Google not expected to check every upload says Italian court – Source The Economic Times

 Internet platforms like Google cannot be forced to filter every video uploaded by users without endangering freedom of thought and their own functionality, an Italian court ruling made public on Wednesday said.

 

The details of the ruling were made public 60 days after the Milan court acquitted three Google executives of charges of having violated the privacy of an Italian boy with autism by allowing a video, showing him being bullied, to be posted on the site in 2006.

The decision in December overturned a previous court ruling in 2010 which had sentenced the executives to a six-month suspended jail sentence, reigniting a debate about privacy over the Internet.

“The possibility must be ruled out that a service provider, which offers active hosting can carry out effective, pre-emptive checks of the entire content uploaded by its users,” the court said in the public ruling reviewed by Reuters.

“An obligation for the Internet company to prevent the defamatory event would impose on the same company a pre-emptive filter on all the data uploaded on the network, which would alter its own functionality.”

The case arose in 2006 when four students at a Turin school uploaded a mobile phone clip to Google Video showing them bullying the boy.

The prosecutors accused Google of negligence, saying the video remained online for two months even though some Web users had already posted comments asking for it to be taken down.

Google said it had removed the video immediately after being notified and cooperated with Italian authorities to help identify the bullies and bring them to justice.

Googles has always maintained that, as hosting platforms that do not create their own content, Google Video,YouTube and Facebook cannot be held responsible for content that others upload.

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Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE may have an edge over Samsung and Apple in emerging markets – Source The Economic Times

The next billion people to connect to the internet in developing countries will do so largely via smartphones, prompting a battle that could favour low-price Chinese manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE over market leaders Samsung and Apple. 

Fixed-line telephone networks are often weak in emerging markets and building new ones is expensive, and so smartphones are becoming a vital way to connect populations to the web and bolster economic growth. 

Consumers in markets from Nigeria to Indonesia are hungry for features now standard in the United States and Europe that allow them to tweet or watch video on the go. 

The challenge for smartphone makers is offering those features at a price local populations can afford. 

Manoj Kohli, chief executive of Indian operator Bharti AirtelBSE 0.86 %, said emerging market consumers were ready to leapfrog basic phone models and go straight for smartphones, but that prices could not come down fast enough. 

“People in the developing world are going straight to the mobile Internet,” he said in a keynote session at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. 

The focus on low-price smartphones could step up the challenge to market leaders Apple and Samsung , which are best-known for their top-end iPhone and Galaxy S3 models. 

Lenovo, known for its PC business, has quietly become the fifth-biggest smartphone maker in the world by almost exclusively focusing on a single market: its home country China. 

It is now expanding into Indonesia, India and Russia in a bid to appeal to the rising middle classes there. 

And Huawei and ZTE have built share by bringing features pioneered by Apple and Samsung such as touch screens, fast processors and better cameras to the market at prices around $100. 

OPPORTUNITIES 

The opportunities in emerging markets appear huge. Just 4 per cent of Africans had smartphones in 2012, according to research group Informa. The figure was slightly higher at 11 per cent in the developing countries in the Asia Pacific region. In comparison, North America had the highest take up of web-connected phones, at 47 per cent. 

Between 2012 and 2017, telecoms consultancy Ovum expects that there will be 1.6 billion new mobile connections across the world, with 61 per cent of these coming from Asia-Pacific. Africa will be the fastest-growing region, with mobile connections growing at a compound annual rate of 6.5 per cent. 

Lenovo’s Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said strong price competition among Chinese players had resulted in a smartphone boom in the country of 1.3 billion. Of all the phones sold in 2012, he said 70 per cent were smartphones, and he’s looking to repeat the trick elsewhere in Asia and Russia.

Indian IT companies like HCL Technologies, TCS pounce on HP deals – Source The Economic Times

In the wild, it is a common strategy for the predator to single out the weakest prey and chase it down for a kill. In the cut-throat market for outsourcing deals, too, it works much the same way, and a woundedHewlett-Packard is fair game for Indian software companies desperate to win new contracts. “Indian outsourcing companies are aggressively attacking HP, which is a very vulnerable target right now,” said Peter Bendor-Samuel, founder and CEO at Everest Group, a Texas-based outsourcing advisory and market research firm.

