Dhaka, Oct 20 (UNB) – Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy on Sunday said most of the citizen services will be available either using fingertips on mobile phones or through Union Digital Centers by 2021.
“Today, this is another big step towards that direction (providing citizen services digitally). We’ll also be adding more and more citizen services,” Joy said while addressing a function marking the unveiling of ‘E-government Master Plan’ and launch of ‘Digital Municipality Service System for Digital Bangladesh’ in the city.
He also inaugurated three digital one-stop services – Eksheba, Ekpay and Ekshop – to enable the people to get different government services, utility bills and fees payment facilities and e-commerce.
Local Government, Rural Development & Co-operatives Minister MdTazul Islam MP, State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak , South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Hu Kang-Il, Senior Secretary, ICT Division NM ZeaulAlam and Country Director, KOICA Bangladesh Office Joe Hyun-Gue, among others, were present at the function.
Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in collaboration with Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) and ICT Division unveiled its ‘E-government Master Plan and launched ‘Digital Municipality Service System’ for Digital Bangladesh.
These are part of KOICA-assisted project ‘Establishment of the e-government Master Plan for Digital Bangladesh’.
Joy said KOICA has been a very strong and fundamental partner in much of Bangladesh’s digitization process. “They have the expertise, technology and they have shared that with us and enable us to see rapid progress and digitization.”
He said they started their journey towards Digital Bangladesh more than 10 years ago and at that time most of the people did not have clear idea about Digital Bangladesh.
Today, Joy said, no one questions about Digital Bangladesh and Digital Bangladesh is a reality today.
A successful ICT application in e-Governance gives a one-stop solution and helps to achieve Bangladesh’s vision of “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021, KOICA said.
KOICA initiated to launch a project on “Establishment of the e-Government Master Plan for Digital Bangladesh” in collaboration with Bangladesh Computer Council and ICT Division from 2014 with the grant of USD 3.2 million.
The main objectives include establishment of e-Government master plan and action plan, implementation of the pilot project for e-Government and capacity building of Bangladesh government officials.
As part of the Republic of Korea’s support for Digital Bangladesh, e-Government Master Plan has been established to help Bangladesh with implementation of transparent, efficient and accountable public administration.
It further aims to digitize public services for better delivery and greater social inclusion hoping to reach even the vulnerable sections of the society.
KOICA hoped that this document will serve as a foundation for the Government’s “Digital Bangladesh by 2021” program, which envisions the mainstreaming of information technology as a pro-poor tool to reduce poverty, establish good governance and ensure social equity.
During the development of the strategic document, 47 initiatives were discovered for short, mid and long-term implementation to achieve Digital Bangladesh.
Among these initiatives, the first ranked initiative was ‘Digital Municipality Service System Development’.
KOICA took this as a pilot project and implanted in Mymensingh City Corporation and nine municipalities, namely, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Jhenaidah, Natore, Ramgoti, Singra, Tarabo, Tungipara, and Pirganj.
Washington, Oct 20 (AP/UNB) — The State Department has completed its internal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of private email and found violations by 38 people, some of whom may face disciplinary action.
The investigation, launched more than three years ago, determined that those 38 people were "culpable" in 91 cases of sending classified information that ended up in Clinton's personal email, according to a letter sent to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley this week and released Friday. The 38 are current and former State Department officials but were not identified.
Although the report identified violations, it said investigators had found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information." However, it also made clear that Clinton's use of the private email had increased the vulnerability of classified information.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a tweet Saturday: "For the umpteenth time the email story is put to bed w/ a clear recognition it was a pointless crusade that took away from so many other issues we should have been discussing in '16."
The investigation covered 33,000 emails that Clinton turned over for review after her use of the private email account became public. The department said it found a total of 588 violations involving information then or now deemed to be classified but could not assign fault in 497 cases.
For current and former officials, culpability means the violations will be noted in their files and will be considered when they apply for or go to renew security clearances. For current officials, there could also be some kind of disciplinary action. But it was not immediately clear what that would be.
