- Big tech companies face hefty fines in Britain and the European Union if they treat rivals unfairly or fail to protect users on their platforms.
- The EU outlined its long-awaited sweeping overhaul of digital regulations while the British government released its own plans to step up policing of harmful material online, signaling the next phase of technology regulation in Europe.
- The EU wants to set new rules for “digital gatekeepers” to prevent them from imposing unfair conditions, such as blocking businesses from accessing their own data or locking consumers into services and limiting their options for switching.
- The rules, known as the Digital Markets Act, set out criteria for defining companies as gatekeepers and allows for fines of up to 10% of annual global revenue.
- Another part of the EU plan, the Digital Services Act, updates the bloc’s 20-yearold rules on e-commerce by making online platforms take more responsibility for their goods and services.
- That can include weeding out shady traders and swiftly taking down illegal content such as hate speech, though in a bid to balance free speech requirements, users will be given the chance to complain.
- Violations risk fines of up to 6% of annual turnover.
- In Britain, social media and other internet companies face big fines if they don’t remove and limit the spread of harmful material such as child sexual abuse or terrorist content and protect their users.
- Under legislative proposals that the U.K. government plans to launch next year, tech companies that let people post their own material or talk to others online could be fined up to 18 million pounds ($24 million) or 10% of their annual global revenue, whichever is higher, for not complying with the rules.
- The proposals, contained in the U.K. government’s Online Safety Bill, will have extra provisions for the biggest social media companies with “high-risk features,” expected to include Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.
- These companies will face special requirements to assess whether there’s a “reasonably foreseeable risk” that content or activity that they host will cause “significant physical or psychological harm to adults,“ such as false information about coronavirus vaccines.
- All companies will have to take extra measures to protect children using their platforms.
- The new regulations will apply to any company whose online services are accessible in the U.K and those that don’t comply could be blocked.
- The UK is also reserving the right to impose criminal sanctions on senior executives, with powers it could bring into force through additional legislation if companies don’t take the new rules seriously – for example by not responding swiftly to information requests from regulators.
India Testbed for Facebook Innovations
- Mark Zuckerberg: India is increasingly becoming the testbed for innovations at Facebook
- The decisions made here shape global discussion about how technology can drive more economic opportunity and better outcome for people.
- Last month, the social network launched its payment service, WhatsApp Pay, which will run on the UPI platform.
- UPI notched up over 2 billion transactions in October
- “We support more than 50 million WhatsApp business app users globally every month already, and more than 15 million of these are in India,” said Zuckerberg.
- The third instalment of the PM-KISAN scheme, which has been due since the beginning of this month, is likely to be delayed amid ongoing farmer protests.
- The first two instalments of this fiscal were transferred within 15 days, helping farmers buy agri inputs during the Covid-19 crisis.
India – UK Ties
- India and UK have agreed to focus on trade, defence, security, climate change, health and connecting people to elevate their strategic partnership as New Delhi gets ready to host Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the 2021 Republic Day.
- The themes that would contribute to a common approach to the Indo-Pacific region dominated a four-hour meeting between foreign minister S Jaishankar and his British counterpart Dominic Raab.
- Challenges posed by terrorism and radicalism were a shared concern,” Jaishankar said.
- Incidentally, John Major was chief guest of the RDay in 1993.
- As the UK looks east, India is emerging as a key player in its strategy.
- The UK can consider to include India in a number of sectors including hard security, fintech, free and open internet initiative and space technology as part of its Indo-Pacific vision, according to experts.
- India’s exports fell 8.74% in November, steeper than 5.12% in October at $23.52 billion, dragged by petroleum goods, engineering, chemicals and gems and jewellery.
- However, the decline was lower than 9.07% as shown by preliminary data released by the commerce and industry ministry earlier this month.
- Official data released Tuesday showed India’s trade deficit touching a 10-month high of $9.87 billion in November though it narrowed from $12.75 billion in November 2019.
- Supply side disruptions including restricted container movement and declining petroleum exports due to its crashing prices have impacted exports.
- Also, farmers’ agitation has affected shipments
- Ceramics, pharmaceuticals, carpet and handicrafts were a few sectors that witnessed rise in exports.
- Exports have been seeing signs of revival as order booking position has continuously improved and more new orders are in the offing.
- Total imports declined 13.32% to $33.39 billion. However, inward shipments of gold and electronics rose last month.
FM Promises a Vibrant Budget
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman: The forthcoming Union budget will “definitely sustain the momentum of public spending in infrastructure” and have a “vibrancy” to ensure sustainable revival of the economy.
- Also, the disinvestment activity will soon pick up pace, she said at the Assocham Foundation Week.
- Public spending on infrastructure is one way that multipliers will work and ensure the economy’s revival is sustained
- The government will likely present the budget for next financial year on February 1.
- The government had borrowed ₹9.05 lakh crore as on November 20 to ensure its expenditure did not suffer. “…this is 68% more than last year,” she said.
- Recognising this is an unusual year, borrowings have been kept at levels with which the government can quickly put money back in projects, capital expenditure and so on, so that the money goes down to the ground, the minister said.
- The emphasis on public expenditure for infrastructure through central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) will be kept up and the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) was doing its best to attract overseas funds, she said.