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.


Police free CNN reporter arrested live on TV covering Minneapolis protests

Updated 29 May 2020

Police free CNN reporter arrested live on TV covering Minneapolis protests

  • Omar Jimenez had just shown a protester being arrested when about half a dozen police officers in gas masks surrounded him
  • Thursday marked a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in Minnesota State over the death of George Floyd while in police custody

WASHINGTON: Police in Minneapolis released a CNN reporter who was led off in handcuffs along with his film crew while reporting live on television early Friday morning during violent protests in the city.
Officers gave no explanation as they escorted reporter Omar Jimenez away. He had just shown a protester being arrested when about half a dozen police officers in gas masks surrounded him. More than an hour later, the crew was released.
“What gave me one bit of comfort was that it happened on live TV,” Jimenez told viewers after he was released. “You don’t have to doubt my story it’s not filtered in any way; you saw it with your own eyes.”
The striking footage of the arrest could add to racial tension in the city and across the country, where sympathy protests have taken place. Jimenez is black, while most of the police officers who arrested him appeared to be white.
Thursday marked a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in Minnesota over the death of a black man, George Floyd, seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck.
“A CNN reporter and his production team were arrested this morning in Minneapolis for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves — a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. The authorities in Minnesota, including the governor, must release the three CNN employees immediately,” CNN wrote on Twitter before the crew were released.
CNN anchor John Berman told viewers about an hour after the arrest that CNN President Adam Zucker had spoken with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who said he “deeply apologizes” and was working to have the crew released immediately.
Jimenez said the crew had been standing on a street for about an hour and a half before police activity kicked up. They moved onto a corner to get out of the way, he said.
On air, Jimenez told the officers wearing gas masks and face shields that he wanted to know where to move to get out of their way and explained he was a member of the press.
“This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street, seeing and scattering the protesters at that point for people to clear the area. And so we walked away,” Jimenez said before being told he was under arrest and handcuffed by two officers. “Why am I under arrest, sir?“
Walz, expected to have a press conference later on Friday, has declared a state of emergency in Minnesota and ordered the National Guard activated. President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet that looters would be shot. Twitter hid Trump’s tweet with a warning for “glorifying violence.”
Protests also erupted in other major cities around the country, including Louisville, Kentucky, where police said seven people had been shot.