EU TO ACT AGAINST GOOGLE OVER PRIVACY RULES: FRENCH AGENCY

PARIS, Feb 18, 2013 – European data protection agencies intend to take action against the US Internet giant Google after it failed to follow their orders to comply with EU privacy laws, a French agency said on Monday.

In October the data protection agencies warned Google that its new privacy policy did not comply with EU laws and gave it four months to comply or face legal action.

“At the end of a four-month delay accorded to Google to conform and promise to implement recommendations, no response has been forthcoming by the company”said France’s CNIL data protection agency.

CNIL said that European data protection agencies planned to set up a working group to “coordinate their coercive actions which should be implemented before the summer.”European data agencies are to meet next week to approve the action plan, said CNIL, which said it is leading the effort.

Google rolled out the new privacy policy in March 2012, allowing it to track users across various services to develop targeted advertising, despite sharp criticism from US and European consumer advocacy groups.

It contends the move simplifies and unifies its policies across its various services such as Gmail, YouTube, Android mobile systems, social networks and Internet search.

But critics argue that the policy, which offers no ability to opt out aside from refraining from signing into Google services, gives the operator of the world’s largest search engine unprecedented ability to monitor its users.

Google reiterated on Monday that its privacy policy respects European law.

Khar calls for talks with India on Kashmir clashes

NEW YORK: Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday called for talks with her Indian counterpart to ease tensions over deadly clashes in the disputed Kashmir region.

The minister said in New York that 10 days of fighting over the unofficial border had “created questions” about relations but added that Pakistan was “open” to dialogue between foreign ministers to end the dispute.

Khar spoke as India’s military said it had reached an “understanding” with Pakistan to “de-escalate” tensions in Kashmir, which has been the cause of two of the three wars between the neighbors since 1947.

Pakistan says three of its troops have died in three incidents since January 6. India says two of its soldiers have been killed, one of them beheaded, in hostilities along the Line of Control (LOC) frontier in the Himalayan region.

Khar, who on Tuesday accused India of “warmongering,” was again critical of “very hostile, negative statements” made by Indian leaders in recent days. She added that there had been a “glaring difference” in the reactions of the two governments.

“Unfortunately this LOC incident has obviously created questions, but we still believe that dialogue must be the means to resolve this or any issue,” Khar said at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.

“We will be open to a discussion, a dialogue, at the level of the foreign ministers to be able to resolve the issue of cross-LOC incidents and to re-commit ourselves to the respect for the ceasefire.” Khar added that “Pakistan is fully committed” to a Kashmir ceasefire agreed to in 2003.

The minister told the meeting that the Pakistan government had faced a “backlash” at home to its attempts to improve relations over the past four years.

She added that there are groups on both sides who do not want a peace process. “They will always encourage you to go hard on the rhetoric and ratchet up the tension. Some people find it in their interests. We don’t, so we must not fall prey to that,” Khar said.

“I hope that this will pass,” the minister said, adding that she was still “relatively positive” about prospects for relations between the two countries.

More than 60 dead in Air strike on Syria Bakery

BEIRUT: More than 60 civilians were killed on Sunday in a strike by Syrian regime warplanes on people queueing outside a bakery in the rebel-held town of Halfaya in the central province of Hama, a watchdog said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which had earlier reported “dozens” killed, said the death toll could rise as at least 50 people had also been critically wounded.

The Local Coordination Committees activist group denounced “the massacre committed by regime forces,” and said Halfaya was going through a humanitarian crisis with food shortages because of the regime’s siege of the area.

The LCC said dozens of people had been queueing outside the bakery after not having had any bread for several days.