NDMC Details Smart City Plans, Asks Public to Contribute Ideas Online

Chairman of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), chosen as one of the ‘Smart Cities’ on Thursday made a presentation to Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu and briefed him about the vision of the civic body for a city, which encompasses efficient and sustainable living.

The civic body has the prime Lutyens’ Delhi under its jurisdiction, which includes government bungalows, posh markets, and spacious gardens.

NDMC Chairman Naresh Kumar briefed about the vision of NDMC for a ‘Smart City’ which encompasses efficient, livable and sustainable urban area, efficient use of scares resources like water and energy, smart mobility, and smart governance.

The civic body is eligible for Smart City Challenge Stage-2, and the chairman also discussed plan and preparedness for the Smart City Plan. Kumar said key projects of NDMC under ‘Smart City’ include energy management through smart grid which includes smart metering and SCADA-based automation system, smart LED lighting, harvesting solar power, city-wide Wi-Fi services, smart video surveillance, intelligent parking, and water management with recycling and harvesting as its integral part.

NDMC has also invited the Smart City proposals from citizens, who can share their ideas online. Naidu asked NDMC to adhere to strict timelines to complete the project. The Minister called upon NDMC to have an inclusive Smart City Plan which also focus on slum redevelopments. He also desired incorporation of recreational, leisure activities, and community spaces in the Smart City projects of NDMC to make it vibrant and joyful.

Modern-Day Pirate’ Kim Dotcom’s Words Now Used Against Him

Prosecutors say Kim Dotcom and his colleagues sometimes revelled in their role as “modern-day pirates,” discussed how to thwart the justice system, and joked that a judge would one day realize how “evil” they were.

The much-delayed extradition hearing for Doctom and three others who owned or helped run the website Megaupload began in Auckland this week in a case that could have broader implications for Internet copyright rules.

Megaupload was shut down by U.S. authorities in early 2012, but not before prosecutors claim it raked in some $175 million (roughly Rs. 1,157 crores), mainly from people who flocked to the site to illegally download movies.

Dotcom has been listening to the arguments while slowly swiveling in his black leather armchair, a concession by the judge to his bad back. Parked outside the court is a remnant from the high-rolling lifestyle Dotcom long embraced – a black Mercedes SUV with the vanity plate “kim.com.”

Federal authorities have charged Dotcom and the others with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. A summary of the U.S. case is being presented by New Zealand lawyers as the U.S. attempts to extradite the men to face trial in Virginia.

Lawyer Christine Gordon told a judge this week that after Dotcom launched Megaupload in 2005, it grew to become so popular that each day 50 million people used the site, sucking up 4 percent of all Internet traffic.

“This was a big fraud but conducted in a fairly simple manner,” she said.

“Behind the scenes, the respondents admitted their business broke the law. Sometimes they enjoyed the fact they were making their money by breaking the law,” she said. “Sometimes they worried about protection, and pondered what action they should take to, and I’m quoting here Mr. Dotcom’s words, ‘counter the justice system.’”

That some people used the site for illegally downloading movies is not in dispute. The real question is the extent to which Dotcom and the others knew about this activity, and whether or not they encouraged it. Prosecutors are trying to use the men’s own words against them, after some of their online chatter was intercepted by the FBI.

Sometimes, Gordon said, they joked about being pirates, or how their site wasn’t totally “legit,” or how they weren’t “the dumb pipe we claim to be.”

In 2010, she said, Dotcom, in his native German, told a colleague over Skype: “At some point, a judge will be convinced about how evil we are.”

The defence has yet to present its case, but Dotcom has long argued that plenty of people used his site to legitimately store files, and he can’t be held responsible for those who elected to use it for illegal downloads.

His lawyers say that any action against him should have been taken in civil court and that criminal charges are unjustified.

Professor James Grimmelmann, who specializes in Internet law at the University of Maryland, said the outcome of the case could have important implications in defining the bounds of U.S. copyright law. He likened it to other cases which are testing the Internet’s jurisdictional boundaries, such as the European notion of the right to be forgotten.

