Rein in Google
The antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice against Google marks a significant step towards curbing the growing monopolistic power of the Internet behemoth. Although the lawsuit focuses only on specific deals done by Google with phone makers and telecom operators to capture significant market share for its search engine business, the outcome of this case could open investigations into other questionable practices related to its Android App store and other software platforms. With a market cap of nearly $1 trillion, revenues of $160 billion, and a 90 per cent market share in the search business, Google is one of the largest companies in the world has ever seen. The nature of its online products and services allows Google to wield tremendous power over five billion people with Internet access around the world. From influencing consumer shopping behaviour to determining the political destiny of countries around the world, Google arguably exercises more influence over how we live than any government today. This dominance enables Google to do a lot of things that are not just anti-competitive, but also anti-consumer. Google recently announced that it would make app developers on the Google playstore platform use its in-app payment system instead of independent payment systems. This means developers would have to use Google's billing system, which takes a 30 per cent fee for every transaction. Although this decision has been withheld after protests from developers, it reveals Google's inclination to misuse its market dominance. Google unabashedly tracks user's shopping habits, video watching preferences, the content of e-mail conversations, places travelled, food eating habits among other things. This could be a major problem in countries like India, where personal data protection and privacy laws are virtually non-existent.
Twitter, Facebook and Google exert immense influence on the social, economic and political landscape of a country. Facebook, for example has been accused of looking the other way when its platform was being allegedly misused to influence democratic processes in the US. The social media platform recently set-up an oversight board in a bid to showcase that it is not designed to take quick decision. Platforms like Google or Facebook cannot be trusted to do its own policing. Neither can this task be left to governments, as it could become a potent weapon in the hands of any ruling regime to change the course of elections or target political rivals. Perhaps, it is time to set up an independent regulatory oversight of internet platforms owned by giant multinationals. Proceedings initiated against Google in the US should pave the way for similar scrutiny in India, too.
Chandan Kumar Nath,
Stop promising government jobs
Today, all the State governments are claiming to provide employment to maximum youths, while a strange statement of the Chief Minister of Goa has come out with grave concern. Goa CM Pramod Sawant on Saturday said that even if God himself became the Chief Minister, he would not be able to provide government jobs to everyone. "It is not possible to give 100 per cent government jobs to everyone. If tomorrow morning, even if God himself becomes the Chief Minister, it is not possible," Sawant said during a web conference with village Panchayat representatives of 'Swayampurna Mitra' outreach initiative launched in Panaji. This acceptance shows the reality of the availability of government jobs in the country. Millions of youth aspirants try hard in the hope of a government job, but they do not get success. Many times the recruitment process is not completed for a long time. The situation is not good for the youth and also raises questions to politicians and governments. The State governments must stop promising employment and initiate steps to create new job opportunities by skill based training programs in various sectors. People need to focus on other employment alternatives by bringing down their dependence on government jobs. This is the need of the hour.
Amit Singh Kushwaha,
Jadav Payeng in books
It is a matter of great proud for us that the life lessons of Jadav Payeng, the Forest Man of India is included in the curriculum of Green Hills School in Bristal, America. Payeng has dedicated his life for taking care of the Molai woods - a forest area of around 550 hectares of land, which is located along a barren sandbar of Majuli. From 1979, he has been planting samplings and transforming the wasteland into a heavily wooded area. This Padmashree awardee is really a great man for his incredible work and tireless contribution towards the green mission of Assam.
Rupak G. Duarah,