Here in India, Facebook is a far more essential part of the internet than it is in the United States. Many companies and organizations have no websites, just a Facebook page. Small businesses sell their wares on the social network as well as the company’s Instagram photo site and WhatsApp. To #deletefacebook — as WhatsApp’s co-founder Brian Acton recently recommended — would be to cut yourself off from much of the digital life of this country. There is no real substitute.
Indians are generally less concerned about privacy than Americans, blithely disclosing birth dates, their mother’s maiden name and their cellphone numbers. Late last month, the country’s Supreme Court limited the government’s efforts to enroll Indians in a digital ID program that captured their fingerprints, iris scans and photographs and used them as a key to unlock government benefits. The program had sparked stiff challenges from privacy advocates. But most Indians had already signed up, and their biggest complaint was that the ID system failed to work as intended, not that it asked for too much information.
Here is some other tech news of the week that you might have missed amid the barrage of Kavanaugh developments and the Times’s blockbuster investigation into President Trump’s finances:
■ Elon Musk, the head of Tesla, settled securities fraud charges over tweets he made claiming that he had lined up financing for a buyout of the company. He agreed to pay a $20 million fine and step down as chairman of the company. But another mystery emerged: Why are hundreds of Tesla’s Model 3 electric cars parked in industrial lots instead of going to customers?
■ The newest Apple Watch collects a vast amount of personal health information. As Apple talks to insurance companies and others about sharing the information, the device could become “the handmaiden to another data-hungry industry,” John Hermann wrote in a column for the Sunday magazine.
■ Or perhaps the smartwatch will become a witness to crimes. Police in San Jose, Calif., charged a 90-year-old man with killing his stepdaughter, in part based on evidence from her Fitbit fitness tracker.
■ Amazon decided to raise the minimum wage it pays its 250,000 workers, including warehouse staff and Whole Foods clerks, to $15 an hour. “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do and decided we want to lead,” said Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, whose $165 billion fortune makes him the richest person in the world.
■ Another billionaire, the venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, lost a long battle to bar the public from using an access road to a California beach that passes through property he owns. The Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal, which argued that the state law forcing him to offer access violated his property rights.