He said that if Dotcom loses the case, it will make sites like YouTube pay closer attention to ensure they are being vigilant enough in removing copyrighted material. He added that the U.S. courts would likely be careful to define what distinguishes a pirate site from one that’s legitimate.

In New Zealand, the extradition hearing has been delayed nine times since Dotcom was arrested in early 2012, after a dramatic SWAT-style raid on his mansion near Auckland. He was released from jail a month later, and has attracted intense media coverage since.

His unabashedly ostentatious lifestyle was unusual in a nation which often prizes humility. And his arrest hardly seemed to slow him down. He soon released a music album, started another Internet file-sharing company called Mega, and launched a political party which contested the nation’s 2014 election.

But over the past year his star appears to have faded. Some of the money he made from Mega helped fund his political ambitions, which came to nothing after his party failed to win any seats in the election.

As major arguments began at the hearing on Thursday, a couple of dozen curious onlookers watched, including one man who seemed to enjoy the warmth of the courtroom and soon began to snore. Outside, a lone protester appeared from time to time, sometimes wearing a bandanna, sometimes a tinfoil hat.

Dotcom’s U.S. lawyer Ira Rothken said the defence has been disadvantaged because authorities seized more than $60 million (roughly Rs. 396 crores) belonging to Dotcom and the others and have refused to release some of it to pay legal bills outside of New Zealand. Rothken said his firm is owed more than $500,000, but he’s continuing to represent his client because he’s confident he will prevail.

Dotcom, too, appears confident. During a break after Gordon had laid out a summary of the case against him, he turned to a reporter: “That sounded bad, huh?” he said. “Wait till some of the rebuttal.”

A social network for you and your music-loving friends

soundshare-ios-icon-100616279-orig.png

Have you ever seen the movie (or read the novel) High Fidelity? For a few years of my life, I was one of those guys in the record store. As far as discovering new music was concerned, this was the most fertile period of my life. Stu W. ran the store, and a bunch of us hung out there in the early evening, sharing our new records, and sampling those in the store. We all liked some of the same music, but our tastes diverged enough that there were always surprises.

At that time, in my early 20s, it was great to be able to discover so much music. Now, with digital downloads and streaming, there are lots ways to share music, from Spotify’s shared playlists to the dozens of apps that let you share music in different ways.

A friend recently showed me an iOS app called SoundShare. This free app lets you play music and, if you want, share it with your friends. You can follow people, as you would on Facebook or Twitter, and see what they’ve listened to, while sharing what you’ve heard.

popular
You can see what’s popular among SoundShare’s users, or view a specific user’s history.

When my friend—let’s call him Bob—showed me the app, it was interesting. Part of our conversation went like this:

Bob: So pick a song and search for it.

Me: How about Everything Merges with the Night?

Bob: You’re just saying random words…

Me: No, you don’t know that song? It’s great. Wait, let me find it…here.

Bob: Hey, that is cool. I don’t know much of Brian Eno’s music.This was very similar to the way my friends and I, both in the record store and at each other’s homes, would turn each other on to new music. Bob and I were talking on Skype while doing this, each in a different country, and we were able to share music essentially in real time by adding songs to a shared playlist. Sure, you could tell someone to search for something in Apple Music or Spotify, but this is more immediate. Other users can also see what you’ve listened to, and you can see their listening history.

SoundShare piggybacks on YouTube, the world’s biggest music streaming service, so you can find lots of music. I consider this a bit of a gray area, as far as compensation is concerned, but it’s not the only music player that uses YouTube. One of the problems with YouTube is that the “music videos” uploaded may by mislabeled, or may be different versions of a specific song. If there is a video, as opposed to just a still frame with an album cover, you can watch that video on your iOS device while listening to the music.

paper trails
This live version of Darkside’s Paper Trails is great, but it’s not the studio version I expected.

Sometimes you get some random video by someone covering the song you searched for on an acoustic guitar, filmed in their bedroom, or you see a bootlegged concert video rather than a studio cut. This is a bit disconcerting, and there should be a way to flag such versions, or find correct versions when you stumble on videos you don’t want to see.

