Hello All, Technology news for this week are as follows
Education Push in India by Facebook
Facebook, which reaches more users than any other international firm in India has now spread itself to the world’s second largest internet market.
This social juggernaut announced it had partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in India to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being and augmented reality for students and educators in the country. These subjects aim to prepare secondary school students for current and emerging jobs and help them develop skills to safely browse the internet, make “well informed choices,” and think about their mental health.
Facebook said that it will provide these training in various phases.In the first phase more than 10,000 teachers will be trained; in the second, they will coach 30,000 students.The three-week training on AR will cover fundamentals of the nascent technology and ways to make use of Facebook’s Spark AR Studio to create augmented reality experiences.
In the recent years Facebook has ramped up its efforts to create awareness about the ill side of technology as its platform confronts with misuse of its own services in the country. Last year it partnered with telecom giant Reliance Jio Platforms — in which it would eventually invest $5.7 billion — to launch “Digital Udaan,” the “largest ever digital literacy program” for first-time internet users in the country. India is the biggest market for Facebook by far.
Manoj Ahuja, Chairperson of CBSE said in a statement, “I am proud to share that CBSE is the only Board that has introduced the modules of Digital Safety and Online Well-being, Instagram Toolkit for Teens and Augmented Reality. Incorporating technology and digital safety into school curriculum will ensure students are not only gaining knowledge to succeed in the digital economy but also learning and collaborating in a safe online environment”. This announcement today lead to blocking nearly 60 services developed by Chinese firms over cybersecurity concerns in New Delhi. TikTok, one of the services that has been hit by India’s order, identified Asia’s third-largest economy as its biggest market outside of China.The service, run by Chinese giant ByteDance, reaches more than 200 million users in India, most of whom live in small towns and cities. TikTok began working with scores of content creators and firms in India last year to populate its short-form video service with educational videos.
Security concerns in US leads to halt in High tech Export to Hong Kong
Trump administration has placed new restrictions on U.S. exports of defense equipment and certain high-technology products to Hong Kong on Monday this was done in response to a new Chinese law aimed at tightening Beijing’s control over the territory. The administration determined that in late May, Hong Kong no longer had significant autonomy under Chinese rule and promised to begin stripping away Hong Kong’s privileged status with the United States, if Beijing continued to crack down on civil liberties in Hong Kong.
In separate statements on Monday, the State Department said that it would end exports of U.S. military equipment to Hong Kong, while the Commerce Department said that Hong Kong would now be subject to the same types of controls on certain technology exports that apply to China. These controls block American companies from selling certain types of sensitive, high-technology products that could threaten national security to China, Russia and other countries deemed to be a security risk.
The effect of the new restrictions announced Monday appears to be relatively limited in scope, given the small volume of trade the United States does with Hong Kong. Hong Kong represented just 2.2 percent of American exports in 2018, with defense and high-technology items making up a sliver of that.
But the export limitations announced on Monday, could have larger implications for some multinational companies, including some semiconductor firms, who now will be barred from sending products or sharing certain high-tech information with the territory. Some multinational companies that chose Hong Kong as a base for doing business with China have begun considering moves to other locations, including Singapore.
Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesman, criticized the American response to the Hong Kong security legislation. He said, “The U.S. wants to use the so-called sanctions to obstruct China’s legislative process, to safeguard national security in Hong Kong — such an attempt stands no chance of success. And regarding the wrong moves by the U.S. side, China will take necessary retaliatory measures to resolutely safeguard our national interests.”
To which the Trump admin decided to respond by canceling visas for thousands of Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to the Chinese military and threatened to place sanctions on Chinese government officials and financial institutions involved in promulgating the security law.
Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said in a statement that China’s new security law undermined the territory’s autonomy and increased the risk that delicate American technology would be diverted to China’s military or security forces. And he also added, that further actions to eliminate Hong Kong’s differential treatment were “also being evaluated.” “We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course and fulfill the promises it has made to the people of Hong Kong and the world”. “It gives us no pleasure to take this action,” Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said in a separate statement. “But given Beijing now treats Hong Kong as ‘One Country, One System,’ so must we.”
Halting American high-tech exports to Hong Kong is not a new idea, as some American security experts have warned for years that China may be using purchases through Hong Kong to obtain products of military value that are prohibited for sale directly to mainland China. But the latter has been denied by the Chinese officials.
