Daily News Roundup

October 9, 2018

Image: ABC News

Tuesday, October 9

Google+ social media service to shut down after private data of at least 500,000 users exposed

Alphabet Inc’s Google will shut down the consumer version of its failed social network Google+ and tighten its data-sharing policies after announcing that private profile data of at least 500,000 users may have been exposed to hundreds of external developers.

The issue was discovered and patched in March as part of a review of how Google shares data with other applications, Google said in a blog post.

No developer exploited the vulnerability or misused data, the review found.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Google opted not to disclose the security issue at the time due to fears of regulatory scrutiny, citing unnamed sources and a memo prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff for senior executives.

Google feared disclosure would invite comparison to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica, the Journal reported, adding that chief executive Sundar Pichai had been briefed on the issue.

Google declined to comment beyond its blog post.

Google said on Monday none of the thresholds it requires to disclose a breach were met after reviewing the type of data involved, whether it could identify the users to inform, establish any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take to protect themselves.

Google+ launched in 2011 as the advertising giant grew more concerned about competition from Facebook, which could pinpoint ads to users based on data they had shared about their friends, likes and online activity.

Google+ copied Facebook with status updates and news feeds and let people organise their groups of friends into what it called “circles”.

But Google+ and the company’s other experiments with social media struggled to win over users because of complicated features and privacy mishaps.

Google+ has around 2 billion user accounts, but less than 400 million active users worldwide and many of those are through business accounts, according to Google blogs and various statistics monitors.

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Parents allege brutal “punishments” are being inflicted on elite young gymnasts in Melbourne, where children are forced to do handstands until their arms give out and swing from bars until their hands bleed.

But the parents say an investigation into their allegations has been prematurely shut down, writes the ABC’s Peter Lusted

And former Gymnastics Australia (GA) board member George Tatai, who has an Order of Australia Medal for his service to the sport, has accused the organisation of sweeping the issue under the carpet to protect its reputation instead of its young athletes.

The investigation was sparked by complaints from athletes’ parents, who alleged that children as young as eight were regularly verbally and physically abused at the sport’s National Centre of Excellence (NCE) in Melbourne.

“Punishments would involve making them swing on the bar until their hands bled, doing squats until their knees gave out, or making them do handstands and stay upside down until they felt sick and fell over,” one parent said.

“Punishments are given when you have not performed, when you may have been perceived to being a bit cheeky or didn’t pay attention, any misdemeanour.”

The ABC report said it had spoken to four parents who all raised similar allegations.

Others confirmed they had similar concerns, but declined to be interviewed.

These parents were among 16 parents who told the ABC about the alleged poor treatment of their children in gymnastics.

The majority of the gymnasts in the elite program are under 15 and spend 20–33 hours a week training at the gym at Windsor, in Melbourne’s south-east.

Parents said their children were often belittled and harassed.

“It is very, very common for athletes to be yelled at on a daily basis, multiple times in a four-hour training session,” one parent told the ABC.

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A Spanish doctor accused of stealing and selling a baby during the dictatorship has been found guilty of all charges but cannot be punished due to the statute of limitations, a Madrid court has ruled.

A Reuter report carried by the ABC reported the court said 85-year-old Spanish gynaecologist Eduardo Vela was responsible for the abduction of a child, faking a birth and falsifying official documents, but was absolved after the baby reached adulthood in 1987.

The lawyer of the woman at the centre of the case, Ines Madrigal, told reporters outside the court they would appeal against the decision.

The statute of limitations imposes deadlines on courts to complete legal proceedings.

Ms Madrigal, who was told by her mother at 18 that she was adopted, accused Mr Vela of forging her 1969 birth certificate to show her adoptive mother, now dead, as her biological parent.

Mr Vela, who had denied the charges, was the first person prosecuted over the “stolen babies” scandal that affected thousands during General Francisco Franco’s rule.

Many of the cases date back to the right-wing dictatorship of 1929-75 when campaigners say officials took babies from “unsuitable” mothers — often communist or leftists — and gave them to families with connections to the regime.

A decade ago, a Spanish judge recorded the cases of about 30,000 Spanish children taken at birth during Franco’s rule.

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