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IT Ministry Yet to Appoint New USF Board Members:

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) is yet to appoint new members to the board of the Universal Service Fund (USF) despite previous memberships expiring last year. The three-year term of the USF board concluded on July 18th, 2022, but the ministry is yet to fill the now vacant slots as per rules dictated under Section 158 of the Companies Act, 2017. More importantly, MoITT has not yet advertised for the nomination of USF’s Board of Directors.

Telenor Appoints Mindshare as its Media Agency:

Telenor has appointed Mindshare as its media agency for both traditional and digital, following a competitive pitch. Mindshare Pakistan, part of GroupM, is the largest media buying house in Pakistan and is continuously thriving on data, digital, and technology along with its conventional portfolio of business.

Major Acquisitions Dominated Pakistan’s Tech Sector in 2022:

The year 2022 closed phenomenally for the IT sector in Pakistan, witnessing several successful mergers and acquisitions. The sector made a record-breaking contribution to the economy, recording a remittance of $2.616 billion. The industry saw a 24 percent increase in revenue which was $2.108 billion in 2021. Pakistan also hosted its 11th Bank of Future Forum which is one of the biggest banking technology conferences and the APICTA awards in December 2022 for the very first time, hosting 16 economies of the Asia Pacific region.

FIA Arrests Scammer Involved in Cryptocurrency Fraud Worth Millions:

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) has arrested a person in Karachi who scammed hundreds of people of millions of rupees in a bitcoin trading fraud. Zafar Rana, the suspect, used to trick people on YouTube by convincing them to invest in bitcoin in exchange for large profits. He took 10,000-50,000 Euros per person under the guise of investment and laundered the money in Dubai and Turkey.

Apple Launches 2023 MacBook Pro With Even Longer Battery Life:

Apple has unveiled the 2023 versions of the MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch, as well as the Mac mini, all featuring the new M2 Pro and M2 Max processors. These new models boast improved connectivity options and a lower starting price for the Mac mini. The MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch models can now be configured with the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, which claim to offer up to 20% faster CPU performance and 30% faster GPU power compared to the previous generation.

Bank Alfalah Introduces QR Payment Solution with SnappRetail:

Bank Alfalah, continuing its efforts to digitize the retail landscape of Pakistan, has entered into an aggregator partnership with SnappRetail. This partnership is designed to accelerate merchant acquiring activities and to encourage digital payments at the point of sale (POS). Under this collaboration, merchants acquired by SnappRetail will be onboarded to the QR (Quick Response) payment system of Bank Alfalah, bringing cash-oriented merchants into the fold of the documented economy.

Here is How Much Internet Pakistanis Consumed in 2022:

This is reflected in the average monthly consumption of data, which increased to 6.8 GB per user in the outgoing financial year 2021-22 (FY22). Every Pakistani broadband user consumed 81 GB of data in FY22, which showed double-digit growth of 11 percent as compared to the average yearly internet consumption which stood at 73 GB per person in FY21.

Major Phone Companies Are Shutting Down Assembly in Pakistan:

According to 24NewsHD, multinational companies are shutting down their mobile phone assembly units in Pakistan due to a shortage of dollars. Three major phone manufacturers have reportedly closed their assembly units, causing concern among mobile phone traders in Lahore. Lahore Traders Rights President Sardar Azhar Sultan expressed grave concern while talking to 24NewsHD. The report does not mention precisely which companies are shutting down local production in Pakistan. Major phone makers in the country include Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Infinix, and a few others, but there is no official word on which of these brands have halted production.

UAE Unveils Innovative Method to Turn Carbon Dioxide into Rock:

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has announced a new partnership to test technology that captures and permanently turns atmospheric carbon dioxide into rocks. The project, set to begin this month, will be the first of its kind in the Middle East and is a part of ADNOC’s $15 billion investment in reducing its carbon footprint. The project will use the award-winning Carbon Capture and Mineralization (CCM) technology of Oman-based environmental firm, 44.01, to capture carbon dioxide from the air, dissolve it in seawater, and then inject it into subsurface rock formations known as peridotite.

Samsung Reveals an Even Better and Faster 200MP Smartphone Camera:

Samsung has unveiled the flagship ISOCELL HP2, its third 200MP image sensor, which is expected to feature on the upcoming Galaxy S23 Ultra. It is still not a 1-inch image sensor like Sony’s massive IMX989 found on some Chinese flagship phones, but a remarkable piece of hardware nonetheless. Despite being smaller than its predecessor at 1/1.3 inches with 0.6-micro pixels, the ISOCELL HP2 boasts D-VTG (Dual Vertical Transfer Gate) technology that increases pixel capacity by over 33%, resulting in improved color and reduced overexposure in images and videos.

OnePlus 11 is Getting a Budget Friendly Model Soon:

Production for the OnePlus 11R has reportedly begun in India and the phone is rumored to debut in the country in April or May. The existence of the OnePlus 11R 5G has also been confirmed by the device’s moniker appearing on the OnePlus website. Some rumors suggest that it’s going to be the global version of the OnePlus Ace 2, which will launch in China soon. However, the OnePlus Ace has a different design compared to the OnePlus 11R, which was leaked in a few hands-on images.