Bottom line

SoundShare is a great idea, and it’s frankly what’s missing in Apple Music. You can make playlists with Apple Music, and your friends can subscribe to them, but there’s no two-way sharing in Apple’s service. As with any social networking app, SoundShare will live or die according to the number of users it can attract. If your friends use it, then you’re likely to want to try it out. For now, there aren’t a lot of users, but perhaps that will change.

PM Modi Promises More Accountable and Transparent Governance

Pitching his pet Digital India initiative with the titans of the IT world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday promised to make governance more accountable and transparent while assuring data privacy and security.

Speaking before a gathering of Silicon Valley CEOs, PM Modi announced plans to create more public Wi-Fi spots including at 500 railway stations across India in partnership with Google, and an aggressive expansion of the National Optical Fibre Network to take broadband to 600,000 villages.

“As our economy and our lives get more wired, we are also giving the highest importance to data privacy and security, intellectual property rights and cyber security,” he said at a dinner interaction attended among others by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Qualcommexecutive chairman Paul Jacobs, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

“We will transform governance, making it more transparent, accountable, accessible and participative,” PM Modi said, adding that E-Governance is foundation of better governance efficient, economical and effective.

PM Modi said Digital India was born out of conviction that it was possible to rapidly transform the lives of people on margins and touch the lives of the weakest, farthest and the poorest citizen of India as also change the way our nation will live and work.

“We will connect all schools and colleges with broadband. Building I-ways are as important as highways,” he said.

“We are expanding our public Wi-Fi hotspots. For example, we want to ensure that free Wi-Fi is not only there in airport lounges, but also on our railway platforms. Teaming up with Google, we will cover 500 railway stations in a short time,” he said.

The government, he said, wants to free citizens from the burden of excessive paper documents in every office.

“We want paperless transactions. We will set up a digital locker for every citizen to store personal documents that can be shared across departments,” he said.

Setting up of Ebiz portal has made approvals for businesses and citizens easy and efficient, technology is being used to impart scale and speed to development, he said.

Calling for bridging the digital divide and promote digital literacy, PM Modi said in the same way that we seek to ensure general literacy, technology must be accessible, affordable and value adding. .

PM Modi said that by using space technology and Internet, 170 applications have been identified that will make governance better and development faster.

“Today, technology is advancing citizen empowerment and democracy that once drew their strength from Constitutions. Technology is forcing governments to deal with massive volume of data and generate responses, not in 24 hours but in 24 minutes,” PM Modi said.

To achieve the vision of Digital India, the government must also start thinking a bit like corporate world, he said.

“So, from creating infrastructure to services, from manufacture of products to human resource development, from support governments to enabling citizens and promoting digital literacy, Digital India is a vast cyber world of opportunities for you,” he said.

Also Common Service Centres will be set up in villages and towns as also use information technology to build smart cities. “We want to turn our villages into smart economic hubs and connect our farmers better to markets and makes them less vulnerable to the whims of weather,” he said.

Stating that access means content being made available in local languages, he said that affordability of products and services is critical for success.

“We will promote manufacture of quality and affordable products in India. That is part of our vision ofMake in India, Digital India and Design in India,” he said.

“Since my government came to office last year, we have attacked poverty by using the power of networks and mobile phones to launch a new era of empowerment and inclusion: 180 million new bank accounts in a few months; direct transfer of benefits to the poor; funds for the unbanked; insurance within the reach of the poorest; and, pension for the sunset years for all,” he said.

Stating that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the neighbourhoods of the new world, he said if Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous one and the most connected.

“Google today has made teachers less awe-inspiring and grandparents more idle. Twitter has turned everyone into a reporter. The traffic lights that need to work the best are on Cisco routers,” he said.

Technology is helping a mother in a distant hill village save her new born infant and giving a child in a remote village better access to education, he added.

A small farmer is more confident about his land holding and getting better market price. A fisherman on the sea has a better catch. And, a young professional in San Francisco can Skype daily to comfort her sick grandmother in India, PM Modi added.

