Privacy watchdogs warn Facebook over Libra currency

Facebook announced the launch of Libra in June. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 August 2019

Privacy watchdogs warn Facebook over Libra currency

  • Facebook was called to respond to more than a dozen concerns over how it will handle sensitive personal information of users of the digital currency
  • The letter follows a chorus of warnings about Facebook’s entry into the shadowy world of digital banking

SYDNEY: Global privacy regulators joined forces Tuesday to demand guarantees from Facebook on how it will protect users’ financial data when it launches its planned cryptocurrency, Libra.
The watchdogs from Australia, the US, EU, Britain, Canada and other countries issued an open letter calling on Facebook to respond to more than a dozen concerns over how it will handle sensitive personal information of users of the digital currency.
The letter follows a chorus of warnings about Facebook’s entry into the shadowy world of digital banking, including at a meeting last month of finance ministers and central bankers from the G7 group of most developed economies.
The watchdogs said that Facebook and its subsidiary Calibra “have failed to specifically address the information handling practices that will be in place to secure and protect personal information.”
Facebook’s handling of user data, highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, had “not met the expectations of regulators or their own users,” they said.
The social media giant’s latest project faced similar risks, they said, adding that the “combination of vast reserves of personal information with financial information and cryptocurrency amplifies our privacy concerns about the Libra Network’s design and data sharing arrangements.”
The regulators demanded Facebook provide guarantees that user information, such as transaction histories, will not be shared without explicit consent and that all personal data will be adequately secured by all parties in the Libra network.
Facebook announced the launch of Libra in June, with Calibra slated to run a digital wallet and provide financial services using blockchain technology.
The currency is to be overseen by a Geneva-based Libra Association of companies, and Swiss authorities have also pledged tight oversight of the operation.
Libra is widely regarded as a challenger to dominant global player bitcoin.
Expected to launch in the first half of 2020, Libra is designed to be backed by a basket of currency assets to avoid the wild swings of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.


Palestinian journalists protest wounding of colleague

Updated 17 November 2019

Palestinian journalists protest wounding of colleague

  • Muath Amarneh has been in an Israeli hospital since he was hit in the eye Friday during clashes
  • Dozens of Palestinian journalists rallied Sunday with one eye covered in solidarity

JERUSALEM: “The eyes of truth will never be blinded,” protesters’ placards read, as Palestinian journalists wore eye patches Sunday to decry the wounding of a colleague in the occupied West Bank.
Muath Amarneh has been in an Israeli hospital since he was hit in the eye Friday during clashes between Israeli border police and Palestinian demonstrators in the village of Surif, close to Hebron in the southern West Bank.
Dozens of Palestinian journalists rallied Sunday — protesting with one eye covered in solidarity.
Amarneh, who is being treated in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, said he was some way from the protesters when he was hit by what he believes was Israeli fire.
“After the clashes started, I was standing to the side wearing a flak jacket with press markings and a helmet,” the freelance cameraman told AFP on Sunday.
“Suddenly I felt something hit my eye, I thought it was a rubber bullet or a stone. I put my hand to my eye and found nothing.”
“I couldn’t see and my eye was completely gone.”
He said doctors at the hospital told him a fragment of metal, about 2 centimeters long, pierced the eye and settled behind it near the brain.
Amarneh’s cousin Tareq, accompanying him in hospital, said doctors planned to extract the metal but changed their minds after discovering they could also damage the right eye or even trigger bleeding in the brain.
A spokesman for the Israeli police denied that the photographer was targeted, saying fire was “not directed at all” toward him.
“The security forces operated in the area in front of dozens of rioters, some of them masked, who threw stones at officers and burned tires,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“The response by the forces was using non-lethal means in order to disperse the rioters.”
Amarneh, who comes from the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, claimed he was targeted as a journalist.
“There is an unnatural and ugly targeting of journalists,” the father-of-two said.
Since the incident Palestinian journalists have launched a campaign, with protests in several cities in the West Bank.
In Bethlehem Sunday, border police dispersed a sit-in by journalists at the checkpoint north of the city, an AFP journalist said.
Demonstrators wore eye patches and held signs aloft.
Tear gas cannisters were fired by the border police, the journalist said.
Seven people were lightly wounded, according to Palestinian health officials.
In the city of Tulkarem, about 250 journalists took part in a sit-in to show solidarity, according to journalists present.
A video and photos of Amarneh spread immediately after his injury, with journalists trying to carry him with blood flowing from his left eye.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate says 60 journalists have been hit by live ammunition this year, the majority in Gaza — an enclave where violent weekly protests along the border often lead to dozens of demonstrators being wounded.