Cisco Denies Media Reports That It Is Building Firewall to Restrict Internet Access in Kashmir

Cisco Denies Media Reports That It Is Building Firewall to Restrict Internet Access in Kashmir

Cisco Denies Media Reports That It Is Building Firewall to Restrict Internet Access in Kashmir

Cisco has refuted the media reports claiming that it is helping the Jammu and Kashmir administration build a firewall to block social media access in the Valley. Recent media reports claimed that the San Jose, California-based company was in a collaboration with the administration to prevent Internet users in Kashmir from accessing blacklisted websites and social media portals through fixed-line connections. The Indian government partially restored Internet access in Kashmir in January — nearly six months after completely restricting it through fixed-line broadband connections and mobile devices. The restoration was limited to 2G connectivity in the region, while 3G, 4G, and fixed-line broadband connections for the general public are still inactive.

A Cisco spokesperson told Gadgets 360 that the company supports free expression and open communication on the Internet and was against censorship.

“Cisco denies reports from India regarding Cisco’s involvement in restricting access to social media websites,” the spokesperson said in a prepared statement emailed to Gadgets 360. “Cisco strongly supports free expression and open communication on the Internet, and our policies and practices are well-established in this area. We build our products to comply with global standards and sell our products globally. We do not customise our products in any way to enable censorship.”

Citing a senior government official, news site The Print on Tuesday reported that Cisco met with Jammu and Kashmir administration to build the firewall for restricting fixed-line Internet users in the region from accessing social media portals. The official told the site that the administration was currently testing the “temporary stopgap arrangement” that would be followed by purchasing of the firewall.

The Indian government imposed a complete ban on Internet access in Kashmir just before nullifying Article 370 of the constitution in August last year. It faced criticism from various bodies even the Supreme Court in January called the Internet shutdown unwarranted. After this, the government restored 2G mobile Internet services in the region, for only whitelisted sites.

An official notification released last month showed that Internet restrictions will remain operative in the region at least until today as the administration considered that virtual private networks (VPNs) “are being misused by anti-national elements”. The Kashmir Police also reportedly filed a first information report (FIR) against the people accessing social media by employing proxy servers and VPNs in the region.

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Internet giants fight spread of Covid-19 untruths | Tech/Gadgets

Internet giants fight spread of Covid-19 untruths | Tech/Gadgets

Internet companies took part in a meeting with the World Health Organisation last week at Facebook offices in Silicon Valley to discuss tactics such as promoting reliable information and fact-checking dubious claims about the coronavirus referred to as Covid-19. — Reuters pic
Internet companies took part in a meeting with the World Health Organisation last week at Facebook offices in Silicon Valley to discuss tactics such as promoting reliable information and fact-checking dubious claims about the coronavirus referred to as Covid-19. — Reuters pic

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 26 — As the new coronavirus spreads globally, the online battle to keep misinformation about the disease is also stepping up.

Google, Facebook and other platforms are struggling to keep ahead of scammers, trolls, and others with ill intent who routinely use major tragedies or disasters as opportunities to swindle or manipulate people.

“The public concern about coronavirus is being used as a vehicle to get people to transmit misinformation and disinformation,” said University of Washington biology professor Carl Bergstrom.

Internet companies took part in a meeting with the World Health Organisation last week at Facebook offices in Silicon Valley to discuss tactics such as promoting reliable information and fact-checking dubious claims about the coronavirus referred to as Covid-19.

“(We must) combat the spread of rumours and misinformation,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told AFP recently.

“To that end, we have worked with Google to make sure people searching for information about coronavirus see WHO information at the top of their search results.”

Google search ranks authoritative sources higher when people are seeking information on health and labels results or news stories that have been fact-checked.

Ghebreyesus said that social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Tencent and TikTok have also taken steps to limit spread of misinformation about coronavirus.

Facebook said in a recent online post that it is focusing on claims which, if relied on, could increase the likelihood of someone getting sick or not getting proper treatment.

