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Butterfly and Indian immigration to US

There were just 12000 Indian immigrants to US till 1965 and by 2013 the figure had reached north of 2 million. Much of this growth came in just preceding two decades. In fact, India has become the 2nd largest source of immigrants to US after Mexico.

Indian Immigrant Population in the United States, 1980-2013 (Source –

What exactly happened in 1965? And why that concerns with my review of this book (The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World) by Tara Zahra? A book that gives deep insights about history of migration from Eastern Europe post 1850 till today.

The answers lie in the immigration politics of United States since 1850s and emigration politics/culture of Eastern Europe that culminated in 1965 immigration reforms. Reforms that changed American notion of citizenship and have as per modern experience turned over the bitter legacy of the past. In the rest of my article, I would attempt to summarize how Tara Zahra has dealt with these issues in her book.

Before 1965, European heritage was at the heart of American immigration policies. Most opponents of 1965 immigration reform made a case for protecting Judeo-Christian heritage of America (read European). This theme was visible in both internal (racial) and external (immigration) fronts. As an outcome for long time (prior to 1965) US favored immigration almost exclusively from Europe.

While US did prefer immigrants from Europe, that essentially in practice meant immigrants from Western Europe. However, As Tara Zahra writes in her book, the notion of European and whites were closely inter-twined with each other. Eastern/Southern Europeans even though whites were considered to be of inferior stock and hence not likely to assimilate to American culture. Irrespective, there was a wide-spread sympathy for protecting the fellow whites and ensuring their well-being in terms of their work (better work/living conditions versus Asians/Blacks). Soon that white race brotherhood was about to be shattered.

On the other hand, Austrian-Hugarian dual monarchy and its predecessor (Habsburg empire) were aspiring to be new colonizing force and considered emigration from their lands a national threat to such a cause. As Tara Zahra explains in her book, each young emigrant was a loss for being a potential recruit for royal army, source of labor for businesses of revenue generating nobles and as tiller of farmland. In that context, repeated attempts were made to dissuade such an emigration. This included trial of travel agents (who happened to be Jewish), stricter emigration laws as one by Hungary in 1903, issuing royal decree of amnesty for draft drodgers etc.

In-spite of these attempts, almost 12 million emigrated from dual monarchy (Eastern Europe) to shores of the new world between 1880 and 1910. As per the distribution, 81% of the total immigrants to United states between these period were Eastern Europeans. Among those, they were equally split between Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Jewish origins. Rest were primarily from southern Europe.

Most emigrants from Eastern Europe were primarily driven by three factors – economic opportunity, avoidance of military duty (true for Slovaks and other Austrian-Hungarian empire subjects) and finally religious persecution. Most of the poorer subjects of Austrian-Hungarian and Russian empires were desperate to improve their economic situation and US held a magical charm of opportunity for them. Jewish emigration was almost equally driven by religious persecution and family/economic emigration.

However, as I stated earlier, there were wide-spread concerns on the quality of Eastern and Southern European immigration. Dillingham commission was formed by US Congress  in 1907 to investigate this. In 1911, the commission came out with a scathing report. It suggested that new immigrants to united states of southern/eastern european stock were dramatically different from natives living in US and they cannot be assimilated. The natives here referred Americans of Western European descent who were also the imperialist powers of those time.

Coming just 20 years after the effectively barring of Chinese immigration in 1882 through Chinese Exclusion act, the Dillingham commission paved the way for restrictive acts of 1917, 1921 and finally 1924 which set up the total annual immigration quota of a country to 2% of its population living inside United States in 1910. However, there was NO quota for preferred population of Western Europe.

Indian were already barred by Asiatic Barred Zone act of 1917 and were considered the least preferred race to immigrate to United States. Through 1924 act (not over-ruled by 1952 lifting of barred zone act), it effectively eliminated any possibility of Indian immigration to United States.

Whether it was correlated or not, the travails of eastern european immigration effectively shunted out Indians from the new world for almost 50 years till 1965 happened.

Some call it as the butterfly effect!



Free Mobile Apps = Compromises On User Safety?

