Warning for Facebook over new EU privacy rules

Companies like Facebook will soon find it harder to continue their current ways of collecting client data when tougher EU data protection rules come into force next year, Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems says.

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The 29-year-old law student won a landmark case in 2015, when the EU top court struck down a data-sharing scheme with the United States, ruling that it did not fully protect the rights of EU citizens.

The case centred on Schrems’ complaint that Facebook stores user data in the US, where intelligence services can gain access to them.

Schrems said that the new EU General Data Protection Regulation is an improvement, even though it is imperfect in many ways.

“The General Regulation makes data protection enforceable,” he said.

“In the future, there will not only be fines, but any aggrieved party will also be able to claim emotional damages. If there is a high number of affected people, these damages can far exceed the fines.

Max Schrems (L) and his lawyer at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in 2015.AP

“In any case, the breathing space for Facebook and other such companies is definitely shrinking if they do not comply with the law.”

Under the new rules, fines for companies can run up to 25 million euros (A$35 million).

However, the EU legislation has severe shortcomings, Schrems said.

“For example, the administrative regulations put a heavy burden on companies. Also, many of the rules are too hazy. The 28 (EU) member states only managed to agree on a few concrete issues. When you set fines of up to 25 million euros, you would also need clearer and simpler rules for citizens and businesses.”

Since his legal victory in 2015, Schrems has pursued other ways to challenge Facebook.

The EU’s top court is currently mulling whether Schrems can file an international class action lawsuit in Austria against the US social media giant.

“The European Court of Justice will probably decide by the end of the year. If we win, we have 25,000 supporters on our class action roster,” Schrems said.

The planned class suit targets Facebook’s participation in online spying by the US National Security Agency and other alleged data breaches, such as the tracking of users on other websites.

Schrems is also party to a case in which Ireland’s data protection agency seeks a ruling on the European Commission’s model contract clauses that companies such as Facebook use to transfer personal user data to non-EU countries.

“The most important question is whether the [Irish] court will state again in this case that there is a massive misuse of data in the US under the shield of national security,” Schrems said.

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Ricciardo’s realistic goal for Bahrain GP

Daniel Ricciardo is an optimist but even optimism has its limits.

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Red Bull’s smiling Australian, who finished third overall last season behind the Mercedes duo of now-retired champion Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, has had reason to scowl after the first two races of 2017.

The Australian Gand Prix in Melbourne was wrecked by mechanical failure while in China Ricciardo finished behind 19-year-old Dutch teammate Max Verstappen – who took third place despite starting 16th. Ricciardo, fifth on the grid, ended up fourth.

“After the race in China I was pretty pissed off,” he told Reuters at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“I just felt I could get more out of myself and when you are that close to a podium…”

The 27-year-old, whose beaming grin has become as familiar to fans as his “shoey” podium celebration of drinking champagne from his boot, said he had already had to recalibrate expectations.

“If I expect to win every race then I’ll probably become miserable because it’s unrealistic, but I think we know where we are now,” he added.

“Coming in to this weekend I think fifth probably has to be the target and that’s what I’ll focus on.”

Champions Mercedes and rivals Ferrari have become the pacesetters, with Ricciardo’s former teammate Sebastian Vettel leading the standings jointly with Hamilton.

Red Bull are some way off the leaders’ pace even if Friday practice in Bahrain showed them to be more competitive than expected, with Ricciardo third on the evening timesheets.

Vettel was fastest, ahead of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the real test would be the first race of the European season in Barcelona next month when major updates come through but Ricciardo was looking further down the road.

“At this stage unfortunately we’re not battling for the big points yet,” he said.

“We’re not quick enough but you’d like to think second half of the year we should start getting some chances.

“It will be very hard I think before August to get a win now.”

Turkey’s Yes and No camps target undecided in referendum sprint

Turkey’s top politicians made a final effort on Saturday to sway undecided voters in a frenetic end to a bitterly-contested campaign in the referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

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Campaigning ends at 3pm GMT but both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps were squeezing in a flurry of rallies as the clock ticked down to Sunday’s landmark poll.

Analysts see the poll as a historic choice on the direction of the NATO member which will shape its future political system and determine relations with the West.

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If passed, the new presidential system will implement the most radical political shake-up since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, dispensing with the office of the prime minister and centralising the entire executive bureaucracy under the presidency.

Erdogan in a late night interview with TRT state television confidently predicted victory, saying surveys showed a ‘Yes’ vote of 55-60 percent.