The report concluded "that the use of a private email system to conduct official business added an increased degree of risk of compromise as a private system lacks the network monitoring and intrusion detection capabilities of State Department networks."
The department began the review in 2016 after declaring 22 emails from Clinton's private server to be "top secret." Clinton was then running for president against Donald Trump, and Trump made the server a major focus of his campaign.
Then-FBI Director James Comey held a news conference that year in which he criticized Clinton as "extremely careless" in her use of the private email server as secretary of state but said the FBI would not recommend charges.
The Justice Department's inspector general said FBI specialists did not find evidence that the server had been hacked, with one forensics agent saying he felt "fairly confident that there wasn't an intrusion."
Grassley started investigating Clinton's email server in 2017, when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Iowa Republican has been critical of Clinton's handling of classified information and urged administrative sanctions.
Nanchang, Oct 19 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The 2019 World Conference on VR Industry kicked off Saturday in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, highlighting the latest technologies, products and types of businesses related to the VR (virtual reality) industry.
Themed "VR plus 5G for a new era of perception," this year's conference aims to explore the 5G-enabled development of the VR industry in the initial stage of 5G commercialization, which is expected to cultivate new opportunities for various VR application.
More than 7,000 experts, scholars and entrepreneurs in the field of VR, AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) from home and abroad attended the conference, nearly 300 of whom will share their insights at the main forum and 23 parallel forums, according to the organizers.
The three-day event will feature a VR expo with a 60,000-square-meter display area and 215 domestic and overseas corporate exhibitors and industry organizations from Japan, India, Germany and other countries and regions, demonstrating their latest developments of VR and AR products and applications.
Co-hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the provincial government of Jiangxi, the conference is held annually in Nanchang. China's first industrial base for VR was launched in 2016 in Jiangxi, where a VR industry cluster is now taking shape.
A total of 108 VR industry agreements and projects worth 35 billion yuan (about 5 billion U.S. dollars) were inked during the 2018 conference, according to Yang Wenbin, deputy mayor of Nanchang, who also noted that more than 90 percent of the projects have been either registered or put into operation.
San Francisco, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Netflix's subscriber growth is bogging down even before the leading video streaming service confronts high-powered threats from Apple and Walt Disney Co.
The latest sign of the challenges the company is facing emerged Wednesday with the release of its third-quarter results. The numbers provided further evidence that Netflix's salad days may be over, particularly in the U.S., where most households that want its 12-year-old streaming service already have it.
Netflix added 6.8 million subscribers worldwide from July through September, below the 7 million customers forecast by the Los Gatos, California, company. Just 520,000 of those subscribers were picked up in the U.S., below the 800,000 that management anticipated. The shortfall came after Netflix lost 123,000 subscribers in the U.S. during the April-June period, marking its first contraction in eight years.
The latest miss on U.S. subscriber growth "spells trouble for the company ahead of heightened competition," said eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom. "The fourth quarter represents a completely new ballgame for Netflix."
Uncertainty about Netflix's future growth is the main reason the company's stock had dropped by about 30% below its peak price of $423.21 reached 16 months ago. Netflix's shares surged 10% in extended trading Wednesday, apparently because some investors had been bracing for an even bigger letdown in the third quarter.
Netflix said it expects to add another 7.6 million worldwide subscribers during the final three months of the year, down from 8.8 million during the same period last year in an acknowledgment of the fiercer competition.
"The launch of these new services will be noisy," Netflix advised in its third-quarter letter to shareholders. "There may be some modest headwind to our near-term growth, and we have tried to factor that into our guidance."
The big question now is whether some of Netflix's existing subscribers will decide to cancel its service and defect to cheaper alternatives that Apple and Disney will launch within the next month.
Apple is charging only $5 per month for its service, set for a Nov. 1 debut, while Disney is selling a service featuring its vast library of treasured films and TV shows for just $7 per month beginning Nov. 12. Netflix's most popular plan in the U.S. costs $13 per month.
