RICA changes aim to mitigate mass surveillance

Source: IOL 

Michael Masutha, Justice and Correctional Services Minister, has confirmed he will be introducing amendments to the RICA Act, to close any potential loopholes allowing large-scale surveillance of the South African public.

Masutha said in a reply to parliamentary questions session, that the revision of the RICA is in an initial drafting phase so an indication of what will be covered in the bill can’t be revealed as yet.

However, he indicated that both the issue of targeted interception and mass surveillance are being considered under the revisions.

“Although the RICA currently provides for strict standards before an interception direction may be issued for targeted interceptions (the interception of indirect communications, real-time communication-related information or direct communications), international developments will be taken into account during the reviewing process, to provide for appropriate and proportional safeguards and oversight mechanisms in respect of applications for targeted interceptions,” Masutha said in his reply, according to Business tech.

“The aspect of mass surveillance is also being considered with a specific aim to ensure that such a surveillance process will be subject to appropriate safeguards and oversight mechanisms to protect the rights of individuals who may be targets of mass surveillance measures,” Masutha continued.

In May 2017, Civil society group Right2Know said that law enforcement is using a legislative loophole to force SA’s cellular operators to hand over sensitive information about clients.

In an issued statement the group said it had issued applications in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act requesting information on how often Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom hand over caller information.

On 23 August 2017, Statistics given by Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom showed that that law enforcement requested call records for at least 70 000 phone numbers every year.

Original article © IOL

By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC 

Google is cracking down on cryptocurrency-related advertising.  The move follows a similar ban by Facebook earlier this year. The company will no longer allow ads about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice across any of its ad platforms.

The company is updating its financial services-related ad policies to ban any advertising about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice, Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC.

That means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won’t be allowed to serve ads through any of Google’s ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites.

This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Scott said.

Google’s hard-line approach follows a similar ban that Facebook announced earlier this year.

While the crypto-currency boom has produced a lot of excitement and wealth, it’s still a largely unregulated space and has spawned countless high-profile scams.

This news comes as Google releases its annual “trust and safety” ads report.

Google said it took down more than 3.2 billion ads in 2017 that violated its policies, which is nearly double the 1.7 billion it removed the year before.

Google parent company Alphabet makes roughly 84 percent of its total revenue from advertising, so convincing advertisers that its ecosystem is safe and effective is critically important.

By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC 

Source: Business Matters 

Employees needed 42 hours each to familiarise themselves with their latest software with nearly three quarters of office workers are using photocopiers and nearly half still using fax machines proves paper-reliant office is far from dead.

According to new research from serviced office specialist Workthere, the average UK worker is wasting 50 hours a year as a result of failing technology in the office, which Workthere estimates could result in an £11 billion loss for UK businesses, based on employment data from the ONS.

In particular, the next generation of office workers, those aged between 16 and 24, struggle most with outdated tech, wasting 62 per cent more time every week on inefficient technology compared to their colleagues that are aged 55 or over.

The survey of UK office workers, commissioned by Workthere and carried out by independent research company CensusWide, also found that it took around 42 working hours for an individual office employee to fully familiarise themselves with each new piece of software, which Workthere estimates equals around £830 worth of a professional employee’s time.

With businesses having introduced an average of four pieces of new software over the past three years, 45 per cent of workers claim that despite their employers’ investment in new technology, they don’t invest enough time into training staff to use it properly.

Cal Lee, founder of Workthere, commented: “With regards to the serviced office market in particular, the first thing we are asked about, after the cost, is what specification of technology will be available for a business to use. The office tech inventory can affect profits as well as play a vital role in the perception of a business, both internally and externally. Gone are the days of just ‘location, location, location’ – in the eyes of office workers, digital connectivity tops the list of innovations that will improve the office working experience in the next few years.”

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Workthere found that office technology can have a direct impact on employee performance and efficiency, with many employees believing that their company’s investment into its office technology is linked to its investment into staff welfare and how it conducts business. The survey results showed that almost half of respondents said a business with cheap office technology is probably not going to invest in the wellbeing of its staff.

In addition, 24 per cent indicated that they wouldn’t be prepared to do business with companies that do not have the most up-to-date office technology.

