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Eiffel Tower shut down due to terror threat

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Paris: The Eiffel Tower was shut to all visitors on Sunday after three “terrorist suspects” with “large rucksacks” were seen ascending France’s most popular tourist attraction.

Anti-terrorist police supported by a helicopter could be seen at the iconic landmark following the alarm being raised in the early hours.

But after a search which went on all morning it was thought they escaped via parachute – prompting a theory that they had been extreme sportsmen all along.

“There were reports of three people climbing the tower from the outside from about 5.30 a.m.,” said a police source.

“They were said to have large rucksacks so no chances could be taken. They completely disappeared, so enquiries are centred on them being extreme parachutists.

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“There were, of course, fears that they may have left dangerous material on the tower before leaving.”

According to Daily Mail online, the tower has frequently been threatened by terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda and IS, with security stepped up since attacks by three radical Islamist gunmen in the city in January.

A police cordon was formed around the tower and people were moved to the banks of the nearby River Seine.

There have been numerous bomb alerts at the Eiffel Tower in recent years, and France is currently on the highest state vigilance alert.

The 1,050 ft-tall iron lattice tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair, and soon turned into a prestige symbol of modern France.

It is the most visited paid-for monument in the world, with some seven-million people a year going up it.

(IANS)

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France Hopes To Revive Efforts To Regulate Internet Cyberspace With ‘Paris Call’

Large U.S. tech companies including Facebook and Alphabet's Google would sign up too.

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French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Paris Peace Forum at the Villette Conference Hall in Paris, France, VOA

France and U.S. technology giants including Microsoft on Monday urged world governments and companies to sign up to a new initiative to regulate the internet and fight threats such as cyberattacks, online censorship and hate speech.

With the launch of a declaration entitled the ‘Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace’, French President Emmanuel Macron is hoping to revive efforts to regulate cyberspace after the last round of United Nations negotiations failed in 2017.

In the document, which is supported by many European countries but, crucially, not China or Russia, the signatories urge governments to beef up protections against cyber meddling in elections and prevent the theft of trade secrets.

Cloudhopper, cyberattacks, internet
Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of the cybersecurity firm FireEye, gestures during a presentation about the APT33 hacking group, which his firm suspects are Iranian government-aligned hackers, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. VOA

The Paris call was initially pushed for by tech companies but was redrafted by French officials to include work done by U.N. experts in recent years.

“The internet is a space currently managed by a technical community of private players. But it’s not governed. So now that half of humanity is online, we need to find new ways to organize the internet,” an official from Macron’s office said.

“Otherwise, the internet as we know it today – free, open and secure– will be damaged by the new threats.”

By launching the initiative a day after a weekend of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of World War I, Macron hopes to promote his push for stronger global cooperation in the face of rising nationalism.

Cloudhopper, cyberattacks, internet
The picture shows a warning sign for “cyber threats ahead”.

In another sign of the Trump administration’s reluctance to join international initiatives it sees as a bid to encroach on U.S. sovereignty, French officials said Washington might not become a signatory, though talks are continuing.

However, they said large U.S. tech companies including Facebook and Alphabet’s Google would sign up.

Also Read: Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

“The American ecosystem is very involved. It doesn’t mean that in the end the U.S. federal government won’t join us, talks are continuing, but the U.S. will be involved under other forms,” another French official said. (VOA)