Over 1.8 cr Indian citizens’ personal records exposed in 10 data broker breaches

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New Delhi: India is the second-most affected country when it comes to data broker breaches, and more than 1.8 crore (18.7 million) personal records of Indian citizens were compromised through 10 data breaches in the past 20 years, a report has revealed.

A data broker is a business that aggregates information from a variety of sources, processes it to enrich, cleanse or analyse it and licenses it to other organisations.

According to Incogni, a leading data removal service by VPN service provider Surfshark, India is among the top five countries most affected by the most significant data broker breaches, led by the US which has seen a massive 207.6 million personal records of their citizens being compromised in the same period.

The other most affected countries are the UK, Brazil and Canada.

“Data privacy is becoming increasingly alarming, yet many people are still unaware of the hidden market in which data brokers operate. Upon reviewing the findings, we have seen that data brokers can also experience a data breach, just like any other company. However, they are the ones dealing with massive amounts of sensitive data,” said Darius Belejevas, Head of Incogni.

Incogni’s researchers analysed 506 registered, US-based data brokers and found that in the past 20 years, 23 (4.5 per cent) of these companies have suffered data breaches, and at least 10 data broker breaches to date resulted in at least 1 million user records being leaked, exposing a total of 444.5 million records.

The People Data Labs breach was the most significant in each of these five countries.

This breach exposed a little over a third (35.2 per cent) of breached US records, around two-fifths (42.1 per cent) of the Brazilian records, more than half of the Canadian (54.3 per cent) and UK (56.7 per cent) records, and over two thirds (68.5 per cent) of the Indian records.

The analysis of data broker breaches showed that since 2011, things started to go downhill, with a data breach happening almost every year — 2014 and 2022 being the only two exceptions.

The year 2017 experienced a massive spike, with six companies being breached.

With the pandemic spreading, 2020 was a challenging year that witnessed a significant surge in cybercrime.

The number of cybercrime victims increased dramatically by 69 per cent, highlighting the severity of the situation. As a result, it is perhaps not surprising that a total of nine data breaches occurred during this time, the report showed.

There was a decrease in the number of data breaches in 2021, with only three breaches reported.

“While no reports of data breaches were received in 2022, it’s important to note that data breaches are not always immediately discovered. That’s why the accuracy of this information is yet to be confirmed,” the findings showed.

There have been a total of 40 events of data brokers suffering data breaches, starting with the Acxiom breach in 2002.

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PM Modi raises with Australian PM issue of attacks on temples in Australia


NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday raised with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese the issue of recent attacks on temples in Australia.

The matter came up for discussion during their wide-ranging dialogue that was aimed at expanding overall ties.

In his media statement, Modi said it is a matter of regret that reports of attacks on temples have been coming regularly from Australia over the past few weeks and that it is natural that such news worries everyone in India.

”I conveyed these feelings and concerns to Prime Minister Albanese and he has assured me that the safety of the Indian community is of special priority for him,” Modi said in presence of the Australian prime minister.

”Our teams will be in regular contact on this matter, and will cooperate as much as possible,” he said.

Modi said he discussed maritime security in the Indo-Pacific and ways to enhance mutual security with his Australian counterpart.

”We discussed mutual cooperation to develop reliable and strong global supply chains,” Modi said.

Prime Minister Modi also said that both sides are working on a comprehensive economic agreement.

”In the field of defence, we have made remarkable agreements in the last few years, including logistics support for each other’s militaries,” Modi said.

In his comments, Albanese said Modi and he agreed on the conclusion of India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement as soon as possible.

”I am hopeful that we will be able to finalise it this year,” he said. The Australian prime minister arrived in Delhi on Thursday evening after concluding his engagements in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.


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I&B minister Anurag Thakur says NYT ‘spreading lies’ about India


NEW DELHI: Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday accused The New York Times of “spreading lies” about India, describing an opinion piece published in it on the freedom of press in Kashmir as “mischievous and fictitious”.

“New York Times had long back dropped all pretensions of neutrality while publishing anything about India. NYT’s so-called opinion piece on freedom of press in Kashmir is mischievous and fictitious, published with a sole motive to spread a propaganda about India and its democratic institutions and values,” Thakur said on Twitter.