“On Sunday I think that could be a very clear outcome in favour of ‘Yes'” he said.

Opinion polls have predicted drastically different outcomes and victories for both sides. But the ruling party and presidency are widely believed to conduct their own confidential polling.

‘Last messages’

Erdogan, who has dominated the airwaves in recent weeks with multiple daily rallies and interviews, was due to give four more speeches in Istanbul.

“God willing, this nation will celebrate tomorrow evening,” he said in the first of the rallies. “Tomorrow is very important, you will definitely go to ballot box and cast your vote,” he told supporters.

The standard-bearer of the ‘No’ camp, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, warned at a meeting in the Ankara region that Turkey was deciding if “we want to continue with the democratic parliamentary system or one man rule”.

Watch: Campaigning ahead of the election

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He described the new system as “a bus with no brakes and whose destination is unknown.”

The opposition has cried foul that the referendum has been conducted on unfair terms, with ‘Yes’ posters ubiquitous on the streets and opposition voices squeezed from the media.

The two co-leaders of the second opposition party the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, have been jailed on charges of backing Kurdish militants in what supporters say was a deliberate move to eliminate them from the campaign.

The HDP was due later Saturday to hold a final mass rally in its stronghold of Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey.

“The last messages,” headlined the Hurriyet daily. “With one day remaining to the historic referendum the leaders are making the final calls to influence undecided voters.”

Security an issue

The campaign, however, has not been plain sailing for Erdogan, and some heavyweight figures within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been conspicuously silent on the new system.

Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke before Erdogan at a ‘Yes’ rally in the Anatolian city of Konya on Friday but, to the amusement of opposition commentators, failed once to endorse the presidential system.

Watch: Turkey, voices of protest

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The ‘Yes’ campaign also hit a last minute hitch when the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the AKP’s partner in promoting the changes, reacted angrily to comments by a presidential adviser suggesting a federal system could be imposed in Turkey.

Such a system is an anathema to nationalists who believe in the indivisible unity of Turkey and particularly fear the creation of any Kurdish region in the southeast.

Erdogan moved rapidly to say that no such plan was on the agenda and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said the issue was now closed.

Turkish media said all AKP advisers and ministers had been told to cancel TV interviews scheduled for the last hours of the campaign to prevent further slip-ups.

After a slew of attacks over the last year blamed on Kurdish militants and jihadists, security is set to be a major issue on polling day.

Authorities in Istanbul on Friday detained five people suspected of planning an attack on polling day, following the arrest of 19 alleged Islamist extremists in the Aegean city of Izmir earlier in the week.

More than 33,500 police officers will be on duty in Istanbul alone on referendum day, according to Turkish media.

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Tell us something new on housing: Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Malcolm Turnbull and his treasurer should stop regurgitating old ideas on housing and pretending they’re new.

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He says the prime minister and Scott Morrison should instead deal with the real problems of house affordability, such as reining in housing tax concessions.

He dismissed reports suggesting the May 9 budget will announce the unlocking of government-owned land for new housing, including defence land in his own seat of Maribyrnong, saying they had been around for six or seven years.

“Stop re-announcing old news trying to pretend it’s new,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

Key crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm questioned why the government had made housing affordability its problem saying the issue had erupted into open warfare on its frontbench last week.

Ministers were openly arguing for and against allowing young people to tap into their superannuation to help build a home deposit, which former Liberal John Hewson described as an “embarrassing free-for-all”.

Mr Morrison has made tackling housing affordability a key plank of his second budget.

But other than flagging a mechanism to encourage the private sector to invest in cheaper community housing, there are question marks about what else he can do to counter rampant house prices in Sydney and Melbourne.

Mr Morrison has ruled out curbing tax concessions that favour housing investors, such as negative gearing, which Labor wants to limit to new properties.

“Why the hell is there a debate at all concerning the federal government?” Senator Leyonhjelm asked on Sky News.

“The levers that the federal government has at its disposal really aren’t all that useful in terms of housing affordability.”

Issues like housing supply, stamp duty and land tax were a state issue, the Liberal Democratic senator said.

Dr Hewson said it was bad politics to raise expectations beyond what you could deliver.

“Expectations are now running pretty strongly that there is going to be a fairly quick silver bullet, instantaneous-type solution,” he told Sky News.

Former Labor minister Craig Emerson agreed.

“They have erected a very large hurdle …. which they will not be able to jump, they’ll fall at the first one,” Dr Emerson said.

