBG Combo ULD 1495 broadband plan used to earlier offer 140GB data per month, but now it offers 25GB data per day (750GB data in total). And the most premium BSNL BBG Combo ULD 2295 broadband plan offers 35GB of data per day at 24Mbps speeds. Earlier, it used to offer a total of 200GB data at 24Mbps speeds.

Lastly, BSNL has also revised its BSNL BBG Combo 1745 VDSL broadband plan that now offers 30GB data per day at 16Mbps speeds. Earlier, this plan used to offer 140GB of data at 16Mbps speed, and 2Mbps after the FUP limit was crossed.

Tthe unlimited voice calling benefit and the 2Mbps speed downgrade after the FUP limit is crossed is valid across all plans. These BSNL broadband plans have been revised in all circles. All of the new plans can be viewed on the BSNL website.

As mentioned, the BSNL Rs. 299 broadband plan was recently also revised to offer 1.5GB of data per day at a download speed of up to 8Mbps. This brings a total data offering of 45GB for 30 days. Upon exceeding the limit, customers will get data access at up to 1Mbps speed. The broadband plan also gives unlimited local and STD voice calls within India on BSNL network only. For other networks in the country, the plan offers unlimited voice calls between 10:30pm to 6am and on Sundays. It also comes bundled with free voice calling benefits worth Rs. 300 on networks other than BSNL.

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Internal Facebook Emails Show How Company Burnt Rivals, Struck Deals Over Data

Internal emails at Facebook, including those involving Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, were published online by a committee of U.K. lawmakers investigating social media’s role in the spread of fake news.

The documents, which had been sealed by a California court, led lawmakers to conclude that Facebook undertook deals with third party apps that continued to allow access to personal data.

Damian Collins, head of the committee, added that Facebook shut off access to data required by competing apps, conducted global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers possibly without their knowledge, and that a change to Facebook’s Android app policy that resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made difficult for users to know about.

In one email, dated Jan. 23 2013, a Facebook engineer contacted Zuckerberg to say that rival Twitter had launched its Vine video-sharing tool, which users could connect to Facebook to find their friends there. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine’s access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, “Yup, go for it.”

“We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents,” said Collins in a Twitter post accompanying the published emails.

“Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform,” Facebook said in an emailed statement. “We’ve never sold people’s data.”

Collins said last week that he would release the emails and that he was free under U.K. law to do so. He’d obtained the documents after compelling the founder of U.S. software company Six4Three to hand them over during a business trip to London.

A spokesman for Facebook was unable to immediately comment.

Six4Three’s founder, Ted Kramer, had obtained them as part of a legal discovery process in a U.S. lawsuit against Facebook that his company has brought against the social network in California.

Facebook touted itself as championing privacy four years ago when it decided to restrict outsider developers’ access to data about its users’ friends.

In one email, dated Feb. 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would “continually upload” a user’s call and SMS history would be a “high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective.” A subsequent email suggests users wouldn’t need to be prompted to give permission for this feature to be activated.

Kramer was ordered by a judge on Friday to surrender his laptop to a forensic expert after admitting he turned over the documents to the British lawmakers, in violation of a U.S. court order.

“What has happened here is unconscionable,” California Superior Court Judge V. Raymond Swope said to Kramer and his attorneys during the hearing.

Facebook wants the laptop to be evaluated to determine what happened in the U.K., to what extent the court order was breached, and how much of its confidential information has been divulged to the committee.

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Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram Pokes Fun At BJP For Celebrating GDP Data

Speaking about GDP data, Mr Chidambaram said it did not warrant the jubilation of the BJP 3 months ago

New Delhi: 

Congress leader P Chidambaram poked fun at the BJP today over the GDP growth data, saying it did not warrant any jubilation by the ruling party.

In a series of tweets, the former finance minister said that the GDP growth in the July-September quarter (Q2) of 2018-19 was a good one per cent lower than in the April-June quarter (Q1).

“Q1 number was on a very low base in the previous year. It did not signify a bump in growth and did not warrant the jubilation of the BJP three months ago,” he said.

Mr Chidambaram said going forward, it was likely that the October-December (Q3) and January-March (Q4) quarters would register similar growth rates unless there were unexpected shocks.

“The new normal for the Indian economy is 7 per cent and 2018-19 will be a normal year,” he said.

India’s economy grew at 7.1 per cent in the July-September quarter, lowest in three quarters, but still remained ahead of China to retain the tag of the world’s fastest growing major economy.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at constant prices (2011-12) had grown at 6.3 per cent in the July-September quarter of the last fiscal, according to government data released Friday.

The size of the GDP in the second quarter of 2018-19 is estimated at Rs 33.98 lakh crore, as against Rs 31.72 lakh crore a year ago, showing a growth rate of 7.1 per cent, according to a statement of the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The Indian economy grew at 8.2 per cent in the April-June quarter of this fiscal.

The GDP growth was 7.7 per cent in the January-March quarter.