“This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available,” Facebook head of health Kang-Xing Jin said in the post.

“We will also block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram, and are conducting proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as we can.”

Selling snake oil

Bergstrom said some virus misinformation is “people trying to sell snake oil products” such as bogus cures or treatments, while others use attention-grabbing deceptions to drive online traffic that yields money from advertising.

Misinformation is also spread by “actors” out to fuel distrust for the establishment in China or foment societal instability overall, according to Bergstrom.

“There’s appetite for up-to-date, real-time information,” said Jevin West, co-author of a book on misinformation with Bergstrom.

“These actors can take advantage of that; things with crazier scenarios are more likely to be clicked on than the report from that doctor at WHO trying to calm down the fears.”

Facebook said that when users seek information related to the virus, the social network will show “educational pop-up” boxes with information considered credible.

Facebook is also giving free advertising credits to organisations running coronavirus education campaigns.

Google-owned video sharing platform YouTube has been modifying policies and products for several years to remove harmful content and give priority to authoritative content deemed trustworthy.

“We currently do not allow content promoting dangerous remedies or cures, like videos which claim that harmful substances or treatments can have health benefits,” YouTube said.

YouTube last year began providing links to reliable information along with videos on “subjects prone to misinformation,” and added coronavirus to that list.

Fact-checks helping or not?

Social media giants have also beefed up ranks of fact-checkers, hiring outside parties such as AFP News Wire, to sort truth from fiction, even if there are questions on their effectiveness.

A recent study published in the journal Science Advances suggested fact-checking did little to stem the tide of misinformation about other epidemics such as Zika, Ebola and yellow fever.

The researchers said that “current approaches to combating misinformation and conspiracy theories about disease epidemics and outbreaks may be ineffective or even counterproductive,” and could even cause “collateral” damage by undermining trust in fact-based disease information.

Bergstrom and West questioned whether social media giants optimized for virality could stem the tide of disinformation and deceit.

“Social media company claiming it’s active participant in the fight against misinformation is like (tobacco maker) Philip Morris saying they’re active participant in the fight against lung cancer,” Bergstrom said. — AFP

Qualcomm launches Snapdragon X60 5G modem with ‘fiber-like’ internet speeds - Latest News

Qualcomm launches Snapdragon X60 5G modem with ‘fiber-like’ internet speeds – Latest News

Chipmaker Qualcomm has launched its third-generation 5G modem-to-antenna solution called Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System. The company claims that it is the world’s first 5-nanometer 5G baseband and 5G Modem-RF System to support spectrum aggregation across all key 5G bands and combinations, including mmWave and sub-6 using frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD).

The Snapdragon X60 also features the new Qualcomm QTM535 mmWave antenna module for better mmWave performance. QTM535, the company’s third-generation 5G mmWave module for mobile, features a more compact design than the previous generation which allows for thinner, sleeker smartphones.

“Snapdragon X60 allows for fiber-like internet speeds and low latency, delivered wirelessly over 5G, which will help unlock the next generation of connected applications and experiences, from highly responsive multiplayer gaming and immersive 360-degree video to connected cloud computing – all with the superior power efficiency for all-day battery life,” said the company in a statement.

“As 5G standalone networks are introduced in 2020, our third-generation 5G modem-RF platform brings extensive spectrum aggregation capabilities and options to fuel the rapid expansion of 5G rollouts while enhancing coverage, power efficiency and performance for mobile devices. We are excited about the fast adoption of 5G across geographies and the positive impact 5G is having on the user experience,” said Cristiano Amon, president, Qualcomm.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm recently launched three new chipsets — Snapdragon 720G, 662 and 460 — with support for Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) in India. NavIC has been developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) as the Indian version of GPS. Chinese smartphone brands Xiaomi and Realme have confirmed that they will be launching smartphones with NavIC support based on the new Snapdragon chipsets soon.

While GPS is very popular among smartphone users, what most people do not know is that GPS is not the only satellite navigation system. Russia uses its own GLONASS while the European Union and China have Galileo and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).