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Following Apple, Google Removes Crypto Applications in India

Following Apple’s steps, Google has also removed crypto currency applications from the Google Play Store application store such as Binance and OKEx.

The reason is because the application fails to comply with government regulations. Where the Indian financial regulator stated that these applications were operating illegally.

On December 28, 2022, India’s Financial Intelligence Unit issued a notice to Binance, OKEx, and several other global crypto exchanges directing them to register with Indian authorities.

The notification states that any exchange providing services to Indian users will have to register as a reporting entity and submit reports to the income tax department.

Such failure to comply with these regulations, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology blocked access to the exchange’s website.

Even though the application has been removed from the Play Store, Binance assured existing users that their accounts and funds remain safe and accessible as reported by Techviral from Crypto Times, Tuesday (16/1/2024).

The crackdown comes after India imposed a 30% tax onĀ  transactions and a 1% tax cut on trading last year, causing trading volumes to fall as users migrated to overseas exchanges with lower tax rates.

India approved this stringent crypto tax law in March 2022 in an attempt to regulate the rapidly growing crypto market. Each trade is taxed separately, losses cannot offset gains, and traders must report their holdings.

By taking down major global apps like Binance and OKEx, Indian authorities continued their efforts to control crypto trading and enforce local tax laws. The outcome remains uncertain for India’s growing crypto community.

TikTok Pulls Hashtag Tracking Feature Because It’s Used for Research

TikTok recently reportedly pulled a tool that allowed researchers and others to study the popularity of hashtags on its app.

The change, first reported by The New York Times, came shortly after researchers published a report using data from the tool that criticized the company.

As The New York Times points out, the tool is one of the few publicly accessible methods for tracking details about the popularity of specific hashtags.

TikTok, like other social media companies, has made it difficult for outsiders to track how content spreads on its app.

The tool in question is a feature called Creative Center, which provides data on hashtag popularity to potential advertisers and others.

Researchers at Rutgers’ Network Contagion Institute have used the Creative Center’s search function to track hashtags deemed sensitive to Chinese government interests.

The researchers compared hashtag prevalence between TikTok and Instagram and concluded that many sensitive topics are dramatically underrepresented on TikTok compared to Instagram.

Soon after the report was published, researchers said that the search feature in Creative Center disappeared without explanation.

“The search capacity for Hashtags itself has now been removed from the user interface completely, which NCRI discovered had occurred on Christmas Day, several days after the initial release of this report,” they wrote in an addendum to the report as quoted by Tech Viral from Engagdet, Thursday (11/ 1/2024).

They added that TikTok had also disabled direct access to a number of sensitive topics they had previously tracked, including hashtags related to US politics and other geopolitical issues.

In a statement to The New York Times, TikTok confirmed the change. “Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have misused the Center’s search function to draw inaccurate conclusions, so we changed some features to ensure they are used as intended,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

The chaos is the latest example of growing tensions between social media companies and researchers trying to study thorny topics such as misinformation.

TikTok Rule The Internet

Meta is also at odds with researchers, and reportedly plans to no longer use CrowdTangle, a tool widely used by researchers and journalists to study how content spreads on Facebook.

X has also severely restricted researchers’ access to data since Elon Musk took control of the company, making previously open APIs prohibitively expensive for most groups.

In TikTok’s case, the company may be particularly sensitive to what it considers inappropriate use of its tools. The company has for years denied that it aligns its content policies with the interests of the Chinese government as many government officials have called for the app to be banned.

Nonetheless, the company has made some concessions to researchers. TikTok began offering an official Research API to some academic institutions last year, and reportedly plans to make the tool available to some civil society groups who have questioned the company’s content moderation practices.

As a result of layoffs, Google will eliminate 17 assistant features

Google Assistant will lose 17 rarely used features. Google said these features were removed so they could focus on improving the quality of Assistant in the future.

In its announcement, Google said starting January 26 when users enable one of the features being removed, they will receive a notification saying that feature is being removed. Most of these features will be removed on February 26.

The news about the elimination of dozens of Assistant features came after Google laid off around a thousand employees in a number of divisions, including employees in the Google Assistant division.

The removed features will impact the Assistant on mobile devices, smartwatches, and smart speaker/display devices. For some features, They offers alternatives to replace the missing features. But there are some features that are omitted completely, such as integration of the Calm meditation service.

Some of the features that are removed include the option to send video emails or audio messages using voice. Assistant users will also not be able to use their voice to make payments, make reservations, or post to social media.

Google also changed the function of the microphone icon in the app and Search bar. Now users who tap the icon will only get a response in the form of search results in Search.

This means that Assistant users can no longer tap the microphone icon in the application or the Search bar to give commands such as turning on lights or sending messages, as quoted from Tech Viral, Saturday (13/1/2024).

Google says this change also applies to Pixel devices as the microphone in the Pixel’s Search bar will call up Voice Search and not Assistant. A complete list of 17 Assistant features that Google has removed can be seen on the following page.

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