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.


Arab News columnist wins prestigious global scholar prize

Updated 11 min 25 sec ago

Arab News columnist wins prestigious global scholar prize

  • This award recognizes an individual scholar who has had a substantial impact in the study of genocide and mass violence

The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) has awarded the 2019 Engaged Scholar Prize to Arab News columnist and eminent academic Dr. Azeem Ibrahim, for his “exemplary vision and influence” in the study of human rights violations and mass violence cases. 

Founded in 1994, the International Association of Genocide Scholars is a global, interdisciplinary, non-partisan organization that seeks to further research and teaching about the nature, causes, and consequences of genocide, and advance policy studies on genocide prevention. This award recognizes an individual scholar who has had a substantial impact in the study of genocide and mass violence.

Glasgow-born Dr. Ibrahim is being recognized principally for his work on the genocide committed by the Myanmar state against the country’s Rohingya minority. He is the author of several books, including the seminal book “Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide” (Hurst: 2016) and has researched and written extensively on the impact of displaced populations including the Syrians, Uyghur Muslims and others. Apart from Arab News, his publications have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, CNN, Daily Telegraph, Yale Global, Dhaka Tribune and many others. 

Dr. Ibrahim was one of a handful of scholars to foresee and warn of the impending genocide of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in 2016. The Myanmar military undertook a policy of ethnically cleansing over 700,000 Rohingya and forcing them into Bangladesh, which now houses the largest refugee camp in the world. He is now regularly invited to brief policymakers around the globe on possible solutions for this complex situation. 

Henry C. Theriault, president of the IAGS, said: “The entire board is thrilled that the award has gone to Dr. Ibrahim as his accomplishments and commitment to human rights are truly impressive.” 

Dr. Ibrahim is currently a director at the Center for Global Policy in Washington, DC, and is working on creating the Rohingya Genocide Archives, which aims to investigate and document the crimes committed against the Rohingya by Myanmar and create a databank that can then be used by scholars, historians, researchers and any possible future tribunals.