While the research shows that the paper-reliant office is far from dead, with 73 per cent of office workers using photocopiers and 42 per cent fax machines, it also shows that 42 per cent of respondents use cloud technology for file sharing and 36 per cent have video conferencing capabilities.

Lee continues: “The digital revolution is clearly taking a firm grip of office spaces. We found that connected technology is by far the number one technology that office workers deem most useful to improve the way they work in the next five years, with voice activated tech and wireless charging pads taking spot two and three respectively.

“Whilst different businesses will have different priorities, office tech that works efficiently and improves productivity without proving a distraction, or making staff anxious about using it, is definitely high on the agenda for both staff and employers. It is therefore increasingly important for businesses to know that their office spaces are able to facilitate a smooth tech experience.”

Source: Business Matters

High data costs hit low-income households

By Avantika Seeth for City Press

The high cost of data is seriously stifling the growth of South Africa’s lower-income households, leading to the digital divide leaving many behind in the fast paced world of information access and communication.

This is according to community advocacy organisation Amandla.mobi, who yesterday made submissions at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) public hearings in Sandton.

An inquiry into high data costs was launched by Icasa last year, with the second draft of public hearings into the “end-user and subscriber service charter amendment regulations 2016” ending on Friday.

Amandla.mobi, who made submissions to Icasa on why data costs should be reduced, say that greater transparency of communication services needs to happen.

“What we are saying is that low income consumers are paying disproportionately higher charges and are in turn not seeing benefits of competition in comparison to high-income consumers who are able to buy larger quantities of data. The low-income consumers actually end up paying more for their data bundles,” Koketso Moeti, executive director of Amandla.mobi told City Press.

Moeti believes that the high cost of out-of-bundle data rates contributes to the general public, particularly those from lower income households, not benefiting from the online space.

“These days, more and more things are happening online. To apply for school, it has to be done online. To register a business, it has to be done online. Even government responsiveness happens more and more in the online space and the inability to access data holds people back from accessing these very basic, but necessary services,” Moeti said.

Moeti explained that two recommendations made in the submission need particular attention: the option of consumers to opt in and out of out-of-data bundle packages and that a restriction on the maximum difference allowed in pricing per megabyte between small and large bundles be implemented.

“Ultimately, those who are only able to afford smaller data bundles pay a higher rate per megabyte, than those users who purchase larger data bundles. A practical example is the Vodacom out-of-data bundle rate from 2017, which basically equates to a user paying R990 per gigabyte of data,” Moeti said.

The out-of-bundle rate, Moeti said, was based on Vodacom’s current 99c per megabyte out-of-bundle rate which came into effect on October 15 last year.

“As table 1 shows, out-of-bundle prices are 10 times higher than prices for 1 gigabyte and this in fact understates the problem. There is significant competition at the top of the market with promotional offers that offer higher-income contract consumers data at 0.03c or less. This means that those consumers who are using small data bundles or using data ‘out of bundle’ may be paying 50 times what richer consumers are paying,” Amandla.mobi said of the table.

Moeti added that some of the mobile providers such as Cell C and Telkom do provide good value packages for smaller data purchases.

Other industry players who also presented submissions included MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, and Telkom.

In 2016, Tariffic, the company that helps companies and individuals determine if they’re spending too much money on their cellphones, conducted research into the data costs within South Africa.

Tariffic found data prices in South Africa to be 134% more expensive compared with other Brics nations.

“Tariffic’s analysis shows that, once prices were converted to rands and re-based for the cost of living, South Africa was consistently the second most expensive for one, two and three gigabyte data contracts, with Brazil being the most expensive in all three cases. Data prices for South Africa were on average 134% more expensive than the cheapest prices in the group,” the report said.

“Data prices are comparably rather expensive in South Africa and there has been no major movement to reduce these prices, specifically for the low-value data bundles, which are in very high demand,” Tariffic chief executive Antony Seeff told City Press.

“Even though there is work to be done across the board with regards to data prices, if people are tired of high data prices, they can move networks to where prices are more affordable,” Seeff said.

By Avantika Seeth for City Press

Over 27‚000 cryptocurrency investors have fallen victim to one of the biggest Bitcoin scams to hit South Africa, TimesLive reported.

Hawks spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha confirmed the commercial crimes unit was investigating complaints against BTC Global‚ a company which asked investors to send their cryptocurrency to an online wallet address.