“This is in continuation with what NYT and a few other link-minded foreign media have been spreading lies about India and our democratically elected Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji. Such lies can’t last long,” the minister said.

The strong rebuttal by Thakur came after the US-based newspaper published an opinion piece on alleged curbs on information flow in Kashmir.

“Some foreign media nourishing a grudge against India and our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi have long been systematically trying to peddle lies about our democracy and pluralistic society,” Thakur said.

He said freedom of press in India is as sacrosanct as other fundamental rights.

“Democracy in India and We the people are very mature and we don’t need to learn grammar of democracy from such agenda driven media,” he said.

Thakur said the “blatant lies” spread by NYT about press freedom in Kashmir is condemnable.

“Indians will not allow such mindsets to run their decisive agenda on India soil,” the minister said.

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Dr Jitendra announces exclusive women’s portal for research grants, funds


NEW DELHI: To mark the International Women’s Day, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today announced an exclusive women’s portal for research grants and funds.The portal will become functional with effect from 1st of April.

The Minister was addressing the International Women’s Day celebration programme organised by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) here. He informed that the Council CSIR has decided to start exclusive Research Grants for Women Scientists under CSIR-ASPIRE and an exclusive portal in this regard will be available from April 1, 2023. The Special Call inviting proposals from Women Scientists will open the same day.

Pertinent to mention that the proposal for inviting research grant proposals from Women Scientists under Extramural Research Scheme, was approved during the 200th meeting of the Governing Body of CSIR on 17th December, 2022 under the chairmanship of Dr Jitendra Singh.

Only women scientists across the country will be eligible to apply for research grants to carry out R&D in major disciplines of science and engineering viz Life Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering Sciences and inter/trans disciplinary sciences.

The funds will be provided for staff (JRF/SRF/RA), contingency and minor equipment. The total budget of a research proposal including research fellow’s stipend should generally not exceed the limit of 25-30 lacs.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said, this initiative is aligned to the Government of India’s initiative to empower women and promote ‘Nari Shakti’ in the country.

“As we move towards Amrit Kal, this is another visionary step towards the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s efforts to put Nari Shakti at the forefront of India’s development journey,” he said.

CSIR has been taking several initiatives towards Women empowerment, including 15% discount on CSIR technologies for women entrepreneurs offered by CSIR- Central Leather Research Institute and a slew of training programmes across the whole spectrum of CSIR domain. In August last year, for the first time in the history of CSIR, senior electrochemical scientist Ms. Nallathamby Kalaiselvi became the first woman Director General to head the premier scientific R&D body that constitutes 38 research institutes across the country.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said Prime Minister Modi considers women-led development a central dimension of India’s progress and necessary for strengthening India.

“In the last nine years, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government has launched numerous welfare schemes that have aimed to empower women and make them lead India’s development journey. His efforts are enabling women to overcome social barriers and fulfil their aspirations,” he said.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said 68% of 2 crore PM Awas-Gramin beneficiaries are women and over 23 crore MUDRA loans have been granted to Women beneficiaries. For the first time, sex ratio in India has improved to 1,020 women per 1,000 men, according to the NFHS-5 survey, he said.

“PM Modi has made unshackling women and freeing them from the drudgery of everyday life a key objective of policy making. Every flagship welfare scheme launched by the Modi government has improved the lives of women across the country,” he said.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said, in the last 9 years, there has been a massive increase in Women Police Personnel. In 2018, PM Modi announced a landmark decision to allow Permanent Commission for Women in the Armed Forces. There are more than 10,000 Women Officers serving in the Armed Forces, the majority in the Medical Services.

“Now Women are breaking the glass ceiling in every sphere. Only recently, the Indian Air Force posted Group Captain Shaliza Dhami as the first woman officer to command a missile squadron in the Western sector facing Pakistan. Women CRPF combatants have been inducted into the elite anti-Maoist COBRA Unit. Women officers have also started taking command of various Army units. The Navy has also started inducting Women Officers on frontline warships,” he said.

