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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

BRUSSELS: The European Union announced a plan on Wednesday to enable military personnel and equipment to be moved more quickly across Europe, which Nato sees as vital in the event of a conflict with Russia to overcome border delays and bridges too weak for tanks. Russia’s Zapad war games on Nato’s eastern flank late last year raised alarm in Brussels and Washington that large-scale drills could accidentally trigger a conflict in eastern Europe but leave Nato unable to speedily mass troops there. Conflicting regulations across 28 EU countries, bridges and tunnels too narrow or weak for heavy equipment and few special allowances for transfers of US troops all make it difficult for Nato, commanders say.
“By facilitating military mobility within the EU, we can be more effective in preventing crises, more efficient in deploying our missions, and quicker in reacting when challenges arise,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said of the so-called Action Plan on Military Mobility. The plan will now go to EU governments and the European Parliament for discussion. Following a pilot programme last year to identify weak spots along North Sea-Baltic routes, where Russia regularly conducts military drills and has built up its air defences in Kaliningrad, the European Commission will next year outline the best routes across Europe for military transport. The Commission, which oversees the EU’s common budget, will also look at areas to upgrade infrastructure and estimate costs, how to streamline customs procedures for munitions and dangerous goods, and seek better cooperation between EU agencies.
Easier diplomatic clearance is also needed. The plan is a test both for the European Union’s renewed efforts to coordinate on military matters and to work better with Nato, which has its own standards for military-strength bridges, roads, tunnels and airfields. If the EU were to design its own system, that would create unnecessary duplication and likely anger the United States. While Washington no longer has Cold War-levels of personnel stationed in Europe, it has begun returning tanks, troops and helicopters to Germany, Poland and the Baltics as part of the West’s deterrent following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Before retiring last year, the top US commander in Europe, Ben Hodges, called for a military zone of free movement similar to the EU’s passport-free travel “Schengen” zone.
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Facebook to give users more control over personal information

Facebook to give users more control over personal information 

Washington: Facebook Inc is giving users more control over their privacy by making data management easier and redesigning the settings menu, the company said on Wednesday, in the wake of a scandal over a breach that exposed the personal information of millions and was allegedly used by a political consultancy. The company also said it would propose in the coming weeks updates to the social media website’s terms of service and data policy to better spell out what information it collects and how it uses it.
The company has faced a global outcry after a whistle-blower said that data from millions of users was improperly harvested by consultancy Cambridge Analytica to target US and British voters in close-run elections. Facebook shares are down nearly 18 per cent since March 16, when it first acknowledged that user data had been improperly channelled to Cambridge Analytica, eating away nearly $100 billion of the company’s market value.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find, and that we must do more to keep people informed,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, and Ashlie Beringer, its deputy general counsel, said in a statement. In addition to redesigning its settings menu on mobile devices, Facebook said it is creating a new privacy shortcut menu where users would be able to better secure their accounts and control personal information. It would also allow users to review and delete data they have shared, including posts and search queries.
Users would be able to download the data shared with Facebook, including uploaded photos, contacts added to their account, and posts on timelines.