Nigerian Tech Companies in media attention for Sexual Assault allegations
Kelechi Udoagwu, a communications consultant for tech startups, shared her story of being sexually harassed by a leader in Nigeria’s budding tech industry, she was prompted by the gruesome murder of a university undergraduate who was raped in a church. Shared in a series of tweets on June 2 by Udoagwu, are serving as an industry wake-up call and could yet evolve into a #MeToo moment, for Nigeria’s fledgling billion-dollar tech ecosystem.
The tweets, which immediately went viral on Nigerian Twitter, she alleged that during a 2018 meeting with a mentor, Kendall Ananyi who was the chief executive of Tizeti (an internet service provider), he solicited sexual acts after exposing his penis. The allegations have predictably sparked widespread conversations about the realities of sexual harassment and assault in Nigeria’s tech space, often perceived as a young and progressive sector that had probably done away with the bad habits of the traditional Nigerian workplace.
However, Udoagwu’s allegations did not come as a surprise to young women in the industry. “I’ve heard stories, I’ve heard rumors and I’ve had a couple of experiences that fall in that line myself, so there was no surprise,” says Odunayo Eweniyi, co-founder of savings and investment fintech, PiggyVest and one of the few high-profile, young female tech leaders in the country. “Women [in the industry] have always spoken about these things, just not publicly. We know that this happens because it’s our reality,” Eweniyi, 26, adds.
While Udoagwu’s allegation has been widely reported and amplified within Nigeria’s tech space, it has not yet led to a deluge of similar publicly shared stories of harassment—but it’s not because they don’t exist. With a culture of silence fostered by the fear of career derailment, women who speak up run the risk of becoming an “unwilling face of sexual harassment in the tech ecosystem,” Eweniyi says. It’s a sentiment echoed by ‘Lade Tawak, a 23 year old Lagos-based user experience researcher. “There is fear of retaliation, especially if you still want to work in the industry. You’re going to be seen as a “troublemaker” that nobody wants to hire.” In a competitive, fast-growing and fast-paced industry that’s increasingly subject to global interest from investors, the possibility of being ostracized for reporting abuse represents a significant barrier for harassment victims.
For her part, Udoagwu admits that being self-employed was a factor in her ability to speak out. “I’m not scared of losing my job or not being able to feed so I’m able to share this story. Independence makes it easier to speak out,” she tells Quartz Africa. But the more likely tendency for most is to “stay quiet and keep their head down,” in a bid to retain their jobs and keep their reputations unsullied. Indeed, one person who was sexually harassed at a Nigerian startup says she has chosen to remain silent about her experience specifically because her employers have not yet made any public statements on sexual harassment and assault in the wake of the recent allegation.
The lack of consequences in the local tech scene is captured in one incident. A former employee at one of Nigeria’s biggest fintech startups, who spoke to Quartz Africa on the condition of anonymity, tells the story of a male co-worker who was initially fired for sexual misconduct after forcibly kissing her, but was secretly kept on by the company as a contractor. “The message that is sent to other people is that if you’re a hard worker and you’re very talented, you have nothing to worry about,” she says. The handling of the incident contributed to her decision to quit the company months later. “When something like that happens to you, you feel exposed—you feel like it could potentially happen again”.
Instead for female insiders in Nigeria’s tech space, the fear is that a lack of tough policies and actions could see a similar culture of the acceptance of harassment and gender-based discrimination take root. Indeed, there are already worrying signs: in a report by TechCabal and the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, 56% of female founders and C-suite executives in Nigeria’s tech industry said they had faced “gender-based challenges” in the course of their work.
Across the continent, there’s also the reality of the power dynamics and gender demographics which mean women are a minority in leadership and high-level investment circles. Between January 2019 and April 2020, only 13.4% of African tech companies that received funding had at least one female co-founder while only 5% were entirely female founded, data from research firm Briter Bridges show. Meanwhile, as the investigation persists, Udoagwu’s allegations are already resulting in some changes within the tech ecosystem. Ventures Platform, a prominent early-stage investment firm says it is updating its sexual harassment policies and will now assess startups’ policies on sexual harassment as part of its criteria for investment decisions. Payments company Paga has also committed to retraining staff on sexual harassment. MEST also says it is looking to further strengthen its current code of conduct. It is likely even more companies will tread the path of creating or updating anti-sexual harassment policies, female industry insiders say a crucial starting point is ensuring there is more clarity on what constitutes sexual harassment and assault in the first place.