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France deploys 115,000 personnel,128 overnight raids

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Paris: Following last week’s Paris attacks by Islamist militants that claimed at least 129 lives, French authorities have mobilised 115,000 personnel to ratchet up security across the country, media reports said on Tuesday.

“We have mobilised 115,000 police, gendarmes and military over the whole of our national territory to insure the protection of French people,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Tuesday.

The interior minister added that 128 raids on suspected Islamist militants had been carried out overnight on Monday to Tuesday, BBC reported.

A total of 104 suspects were placed under house arrest and seized weapons that include a rocket launcher, a CNN report said.

More than 160 raids were made earlier on Monday, with 23 people arrested and dozens of weapons seized.

French warplanes carried out a new round of airstrikes on the Islamic State’s (IS) Syrian stronghold of Raqqa earlier on Tuesday. Authorities reported seven strikes and at least three major explosions in the city.

A huge manhunt was under way for 26-year-old Belgian-born French national Salah Abdeslam, one of the key suspects of the attack.

He is believed to have fled across the border to his native Belgium where Belgian police have released more pictures of the wanted man.

The Belgian government has raised its terror threat level because of the failure so far to arrest Abdeslam. Tuesday’s football match between the national team and Spain has been cancelled as a result.

Investigators are also reported to be focusing on a Belgian of Moroccan descent who is described as the possible mastermind of the attacks.

Abdelhamid Abaoud, 27, lived in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels, as did two of the attackers, and is now believed to be based in Syria, where he has risen through the IS ranks.

Abaaoud was implicated in the planning of a number of terrorist attacks and conspiracies in Western Europe before the Paris attacks. Believed to be close to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Abaaoud was linked to a plan to attack Belgian police that was thwarted in January.

He has since been featured in ISIS’ online English-language magazine, Dabiq. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Declaring the country to be “at war”, President Francois Hollande has proposed extending the state of emergency for a further three months along with sweeping new anti-terrorism laws.

Three teams of terrorists on November 13 staged coordinated attacks at six locations across Paris, including a concert hall, the Stade de France and at least two restaurants. At least 129 people were killed and 352 others wounded in the attacks.

Two of the total seven dead attackers were identified as Ismael Omar Mostefai, 29, and Bilal Hafdi, aged 20.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Facebook Allows French Regulars To Oversee Hate Speech Control

France's use of embedded regulators is modeled on what happens in its banking and nuclear industries.

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Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech, Russia, digital
A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France. VOA

Facebook will allow French regulators to “embed” inside the company to examine how it combats online hate speech, the first time the wary tech giant has opened its doors in such a way, President Emmanuel Macron said Monday.

From January, Macron’s administration will send a small team of senior civil servants to the company for six months to verify Facebook’s goodwill and determine whether its checks on racist, sexist or hate-fueled speech could be improved.

“It’s a first,” Macron told the annual Internet Governance Forum in Paris. “I’m delighted by this very innovative experimental approach,” he said. “It’s an experiment, but a very important first step in my view.”

The trial project is an example of what Macron has called “smart regulation,” something he wants to extend to other tech leaders such as Google, Apple and Amazon.

Facebook
Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace after the “Tech for Good” summit, in Paris, France. VOA

The move follows a meeting with Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg in May, when Macron invited the CEOs of some of the biggest tech firms to Paris, telling them they should work for the common good.

The officials may be seconded from the telecoms regulator and the interior and justice ministries, a government source said. Facebook said the selection was up to the French presidency.

It is unclear whether the group will have access to highly-sensitive material such as Facebook’s algorithms or codes to remove hate speech. It could travel to Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin and global base in Menlo Park, California, if necessary, the company said.

facebook, U.S. Politicals ads, dating
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“The best way to ensure that any regulation is smart and works for people is by governments, regulators and businesses working together to learn from each other and explore ideas,” Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister who is now head of Facebook’s global affairs, said in a statement.

France’s approach to hate speech has contrasted sharply with Germany, Europe’s leading advocate of privacy.

Also Read: Online Hate Thriving Even After The Recent Hate Crime in The U.S.

Since January, Berlin has required sites to remove banned content within 24 hours or face fines of up to 50 million euros ($56 million). That has led to accusations of censorship.

France’s use of embedded regulators is modeled on what happens in its banking and nuclear industries.

“[Tech companies] now have the choice between something that is smart but intrusive and regulation that is wicked and plain stupid,” a French official said. (VOA)