“When you think of the exponential speed and scale of expansion of social media or a service, you have to believe that it is equally possible to rapidly transform the lives of those who have long stood on the margins of hope,” PM Modi said.

He said Digital India is an enterprise for transformation on a scale that is, perhaps, unmatched in human history.

“For nothing else will do in a country with 800 million youth under the age of 35 years, impatient for change and eager to achieve it,” said the Prime Minister.

“We have set up Ebiz portal to make approvals for businesses and citizens easy and efficient so that they concentrate their energy on their goals, not on government processes. We are using technology to impart scale and speed to development,” he said.

Information, education, skills, healthcare, livelihood, financial inclusion, small and village enterprises, opportunities for women, conservation of natural resources, distributed clean energy entirely new possibilities have emerged to change the development model, he said.

“But for all this, we must bridge the digital divide and promote digital literacy in the same way that we seek to ensure general literacy. We must ensure that technology is accessible, affordable, and adds value,” he said.

The Government he said wants its 1.25 billion citizens to be digitally connected. “We already have broadband usage across India go up by 63 percent last year. We need to accelerate this further,” he said.

“For me, access also means that content should be in local languages. In a country with 22 official languages, it is a formidable, but an important task,” he said.

“Affordability of products and services is critical for our success. There are many dimensions to this. We will promote manufacture of quality and affordable products in India. That is part of our vision of Make in India, Digital India and Design in India,” PM Modi said.

Pointing out to the top IT executives sharing the stage with him, PM Modi said, “If there was ever a gathering under one roof that could claim to be shaping the world, it is this.”

“It’s a great pleasure to be here in California. It is one of the last places in the world to see the sun set. But, it is here that new ideas see the first light of the day,” he added.

In a nation of one billion cell phones, M-Governance or mobile governance has the potential to make development a truly inclusive and comprehensive mass movement. “It puts governance within everyone’s reach,” he said.

Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and Other US Tech Firms Endorse Digital India

Top CEOs of American tech companies, which have played a key role in IT revolution the world is experiencing now, endorsed the ambitious Digital India programme during interactions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in San Jose on Saturday, describing it as a vision that would bring India technologically at par with the rest of the world.

“Digital India will bring about solutions for the challenge of digital divide,” said Satya Nadella, who took over as Microsoft CEO last year, at a dinner interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

(Also see: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Courts Silicon Valley Executives at Dinner)

“Let’s empower people from Nanyuki to Srikakulam,” Indian-American Nadella said as he detailed out how digital technology can empower people across the world as he talks about Skype for students between schools to exchange ideas.

Speaking at a Digital India dinner in San Jose, he said that next week Microsoft will announce cloud computing from data centres in India. The dinner was attended by who’s who of Silicon Valley’s corporate world.

PM Modi has accelerated effort to make India the next driver in innovation, said Sundar Pichai, CEO ofGoogle. He said India is the fastest growing startups in the world. “We are proud of what is happening in India and share Prime Minister’s vision of digital India,” he said.

It has the potential to uplift the while of society in India, he said, with top IT CEOs seated on the dais along with Prime Minister Modi at a dinner hosted in his honour.

“I am sure Prime Minister Modi will take Digital India to greater heights,” Narayen said, who moderated the discussion.

Along with Nadella, and Narayan, others seated on the dais were John Chambers, CEO of Cisco and next Chairman of US India Business Council (USIBC) and Google CEO Sunder Pichai.

Describing PM Modi as “amazing ambassador” of India, Chambers endorsed Digital India, saying it has the potential to bring about great changes in India. The US and India would be “very strong together under your leadership”, it said.

Chambers said one has to compete against one’s ability to innovate, and not against other companies or countries.

“If you can change India, you will change the world,” he said, adding that Internet is the second equalizer in life after education.

Paul Jacobs executive chairman of Qualcomm said, “we are extremely excited and motivated” by the Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative.

