CERN physics lab drops Facebook over data concerns

A giant digital sign is seen at Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. (AFP)
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Updated 05 February 2020

CERN physics lab drops Facebook over data concerns

  • CERN said it wound up its Facebook Workplace account on January 31 after the US firm gave it the choice of either paying to use the service or sharing data
  • It said some 1,000 members of the CERN community had created accounts and there were around 150 active users each week

GENEVA: Europe’s physics lab CERN on Wednesday said it had stopped using a Facebook team-chat application because of concerns about handing over data to the US tech giant.
CERN said it wound up its Facebook Workplace account on January 31 after the US firm gave it the choice of either paying to use the service or sharing data.
“Losing control of our data was unacceptable,” CERN said in a blog on January 28, confirmed to AFP by spokeswoman Anais Rassat on Wednesday.
CERN said it started using Workplace when it was offered the service for free in 2016.
It said some 1,000 members of the CERN community had created accounts and there were around 150 active users each week.
“Reactions were not always positive. Many people preferred not to use a tool from a company that they did not trust in terms of data privacy,” the laboratory said.
CERN said its staff would now instead use two open-source chat services: Mattermost and Discourse.
CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — a giant lab in a tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border that is the world’s most powerful proton smasher.
Workplace is an enterprise-oriented version of Facebook that, instead of distracting workers, is intended to let them connect and collaborate.
It claims to have around three million paying users.
Facebook has faced a series of privacy scandals in recent years, including over the hijacking of personal data on millions of users by a British consultancy developing voter profiles for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.