Facebook to ban deepfake videos

Agencies
January 7,2020

Washington, Jan 7: Facebook will ban deepfake videos ahead of the US elections but the new policy will still allow heavily edited clips so long as they are parody or satire, the social media giant said Tuesday.

Deepfake videos are hyper-realistic doctored clips made using artificial intelligence or programs that have been designed to accurately fake real human movements.

In a blog published following a Washington Post report, Facebook said it would begin removing clips that were edited--beyond for clarity and quality--in ways that "aren't apparent to an average person" and could mislead people.

Clips would be removed if they were "the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic," the statement from Facebook vice-president Monika Bickert said.

However, the statement added: "This policy does not extend to content that is parody or satire, or video that has been edited solely to omit or change the order of words."

US media noted the new guidelines would not cover videos such as the 2019 viral clip -- which was not a deepfake -- of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that appeared to show her slurring her words.

Facebook also gave no indication on the number of people assigned to identify and take down the offending videos, but said videos failing to meet its usual guidelines would be removed, and those flagged clips would be reviewed by teams of third-party fact-checkers -- among them AFP.

The news agency has been paid by the social media giant to fact-check posts across 30 countries and 10 languages as part of a program starting in December 2016, and including more than 60 organisations.

Content labeled "false" is not always removed from newsfeeds but is downgraded so fewer people see it -- alongside a warning explaining why the post is misleading.

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BSNL employees to protest against cancellation of 4G tender, non-payment of salaries

Agencies
July 15,2020

New Delhi, Jul 15: The employees union of state-run telecom operator BSNL will stage protests across the country on Thursday on a host of issues including the cancellation of its 4G tender and non-payment of salaries.

All major unions are organising ‘lunch-hour black-flag' demonstrations throughout the country under the banner of All Unions and Association of BSNL (AUAB), said a statement by AUAB. These demonstrations will be organised, by maintaining social distancing and by taking other precautions, like wearing of masks. The BSNL employees will also wear black-badges the whole day on July 16.

The employees body would demand that BSNL should immediately be allowed to roll out its 4G services and the tender should be issued immediately. Further, they want that in the matter of procuring new equipment and upgradation, there should not be any discrimination between BSNL and other private telecom service providers.

Recently, the Centre cancelled the 4G upgradation tender for BSNL as it had decided to come up with fresh specifications for the upgrade process, in a move to keep Chinese technology companies at bay as the border tussle escalated with the northern neighbour.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) would issue a fresh tender for the same, and people in the know said that Chinese companies may not be allowed to participate.

"The agitational programme is being organised to express the deep anguish and resentment of the employees against cancellation of BSNL's 4G tender, cancellation of BSNL's proposal for upgradation of its 49,300 BTSs to 4G, abnormal delay in issuing ‘Add on Order' for 4G equipments, inordinate delay in the implementation of BSNL's Revival Package and against the non-settlement of the burning problems of the employees," said the statement.

The umbrella body of BSNL's employees' unions noted that rolling out of 4G services is the backbone for the revival of this telecom PSU, but the recent cancellation of the tender floated by BSNL for procuring 4G equipment at a cost of Rs 9,300 crore, has brought the company back to square one.

It said that BSNL is already having 49,300 base transceiver stations (BTS), which are 4G compatible and through minor upgradation, all these equipment can be converted into 4G BTSs with an investment of about Rs 1,500 crore.

In addition to this, BSNL could have added another 15,000 BTSs, by placing an Add on Order to the existing mobile tender, it added.

Noting that in October 2019, the PSU could have rolled out pan-India 4G services, AUAB said: "Being the sole owner of the company, the Government of India also cannot shirk its responsibility in this matter."

"Adding insult to injury, the tender floated by BSNL to procure 4G equipment, has been cancelled by the government, based on a complaint from the Telecom Equipments and Services Promotional Council (TEPC)," it said.

AUAB said that BSNL is already lagging four years behind the private operators, in terms of 4G and the cancellation of the tender is going to inordinately delay the company's 4G launch.

