Indian tech minister vows to stop Google removing local apps from Play Store

PLUS: APNIC director general to step down; Hong Kong's odd cloud survey; Rent-a-friend online in China; and more

Asia In Brief India's minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, has vowed to prevent Google removing Indian apps from its Play Store.

Google has recently nixed apps that it alleges do not comply with its payment regulations.

In an interview with the Press Trust of India, Vaishnaw insisted that the apps should be restored, and vowed to defend Indian startups.

"I have already called Google, I have already called the app developers which have been delisted, we will be meeting them next week," the minister told the Press Trust.

"This cannot be permitted. This kind of de-listing cannot be permitted," the minister added.

– Simon Sharwood

APNIC director general steps down

Paul Wilson, the director general of the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), has announced his intention to step down from the internet registry after 26 years in the role.

Wilson's departure was announced last Friday.

"Paul explained that after long consideration, he has decided to pursue other personal interests, and that those interests are incompatible with the demanding job of leading APNIC," wrote APNIC chair Kenny Huang.

Wilson will serve until June 30, 2024, and has indicated he will remain in the role until the end of the year if required.

Huang thanked Wilson for his services celebrated his "immense contributions to the RIR system, stewardship of the APNIC registry, and advancing the vision of an open, global, stable, and secure internet.

"His unwavering support of, and commitment to, internet development in the Asia Pacific region will leave a lasting legacy," Huang declared.

Wilson's departure was announced at APNIC's Annual General Meeting in Bangkok, which also oversaw the registry's elections. Candidates Sumon Ahmed Sabir, Vincent "Achie" Atienza, and Kam Sze Yeung were all re-elected.

Kenny Huang remained as chair, Yoshinobu Matsuzaki was reappointed as treasurer, and Roopinder Singh Perhar was appointed as secretary.

- Simon Sharwood

India's railways massive facial recognition tender

Indian Railways, the statutory body that operates India's national railway system, last week issued a tender to install cameras capable of facial recognition at the entry and exit doors of 44,000 train coaches.

Local media outlet Medianama reports that the cameras will raise privacy concerns as they are expected to include a face image cropping tool for capturing both adult and child faces.

The cropped images can be fed into facial recognition systems and matched against criminal photos in databases in order for authorities to catch criminals.

Indian Railways has also tendered for 300,000 GPS transceivers for rolling stock.

Hong Kong tech survey produces oddities

The government of Hong Kong's biennial survey on IT use by local businesses revealed that less than almost half of companies surveyed plan to dedicate none of their IT budget to cloud computing service initiatives in the coming year – despite more than 96 percent of those included using public cloud.

Only 1.6 percent said they used hybrid cloud, and around 15 percent used private cloud.

The major applications used in cloud computing services were led by emails and other communications (98.1 percent) followed by data storage or backup (79.4 percent).

ByteDance reportedly prepping AI products

TikTok's parent company ByteDance is reportedly building its own AI products secretly – including something called a "multi-modal digital human."

Secretive teams have apparently worked for months at ByteDance subsidiary CapCut to develop products, but no official word of what they're making or when it might see the light of day has been divulged.

APAC Dealbook
  • In this new occasional feature,The Register will note new alliances, sales, and funding rounds across the region.
  • Korea's SK Telecom has partnered with US AI startup Perplexity to provide its AI-based search engine product, Perplexity Pro, to the telco's more than 32 million subscribers for free.
    The Bezos and Nvidia-backed startup will also allow SK Telecom to access its tech to build its own personal AI assistant products.
  • Tencent Cloud and Hi Cloud announced a partnership with Indonesia-based news outlet TribunNews on a superapp known as TribunX.
    "Leveraging Tencent Cloud's advanced cloud technology, the TribunX Super App aims to position itself as the go-to platform for digital news consumption," stated a press release.
  • Japanese MNC NEC was chosen by mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo to provide its 5G commercial network service with virtualized radio access network (vRAN).
    DoCoMo believes the effort will help slash total cost of ownership by up to 30 percent and lower power consumption by up to 50 percent.
  • AI chip startup Tenstorrent announced it will provide its RISC-V and Chiplet IP to Japan's Leading-edge Semiconductor Technology Center (LSTC) for its edge 2nm AI Accelerator.
    "Tenstorrent and LSTC share the same vision that the future of silicon will be driven by heterogeneous compute – the combining of RISC-V CPU and AI cores that are designed to be used together to handle any workload," detailed the announcement.

China's rent-a-friend apps boom

Major Chinese social media platforms Douyin and Xiaohongshu are offering rent-a-friend services.

A story posted in Nikkei Asia last week detailed how industrious users of the app are renting out their spare time for platonic companionship.

In other news

Our other regional coverage from last week included India approving its first wafer fab – a JV between Tata and Taiwan's PSMC.

News from China included Baidu admitting it may never again be allowed to acquire leading edge GPUs, and losing senior autonomous car staffers to Nvidia. We also looked at Middle Kingdom PC-maker Acemagic allowing malware to infest its machines.

In Australia, the nation's intelligence boss expressed fears of attacks on critical infrastructure, and Meta backed away from past commitments to fund local news media outlets.

We also spotted Vietnam pondering a ban on cryptocurrency, and the leader of Japan's NTT West taking an early retirement to atone for a data leak that started years before he took the job. ®

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