IT is as certain as we can be in science that we will lose the Antarctic ice sheet within the next 200-500 years, leading to a devastating rise of about four metres in sea level. Worse, the process is now irreversible. Two separate studies --- one by the NASA used satellite and airborne radar data for the past 40 years, and the other by European Space Agency's CryoSat2 satellite that measured the height of the glaciers --- have both come to very similar conclusions. The Antarctic is losing ice from the glaciers at approximately 160 billion tonnes a year.
NETmundial – a global conference on Internet governance – was held last week in Sao Paulo (April 23-24) and ended with a non-binding outcome statement that was weak on surveillance and with some gains for big business. Big business managed to smuggle in some measures to help them on intellectual property and managed to bury net neutrality, considered a major issue for Internet users, into a future action section.
THE recent disclosures that have come in the press that Vodafone and Verizon have helped their “parent” spy outfits – GCHQ (UK) and NSA (USA) – to spy on the Indian telecom network will not be a shock to the readers of this column. We have been writing on the dangers that foreign owned telecom companies pose to the Indian network as they can be used as Trojan horse.
THE third most important set of revelations from Snowden's treasure trove of NSA documents took place last week. Der Spiegel, a leading German newspaper, published a set of reports that show how networks and computers have been compromised by the NSA. This was complemented by Jacob Appelbaum's address in the 30th Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg, which brought out the range of methods that NSA uses to take over and eavesdrop on networks and systems. What also stands out is the number of American companies that have such “backdoors” in their systems and equipment.
A RECENT notification, dated September 25, 2013, by the ministry of personnel of the government of India is virtually a vote of no-confidence on India’s health system. The notification amends existing laws regarding entitlements available to senior government officials to receive treatment abroad for what are identified as ‘complex’ medical conditions. The amended rules make it easier for such treatment and the government also takes upon itself the responsibility to pay all the medical costs as well as the travel and related costs of the patient and an attendant.