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PM Modi, Australian PM Albanese at Gujarat Stadium for India-Australia Test


AHMEDABAD: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, on Thursday arrived at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad to watch the first day of the final Test match of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2023.

PM Modi welcomed his Australian counterpart at the venue, the largest stadium in the world.

Albanese will watch the first hour’s play between India and Australia in the company of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss and opted to bat versus India at the toss for the fourth and final Test for the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy series.

Both the Prime Ministers were greeted with loud cheers as they did a lap of honour at the stadium prior to the match.

Earlier, PM Modi arrived at the venue and was received by Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, and state Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi.

BCCI president Roger Binny and BCCI secretary Jay Shah were also present at the felicitation.

The Australian PM who arrived in India on Wednesday. Banners of Prime Minister Modi and his Australian counterpart went up at the Narendra Modi stadium ahead of the final Test.

India is currently leading the series 2-1. However, the hosts need to secure an outright victory in the final Test to qualify for the final of the ICC World Test Championship where they will be facing Australia in London from June 7 onwards.

“One of the things that bind both countries is cricket and it will be great to see the leaders of India and Australia on day one of the matches in Ahmedabad,” Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell said.

Yesterday, Albanese participated in Holi celebrations along with Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and the Governor of Gujarat Acharya Devvrat at Raj Bhawan in the state capital Gandhinagar.

“Honoured to celebrate Holi in Ahmedabad, India. Holi’s message of renewal through the triumph of good over evil is an enduring reminder for all of us”, tweeted Australian PM Anthony Albanese with colourful pictures of Holi celebrations with flowers and colours.

The Australian Prime Minister on the same day visited the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad and paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel accompanied the Australian PM on his visit to the Ashram. During the visit, Albanese took a complete tour of the Ashram.

The Australian PM, upon his arrival in India, tweeted: “An incredible welcome to Ahmedabad, India. The beginning of an important trip for Australia-India relations.”

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NHAI likely to increase toll tax across India from next month


NEW DELHI: National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), starting from April 1, is expected to raise toll rates, leading to higher costs for individuals traveling through National Highways (NHs) and Expressways.

According to reports, the toll prices are expected to increase by 5% to 10%.

Earlier, it was reported that the central government was contemplating the replacement of toll plazas with cameras that read number plates. In an interview, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari revealed that the union ministry of road transport and highways was planning to eliminate all toll plazas on national highways and rely on Automatic Number Plate Reader (ANPR) cameras.

As per the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008, the fee rates are supposed to be revised each year starting from April 1. The Ministry of Road Transport is set to examine the proposals by the end of this month, and the rates may be approved after due consideration.

The toll rates for cars and light vehicles are expected to rise by 5%, and for other heavy vehicles, it may increase by up to 10%. The toll rates for the recently commissioned Delhi-Mumbai Expressway are expected to rise.

Currently, the toll is Rs 2.19 per kilometer on the newly opened section of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, and it will increase by around 10%.

Presently, roughly 20,000 vehicles travel on the expressway every day. This figure is projected to increase to 50,000-60,000 in the following six months. Additionally, toll rates for the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and Delhi-Meerut Expressway are expected to increase.

Furthermore, the monthly pass provided to individuals residing within 20 kilometers of the toll plaza, which is typically less expensive, is expected to rise by 10%.

With the new toll rates, the NHAI aims to increase revenue and provide better maintenance and operation services to road users. However, the move is likely to be met with resistance from citizens and opposition parties.


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Jio extends 5G coverage to 27 more cities, now covers 331 cities across India

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MUMBAI: Reliance Jio, the country’s largest telecom operator, on Wednesday announced the launch of its 5G services in 27 more cities of 13 states and union territories to extend its network of ultra high-speed telephony to 331 cities across India.

Jio True 5G is now available in 27 additional cities in states like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, the company said in a statement.

Starting March 8, 2023, Jio users in these 27 cities will be invited to the Jio Welcome Offer, to experience unlimited data at up to 1 Gbps speeds, at no additional cost, it said.

Its billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani had previously announced that Jio’s 5G services will cover the entire country by the end of 2023.

