Archive for March 22, 2018

Israel opens investigation into Facebook

March 22, 2018

Source: Israel opens investigation into Facebook – Israel National News

Authorities to probe Facebook activities after revelations that firm gained access to millions of users’ personal data.

Contact Editor

David Rosenberg, 22/03/18 17:12

Israeli investigators announced Thursday that they have launched a probe into the Facebook social media network, following reports that the personal information of tens of millions of users was compromised and transferred to a private consulting firm.

According to the allegations, in 2014, the UK-based firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users, taking advantage of a loophole in the system which permitted a personality quiz application to gain access not only to the data of the 270,000 users who took the quiz, but all of their Facebook friends’ accounts as well.

The data had been sold to Cambridge Analytica by the author of the quiz, University of Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan.

Cambridge Analytica then used the data to engage in “micro-targeting” for clients, mining a wealth of personal information to determine which users are most receptive to particular messages. Among Cambridge Analytica’s clients following the acquisition of the Facebook user data was the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

The revelation has sparked a popular backlash against the social media giant, leading CEO Mark Zuckerberg to initiate an internal investigation into the matter.

“We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward,” Zuckerberg wrote.

On Thursday, the Israeli Privacy Protection Authority announced they it had “informed Facebook today that it had opened an investigation into its activities, following the publications on the transfers of personal data from Facebook to Cambridge Analytica, and the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis.

“According to the Israeli Privacy Law personal data may only be used to the purpose for which it was given, with the consent of the individual.

“Therefore, the authority will investigate whether personal data of Israeli citizens was illegally used in a way that infringes upon their right to privacy and the provisions of the Israeli Privacy Law.”

Syria may be building an underground nuclear facility, report suggests

March 22, 2018

Source: Syria may be building an underground nuclear facility, report suggests – Israel Hayom

The Arab world silently celebrates

March 22, 2018

Source: The Arab world silently celebrates – Israel Hayom

Prof. Eyal Zisser

n response to headlines in the Israeli media Wednesday acknowledging the 2007 airstrike that destroyed Syria’s nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor, after having kept quiet for over a decade, the Arab world, including Syria, was deafeningly silent.

Although the general consensus from day one has been that Israel carried out the aerial assault that knocked out Syria’s clandestine nuclear reactor, developed with North Korean assistance, Israel waited until Wednesday to confirm the strike.

Damascus’ silence, at least, is completely understandable. Syrian President Bashar Assad has much more pressing matters on his agenda than media hype in Israel over something everyone already knew – he is a little too busy waging a war of survival, rather successfully, against his countrymen who have rebelled against him. In addition, the nuclear reactor episode is no source of pride for the Syrian regime, specifically not the way Assad’s nuclear adventure ended and his decision to refrain from leveling any kind of response to the Israeli airstrike.

Moreover, the Israeli confirmation included no new information, aside from petty squabbling over credit – namely between then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the heads of Military Intelligence and the Mossad. Other than that, the information was widely reported over a decade ago and attributed to reliable American sources. At most, the information that Israel made public on Wednesday will be used by Syrian intelligence agents or by Iran, who will pore over the previously classified material in search of details to help them prepare for the next clash.

The few Arab networks that did inform their viewers about the Israeli media frenzy, were noticeably overjoyed at Assad’s misfortune. They gloated at the humiliation of the Syrian leader who used chemical weapons on his own people but was too intimidated to face Israel.

Alongside the gloating, there was also palatable relief in the region’s capitals at the thought that Assad was kept from developing nuclear weapons. Is there any doubt regarding his willingness to use nuclear weapons on his own people or against his opponents in the region?

But the silence in Damascus and the Arab networks low profile regarding the Israeli news in no way suggests that the Arab world isn’t closely monitoring Israel’s every move. Today, thanks to social media, this task is easier than ever before.

Even the Arabs who believe in far-fetched conspiracy theories interpreted the timing of Israel’s publication as a clear and simple message to Iran: that Jerusalem is determined, just as it was in the past, to nip any security threat in the bud. This message is also addressed to the many other hostile Arab states.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

Trump, Saudi Prince & UAE to set up action group against Iran

March 22, 2018

Source: Trump, Saudi Prince & UAE to set up action group against Iran – DEBKAfile

Ahead of their White House talks on Tuesday, March 20, President Donald Trump and the Saudi Crown Prince agree on a new Supreme Committee to coordinate military and diplomatic efforts for curbing Iranian expansion. The United Arab Emirate is the third member. This committee, to focus on coordinated operations, will consist of the three governments’ national security advisers. For final decisions, they will call in President Trump, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (MbS) and the UAE Emir Sheikh Muhammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MbZ). White House sources reported that the new group would be ceremonially launched in Washington this week. The Emirates national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan will come over to join the event. The emir himself is expected in Washington soon.

US and Saudi officials confirmed Tuesday that the new Supreme Committee’s mission would be to execute the goal shared by the three governments, namely, to stall Iran’s expansionist designs across the oil-rich Gulf and the Middle East.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that this move is consistent with the decision which President Trump is widely believed to have reached for taking the United States out of the 2015 nuclear with Iran. Intensive discussions are taking place in the White house on timing; whether Trump should make the announcement when the next deadline for re-certificating the accord comes up in mid-May or jump the gun in March or early April. The US, the Saudis and the UAE are meanwhile checking to make sure that their military assets are in sync and ready for potential repercussions.
The new Supreme Committee will fill the cohesion void left in the Gulf Cooperation Council by the refusal of two of its members, Qatar and Oman, to go along with the tough policies pursued by Saudi Arabia and the UAE since MbS took over the reins of government in Riyadh three years ago.