Dr Hewson said Mr Turnbull must impose some discipline to end the government’s embarrassing free-for-all on tackling housing affordability.

“My solution (while leader), and it may not be transferable, is to give everybody a job, make them feel important in the policy development process,” he said.

“Kept them so damn busy they didn’t have time to do all this stuff, and the ones you didn’t like you sent them off overseas.”

Leilua fires Raiders to win over Warriors

The drums are beating for Joey Leilua in the nation’s capital, and it’s not just the Viking Clap.

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The Canberra centre powerhouse put in a compelling case for a NSW State of Origin call-up with a blockbusting two-try effort in his side’s 20-8 NRL win over the Warriors on Saturday night at GIO Stadium.

While it was his centre partner and skipper Jarrod Croker who turned the game with a sublime try-saver on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the shadows of halftime, Leilua was the chief destroyer.

His tries either side of halftime proved the eventual difference in front of 13,966 fans, as he finished with 125m, seven tackle busts and two linebreaks in Ricky Stuart’s side’s third victory on the trot.

While NSW coach Laurie Daley has an embarrassment of riches in the three-quarter department, Leilua’s name is beginning to be mentioned more often in Blues dispatches.

He received a ringing endorsement from Blues great Steve Roach who said during the Fox Sports broadcast: “You pick guys who Queensland won’t want to play against and they won’t want to play this guy.”

The common knock on Leilua has been that his defence isn’t up to the Origin arena and Raiders coach Stuart refuses to be drawn on his detractors.

“I don’t listen to those knocks. I just worry about how I coach him,” Stuart said.

Stuart praised Leilua for his hunger to go looking for the ball, even if it sometimes meant his side were bent out of shape.

“It’s there every week with Joey and Jordan (Rapana). We’re very lucky – we’ve got a very unique style of attacking team,” Stuart said.

“We’re different to every other side but that’s the way we like it. They’ve got a very healthy appetite to get the football and it’s good.”

The game seemingly turned when Croker stopped an almost certain Tuivasa-Sheck try three minutes from halftime.

The visitors went into the sheds up 8-6 but Leilua overturned the deficit with 20 minutes on the clock when he steamrolled over some would-be defenders on the back of a Ken Maumalo blunder.

The Raiders never gave up the lead and, when Josh Hodgson burrowed over in the 66th to put the icing on the cake, the Raiders had cemented their reputation as real contenders.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney was left to lament his side’s inability to convert their chances in the first half after they were twice denied by the video referees.

“We just didn’t give ourselves a good enough opportunity in the second half; we were a little bit unlucky to be in the position we were in at halftime,” Kearney said.

“We created some opportunities and, in the second half, we just didn’t give ourselves a chance.”

Warriors second-rower Bodene Thompson is facing suspension after being put on report for seemingly elbowing Aidan Sezer in the head in a tackle.

Clarkson says Hawks’ resolve is strong

He’s boss at Hawthorn and Alastair Clarkson quoted The Boss as he brushed aside sudden speculation about his AFL coaching future.

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If the Hawks lose to Geelong on Easter Monday, they will have made a 0-4 start to the season for the first time in Clarkson’s time as their coach.

It led to former Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams saying last week that Clarkson should consider leaving the Hawks.

Former Geelong and Essendon coach Mark Thompson also speculated that the four-time premiership coach might consider walking if the right offer emerged.

This comes after Clarkson swung a wrecking ball through their list last October, trading out Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis in a stunning bid to stay ahead of the curve.

And on Sunday, Clarkson quoted from Bruce Springsteen’s song Wrecking Ball as the coach said Hawthorn’s only focus was recovering from their slump.

“We’ve worked our way through tough positions before,”: Clarkson said.

“Bruce Springsteen has a great song – hard times come, hard times go.

“We’re going through a hard time at the minute, but we’re really, really strong in our resolve to pull ourselves out of this pickle we’re in and get ourselves back on the winning list.”

Clarkson said he had not read Williams’ column, but a friend had told him about it.

He also noted that after bad starts, Fremantle and Gold Coast have improved to 2-2 after Saturday’s wins.

“Whenever your side is going through a tough patch, there’s going to be external noise and opinion and that’s the game we’re in,” he said.

“All we need to do is bunker down – it’s a collective effort of our footy club, it’s not about any one person.

“As we’ve seen, it’s clearly been demonstrated by a couple of sides in the last couple of weeks in Gold Coast and Fremantle, who have turned their seasons around very, very quickly.”

