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10th March Current Affairs

WhatsApp’s new policy being examined: govt.

In News:

The Central government has informed the Delhi High Court that it was examining WhatsApp’s controversial new privacy policy, which is scheduled to come into effect from May 15, at the highest level.

What’s the issue?

The court was hearing a petition claiming that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy violates the right to privacy guaranteed under the Constitution.

The plea said the new policy “virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity” without there being any supervision of the government.

The plea sought direction to issue guidelines to ensure such change in privacy policy by WhatsApp are carried out.

Key Features of the Policy:

Information Sharing with Third Party Services: When users rely on third-party services or other Facebook Company Products that are integrated with our Services, those third-party services may receive information about what you or others share with them.

Hardware Information: WhatsApp collects information from devices such as battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP) among others.

Deleting the Account: If someone only deletes the WhatsApp app from their device without using the in-app delete my account feature, then that user’s information will remain stored with the platform.

Data Storage: WhatsApp mentions that it uses Facebook’s global infrastructure and data centers including those in the United States to store user data. It also states that the data in some cases will be transferred to the United States or other parts where Facebook’s affiliate companies are based.

Location: Even if a user does not use their location-relation features, Whatsapp collects IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (city, country).

Payment Services: WhatsApp says that if anyone uses their payments services they will process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information.

Issues and concerns:

The new Whatsapp policy contradicts the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee report, which forms the basis of the Data Protection Bill 2019.

The principle of Data Localisation, which aims to put curbs on the transfer of personal data outside the country, may come in conflict with WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

With the updated privacy policy, WhatsApp can now share one’s metadata, essentially everything beyond the conversation’s actual text.

If users disagree with the messaging platform’s updated privacy policy, they will have to quit WhatsApp when the new terms of service are set to come into effect.

Registration of political parties

In News:

The Election Commission has said it had reduced the public notice period for new political parties seeking registration from 30 days to seven days due to the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details:

The relaxation in notice period would remain in force till the last dates of nomination for the Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry and West Bengal elections, that is March 19 and April 7 respectively.

According to guidelines, the applicants are supposed to publish the proposed name of their party in two national and local daily newspapers each on two days, seeking objections, if any, within 30 days.

Registration of political parties:

Registration of Political parties is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

A party seeking registration under the said Section with the Election Commission has to submit an application to the Commission within the said period following the date of its formation as per guidelines prescribed by the Election Commission of India in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 of the Commission of India and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

To be eligible for a ‘National Political Party of India:

It secures at least six percent of the valid votes polled in any four or more states, at a general election to the House of the People or, to the State Legislative Assembly.

In addition, it wins at least four seats in the House of the People from any State or States.

It wins at least two percent seats in the House of the People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least three different States.

To be eligible for a ‘State Political Party:

It secures at least six percent of the valid votes polled in the State at a general election, either to the House of the People or to the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned

In addition, it wins at least two seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned.

It wins at least three percent (3%) of the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State, or at least three seats in the Assembly, whichever is more.

Benefits:

If a party is recognised as a State Party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it in the State in which it is so recognised, and if a party is recognised as a National Party’ it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India.

Recognised State’ and `National’ parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination and are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of cost at the time of revision of rolls and their candidates get one copy of electoral roll free of cost during General Elections.

They also get broadcast/telecast facilities over Akashvani/Doordarshan during general elections.

The travel expenses of star campaigners are not to be accounted for in the election expense accounts of candidates of their party.

‘Lateral entry’ into bureaucracy: reason, process, and the controversy

In News:

Recently, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) issued an advertisement seeking applications “from talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation building” for three posts of Joint Secretary and 27 of Director in central government Departments.

Details:

These individuals, who would make a “lateral entry” into the government secretariat, would be contracted for three to five years.

These posts were “unreserved”, meaning were no quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs.

What is ‘lateral entry’ into government?

Recommended by NITI Aayog, in its three-year Action Agenda.

The induction of personnel will take place at the middle and senior management levels in the central government.

These ‘lateral entrants’ would be part of the central secretariat which in the normal course has only career bureaucrats from the All India Services/ Central Civil Services.

Need for and significance:

  • Lateral entrants have specialised knowledge and expertise in the domain area.
  • Meets the twin objectives of bringing in fresh talent as well as augment the availability of manpower.
  • It provides stakeholders such as the private sector and non-profits an opportunity to participate in governance process.
  • It will help in bringing change in organisation culture in Government sector culture.

Why is lateral entry sometimes criticised?

There is no reservation in these appointments.

They are seen as back doors for a political party to bring its own people openly.