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The top startup stories of the day:
1. CIC slams govt for saying ‘no idea how Aarogya Setu was created’
The Central Information Commission of India (CIC) has issued a show-cause notice to the government for not sharing information on the contact tracing app Aarogya Setu.
All agencies involved in the creation of the app -- Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), National Informatics Centre (NIC), and National e-Governance Divison (NeGD) -- have been served show-cause notices for refusal of information on the app under the RTI Act.
The CIC observed that it is not possible that the agencies involved had no information on the movement of files while creating the app.
Petitioner Saurav Das had moved to CIC after information on the creation of the Aarogya Setu app was refused to him under the RTI Act. He highlighted that it is quite surprising that NIC had not maintained any information on the app, despite being its developer.
2. Funding of the Day
Flexiloans raises Rs 150 crore via a mix of equity and debt
Mumbai-based digital lending startup Flexiloans has raised Rs 150 crore through a mix of equity and debt. The equity infusion was done by Falguni and Sanjay Nayyar Family Office.
With this current round, the total amount of money raised by Flexiloans since its inception in 2016 has reached Rs 500 crore, in a mix of equity and debt.
The funds will help the firm scale up its microbusiness lending portfolio. Flexi loans are looking to forge partnerships with more players to source customers and launch differentiated lending products. It is trying to double down on the supply chain and co-lending verticals.
BharatAgri raises Pre-Series A from Binny Bansal backed 021 Capital and India Quotient
The agri-advisory platform, BharatAgri, has raised Pre-Series A from Binny Bansal backed 021 Capital and India Quotient. This round also saw participation from existing investors Better Capital and Ajay Prabhu (COO, Quest Global).
The company plans to use the fresh funds on product enhancement and growth, besides expanding its footprint across India.
3. Microsoft, NSDC collaborate to empower 1 lakh, women in India with digital skills
Microsoft has collaborated with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to impart digital skills to more than one lakh underserved women in India over the next ten months.
As part of the collaboration, more than 70 hours of the course content will be made available free of cost, covering topics such as digital literacy, enhancing employability, nano entrepreneurship, and communication skills.
This initiative is an extension of Microsoft’s partnership with NSDC to provide digital skills to over 1 lakh youth.
4. Tech chief executives to defend key law in front of U.S. Senate panel today
According to written testimonies from the companies, the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook, and Alphabet will tell U.S. lawmakers at a hearing today that a federal law protecting internet companies is crucial to free expression on the internet, according to Reuters.
Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey will tell the Senate Commerce Committee that eroding the foundation of Section 230 “could collapse how we communicate on the Internet, leaving only a small number of giant and well-funded technology companies.”
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said, “Section 230 made it possible for every major internet service to be built” but added he believes “Congress should update the law to make sure it’s working as intended. We support the ideas around transparency and industry collaboration that are being discussed in some of the current bipartisan proposals.”
Alphabet-owned Google’s Sundar Pichai said the company approached its work without political bias and offered the information it does because of existing legal frameworks such as Section 230.
5. Italy’s antitrust probes Google for possible abuse of dominant position
Italy’s antitrust regulator said it was probing Google for possible abuse of dominant position in the Italian market of display advertising. The regulator said that thanks to its position in the online advertising market, the company “uses in a discriminatory way enormous amounts of data, collected through its applications, impeding other competitor operators to compete effectively.”
6. First day of the Facebook moratorium on new U.S. political ads marked by glitches
Facebook’s first day of the moratorium on new political advertising in the final stretch of U.S. election campaigning kicked off on Tuesday, and was Facebook said last month it would impose a moratorium - or temporary ban - on new political ads in the week before Nov. 3 in an attempt to tamp down on misinformation on social media as Election Day approached. The company stopped accepting new political or issue ads on Tuesday. Facebook said it would allow pre-existing ads to run during that period but would block any adjustments to the ads’ content or design.