Expert tests prove Arabsat not involved in illegal broadcasts of World Cup

The Saudi Arabian-based broadcaster has consistently denied accusations it allowed illegal broadcasts of the World Cup via pirate channel “BeoutQ”. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Expert tests prove Arabsat not involved in illegal broadcasts of World Cup

  • Multiple tests by experts confirm Arabsat frequencies were not used for illegal World Cup broadcasts
  • Arabsat’s CEO demands immediate retraction and apology from FIFA after research vindicates broadcaster

RIYADH: The Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) this week told FIFA that an investigation performed by seven independent satellite communications experts has confirmed its satellite frequencies were not, and have not been used by an entity operating as “beoutQ” for illegal broadcasts of 2018 FIFA World Cup matches. 
The detailed letter to FIFA sent on Arabsat’s behalf summarized the evidence, which conclusively showed the falsity of FIFA’s claim that Arabsat had been “distributing” beoutQ’s pirate broadcasts.  “Arabsat has always been confident that our satellite network has not been used by beoutQ,” said Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat’s CEO.  “Nevertheless, we undertook a very costly investigation to eliminate any doubts and to provide evidence to share with FIFA and the world.” 
Arabsat’s letter to FIFA detailed specific tests showing why FIFA’s claims that beoutQ was operating on specific Arabsat frequencies at specific times were wholly wrong.  The statement explained that, FIFA had claimed beoutQ was operating on Arabsat frequency 12341 MHz for several World Cup matches.  But tests conducted by several independent satellite communications experts showed that that frequency carried no video content at all at the very dates and times asserted by FIFA.   
Likewise, FIFA asserted that beoutQ broadcast different matches on Arabsat frequency 11996 MHz.  Again, Arabsat’s technical experts demonstrated that FIFA was wrong.  Arabsat’s experts showed that blocking the frequency had no effect on beoutQ’s pirate World Cup broadcasts, and that only legitimate broadcasts (including BBC, Sky News and CNBC) were available on that frequency – not beoutQ. 
Arabsat’s tests also showed that other satellite carriers might be carrying beoutQ’s pirate broadcasts.  “We received one set of test results in which our expert blocked all Arabsat frequencies,” Balkheyour said, “but beoutQ’s World Cup broadcasts continued.”  This strongly suggests that beoutQ used a different, non-Arabsat satellite to broadcast the offending content. 
“Arabsat is entirely vindicated in its decision to undertake its comprehensive investigation before taking the drastic step of shutting down satellite transponders – as FIFA had demanded,” added Balkheyour.   
The statement added that the experts’ findings had deepened Arabsat’s conviction that beIN Sports, a subsidiary of Al Jazeera, was behind allegations that Arabsat satellites had been used by beoutQ.  Arabsat believes that beIN Sports contrived the allegations as part of a smear campaign to deflect attention away from its technological inability to prevent beoutQ’s piracy.
Arabsat has demanded that FIFA immediately issue a public retraction of and apology for its claims that Arabsat was somehow complicit or did not do enough to stop beoutQ.  “Arabsat has been deeply offended and harmed by beIN’s and FIFA’s attacks,” Balkheyour said.  “Now that FIFA has been proven wrong, it should apologize for making such offensive statements.”


Facebook says it uploaded email contacts of up to 1.5 million users

Updated 18 April 2019
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Facebook says it uploaded email contacts of up to 1.5 million users

  • In March, Facebook had stopped offering email password verification as an option for people who signed up for the first time
  • There were cases in which email contacts of people were uploaded to Facebook when they created their account

APRIL: Facebook Inc. said on Wednesday it may have “unintentionally uploaded” email contacts of 1.5 million new users since May 2016, in what seems to be the latest privacy-related issue faced by the social media company.
In March, Facebook had stopped offering email password verification as an option for people who signed up for the first time, the company said. There were cases in which email contacts of people were uploaded to Facebook when they created their account, the company said.
“We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we are deleting them,” Facebook told Reuters, adding that users whose contacts were imported will be notified.
The underlying glitch has been fixed, according to the company statement.
Business Insider had earlier reported that the social media company harvested email contacts of the users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts.
When an email password was entered, a message popped up saying it was “importing” contacts without asking for permission first, the report said.
Facebook has been hit by a number of privacy-related issues recently, including a glitch that exposed passwords of millions of users stored in readable format within its internal systems to its employees.
Last year, the company came under fire following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, obtained personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent.
The company has also been facing criticism from lawmakers across the world for what has been seen by some as tricking people into giving personal data to Facebook and for the presence of hate speech and data portability on the platform.
Separately, Facebook was asked to ensure its social media platform is not abused for political purposes or to spread misinformation during elections.