Oracle to Add 1,000 Employees in European Cloud Push

Oracle is hiring 1,000 employees in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as it expands its cloud computing services in the region.

The company is looking for workers with between two to six years of experience to staff sales, management, finance, recruitment, marketing and human resources roles for its cloud computing service, Oracle said Tuesday. The Redwood, California-based company did not specify which offices would be adding staff.

The move comes about a month after the company reported 58 percent year-over-year revenue growth in its cloud businesses, which allows corporate customers to manage data through a network of Oracle-run servers. The company sold $4.6 billion (roughly Rs. 29,595 crores) worth of cloud computing software and hardware last year, up from $2.9 billion the year before.

Oracle to Add 1,000 Employees in European Cloud Push“Our cloud business is growing at incredible rates, so now is the right time to bring in a new generation of talent,” Tino Scholman, vice president of Oracle’s cloud computing for the region, said in a statement.

Cloud-related products now account for more than 12 percent of Oracle’s total sales. The company employs approximately 51,000 staff in the US and 85,000 internationally.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounted for 28 percent of Oracle’s overall revenue last year, but sales in the region declined 2 percent last year to $10.6 billion, as customers shifted away from Oracle’s traditional enterprise computing software to cloud-based services.

Public-cloud spending is expected to grow 27 percent annually to reach $82 billion by 2020, according to research firm IDC. Oracle’s “cloud infrastructure products are gaining traction and should become a major pillar of growth next year, amid increasing competition from Amazon,” Bloomberg Intelligence wrote in a July report.

Amazon, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft, International Business Machines and others have all reported surging growth in cloud-computing sales. These companies have been adding data centers in Europe as the competition to deliver these services in the region heats up.

Apple Appoints Isabel Ge Mahe as New China Head Amid Localisation Drive

Apple Inc on Wednesday said it has appointed a managing director for Greater China – a newly created role – in its latest move to localise product features and comply with new cyber regulations in China governing foreign technology firms.

Isabel Ge Mahe, who worked in wireless technology at Apple for over nine years, will coordinate teams across China, the US company said in a statement.

“Apple is strongly committed to invest and grow in China,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in the statement. “We look forward to making even greater contributions under her leadership.”

The announcement comes as Apple works to meet compliance measures under a new law requiring foreign firms to store data locally in partnership with Chinese entities.

Apple Appoints Isabel Ge Mahe as New China Head Amid Localisation DriveApple last week said it will invest in a $1 billion project in Guizhou province which will include a data centre run with a local partner. It said none of its systems will have so-called backdoors that allow outside parties to access data.

Ge Mahe’s previous projects include working with China’s state-backed telecom firms to develop country-specific functions including the ability to use local telephone numbers as Apple identification numbers, short message service (SMS) fraud detection, and support for quick response (QR) codes which are widely used in China for payments.

“I am looking forward to deepening our team’s connections with customers, government and businesses in China to advance innovation and sustainability,” said Ge Mahe in the statement.

In the new role she will report directly to Cook and Chief Operating Officer Jim Williams, the company said.

Amazon’s Meal Kits Go on Sale as It Looks to Expand Groceries Business

Amazon has begun selling ready-to-cook meal packages for busy households in a bid to expand its groceries business.

Amazon-branded meal kits come with raw ingredients needed to prepare such meals as chicken tikka masala and falafel patties. They can help households save time; a kit for salmon with soba noodles can be prepared in just a half-hour, for instance. But at $16 to $20 (roughly Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,200) for two servings, they can be more expensive than buying ingredients separately in larger quantities.

The development comes as Amazon is also buying the organic grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, a deal that would give the company a foothold in both groceries and brick-and-mortar retailing. Amazon could ultimately use Whole Foods’ more than 400 locations as distribution centers for all food services, including meal kits.

For now, Amazon’s meal kits are sold only in selected markets. The Associated Press was able to place an order in Seattle, Amazon’s headquarters. A similar search for meal kits in New York generated items only from third-party vendors such as Martha & Marley Spoon and Tyson Tastemakers. Amazon didn’t respond to requests for additional information.

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said meal kits fall between regular groceries and deliveries of fully cooked meals and represent Amazon’s bid to expand its food business.

“I’m not sure any of this will work, but that’s where they are headed,” Pachter said in an email.