“Starting today, the technological advantages of high-speed internet, low-latency, stand-alone True 5G services shall be made available to the people and businesses of 27 (more) cities,” the statement said. “Jio True 5G offers lightning-fast speeds of up to 1 Gbps, enabling seamless streaming of high-definition content, immersive and interactive viewing, and cloud gaming”.

The technology also promises to enhance the capabilities of emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), paving the way for innovative applications in nation-building areas like healthcare, education, and agriculture.

Jio spokesperson said, “We want every Jio user to enjoy the transformational benefits of Jio True 5G technology in 2023. By December 2023, Jio True 5G will cover every town/city in the country.”

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Industry to be equal stakeholder in StartUps: Dr Jitendra


HYDERABAD: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said here today that the Industry should be ready to take up the responsibility of being equal stakeholder in StartUps, right from the moment the project is conceived. This, he said, is essential not only for sustaining the StartUps in the long run by linking them with livelihood, but also for bringing about value addition to the Indian Industry as per the contemporary global benchmarks.

Addressing a special session of Industrialists, StartUps and Innovators at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) here and earlier during over one hour one-to-one interaction with representatives of some of the leading Industrialist Houses, Dr Jitendra Singh said, Hyderabad is known to be a destination of Health and Wealth as well as the pharma capital of the region. Therefore, the specialised and skilled manpower developed by the IICT should find a naturally integral place in the pharma and biotech industry of Hyderabad in particular and India in general, he added.

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr Jitendra Singh said, for the first time after several decades, we have a political leadership and a ruling dispensation which are amenable to abandon the obsolete regulations of the past and to bring in enabling reforms for ease of StartUps as well as ease of business. He advised the Industry leaders to set up an institutionalised mechanism and come forth with precise and concrete proposals for doing away with unwarranted regulations and options to avoid procedural delays.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, Hyderabad Pharma City (HPC) under making is the world’s largest integrated cluster in Hyderabad for pharmaceutical industries with thrust on R&D and manufacturing. He said, the cluster has been recognized as National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) by Government of India, given its national and international importance. Developed at international standards, Hyderabad Pharma City will harness the true value of symbiotic co-existence across pharmaceutical value chain, the Minister added.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, each of the 37 CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) Labs spread across the country is dedicated to a different exclusive area of work and the ongoing “One Week, One Lab” campaign is offering an opportunity to each one of them to showcase the work being done by it so that others can avail of it and stakeholders learn about it. He said, keeping in tune with the transformations, the new tagline for CSIR is – “CSIR-The Innovation Engine of India”. With a pool of over 4,500 scientists, CSIR can reorient and revitalize to emerge as Global Centres of Innovations in the Amrit Kaal, the Minister emphasised.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, with the active and constant support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for all scientific endeavors since May 2014, India is scaling new heights each day in Science, Technology, Innovation (STI) eco-system. He said, out of 130 countries, we were at number 81 in the Global Innovation Index till 2015, but we have jumped to 40th position in 2022. Today India is among the top three countries in the world in terms of PhDs and we are among the top three countries in the world in terms of start-up ecosystem”, the Minister reiterated.

Addressing the Heads of academic and research institutes, Leaders from various industries (pharma, biotech, agro, power), Scientists, Staff, Students and general public, Dr Jitendra Singh said, we are celebrating International Women’s day tomorrow and “I am very happy to see that now woman Director General, Dr. Kalaiselvi heading the CSIR for which we waited for 8 decades”.

Talking about CSIR-IICT, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the institute is almost 80 years of its formation, vigorously pursued basic as well as translational research, and is working towards sustainable development goals. He added that CSIR-IICT excelled in both basic and applied research areas of chemistry & chemical technologies. He also informed that the institute houses state-of-art pilot plant facilities to undertake industrial projects in a “concept to commercialization” mode.

Dr Jitendra Singh pointed out that the recent launch of the Hydrazine Hydrate plant by GACL by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is based on the novel technology developed at CSIR-IICT. He said, the Anaerobic Gas Lift Reactor (AGR) Technology-based plant set up at Bowenpally market yard was mentioned by Prime Minister in his popular monthly radio program “Maan Ki Baat”.

