Trump expels Russian diplomats; FTC investigates Facebook

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  • FTC investigates Facebook’s privacy practices – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission confirmed it has opened an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices. Bloomberg reported the investigation had been opened last week after an investigation by the Observer, New York Times, and British broadcaster Channel 4 News found data from 50 million Facebook users had been leaked to political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. The FTC did not say when the investigation was opened, but said it “takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook.” Read WikiTribune’s story, The ethics of big data, Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica.
  • Russian diplomats expelled in U.S. and Europe – In a coordinated response with the UK, President Donald J. Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle (White House). Germany, France, and Ukraine also announced they are expelling Russian diplomats, after EU leaders agreed at a European Council meeting on March 22 (CityAM) it was highly likely Russia was behind the novichok nerve agent attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Earlier on Monday, European countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland summoned Russian ambassadors to their foreign ministries. Russia indicated it will respond “proportionately” to the expulsions. It denies any role in the attempted murder of the Skripals.
  • Houthi missile hits Riyadh – One man was killed after debris from one or more missiles dropped on a residential area in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. While missiles have been fired upon Riyadh in the past, this is the first such casualty in the Yemen-Saudi Arabia conflict. Two others were injured. Saudi forces said they shot down a total of three missiles fired from neighboring Yemen. Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the missiles and vowed to fire more as long as Saudi Arabia continues its offensive campaign in neighboring Yemen.
  • Egyptian presidential election begins – In an election President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is widely expected to win by a landslide, three days of voting began in Egypt. The election has been marked by state measures which saw all credible opponents prevented from getting on the ballot, according to The Guardian. Sisi’s only opponent is the largely unknown centrist politician Moussa Mostafa Moussa, who said he supports the incumbent president’s re-election.


  • Fire rips through Siberian shopping mall – At least 64 people are dead after a fire broke out in a shopping complex in the Siberian coal-mining city of Kemerovo. A further 27 people are missing and as many as 41 children may be among the victims, Russian officials said. More than 600 emergency personnel were used to aid in the rescue. Russia’s Investigative Committee said a fire safety technician at the mall “switched off the alarm system” after being alerted about the fire and that two other fire safety officials have been detained for questioning, along with others.

  • Saudi forces shoot down missiles – Saudi military shot down seven missiles launched into its territory by Houthi rebels in Yemen, officials said. Sunday was the third anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war. The coalition accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with the missiles, a claim which Tehran denies.

  • Trump considers expelling Russian diplomats – President Donald Trump is considering expelling Russian diplomats from the United States over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, an anonymous source said according to Reuters. An announcement could be made on Monday and may rely on how European capitals respond to the nerve agent attack, the source said. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have been unconscious since they were found on a bench in English town Salisbury on March 4.
  • Porn star “told to leave Trump alone'”– In a CBS News “60 Minutes” interview, adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, said she faced threats after an alleged sexual encounter with Donald Trump in 2006 for which she signed a confidentiality agreement (CBS News). She said a man approached her and her daughter in a parking lot in Las Vegas in 2011, warning to “leave Trump alone” and to keep quiet about the alleged affair that Trump denies. Clifford was paid $130,000 two weeks before the U.S. presidential election by his lawyer (CNN) in return for silence. She is now suing to get out of the agreement (The New York Times). The full interview transcript with Clifford is available on CBS News.
  • Catalan leader detained in Germany – Former leader of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, was detained in Germany on Sunday (Financial Times, paywall) after Madrid’s supreme court issued an international arrest warrant and formally charged him last week. Puigdemont faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted for his role in leading the Catalan independence campaign last year after which he fled to Belgium (Washington Post).

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  • We’d like to create an explainer or timeline of ways companies and organizations have historically collected, hoarded, and sold people’s personal data. The project has increasing relevance in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and ahead of the May 2018 launch of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which will force companies to protect people’s data. Help add to the project here. 

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