Amazon's Meal Kits Go on Sale as It Looks to Expand Groceries BusinessThe food industry consulting firm Pentallect says meal kits represent a “rounding error” of $2.2 billion in a $1.5 trillion US food industry, but the firm forecasts growth of 25 percent to 30 percent a year over the next five years. Pentallect says that because relatively few households have yet to try meal kits, there’s a lot of room for growth.

Amazon meal kits are available only through the AmazonFresh grocery-delivery program, which costs $15 a month and requires a separate $99-a-year Prime membership. Delivery costs an additional $10 on orders of $40 or less, though free pickup options are available in Seattle.

Sales appeared to have begun in late June, based on customer reviews.

Earlier this month, Amazon applied for US trademark protection for the phrase “We do the prep. You be the chef.” for packaged food kits “ready for cooking and assembly as a meal.” Amazon listed a range of food types, including meat, seafood, salads and soups.

Shares of a leading competitor, Blue Apron, fell nearly 14 percent to $6.36 this week as reports of Amazon’s plans emerged at GeekWire and other news sites. That includes a 3.5 percent drop on Tuesday. Amazon’s stock increased $14.41, or 1.4 percent, to close Tuesday at $1024.45.

Google Analytics Gets Natural Language Processing Support With Machine Learning

Google Analytics now has the same natural language processing technology available in other Google apps such as Photos and Search, the Internet giant announced on Tuesday. That means you can now ask questions in plain English, which gets you answers quicker than before.

Depending on the question you ask, you will be presented with a number, rows, or a chart. As an example, the Analytics team suggests a question such as “How many new users did we have from organic search on mobile last week?” which will give you a number. If you ask the trend of session duration, expect the answer in a chart form as the image above.

Google Analytics Gets Natural Language Processing Support With Machine LearningThe feature becomes a part of Analytics Intelligence, which relies on machine learning to make sense of your analytics data. Analytics Intelligence will also help provide automated insights – now available on both Web and the app – alongside smart lists, smart goals, and session quality. Insights will also present specific recommendations to improve metrics, such as reducing load time to decrease bounce rate, and adding a new AdWords keyword to boost conversion rate.

To access the new questions feature and get automated insights, click the Intelligence button to open a side panel on the website, and tap the Intelligence icon in the top-right corner on the Google Analytics app for Android and iOS.

Google says the new features are now rolling out, and will be available in English to all Google Analytics users over the next few weeks.

Citadel Malware: Russian Man Who Helped Develop Malware Gets 5 Years in Prison

A Russian man who helped develop and distribute malicious software designed to steal personal financial information was sentenced Wednesday in Atlanta to serve five years in prison.

Mark Vartanyan, also known as “Kolypto,” had pleaded guilty in March to a computer fraud charge after reaching a deal with prosecutors.

US District Judge Mark Cohen said Vartanyan would receive credit for time served, including more than two years in a prison in Norway following his arrest there in October 2014. He will be turned over to immigration authorities for deportation once he serves his sentence.

Starting in 2011, Citadel was marketed on invite-only, Russian-language Internet forums used by cybercriminals, and users targeted the computer networks of major financial and government institutions around the world to steal financial account credentials and personally identifiable information, prosecutors have said. Industry estimates indicate it infected about 11 million computers worldwide and caused more than $500 million in losses.

Vartanyan, a native of Moscow, was involved in the development, improvement, maintenance and distribution of Citadel from August 2012 to January 2013 while living in Ukraine and again from April 2014 to June 2014 while living in Norway, prosecutors have said. His attorney said he was working for a healthcare technology company in Norway.

Vartanyan didn’t author the malware, federal prosecutor Steven Grimberg told the judge, but “he was, for lack of a better term, the ‘mechanic,’ the person who made it more pernicious.”

Prosecutors requested a five-year sentence, much lower than possible, because Vartanyan quickly showed remorse and began helping the government, Grimberg said. Details of his cooperation were not revealed.

“I have rarely come across an individual who has been as sorry for his role as Mark Vartanyan,” he said.

Nevertheless, Grimberg said, cybercriminals often operate in countries that don’t allow for extradition, so it’s important to send a message that anyone who is caught and prosecuted will serve significant time.

Addressing the judge in accented English, Vartanyan said he encountered the Bible in prison and felt an enormous weight lifted when he understood through prayer that he could accept what he’d done and help make things right.

Citadel Malware: Russian Man Who Helped Develop Malware Gets 5 Years in Prison“My intention is to see how I can lead this Christian life God showed me outside” of prison, he said.