HP, sitting on plum contracts with the likes of American Express and Bank of America, is vulnerable as these deals worth billions of dollars are coming up for renewal. About $100 billion (Rs 5.4 lakh crore) worth of IT outsourcing deals will expire in 2013, the Everest Group estimates, with 15% of it being with HP. PC maker HP entered IT services with its 2008 buy of EDS for $14 billion, but successive leadership changes in 2010-11, took a toll on investor confidence. HP, whose shares have fallen 60% since early 2010, recently wrote down about $8 billion in the value of its services business and is cutting about 29,000 jobs, raising a red flag for clients. Bangalorebased MphasiSBSE 0.03 %, earlier an EDS company, is now part of HP. While every outsourcer in the top tier is competing hard for HP’s clients, the most aggressive and successful ones are HCL TechnologiesBSE 0.45 % and Tata Consultancy ServicesBSE 0.67 %, observers said.

So while the success rate for Indian companies in the renewal market is around 30%, TCSBSE 0.67 % and HCL Technologies are winning 60% of the renewals involving HP clients. While the companies declined to comment for this story, those familiar with their functioning said the sales teams are systematically chasing and winning clients from HP.

“Large clients working with HP for last the 5-7 years are seeing relationship fatigue and are ready to work with new vendors,” said a senior industry executive, requesting anonymity. “What we are promising instead is more value with lower price, transparency in delivery and flexibility.” The fate of HP, which Chief Executive Meg Whitman is looking to rebuild, is neither new nor unique.

Budget 2013: Tax waiver to help small IT companies to move businesses to SEZs – Source The Economic Times

The profit from special economic zones(SEZs) now attracts minimum alternative tax or MAT. A tax waiver in the Union Budget 2013 will help small and medium IT companies to move their businesses to SEZs swiftly. 

Moreover, the licensing of software attracts both value added tax(VAT) as well as service tax. The sector expects the government to remove the anomaly and thereby reducing the duty burden on software end users. 

For hardware firms, the current duty structure makes imported products cheaper than locally assembled products. 

Therefore, The industry would like to see initiatives on tweaking the duty to promote local manufacturing and assembling of hardware components. 

The information technology sector’s wishlist for the Budget includes more spending on nation’s cyber security and infrastructure as well as exempting hardware components from import duties. 

While software industry body Nasscom hopes the government will spend more on IT-led development initiatives, hardware grouping Manufacturers Association of Information Technology is looking for more tax exemption. 

“The government has recognised the role of IT, but we need important allocations in cyber security andentrepreneurship,” said Bishakha Bhattacharya, director of government relations at Nasscom. 

Nasscom also wants the government to provide sops encouraging investment and promoting the culture of entrepreneurship. 

The hardware sector wants exemption of customs duty on imported hardware components. Anwar Shirpurwala, executive director of MAIT, said there has been little focus on encouraging electronic goods manufacturing within the country and expensive tax structures often discourage those interested in setting up plants.

What does Yahoo’s work from home ban mean for Indian cos – Source The Economic Times

 Soon after internet giantYahoo took away employee freedom to work from home, Indian companies are slowly voicing hitherto unexpressed concerns about productivity losses such flexibility may cause. ”Flexitime is a utopian concept that is not going to help anyone,” says K Ramkumar, Executive Director, ICICI Bank.

“Whatever is not natural to the market and commerce, will not work. Customer is the king.” India Inc has mostly celebrated work from home or remote work as a best practice to attract and retain talent. Hardly anyone has yet voiced concerns of productivity losses such practices may cause.
“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” a Yahoo memo announcing the rollback observed. “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings,” it added.

Some HR heads of companies that have given employees such flexibility are now beginning to echo Yahoo’s concerns. None of them have yet moved to curb the practice, nor have they given any indication that they may consider such a move. “In India, unlike the west, employees do not have a separate office space in their homes. In that way, productivity could get hampered if one works from home,” says Saurabh Govil, vice-president HR, Wipro.

The company offers flexi-work on a case-to-case basis. In the US though, Wipro has been asking its people to come to office, especially those who do not have to stay at customer’s site. “Coming to office helps in developing a culture that is crucial; even small water cooler conversations are important,” Govil adds. Srimathi Shivashankar, AVP & Head – Diversity & Sustainability, HCL Technologies, says working out of home in India is quite challenging. 

“If you ask me whether Indian homes give women/men this kind of work ambience then my answer is no,” she says. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, extended family members have very little understanding that working from home is equivalent to working at office and that the individual should be supported to stay productive. 

Secondly, the household support staff do take holidays, leaving the individual working from home with household chores. Thirdly, when it comes to telecommunication/calls/online meetings, Indian households with noisy surroundings have a good distance to traverse vis-a-vis our western counterparts. Fourthly, network connectivity and security is still an issue in many cities. Lastly, power cuts across Indian states also act as a dampener on productivity. HCL Technologies introduced flexiwork options one-and-a-half year ago despite these challenges. Unlike 5-6 years ago, when such flexibility first found its way into Indian workplaces, the pressures of the recent economic slowdown may also be forcing companies to reconsider their assumptions. 

