5 Net Neutral Apps That Give You Free Mobile Internet Data

5 Net Neutral Apps That Give You Free Mobile Internet Data

Getting data access without spending money sounds great, but this usually involves some kind of catch. That’s why different platforms such as Airtel Zero and Facebook’s Free Basics triggered such a debate about net neutrality, and why zero rating (or making sites free to access) can be bad for the users. It’s been over a year since this debate really kicked off in India and the issues are still developing, but there are a number of apps on the market that are offering users free data, without any exclusivity or limitations. All these apps are for prepaid users. Here’s what we found:

1) Gigato
Probably one of the best known apps in the category, Gigato has been around for a while and allows users to “earn” data on the app, which can then be redeemed from your carrier. The way it works is simple – just install the Gigato app, and it will show you a number of apps you can try or use to earn data. The earned data is usually a little higher than the used data, so although the initial usage is cut from your data plan, you come out ahead. For example, you could use 20MB of mobile data on WhatsApp or Twitter, and earn 25MB which can be redeemed from your carrier.

When you launch the app, you can see a list of supported apps you already have on your phone, and Gigato will also recommend other apps you can install to get data benefits. Since Gigato includes many popular apps, it probably won’t require you to change your habits to get a little extra cash on the side, which is great.

gigato_app_splash.jpgWhen installing Gigato, you give it permission to check your apps, so it can see how much mobile data is being used by its ​partners​, and give you rewards accordingly. Based on user and expert reports ​online​, it doesn’t seem that Gigato snoops on your data to see what you are doing on the Internet, so it should be without any privacy concerns, but it’s certainly something you should be aware of.

Get Gigato on Google Play, free.

2) Earn Talktime
The Earn Talktime app is pretty similar to Gigato in that it incentivises you to use different apps, but the way it works is a little different. While Gigato gives you recharges for using mobile data on apps, Earn Talktime pays out money which can be used to pay for prepaid recharges when you download apps.

So, you can make Rs. 5 if you download the Droom app, or Rs. 20 to download Myntra. Downloading Lybrate and then asking one question on the app will earn you Rs. 50.

earn_talktime_screens.jpgYou also earn money for referring friends, and you can then use this to recharge your data via your mobile operator. From what we’ve found through searching online, there have been no reports of privacy problems with this app, and our own usage showed that it works without any real problems, but considering that Earn Talktime incentivises specific actions you should be aware of potential privacy concerns with this kind of app.

Get Earn Talktime on Google Play, free.

3) Paytunes
While Gigato or Earn Talktime need you to actively do different things to earn talk time, the Paytunes app replaces your ringtone with advertisements and you’re paid for each call that you get. There are some checks in place to keep people from gaming the system, but for users, Paytunes actually fits into the day to day flow of actually using your phone.

paytunes_splash.jpgThe payouts aren’t very high – you have to answer at least three calls to get 1 Rupee worth of points in the app, but even if you get around 15 calls in a day, that works out to a payout of Rs. 150 per month, which can be used to recharge your data pack, or pay other bills via MobiKwik.

Get Paytunes on Google Play, free.

4) My Ads (India)
Watch an ad, and then answer a few simple questions and you earn money. The concept is so simple that it doesn’t really need to be explained. You can watch the ads over Wi-Fi, and don’t need to download or use any other apps. It’s just like the apps you watch on TV, except that here, you aren’t forced to watch an ad in the middle of your shows, it’s just something you’re doing for a little talk time.

myads_india_app.jpgIt’s not the most convenient way to consume ads, but getting paid Rs. 8 to watch a 45-second ad sounded reasonable enough to us. That money can then be used to recharge your phone, so you can use the money for mobile data.

Get my ADs (India) on Google Play, free.

5) Recharging your phone
Apps like Freecharge, Paytm, or Mobikwik or Airtel Money, just about every app that allows you to recharge your phone online also offers special deals and cashbacks. This means that when you’re recharging your phone, using any of these apps can get you a great deal. The specific deals vary on a day to day basis, so keep one or two of the apps you liked the most installed on your phone, and check these before hitting the recharge button to save a little more money.

paymobicharge_app.jpgThese are the five methods of getting free Internet access we found that worked. Have you tried any of these? What was your experience like? Tell us about that, or any other similar apps you liked, via the comments.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Behind the Scenes of Face Swap Live, the ‘Creepy’ App That Launched a Thousand Memes

Behind the Scenes of Face Swap Live, the 'Creepy' App That Launched a Thousand Memes

When I smile, Hilary Clinton smiles back. When I raise an eyebrow, hers lifts in unison, like a bizarre game of Simon Says. When I grimace, the wrinkles on her forehead deepen, her lips crinkling and pursing to one side.

