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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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US Senator Calls on FBI, FTC to Conduct National Security, Privacy Investigation into Russia’s FaceApp

In a statement cited by media outlets, FaceApp has denied selling or sharing user data with third parties

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FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone, July 17, 2019, in New York. VOA

U.S. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called on the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a national security and privacy investigation into FaceApp, a face-editing photo app developed in Russia, in a letter sent on Wednesday.

The viral smartphone application, which has seen a new surge of popularity due to a filter that ages photos of users’ faces, requires “full and irrevocable access to their personal photos and data,” which could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens,” Schumer said in his letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FTC Chairman Joe Simons.

The Democratic National Committee also sent out an alert to the party’s 2020 presidential candidates on Wednesday warning them against using the app, pointing to its Russian provenance.

In the email, seen by Reuters and first reported by CNN, DNC security chief Bob Lord also urged Democratic presidential campaigns to delete the app immediately if they or their staff had already used it. There is no evidence that FaceApp provides user data to the Russian government.

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Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. (L) listens as Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks at a news conference, July 11, 2019, Capitol Hill, Washington. VOA

Democrats have invested heavily in bolstering party cyber defenses after U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia used hacking as part of an effort to boost support for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Russia has repeatedly denied those claims.

FaceApp, which was developed by Wireless Lab, a company based in St. Petersburg, says on its website that it has over 80 million active users. Its CEO, Yaroslav Goncharov, used to be an executive at Yandex, widely known as “Russia’s Google.”

The app, which was launched in 2017, made headlines in 2018 when it removed its ‘ethnicity filters’ after users condemned them as racist. More recently, it has faced scrutiny from the public over issues such as not clearly communicating that the app uploads images to the cloud rather than processing them locally on a user’s device.

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There is no evidence that FaceApp provides user data to the Russian government. Flickr

It is not clear how the artificial intelligence application retains the data of users or how users may ensure the deletion of their data after usage, Schumer said in the letter. Schumer said the photo editing app’s location in Russia raises questions about how FaceApp lets third parties, including foreign governments, have access to the data of American citizens.

ALSO READ: Online Games: What Risks Do They Pose To Children?

In a statement cited by media outlets, FaceApp has denied selling or sharing user data with third parties. “99% of users don’t log in; therefore, we don’t have access to any data that could identify a person,” the company said in a statement cited by TechCrunch, adding that most images are deleted from its servers within 48 hours of the upload date.

While the company’s research and development team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia, according to the statement. (VOA)