ETtech Bytes on 22 Jan. 2021: Top 5 Tech News Today, in 10 Minutes

Good evening, ETtech Reader.

Facebook’s oversight board has accepted a case referral to look into the deplatforming of Donald Trump. India may drop the proposed e-commerce policy as certain sections within the government have questioned its rationale. The ongoing ‘Tandav’ and ‘Mirzapur’ controversy is seen hurting India’s creative dream.

Here’s a look at the top tech news today:

1. Facebook‘s Oversight Board to look into deplatforming of Trump

Donald TrumpAP

Former US President Donald Trump.

Facebook Inc.’s Oversight Board
has accepted a case referral to examine the social media firm’s decision of indefinitely suspending former US President Donald Trump from the eponymous platform and photo- and video-sharing app Instagram.

The background: The Oversight Board is a global body that
makes independent decisions on whether specific content should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram. The US-based social media giant can also refer cases to the board for a decision on whether content should remain or be taken down from Facebook or Instagram.

Why it matters: A decision by the board is binding on Facebook, and will determine whether Trump’s suspension from Facebook and Instagram for an indefinite amount of time is overturned.

What next? Over the coming days, the case will be assigned to a five-member review panel. The board expects to arrive at a decision, and Facebook to implement it, within 90 days.

Also Read:
Facebook’s Oversight Board takes up its first Indian case for review

2. India’s proposed e-commerce policy may be dropped

may drop the proposed e-commerce policy as certain sections within the government have questioned its rationale, citing a lack of convergence on various issues.

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Why it matters: The draft e-commerce policy, whose first draft was released in February 2019, had proposed that companies that store or mirror Indian users’ data overseas will be
subject to periodic audit and a regulator for the sector and an ecommerce law that restricts information these firms can store, use, transfer, process and analyse.

The latest: In November last year, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)
sought inputs from a slew of ministries and government agencies to build consensus on and hasten the launch of regulations to govern all forms of electronic commerce in the country. The outreach was to ensure the e-commerce proposals do not clash with other upcoming legislations.

In October 2020, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash had said that the government is in the
final stages of drafting a National Logistics Policy, New Industrial Policy, Ecommerce Policy and National Retail Trade policy.

3. Google threatens to stop Search in Australia

Google on Friday said
it will disable its search function in Australia if the government proceeds with a law that would force it and Facebook to pay local publishers for sharing their content.

What’s happening? Australia is
set to pass laws that will mandate Big Tech firms to negotiate with local publishers and broadcasters how much they pay for content. If they fail to strike a deal, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide for them. Earlier this week, the US asked Australia to scrap proposed laws that will make it mandatory for the internet giants to pay for news sourced from local media outlets.

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Why it matters: The move comes a day after Google
reached a deal with the French media wherein the tech giant will pay publishers for using their content. It also comes at a time when the pandemic has created an advertising revenue crisis for several media companies across the world, while Big Tech firms are raking in significant profits.

Last year, Google had stated plans to
pay $1 billion to publishers across the world over the next three years, while Facebook is paying publishers for content through its news product ‘Facebook News’ that is currently available in the US.

Also Read:
Google’s hot-air balloon project, providing cell service, is closing down

India’s creative dream is seen at stake


A team of the Uttar Pradesh police on Thursday reached the residence of Ali Abbas Zafar, director of the political thriller ‘Tandav’ that was recently released on Amazon Prime Video, to serve him a notice to appear before the investigation officer in Lucknow on 27 January.

This is not the first instance. Last week, the UP Police had filed a case against the producers of ‘Mirzapur’ for allegedly hurting religious, social and regional sentiments and damaging social harmony.

Why it matters: The increasing instances of people objecting to web serials and filing police complaints or petitions in court against the makers of such shows have alarmed the creative community, leaving directors, producers, writers and executives of streaming services “shocked,” “concerned” and “highly disappointed.”
(read more)

Ronnie Screwvala in talks to raise $200 million

Edtech and media entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala
plans to consolidate his interests in content, sports and technology into a single entity and raise as much as $200 million by diluting a minority stake in it, people with knowledge of the developments told ET.

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Why it matters: Screwvala, through his Unilazer Ventures, has been a prominent investor in nearly 30 early-stage tech and new economy companies, His portfolio in the unlisted startup space is valued at over Rs 1,000 crore and will be included in the proposed combined entity.

His educational venture upGrad, which has annual revenue of about Rs 1,200 crore, will not be part of the consolidation process. In November, The Economic Times reported that
upGrad is in the final leg of negotiations with leading private equity and venture capital firms to raise $100-150 million to fuel its expansion plans.

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