Thanks to the wonders of computer vision and a goofy new app called Face Swap Live, I am controlling Hilary’s face – with nothing more than the expression on mine.

If you haven’t yet experienced the viral, nightmarish joys of Face Swap Live, it’s well worth the 99 cents it’s currently selling for. Download the app and point your phone’s camera at a friend, and it will convincingly map their face, in real time, onto someone else’s: yours, a baby’s, Beyonce’s, Richard Nixon’s.

Since appearing in the app store about a month ago, the app hasn’t strayed far outside of Apple’s most-downloaded offerings, peaking in the United States. at No. 14. And while the technology isn’t perfect – the app’s first truly ubiquitous meme was a disastrous face-swap between a dad and his baby – the results are lifelike enough, enough of the time, that the “Today” show dubbed it “Kafkaesque” and the Daily Dot called it “creepy.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Jason Laan, one of the app’s two creators. “But behind the fun, there’s some really amazing, hardcore technology.”

Laan, a chemical engineer by training, has a long history of turning serious tech to more frivolous purposes: In the eight years since he founded his app development firm, Laan Labs, he estimates that they’ve launched around 50 products, from Tap DJ (“mix and add FX to your iPod music!”) to Dog Vision HD (“see the world how your dog sees it!”).

But for Laan, computer vision – the science of training computers to extract and understand information from pictures, the same way humans do – has always possessed a special intrigue. Researchers at places like Google and IBM, with their extraordinary 3-D cameras and lightning-fast processing speeds, had enabled computers to catalog objects, recognize faces and even interpret feelings. Laan and his partner, Will Perkins, began wondering if the iPhone’s improving camera and processing capabilities would allow them to try out similar projects, albeit less seriously.

So late last winter, Face Swap Live was conceived. The app that has since launched a thousand YouTube videos, Imgur posts and nightmare memes.

Face-swapping makes a pretty ideal consumer application for the new computer vision tools, incidentally. While the technology is novel, the art form is not: Know Your Meme traces the first instances back to the early aughts, when the visages of an eccentric Vietnamese singer and and a 16-year-old Chinese kid began showing up on other bodies and in other places.

In 2004, the Something Awful forums fatefully began switching the faces of babies and their grandparents. It was an onerous Photoshop process, a labor of lolz, if you will: isolating the faces manually; copying, moving and rotating them; blending and feathering the mismatched edges until the heads and bodies fit. Even all that work made for some pretty unholy collages: The babies’ heads pixelated, over-large; the grandparents’ shrunken and neckless.

“Wasn’t that (expletive) creepy?” exclaimed an SA writer in 2004. “Now I have to go to bed … Oh, the dreams I’m going to have.”

But the appeal of the face-swap has always been its weirdness – the degree to which it inverts and diverges from reality. The best face-swaps are also the most surreal: Tom Cruise as Jack Nicholson, Barack Obama as George Bush, Nicholas Cage as literally everybody.

“There’s something about absurdity that gives Internet memes a lot of traction,” said Britney Summit-Gil, a doctoral student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who studies Reddit culture. “Absurdity has a long, storied history of entertaining humans.” And it’s not so different from awe, she says – one of our more viral emotions.

Oddly enough, however, we’re moving closer to a world where face swaps are both less “awesome,” in the sense of inspiring wonder, and less obviously absurd. Thanks to innovations like the ones that spurred Face Swap Live, face-swapping no longer requires any time at all, to say nothing of expensive editing software and human effort.

Just look at how fast Face Swap Live is, an accomplishment Laan and Perkins credit to a basket of cutting-edge algorithms. When they look at your face, they simply look for reference points – the corners of your eyes where the color changes, the curve of your chin – and then line them up with those points on another face, auto-smoothing and blending them in.

With better cameras, Laan and Perkins say (3D cameras, particularly, like the ones Intel just unveiled atCES), our smartphones could do far more than copy-paste a face. Already, Disney is working on a technology that can map your face down to its individual wrinkles. At Stanford University and Germany’s Max Planck Institute, researchers have developed a technique that photorealistically transfers one person’s facial expressions to another – not face-swapping, in the traditional sense, but face-hijacking via algorithm.