Dr Jitendra Singh pointed out that CSIR-IICT developed several technologies for life saving generic drugs like the development of indigenous technology for AZT required in management of AIDS that brought down the cost of the drug in the world market.

Anti-viral drugs and vaccine adjuvant for Caixin developed by the institute played a pivotal role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 virus. CSIR-IICT partnered with the industry during the pandemic to deliver solutions to common people at the shortest time, the Minister informed.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, the institute’s Flouro & Agro Chemicals Department is the first of its kind in a national laboratory that was set up to address the Montreal Protocol resolutions in 1990, when CSIR-IICT was assigned the responsibility to develop indigenous and internationally competent technologies for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are considered as well recommended substitutes for ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).


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Indian Navy chopper makes emergency landing off Mumbai coast; three personnel rescued


MUMBAI: An Indian Navy Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) on a routine sortie with three personnel on board made an emergency landing off the Mumbai coast on Wednesday, an official said.

The crew was rescued by a naval patrol aircraft, said the official.

“Indian Navy ALH on a routine sortie off Mumbai ditched close to the coast. Immediate search and rescue ensured the safe recovery of the crew of 3 by a naval patrol craft,” the official said.

“Ditching” refers to an emergency landing on water.

An inquiry to investigate the incident has been ordered, the official added.

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Sidhu Moosewala’s parents sit outside Punjab Vidhan Sabha complex to seek justice for son


CHANDIGARH: The parents of singer Sidhu Moosewala, who was shot dead last year, sat on a protest outside the Punjab Assembly complex here on Tuesday seeking justice for their son.

Speaking to reporters, an emotional Balkaur Singh said the masterminds behind his son’s murder were still at large.

He said nothing concrete has been done by the investigation agencies and demanded a CBI probe into the incident. Carrying placards, Singh and his wife Charan Kaur sat outside the state assembly.

They were accompanied by some senior Punjab Congress leaders, including Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa. Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, popularly known as Sidhu Moosewala, was shot dead in Punjab’s Mansa district on May 29.

”I have come here today as we have no other option. For the last 10 months, nothing concrete has been done. Enough time has been given to police and the administration to act. ”But the reality is the (murder) case is being suppressed. Crucial witnesses are being eliminated and nothing is going in our favour. So, we are forced to sit outside the Vidhan Sabha,” the singer’s father said. ”Till the time, the state assembly is in session, we will sit outside in protest,” he said.

Singh also mentioned the killing of Mandeep Singh alias Toofan and Manmohan Singh alias Mohna, the accused in the Moosewala murder case, during a clash between inmates in Punjab’s Goindwal Sahib jail last month.

Asked if the ongoing probe was being compromised, Moosewala’s father said, ”Not only is it being influenced, efforts are on to close the case. What is the current status of the investigation? ”A celebrity was murdered triggering worldwide anger, but the Indian government is not listening,” he said. ”Only the shooters (involved in the case) have been arrested, but what about the masterminds?” he asked. When asked if he would demand a CBI probe, Singh replied, ”Definitely, it should be done. When nothing has been done so far, only shooters involved have been nabbed… So far only supplementary challans have been presented in this case.

”I have come here because no one is listening to us,” he said. Drawing parallels, an agitated Singh said when a political figure is killed, prompt action is taken and the accused are brought to the book. ”I have submitted a list of people involved in my son’s killing to the authorities. But nothing has happened. I prefer to die on the road seeking justice for my son,” he said. ”What action has been taken against (Canada-based gangster who had claimed responsibility for Moosewala’s killing) Goldy Brar? A red corner notice was issued against him, but what after that?” he asked. Moosewala’s father also offered reward money for those giving information about the masterminds behind the killing of the popular singer. ”I have said I would make arrangements for reward money. What pressure is Goldy Brar facing…he is living his life comfortably abroad,” he said.

Pointing towards his wife, Singh said, ”Both of us are heart patients. If we do not get justice while we are still alive, what is its worth?” Singh also alleged that he was receiving death threats for pursuing the case.

He added that his family had been cooperating with the administration in probing the case, but they were yet to get any justice.

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