Observing that mobile technology is changing everybody’s life, he said India is poised to be leader in digital technology.

Sharing PM Modi’s vision of using mobile phone as a key instrument of governance, he said: “India under Prime Minister Modi s leadership is moving in the right direction.”

Ahead of the dinner, Apple CEO Tim Cook; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai met Prime Minister Modi at his hotel in San Jose. He is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Silicon Valley in more than three decades.Jacobs announced $150 million funds to fuel innovation in Indian startups. He also announced Design India initiative and labs, saying it would help in ‘Make in India’ program.Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan said that the Digital India initiative would “transform India into a digitally empowered” knowledge economy. Prime Minister s vision of Digital India is exciting, he said.

Paytm to Invest $10 Million in Logistics Data Firm LogiNext

Mobile commerce platform Paytm said on Wednesday it is investing $10 million (approximately Rs. 66 crores) in logistics data startup LogiNext.

The move is in line with Paytm’s strategic plan to invest $150 million (roughly Rs. 990 crores) in a dozen Indian tech startups over the next few months, the company said in a statement.

“While large logistics companies have great in-house tech capabilities, smaller players have limited access to good technologies. To solve this, we are building a strong logistics cloud network for our merchants and courier partners,” said Kiran Vasireddy, Senior Vice President at Paytm.

“LogiNext’s real time big data analytics platform will help courier companies to bring in more efficiency in their delivery network by route optimization and real-time tracking of their resources,” he added.

LogiNext is a privately held big data analytics startup backed by Indian Angel Network. At present, LogiNext serves customers in the medium and large enterprise bracket.

It uses technology to provide real-time visibility and optimisation solutions to logistics companies and helps in avoiding delays, incorporating transparency, real-time tracking to get insights about moving assets, distribution networks, inventory and supply chain.

Consumer brand of India’s leading mobile Internet company One97 Communications, Paytm’s investors include Ant Financials (AliPay), SAIF Partners, Sapphire Venture and Silicon Valley Bank.

Amazon Cuts Prime Price for a Day to Celebrate ‘Transparent’ Success; Announces Fall TV Pilot Lineup

Amazon is cutting the price of its $99 (roughly Rs. 6,500) annual Prime membership program to $67 (roughly Rs. 4,400) on Friday for new members to celebrate its original series “Transparent” winning 5 Emmys at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

The deal will start on Friday at 12:00 a.m. ET. and end at 11:59 p.m. PT., or 2:59 a.m. ET.

“Transparent” debuted in 2014 and stars Jeffrey Tambor as a transgender parent. It won five Emmys on Sunday including two for outstanding lead actor and outstanding director for a comedy series.

Amazon has been beefing up offers and services to attract subscribers to its Prime loyalty club. Most recently it gave members free online access to The Washington Post and has been expanding same-day delivery options.

The latest deal can be found at http://amazon.com/transparentprime beginning Friday.

The company also announced on Wednesday it will launch six TV show pilots for its video streaming service in the United States, the UK, Germany and Austria for the 2015 fall pilot season.

Amazon said it would ask viewers for feedback and turn the most popular pilots into full series.

The pilots include “Z”, about Zelda Fitzgerald and her relationship with husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of “The Great Gatsby”.

Another, “One Mississippi”, a dark comedy about a woman coping with the loss of her mother, features comedian Louis CK as executive producer and “Juno” scriptwriter Diablo Cody as co-writer.

Other pilots include “Edge”, a western drama based on George G. Gilman’s book series; “Good Girls Revolt”; political thriller “Patriot” and the comedy “Highston”, which has Sacha Baron Cohen as an executive producer.

Amazon and Netflix Inc are quickly reinventing television with their original content, bringing in big names and enticing them with creative liberty and relieving them from concerns about offending advertisers.

Flipkart Co-Founders Bansals New Billionaires: Forbes India

Leading Indian e-retailer Flipkart’s co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal are the latest billionaires in the country, with $1.3 billion (roughly Rs. 8,582 crores) net worth each, according to leading business magazine Forbes India’ rich list released on Wednesday.