This post was originally published on McAfee Official blogs.

Free mobile apps may introduce security risks that need to be addressed. While businesses need to find ways of monetizing when consumers are not ready to pay directly for using an app,  monetization mechanisms that involve the use of user data should be legal, secure and an informed choice. A bigger disussion follows.

80% of the apps were free in 2011,  95% of the apps expected to be free by 2017

In last few years, mobile apps have seen a general downward pressure on pricing. A Flurry analytics report on app pricing show that while 80% of the apps were free in 2011, the number of free apps has increased to 90% as of 2013. Even the price of paid apps showed a lower revenue per app—in 2011, 15% of paid apps had a price close to $0.99, by 2013 only 6% of apps had this price point as the free apps increased. In a press release early this year,Gartner also confirmed this trend when they said that 95% of the total apps (across all OS’) would become free by 2017.

So how do app developers make money on their apps?

There are three specific trends:

  1. Freemium route with in-app-purchases – This is a growing trend. App developers bifurcate their feature set between free and paid. The idea is to hook users through a free offering and provide offers to the user that would like to get access to richer feature set in a paid version. In some cases, some of the app activities, some of the app enticements are available through in-app-purchases.
  2. In-app advertisements – Many app developers embed various kinds of advertisements with their app through the use of ad-libraries. Every impression/click earns revenue for app developer. There are many app developer libraries including one from Google.
  3. Sponsorships – This is only relevant for a very small group of app developers. In this case the entire cost of the app’s engineering and operations is covered by an outside sponsor. For example, Subway sponsored the ING New York City Marathon app.

However, we have seen some worrying trends! 

  • Over-aggressive ad-libraries – Some of the ad-libraries that app developers normally use for monetization were found to be over-aggressive in collecting user details.  A couple of these ad-libraries were collecting details related to a user’s calendar, tracking their locations, last call details, etc. This is something that is beyond the normal realm of ad-libraries. We also had a one-off case of Yahoo! ad-libraries delivering potential scareware to consumers.
  • Willful encroachment of user privacy – Some apps have questionable privacy policies  and sell user data to marketing companies without users’ explicit permissions. And other apps such as Path, deliberately upload users’ contact lists without users’ explicit permission.
  • Embedding risky URLs – Between April and June 2014, McAfee analyzed approximately 733k apps. Out of those almost 95k (12%) of the apps were found to contain at least one risky URL. While in some small cases this might have been willful insertion, this largely could be attributed to developer ignorance and lack of stricter quality controls in their app development process.
  • Weak implementation by app developers – Recently Credit Karma and Fandango were fined by FTC for having exposed sensitive user data by not implementing secure communications between device and their servers. This was due to them not including SSL as part of their implementation when transferring sensitive user data over Internet.

What can be done to address this situation?

Many of the action items clearly lie in the hands of app developers. While the trajectory for app monetization would lie in alternate means as documented earlier, however lack of focus on user privacy/safety would blow up on app developer if they are not cautious (as it happened on Path, Credit Karma and Fandango). The following four suggestions could be considered by app developers:

  1. Be extremely cautious of ad-libraries with past incidents – An app developer should look for past privacy violation of any ad-libraries that you are considering to integrate with your app. Also, remember that ad-libraries may not improve your monetization, but a single bad ad-library may destroy your reputation or get you into legal trouble. Also, always read through privacy policies of ad-libraries to understand how they plan to use user data.
  2. Implement three principles of safe privacy – Inform, consent and control. Always inform the user about what you plan to do with their data such as encouraging the user to read through your app’s privacy policy. Get explicit consent from the user on use of their personal data, and allow the user to control his/her information that is submitted through your app.
  3. Check for URL reputation before adding it to your app – Embedding public facing URLs without validating their security status may put user at risk. An app developer may use McAfee’s free URL verification service to validate a web link before using it into his/her app.
  4. Follow a privacy-aware development practice – An app developer should be aware of secure coding practices and ensure that privacy needs are met. Here is an excellent book written by McAfee privacy experts that could be used for reference:
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