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Government’s plan to regulate “non-personal” data has jolted US tech giants Amazon, Facebook, and Google, and a group representing them is preparing to push back against the proposals, according to sources and a letter seen by Reuters. A government-appointed panel in July recommended setting up a regulator for information that is anonymised or devoid of personal details but critical for companies to build their businesses.

The panel proposed a mechanism for firms to share data with other entities – even competitors – saying this would spur the digital ecosystem. The report, if adopted by the government, will form the basis of a new law to regulate such data.

But the US-India Business Council (USIBC), part of the US Chamber of Commerce, calls imposed data sharing “anathema” to promoting competition and says this undermines investments made by companies to process and collect such information, according to a draft letter for the government.

“USIBC and the US Chamber of Commerce are categorically opposed to mandates that require the sharing of proprietary data,” says the USIBC’s previously unreported letter, which is likely to be completed and submitted in coming weeks to India’s information-technology ministry.

“It will also be tantamount to confiscation of investors’ assets and undermine intellectual property protections.”

A USIBC spokeswoman had no comment on the draft letter. The US Chamber of Commerce didn’t respond to Reuters queries.

The head of the panel, Kris Gopalakrishnan, a founder of technology giant Infosys, said the group will work with the government to review input from the industry.

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet’s Google did not respond to requests for comment. The report is open for public comments until September 13.

“Forced data sharing”

Government’s plan to regulate non-personal data is the latest irritant for US tech companies that have been battling tighter e-commerce rules and data storage norms that several countries are also developing.

New Delhi and Washington are already at odds on such issues, as well as over digital taxes and tariffs.

The USIBC draft letter says “forced data sharing” will limit foreign trade and investment in developing countries, and the panel’s proposals run against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s calls for US companies to invest in the country.

The lobby group expresses concern about the panel’s recommendation to mandate local storage for non-personal data, describing this as a “dramatic tightening” of India’s international data transfer regime.

“These are far-reaching concepts that would have a significant impact on the ability of both Indian and multinational firms to do business in India,” Washington-headquartered law firm Covington & Burling said in a note prepared for the USIBC, which was also seen by Reuters.

The law firm did not respond to a request for comment.

The government panel has listed research, national security and policymaking among purposes for which such data should be shared. Three sources said tech executives participated in several meetings in recent weeks to discuss concerns over the report.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Amazon Prime Day 2020 starts Oct. 13: How to get the best deals

amazon prime day

Get details and tips about one of Amazon’s biggest sales of the year.

Image: Ray Pawulich/CNET

Amazon Prime Day is a two-day sale on Amazon’s website, exclusively for its Prime members (an Amazon Prime membership is $119/year). The event usually takes place in July, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the date for the 2020 Amazon Prime Day will take place “later than usual,” according to the company. 

When is Amazon Prime Day 2020?

This year, Amazon Prime Day took place in India on August 6-7, but the online event has been postponed in the US three times. Sister site CNET is now independently reporting that Prime Day will start on October 13; Amazon has not confirmed the date of the event. 

A spokesperson for Amazon stated, “Stay tuned for more details on Prime Day. Customers can also say, ‘Alexa, keep me posted on Prime Day.’ If customers make this Alexa request, they will be notified when [Amazon] announces the dates and when Prime Day begins.” 

SEE: IT hardware procurement policy (TechRepublic Premium)

What are the best tech deals on Amazon Prime Day 2020?

Amazon Prime Day usually offers massive discounts on hardware, software, TVs, gaming consoles, Amazon’s own hardware (Echos, Kindles, Fire Sticks, tablets, etc.), and much more. When the Amazon Prime 2020 deals are available, we’ll update this article with details.

As of September 9, 2020, Amazon has begun offering deals on the Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Echo Plus in the US and UK. Below are some of the current deals:

Amazon device deals in the US

On September 24, 2020, Amazon announced several new products, features, and services, some of which may be available on Prime Day. Be sure to look for discounts on the Amazon Echo smart speakersEero 6 Mesh routers, Ring security products, and Fire TV.

What are shopping tips for Amazon Prime Day 2020?

According to GameSpot, Amazon typically features different types of deals during Prime Day, including: 

  • Early Access or Countdown Deals: These deals will appear on Amazon prior to the Prime Day event.

  • Spotlight Deals: These deals last for 24 hours and may happen in the lead-up to or during the Prime Day event. 

  • Prime Day Exclusive Deals: These deals run for the duration of Prime Day but selected products may run out of stock. 

  • Lightning Deals: These are limited-time, limited-stock deals and typically run out of stock quickly. In order to stay up-to-date with the deals, GameSpot recommends that you “keep up with them through the Amazon app on your iOS or Android phone. You can get a sneak peek at the day’s Lighting Deals by pressing ‘Today’s Deal’ in the top left app menu, then the ‘Upcoming’ tab. Find a deal that you want and tap ‘Watch This Deal’ to get notified when it starts.”

More about Amazon Prime Day 2020

This article will be updated as more information becomes available about Amazon Prime Day 2020. Also, check out the Amazon Prime Day 2020 coverage on sister sites CNET and Chowhound.

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Adaptive Meta-Learning for Identification of Rover-Terrain Dynamics

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The dynamics of extraterrestrial rovers is dependent on the terrain. The high-level terrain classification used in most current rovers is often not enough to ensure safe path selection, as the experience with NASA’s Curiosity and Spirit shows.

Adaptive Meta Learning for Identification of Rover Terrain Dynamics

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A recent paper suggests a model of the terrain parameters that govern wheel-terrain interaction. Knowing the terrain may help to predict whether the neighboring regions are traversable, plan the safest route, and prevent damage.

A linear model, which relates terrain parameters (namely cohesion and internal friction angle) and rover dynamics is supplemented by a meta-learned neural network. The interpretability of the model is enhanced by the orthogonality of nominal and meta-learned features. The model is capable of rapid adaptation and provides low estimation errors (the largest error is less than 5%).

Rovers require knowledge of terrain to plan trajectories that maximize safety and efficiency. Terrain type classification relies on input from human operators or machine learning-based image classification algorithms. However, high level terrain classification is typically not sufficient to prevent incidents such as rovers becoming unexpectedly stuck in a sand trap; in these situations, online rover-terrain interaction data can be leveraged to accurately predict future dynamics and prevent further damage to the rover. This paper presents a meta-learning-based approach to adapt probabilistic predictions of rover dynamics by augmenting a nominal model affine in parameters with a Bayesian regression algorithm (P-ALPaCA). A regularization scheme is introduced to encourage orthogonality of nominal and learned features, leading to interpretable probabilistic estimates of terrain parameters in varying terrain conditions.

Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.10191