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WhatsApp Users Can Now Access DigiLocker Using MyGov Helpdesk Chatbot

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WhatsApp users in India can now access DigiLocker using the government’s MyGov Helpdesk chatbot. This will enable users to create and authenticate their DigiLocker account as well as download documents such as PAN card, driving licence, and insurance policy documents, among others, by directly using the instant messaging app. DigiLocker is claimed to have over 100 million registered users who have issued over five billion documents to date. The new development will allow users to get their official documents on their mobile devices, without requiring them to download the dedicated DigiLocker app or accessing its website.

Citizen engagement platform MyGov on Monday announced the update of the MyGov Helpdesk on WhatsApp to bring access to the DigiLocker service.

Using the update, WhatsApp users in India will now be able to access DigiLocker by sending a message saying “DigiLocker” at +91-9013151515 on the messaging app. It will bring options to let users create and authenticate their DigiLocker account as well as download documents, namely PAN card, driving licence, CBSE Class 10 passing certificate, Class 10 marksheet, Class 12 marksheet, vehicle registration certificate (RC), insurance policy of two-wheeler, and life and non-life insurance policy.

Similar to the DigiLocker app and website, users accessing the service through WhatsApp will be required to provide their Aadhaar number for authentication. Once the Aadhaar number is given, the chatbot will validate it with a one-time password (OTP) to let you download documents from the messaging app.

“Offering DigiLocker services on the MyGov Helpdesk is a natural progression and a step towards providing citizens with simplified access to essential services via WhatsApp’s easy and accessible platform,” said Abhishek Singh, MyGov CEO, President and CEO NeGD, MD and CEO Digital India Corporation (DIC) of the government, in a prepared statement.

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Launched in March 2020, MyGov Helpdesk, which is named MyGov Coronavirus Helpdesk, on WhatsApp, crossed 1.7 crore users in 10 days of its debut. It was initially introduced to create awareness and help people during the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. However, the government gradually made it for providing e-governance services. The chatbot was developed by Jio Platforms subsidiary Haptik.

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The MyGov Helpdesk is claimed to be accessed by over 80 million people. It has been used to download over 33 million vaccine certificates and for booking millions of vaccination appointments, the government platform said.

“Equipping the MyGov Helpdesk with DigiLocker services that can be accessed directly via WhatsApp, we want to unlock technology’s potential to extend the benefits of essential services to citizens at scale, and this is a significant step towards scaling up the Digital India vision and a digitally empowered country,” said Shivnath Thukral, Director – Public Policy, WhatsApp.


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Meta Oversight Board Calls for Overhaul of ‘Cross-Check’ Programme That Prioritises VIP Users

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Meta Platforms’ Oversight Board recommended on Tuesday that the company revamp its system exempting high-profile users from its rules, saying the practice privileged the powerful and allowed business interests to influence content decisions.

The arrangement, called cross-check, adds a layer of enforcement review for millions of Facebook and Instagram accounts belonging to celebrities, politicians and other influential users, allowing them extra leeway to post content that violates the company’s policies.

Cross-check “prioritises users of commercial value to Meta and as structured does not meet Meta’s human rights responsibilities and company values,” Oversight Board director Thomas Hughes said in a statement announcing the decision.

The board had been reviewing the cross-check programme since last year, when whistleblower Frances Haugen exposed the extent of the system by leaking internal company documents to the Wall Street Journal.

Those documents revealed that the programme was both larger and more forgiving of influential users than Meta had previously told the Oversight Board, which is funded by the company through a trust and operates independently.

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Without controls on eligibility or governance, cross-check sprawled to include nearly anyone with a substantial online following, although even with millions of members it represents a tiny slice of Meta’s 3.7 billion total users.

In 2019, the system blocked the company’s moderators from removing nude photos of a woman posted by Brazilian soccer star Neymar, even though the post violated Meta’s rules against “nonconsensual intimate imagery,” according to the WSJ report.

The board at the time of the report rebuked Meta for not being “fully forthcoming” in its disclosures about cross-check.

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In the opinion it issued on Tuesday, the board said it agreed that Meta needed mechanisms to address enforcement mistakes, given the extraordinary volume of user-generated content the company moderates each day.

However, it added, Meta “has a responsibility to address these larger problems in ways that benefit all users and not just a select few.”

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It made 32 recommendations that it said would structure the programme more equitably, including transparency requirements, audits of the system’s impact and a more systematic approach to eligibility.

State actors, it said, should continue to be eligible for inclusion in the programme, but based only on publicly available criteria, with no other special preferences.

The Oversight Board’s policy recommendations are not binding, but Meta is required to respond to them, normally within 60 days.

A spokeswoman for the Oversight Board said the company had asked for and received an extension in this case, so it would have 90 days to respond.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Facebook Dating Will Allow Users to Verify Their Age Using AI Face Scanning, Meta Says

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Meta on Monday announced that it has introduced a new method for users to verify their age on its Facebook Dating service. Facebook is experimenting with methods, such as using an AI face scanner, to allow users of the platform’s dating service to verify their age.

Meta announced in a blog post that it would start prompting users on Facebook Dating to verify that they’re over 18 if the platform suspects a user is underage.

Users can then verify their age by sharing a selfie video that Facebook shares with a third-party business or by uploading a copy of their ID. According to Meta, the company, Yoti, uses facial cues to determine a user’s age without identifying them.

Meta says the new age verification systems will help stop children from accessing features meant for adults. It doesn’t appear that there are any requirements for adults to verify their age on Facebook Dating.

The US social media giant has used Yoti for other age verification purposes, including vetting Instagram users who attempt to change their birthdate to make them 18 or older.

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However, according to a report by The Verge, the system isn’t equally accurate for all people: Yoti’s data shows that its accuracy is worse for “female” faces and people with darker complexions.

Last year, Instagram announced that it had started prompting users to fill in their birthday details. The prompts could initially be dismissed but the social media giant eventually made it compulsory for users who wanted to continue using Instagram. The prompts were designed to ascertain how old users were on Instagram and prevent content that isn’t suitable for young people to appear on their feed. At the time, Instagram had stated that the information is necessary for new features it was developing to protect young people.

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Meta Threatens to Remove News From Platform if US Congress Passes Media Bill

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Facebook parent Meta Platforms on Monday threatened to remove news from its platform if the US Congress passes a proposal aimed at making it easier for news organisations to negotiate collectively with companies like Alphabet’s Google and Facebook.

Sources briefed on the matter said lawmakers are considering adding the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to a must-pass annual defense bill as way to help the struggling local news industry. Meta spokesperson Andy Stone in a tweet said the company would be forced to consider removing news if the law was passed “rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”

He added the proposal fails to recognise that publishers and broadcasters put content on the platform because “it benefits their bottom line – not the other way around.”

The News Media Alliance, a trade group representing newspaper publishers, is urging Congress to add the bill to the defense bill, arguing that “local papers cannot afford to endure several more years of Big Tech’s use and abuse, and time to take action is dwindling. If Congress does not act soon, we risk allowing social media to become America’s de facto local newspaper.”

More than two dozen groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge and the Computer & Communications Industry Association on Monday urged Congress not to approve the local news bill saying it would “create an ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters” and argued the bill does not require “funds gained through negotiation or arbitration will even be paid to journalists.”

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A similar Australian law, which took effect in March 2021 after talks with the big tech firms led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country, has largely worked, a government report said.

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Since the News Media Bargaining Code took effect, various tech firms including Meta and Alphabet have signed more than 30 deals with media outlets, compensating them for content that generated clicks and advertising dollars, the report added.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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