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New GDP Data Lowers Growth Under Congress; Bad Joke, Says P Chidambaram

Congress accused the PM of fraud after revised GDP data lowered growth during its rule

New Delhi: 

The government’s back-series data for India’s GDP, which downgrades growth during the previous Congress-led UPA’s rule, has provoked a new political bust-up. Taunted by the ruling BJP, the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of “malicious and fraudulent jugglery” to hide the poor state of economy.

Data released by the Central Statistics Office on Wednesday showed that the maximum growth rate in the UPA years was 8.5 per cent in 2010-11, significantly lower than the 10.3 per cent estimated earlier.

NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said an extensive recalibration exercise using the latest data sources and methodological changes had led to a change in growth rates in the back series. The back series had been checked for its methodological soundness, he said, by leading statistical experts in two round tables. The government had “no intention to mislead or do something purposefully which did not reflect the reality,” he asserted.

Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava added that the methodology and concepts behind the data were consistent with international standards.

The BJP tweeted: “Congress and P Chidambaram’s only argument that our growth was better than yours stands demolished when brought on par, basis GDP growth measured by new series, over the UPA and NDA eras!”

As jibes of “Harvard vs hard work” were directed at former finance minister P Chidambaram, the Congress accused the ruling party of a “desperate attempt” to undermine India’s growth story over the last 15 years.

“A despotic Prime Minister and ‘pseudo economist’ Finance Minister have repeatedly caused economic mayhem by the ill-conceived decisions of demonetisation, a flawed GST coupled with tax terrorism. Faced with utter and complete rejection of the ‘voodoo economics’ of Modi and Jaitley duo, they are resorting to malicious and fraudulent jugglery of GDP figures to hide the enormous body blow caused by them to India’s economy,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.

In January 2015, the government moved to a new base year of 2011-12 from the earlier base year of 2004-05 for national accounts. Back-series estimates are compiled and released for the years before the new base year.

In data released yesterday, growth rates for all years between 2005-06 and 2011-12 have been downgraded – to 7.9 per cent in 2005-06 from 9.3 per cent, 8.1 per cent in 2006-07 from 9.3 per cent, 7.7 per cent in 2007-08 from 9.8 per cent, 3.1 per cent in 2008-09 from 3.9 per cent, 7.9 per cent in 2009-10 from 8.5 per cent, 8.5 per cent in 2010-11 from 10.3 per cent, and 5.2 per cent in 2011-12 from 6.6 per cent.

The growth rate for the years after the new base is estimated to be 5.5 per cent (2012-13), 6.4 per cent (2013-14), 7.4 per cent (2014-15), 8.2 per cent (2015-16), 7.1 per cent (2016-17) and 6.7 per cent (2017-18).

In August, a committee appointed by the National Statistical Commission had said in a report that the economy grew at a faster rate during the UPA rule compared to the first four years of the BJP-led government. In response, the government said it was only a draft, not the final word.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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Gujarat Government Collecting Data Of Muslim Students: Report

Gujarat government is collecting data of Muslim students appearing for Class 10, 12 board exams


The Gujarat government has been collecting data about Muslim students, appearing for Class 10 and 12 board examinations, for the last five years, state Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said on Tuesday.

The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Board (GSHSB), which comes under the Gujarat government’s Education Department, has been collecting this specific data.

The data collection is done from the school authorities in the online board examination forms. The information is accessible through a special username and password-protected software for the filling of students’ examination forms.

When the school authorities fill the forms online, a question is asked whether the student is from the minority community. After being answered “Yes”, the user is given only two options, “Muslim” or “Other”.

This practice has been going on since 2013, the Education Minister confirmed to news agency IANS.

When asked why only Muslims are being separately identified when there are other minority community students in Gujarat as well, Education Minister Chudasama told news agency IANS at his state Secretariat office on Tuesday evening: “To collect data.”

When repeated why only Muslims, he said the same thing: “To collect data.” He repeated this line for every subsequent question, including when asked why is this data being collected.

“This is to collect data. We have been maintaining this data since 2013. To date, nobody has ever complained about it,” Mr Chudasama said.

Asked whether the government will change it, he added: “Why should we change anything?”

Asked why no school authorities are questioning this practice when it is continuing since 2013 and there are scores of schools of the minority community in the state, Asif Khan Pathan, Principal of Crescent Higher Secondary School here said: “You see, we already face so many problems of our own; we found this practice unusual, but we never thought of complaining or even questioning the government’s motive behind this.”

“Many of us were not aware,” said Kausar Ali Saiyad, the founder of Hamaari Awaaz, an organisation working for the Muslim community.

“If the government is really concerned about higher education of Muslim students and is collecting data, I will be glad. But I have not seen this happening in any of the government’s policies for post-metriculation scholarships or any other schemes for Muslim students,” Kauser Ali said.

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Facebook Says Steep Rise in Government Data Requests From India in First Half of 2018

Facebook has recorded 16,580 data requests from the Indian government in the first six months of 2018 — a steep rise compared to a total of 22,024 requests in the full year of 2017 and 13,613 in 2016.

In the January-June 2018 period, Facebook provided some data to the government in 53 percent of the cases, although the social networking giant did not reveal which kind of data as it published its transparency report late on Thursday.