Despite the new-look side and a barren start to the season, Clarkson also has supreme faith in the Hawks.

“It can happen, as long as we continue to have faith in the processes we have in place here and the people we have in place here,” he said.

“That’s been the case for a long period of time and I don’t expect it to be any different in our approach in the next few weeks.”

Warriors captain disputes no-try call

Jarrod Croker’s stop on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is being hailed as the try-saver of the year, however, the Warriors skipper has declared he was robbed of a try.

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The Raiders skipper turned the course of Saturday’s win over the Warriors late in the second half when he held up Tuivasa-Sheck and rolled him over when the star No.1 looked certain to score.

The home side ran out eventual 20-8 victors at GIO Stadium on Saturday but the result could have turned out differently had the New Zealand Test fullback not been denied by the video referee.

After he scythed through the line, beating several tired forwards, Tuivasa-Sheck was sailing towards the tryline before being stopped in his tracks by Croker.

However, he suggested that he had got the ball down and he should have been awarded four points.

“I thought I was over just before he got to me,” Tuivasa-Sheck said.

“But they saw otherwise, so it’s gone now.”

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart praised Croker’s effort as representative of the strong bond between his charges, who provisionally jumped in to the top four.

“It was wonderful desire to stop it and it’s right through the team,” Stuart said.

“Covering your mate’s back and the strength of the brotherhood here is what you see in those sorts of actions.

“And when it comes from our captain, I just thought it was an amazing effort and a real turning point.”

Croker said he knew with the likes of Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson in the Warriors line up, their scrambling defence was always going to be tested at some point.

“I just chased him. During the week we spoke a lot about guys with good feet, Sheck and Johnson testing our middles,” Croker said.

“He slipped through and I just chased and the 13 other blokes would have done the same for me.”

May hamstrung in Suns’ AFL win over Blues

Gold Coast’s win over Carlton has come at a cost with co-captain Steven May to miss around three weeks with a hamstring injury.

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May chased Blues’ star Patrick Cripps in the last quarter of the Suns’ 26-point win at Etihad Stadium but pulled up suddenly clutching his left hamstring.

He immediately went to the bench where ice was applied and is set for a period on the sidelines.

“Steven May will miss at least two or three (games) … at least three, I reckon, with that hammy,” coach Rodney Eade said.

The news is a blow for Gold Coast, who were already missing centre half-back Rory Thompson (quad) against the Blues and face ladder-leaders Adelaide at Metricon Stadium in round five.

The Suns improved to a 2-2 record with the win but will also monitor David Swallow (ankle) and Michael Barlow (hamstring tightness) ahead of next week’s big test against the Crows.

Co-captain Tom Lynch kicked a career-best bag of seven goals in the 17.6 (108) to 12.10 (82) win that was set up with a stunning seven-goals-to-one third quarter.

“If you were marking (Tom) out of 10 you’d probably give him a nine but he probably could have got a 10 if he’d held (a few more) marks,” Eade said.

“But he was terrific. His leadership was fantastic.

“He’s got a lot of improvement left in him. He’s still young and he’s still got parts of the game he’s got to learn.”

Two-time Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett found plenty of the ball again with 34 possessions, including 11 clearances, and a goal.

Jack Martin, Touk Miller, Braydon Fiorini and Aaron Hall were also important as the Suns cut through Carlton with blistering ball movement in the pivotal third term.

“I thought it was a great way to win … I’m really pleased,” Eade said.

“I thought the first half was a real wrestle and they were probably on top … but I think we hung in there.

“Then after halftime I thought we broke the game open. It certainly wasn’t pretty early but I was pleased with the way that we won.”

Blues skipper Marc Murphy worked hard for his 28 disposals, but he didn’t have enough support in a team who were on the wrong side of a 440-321 possession count.

Sam Docherty was poised in defence with 26 touches and 13 marks, while Levi Casboult and Jack Silvagni kicked three goals apiece.

North Korea missile test ‘blew up almost immediately’: US military

The failure, which is likely to be seen as something of an embarrassment for the regime, came amid soaring tensions in the region over the North’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

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“The missile blew up almost immediately,” the US Defence Department said of the early morning launch which was also monitored by the South Korean military.

Neither was able to determine immediately what kind of missile was being tested.

It came a day after North Korea displayed nearly 60 missiles — including what is suspected to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile — at a parade to mark the 105th birthday of its founder Kim Il-Sung.

