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US Supreme Court Rules in Facebook’s Favor in Case About Unwanted Texting

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday tossed out a lawsuit accusing Facebook Inc. of violating a federal anti-robocall law.The justices, in a 9-0 decision authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, sided with Facebook in its argument that text messages the social media company sent did not violate a 1991 federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).The case highlighted the challenge for the justices in applying outdated laws to modern technologies. The ruling sparked calls for Congress to update the law, enacted three decades ago to curb telemarketing abuse by banning most unauthorized robocalls.”By narrowing the scope of the TCPA, the court is allowing companies the ability to assault the public with a nonstop wave of unwanted calls and texts, around the clock,” Democratic Senator Edward Markey and Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo said in a joint statement.The court ruled that Facebook’s actions — sending text messages without consent — did not fit within the technical definition of the type of conduct barred by the law, which was enacted before the rise of modern cellphone technology.The lawsuit was filed in 2015 in California federal court by Montana resident Noah Duguid, who said Facebook sent him many automatic text messages without his consent. The lawsuit accused Menlo Park, California-based Facebook of violating the TCPA’s restriction on using an automatic telephone dialing system.Facebook said the security-related messages, triggered when users try to log in to their accounts from a new device or internet browser, were tied to users’ cellphone numbers.”As the court recognized, the law’s provisions were never intended to prohibit companies from sending targeted security notifications, and the court’s decision will allow companies to continue working to keep the accounts of their users safe,” Facebook said in a statement.’A disappointing ruling’Sergei Lemberg, Duguid’s lawyer, said anyone could avoid liability under the law if they use technology like Facebook’s.”This is a disappointing ruling for anyone who owns a cellphone or values their privacy,” Lemberg added.In this instance, the lawsuit asserted that Facebook’s system that sent automated text messages was akin to a traditional automatic dialing system — known as an autodialer — used to send robocalls.”Duguid’s quarrel is with Congress, which did not define an autodialer as malleably as he would have liked,” Sotomayor wrote in the ruling.The law requires that the equipment used must use a “random or sequential number generator,” but the court concluded that Facebook’s system “does not use such technology,” Sotomayor added.Duguid said that Facebook repeatedly sent him account login notifications by text message to his cellphone, even though he was not a Facebook user and never had been. Despite numerous efforts, Duguid said he was unable to stop Facebook from “robotexting” him.Facebook responded that Duguid had most likely been assigned a phone number that was previously associated with a Facebook user who opted in to receive the notifications.A federal judge threw out the lawsuit, but in 2019, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived it. The 9th Circuit took a broad view of the law, saying it bans devices that automatically dial not only randomly generated numbers but also stored numbers that are not randomly generated.The National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions said the decision “to narrowly interpret autodialers is a win for the credit union industry.””We have long fought for this clarity to ensure credit unions can contact their members with important, time-sensitive financial information without fear of violating the TCPA and facing frivolous lawsuits,” the association said in a statement.  

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Степанов обіцяє, що більшість українців зможуть вакцинуватися до кінця року

Міністр також повідомив, що в Україну ще не прибуло жодної дози вакцини за ініціативою COVAX

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Oklahoma Town Eases Pandemic Stress, One Restaurant Meal at a Time 

