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TikTok agrees to boost EU consumers' rights to avert possible sanctions

The BEUC in its 2021 complaint said TikTok, particularly among teenagers, failed to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content

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TikTok agrees to boost EU consumers' rights to avert possible sanctions
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok has agreed to boost European Union users' rights, EU regulators said on Tuesday, averting possible sanctions in a case sparked by multiple complaints from consumer groups in the bloc.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) in its 2021 complaint said TikTok, which has seen rapid growth worldwide, particularly among teenagers, failed to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content.

The company subsequently held discussions with the European Commission and the national network of consumer protection authorities in an attempt to resolve the concerns and now has agreed to a number of changes, the EU executive said.

These include the introduction of an additional option allowing users to easily report ads that could potentially encourage children to buy goods or services or persuade their parents or others to buy them for them.

Branded content will not be allowed to promote inappropriate products and services. Among other commitments, the company will clarify how to get rewards from its platform, and paid advertisements in videos will be more clearly labelled.

"All social media platforms are required to play by the rules and make sure that consumers can easily identify commercial content, including when promoted by influencers," commission justice chief Didier Reynders said in a statement.

TikTok said it would continue to improve its features. BEUC, however, said TikTok's offer fell short in some areas.

"The impact of such commitments on consumers remains highly uncertain. Despite over a year of dialogue with TikTok, the investigation is now closed, leaving significant concerns that we raised unaddressed," BEUC Deputy Director General Ursula Pachl said in a statement.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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Billions at risk of skin cancer as huge ozone hole detected over tropics

Around half the planet’s population is in danger of skin cancer as a huge new hole has been detected in Earth's ozone layer

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Billions at risk of skin cancer as huge ozone hole detected over tropics

Scientists claim that a new hole in the Earth’s ozone layer has been detected— exposing around half the planet’s population to higher doses of dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun. 

As per the study, the year-round ozone hole is said to be seven times larger than the reported nine million square mile hole over Antarctica.

The new issue in the ozone layer which sits around 15 miles above the Earth and shields us from cancer — causing ultra-violet rays — is said to be over the Tropics.  

If confirmed it would potentially put billions of people at risk of a number of conditions including cancer and cataracts among others. 

University of Waterloo scientist and paper author Qing-Bin Lu said: “The tropics constitute half the planet's surface area and are home to about half the world's population

The existence of the tropical ozone hole may cause great global concern. 

"The depletion of the ozone layer can lead to increased ground-level UV radiation, which can increase risk of skin cancer and cataracts in humans, as well as weaken human immune systems, decrease agricultural productivity, and negatively affect sensitive aquatic organisms and ecosystems.

"The present discovery calls for further careful studies of ozone depletion, UV radiation change, increased cancer risks, and other negative effects on health and ecosystems in the tropical regions.”

Moreover, the hole is believed to have been present since the 1980s, with models only recently being able to confirm its existence.

Since 2000, tropical stratospheric ozone levels have indeed still been decreasing, but this is due to changes in atmospheric motions expected with climate change.

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Pakistan

Metro bus service a relief for commuters amid fuel price hike: PM

He announced to offer free transportation service

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Metro bus service a relief for commuters amid fuel price hike: PM

Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday inaugurated the first four-line interconnected Islamabad metro bus service, terming the step a big relief for commuters of the twin cities dealing with high fuel prices.

Addressing at the launch of Green and Blue lines of the mass transit metro bus service, he termed the service a gift for the residents of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which will accommodate common man, students and workers plying on the routes.

With the service, Bhara Kahu, GT Road, Koral and Rawalpindi have been connected through Green, Orange, Blue and Red Lines respectively.

The bus service will run from Baharakahu to PIMS (Green Line) & Koral to PIMS (Blue Line) where all the Green Blue service will merge with Red Line (Rawalpindi Islamabad Metro). From Faiz Ahmad Faiz bus stop, the passengers can take Orange line to Airport.

The prime minister mentioned that at the time when the petrol prices skyrocketed, the launch of four metro bus lines would be a sigh of relief for commuters.

He said a decent and on-time transportation service on regular basis was a service to common man and lauded the efforts of Interior Minister and the Chairman CDA for service delivery.

He announced to offer free transportation service to commuters for one month.

PM Sharif regretted that a delay in launch of service for four year during the previous tenure incurred heavy losses to national exchequer.

He directed completion of allied services to metro bus project on urgent basis to facilitate the common man.

PM Sharif said the shuttle service from Rawat to Koral was under consideration and funds would be provided for an early launch.

He said every penny of national exchequer would be spent judiciously for the uplift of citizens and stressed that every public project be monitored to avoid lapses in delivery.

The prime minister said efforts were afoot to control inflation in the country through short-term relief measures.

He said the government would promote solar power generation projects to mitigate the challenges of shortage of electricity.

He lauded the step of the Punjab government to provide free electricity to consumers using 100 units and hoped that the other provinces would also emulate the facility.

The prime minister appreciated the efforts of Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah for the steps taken regarding the welfare of Islamabad police and their families.

The prime minister also laid the foundation stone of a Command and Control centre for metro buses at Bhara Kahu, which will be completed in six months.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the service would accommodate the residents of Islamabad and adjoining areas as an affordable and decent transportation.

He mentioned that Shehbaz Sharif throughout his political career took steps to facilitate the common man.

Chairman CDA Amir Ahmed Ali said 30 buses from China had been added to the fleet to facilitate the services.

He said from Koral to PIMS, 13 bus stations had been set up with headway of six minutes. Due to road construction up to Rawat, a bus shuttle from PWD will run.

He said there are 8 stations complete on Green Line, whereas the rest of six stations would be completed by August 14.

A bus depot had been established at Bhara Kahu to save the dead mileage.

The CDA Chairman said a smart card would also be launched to be used on all bus services, including Rawalpindi’s Red Line.

The Command and Control Centre will be completed in six months. 

He said Islamabad was the first city in the country with four bus lines operating and vowed to expand in the capital’s sector areas at a stretch of 8-9 kilometres.

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Pakistan

More showers during Eidul Azha holidays: PMD

Monsoon currents are continuously penetrating the country

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More showers during Eidul Azha holidays: PMD

Islamabad: The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) is predicting more showers during the Eidul Azha holidays.

According to the Met Office, monsoon currents are continuously penetrating the country and are likely to weaken during the next 24 hours, however, it may strengthen over the weekend.

Under the influence of current weather system more rains and thundershowers have been forecast in Islamabad, Kashmir, Swat, Mansehra, Kohistan, Abbottabad, Haripur, Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Kurram, Kohat, Mianwali, Sargodha, Hafizabad, M. B Din, Rawalpindi, Murree, Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum, Sialkot, Narowal, Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Jhang, Sahiwal, Okara from July 9 to July 12 with occasional gap.

Isolated showers are also expected in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Dadu, Thatta, Badin, Zhob, Ziarat, Barkhan, Loralai, Bolan, Kohlu, Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbella, Awaran, Naseerabad, Sibbi, Panjgur, Turbat between July 8 and July 9.

Heavy falls may generate urban flooding in Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Lahore, Gujranwala and Sialkot.

Thundershowers may trigger landslides in Kashmir, Galiyat, Murree, Chillas, Diamir, Gilgit, Hunza, Astore and Skardu.

Travelers and tourists are advised to remain extra cautious during the forecast period.

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