Daily PT Capsule Feb 24

Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services
Daily PT Capsule UPSC Civil Services

LiFi to deliver faster Internet access

French start-up Oledcomm demonstrated the Li-Fi technology at the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile fair, in Barcelona. LiFI promises to deliver internet access through light. As soon as a smartphone was placed under an office lamp, it started playing a video.

Laboratory tests have shown theoretical speeds of over 200 Gbps – fast enough to download the equivalent of 23 DVDs in one second.

Li-Fi allows speeds that are 100 times faster than Wi-Fi which uses radio waves to transmit data.


What is Li-Fi? – Li-Fi stands for Light Fidelity is a bidirectional, high speed and fully networked wireless communication technology similar to Wi-Fi. The term was coined by Harald Haas and is a form of visible light communication and a subset of optical wireless communications (OWC). Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. This means that it accommodates a photo-detector to receive light signals and a signal processing element to convert the data into ‘stream-able’ content.

The technology uses the frequencies generated by LED bulbs — which flicker on and off imperceptibly thousands of times a second — to beam information through the air, leading it to be dubbed the “digital equivalent of Morse Code”.

Has it been tested? – It started making its way out of laboratories in 2015 to be tested in everyday settings in France, a Li-Fi pioneer, such as a museums and shopping malls. It has also seen test runs in Belgium, Estonia and India.

Why do we need it? – Apart from the high speed the number of objects that are connected to the Internet are soaring and the spectrum for radio waves used by Wi-Fi in short supply, Li-Fi offers a viable alternative, according to its promoters.

What are its drawbacks? – Li-fi has its drawbacks – it only works if a smartphone or other device is placed directly in the light and it cannot travel through walls. This restricts its use to smaller spaces.  Li-Fi also requires the lightbulb is on at all times to provide connectivity, meaning that the lights will need to be on during the day.

Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia


Sea Level rising fastest since last 2800 years

The world’s oceans are rising at a faster rate than any time in the past 2,800 years, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


As global temperatures continue to rise, ice in the polar regions and glaciers will melt, dumping tons of extra water into the ocean. Warmer water temperatures will also lead the oceans to expand.

What will  be the impact of rise in water level? – The impact of rise in water levels would be multi-fold.

1) It will contaminate drinking water – As the rising sea crawls farther and farther up the shore, in many places it will seep into the freshwater sources in the ground that many coastal areas rely on for their drinking water.

2) It will destroy coastal swamps – Coastal wetlands and swamps are important regions in the ecosystem. They act as a shield against influence of the ocean and provide habitat for wildlife. Rise in water level would destroy these low lying areas.

3) Threat to wildlife – Many forms of wildlife make their home on the beach. As the rising ocean erodes the shoreline and floods the areas in which coastal animals live, animals like shorebirds and sea turtles will suffer.

4) Small Island Nations – Countries like Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives and many other small island nations in the Pacific are under threat of being submerged completely if the sea levels keep on increasing.


FBI vs Apple over unlocking of iPhone

On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, USA which consisted of a mass shooting and an attempted bombing.

FBI announced that it was unable to unlock one of the mobile phones they recovered, a county-owned iPhone 5C used by one of the shooters, due to its advanced security features, including encryption of user data.

FBI asked Apple Inc. to create a new version of the phone’s iOS operating system that could be installed and run in the phone’s random access memory to disable certain security features. Apple declined due to its policy to never undermine the security features of its products. The FBI responded by successfully applying to a federal judge to issue a court order, mandating Apple to create and provide the requested software.

Apple announced their intent to oppose the order, citing the security risks that the creation of a backdoor would pose towards their customers.


Privacy vs National Security – The issue has brought to focus the debate of individual privacy over national security. The data from the phone could be helpful in unearthing important evidence about the perpetrators of the crime incident. But there have been reservation among tech companies like Google,  Facebook and Apple of requests from various governments for private data. They fear that the case could set a precedent for future such requests.

What it means for India? – The Information Technology (IT) Act Section 69 confers sweeping powers on the government to retrieve such information. It gives power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource.

But such a case of refusal could be the case in India where companies like Apple would suggest that building a backdoor for one iPhone will compromise the security of all.

Apple is not an Indian company and can refuse to comply with Section 69 of the IT Act, claiming the provision violates California law (where it is based). Apple India Private Ltd, its Indian subsidiary, is registered under the Companies Act but mostly performs administrative and financial functions. Apple does not provide Internet services, and has no software licensing agreement with Indian telecom operators. What’s more, Indian developers whose content is featured in the App Store sign agreements directly with the parent company. Short of proceeding legally against an Apple India director or revoking its import licence — neither of which would be sound measures — the Government of India has limited options to secure its compliance.

Research by Rebecca MacKinnon and Elonnai Hickok suggests the Indian government in 2013 placed 3,598 requests for user data from Facebook with a 53 per cent compliance rate, while the U.S. government made nearly 12,600 requests with a compliance rate of 81 per cent. There is simply no basis or justification for the differential treatment of compliance requests but for the fact that Facebook is a U.S.-based company.


Government Likely to Unveil IPR policy

The government is likely to announce its National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy within a fortnight. The policy will be entirely compliant with the World Trade Organisation’s agreement on Trade Related aspects of IPRs (TRIPS) and will have a special thrust on awareness generation and effective enforcement of IPRs, besides encouragement of IP commercialisation through various incentives.

However, the policy will not suggest any changes in the existing Indian IPR laws or other related policies on the patent-disabling Compulsory Licencing (CL) and the provision-preventing ‘ever-greening’ of drug patents (done through minor modifications of an existing drug).

The government had in November 2014 said it has set up an IPR think-tank to draft the IPR policy. However, despite the think-tank submitting the final draft in April 2015, the announcement of the policy was delayed as the Cabinet note on it had to be circulated among 29 ministries for their suggestions.

IPR Policy will focus on creating IPR awareness at school/college level by making it a part of syllabus/curriculum, and promote organisations such as the National Research Development Corporation to help commercialise the inventions / patents developed at the level of educational institutes.

The policy will also suggest incentives such as tax benefits and fee waivers to encourage R&D and IP creation to strengthen the Make In India/Start-up/Digital India initiatives.

To protect ‘small inventions’ developed especially in the informal / unorganised sectors, the policy will promote ‘utility patents’ (with lower compliance burden and shorter period of protection, when compared to the normal patents) only for mechanical innovations. This ‘utility patents’ may not be extended to the pharmaceutical sector considering the sensitivities involved in ensuring the efficacy of the drugs.


What is Section 3 (d)? – Section 3(d) of Indian Patents Act deals with evergreening of patents. It says that besides novelty and inventive step, improvement in therapeutic efficacy is a must for grant of patents when it comes to incremental inventions.

The U.S. and EU firms had said the so-called ‘additional filter’ in the form of “improvement in therapeutic efficacy” for grant of patents was inconsistent with WTO’s TRIPS agreement, a charge which India has denied.

What is Compulsory Licensing?  – Compulsory licensing is when a government authorises a party other than the patent owner to produce the patented product or process, without the patent owner’s consent. India granted its first Compulsory License to Bayer for Nexavar. The EU and U.S. had objected to India’s adoption of CL in industrial sectors (in the National Manufacturing Policy) saying it will discourage investment and innovation. It also objects to its inclusion in Section 84 of India’s Patents Act.


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