These researchers believe we’re moving closer to a world where remote workers can Skype into meetings half-clothed, their faces mapped onto a body in a business suit. They suspect we’ll be able to tweak actors’ bad takes and zap unsuspecting bystanders from live TV news.

Far outside the realm of face-swapping, real-time computer vision – particularly of human bodies and faces – will enable a million other technologies: self-driving cars, diagnostic computers, robots that understand emotions and react accordingly. We won’t even delve into the more dystopian applications, like live video-manipulation or mass surveillance.

I ask Perkins and Laan about that, because it’s seems odd: a silly app that advances a promising, and ominous, technology. Do they contemplate the juxtaposition at all, I wonder?

“We just want to have fun,” Laan says. Then they both laugh nervously.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

The New Way Police Are Surveilling You: Software That Calculates Your Threat ‘Score’

The New Way Police Are Surveilling You: Software That Calculates Your Threat 'Score'

While officers raced to a recent 911 call about a man threatening his ex-girlfriend, a police operator in headquarters consulted software that scored the suspect’s potential for violence the way a bank might run a credit report.

The program scoured billions of data points including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches and the man’s social media postings. It calculated his threat level as the highest of three color-coded scores: a bright red warning.

The man had a firearm conviction and gang associations, so out of caution police called a negotiator. The suspect surrendered, and police said the intelligence helped them make the right call – it turned out he had a gun.

As a national debate has played out over mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, a new generation of technology such as the Beware software being used in Fresno has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens.

Police officials say such tools can provide critical information that can help uncover terrorists or thwart mass shootings, ensure the safety of officers and the public, find suspects and crack open cases. They say that last year’s attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., have only underscored the need for such measures.

But the powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists, who say they represent a troubling intrusion on privacy, have been deployed with little public oversight and have potential for abuse or error. Some say laws are needed to protect the public.

In many instances, people have been unaware that the police around them are sweeping up information, and that has spawned controversy. Planes outfitted with cameras filmed protests and unrest in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo. For years, dozens of departments used devices that can hoover up all cellphone data in an area without search warrants. Authorities in Oregon are facing a federal probe after using social media-monitoring software to keep tabs on Black Lives Matter hashtags.

“This is something that’s been building since September 11,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from state and federal governments to purchase it.”

Few departments will discuss how – or sometimes if – they are using these tools, but the Fresno police offered a rare glimpse inside a cutting-edge $600,000 nerve center, even as a debate raged in the city over its technology.

An arsenal of high-tech tools
Fresno’s Real Time Crime Center is the type of facility that has become the model for high-tech policing nationwide. Similar centers have opened in New York, Houston and Seattle over the past decade.

Fresno’s futuristic control room, which operates around the clock, sits deep in its headquarters and brings together a handful of technologies that allow the department to see, analyze and respond to incidents as they unfold across this city of more than 500,000 in the San Joaquin Valley.

On a recent Monday afternoon, the center was a hive of activity. The police radio crackled over loudspeakers – “subject armed with steel rod” – as five operators sat behind banks of screens dialing up a wealth of information to help units respond to the more than 1,200 911 calls the department receives every day.

On 57 monitors that cover the walls of the center, operators zoomed and panned an array of roughly 200 police cameras perched across the city. They could dial up 800 more feeds from the city’s schools and traffic cameras, and they soon hope to add 400 more streams from cameras worn on officers’ bodies and from thousands from local businesses that have surveillance systems.

The cameras were only one tool at the ready. Officers could trawl a private database that has recorded more than 2 billion scans of vehicle licenses plates and locations nationwide. If gunshots were fired, a system called ShotSpotter could triangulate the location using microphones strung around the city. Another program, called Media Sonar, crawled social media looking for illicit activity. Police used it to monitor individuals, threats to schools and hashtags related to gangs.

Fresno police said having the ability to access all that information in real time is crucial to solving crimes.

They recently used the cameras to track a robbery suspect as he fled a business and then jumped into a canal to hide. He was quickly apprehended.

The license plate database was instrumental in solving a September murder case, in which police had a description of a suspect’s vehicle and three numbers from the license plate.

But perhaps the most controversial and revealing technology is the threat-scoring software Beware. Fresno is one of the first departments in the nation to test the program.

As officers respond to calls, Beware automatically runs the address. The searches return the names of residents and scans them against a range of publicly available data to generate a color-coded threat level for each person or address: green, yellow or red.

Exactly how Beware calculates threat scores is something that its maker, Intrado, considers a trade secret, so it is unclear how much weight is given to a misdemeanor, felony or threatening comment on Facebook. However, the program flags issues and provides a report to the user.

