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India Journalism Tech

WhatsApp Says It Filed Suit in India to Prevent Tracing of Encrypted Messages

WhatsApp India lawsuit WSJ

That’s the headline on a story out Wednesday by my colleague Jeff Horwitz and me. It begins:

Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp said it filed a lawsuit in India to stop new government rules that would require the company to trace users’ encrypted messages, escalating a battle over online speech between American tech firms and the South Asian nation’s ruling party.

The messaging service, by far the largest in India, said in a statement that it filed the suit late Tuesday with the New Delhi High Court. The company has argued that the new rules violate Indian law because tracing individuals’ messages would violate their fundamental right to privacy.

Click through to read the rest.

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India Journalism Tech

Indian Police Visit Twitter’s Office After Politician’s Tweet Is Labeled as Misleading

Twitter India

That’s the headline on a story I wrote that run on Tuesday. It begins:

Indian police visited Twitter Inc.’s office in New Delhi to investigate the company’s labeling of tweets from a ruling party spokesman as misleading, the government’s latest move against U.S. tech platforms amid criticism over its handling of the pandemic.

Sambit Patra, a spokesman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, in posts last week shared what he said was a document from the main opposition party purporting to show instructions for criticizing Mr. Modi’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. India has in recent weeks reported record highs of daily cases and deaths, making it the world’s worst current outbreak.

Twitter appended a label to Mr. Patra’s tweets stating that they contained “manipulated media.” A company policy prohibits the posting of images or videos that Twitter determines may be doctored and could cause harm.

Click through to read the rest.

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Newley's Notes

NN264: Giddy Goldens

Greater Idaho

Sent as a newsletter on May 23,2021. Didn’t arrive in your inbox? Join my email list.

👋 Hi friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

🤨 Image of the week, above: Oregone? Probably not. See link number three, below, for more. Image via KTVB.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 🆕 My latest, out Saturday: India’s Covid–19 Crisis Tests the World’s Back Offices. It begins:

India’s giant outsourcing firms are facing a two-front challenge: protecting the health of millions of employees as the nation suffers the world’s worst Covid–19 crisis, and ensuring that their work continues as usual for the big Western companies on their client lists.

Click through to read the rest.

2) 🏠 Home prices are climbing in the U.S., leaving would-be buyers scrambling – and not just in big cities, but in towns like Bethlehem, Pa., Martin, Tenn. and Kendallville, Ind. [WSJ]

3) 🇺🇸 The majority of residents in five counties in largely conservative Eastern Oregon – Grant, Baker, Lake, Sherman and Malheur – voted to secede from the state and join Idaho. See map above. It’s unlikely to happen. [New York Times]

4) 🏛️ New York Times Magazine profile of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a prominent historian at Princeton: “He Wants to Save Classics From Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?” [NY Times Magazine]

5) 💀 RIP, IE: Microsoft is shutting down Internet Explorer, its long-running but little used web browser, after more than two and a half decades. [The Verge]

6) 😯 Related: Eight years after killing off Google Reader, is Google re-embracing RSS in their mobile Chrome browser? [Tech Crunch]

7) 📖 …And yet more on the theme of aging tech: “Welcome to My Rare and Antiquarian eBook Shop.” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]

8) ⚡ Ford is releasing an electric version of its popular F–150 pickup truck. It starts at under $40,000 and has a large front trunk it calls…the “Mega Power Frunk.”

9) 🎧 Podcast of the week: Sarah Hallberg, a doctor specializing in obesity and diabetes, talks to Peter Attia about carbohydrates and metabolic disease – and shares her own moving story about being diagnosed with lung cancer. Inspirational.

10) 🎸 Monday is Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday. Amazing.

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week:

This made me realize that I may, in fact, be a Golden Retriever.” [Imgur]

•••

📚 What I’ve Been Reading:

🪁 I want to learn more about early U.S. history, so have been digging into Walter Isaacson’s 2003 biography of a founding father: “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.” I’m liking it. To wit…

💡 Quote of the week:

“What you seem to be, be really.” – Benjamin Franklin

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
India Journalism Tech

India’s Covid-19 Crisis Tests the World’s Back Offices

India IT firms and Covid

That’s the headline on my latest story, out Saturday. It begins:

India’s giant outsourcing firms are facing a two-front challenge: protecting the health of millions of employees as the nation suffers the world’s worst Covid-19 crisis, and ensuring that their work continues as usual for the big Western companies on their client lists.

Companies like Infosys Ltd., Wipro Ltd. and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., known as TCS, have built up armies of workers who serve global clients like Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc.’s Citibank and Vanguard Group, doing everything from running call centers to writing computer code. The companies, along with Western tech businesses with large India-based staffs, are dealing with absences of sick workers, trying to help stricken employees find oxygen and getting vaccine shots for others at a time when such resources are scarce.

