Google got 2.4m requests 'to be forgotten'; Syria fighting pauses

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  • Google reveals millions requested to remove data – More than 2.4 million people have filed “right to be forgotten” requests to Google since the European Union passed a law allowing citizens to ask for removal from internet search engines in 2014. According to Google’s latest transparency report, the requests were from mainly private individuals – 33,937 submissions were from politicians and government officials. Google said it complied with 43.3 percent of them, most of which are for URLs coming from France, the UK, and Germany.  (WikiTribune is working on a story about the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation – find out more here.)
  • Daily “humanitarian pause” begins in Eastern Ghouta – Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a daily pause in fighting from 9am to 2pm local time to allow civilians to leave eastern Ghouta. Government bombing has killed more than 560 people in the rebel-held Damascus suburb over the past eight days, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). According to SOHR, the town of Douma was hit by four rockets this morning. (Read WikiTribune‘s explainer Damascus urban warfare matches pattern of ‘indiscriminate’ attacks.)
  • U.S. Supreme Court denies bond for detained undocumented immigrants – The highest judicial body in the United States reversed a lower court decision that gave detained undocumented immigrants a bond hearing every six months. Former President Barack Obama appealed this 9th Circuit court ruling, the Supreme Court finally heard the case. Justice Stephen Breyer, who sharply criticized the decision said that forbidding bail would likely violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of due process under the law.
  • Comcast makes rival offer for Sky – Comcast Corp., the biggest cable operator in the United States, made a $31bn bid for European broadcaster Sky, challenging Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox’s already-agreed $25bn deal to buy the remaining 61 percent of Sky it does not already own. Sky’s shares subsequently increased by more than 18 percent in early London trading. However, there are two complications. Firstly, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority found Murdoch’s offer to buy Sky was not in the public interest, citing it would give the Murdoch Family Trust too much political influence, with control across all UK media platforms. Secondly, if 21st Century Fox now makes a new bid to counter Comcast’s offer, it would “presumably need approval from Disney,” according to Liberum analysts. In December 2017, Walt Disney agreed to buy a 39 percent stake in Sky (Financial Times).
  • Microsoft and U.S. Government duel on data privacy – The U.S. Supreme Court may take on the case of whether the federal government has the authority to demand data from American companies that is stored overseas. The government wants to look into a Microsoft email account of someone suspected of drug trafficking. Microsoft argues that is overreach, and will push customers to switch to foreign internet companies. Congress is currently drafting legislation that would update the 1986 Stored Communications Act, and establish authority over this issue. A vote on the bill has yet to be scheduled.
  • Saudi Arabia reshuffles top military commanders – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman replaced the chief of staff and the heads of ground forces and air defense, in a series of late-night royal decrees, which were driven by his heir Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the BBC.
    • This is part of major change powered by the crown prince, who drove a purported anti-corruption purge, locking up princes, ministers, and billionaires in Riyadh’s five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel last year, and more recently reclaimed more than $100bn from them (The Guardian). (Read WikiTribune’s story Making sense of what’s happening in Saudi Arabia.)


  • Syrian women sexually exploited by aid workers – Men delivering supplies on behalf of the UN and international charities made women exchange sex for food, according to a new report. Abuse is continuing in Southern Syria according to the assessment led by the United Nations Population Fund, despite warnings of abuse three years ago. (Read WikiTribune’s exclusive on the UN’s plan to transform its approach to sexual violence and behavior.)
  • North Atlantic right whales on verge of extinction – Scientists recorded no births from the right whales found off the U.S. states of Florida and Georgia, where they migrate to breed, according to The Guardian. There were record deaths of right whales in 2017 and there are estimated to be roughly 430 North Atlantic right whales left globally, so they could be extinct by 2040.

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  • In the aftermath of last week’s mass shooting in Florida, major companies and brands abandoned their support for the National Rifle Association. As WikiTribune community member Kevin Cook reports, this could represent a wider shift in the U.S national narrative about gun control.

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 What we’re reading

  • IRIN, an independent news agency specializing in reporting on crises and relief agency work, has an effective guide to what is known about the reality on the ground in eastern Ghouta. – Peter Bale
  • Formula milk companies are still aggressively targeting mothers in the poorest parts of the world by using secretive and sometimes illegal methods to get them to use their product. This collaborative investigation between the Guardian and charity Save the Children shows that in some of the most deprived areas of the Philippines, Nestlé and other companies are luring medical workers with meals, entertainment tickets, and even gambling chips. The report outlines how this sort of behavior is in a clear violation of Philippine law. – Charles Anderson

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