EU and US to discuss ban on laptops on flights today

The European Union will hold high-level talks with the US in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss a possible American airline ban on carry-on laptops. The US homeland security department sparked deep concern in Europe last week when it said it would soon decide on extending a laptop ban on eight Muslim nations to European airlines. “The commission will host high-level talks at the political and technical level with the US authorities in order to jointly assess any new threats and work toward a common approach to address them,” European commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

A US ban on laptops can cause havoc, with more than 3,250 flights a week scheduled to leave EU airports for the US this summer; according to industry data. Some experts said there was a security risk in putting them with checked luggage given the danger of batteries catching fire. “The difficulty we have with lithium batteries is that conventional fire extinguishers are not that efficient in extinguishing them; for that we need to deprive the batery of oxygen,” Patrick Ky, director of European Aviation Safety Agency, said.

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Italy penalizes WhatsApp 3 million euros for data sharing

Italy’s santitrust watchdog said on Friday it was imposing a 3 million-euro fine on messaging service WhatsApp for allegedly obliging users to agree to sharing their personal data with its parent company Facebook. All 28 European Union data protection authorities asked WhatsApp last year to stop sharing users’ data with Facebook due to doubts over the validity of users’ consent.

The Italian agency said the firm led to users believe they would not have been able to continue using the service unless they agreed to terms including sharing personal data. A WhatsApp spokesperson said, “We’re reviewing the decision and we look forward to responding to officials.” The Italian agency said it had also found other aspects of WhatsApp’s terms of use were unfair, including only the provider having the right to terminate the agreement.

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