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Russia, Stung By Intelligence Leaks, Plans To Tighten Data Protection

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Russia, Stung By Intelligence Leaks, Plans To Tighten Data Protection

Russia has drawn up draft legislation aimed at stopping leaks of personal information from state agencies, a step that follows publication of details of Russians allegedly involved in clandestine intelligence operations abroad.

The bill, produced by Russia’s communications ministry, bars unauthorized people from creating and publishing databases of personal data drawn from official sources, and fines anyone violating that rule.

It also requires that state agencies setting up systems for handling personal data consult with the Federal Security Service, Russia’s main domestic intelligence agency.

The communications ministry did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

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The bill, published late on Thursday, says it is in response to a 2017 instruction from President Vladimir Putin and makes no mention of the spate of leaks.

However, Russian authorities have been embarrassed by leaks about two men Britain alleges were Russian intelligence agents who used a nerve agent to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Russia denies involvement.

The two men told Russian television they were innocent tourists who went to the English city of Salisbury, where Skripal was living, to view its cathedral.

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But the Bellingcat investigative journalism website, drawing on leaked passport information, identified the two as officers with Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.

In a separate case, a Russian accused in a U.S. indictment of conducting cyber attacks around the world was traced, via leaked official databases, to an address in Moscow that Washington says is a base for Russian military intelligence.

The legislation, comprising two draft laws and a draft government resolution, has been published for a 30-day period of public consultation, after which it will be submitted to parliament and the government for approval.

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Russia has an active black market in illegal databases compiled using confidential information stolen from state-run registries. The data includes passport details, addresses, car registrations, flight manifests and even tax returns.

Releasing personal data in this way is already illegal under existing legislation, but Russian authorities have struggled to stamp out the practice. Many of the databases are openly available on the Internet.

World News

Israel Hits Targets Across Gaza After Rocket Attack

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Israel Hits Targets Across Gaza After Rocket Attack

Israeli forces have struck targets across the Gaza strip through Tuesday, including the offices of Hamas supreme leader, in response to a surprise rocket attack from the Palestinian territory.  The military has bolstered its troops and rocket-defense systems in anticipation of a new round of heavy fighting with the Islamic militant group.

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Israel opened public bomb shelters in most major cities and civil defense authorities canceled sports events and public transportation in southern Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had hurried back to Israel from Washington because of the rocket attack, said Israel will not tolerate this, and that he, personally, would not tolerate it. He said Israel will respond forcefully to the rocket attack he called wanton aggression.

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Israeli military said it had retaliated to the latest rocket attacks with fifteen airstrikes.  It also said Hamas military sites and those for smaller jihad group had been hit.

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Hamas has been leading weekly protests along the Israeli border for the past year in hopes of easing an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, but the demonstrations in which nearly two hundred persons have been killed by Israeli fire, have done little to improve conditions.

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World News

Theresa May Loses Control Of Brexit Negotiations, Parliament Takes Over

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Theresa May Loses Control Of Brexit Negotiations, Parliament Takes Over

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, could not be said to have had a good day on Tuesday as she lost control of the Brexit negotiations.  The Prime Minister says parliament’s decision to take control of the stalled process of leaving the European Union underscores the need for lawmakers to approve her twice-defeated deal.

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The House of Commons voted on Monday to take control of the parliamentary timetable on Wednesday so lawmakers can vote on alternatives to the withdrawal agreement the prime minister negotiated with the EU.

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Health secretary, Matt Hancock said on BBC news on Tuesday the government won’t “pre-commit” to accepting the option backed by lawmakers.  He wants lawmakers to support the prime minister’s agreement because, as he put it, the best way through the impasse is the one deal the prime minister has already negotiated with the EU.

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Tuesday’s events are sure to further complicate the process of Britain leaving the bloc.

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African News

UN Says Around 1.85 Million People Affected By Cyclone In Mozambique

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UN Says Around 1.85 million People Affected By Cyclone In Mozambique

The United Nations’ humanitarian agency OCHA has on Tuesday disclosed that close to 1.85 million people have now been affected by Cyclone Idai and its aftermath in Mozambique alone.

“Some will be in critical, life threatening situations. Some will sadly have lost their livelihoods, which whilst an appalling tragedy is not immediately life threatening,” OCHA coordinator Sebastian Rhodes Stampa said.

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Relief organizations, including the international federation of the red cross and red crescent societies, say some cases of cholera had already been reported. Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe the country’s entertainment stars have organized a concert to raise funds to help victims.  There is growing fear of starvation in communities that have been cut off by smashed bridges or destroyed roads.

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The United Nations is also making an emergency appeal for $282 million for the next three months to help Mozambique start recovering.

The UN funding will be used to provide water, sanitation, education and restoring the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said Monday.

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