In promotional materials, Intrado writes that Beware could reveal that the resident of a particular address was a war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, had criminal convictions for assault and had posted worrisome messages about his battle experiences on social media. The “big data” that has transformed marketing and other industries has now come to law enforcement.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said officers are often working on scant or even inaccurate information when they respond to calls, so Beware and the Real Time Crime Center give them a sense of what may be behind the next door.

“Our officers are expected to know the unknown and see the unseen,” Dyer said. “They are making split-second decisions based on limited facts. The more you can provide in terms of intelligence and video, the more safely you can respond to calls.”

But some in Fresno say the power and the sheer concentration of surveillance in the Real Time Crime Center is troubling. The concerns have been raised elsewhere as well – last year, Oakland city officials scaled back plans for such a center after residents protested, citing privacy concerns.

Rob Nabarro, a Fresno civil rights lawyer, said he is particularly concerned about Beware. He said outsourcing decisions about the threat posed by an individual to software is a problem waiting to happen.

Nabarro said the fact that only Intrado – not the police or the public – knows how Beware tallies its scores is disconcerting. He also worries that the system might mistakenly increase someone’s threat level by misinterpreting innocuous activity on social media, like criticizing the police, and trigger a heavier response by officers.

“It’s a very unrefined, gross technique,” Nabarro said of Beware’s color-coded levels. “A police call is something that can be very dangerous for a citizen.”

Dyer said such concerns are overblown, saying the scores don’t trigger a particular police response. He said operators use them as guides to delve more deeply into someone’s background, looking for information that might be relevant to an officer on scene. He said officers on the street never see the scores.

Still, Nabarro is not the only one worried.

The Fresno City Council called a hearing on Beware in November after constituents raised concerns. Once council member referred to a local media report saying that a woman’s threat level was elevated because she was tweeting about a card game titled “Rage,” which could be a keyword in Beware’s assessment of social media.

Councilman Clinton J. Olivier, a libertarian-leaning Republican, said Beware was like something out of a dystopian science fiction novel and asked Dyer a simple question: “Could you run my threat level now?”

Dyer agreed. The scan returned Olivier as a green, but his home came back as a yellow, possibly because of someone who previously lived at his address, a police official said.

“Even though it’s not me that’s the yellow guy, your officers are going to treat whoever comes out of that house in his boxer shorts as the yellow guy,” Olivier said. “That may not be fair to me.”

He added later: “(Beware) has failed right here with a council member as the example.”

An Intrado representative responded to an interview request seeking more information about how Beware works by sending a short statement. It read in part: “Beware works to quickly provide [officers] with commercially available, public information that may be relevant to the situation and may give them a greater level of awareness.”

Calls for ‘meaningful debate’
Similar debates over police surveillance have been playing out across the country, as new technologies have proliferated and law enforcement use has exploded.

The number of local police departments that employ some type of technological surveillance increased from 20 percent in 1997 to more than 90 percent in 2013, according to the latest information from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The most common forms of surveillance are cameras and automated license plate readers, but the use of handheld biometric scanners, social media monitoring software, devices that collect cellphone data and drones is increasing.

Locally, the American Civil Liberties Union reports that police in the District, Baltimore, and Montgomery and Fairfax counties have cellphone-data collectors, called cell site simulators or StingRays. D.C. police are also using ShotSpotter and license plate readers.

The surveillance creates vast amounts of data, which is increasingly pooled in local, regional and national databases. The largest such project is the FBI’s $1 billion Next Generation Identification project, which is creating a trove of fingerprints, iris scans, data from facial recognition software and other sources that aid local departments in identifying suspects.

Law enforcement officials say such tools allow them to do more with less, and they have credited the technology with providing breaks in many cases. Virginia State Police found the man who killed a TV news crew during a live broadcast last year after his license plate was captured by a reader.

Cell site simulators or StingRays, which mimic a cellphone tower and scoop up data on all cellphones in an area, have been instrumental in finding kidnappers, fugitives and people who are suicidal, law enforcement officials said.

But those benefits have sometimes come with a cost to privacy. Law enforcement used cell site simulators for years without getting a judge’s explicit consent. But following criticism by the ACLU and other groups, the Justice Department announced last September that it would require all federal agencies to get a search warrant.

The fact that public discussion of surveillance technologiesis occurring after they are in use is backward, said Matt Cagle, an attorney for the ACLU of Northern California.