Facebook responds to government requests for data in accordance with applicable law and its terms of service.

“Each and every request we receive is carefully reviewed for legal sufficiency and we may reject or require greater specificity on requests that appear overly broad or vague,” the company said. 

Facebook also received 15,963 requests from India for “legal process,” 23,047 users’ requests and 617 emergency requests (half of these were met).

In May this year, Facebook said it recorded a massive increase in the total number of Indian government requests for 2017 — a rise of nearly 62 percent compared to the global average of 30 percent.

The social networking major also accepts government requests to preserve account information pending receipt of formal legal process. 

“When we receive a preservation request, we will preserve a temporary snapshot of the relevant account information but will not disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process,” said Facebook which received 1,000 such requests from India.

Globally, the government requests for account data increased by around 26 percent compared to the second half of 2017 — increasing from 82,341 to 103,815 requests. 

In the US, government requests increased by about 30 percent, of which 56 percent included a non-disclosure order prohibiting Facebook from notifying the user. 

“During the first half of 2018, the number of pieces of content we restricted based on local law increased 7 percent, from 14,280 to 15,337,” said Facebook. 

It also identified 48 disruptions of Facebook services in eight countries in the new reporting period, compared to 46 disruptions in 12 countries in the second half of 2017. 

During this period, Facebook and Instagram took down 2,999,278 pieces of content based on 466,810 copyright reports, 203,375 pieces of content based on 69,756 trademark reports, and 641,059 pieces of content based on 29,828 counterfeit reports.

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Android Gets the Ability to Manually Back Up Data to Google Drive

Google is rolling out the ability to initiate manual backups to Google Drive – that does not need the usually recommended Wi-Fi – on Android devices including older ones. There doesn’t appear to be a specified limit for the Android version that is receiving the feature. We were able to spot the feature on both Android 8.1 Oreo and Android 9.0 Pie handsets.

Previously, for backups, a smartphone had to be connected to a Wi-Fi network and the device would have to in the charging mode. Because of this, if a handset lost its ability to charge or could not connect to the Wi-Fi, users were unable to back their data up on Google Drive.

To access the feature, users will need to visit Settings > Backup & reset > Google account. There, they will see the new Back up now option if they have the Back up to Google Drive option enabled – something that’s enabled by default. On the same page, users will also be able to see which data categories are part of Active backups – we had app data, call history, contacts, device settings, and photos & videos.

google drive manual backup option gadgets 360 Google  Google Drive

Backup & Reset page (left), Google Accounts page (middle), Google Play service version (right)

Notably, a ‘sync now’ option is available for other data categories under the Accounts section – this is available via Settings > Accounts > Google. Here, users will see Calendar, Contacts, Docs, Drive, Gmail, Google Fit data, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, People details, and Play Games Cloud Save. As you can see, there is some overlap between the two features.

The rollout of the ‘manual backup to Google Drive’ feature was first spotted by a Twitter user named Alex Kruger, who pointed out to 9to5Google that it’s visible on older devices such as the Droid Turbo from 2014 that is running Android Marshmallow.

To recall, the ‘manual backup’ feature was first mentioned back in August this year via a Google Issue Tracker request, at which point the Google Android developer said it will be implemented in a future release of Android. Right now, it appears that Google has rolled out the feature via a Google Play services update. As we mentioned, we’re seeing the feature on our devices, and are running v14.3.66 – v14.3.67.

The 9to5Google report also notes that the capability of manually backing up your Android device was always there, but required using the command prompt in Android’s ADB tool – not something most users are comfortable with.

Written with inputs from IANS

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Consumer Inflation (CPI), Industrial Production (IIP) Data Released By Government

Consumer inflation, or retail inflation, is determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Consumer inflation stood at a one-year low of 3.31 per cent in October, government data showed on Monday. This was lower than estimates of 3.67 per cent by analysts in a poll conducted by news agency Reuters, and within the Reserve Bank of India’s medium-term target. October’s consumer inflation reading marked a third straight month in which retail inflation – determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – stood below the central bank’s medium-term goal of 4 per cent. Consumer inflation in September stood at a final 3.70 per cent, the Ministry of Statistics said in its official statement.

Food deflation stood at 0.86 per cent in October, as against inflation of 0.51 per cent in the previous month, according to the official release.

Monday’s data supports the central bank’s surprise decision to hold interest rates in its last policy statement. The RBI had, in its October 5 meeting, decided to maintain status quo on key lending rates, while ruling out any reduction for the time being.

Stock markets finished Monday’s session with a loss of nearly 1 per cent, as investors turned cautious ahead of release of key macroeconomic data. The Sensex shed 345 points to end at 34,812 after a choppy session, whereas the NSE Nifty settled at 10,482, down 103 points from the previous close, amid selling in all sectors barring IT.

Separate data, also released on Monday, showed growth in industrial production – or factory activity – stood at 4.5 per cent in September, better than estimates of 4.3 per cent, according to the median forecast of 24 economists in a poll by Reuters.

Industrial production growth for the previous month was upwardly revised to 4.7 per cent, the data showed.

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