Court-appointed defense attorney Stephen Johnson said Lars Dahle, CEO of Dignio, a remote patient-monitoring company where Vartanyan worked before his arrest, was so impressed by him that he regularly visited Vartanyan while he was in prison in Norway and offered to fly to Atlanta for the sentencing. Norwegian prison officials also vouched for Vartanyan’s character, writing that he’d been helpful to them and other inmates.

Jim Lenahen, pastor of a church in Roswell, told the judge that Dahle, an old friend, is eager to rehire Vartanyan once he’s released. He said Dahle asked him to check on Vartanyan in custody, and the pastor was so impressed by his truthfulness and commitment to his newly discovered faith that he took to visiting regularly.

Given the seriousness of the crime but also taking into account his quick acceptance of responsibility and cooperation with the government, the judge said five years is appropriate, and he hopes Vartanyan will do good once he’s free.

“Sometimes getting into trouble can open up your eyes to a lot of different stuff, and I think it has done that for Mr. Vartanyan,” the judge said, adding: “You made a great start where you are right now in terms of your future life, and I hope that continues outside of prison.”

Google Fight on Right to Be Forgotten Is EU Case of Deja Vu

Google’s fight against France’s bid to enforce the so-called right to be forgotten globally is headed to the European Union’s top court, just three years after its judges ordered the company to strip out some results that people find embarrassing or out of date.

The EU Court of Justice will now have to decide whether links should be purged from Internet searches in one country, across the EU or globally. It will also have to rule whether Google should be required to block users from seeing the links.

These questions were put to it by France’s Conseil d’Etat, the country’s highest administrative court, in a dispute between Google and the French privacy watchdog over what Google’s responsibility is for pulling information from the web.

The search engine currently removes links in all European versions of Google if a person can show the information that comes up on a search for his or her name is outdated or irrelevant. France’s privacy watchdog was pushing Google to remove results from google.com and other sites worldwide. The EU court is now being asked whether Google should block views from IP addresses located in some countries.

The freedom of the Internet is at stake, according to Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which claims the French view might allow governments to force worldwide removal of content that’s illegal in their countries. France’s CNIL data-protection authority argues that failing to remove links from Google.com creates an “absurd” situation where data is available globally that can’t be shown in Europe to protect a person’s privacy.

The battle goes back to a 2014 ruling from the EU Court of Justice that backed privacy rights over publication, telling Google it had to remove links to personal information. Google must now weigh requests to withdraw links from its search engine as courts continue to refine what rules it should apply. EU judges were asked by the same French court earlier this year to rule on how to apply the right to be forgotten requests in internet searches.

Google Fight on Right to Be Forgotten Is EU Case of Deja VuGoogle has been asked to remove more than 2 million web links from web searches. It’s refused more than half of the requests because they didn’t meet the criteria set by the EU court. A search engine can only continue to display certain results where there’s a public interest in doing so, it said on its website.

Google’s privacy lawyer Peter Fleischer said the company looked forward to making its case at the EU court.

“For the last 18 months, we’ve been defending the idea that each country should be able to balance freedom of expression and privacy in the way that it chooses, not in the way that another country chooses,” Fleischer said in an email.

Wednesday’s case stems from Google’s appeal of a EUR 100,000 ($115,000) fine from CNIL for failing to remove right to be forgotten requests from global search results. The French court will rule on that issue after it gets answers from the EU court. CNIL declined to comment.

Other cases continue to mark out what can and can’t be done to scrub content from the web. An Italian businessman lost an EU court bid to hide details of an insolvency in March. A Belgian court last year ruled that the right to be forgotten applied to newspaper’s electronic archives, backing a man who sought to remove information on a traffic offense.

Google is separately weighing whether to ask the EU courts to overturn a record 2.4 billion-euro antitrust fine from the European Commission over its shopping search service.

China Orders Top Tech Companies to Increase Self-Censorship

China’s top cyber authority ordered the country’s top tech firms to carry out “immediate cleaning and rectification” of their platforms to remove content deemed offensive to the Communist Party and the country’s national image, it said on Wednesday.

The watchdog held a meeting with representatives from firms including Tencent Holdings Ltd, Baidu Inc and Sohu.com Inc, on Tuesday where it gave them a list of specific errors, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement on social media.

The violations include distorting Chinese history, spreading fake news, misinterpreting policy directives and failing to block content that subverts public stability.

“[The sites] must adhere to the correct political line and moral norms,” the statement said.

Chinese authorities have recently cracked down on platforms that allow users to share media from outlets that are not sanctioned under state-issued licenses, amid a wider censorship campaign spearheaded by President Xi Jinping.

