SCIENCE & DEVELOPMENT

As US Loses its Edge, Game of Cyber Chicken Could Have Deadly Consequences

TWO major hacks – SolarWind and Microsoft Exchange server hacks – have affected a whole range of computer systems. Both are supply-chain hacks, meaning what appeared to be a routine software upgrade to a particular component in the system instead inserted malicious code. In the SolarWind hack, a backdoor in one such component was downloaded to systems of 18,000 organisations, including even the US treasury, commerce, homeland security, state department.

Vaccine Wars, the ASEAN and the Quad

THE recent Quad declaration of the US, India, Japan and Australia has not foregrounded the military axis of their meeting but stressed more on the vaccine thrust against the Covid-19 pandemic. With the threat of a second or a third wave in various countries, vaccines are emerging as the centrepiece of not only global recovery but also of global diplomacy. That is why ASEAN – or South East Asia – with its 700 million people and its huge market, is at play in vaccine competition between the US, its Quad allies and China.

Market Fundamentalism and Texas Grid Failure

THE Texas grid failure impacted millions with no electricity and no heating in sub-zero temperatures for days. It has not only caused scores of deaths and injuries, but also economic havoc in the state. Even after two weeks of the blackouts, life is far from normal as the citizens deal with frozen and burst pipes, denying people access to safe water and causing extensive damages to the houses. More than 13 million Texans were asked to boil their water as municipal water supply services were damaged.

Online News Media & Other Content: Big Leap towards Censorship

THE government announced new Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 last week, superseding the 2011 Rules which mainly addressed intermediaries. The new rules provide for regulation of all kinds of online media, including intermediaries like Facebook or Google, over-the-top streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, messaging services like Twitter or Whatsapp, and news and current affairs websites. While we may touch upon the other media, focus here will be online news media.

Science, Technology & Innovation Policy 2020

THE government has released a Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP 2020) and invited responses by January 31, 2021. The Department of Science & Technology and the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government did conduct a series of consultations with some scientists and other experts to seek, albeit prior to the actual formulation and release of the policy document leading to considerable disgruntlement in this community.

Science, Technology & Innovation Policy 2020

THEgovernment has released a Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP 2020) and invited responses by January 31, 2021. The Department of Science & Technology and the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government did conduct a series of consultations with some scientists and other experts to seek, albeit prior to the actual formulation and release of the policy document leading to considerable disgruntlement in this community.

Vaccine Nationalism

THE world seems to have turned topsy-turvy when the undisputed voices of global capital start talking about the virtues of “cooperation” among nations and “universal vaccination” in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. The International Monetary Fund, in its latest report, talks about “strong multilateral cooperation” and “universal distribution of vaccines...at affordable prices for all” for the global economy to recover.

Forced Consent and no Transparency Can Create a Backlash Against Vaccines

THE drug regulator's hurried emergency clearance to Bharat Bio-tech's Covaxin in a clinical trial mode has been followed by the government making it integral to its mass vaccination drive. It has bought 1.1 crore doses of Serum Institute-Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and another 55 lakh from Bharat Biotech. According to the government, neither states nor individuals will have a choice with regards to vaccines. Besides, those vaccinated with Covaxin, are being "asked" to sign a consent form that they have "voluntarily" agreed to participate in a Covaxin clinical trial.

The Ugly Truth Behind WhatsApp's Data Privacy

WHATSAPP, a company owned by Facebook since 2014, has issued a new privacy policy changing its data-sharing rules, which will come into effect by February 8, 2021. In this new policy, WhatsApp has declared that it will share data with Facebook, its parent company, about users' chats, connections, location and device information, transactions and payments. It will also share data of our interactions with other businesses that use Facebook as a platform. The public outcry over the new privacy policy has prompted an exodus to much safer alternatives like Signal.

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