“Now companies have other concerns like top line and bottom line. They are insisting on ownership and accountability from their employees,” says Saundarya Rajesh, founder president, AVTAR Career Creators & FLEXI Careers India. Mahindra & Mahindra, which employs 150,000 employees, says such flexibility works only when there is a structure around it. It works only where one can measure productivity and performance, says Prince Augustin, EVP – Group Human Capital & Leadership Development at Mahindra & Mahindra. 

“If work is more individual-oriented then he should be allowed to work from home because otherwise you may end up losing the person. Also it definitely helps to attract women employees as well,” adds Augustin. However, some like Infosys still root for work from home. “Our experience has been that when used appropriately, such interventions aid productivity and help employees contribute their best,” says outgoing HR head Nandita Gurjar.

Barring a handful of progressive companies, work from home remains a hazy concept in India. At a CEO Forum last week, Sairee Chahal, co-founder of Fleximoms, a diversity hiring and back-to-work specialist, was at pains to explain work from home concept to the CEO of an e-commerce start-up. The assumption of the CEO was that work from home is not a serious approach work and that people who opt for it, want a lighter job. 

“In India, work from home is a fearful concept for most organisations,” says Chahal. For every five job applications that Fleximoms gets, it receives 25-30 applications for work from home jobs. “By overlooking this talent pool, companies are doing themselves a disservice,” she says. Interweave Consulting, a firm that works with companies on work life balance and diversity, says that it is a complicated process and can not be a free for all. The firm has advised IBM, Cadbury and HSBC on the same.

LG launching Galaxy S3 rival Optimus G @ Rs 30,990 – Source The Economic Times

 LG is all set to launch its erstwhile flagshipsmartphone Optimus G in India at an event in Mumbai on February 27. This device is pitted against the current market leader Samsung Galaxy S III and is the basis for the highly popular Google Nexus 4. India will be among the first countries outside the US, Canada, Japan and South Korea, as the device is yet to hit Europe as well as other major markets. The phone is available on online retail sites in the country at Rs30,990 even before its launch. 

The LG Optimus G comes with a 4.7-inch True HD IPS touch-screen that supports resolution of 1280x768p and 318ppi pixel density. This smartphone runs onAndroid 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and packs a 1.5GHz quad-core processor under the hood, supported by 2GB RAM. It has 32GB in-built memory and does not support microSD expansion. 

A highlight of LG Optimus G is its 13MP rear camera with LED flash, since most rivals (including Galaxy S III) come with an 8MP sensor. On the front panel of LG’s new phone in India is a 1.3MP unit. Connectivity features in the device include 2G, 3G, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB 2.0. It is powered by a 2,100mAh battery and comes with Dolby mobile sound enhancement technology. 

LG in January announced that the sales of Optimus G clocked 1 million units within four months of launch in just four markets. It recently said it aims to increase smartphone shipments in 2013 by 52% and attain sales of 40 million units this year. 

Despite the new launch, LG will find its presence lacking in the top rung as new smartphones that boast of better features and are priced higher have already hit India. While Nokia and HTC rolled out their top-of-the-line smartphones Lumia 920 and Butterfly in India in January, BlackBerry announced the launch of its Z10 earlier this week. Sources say that Sony is also gearing up to launch its flagship Xperia Z in the country next week at a price of approximately Rs 45,000. 

In this space, Apple and Samsung have previously launched leading devices like iPhone 5 and Galaxy Not II, respectively. LG’s new flagship smartphone, Optimus G Pro, has been officially announced in South Korea but there is no word on its arrival in India.

Intel launches latest platform for crunching Big Data – Source The Economic TImes

Intel launched a new software platform for number-crunching on a massive scale, its latest offering in a growing field that it hopes will boost sales of its powerful server chips. 

The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker is one of a growing number of technology companies that want to help organizations find value in Big Data – the analysis of vast troves of information that can be culled from social media, Web searches, financial records, and other mountains of digital facts and figures. 

Intel unveiled its third customized version of Hadoop, the open-source software that aggregates results from large sets of data and is widely used in Big Data analysis. 

Intel’s tweaks to Hadoop optimize it to work better with solid-state drives as well as other improvements, Boyd Davis, vice president of Intel’s architecture group and general manager of the datacenter software division, said at a news event on Tuesday. 

Intel hopes that developing software to encourage more companies to leap into Big Data analysis will lead to higher sales of its high-end Xeon server processors. 

“One of our biggest motivators is to drive faster growth of the data center itself,” Davis said. 

Intel plans to distribute its version of Hadoop through vendors and service providers and will also sell its own technical support services.