UK lawmakers prepared to summon Facebook boss Zuckerberg over data scandal

Tech

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May 1, 2018

LONDON (Reuters) – British parliamentarians said they were prepared to issue a formal summons for Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to appear before them and answer questions over a data scandal which has engulfed the technology giant.

The social network has faced questions on both sides of the Atlantic over how millions of users’ details got into the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, and over its wider handling of personal data.

Zuckerberg previously declined to come in person to answer questions from British lawmakers, instead sending Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer to face a four-hour grilling last month. Schroepfer apologized for errors made by the firm and vowed to do more to improve transparency.

But the head of parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Damian Collins said on Tuesday he still wanted Zuckerberg to appear before lawmakers, ideally by May 24, and listed 39 questions or points which remained unanswered.

“While Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country,” Collins wrote in a letter.

“We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the Committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK.”

(Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

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When does the Tour de Yorkshire start and what is the route? — Metro

News, sports

The 2016 Your de Yorkshire passing through Tadcaster (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Forget the Tour de France. The wheel event is happening soon, right here in the UK, specifically in glorious Yorkshire. Oh yes. The third Tour De Yorkshire is kicking off in a matter of days, and it’s going to be a four-day race…

Forget the Tour de France. The wheel event is happening soon, right here in the UK, specifically in glorious Yorkshire.
Oh yes. The third Tour De Yorkshire is kicking off in a matter of days, and it’s going to be a four-day race for the first time ever.
What’s the start date? Where does the route begin and how many stages are there? Here’s what we know.
Read the full story

via When does the Tour de Yorkshire start and what is the route? — Metro

Royal Marines storm beach in dramatic ‘raid’ as 11,000 troops carry out huge training exercise — The Sun

Military, News

 

ELITE Royal Marines stormed a Scottish beach yesterday along with troops from 16 other countries – but there is no need to panic it was only a training exercise. The Green Berets stormed the beach in Dundrennan, Scotland, as part of a wide-ranging military operation called Exercise Joint Warrior that involves all three of the…

via Royal Marines storm beach in dramatic ‘raid’ as 11,000 troops carry out huge training exercise — The Sun  

ELITE Royal Marines stormed a Scottish beach yesterday along with troops from 16 other countries – but there is no need to panic it was only a training exercise.

The Green Berets stormed the beach in Dundrennan, Scotland, as part of a wide-ranging military operation called Exercise Joint Warrior that involves all three of the British armed forces and servicemen and women from a total of 17 countries.

The bi-annual exercise which runs for two weeks from April 21 to May 4 is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe and involves around 11,600 military personnel, operating out of the Clyde naval base.

Along with British forces, military personnel from the likes of Denmark, Spain, Sweden, United States and Estonia, amongst others, are all taking part.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Joint Warrior prepares our troops in the best way to meet the intensifying threats our country faces by providing a major opportunity to exercise with our allies.

“Our Armed Forces are the face of global Britain, and training side by side with troops from 16 other nations means we are stronger and more capable when it comes to keeping our countries safe and protecting our way of life.”

Linked to the NATO exercise programme and open to Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Partner Nations, Joint Warrior also hosts non-NATO partners such as Australia, Finland and Sweden.

This year the training scenarios involve various nations disputing resources and territories; counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling activity; information warfare; and evacuation operations.

Captain Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff, Captain Paul Pitcher RN, said: “This exercise gives the UK participants a chance to train with our allies and partners, honing our skills and developing our tactics.

“It is hugely important in making sure that we can fuse all elements of our capabilities, enhancing our ability to conduct joint operations now and in the future.”

It will culminate on Salisbury Plain Training Area on May 3 where JEF forces, including troops from the UK Parachute Regiment, will conduct urban combat operations with air support provided by Apaches, Chinooks, Wildcats and Tornados.

Manhunt for bogus postman in fake Royal Mail van who ‘tried to snatch two girls off the street’ — The Sun

Crime, News

POLICE have launched a manhunt for a bogus postman in a fake Royal Mail van after claims he tried to snatch two girls off the street. The suspected kidnapper – said to have a distinctive skull and crossbones tattoo – pulled up in his red van in the Essex village of Black Notley and asked…

via Manhunt for bogus postman in fake Royal Mail van who ‘tried to snatch two girls off the street’ — The Sun    

POLICE have launched a manhunt for a bogus postman in a fake Royal Mail van after claims he tried to snatch two girls off the street.