Netflix is counting on the unique lineup of award-winning TV shows and movies that it has amass since expanding into original programming six years ago to help it retain its competitive edge and attract more subscribers.
It has taken advantage of its head start in video streaming to track the viewing interests 158 million subscribers around the world, giving it valuable insights into the kind of programming that is most likely to appeal to wide swaths of its audience.
That knowledge, in theory, will help Netflix and choose which TV shows and movies to back in the future as it bids for programming against the likes of Apple, Disney and existing rivals such as Amazon and AT&T's HBO.
Even if Netflix keeps picking winners, some budget-conscious subscribers may be tempted to abandon its service and be content with the entertainment options being dangling by Apple and Disney.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings acknowledged Wednesday that a U.S. price increase imposed earlier this year is causing some current subscribers to cancel the service and perhaps causing some prospective customers to shy away.
"There's a little more sensitivity, we are starting to see a little touch of that," Hastings said during a discussion about the third quarter. "What we have to do is just really focus on the service quality, make us must-have."
Apple is trying to make its new streaming service even more tempting by offering it for a year to anyone who buys an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. And Disney already is heavily promoting on Twitter its forthcoming service by highlighting that it will feature classic films such as "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs" and "The Lion King."
Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives said he is expecting Netflix to lose some of its appeal. He thinks the company could lose about 24 million subscribers, or about 15% of its customers, during the next 18 months.
As more competitors take aim at Netflix, some of them are also pulling their programming from the service. Disney is yanking its films from Netflix beginning next year. Beloved TV series "The Office" and "Friends' will disappear from the service in 2020 and 2021 in separate decisions made by NBC and AT&T.
The losses of those popular shows may hurt Netflix even more than the competing streaming services from Apple and Disney, said Michael Pachter, another Wedbush Securities analyst.
"Netflix is going to lose 50% of its most viewed hours during the next two years," Pachter said. "As that starts to happen, subscribers are going to start to notice and some may start looking elsewhere."
Netflix has another problem: It has been borrowing billions of dollars to pay for most of its programming. With its debt load already standing at $12 billion and still likely to climb, Netflix probably can't afford to cut its prices without risking bankruptcy, Pachter said.
Belgrade, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — When hundreds of video cameras with the power to identify and track individuals started appearing in the streets of Belgrade as part of a major surveillance project, some protesters began having second thoughts about joining anti-government demonstrations in the Serbian capital.
Local authorities assert the system, created by Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, helps reduce crime in the city of 2 million. Critics contend it erodes personal freedoms, makes political opponents vulnerable to retribution and even exposes the country's citizens to snooping by the Chinese government.
The cameras, equipped with facial recognition technology, are being rolled out across hundreds of cities around the world, particularly in poorer countries with weak track records on human rights where Beijing has increased its influence through big business deals. With the United States claiming that Chinese state authorities can get backdoor access to Huawei data, the aggressive rollout is raising concerns about the privacy of millions of people in countries with little power to stand up to China.
"The system can be used to trail political opponents, monitor regime critics at any moment, which is completely against the law," said Serbia's former commissioner for personal data protection, Rodoljub Sabic.
Groups opposed to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic say police are leaking video of protests to pro-government media, which publish the images, along with the identities of participants. Vucic himself has boasted the police have the capability to count "each head" at anti-government gatherings. During a recent rally, protesters climbed up a pole and covered a camera lens with duct tape scrawled with the word "censored."
Serbian police deny any such abuse of the Huawei system, which will eventually encompass 1,000 cameras in 800 locations throughout Belgrade. Huawei said in a statement that it "complies with all applicable laws and regulations" in Serbia and anywhere else it does business.
While facial recognition technology is being adopted in many countries, spurring debate over the balance between privacy and safety, the Huawei system has gained extra attention due to accusations that Chinese laws requiring companies to assist in national intelligence work give authorities access to its data.
As a result, some countries are reconsidering using Huawei technology, particularly the superfast 5G networks that are being rolled out later this year.