“Indian e-commerce has added its first billionaires with Flipkart’s founders (Bansals) making debut on our rich list at number 86, with $1.3 billion net worth each,” the magazine said in a statement here.

Though Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani tops the rich list for the ninth consecutive year, his net worth, however, declined $4.7 billion (roughly Rs. 31,061 crores) to $18.9 billion (roughly Rs.1,27,700 crores) from 2014 owing to lower oil prices that hit his oil and petrochemicals giant.

Sun Pharmaceutical’s Dilip Shanghvi also retained the second spot, with $18 billion (roughly Rs. 1,18,957 crores) net worth, acquisition of drug major Ranbaxy Industries for $4 billion (roughly Rs. 26,436 crores) by his company notwithstanding.

IT czar and Wipro chairman Azim Premji also retained the third spot in the list, with a net worth of $15.9 billion (roughly Rs. 1,05,085 crores) though $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,304 crores) less than in 2014.

“The generous billionaire has pledged 18 percent of his stake in Wipro to his charitable trust, in addition to a 21 percent stake already given,” the statement noted.

“The combined wealth of India’s 100 richest remains largely unchanged at $345 billion (roughly Rs. 22,80,596 crores), as compared to $346 billion (roughly Rs. 22,87,222 crores) in 2014,” it added.

Similarly, wealth of 10 tycoons slumped by $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,610 crores) over the year owing to global and domestic factors, including a volatile stock market and currency fluctuations.

Fortune of steel magnate L.N. Mittal (65) declined by $4.6 billion to $11.2 billion (roughly Rs. 30,408 crores to Rs. 74,038 crores) and his ranking in the rich list slipped to eight from five year ago, as his and world’s largest steel major ArcelorMittal was hit by imports from China.

“India is facing a reality check in 2015 after the euphoria in 2014. Though it has impacted several big fortunes in the top 100, the country’s entrepreneurial spirit remains buoyant, as evident from a dozen new faces on the list,” said Forbes Asia’s India editor Naazneen Karmali.

Other top 10 billionaires are Hinduja brothers ranked fourth with $14.8 billion net worth; Pallonji Mistry (86), fifth, $14.7 billion; Shiv Nadar (70), sixth, $12.9 billion; Godrej family, seventh, $11.4 billion; Cyrus Poonawalla (74), ninth, $7.9 billion and Kumar Mangalam Birla (48) tenth, $7.8 billion.

Gujarat-based Adani group’s founder chairman Gautam Adani (53) is ranked 11th with net worth of $7 billion and Kotak Mahindra Bank vice-chairman and managing director Uday Kotak (56) is 12th with $6.5 billion net worth.

Only two women figure in the top 100 billionaires’ list – Leena (Gandhi) Tewari (58 years), chairman of drug major USV Ltd, is ranked 54 with $1.9 billion net worth, while Indu Jain (79 years), chairperson of the country’s largest media group Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, is ranked 57 with $1.85 billion net worth.

Five co-founders of global software major Infosys Ltd figure in the rich list- N.R. Narayana Murthy (69) ranked 53, $1.92 billion; S. Gopalakrishnan (60), 67, $1.67 billion; Nandan Nilekani (60), 69, $1.61 billion and K. Dinesh (61) 96, $1.19 billion.

Mahindra group chairman Anand Mahindra (60) is ranked at 99 with a net worth of $1.12 billion.

The rich list also has 12 new comers, including IndiGo budget carrier co-founder Rakesh Gangwal at 70 with $1.6 billion net worth, while his friend and co-founder Rahul Bhatia moved up 12 positions from last year to 38 with $2.4 billion net worth.

The biggest gainer is Poonawalla, the vaccine magnate, whose fortune increased to $7.9 billion from $6.2 billion in 2014 and entered the top 10 list at nine. He recently bought heritage property Lincoln House in Mumbai for $110 million.

“This year’s list reflects the churn in the global economy and the growing clout of emerging sectors like ecommerce in India,” Forbes India editor Sourav Majumdar added.

