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Digital native: The rules of the game

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There isn’t much left to say about the ongoing contestations of the Aadhaar project that hasn’t already been said by people who have been critiquing, investigating and resisting its onslaught on privacy. We now have no doubt that the technological architecture, governmental oversight, and the corporate cronyism that frames the larger context of the world’s largest biometric citizen database is designed to make us transparent citizens, who shall continue bearing the burden of data extraction, as the system becomes more integral to our everyday transactions. As India slowly tries to formulate a national right to privacy with absolute rights granted to its citizens — and in the face of the landmark Supreme Court judgement that reinforced the idea that our right to privacy is tied to our constitutional rights of life and dignity — it is now clear that the operations of Aadhaar have outstripped the machinations of privacy.
We now live in a semi-mandated state of Aadhaar, where almost all of us (the penetration of Aadhaar is on the upward side of 90 per cent now) are in the system, unsure of either the state or the future of the data that the Aadhaar number accrues, as it gets tied to basic public delivery systems, financial transactions, and identity and residence verification processes. Aadhaar is here to stay. Despite all its technological breakdowns, data leaks and human corruptions, it has already achieved a data-shroud through the data-cloud that now circulates our private data to unknown destinations and purposes. I remember sitting in on one of the first consultations for the Aadhaar, at the National Law University Bengaluru, when Nandan Nilekani had announced that he didn’t see the hoopla around privacy because we have no sense of privacy in this country. He had glibly pointed to the fact that people give out more private information to people offering lucky draws in malls than they give out to the Aadhaar registration offices.
What Nilekani had failed to highlight was that the information given to the malls or to restaurants in feedback forms was never going to be the central mechanisms that exclude common people from basic services. The privacy regulation has indeed gained momentum recently, especially given the demonstrable data and security breaches of technological order. But we must realise that at the basis of Aadhaar was a wilful and conscious neglect of privacy rights. The closest Aadhaar architects came to talk about privacy was in terms of data storage and security, neglecting the decades of work that social scientists and humanists have produced in thinking through conditions and materiality of safety and privacy.
What we have now, then, is a system that is layered with unregulated private entrepreneurs whose service level agreements about the use and protection of our data are opaque. We are faced with a state that has the ambitions of digital consolidation without the requisite literacy for its protection. And we are working within a framework of technocratic utopianism where technology is deemed more trustworthy than the people around it.
Ironically, the current government reaction of issuing showcause notices to civil society organisations, privacy activists, and investigative journalists who are exposing the vulnerabilities of the Aadhaar database has taken the tone of the very first alarmists. The state is now suddenly realising that leaks and breaches are a two-way process. If you build systems that attack the personhood of citizens, the same system is not going to keep you protected against technological misfortunes. If you design a system that is aimed at data leaks without attention to privacy, safety or the consequences of this data gathering, then the tools that were developed to exploit the subjects are also going to be turned around to attack those who are in power.
It is necessary to see the current data trading and transaction on the backchannels of the dark web, not only as a leak but as an attack on the personhood of the state. Just like its citizens were not allowed their rights to privacy, the state is now suffering from its private sovereignty, being questioned, attacked and compromised. It is a good reminder to technocrats that a state which does not take the safety of its citizens seriously, will eventually find itself in the same position of attack from technologies that it built. And this time, there will be no rights protecting the state’s privacy either.


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Samsung Galaxy A80 With Rotating Camera, In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Launched

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Samsung Galaxy A80 was launched on Wednesday at an event in Thailand. It features a 48-megapixel primary camera. The Galaxy A80 also sports a full-HD+ Super AMOLED display and comes with Dolby Atmos audio integration. The Android Pie-based Samsung phone comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor. Of course, the biggest highlight of the Samsung Galaxy A80 is its rotating camera – the form factor helps in two ways, first, enabling a notchless display, and second, making the high resolution rear camera usable for selfies. The company is also touting the ‘intelligent battery’ that learns the user’s routine to optimise battery life, and also supports 25W ‘Super-Fast Charging’ tech. At the launch event, Samsung also revealed the availability of the Galaxy A70 it had unveiled last week. Read on for more details about the Samsung Galaxy A80 price, release date, specifications, and more.

Samsung Galaxy A80 price, release date

The Samsung Galaxy A80 price has been set at EUR 649 (roughly Rs. 50,500). The company added the smartphone will be available in Angel Gold, Ghost White, and Phantom Black colour variants, with the first two having pearlescent effects. The Samsung Galaxy A80 will go on sale from May 29, in markets across Asia, Australia, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Middle East, New Zealand, and Russia. We can expect the Samsung Galaxy A80 price in India to be along the same lines as Europe pricing, though for now, an India release date has not been specified.

 

At the launch event, Samsung also announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy A70 that it had unveiled last week. It will go on sale from April 26, in Black, Blue, Coral, and White colour variants.