Many of the victims were South African, but the extent of the scam spread to the US and Australia.

“The amount is over $50 million and could rise as more victims come forward‚” said Ramovha.

He said the company was being investigated for violating the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, but could not confirm whether it was a Ponzi scheme or if the people behind it are South African.

Victims from South Africa told TimesLive they had invested between R16‚000 and R1.4 million with BTC Global.

BTC Global’s selling point was the skill of its “master trader” Steve Twain, whom many victims believe does not exist.

BTC Global promised investors that if they sent their Bitcoin to its wallet address they would receive guaranteed returns of 14% per week.

Its website now displays a message which states that Steven Twain is missing and calls for victims to stop threatening harm to the admin team.

Source: MyBroadband

The controversial Films and Publications Amendment Bill, labelled by some as the “Internet Censorship Bill”, has been passed by the National Assembly.

According to the Parliamentary Monitoring group, the Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 6 March and will now be transmitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence. After that it heads to the desk of the president to be signed into law.

The Bill is supposed to address the shortcomings of the Films and Publications Act of 1996, but has come under fierce scrutiny since it was first gazetted, with many calling for it to be overhauled for infringing on freedom of speech.

The Bill aims to make changes in order to provide for technological advances, especially online and social media platforms, in order to protect children from being exposed to disturbing or harmful media content. It also aims to curb revenge porn and hate speech.

According to Eyewitness News, opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) criticised the legislation saying it amounts to censorship and may be unconstitutional. The vote in the National Assembly was reportedly 189 in favour, 35 against with no abstentions.

Opponents of the Bill in the past voiced concerns over the vague and broad terminology used; stipulations that would see the Film and Publication Board (FPB) overstepping into the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA’s) regulatory jurisdiction; and that it contained constitutional infringements on citizens’ right to privacy and freedom of expression. Last year, the FPB made some changes to the Bill after it received many comments from the public and industry players.

Source: ITWeb 

Remgro is in advanced talks to buy fibre provider Vumatel as South Africa’s richest man seeks to consolidate the country’s expanding broadband infrastructure industry, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal by billionaire Johann Rupert’s investment vehicle would give an equity value of closely-held Vumatel of about 1.1 billion rand ($93 million), said the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private.

Rupert would then combine Vumatel with rival Dark Fibre Africa, in which Remgro owns a majority stake, the people said. The deal could still fall through, and if so Vumatel would consider selling shares on Johannesburg’s stock exchange, they said.

A spokesman for Dark Fibre declined to comment. A spokesman for Remgro said she didn’t have an immediate comment and Vumatel couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The deal would allow Dark Fibre, which has a network of about 10,000 km (6,214 miles), to expand into South Africa’s fast-growing fiber-to-home industry, which Vumatel helped to pioneer after entering the market in 2015. Households in cities including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are increasingly seeking higher speeds and more capacity to handle rising consumption of data for services including streaming.

Dark Fibre trails Econet Wireless Global Ltd. unit Liquid Telecom in terms of network size. The company has raised 1.25 billion rand in debt funding and extended a revolving credit facility to 1.1 billion rand to fund expansion, according to its website.

Talks between Dark Fibre and Vumatel started in October and could be concluded within the next two months, said the people. Banks working on the deal include Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Investec Ltd., one of them said. Neither lender could immediately be reached for comment.

Rupert has a net worth of $8 billion, according to the the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Johannesburg-based Remgro also owns stakes in international private hospital operator Mediclinic International Plc and South African spirits maker Distell Group Ltd.


Canon comes after the aftermarket – again

Canon is suing at least 15 companies in the United States.

The imaging giant and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) believes the sale and distribution of Aftermarket cartridge products infringe its patents.

Many remanufacturing and new-built companies being named are well known include Ninestar, Static Control and Print-Rite North America.

Many industry players have commented to RT Media this could be as big an issue as the infamous Canon dongle gear legal battles since 2012. Many aftermarket players in China and the U.S. developed workaround solutions that did not infringe Canon’s patents, so that cartridge remanufacturing and manufacturing could continue.

Canon is claiming seven patents it filed a number of years ago, and as early as 2006, in the U.S. have now been granted in the last few months. The asserted U.S. patents are 9,746,826, 9,836,021, 9,841,727, 9,841,728, 9,857,765, 9,869,960, and 9,874,846.