Click through to read the rest.

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Newley's Notes

NN263: Restin’ Retrievers

SABEW tweet

Sent as an email newsletter on May 9,2021. Didn’t arrive in your inbox? Join my email list to get future editions delivered directly.

👋 Hi friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

Tweet of the week, above: from my colleague Anthony DeRosa on Friday.

✍️ I’m proud to say that my colleague Jeff Horwitz and I won a “Best in Business” award from SABEW (the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing) for our coverage of Facebook in India.

You can find more info on the SABEW website here, and judges’ comments here.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 👉 Reuters has the latest from what is “the worst outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years”: Israel bombs Hamas Gaza chief’s home as fighting enters seventh day. [Reuters]

2) 💻 A fuel pipeline operator paid hackers approximately $5 million in ransom, according to people familiar with the matter, after being shut down in a cyberattack. [WSJ]

3) 🙅‍♂️ Dozens of state attorneys general want Facebook to stop its plans for a version of Instagram for kids. [CNN]

4) 🦠 Axios: “The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream.” [Axios]

5) 🇨🇳 China Lands on Mars in Crowning Moment for Space Program [WSJ].

6) 🛸 Ezra Klein: “Even if You Think Discussing Aliens Is Ridiculous, Just Hear Me Out.” (Separately, look for a new “60 Minutes” report on UFOs airing today.)

7) 🏙 “While the ‘15-minute city’ model promotes neighborhood-level urban planning, Sweden is pursuing a hyper-local twist: a scheme to redesign every street in the nation.” [Bloomberg CityLab]

8) 🦑 “A seaside town in Japan has raised eyebrows after it used funding from an emergency Covid–19 relief grant to build a giant statue of a squid.” [BBC News]

9) 🤓 Digital tool of the week: Push to Kindle lets you send “news stories, blog posts and other web articles to your Kindle for a better reading experience​.” [Five Filters]

10) Highly clickable: a Map of Reddit, by Andrei Kashcha [Github]

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week:

An Extremely Rare Triple Snoot Boop.” [Reddit]

💡 Quote of the week:

“What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our own mind." — Buddha

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Journalism

My Colleague and I Won a SABEW Award for our Coverage of Facebook in India

SABEW

I’m proud to say that my colleague Jeff Horwitz and were honored earlier this week with a 2020 “Best in Business” award from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) for our coverage of Facebook in India. We won the international reporting award (for large news organizations).

From the judging comments:

“This well-documented set of impactful stories reveals how Facebook and its executives in India are conflicted, or even willfully blind, when company policy calls for blocking hate speech but company interests include working with a governing party closely linked to that hate speech.”

And:

“Sobering reporting on a fundamental worldwide concern that resonates strongly with the ongoing turmoil over social media and hate speech in the U.S.”

Among our stories on the topic, which I’ve linked to here before:

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN262: Bouncy Berneses

Hong Kong license plate Dee Krub good in Thai

Sent as an email newsletter on May 9,2021. Didn’t arrive in your inbox? Join my email list to get future editions delivered directly.

👋 Hi friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

🇹🇭 🙏 Image of the week, above: a license plate I spotted recently here in Hong Kong that says “good” in Thai. That’s “dee” (ดี), “good,” followed by “krup” (คฺรับ), a word often used by male speakers for added politeness.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 👉 🎧 I was on our “The Journal” podcast Tuesday talking about my recent story on India, Covid–19, and accusations that the government is censoring social media. You can listen online here, or find the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other services. [WSJ]

2) 🦠 Is “herd immunity” in the U.S. a pipe dream? Experts say the answer is yes. The consensus is that “the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.” [New York Times]

3) 😷 “Progressive communities have been home to some of the fiercest battles over COVID–19 policies, and some liberal policy makers have left scientific evidence behind.” [The Atlantic]

4) 💔 Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing after 27 years. What will happen to their $49.8 billion foundation? What about their 66,000-square-foot, $131 million Seattle mansion? [WSJ, New York Times]

5) 🔍 How Google, which like many firms has long used open office plans, is redesigning its workspaces for a post-pandemic world. [New York Times]

6) 🛸 “For decades, flying saucers were a punch line. Then the U.S. government got over the taboo.” [New Yorker]

7) 💅 Aesthetics Wiki is a compendium of personal styles ranging from the more well-known (preppy, brocore, normcore) to many I’d never heard of (dark academic, cottagecore). Who knew? [aesthetics dot fandom dot com]

8) 🚙 A state senator in Ohio participated in a Zoom meeting while driving, apparently adjusting his background to make it look like he was at home. [Gizmodo]

9) 🔦 Lights at Sea is a clickable map of the world’s lighthouses. More info here. (Github, Big Think)

10) 👏 Epic: “A 4-year-old cartoon fanatic from Brooklyn went a little overboard by buying nearly $3,000 worth of nonrefundable SpongeBob SquarePants Popsicles on Amazon.” [New York Post]

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week:

🐶 President of Ireland’s Dog Steals the Show [YouTube]

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“I can’t tell you how to get rich quickly; I can only tell you how to get poor quickly: by trying to get rich quickly.” – André Kostolany

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
India Journalism

Me on ‘The Journal’ Podcast Talking India, Covid-19, and Social Media

Journal podcast -- India, Covid, social media

I was on Tuesday’s edition of our “The Journal” podcast talking about my recent story on India, Covid-19, and accusations that the government is censoring social media over its handling of the crisis.

