SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Facebook is about to be the subject of a new legal battle over its data protection policies and alleged violations of privacy as an Austrian privacy group plans to bring the case in an Irish court.
Europe vs. Facebook, the Austrian group, announced Tuesday that after a year of repeated requests and complaints to enforce the European data protection law, the company has failed to act. Now, the campaigner is planning to seek justice in court, appealing decisions by the data protection regulator in Ireland, where Facebook's European headquarters is located.
“We have been pursing this for more than a year with Facebook, but the company has done only about 10 per cent of what we had asked them to do,” Max Schrems, the spokesman for Europe vs. Facebook was quoted as saying by The New York Times. “Therefore, we are preparing to go to court.”
The Austrian group previously won a petition forcing Facebook to turn off its facial recognition feature in Europe. In addition, Facebook now has to limit certain data sets' retention periods and disclose how much data it has on individual users.
But despite filing 22 complaints to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, the demands for more privacy are "miles away from other European data protection authorities in its understanding of the law," the group said in a statement.
After government probes into privacy issues, Europe vs. Facebook published a 70-page response to the audit, called a "counter report," which highlighted all the alleged violations of European law after a petition from the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.
Overall the paper discovered that the Irish authority had "not always delivered accurate and correct results," and the Austrian advocacy group wonders if “blind trust” in Facebook may have impeded the original audit, Schrems told zdnet.com.
“We have to understand the position of the Irish authority,” the spokesman elaborated. “They had to deal with a whole armada of lawyers from Facebook. On the other hand we have a fundamental right to privacy and data protection in the EU. When it comes to basic freedoms and fundamental rights, our understanding for the situation of the authority comes to an end.”
“The way Facebook Ireland handles personal data has been subject to thorough review by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner over the past year,” the company said in a statement. “Nonetheless, we have some vocal critics who will never be happy whatever we do and whatever the D.P.C. concludes.”
In order to win a potentially long legal battle, the group has started a crowd-funding platform to raise the €100,000 to €300,000 needed.
About 25 per cent of Facebook users are European, and one third of the company’s advertising revenue comes from Europe, making it a crucial market for the company.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — An Iranian lawmaker says the illegal sanctions imposed on Iran by those countries that claim to advocate human rights, target the middle-class people in a blatant violation of human rights.
“The [so-called] advocates of human rights have proven the West’s double standards regarding the concept of human rights by imposing illegal sanctions on the Iranian people,” spokesman for Iran Majlis (parliament) Legal and Judicial Committee, Mohammad Ali Esfanani, said on Saturday.
He added that major powers define the human rights based on their own interests and needs and justify their anti-human measures through instrumental use of human rights.
Esfanani noted that the enemies put extra economic pressure on the Iranian nation after they failed to defeat the resistance of the Iranian people and government against their plots.
The lawmaker’s remarks came a day after UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the General Assembly on Friday that international sanctions on Iran are having “significant” effects on the Iranian people and also appear to be harming humanitarian operations in the country.
The US, Israel and some of their allies accuse Iran of diversion in its nuclear energy program toward peaceful purposes. The US and European Union (EU) have used this allegation as a pretext to push the UN Security Council to impose four rounds of sanctions on the Islamic Republic between 2006 and 2010.
The US and EU have also taken unilateral measures against the Islamic Republic since the beginning of 2012 in an effort to stop Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Iran strongly rejects the Western allegations against its nuclear energy program, maintaining that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The federal probation violation investigation targeting the man behind the anti-Muslim video inflaming the Middle East is proceeding slowly and privately, reflecting the explosiveness of the case.
Federal officials have said nothing publicly about the case, and neither has Nakoula Basseley Nakoula's attorney. Nakoula has put his home up for sale and gone into hiding since violence erupted over the 14-minute YouTube trailer for “Innocence of Muslims,” a crudely made film that disrespects Prophet Muhammad (S).
Against that backdrop, federal officials are looking into whether Nakoula, 55, violated probation for a 2010 check fraud conviction by uploading the trailer to YouTube. Nakoula was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.
If he's found in violation, he could be returned to prison. If not, he'll remain free. Either way, federal officials will face criticism, either from those who say Nakoula's free speech rights were trampled or from those who believe he should have been punished for inciting violence with the video.
“This case breaks the mold,” said Mark Werksman, a defense attorney in Los Angeles and a former federal prosecutor. “If the video hadn't gone viral, and caused the Arabic world to blow up, who would care if this guy is using YouTube? It's all about politics with this guy.”
Because of the international complexity, probation officials handling the case are taking plenty of time to make a decision and likely are getting input from throughout the federal government, said Lawrence Rosenthal, a professor at Chapman University's School of Law in Orange.
“My best guess is decisions about this case are going to be made at very high levels,” Rosenthal said, surmising federal prosecutors, Justice Department headquarters and even the State Department may be weighing in.
Steven Seiden, a defense attorney representing Nakoula in the probation matter, did not reply to questions by email Tuesday and has not replied to several written requests for an interview with him or his client. The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.
In most federal cases, a probation officer who decides someone has committed a serious violation submits a confidential report to the sentencing judge, who then can pursue a probation revocation hearing — a mini-trial of sorts — where probation officials must prove the violation.
If the judge finds the individual in violation, the court can return the defendant to probation, send him to prison or impose additional terms of probation without prison time.
Normal cases can move very quickly — sometimes taking days — once a probation officer has prepared a report, Werksman said. In this instance, however, the political and diplomatic ramifications likely have officials scrutinizing every step.
Probation officials first must be able to prove there was a violation, and that could mean a lengthy investigation into whether Nakoula or someone else posted the video on YouTube, said Heidi Rummel, a former federal prosecutor and criminal law professor at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law.
In addition, the terms of Nakoula's supervised release indicate he was allowed to use computers with prior approval from his probation officer. It's possible he received approval to post the trailer for “Innocence of Muslims.”
“Usually the probation officer will be most interested in preventing him from engaging in any kind of activity related to the original crime, so another factor would be what kind of permission did the probation officer give him?” she said. “Why would (the film) be of concern in a bank fraud case? That's a whole nother wrinkle.”
If federal probation officials — or those above them — decide not to proceed against Nakoula, the public likely will never know what went into the decision or who was involved without a court proceeding, Rosenthal said.
If the case does go before a judge, Nakoula could argue he was singled out on a probation technicality for exercising his right to free speech, Rosenthal said.
Either way, the outcome to the investigation could take a long time and isn't as straightforward as it may seem, said Rummel, the former prosecutor.
The issues are unusual for the probation revocation context and the allegations may be difficult to prove," she said.
“It's not like they have a couple dirty drug tests and two weeks later they're in court.”—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Tehran Times