The suspected kidnapper – said to have a distinctive skull and crossbones tattoo – pulled up in his red van in the Essex village of Black Notley and asked the girls to get inside.

A man driving a fake Royal Mail van tried to snatch two young girls from Mary Ruck Way in Black Notley, Essex

The girls claim that when they hesitated he tried to drag one of them into the van.

The schoolgirls – both under the age of ten – said they managed to break free from the man, ran off and raised the alarm.

They told police the van had a Royal Mail logo on the side but checks have revealed none of their vehicles were in the area when the attempted snatch in Mary Ruck Way was reported, at 6.15pm on Tuesday evening.

Police searched the village three miles from Braintree but were unable to locate the vehicle.

The suspect is believed to be in his 30s or 40s, and was said to have been wearing a baseball cap under a black hooded jacket and dark glasses.

He is believed to have a skull and crossbones tattoo on his right hand, with a red slash across it.

Detective Inspector Rob Kirby of Braintree CID said: “These incidents are rare, and we understand that this can raise concern in the local community.

“The girls did exactly the right thing by running to a place of safety and letting someone know what had happened to them.

The two girls said the red van had a Royal Mail logo on it

“We are investigating to establish the circumstances of this incident, and are carrying out a number of enquiries to try and trace any vehicles that may have been involved.”

Det Insp Kirby said they were taking the report “very seriously” and urged any witnesses, or anyone with dash cam or CCTV footage to come forward.

Anyone with information should contact Braintree CID on 101, with the reference 935 of 24/04.

You can also contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111, or use the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.

Ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytica Refused to Testify in UK

Business, International Finance, international News, Politics
The Facebook logo is seen on the screen of an iPhone in front of a computer screen showing a Cambrige Analytica logo
The Facebook logo is seen on the screen of an iPhone in front of a computer screen showing a Cambrige Analytica logo
Chesnot—Getty Images

(LONDON) — The chair of the British Parliament’s media committee says that Cambridge Analytica’s former CEO, Alexander Nix, says he will no longer testify at un upcoming session on fake news, citing an ongoing investigation by the information commissioner’s office.

Nix had been recalled by the committee to testify Wednesday following testimony by whistleblower Christopher Wylie on the use of data by some 87 million Facebook users in the campaign for Donald Trump’s presidential election.

Committee chair Damian Collins rejected Nix’s reason for not appearing, as he has not “not been charged with any criminal offence and there is no active legal proceedings.”

Collins says Tuesday that the committee “is minded to issue a formal summons for him to appear on a named day in the very near future.”

Can Africa be the big Brexit winner?

Africa, Business, economy, International Finance, Politics
Starting at next week’s Commonwealth summit, smart moves from both sides could benefit the UK and Africa.

Following the 2016 Brexit referendum, Britain needs to forge new and strong strategic alliances and trade relationships. Where and how does Africa feature in this equation?

Despite significant challenges, both Britain and Africa could emerge as winners from a rapidly shifting and uncertain global landscape. Smart policies and diplomacy could allow Britain to capitalise on the indifferent economic attitude the rest of the Western world has towards Africa. And African countries with strategic clout and collective bargaining acumen could broker favourable trade and investment deals rather than have terms dictated to them, as has been in the past.

First, to offset the detrimental effect of a split from Europe, Britain needs to look to alternative trading partners to catalyse its economy. Using foreign policy as an economic stimulus is vital in achieving this, and Africa is appealing in this regard. For British businesses, Africa’s high growth rates, urbanising population and growing consumer market provide a marketplace for British goods and services.

For Africa, the nature and scale of its development challenges, combined with its commodity export dependence, means that improved partnerships and increased demand for goods and services are welcome. Through trade, investment and donor support, there is huge scope for UK Inc to grow a more prosperous Africa while boosting its own economy.

Second, the ‘pivot to Commonwealth’ is a strategy that has long been flaunted as a positive spin-off from Brexit. Indeed, many advocates of Brexit had argued that once the UK was freed from the chains of the European Union (EU), it could pursue a buccaneering future as ‘Global Britain’.