In Miami, Oklahoma, restaurants and their customers are doing their part to ease pandemic heartache, one meal at a time.Cafes in and around the close-knit town in the state’s northeastern corner have put up “receipt walls,” allowing diners to prepay for meals and the needy to grab what they like, have a seat and refuel — judgment-free, no questions asked.The idea of providing free, prepaid meals spread from restaurant to restaurant a few months ago. Many recipients are homeless or have otherwise hit hard times since the pandemic rolled into Miami (pronounced my-AM-uh), population about 13,000. Two February blizzards brought even more trouble.Receipts for prepaid meals hang on the wall inside the Dawg House in Miami, Okla., Feb. 11, 2021. Customers pay for them so that others in need, many of them struggling financially because of the pandemic, can get a meal, no questions asked.Jennifer White, a Miami native who owns the Dawg House, a gourmet hot dog spot, transitioned from food truck to brick and mortar last September, a bold move in the middle of a pandemic. She was the first to put up a giving wall. Within eight hours, she had a wall full of meal receipts.So far, customers at the Dawg House have provided more than 600 meals.”And we have only eight tables in our restaurant, so that says a lot about how amazing our community is,” White said.Some who have peeled off a taped-up receipt have paid it forward, returning to add receipts of their own. She’s had regulars purchase 10 to 50 giveaway meals at a time.’A lot of homeless people’Lasay Castellano, a nursing student who recently left her job as manager of Zack’s Cafe, said the diner serves about 600 people a day. She’s been taping up receipts for nearly two months.”We have a lot of homeless people here. A lot. Within a day we had almost $600 in meals on the wall,” she said. “We’re having a hard time keeping tickets on the wall.”Among White’s donors is Derrick Hayworth, 32, who owns a food delivery company that services the Dawg House and other restaurants and retailers.”It’s the whole community behind it,” he said. “It wasn’t forced. It was just meant to happen.”When the blizzards hit, everybody pitched in to help those without places to stay. Mayor Bless Parker helped ease people who are homeless into hotels and supply them with food from the restaurant walls.Life in Miami, in an area where lead and zinc mines ruled more than 100 years ago, inches closer to something that looks like the old normal every day. The area’s plentiful casinos have reopened, and restaurants like the Dawg House have welcomed back in-person dining, with fewer tables to provide for social distancing.White said a couple and their four young daughters stand out among the beneficiaries of the free meals.”They were just so sweet, and their parents were beyond grateful and thankful,” she said. “They seemed like they had a lot going on and got to sit for an hour and a half or so to just have a meal, have fun and laugh, and not worry about how much they were having to spend.”   

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Парламент Вірменії затвердив перехід до пропорційної виборчої системи

Дотепер вірмени половину депутатів обирали за партійними списками, ще половину – в одномандатних виборчих округах

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Орбан, Моравецький та Сальвіні обговорили створення європейського об’єднання правих сил

Права партія «Фідес», яку очолює Орбан, у березні залишила правоцентристську Європейську народну партію (ЄНП) та її групу в Європарламенті, і угорський лідер вивчає можливість нових союзів

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Russian Spies Augment Effort to Grab NATO Secrets, Say Western Officials 

