France Clears Roma Camp But Accused Of Breaking Own Rules

France sanctions Google for European privacy law violations

Although numbering only a few hundred, the militants seized the northern half of Mali and imposed a harsh form of Islamic law, beating women who failed to veil themselves and smashing historic tombs, shrines and libraries as vestiges of idolatry and an offense to Islam. The fundamentalist invaders fled the remote northern territory within weeks of the French intervention, but lingering extremists still carry out occasional suicide attacks on cities where the elected government in Bamako maintains only tenuous influence. Hollande last year used his appearance at the General Assembly to call for concerted efforts to rescue Mali. “Now, I would like to sound the alarm for the Central African Republic. It is a small country but one ravaged by coups d’etat and conflicts. Chaos has taken root, and the civilian populations are the victims of it,” Hollande said. He said France would convene an international conference by the end of the year to muster funding and expertise for training and equipping professional armies for vulnerable African states, so that they can ward off Mali-like invasions. “We cannot leave them alone, faced with this terrorist threat,” Hollande said in appealing to European and other countries to join his initiative to enhance Africa’s defenses. “Everywhere chaos reigns, terrorism takes root and grows,” Hollande warned. “This is why the international community must assist African states to protect themselves.” The French intervention in Mali was backed by a contingent from the Economic Community of West African States , but the poorly armed troops from a region rife with instability and rebellion are not seen as capable of putting down extremist threats on their own. “The best weapon we have is policies that support development,” Hollande said, calling for a comprehensive approach to tackling Africa’s security problems with parallel investment in renewable energy, healthcare and infrastructure for a continent still suffering the legacy of European colonization.

Families lodged in about 25 other caravans had left on Thursday evening in what officials described as a “voluntary” evacuation. The town’s mayor Pierre Dubois said the move was linked to “reasons of security, health and considerable inconvenience to local residents.” He said about 30 Roma had been given temporary housing since 2009 and that 120 others lived in another illegal camp, adding that the town’s resources were stretched. “Roubaix has largely surpassed the limits at its disposal …in terms of hosting them,” Dubois said. Cristina Grosu, an 18-year-old cradling a baby, said she had no choice but to remain near the town hall in the evening. “For this evening, there is no solution, we have to remain here,” she said. The crackdown follows a tough line championed by Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who last year issued local authorities with a set of guidelines on the dismantling of settlements currently housing more than 20,000 people, including a high proportion of children. In theory, the rules mean camps can only be cleared three months after a judge has ruled that they are illegal and on condition that a plan to provide alternative housing has been put in place. But in practice, these principles are rarely respected, according to Dominique Baudis, the Defender of Rights — France’s public ombudsman. “The interministerial circular of August 2012 is not being applied in every case, far from it,” Baudis said Friday. “Too often, the expulsions are carried out without a judge having authorised them. Too often the three-month delay from a judgement being made to a camp being dismantled is not respected.” Baudis said he had transmitted his concerns to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in July. “Alas, so far I’ve had no response,” he said. The criticism from an official watchdog came at the end of a week in which Valls triggered a row by claiming most Roma would never integrate into French society and should go back to their countries of origin, Bulgaria and Romania. Two of Valls’s cabinet colleagues condemned the remarks as unacceptable, rights groups described them as racist and the European Commission accused the minister of picking on a persecuted minority for electoral gain.

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The enforcement follows an analysis led by European data protection authorities of a new privacy policy that Google enacted in 2012, France’s privacy watchdog, the Commission Nationale de L’Informatique et des Libertes , said Friday on its website. Google was ordered in June by the CNIL to comply with French data protection laws within three months. But Google had not changed its policies to comply with French laws by a deadline on Friday, because the company said that France’s data protection laws did not apply to users of certain Google services in France, the CNIL said. The company “has not implemented the requested changes,” the CNIL said. As a result, “the chair of the CNIL will now designate a rapporteur for the purpose of initiating a formal procedure for imposing sanctions, according to the provisions laid down in the French data protection law,” the watchdog said. Google could be fined a maximum of 150,000 ($202,562), or 300,000 for a second offense, and could in some circumstances be ordered to refrain from processing personal data in certain ways for three months. What bothers France The CNIL took issue with several areas of Google’s data policies, in particular how the company stores and uses people’s data. How Google informs users about data that it processes and obtains consent from users before storing tracking cookies were cited as areas of concern by the CNIL. In a statement, Google said that its privacy policy respects European law. “We have engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process, and we’ll continue to do so going forward,” a spokeswoman said. Google is also embroiled with European authorities in an antitrust case for allegedly breaking competition rules.