Saying that TEPC's contention has been to bar foreign companies from participating in BSNL's tender, AUAB statement pointed out that when private operators are procuring equipment from multinationals, "why BSNL alone should be compelled to procure 4G equipments from domestic vendors, whose 4G technology is not tested or proven so far."

It alleged a conspiracy to destabilise BSNL by disrupting its rolling out of 4G services.

AUAB further said that even after the lapse of nine months, the implementation of the much publicised BSNL's Revival Package is moving at a snail's pace.

"Except the swift retrenchment of 79,000 BSNL employees under VRS, all other assurances given in BSNL's Revival Package have been put in cold storage."

The management should ensure that the salary payment of the employees is made on the last working day of every month. Deductions made from employees' salary, on account of "society dues", should immediately be remitted, it said.

Regarding the monetisation of the company's assets under the revival package, the organisation said that the land asset should not be handed over to corporates, at "throwaway" prices.

"These lands should be sold in a transparent manner and at the prevailing market rates. They should not be sold at book value or at circle rates. The AUAB will strictly monitor these dealings," it said.

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Siddaramaiah says BJP trying to destabilise Congress government in Rajasthan

News Network
July 28,2020

Bengaluru, Jul 28: Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Monday alleged that BJP is trying to destabilise the Congress government in Rajasthan.

"It is the duty of the Governor to act according to the decision of the state cabinet. But he is acting like a central government puppet," he said at a protest organised here by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).

He said the Congress is protesting across the country to save democracy and save the constitution.

"We are not fighting through violence. We are protesting peacefully. The Constitution has given the right to protest in a democratic system," he said.

He accused the BJP of "being disrespectful" to the Constitution.

"Governments must walk within the framework of the Constitution. The Constitution gives everyone rights and duties. BJP destabilises elected governments and buys our legislators by horse-trading by spending crores of money. The same thing happened in Karnataka as well," he alleged.

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NCW issues notice to celebrities on complaint against company promoter for 'sexually assaulting' girls

Agencies
August 2,2020

New Delhi, Aug 2: The National Commission for Women (NCW) has issued notice to some Bollywood celebrities named in a complaint against the promoter of a company for allegedly blackmailing and sexually assaulting a number of girls on the pretext of giving them a career in modelling.

Taking cognizance of the complaint filed by social activist Yogita Bhayana of People Against Rape in India (PARI), the NCW scheduled a virtual hearing presided by its chairperson on August 6.

The complaint against Sunny Verma, promoter of a company named IMG Ventures with its headquarter in Chandigarh, alleged that he has been blackmailing and sexually assaulting a number of girls on the pretext of giving them career in modelling.

PARI's Yogita Bhayana wrote a complaint letter to NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma.

"Through his company, he (Sunny Verma) invites the girls on the pretext of organising a Miss Asia contest with a claim that the contest will launch them as models. To make it look genuine, his company has also been taking an entry fee of Rs 2,950. Once the girls apply, they are alluded by the female accomplices of Sunny Verma to submit their nude pictures in order to get the better ranking in the contest," the complaint letter said on July 31.

It alleged that Verma, after receiving the pictures and sometimes even before, used to get in touch with the girls and ask for completely nude pictures and videos.

The complaint letter said that Verma also used to allude as well as threaten the girls to submit to his sexual desires if they were interested in modelling as a career or wish to win the contest.

"Once he established a physical relationship with the girls, he used to blackmail them for regular sexual favours. Many girls from across the country have suffered a sexual and mental assault from Sunny and his accomplices," said the complaint citing several letters, texts and audio clips from several girls as proof of this modus operandi of Sunny Verma and his company.

The complaint also said that Sunny Verma has been previously also arrested on charges of sexual assault.

"We would demand that NCW should investigate the case to its depth and get the guilty punished so that any other person should not dare to exploit these kinds of innocent girls on any pretext. It will be a message to people like Sunny Verma and all associated Bollywood stars. Looking forward to strict action from NCW against sexual offenders like Sunny Verma & others," the complaint said.

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