Russia’s espionage agencies are redoubling efforts to penetrate NATO, Western intelligence officials say, and are focusing on recruiting moles in the defense ministries of the pact’s member states.Italy expelled two Russian diplomats this week after they were caught in a parking lot in Rome handing cash to an Italian naval captain in exchange for sensitive military documents, which included NATO files.The 54-year-old Italian naval officer, Walter Biot, had been working at the Italian Ministry of Defense in Rome for a decade and was attached to the policy unit within the office of the Chief of the Defense Staff. According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Biot’s unit handled “all confidential and classified documents,” including NATO dossiers.The Carabinieri, one of Italy’s main law enforcement agencies, said Biot, a father of four, was caught “red-handed” exchanging the documents stored on a flash drive and was being detained on “serious crimes linked to spying and state security.”This wasn’t Biot’s first meeting with his Russia handlers, according to Italian investigators, and he was paid more than $5,000 each time he met with them.His arrest followed months of surveillance by Italy’s domestic intelligence agency AISI, according to an Italian official who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity. He compared the surveillance to the painstaking 2001 counterespionage operation in the United States that unearthed Robert Hanssen, a top FBI counterintelligence agent, as a Russian mole.Timing was key“Senior defense staff were informed of the suspicions about Biot, but it was important that there wasn’t a premature arrest and that he was caught actually handing over classified documents,” he added. “The Russians seemed mainly interested in NATO secrets.”Biot’s arrest came just weeks after Bulgaria broke up a military spy ring and expelled a pair of Russian diplomats. The half-dozen Bulgarians arrested, some of them Defense Ministry employees, have been charged with leaking classified NATO and European Union information.One of the six Bulgarians detained on March 18 made a full confession, according to local media, and reported he was paid $3,000 each time he handed over classified information. The most senior Bulgarian recruit was Ivan Iliev, a former chief of Bulgarian military intelligence. His wife, who is a dual Bulgarian-Russian citizen, was also a member of the ring.FILE – Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio speaks in Tripoli, Libya, March 25, 2021.The Italian government denounced the Russian spying. Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio described the incident as a “hostile act of extreme gravity.” He summoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Razov and ordered the expulsion of the diplomats who handed the cash to Biot.British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab expressed midweek his “solidarity” with Rome and criticized “Russia’s malign and destabilizing activity that is designed to undermine our NATO ally.”Kremlin accents ‘positive’ tiesThe Kremlin played down the possibility that the spying allegation could disrupt relations with Italy. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters he hoped “the very positive and constructive nature of Russian-Italian relations will continue and will be preserved.”Moscow is currently negotiating with the Italian government of Mario Draghi to sell Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. The Russian Embassy in Rome said it “regretted” the expulsions of the two diplomats but withheld threat of any tit-for-tat expulsions of Italian diplomats, despite Russian media reporting that the Kremlin might retaliate.Eleonora Tafuro, a Russia expert at the ISPI research organization in Milan, told Agence France-Presse the incident “really takes us back to the Cold War period.”Biot’s wife, Claudia Carbonara, a psychotherapist, told Italian reporters Thursday that her husband was “desperate” because of the family’s economic situation and said any material he handed over wouldn’t have compromised national security.“He had truly been in crisis for some time because he was afraid that he would not be able to face up to all the spending we have,” she said.She added, “I assure you that he gave the minimum he could give to the Russians. Nothing compromising — he is not stupid or irresponsible. He was just desperate, desperate about our future and that of our children.” She said the family had “been impoverished by COVID.”’Dazed and disoriented’If convicted, Biot faces a minimum of 15 years in prison. On Thursday, he appeared before a magistrate but declined to answer questions.“He said he was dazed and disoriented but ready to clarify his position. He asked for time to collect his thoughts,” Roberto De Vita, Biot’s lawyer, said.The court declined Biot’s request to be released from jail and to be placed under house arrest.The Kremlin’s more muted response to the Biot incident contrasted with its reaction to the expulsion last month of Russian diplomats by Bulgaria and to the expulsion in December by the Dutch government of a pair of Russian diplomats.Dutch officials alleged the diplomats were spies and had been targeting the high-tech sector and building a “substantial network of sources” in the industry. The two diplomats were working for Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the officials said.According to Dutch Interior Minister Karin Ollongren, the Russians targeted companies dealing with artificial intelligence, semiconductors and nanotechnology. Ollongren said the spy network had “likely caused damage to the organizations where the sources are or were active and thus possibly also to the Dutch economy and national security.”The Russian Foreign Ministry described the accusations as “unfounded” and warned the decision to expel the diplomats was “provocative.”The Biot incident came just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin bemoaned “the unsatisfactory state of Russia-EU ties.” He blamed tense relations on the “often confrontational policies” of Brussels.

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Traveling Kenyan Music Producer Gives Hope to Rural Artists

A Kenyan music producer is taking his work to remote villages to record up-and-coming artists on location to offer something new and different for Kenya’s competitive music industry.  Juma Majanga caught up with producer Presta George in Awendo, Kenya, and filed this report.Camera: Jim Makhulo, Producer: Henry Hernandez …

From: BoorSee

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More Than 70 Journalists Harassed in Cambodia in 2020 , Report Finds

Fear of physical violence and legal risks are a daily part of the job for Cambodia’s journalists, a new report says.The Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association – also known as CamboJa – found 35 cases of harassment against 72 journalists in 2020. Imprisonment and violence were the most common press freedom violations documented by the rights organization, […]

From: BoorSee