WATCH: North Korea ready for all-out war

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The parade was held in front of the cameras of invited world media, who were still in Pyongyang when Sunday’s test failure was detected.

Pyongyang’s rogue atomic ambitions have come into sharp focus in recent weeks, with United States President Donald Trump vowing a tough stance against the North and threatening unilateral action if China failed to help curb its neighbour’s nuclear programme.

The latest missile test attempt comes just hours ahead of a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to Seoul, where the nuclear issue will be top of the agenda at talks with South Korea’s acting president Hwang Kyo-Ahn.

Trump has repeatedly said he will prevent Pyongyang from its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States.

As hostilities in the region surge Trump has sent an aircraft carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula to press his point.

The North has reiterated its constant refrain that it is ready for “war” with the US. 

WATCH: Bob Carr on China’s North Korea influence

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Its army vowed Friday a “merciless” response to any US provocation, adding that Trump had “entered the path of open threat and blackmail” against Pyongyang.

Speculation is brewing that the North is preparing a sixth nuclear test, with satellite images showing its main nuclear site “primed and ready,” according to specialist US website 38North.

White House officials saying military options were “already being assessed”.

China, the North’s sole major ally, and Russia have both urged restraint, with Beijing’s foreign minister Wang Yi warning Friday that “conflict could break out at any moment”.

The UN Security Council has imposed six sets of sanctions against the North since its first nuclear test in 2006 — all of which have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.

US military confirms failed test

ave Benham, a spokesman with the US Pacific command said: “US Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 am Hawaii time (2121 GMT) April 15.”

“US Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our allies in the Republic of Korea and in Japan to maintain security,” he said.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the development, amid sky-high US-North Korean tensions.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in a statement: “The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment.” 

Meanwhile, aides to Vice President Mike Pence, who was en route to South Korea and due to arrive in Seoul early Sunday, said he also had been briefed about the missile launch and was in contact with the president.

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Dragons hold off Cowboys’ big NRL comeback

St George Illawarra have staved off a furious second-half comeback from North Queensland to hold on for a 28-22 victory and cement their spot at the top of the NRL table.

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The Dragons surged to a commanding 28-4 halftime lead on Saturday night before the Cowboys scored three straight tries to get within six points with 16 minutes remaining.

However, in front of a healthy 13,886 crowd at WIN Stadium, the home side held on to secure their fifth victory on the trot and hold pole position for the first time in three years.

Centre Tim Lafai bagged a double, while reborn five-eighth Gareth Widdop continued his stellar start to the season by scoring a try and playing a hand in three others.

Their 28 first-half points were the most in 13 years for the Dragons, and the 24-point halftime lead was their biggest in the post-Wayne Bennett era. In the end, it was enough to claim the win.

But for the Cowboys, without five topliners including Johnathan Thurston, their second straight defeat means they are likely to fall out of the top eight by the end of the round.

Despite Cowboys winger Gideon Gela-Mosby cancelling Nene Macdonald’s ninth-minute opener, a rout was on the cards when the Dragons scored four straight tries in the first half.

Lafai was a man possessed on the Dragons’ left edge, terrorising opposite centre Justin O’Neill to bag two tries, punctuated by a flick pass for winger Kurt Mann.

Widdop also finished off a Russell Packer break to score his sixth try of the year.

But the Cowboys flipped the script in the second half when Ben Spina and Michael Morgan scored in the space of seven minutes to cut the deficit to 12 points.

The unthinkable was then on the cards when Scott Bolton latched onto a spilt Macdonald bomb in the next set, however the Dragons clung on to continue their strong start to the year.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor said the second-half battle was a lesson for a team that was in foreign territory, having gone a long time without having built such a halftime lead.

“We haven’t been in that position, to be in front by that scoreline,” McGregor said post-game.

“I thought our intent was good, I just don’t think collectively we done it together.

“We went one out too much with the footy when we had it and without it we didn’t control any of the tackles.”

Cowboys coach Paul Green rued the 20-minute period in the first half where they gave up the four answered tries and basically handed over the two competition points.

He said not even Thurston would’ve made a difference during that stage of the match.

“We just switched right off on both sides of the footy. It got away from us there,” he said.

“I don’t think (Thurston) would’ve made much difference in that first half, defensively we were off, we made some really basic errors in our own half and put ourselves under a lot of pressure.

“And then they got a couple of tries back to back, which took us a bit to recover from, just played the game down our end far too much in that first half.”