US Says Fingerprint Records of 5.6 Million Government Employees Stolen

Hackers who stole security clearance data on millions of Defence Department and other US government employees got away with about 5.6 million fingerprint records, some 4.5 million more than initially reported, the government said on Wednesday.

The additional stolen fingerprint records were identified as part of an ongoing analysis of the data breach by the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defence, OPM said in a statement. The data breach was discovered this spring and affected security clearance records dating back many years.

The news came just ahead of a state visit to Washington by Chinese President Xi Jinping. US officials have privately blamed the breach on Chinese government hackers, but they have avoided saying so publicly.

President Barack Obama has said cyber-security will be a major focus of his talks with Xi at the White House on Friday. The United States has told China that industrial espionage in cyberspace by its government or proxies is “an act of aggression that has to stop,” Obama said recently.

US officials have said no evidence has surfaced yet suggesting the stolen data has been abused, though they fear the theft could present counterintelligence problems.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Wednesday the investigation into the data breach, which affected the records of some 21.5 million federal workers, was continuing and he did not “have any conclusions to share publicly about who may or may not have been responsible.”

He indicated the OPM announcement was not related to Xi’s visit but instead came about because officials at OPM had met with members of Congress and told them about the fingerprints and so needed to release the information to the public as well.

Officials from OPM and the Defence Department only recently discovered that the additional fingerprints had been stolen as they continued to assess the data breach, OPM said in a statement.

During that process, officials “identified archived records containing additional fingerprint data not previously analysed,” the OPM statement said. As a result, the estimated number of people who had fingerprint records stolen rose to 5.6 million from the 1.1 million initially reported, it said.

OPM said the total number of people affected by the breach was still believed to be 21.5 million.

The agency downplayed the danger posed by stolen fingerprint records, saying the ability to misuse the data is currently limited. But it acknowledged the threat could increase over time as technology evolves.

“An interagency working group with expertise in this area … will review the potential ways adversaries could misuse fingerprint data now and in the future,” it said.

The group includes members of the intelligence community as well as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.

“If, in the future, new means are developed to misuse the fingerprint data, the government will provide additional information to individuals whose fingerprints may have been stolen in this breach,” OPM said.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who has accused the administration of failing to take cyber-security seriously, said the OPM announcement was further evidence that officials viewed the data breach as “a PR (public relations) crisis instead of a national security threat.”

The individuals affected by the breach have not yet been notified. The OPM statement said the personnel office and Defence Department were working together to begin mailing notifications to those affected.

Australia’s Major Banks Pull Plug on Bitcoin Companies

Australia’s major banks are closing accounts of Bitcoin companies, forcing at least 13 digital currency providers out of business in response to tougher rules on money laundering and terrorism finance, an industry body spokesman said on Tuesday.

The move comes just months after Westpac Banking Corp became the last of Australia’s four major banks to pull out of the remittances business in order to reduce compliance risks.

Banks globally are exiting sectors that present compliance headaches under pressure from regulators to meet tighter anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing rules.

“The current Bitcoin operating model requires very tough compliance and assurance requirements to ensure we meet the high standards required under anti-money laundering regulations,” a Westpac spokesman said.

“We continue to monitor developments in Bitcoin, including their regulation.”

Banks have sent letters to 17 Bitcoin companies including BitTrade and BuyaBitcoin informing them their accounts would be closed, an Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association (ADCCA) spokesman said.

“We continue to speak with banks to find a solution to the problem. ADCCA looks forward to guidance from the government as to how the situation can be resolved,” he said.

Seven percent of the world’s $5 billion (roughly Rs. 32,827 crores) worth of Bitcoin is in circulation in Australia, according to ADCCA estimates.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia declined to comment while National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group did not immediately respond.

An Australian government inquiry last month said that while digital currencies should be more tightly regulated, they also should be treated as money and taxes should be simplified for people who trade with them.

Westpac in June invested an undisclosed amount in U.S. Bitcoin start-up Coinbase, in the first such deal by an Australian bank in the largely unregulated virtual currency.