Both HP and Canon laser printers use Canon’s patented technologies in theri respective laser printers and printing consumables.

Steve Weedon (pictured), the newly appointed director of strategic development at Print-Rite is in the United States. He told RT Media in an exclusive interview it is still too early to really know the detail of the lawsuits. “We need to get into the detail now of what these new patents are really saying, what their claims are and how they relate to those people who have workaround patents for the dongle gear issues to determine what the complaints from Canon are at this time.”

Source: RTM 

Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed inventor of Bitcoin, is accused of swindling more than $5-billion worth of the cryptocurrency and other assets from the estate of a computer-security expert.

Wright, who claimed in 2016 that he created the computer-based currency under the pseudonym Satoshi ‎Nakamoto, allegedly schemed to use phony contracts and signatures to lay claim to bitcoins mined by colleague Dave Kleiman, another cryptocurrency adherent, who died in 2013, according to a lawsuit filed by Kleiman’s brother.

Kleiman’s family contends they own the rights to more than 1 million Bitcoins and blockchain technologies Kleiman mined and developed during his lifetime and that the assets’ value exceeds $5 billion, according to the Feb. 14 filing in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“Craig forged a series of contracts that purported to transfer Dave’s assets to Craig and/or companies controlled by him,’’ lawyers for Kleiman’s family said in the complaint. “Craig backdated these contracts and forged Dave’s signature on them.’’

Wright, an Australian who lives in London, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the suit, which also accuses the entrepreneur of violating partnership duties to Kleiman and unjustly enriching himself at his colleague’s expense. There is no attorney listed for Wright on the docket.

Wright and Kleiman formed a Florida-based company, W&K Info Defense Research LLC, in 2011 to focus on cybersecurity, according to the court filing. The pair also had earlier worked together on the development of Bitcoin and had extensive mining operations, according to the family’ s lawsuit.

The pair controlled as many as 1.1 million Bitcoins at the time of Kleiman’s death, according to the suit. They were held trusts set up in Singapore, the Seychelles Islands and the U.K., the suit says.

Wright said in a 2016 blog post and interviews that he was the main participant in a team that developed the original Bitcoin software under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. After skeptics questioned the claims, Wright said that he decided not to present any further evidence to prove that he is the creator of Bitcoin.

In the filing, Kleiman’s brother includes what he says is email traffic between himself and Wright in which the entrepreneur indicates he may have been holding 300,000 of Kleiman’s Bitcoins.

Dave “mentioned that you had 1 million Bitcoins in the trust and since you said he has 300,000 as his part,’’ the computer expert’s brother wrote. “I was figuring the other 700,000 is yours,” he added in the email. “Is that correct?”

“Around that,” Wright wrote back. “Minus what was needed for the company’s use.”

The case is Ira Kleiman v. Craig Wright, No. 18-cv-80176, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Source: MyBroadband

BankservAfrica’s latest take-home pay and private pensions indices show that 2018 is off to a good start, with growth experienced in both nominal and real terms.

The BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index shows average formal sector pay was R14,675 in January 2018, 5.8% higher than January 2017 before inflationary adjustment.

This increase was lower than December’s growth of 7.3%. However, when adjusted in line with inflation, take-home pay increased by 1.2% on a year-on-year basis, and represents the slowest increase in five months.

“This positive real increase for money banked by employees’ points to a gradual increase in living standards for most formally employed people,” said Mike Schüssler, chief economist at Economists dot coza.

The typical formal employee experienced a real increase of 2.2% – nearly double that of the average take-home pay increase.

The share of employees who receive up to R4,000 per month declined to 13.7% in January 2017 compared to 15.2% in January 2018. This is a 7.8% decline in the number of employees receiving less than R4,000 per month over the last year.

Those earning monthly salaries between R12,000 and R1,000 now stand at 474,000 people, which is more than the 436,900 who earn below R4,000.

While the number of employees taking home between R12,000 and R16,000 only grew by 1.2% , this number is still higher than the number of earners in the low-income category.

A quick review of the salary index shows that the real increase average was 1% more than in 2016, the group said.

Real take-home pay declined in the first two months of the year and then gradually increased. In the last three months of 2017, take-home pay increased by 2.8% on average after inflation.

Source: Business Tech

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