Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Google told to expand right to be forgotten

Google is under fresh pressure to expand the "right to be forgotten" to its international .com search tool.

A panel of EU data protection watchdogs said the move was necessary to prevent the law from being circumvented.

Google currently de-lists results that appear in the European versions of its search engines, but not the international one.

According to the report in BBC News, The panel said it would advise member states' data protection agencies of its view in new guidelines.

Source: BBC News

At present, visitors are diverted to localised editions of the US company's search tool - such as and - when they initially try to visit the site.

However, a link is provided at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen offering an option to switch to the international .com version. This link does not appear if the users attempted to go to a regional version in the first place.

Even so, it means it is possible for people in Europe to easily opt out of the censored lists. The data watchdogs said this "cannot be considered a sufficient means to guarantee the rights" of citizens living in the union's 28 member countries.

A spokesman for Google said: "We haven't yet seen the Article 29 Working Party's guidelines, but we will study them carefully when they're published."

Balancing act

The right to be forgotten was established in May by a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union.

It said a Spaniard had the right to stop an article referring to his financial troubles appearing in Google's results, bearing in mind the event had happened 16 years before and he had put his troubles behind him. The decision did not affect the article actual presence on the net.

The court added that judgements about other complaints would need to balance "sensitivity for the data subject's private life [against] the interest of the public in having that information".

The European Commission later clarified that search engines would have to delete information if they had received a request from the person affected by the result and had judged that it met the court's criteria for deletion. In cases where search engines decide not to remove the links, the person involved can take the matter to their local data watchdog or the courts.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Alibaba turned singledom into the world's biggest online shopping holiday

Five years ago, Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant that went public in September with the biggest IPO ever, co-opted the date. In a bid to increase sales in the lull between China’s Golden Week national holiday in October and the Christmas season, Alibaba started to offer deals on its online shopping platforms, touting the day as an excuse for self-gifting and personal indulgence.

In 2009, consumers spent 50m yuan (£5m) and 27 merchants offer discounts.

In 2012, Alibaba, which acts as an online marketplace similar to Amazon or eBay, trademarked several terms relating to Singles Day.

In 2013, 20,000 retailers took part, and Singles Day sales overtook Cyber Monday’s $1.46bn (£0.92bn) worth of sales by 8.42am. Over the whole day, consumers spent $5.8bn -- far more than the combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales from all US companies.

And this year looks set to trump that. According to an Alibaba-related Twitter feed, which is live-tweeting the shopping frenzy, consumers spent 1bn yuan (£100m) in the first three minutes and $1bn (£630m) in the first 17 minutes. Within the first hour, shoppers had spent more than $2bn. Read detailed article.

According to a report, There is a vast potential for the e-commerce sector to grow in India with the implementation of the Digital India programme, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Communications & IT Minister, said at the 10th national summit on E-governance & Digital India organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in New Delhi yesterday.

Prasad said, “I see a vast opportunity for e-commerce…I see almost an explosion of various kind of availability of services through e-commerce.”

Retail exports (e-tailing) is a growing sector in India and e-commerce plays a key role in it. According to the Federation of Indian Exporters Association (FIEO), e-commerce exports from India in 2013 are estimated at around $1 billion and expected to grow over 100% in 2014.

Meanwhile, more and more people in India are trying to sell their products online. According to Ravi Shankar Prasad, people in rural India are looking up to the success of e-commerce-based companies such as India’s Flipkart and China’s Alibaba. He said, “We can have couple of Alibaba(s) in coming future if we are able to rollout this [Digital India] programme very well.”

The Digital India programme aims to improve Internet and telecom connectivity in the rural parts of India in three years. According to official sources, around 50,000 panchayats currently have access to the Internet through optical fibre network. The Digital India programme targets expanding it to over 2,50,000 panchayats by 2016-17.

Prasad also said that there is a need to encourage electronic manufacturing in India. At present, India imports electronic goods worth $100 billion annually and it is estimated to grow to over $400 billion by 2020, which will be more than India’s fuel imports. Prasad said that the government is providing incentives to companies and urged domestic manufacturers to produce low cost smartphones to help people in the rural parts get access to e-governance and other online services.