Paklaunch All Geared up for UnConference 2023 This Month:

Paklaunch – an exclusive community of talented Pakistani professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors – will host the Paklaunch UnConference on 25-26 January 2023, where the top 50 startups from Pakistan, several major family offices/conglomerates, and Pakistan-based VCs will meet the most active emerging market tech investors. This is Paklaunch’s second Unconference, following the Silicon Valley event in June 2022, at which 52 Pakistani startup founders flew to Silicon Valley and met with 95 investors. UnConference’22 resulted in the confirmation of 19 investment deals. “Paklaunch’s goal is to do better in Dubai,” said the official press release.

Elon Musk trial: Prospective jurors call him narcissistic, smart:

Prospective jurors in a civil lawsuit against Elon Musk have mixed views of him – some calling him smart, and others saying he is “off his rocker”. Mr Musk, who is being sued by Tesla shareholders arguing he manipulated the firm’s share price, has said he cannot get a fair trial in San Francisco. He wanted the trial to take place in Texas – where he has moved Tesla’s headquarters – but that was rejected. A jury has been selected, after jurors completed a pre-trial questionnaire. The case centres on 2018 tweets, saying that he would take Tesla private. US regulators removed Mr Musk as Tesla chairman because of the posts.

Gamers say goodbye to Google’s Stadia as platform shuts:

Google will shut down its Stadia cloud-gaming service in the UK on Thursday, as it issues refunds to gamers. Stadia was touted as a “Netflix for games” when it launched, in November 2019, allowing players to stream games online without a PC or console.

The service will be inaccessible after 08:00 on 19 January in the UK, with gamers telling BBC News they are “heartbroken” to see it go. Google has promised refunds to anyone who made Stadia purchases.

FTX: Collapsed crypto exchange says $415m was hacked:

Collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX says that around $415m (£338m) of crypto has been stolen by hackers. About $323m was hacked from its international exchange and $90m from its US platform since the firm filed for bankruptcy, FTX’s CEO says. FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been accused of stealing billions of dollars from FTX users to pay debts at his other firm, Alameda Research. Mr Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges.

Nigeria elections 2023: How influencers are secretly paid by political parties:

A BBC investigation has discovered that political parties in Nigeria are secretly paying social media influencers to spread disinformation about their opponents ahead of general elections in February. The BBC’s Global Disinformation Team has spoken to whistle-blowers working for two of Nigeria’s political parties, and prominent influencers who have described it as “an industry”. The whistle-blowers say parties give out cash, lavish gifts, government contracts and even political appointments for their work. We changed their names to protect their identity. “Yemi” is a prominent strategist and “Godiya” a politician.

Twitter auctions bird statue and other office furniture:

Twitter has placed hundreds of items from its San Francisco HQ up for auction online.

A statue of the platform’s famous bird logo is currently priced at $11,000 (£8,900) with just under 24 hours left to bid. A 190cm (6ft) planter in the shape of an @ symbol is already fetching $4,300. The sale comes as new owner Elon Musk slims down Twitter following his $44bn purchase of the company last year. Since taking over in late October, Mr Musk has laid off around half of the company’s 7,500 staff.

Bitcoin fraud gang struggled to spend cash – police:

A £21m Bitcoin fraud netted a Blackpool-based gang so much money they struggled to spend it, said police. James Parker used a glitch in a trading website to siphon money with the help of Kelly Caton, Stephen Boys, Jordan Robinson and James Austin-Beddoes. They made money so quickly that Parker bought cars for strangers and gave away £5,000 vouchers to try to deal with the proceeds, Lancashire Police said. But it fell apart when Caton reported to police having her Bitcoin stolen. Parker masterminded the plot from his council flat in Blackpool after he discovered a glitch in a cryptocurrency trading website in October 2017 allowing him to take other people’s money, said police.

Data watchdog drops Labour leak case:

The Labour Party will not face prosecution over the leaking of a document containing personal details, the data watchdog has told the BBC. The controversial report – the Work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in Relation to Anti-Semitism – was leaked in April 2020, shortly after Sir Keir Starmer became Labour leader. It contained private email and WhatsApp messages between party staff which dated from the Jeremy Corbyn era. Many of the messages were derogatory towards supporters of the former party leader.

How cyber-attack on Royal Mail has left firms in limbo:

The record collecting community are a pretty understanding bunch, according to David MacDonald. The 60-year-old, who runs Blue Sky Vinyl, is lucky but he admits: “Their patience will only go so far.” Why? Because Mr MacDonald, like many other small business owners, has been waiting for nearly a week to send out international orders via Royal Mail. And, as others have told the BBC, he has absolutely no idea when his shipments can resume.

Wikipedia criticises ‘harsh’ new Online Safety Bill plans:

Wikipedia should be treated differently to the big social media firms in the Online Safety Bill, a leading member of its foundation says. The encyclopaedia is written and edited entirely by thousands of volunteers around the world. The Wikimedia Foundation’s Rebecca MacKinnon also says a proposed change to the bill,would “limit freedom of expression”. The bill aims to protect people from harmful content online. The Wikimedia Foundation is the not-for-profit organisation which hosts the encyclopaedia. Ms MacKinnon says the foundation is concerned about the effect of the bill on volunteer-run sites. She told the BBC that the threat of “harsh” new criminal penalties for tech bosses “will affect not only big corporations, but also public interest websites such as Wikipedia”. Ms MacKinnon says the law should follow the EU Digital Services Act which, she argues, differentiates between centralised content moderation carried out by employees and Wikipedia-style moderation by community volunteers. The government told the BBC the bill is designed to strike the balance between tackling harm without imposing unnecessary burdens on low-risk tech companies.

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