“We think that whenever these surveillance technologies are on the table, there needs to be a meaningful debate,” Cagle said. “There needs to be safeguards and oversight.”

After the contentious hearing before the Fresno City Council on Beware, Dyer said he now wants to make changes to address residents’ concerns. The police chief said he is working with Intrado to turn off Beware’s color-coded rating system and possibly the social media monitoring.

“There’s a balancing act,” Dyer said.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

The dilution of nuclear liability by the Modi government that nobody is talking about

The dilution of nuclear liability by the Modi government that nobody is talking aboutPhoto Credit: India Water Portal
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Once in power, opposition parties rarely retain their dogmas. When the Bharatiya Janata Party occupied the opposition benches in the Parliament, it agitated bitterly on the issue of nuclear liability, maintaining that the United Progressive Alliance’s position on compensation in case of a nuclear accident placed all the burden on the taxpayer. Now that it is in power, it exhibits none of that resolve.

The international convention requires that in case of a nuclear accident, the liability of paying compensation to the victims falls on the operator of the facility. In India’s case, this is the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.

But on February 4, Narendra Modi’s government ratified a global regime called the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, giving a free pass to nuclear suppliers in India.

The previous Congress-led Central government had removed all references to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation from the draft of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, after it met with resistance from the opposition parties, including the BJP. The 2010 Act simultaneously included a provision to hold suppliers (both domestic and foreign vendors of reactor equipment) indirectly liable – its clause 17(b) specifically allowed the operator a “right of recourse” against the suppliers. But within weeks of this, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government hastily signed the CSC, withprovisions contrary to the domestic law.

Since then, the US and other nuclear suppliers have been insisting that India harmonises its domestic law with the global convention, and do away with suppliers’ liability. The Indian government and its nuclear establishment have also been citing CSC as a reason to amend the liability law.

Their arguments have been a farce.

American exceptions

The Convention on Supplementary Compensation did not come into force in 2010 when India signed it. Indeed, at that time, India had an opening to press for progressive changes in the CSC to ensure suppliers’ liability – since India is among the few countries in the post-Fukushima world still importing nuclear reactors, it could have used its attractive market to affect pro-people revisions in the CSC template. Obviously, it did not, and India’s unconditional accession ended up enhancing CSC’s standing. The regime finally entered into force in 2015 following Japan’s accession. But all this didn’t stop foreign suppliers from asking India to do away with its liability clause beginning 2010.

The United States, in particular, has always preferred the CSC over other conventions addressing nuclear liability, such as the Paris Convention of 1960 or the Vienna Conventionof 1963. This is because CSC has a grandfather clause in its annexure 2 that provides an exemption for American domestic laws to supersede in case of an accident on its soil. As a result, in the US, criminal liability lawsuits can be initiated against nuclear corporations. The same CSC, however, requires its other signatories to enact domestic laws as per its annexure and strictly limit it to civil liability.

Though eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee has maintained that India’s domestic law would prevail over CSC, it is certain that, in a conflict, foreign suppliers would try their best to walk away without paying damages.

The Modi government had an opportunity to refuse ratifying the CSC, especially since acase is pending in the Supreme Court on the issue of nuclear liability. Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, eminent scientist PM Bhargava, Former Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdas, Former Union Power Secretary EAS Sarma and other eminent Indians are party in this case, which urges strengthening of the provisions of the 2010 Act and removal of the liability cap. Ratifying an international convention on an issue which is sub judice is also an attempt to influence the Supreme Court by turning the matter into a fait accompli.

BJP’s U-turn

While in opposition, the BJP was fiercely opposed to any dilution of nuclear liability. Noting the shortcomings of the bill presented by the UPA government, it alleged that “the bill was being brought under US pressure mainly to keep the two American multinationals – Westinghouse and General Electric – from paying any liability and making the Indian government liable to pay in case of an accident”.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had said at the time: “Clearly, the life of an Indian is only worth a dime compared to the life of an American.” His colleague Sushma Swaraj had called for an India-specific liability law, while likening the Indo-US nuclear deal to Jehangir who allowed the British East India Company to do business in India. Swaraj is now the External Affairs Minister in the Modi government.

Despite the previous government being a coalition and despite its willingness to serve the interests of the US nuclear lobby, it was the strength of Indian democracy that public pressure ensured enactment of a law safeguarding the interests of citizens. The BJP government, failing Indian interests, has resorted to a perverted twist to effectively undermine a law passed by India’s sovereign parliament.

[“source-Scroll”]