Samsung Galaxy A80 specifications

The dual-SIM Samsung Galaxy A80 runs Android 9.0 Pie with the company’s One UI on top. It sports a 6.7-inch full-HD+ (1080×2400 pixels) Super AMOLED ‘New Infinity Display’ with a 20:9 aspect ratio and no notch. It is powered by the newly unveiled Snapdragon 730G SoC, an octa-core processor with two cores clocked at 2.2GHz and six cores clocked at 1.7GHz. This is coupled with 8GB of RAM. The smartphone sports an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Coming to the highlight of the smartphone, it’s rotating camera with a triple camera setup. It features a 48-megapixel primary sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, a secondary 8-megapixel camera with an ultra wide-angle lens (123-degrees), an f/2.2 aperture. There is also a 3D depth camera on board. An IR sensor rounds off the optics. As for selfies, when the user selects selfie mode, the three cameras automatically pop-up and rotate to the front. Other features on the Samsung Galaxy A80 include Super Steady video mode, Scene Optimizer with detection for 30 scenes, and Flaw Detection.

There is 128GB of inbuilt storage, which isn’t expandable via microSD card. The Samsung Galaxy A80 sports a 3,700mAh battery with 25W Super-Fast Charging support. It measures 165.2×76.5×9.3mm. Other features on the smartphone include Bixby, Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, and Samsung Knox. The company is also boasting of an Intelligent Performance Enhancer that uses AI for performance optimisation. The Bixby Routines feature looks to automate daily tasks by learning user patterns.

Finally, the Galaxy A80 also features Dolby Atmos technology for improved audio output with headphones or Bluetooth speakers.

Commenting on the launch, DJ Koh, President and CEO of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics, said, “The Galaxy A Series provides a range of models so everyone can choose a device that fits their unique needs and enables them to pursue their passions. The Galaxy A80 offers premium features for digital natives who want to fully engage in the Era of Live.”

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Acer Nitro 7 Slim Gaming Laptop Launched, Nitro 5 Series for Casual Gamers Updated

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At Acer’s annual hardware event, the company has launched a bunch of new products, while refreshing some of its existing lineup. One of the new launches is the Acer Nitro 7 gaming laptop, which boasts of a metal design, a slim body measuring 19.9mm in thickness, and up to seven hours of battery life. The company has also refreshed its existing Nitro 5 gaming laptop, which now boasts of an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio thanks to the 7.18mm narrow display bezels.

Both the Acer laptops share many of the underlying technologies such as CoolBoost, which features a dual exhaust system for keeping temperatures down when gaming. The NitroSense software allows users to visualise component temperature, loading performance, power usage, and more on both series. The Nitro 7 and Nitro 5 also feature Killer Ethernet E2500 networking card and Acer’s Network Optimizer to prioritise gaming traffic and Waves MaxxAudio for better sound.

Acer Nitro 7 specifications, pricing and availability

 

The new Nitro 7 features a metal chassis that is less than 20mm in thickness, making it quite slim. It features a 15.6-inch display with 144Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. It’s powered by 9th generation Intel Core CPUs and the latest Nvidia GPUs, up to two NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 with up to 2TB of mechanical storage and up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM.

The Acer Nitro 7 is available now in the US, starting at $1,000 (roughly Rs. 69,500). It will also be available in China and EMEA regions starting May and June respectively.

Acer Nitro 5 specifications, pricing and availability

The Acer Nitro 5 is available with a full-HD IPS panel in either a 17.3-inch size with slim borders or a 15.6-inch display size. It too packs in the latest 9th generation Intel Core processors, latest Nvidia GPUs, up to two NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0, up to 32GB of RAM and Wi-Fi 802.11ac with 2×2 MU-MIMO antennas.

The Acer Nitro 5 is available from April in the US for a starting price of $800 (roughly Rs. 55,650). It will also be available in China and EMEA regions from May 2019.

Finally, Acer also announced the Nitro Stream, which is a dedicated streaming PC with a built-in capture card for streaming PC and console games. Specifications include an 8th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 32GB of RAM, 256SSD and a in-built capture card. The PC is also compact enough to be mounted at the back of a monitor using the VESA mount standard. Pricing details and availability aren’t mentioned as of now.

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Google Home Can Now Remotely Enable Do Not Disturb Mode on Phones

The Kashmir Monitor

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Google has quietly rolled out a new feature and a behavioural change for the Google Assistant on Google Home smart speakers. Starting with the new feature, users can now activate the Do Not Disturb mode on their smartphone by just saying asking the Google Home speaker to do so via relevant voice command. As for the behavioural change, the Google Home no longer vocally recites every step it is performing that is part of a routine set by users. However, it is not clear when the aforesaid changes went live.

Android Police reports that the Google Home no longer recites every single step of a routine. Earlier, the Google Assistant would alert users about every step of a routine that was in progress. But now, individual steps in a pre-specified routine are not accompanied by a vocal cue every time a routine is executed. However, individual commands that need the Google Assistant to respond vocally as well as standalone actions will still be accompanied by a vocal response.

Moreover, another report from Android Police states that the Google Assistant will now enable the Do Not Disturb mode on a linked smartphone via relevant voice command. For example, users can ask the Google Home to “silence my phone” or “activate DND mode on my phone” to enable the Do Not Disturb mode.

 

But in case the Google account being used for the Google Home is linked to multiple smartphones, users will have to specify the device, on which they want to enable the DND mode. As per Google’s support page, users can also choose to activate DND mode on all devices in a network via voice command. However, it is not clear when the aforementioned changes went live, or if it is available to only a small set of users in certain regions.

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