China Orders Top Tech Companies to Increase Self-CensorshipOn June 1 the CAC ushered in new regulations requiring all offline and online media outlets to be managed by Party-approved editorial staff. Workers in the approved outlets must receive training from local propaganda bureaus.

In the wake of the new regulations several sites have been targeted with fines and closures under the watchdog’s orders.

In specific examples, the CAC criticised one platform that failed to censor articles that “seriously deviated from socialist values” by saying China benefited from US assistance during conflicts with Japan during World War II.

Other examples included a story detailing alleged affairs by party officials, an opinion piece that decried China’s death penalty and an article that urged readers to invest in speculative real estate projects.

The CAC said the firms were required to immediately close offending accounts and strengthen “imperfect” auditing systems to avoid future punishment.

BharatNet Project: Cabinet Gives Nod for Modified Implementation Strategy

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the ‘Modified Implementation Strategy’ of BharatNet project for providing broadband connectivity to all gram panchayats by March 2019, according to an official source.

“The Cabinet has approved the modified implementation Strategy of BharatNet towards realisation of vision of Digital India,” the source said.

The objective of the project is to provide minimum 100Mbps broadband connectivity to all gram panchayats in the country by using an mix of underground fibre, aerial fibre, radio and satellite media.

The approval entails a total estimated expenditure of Rs. 42,068 crores for the implementation of BharatNet, which will be funded from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

Of this amount, Rs. 11,148 crores is the cost of providing connectivity to one lakh Gram Panchayats (GP) in the first phase and Rs. 18,792 crores is for providing connectivity to remaining 1.5 lakh gram panchayats in second phase.

“The balance amount is for such essential activities not covered in the initial BharatNet framework, which include, last mile connectivity architecture, operation and maintenance and replacement of BSNL’s poor quality fibre being used in the project between Block to GP,” the source added.

The modified strategy includes implementation of project by states and state agencies, private sector and CPSUs, and providing connectivity by “mix of media” rather than only by underground optical fibre, which was the initial strategy.

BharatNet Project: Cabinet Gives Nod for Modified Implementation StrategyIt also entails last mile connectivity in every gram panchayat for service delivery on Wi-Fi or any other technology.

“Infrastructure created under BharatNet will be shared with all categories of service providers on non-discriminatory basis. The implementation agency would also be responsible for management, operation maintenance, preferably for the life time of the project,” the source added.

The modified implementation strategy of BharatNet project will enable faster implementation of various mission mode e-governance projects of central and State governments. It will facilitate electronic delivery of services to citizens of various e-governance, e-commerce, e-education, and e-health services.

Overall, the project – that seeks to create network infrastructure for broadband connectivity to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country – is being implemented in a phased manner.

The first phase entailing roll out to 1,00,000 gram panchayats has been completed this year, after several delays, and the remaining gram panchayats were earlier proposed to be covered by December 2018.

Google Street View Finally Captures Missing Austria

Google’s Street View cars on Thursday started taking images in Austria, the only EU country along with Germany to remain largely absent from the popular online service showing 360-degree pictures of places around the world.

The project, launched in 2007, lets computer users view panoramic street scenes on Google Maps and take a virtual “walk” through cities.

The photos are processed in the United States, where details such as faces and registration plates are automatically blurred before being published on Google Maps.

Some countries have been reluctant to grant Google access because of worries linked to data collection.

In 2010, Google had begun to roll out its service in Austria and neighbouring Germany but was ordered to halt operations over alleged privacy breaches.

The company admitted that vehicles had accidentally recorded personal data from wireless networks.

Although Austria lifted its temporary ban a year later, Street View decided not return to the alpine nation — until now.

Google Street View Finally Captures Missing AustriaThe fresh start was timed to coincide with Street View’s 10-year anniversary, Google said in a statement.

Cars equipped with special cameras will tour Vienna, Linz and Graz until November.

“The official launch of Street View in Austria is expected to happen in six to twelve months,” Google Austria spokesman Wolfgang Fasching-Kapfenberger told AFP.

Under Austrian law, Street View cars will only be allowed to capture photos but not videos.

The service still has a very low penetration rate in Germany, which has some of Europe’s strictest privacy laws due to the abuses under its Nazi and communist dictatorships.

As a special concession to privacy concerns, Germans can have their homes or businesses pixelated, as well as opt out of the service altogether.

Paytm Says It Plans to Sell Gold Worth $200 Million This Year