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Now it’s against the law for Facebook to use your personal data in Germany

Reuters

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A German consumer rights group said on Monday that a court had found Facebook’s use of personal data to be illegal because the U.S. social media platform did not adequately secure the informed consent of its users.

The verdict, from a Berlin regional court, comes as Big Tech faces increasing scrutiny in Germany over its handling of sensitive personal data that enables it to micro-target online advertising.

The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzvb) said that Facebook’s default settings and some of its terms of service were in breach of consumer law, and that the court had found parts of the consent to data usage to be invalid.

“Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy center and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register,” said Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the vzvb.

“This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.” The vzvb posted a copy of the ruling on its website. A court spokesperson confirmed that a judgment had been handed down but declined further comment.

FACEBOOK TO APPEAL

Facebook said it would appeal, even though several aspects of the court judgment had been in its favor. In a statement, it said it had already made significant changes to its terms of service and data protection guidelines since the case was first brought in 2015.

“We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law,” Facebook said.

Further, Facebook would in the meantime update its data protection guidelines and its terms of service so that they comply with new European Union-wide rules that are due to enter force in June.

Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion users worldwide, already faces scrutiny from Germany’s competition authorities over its handling of its users’ personal data.

The Federal Cartel Office, in an interim update on an investigation into Facebook, said in December that it objected to the way the company gains access to third-party data when an account is opened.

This includes tapping information from its own WhatsApp and Instagram products – as well as how it tracks which sites its users access.

One concern highlighted by the consumer rights group was that, in Facebook’s app for smartphones, a service was pre-activated that revealed the user’s location to the person they were chatting to.

Also, in the privacy settings, ticks were already placed in boxes that allowed search engines to link to the user’s timeline, meaning that anyone would be able quickly and easily to find a user’s profile.

“The judges ruled that all five of the default settings on Facebook that vzvb complained about are invalid,” the group said in a statement, adding that several other of Facebook’s terms of use were found to be illegal.

(Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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‘I am not going back to school until lawmakers, and the president, change this law’

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By Katanga Johnson

Dozens of students and parents from the Florida high school where 17 teens and staff members died in a shooting rampage boarded buses on Tuesday for a trip to the state capital Tallahassee to push for a ban on assault rifles.

Reuters

Last week’s massacre, the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in U.S. history, has inflamed a national debate about gun rights and prompted teens from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and across the United States to demand legislative action. The incident has galvanized advocates for stricter gun controls, including many survivors of the shooting.

“I am not going back to school until lawmakers, and the president, change this law,” said Tyra Hemans, an 18-year-old senior, referring to Florida’s law permitting the sale of assault rifles. “Three people I looked to for advice and courage are gone but never forgotten, and for them, I am going to our state capital to tell lawmakers we are tired and exhausted of stupid gun laws.”

Fourteen students and three educators were killed in the Feb. 14 attack at the school in Parkland, near Fort Lauderdale. Authorities have charged Nikolas Cruz, 19, with 17 counts of premeditated murder for allegedly returning to the school from which he had been expelled and opening fire with a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle.

The youth-led protest movement that erupted within hours of the shooting attracted a prominent celebrity supporter on Tuesday when actor George Clooney and his wife Amal, a human rights lawyer, said they would donate $500,000 to help fund a planned March 24 gun control march in Washington.

Reuters

A Washington Post/ABC News opinion poll released on Tuesday showed 77 percent of Americans believe the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, with 62 percent saying President Donald Trump, also a Republican, has not done enough on that front.

Trump said on Tuesday he had signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to draw up regulations banning devices that turn firearms into machine guns, like the bump stock used in October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

MARCHES IN FLORIDA, TENNESSEE

Students in states including Florida and Tennessee staged sympathy protests on Tuesday, according to local media reports. Miami’s WTVJ-TV showed video of about 1,000 teens and adults marching from a high school in Boca Raton to the site of the Parkland shooting, about 12 miles (19 km) to the west.

Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature has taken up at least two bills during its current session intended to provide broader access to guns. On Tuesday the state House turned down an attempt to bring up a bill that would block sales of assault rifles, News Service Florida reported.

State Senator Bill Galvano, the chamber’s next president, called for a bill to limit sales of assault rifles to people at least 21 years old, with some exceptions, up from the current minimum age of 18. The legislature’s current session ends on March 9, leaving little time for a vote.

Current U.S. high school students were born after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in which a pair of teen gunmen killed 13 people. There have been numerous mass shootings, not just in schools, since then in the United States, and students in this age group have grown up in an environment where they regularly train for the possibility of being targeted by a shooter on the loose in school.

Gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and remains one of the nation’s more divisive issues. The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that fewer than seven in 10 Republicans support the idea of a ban on assault weapons, the reverse of Democrats, 71 percent of whom support it. A federal ban on assault weapons, in force for 10 years, expired in 2004.

Funerals continued for the young victims of Wednesday’s attack.

Reuters

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday said it made a rare posthumous letter of acceptance to Peter Wang, a student of the school killed in the shooting. A Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, Wang had aspired to attend the elite academy.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker)

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Help Florida Student Who Died in JROTC Uniform Get the Full Honors Military Burial He Deserves

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Fifteen-year-old Peter Wang was among the 14 students and three faculty members killed in the deadliest high school shooting in American history on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The JROTC Cadet is an absolute hero. He was last seen in his uniform, holding doors open and allowing other students, teachers, and staff to flee to safety. Wang was shot in the head and killed while saving lives. Now, there’s a WhiteHouse.org petition to give him a military burial.

“His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area. Wang died a hero, and deserves to be treated as such, and deserves a full honors military burial,” the petition reads.

The petition needs to reach 100,000 signatures by March 18 to get an official response from the White House, according to WhiteHouse.gov. There are nearly 70,000 signatures at the moment.

Alaina Petty and Martin Duque, both only 14, were also cadets in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program who were killed. The US Army is awarding medals for heroism to all three students.

Wang’s act of selflessness was not unheard of according to one student who told mourners that she forgot her lunch the day before the shooting and he gave his lunch to her instead.

Touched by Wang’s act of heroism, West Point even honored him.

“West Point has given posthumous offers of admissions in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidate’s whose actions exemplified the tenets of Duty, Honor and Country,” West Point said in a statement.

Let’s get Wang his full honors military burial. Click here. 

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Trump is blasting Oprah over 60 Minutes roundtable

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By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump blasted media mogul Oprah Winfrey on Twitter on Sunday night over a segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes program and again said he hoped she would face him as an opponent in the 2020 presidential race.

Actress and television host Winfrey, now a contributor to the CBS program, led a panel of 14 Republican, Democrat and Independent voters from Grand Rapids, Michigan in a wide ranging discussion about Trump’s first year in office.

Trump tweeted: “Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!”

Winfrey has told various media outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, that she is not running for president, but has considered it, after there was much recent media speculation.

The panelists ranged from voters who said “I love him more and more every day,” to others questioning Trump’s stability, saying, “All he does is bully people.”

Winfrey made no declarative statements for or against the president in the program. But she did ask questions ranging from whether the country is better off economically to whether respect for the country is eroding around the world.

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