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News in Short

News in Short - 08-November-2021

US blacklists NSO group

Date: 08 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • The U.S. Commerce Department added Israel’s NSO Group and Candiru to its trade blacklist. The Department said they trafficked in cyber tools used to gain unauthorized access to computer networks.
  • This move came after the Biden administration determined that the NSO’s phone hacking tools had been used by foreign governments to “maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers.”
  • In the past, the NSO Group and Candiru have been accused of selling hacking tools to authoritarian regimes. NSO says it only sells its products to law enforcement and intelligence agencies and takes steps to curb abuse.

Centre scraps caste-based payments for MGNREGA

Date: 08 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • The Centre has decided to scrap the system of caste-based wage payments in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme after complaints from State Governments.
  • A revised accounting procedure will now be implemented to allow expenditure to be captured under three Minor Heads for Scheduled Castes and Tribes and others.
  • The Centre planned to revoke its controversial caste-based wage system after the State Governments warned of rising social tensions in an October 11 meeting.

India refuses to sign forest declaration

Date: 08 November 2021 Tags: Climate Change
  • India did not sign the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use – a declaration initiated by the United Kingdom to “halt deforestation” and land degradation by 2030.
  • The declaration has over 105 signatories including the UK, US, Russia and China.India, Argentina, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and South Africa are the only G20 countries that did not sign the declaration.
  • The declaration interlinks trade to climate change and forest issues. Trade falls under the WTO and should not be brought under climate change declarations.

Ethiopia declares state of emergency

Date: 08 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • Ethiopia declared a six-month state of emergency after forces from the northern region of Tigray gained territory and considered marching on the capital Addis Ababa.
  • The announcement came two days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged citizens to take up arms to defend themselves against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
  • Authorities in Addis Ababa told residents to register their arms and prepare to defend their neighbourhoods.
  • The TPLF had dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades but lost much influence when Abiy took office in 2018 following years of anti-government protests.

Facebook to shut down facial recognition system

Date: 08 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • Facebook will shut down its face-recognition system and delete the faceprints of more than 1 billion people amid growing concerns about the technology and its misuse by governments.
  • The removal of face recognition by the world’s largest social media platform comes as the tech industry has faced a reckoning over the past few years over the ethics of using the technology.
  • Critics say facial recognition technology, which is popular among retailers, hospitals and other businesses for security purposes – could compromise privacy, target marginalized groups and normalize intrusive surveillance.