Still, Huawei, which denies accusations of any Chinese government control, has had no trouble finding customers eager to install its so-called Safe Cities technology, particularly among countries that China has brought closer into its diplomatic and economic orbit.
Besides Serbia, that list includes Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Angola, Laos, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Uganda, as well as a few liberal democracies like Germany, France and Italy. The system is used in some 230 cities, exposing tens of millions of people to its screening.
In a promotional brochure, Huawei says its video surveillance technology can scan over long distances to detect "abnormal behavior" such as loitering, track the movement of cars and people, calculate crowd size and send alerts to a command center if it detects something suspicious. Local authorities can then act upon the information they receive.
In one case advertised on its website, the company says a suspect in a hit-and-run accident in Belgrade was later discovered in China with the help of face recognition data shared by the Serbian police with their Chinese counterparts.
In view of the cybersecurity accusations leveled by the U.S. and international rights groups against Huawei, the relationship between China and countries that use the company's technology is coming under renewed scrutiny.
China's influence in Serbia, a European Union candidate that Beijing views as a gateway to the continent, has significantly expanded in recent years through Beijing's global Belt and Road investment programs. The populist Serbian regime has been keen to develop closer ties and the country's fragile democracy allows China's economic interests to grow relatively unchecked, without raising too many questions about human rights, environmental standards or transparency.
China's state investment bank has granted billions of dollars in easy-term loans to build coal-powered plants, roads, railroads and bridges. Chinese police officers even help patrol the streets of Belgrade, a security presence officially billed as assisting the growing number of Chinese tourists who visit the city.
It's a similar story in Uganda, where China has invested heavily in infrastructure like highways and a hydropower dam on the Nile.
When longtime President Yoweri Museveni launched a $126-million project to install Huawei facial recognition systems a year ago, he said the cameras were "eyes, ears and a nose" to fight rampant street crime in the sprawling capital, Kampala. Opposition activists say the real goal is to deter street protesters against an increasingly unpopular government.
"The cameras are politically motivated," said Joel Ssenyonyi, a spokesman for the musician and activist known as Bobi Wine who has emerged as a powerful challenger to Museveni. "They are not doing this for security. The focus for them is hunting down political opponents."
In neighboring Kenya, the government has also renewed its focus on public safety after a spate of extremist attacks. It has been pushing to register people digitally, including by recording DNA, iris and facial data. To do so, it turned to China, which helped finance the installation of surveillance cameras in Kenya as far back as 2012.
The Kenyan government wants to pool into one database all the information from public and private CCTV cameras, including those with facial recognition technology, a move that activists warn would vastly expand its surveillance powers in a country that does not have comprehensive data protection laws.
A growing number of countries are following China's lead in deploying artificial intelligence to track citizens, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The group says at least 75 countries are actively using AI tools such as facial recognition for surveillance — and Huawei has sold its systems in 50 of those countries, giving it a far wider reach than competitors such as Japan-based NEC and U.S.-based IBM.
"It's very unclear what safeguards are being put in place," said Steven Feldstein, a Carnegie Endowment fellow who authored a report on the issue. "Where are images being stored? How long are they being stored for? What kind of accountability procedures will there be? What type of operations will be linked to these surveillance cameras?"
Huawei said in an emailed statement that it "complies with all applicable laws and regulations in our countries of business. This is the most fundamental principle of our business operations. We are dedicated to bringing people better connectivity, eliminating digital gaps, and promoting the sustainable development of our societies and economies."
In Belgrade's bustling downtown Republic Square, high-tech video cameras are pointed in all directions from an office building as pedestrians hurry about their everyday business.
With public authorities disclosing little about how the cameras work, a rights group has set up a tent to ask pedestrians whether they know they are being watched.
"We don't want to be in some kind of Big Brother society," said rights activist Ivana Markulic. "We are asking: Where are the cameras, where are they hidden, how much did we pay for them and what's going to happen with information collected after this surveillance?"