Given the cultural affinity with its former colonies, the linguistic, legal and educational symmetry, and sizeable diaspora in the UK, Britain has an advantage over other countries regarding Africa. Its deep historical (albeit controversial) relationships with regional powerhouses like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria could help secure trade and investment deals.

This year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London from 16-20 April is a clear attempt to both solidify and expand the UK’s network of influence with historical allies in a post-Brexit world.

Third, British rapprochement with Africa is likely to be well received in terms of trade policy. Africa’s relationship with the EU has often been tense, largely on account of the protectionist and distortionary polices Europe employs in the agricultural sector through the Common Agricultural Policy.

The UK has long been a proponent of freer and more equitable trade and would probably generate better opportunities for African markets to export their produce. This could be positive news for countries like Ghana (cocoa), Kenya (flowers and tea) and Ethiopia (coffee) in particular, who will benefit from fairer deals and better market access.

Thus disaffected countries may now see scope for more beneficial bilateral deals with the UK. Sensing this opportunity, Tanzania in 2016 refused to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, holding out for a more favourable deal with the UK. This could well be a sign of positive things to come – for both the UK and Africa.

But there are challenges.

Given the tight timelines for renegotiating trade deals with the World Trade Organisation, African countries’ placing on the list of priorities is unclear. African countries will likely fall behind larger trading partners like China, India and Brazil in the pecking order of who would offer more immediate and scalable benefits. Europe alone – with at least 759 treaties to be renegotiated – will probably receive most of the time and attention of British policymakers.

There is thus a risk that Africa’s status will be relegated to a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than a ‘must-have’ – especially given its low levels of integration into the global economy in terms of global trade (2% according to the World Economic Forum).

Success will also depend on the institutional bandwidth of the British government to execute ambitious plans. The country’s bureaucracy is already stretched and suffers from a lack of co-ordination, according to Nick Oliver, an infrastructure financier with NMS International Group.

If a new relationship with Africa is going to thrive, it also needs to be ‘business unusual’ for the UK. Given the country’s colonial past, any new relationship must be a strategic partnership of equals. Any attempt to re-engineer ‘Empire 2.0’ will fail.

Further, the UK will be negotiating from a position of weakness rather than strength. Europe remains Africa’s largest trading bloc and the multiple market access offered is still attractive to African countries. Britain will need to offer a compelling value proposition to counter the surety and scale that the EU offers.

Success in Africa for the UK will require not only cultural sensitivity, but also an appreciation of what African states actually want from a trade and investment perspective. This is an unenviable task on a continent with 54 vastly different counties, each with different priorities and preferences.

Symbolically, too, Britain needs to show Africa that it matters. The last UK head of state to visit Africa was Tony Blair in 2007. Emmanuel Macron’s first overseas trip, just a week after his inauguration as French president, was to Mali in 2017, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Africa in 2016. Both leaders knew that these visits were important in shaping their strategic interest amid changing geo-political and economic influences in Africa. Britain is at a disadvantage here and needs build trust among African policymakers.

But African leaders must also play their part in getting this arrangement to work effectively. African states must use their negotiating power to their advantage. With other global powers jockeying for influence in Africa, both commercially and otherwise, competition is intense. But a strong and engaged Western partner to the continent is currently lacking, and this is where Britain could act as a counterweight to China’s muscular approach and increased interest from India and Japan.

To take advantage says Rohitesh Dhawan, director of strategy at Eurasia, African countries must be aware of the negotiating tactics used by countries such as Australia, New Zealand and India who have built fertile ground for detailed trade talks. ‘Keeping abreast of the acts of other countries can also help African nations know which issues the UK is more able to make concessions over (and is less hamstrung for negotiating space) than others, and where they should place their bets.’

Tactics, pragmatism and scalability are key – especially in light of the muscle that Africa could wield through the newContinental Free Trade Area agreement. By using its collective power, and prioritising agriculture, the continent’s leadership could broker a potentially game-changing deal that could reshape the nature of UK-Africa relations.

With Brexit negotiations at a critical juncture, it is still unclear whether the UK will emerge as ‘Great Britain’ or ‘Little England’. But the deadline is fast approaching and Britain would do well not to ignore Africa as it charts forward. With some out-of-the-box thinking, there are compelling reasons why the continent may yet emerge as a huge ally to the UK.

Ronak Gopaldas, ISS Consultant and Director at Signal Ris