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Swiss privacy watchdog seeks details on Facebook currency

Swiss authorities said Tuesday that they have written to the Libra Association, which is behind Facebook's planned cryptocurrency, seeking details on data protection risks involved in the project.

Swiss privacy watchdog seeks details on Facebook currency
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is battling to get regulators on board with Libra. File photo: AFP

Facebook last month unveiled its plans for Libra in an announcement greeted with concern by governments and critics of the social network behemoth that reflected fears of a loosely supervised global currency. 

Switzerland's financial watchdog Finma has already pledged to conduct oversight of the Geneva-based Libra Association

On Tuesday, the Swiss federal data protection and information commissioner (FDPIC) said in a statement that it too had written to Libra to inform the group that it expected an “impact assessment would be conducted of the data protection risks.”

The FDPIC said it had not yet received a reply to its July 17th letter. 

The privacy watchdog said it asked the Libra Association to clarify “the current status of the project so that (it) could assess the extent to which his advisory competences and supervisory powers would apply.”

Libra is widely regarded as a challenger to dominant global player bitcoin. Expected to launch in the first half of 2020, Libra is designed to be backed by a basket of currency assets to avoid the wild swings of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Read also: How a Swiss-based mathematician helped lift the lid on the Facebook data scandal

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Swiss court rules defamatory Facebook likes ‘can be illegal’

The Swiss Federal Court has ruled that Facebook likes and shares can be considered as illegal defamation.

Swiss court rules defamatory Facebook likes ‘can be illegal’
Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

The case was hearing a matter from the canton of Zurich says people can in some cases be punished for sharing or liking particular posts on social media, even if they did not create the content themselves. 

The case related to a dispute between animal rights activists from 2015. The perpetrator had liked and shared several posts critical of fellow animal rights activist Erwin Kessler. 

In groups like ‘Vegan in Zurich’ and ‘Indyvegan’, the perpetrator had liked and shared posts which portrayed as a neo-Nazi who harboured anti-Semitic ideas. 

The Zurich court fined the perpetrator saying the social media actions amounted to defamation. The Federal Court on Thursday upheld the verdict. 

While issues related to defamation are relatively unclear on social media – as opposed to through traditional media sources – the court held that the potential for such remarks to go ‘viral’ meant that social media actions could be defamatory in nature. 

Swiss defamation law only requires that an act be communicated to a third party in order for it to be defamatory, with online communication reaching the relevant threshold. 

The court said that it would depend on the circumstances as to whether likes and shares were likely to breach defamation laws, however a major factor was how visible the post was to others outside the immediate friend networks of the person defamed. 

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