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Safa Hawa app launched to provide hourly air quality of Valley

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KATHMANDU — A new mobile application, Safa Hawa, has been launched to provide information regarding the current hourly updates on the quality of air prevailing in different areas of the city.

The US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz and Department of Environment (DoE) Director General Durga Prasad Dawadi have jointly launched the app on Thursday.

Developed by Bidhee Pvt Ltd with the support of the US Embassy in Nepal, Safa Hawa app users will receive information on PM 2.5 and ozone content recorded by two air-quality monitoring stations — one installed at the US Embassy premise another in Thamel.

Users can download the free app, available for both iOS and Android platforms in Nepali and English languages. It will update air-quality details every hour and send notifications and share health tips too, according to the developer.

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Ambassador Teplitz, speaking at the launch event, said the app would accelerate the move for the healthier Kathmandu, especially at the time when South Asian countries like Nepal struggle with severe air-pollution issues.

“Even without the necessary studies and data, everyone knows Kathmandu’s air quality is bad. We can see it and feel it almost every day. The questions are: How bad is it? And more importantly: What can we do about it?” she said.

Ambassador Teplitz further said that country’s poor air affects not only the health of citizens, but also other sectors like business and tourism. She hoped the information on air through the app would help the government deal with the deteriorating quality of air in the country, mainly in Kathmandu Valley.

Likewise, the DoE DG Durga Prasad Dawadi hoped the mobile application would soon disseminate data collected from all the air-quality monitoring stations of the government.

The global Environmental Performance Index (EPI), released in January, ranked Nepal last for the quality of air among 180 countries.

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Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds

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Over 3300 free and popular children’s Android apps available on the Google Play Store could be violating child privacy laws, according to a new, large-scale study, highlighting growing criticism of Silicon Valley’s data collection efforts.

Researchers using an automated testing process have discovered that 3,337 family and child oriented Android apps on Google Play were improperly collecting kids’ data, potentially putting them in violation of the US’ Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA law (which limits data collection for kids under 13).

Only a small number were particularly glaring violations, but many apps exhibited behavior that could easily be seen as questionable.

Researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that 3,337 of them may be in violation of the COPPA, according to the study report. The tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without their parent’s permission, the study found.

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“This is a market failure,” said Serge Egelman, a co-author of the study and the director of usable security and privacy research at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

“The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done.”

The researchers are adamant that they’re not showing ‘definitive legal liability.’ These apps may be running afoul of the law, but it’s up to regulators at the FTC to decide if they are. Without iOS data, it’s also unclear how common this problem is across platforms.

The potential violations were abundant and came in several forms, according to the study. More than 1,000 children’s apps collected identifying information from kids using tracking software whose terms explicitly forbid their use for children’s apps, the study found.

The researchers also said that nearly half the apps fail to always use standard security measures to transmit sensitive data over the Web, suggesting a breach of reasonable data security measures mandated by COPPA. Each of the 5,855 apps under review was installed more than 750,000 times, on average, according to the study.

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Unfortunately for parents, there’s little consumers can do to protect themselves since the policies and business practices of app developers and ad tracking companies are often opaque, Egelman said.

The study also points to a breakdown of so-called self-regulation by app developers who claim to abide by child privacy laws, as well as by Google, which runs the Android platform, he said.

Agencies

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