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Qatar likely to be stripped of 2022 FIFA World Cup responsibilty

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London: According to a FIFA whistleblower, Qatar is likely be stripped of the 2022 World Cup. She was a former senior figure in the country’s bid team.

Phaedra Almajid, who turned whistleblower to expose the corruption, has said that the abundance of evidence of wrongdoing of Qatar’s bid would force world football’s governing body FIFA to strip the Gulf country of the responsibility.

Almajid is an Arab-American based in the United States and she had worked for Qatar’s 2022 bid team till early 2010.

Qatar shocked the world by winning the right to stage the 2022 event in 2010. Since then allegations of bribery and wrongdoing about their bid have been rife within FIFA.

Almajid said that she hoped justice is done but the prospect scares her a lot as she fears some “extremists” may hold her responsible if Qatar is stripped. She is under protective custody of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) but fears for her safety, if the oil-rich country lose out on hosting rights.

“There are people who are p***** off with me (for speaking out), and what really p***** them off is that I’m a female, Muslim whistleblower,” Almajid was quoted as saying by dailymail.co.uk on Saturday.

She also said that outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter might take away the 2022 tournament from 2022 as part of his reform agenda to win him praise “and save his skin”.

Blatter quit days after winning a fifth four-year team to become president after getting engulfed in the FIFA corruption scandal. He is under investigation by the FBI for possible wrongdoing.

“I just don’t think Blatter actually intends to quit. Everything he does is very calculated. He’ll try very hard to save himself, I’m sure of it,” Almajid said.

The FBI arrested seven top FIFA officials and indicted 14 people for financial misdemeanor. Almajid said that efforts to force her into retracting her comments have taken place earlier, which forced her to take protective custody for the fear of her family’s safety that includes two children, one of them severely disabled.

“The FBI have everything,” she claimed.

Almajid also co-operated with a FIFA-funded probe led by Michael Garcia, a former US attorney for New York. (IANS)

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Watchdog: FBI Could Have Tried Harder to Hack iPhone

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The Apple iPhone 7 is displayed at an Apple store at the Grove in Los Angeles, California, Sept. 16, 2016. VOA

FBI officials could have tried harder to unlock an iPhone as part of a terrorism investigation before launching an extraordinary court fight with Apple Inc. in an effort to force it to break open the device, the Justice Department’s watchdog said Tuesday.

The department’s inspector general said it found no evidence the FBI was able to access data on the phone belonging to one of the gunmen in a 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, as then-FBI Director James Comey told Congress more than once. But communications failures among FBI officials delayed the search for a solution. The FBI unit tasked with breaking into mobile devices only sought outside help to unlock the phone the day before the Justice Department filed a court brief demanding Apple’s help, the inspector general found.

The finding could hurt future Justice Department efforts to force technology companies to help the government break into encrypted phones and computers.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks at the 2018 Boston Conference on Cybersecurity at Boston College, in Boston, Massachusetts, March 7, 2018. VOA

The intense public debate surrounding the FBI’s legal fight with Apple largely faded after federal authorities announced they were able to access the phone in the San Bernardino attack without the help of the technology giant. But Trump administration officials have indicated a renewed interest in legislation that would address the problem, with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray publicly discussing their frequent frustration with encrypted devices. Congress could be less inclined to act on the problem — known as “going dark” — if there is an indication it may not be necessary.

Even after an outside vendor demonstrated it could successfully hack the phone, FBI officials disagreed over whether it should be used, in part because it would make the legal battle with Apple unnecessary. Some FBI officials thought they had found the precedent-setting case to convince Americans there should be no encryption that can’t be defeated or accessed with a warrant.

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FBI Executive Assistant Director for Science and Technology Amy Hess, testifies in Washington, April 19, 2016, before a House subcommittee hearing on deciphering the debate over encryption. VOA

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Amy Hess, who then oversaw the FBI’s science and technology division, told the inspector general’s office she was concerned that other officials did not seem to want to find a technical solution, or perhaps even knew of one, but remained silent in order to beat Apple in court.

The inspector general found no one withheld knowledge of an existing FBI capability, but failed to pursue all avenues in search for a solution. An FBI unit chief knew that an outside vendor had almost 90 percent completed a technique that would have allowed it to break into the phone, the report said, even as the Justice Department insisted that forcing Apple’s help was the only option.

Apple fought back, triggering a courtroom showdown that revived the debate over the balance of digital privacy rights and national security. Apple had argued that helping the FBI hack the iPhone would set a dangerous precedent, making all iPhone users vulnerable, and argued that Congress should take up the issue.

Apple declined to comment Tuesday. The FBI did not immediately return calls, but said in a letter to the inspector general that it agreed it with the findings and recommendations for improved communication. The report says the FBI is adding a new section to address the “going dark” problem and boost coordination among units that work on computers and mobile devices.

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Former FBI Director James Comey smiles during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 8, 2017. VOA

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Law enforcement officials have long warned that encryption and other data-protection measures are making it more difficult for investigators to track criminals and dangerous extremists. Wray said late last year that agents have been unable to retrieve data from half the mobile devices — nearly 7,000 phones, computers and tablets — that they tried to access in less than a year.

Yet Congress has shown little appetite for legislation that would force tech companies to give law enforcement easier access.

The issue also troubled Wray’s predecessor, Comey, who frequently spoke about the bureau’s inability to access digital devices. But the Obama White House never publicly supported legislation that would have forced technology companies to give the FBI a back door to encrypted information, leaving Comey’s hands tied to propose a specific legislative fix. VOA