You can listen online here or find it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other services. It was out May 4 and is called “India’s Social Media Crackdown.”

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN261: Dog Jump Fails

Sent as an email newsletter April 18, 2021. Join my email list to get future editions.

👋 Hi friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

👉 Image of the week, above: Ginger and the Hong Kong skyline, snapped during a recent picnic at the West Kowloon Art Park.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) ✍️ My latest: I had a story out Monday; the headline: India Accused of Censorship for Blocking Social Media Criticism Amid Covid Surge. It begins:

India’s government ordered Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Instagram to block about 100 social media posts criticizing its handling of the exploding Covid–19 surge in the country, sparking public anger and allegations of censorship in the world’s most populous democracy.

Click through to read the rest.

2) 👉 The situation in India is alarming indeed. The latest figures out today: 392,488 new infections, down from 401,993 the previous day, and 3,689 deaths. “Experts believe both figures are an undercount,” the Associated Press says. [AP]

3) 🧪 Interactive: “How Pfizer Makes Its Covid–19 Vaccine.” [New York Times]

4) 🎬 “Nomadland” won an Oscar for best picture. And Beijing-born director Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman to win an Academy Award for best director, and the second woman to do so. [WSJ]

5) 🇨🇳 …and the win by Zhao, who has criticized China, was censored in her home country. [WSJ]

6) 🗣 A fascinating oral history by Garrett M. Graff, out on the ten-year anniversary: “The plan to kill Osama bin Laden – from the spycraft to the assault to its bizarre political backdrop – as told by the people in the room.”

7) 🏛 Democratic strategist James Carville: “Wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it. It’s hard to talk to anybody today — and I talk to lots of people in the Democratic Party — who doesn’t say this. But they don’t want to say it out loud.” [Vox]

8) 🚙 Amazing car parking demonstration of the week: “Eugène from Liedekerke is an 87-year old man who, since 1951, still parks his car in a very narrow garage. So narrow that he only has 1,2 inch to spare at either side of the car. Luckily for Eugène Fiat has produced the Panda.” [YouTube]

9) ⭐ From author and technologist Kevin Kelly: 99 Additional Bits of Unsolicited Advice. One I especially like: “Be governed not by the tyranny of the urgent but by the elevation of the important.” (Previously: “68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice.”) [KK dot org]

10) 🐶 Feel good (I think?) dog-related story of the week: “Prancer, The ‘Haunted Victorian Child’ Dog From Viral Ad, Has Been Adopted.” (The original ad is well worth reading. To wit: “He’s literally the Chihuahua meme that describes them as being 50% hate and 50% tremble. If you’re intrigued and horrified at how this animal sounds already, just wait….there’s more. ”) [NPR, Petfinder]

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week: “Majestic jump!” [Reddit]

•••

What I’ve Been Watching:

📖 We watched, and loved, the new PBS documentary “Hemingway,” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. In three parts spanning six hours, we learn about his monumental works, his involvement in events like the Spanish Civil War and both World Wars, and his tumultuous, tragic personal life. Highly recommended.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“As long as I have a book in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time.” – Charlie Munger

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
India Journalism Tech

India Accused of Censorship for Blocking Social Media Criticism Amid Covid Surge

That’s the headline on my newest story, out yesterday. It begins:

India’s government ordered Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Instagram to block about 100 social media posts criticizing its handling of the exploding Covid-19 surge in the country, sparking public anger and allegations of censorship in the world’s most populous democracy.

Officials said the legally binding order was designed to tackle what it called attempts in recent days to spread coronavirus-related misinformation and create panic by posting images of dead bodies taken out of context. Twitter, which received many of the takedown requests, blocked the posts in India, though they remained visible outside the country.

“Certain people are misusing social media to create panic in society,” India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement Monday, when asked about the blocks. It didn’t specify which laws were used to issue the orders.

Many people on social media reacted with outrage. They said that the posts and others—some from senior opposition politicians—were political speech, arguing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi hasn’t done enough to curb India’s mammoth coronavirus surge, which shows no signs of slowing down from setting global records.

Click through to read the rest.