Press review | 22/12/2014



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Sony hack: North Korea provokes US

Highly sensitive employee data and screenplays were stolen in the cyberattack. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


In the dispute over the cyberattack against US film studio Sony Pictures, North Korea has threatened strikes against the US. Washington had accused the North Korean leadership in Pyongyang of being behind the attacks. Commentators call for rules for cyberwar too and the founding of a global authority to investigate such attacks.

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Global authority must investigate cyberattacks

Tackling cyber criminality means trying to track down invisible criminals who can't be caught, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes on the Sony hack: "The battlefield for cyberwars has not been yet been staked out and the possibilities for escalation are unlimited. Hackers can destroy just like soldiers: reputations, assets, the sense of security. ... Because hackers are faceless they can do almost anything they like. The public can hardly tell who is the mastermind, what enemy has commissioned their services, which sanctions would be appropriate. The US is accusing North Korea but no one can assess whether it's true. There is no global authority to investigate the hacker attacks and bring the perpetrators to book. ... The case of North Korea is serious and sets a precedent. An international committee should investigate it, even if it's difficult to impose sanctions because the country is already totally isolated. At the very least the US government should buy The Interview and broadcast it for free on the Internet." (22/12/2014)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Cyber war needs rules

More than just an act of vandalism, the hack attack against Sony is the first step towards an act of war, the daily Tages-Anzeiger believes: "The case of North Korea is grave and set a precedent. It should be the subject of an international inquiry, even if it's hard to impose sanctions because the country is so isolated. What is needed are rules for cyber war, just like there are rules for conventional war. True, the big powers like the US and China have no interest in such rules because they believe their own hacking abilities give them a competitive advantage. But the risks of impunity are clear: if hackers can destroy things or kill people and then disappear into the endless expanses of cyberspace it will encourage some to make unlimited use of their unlimited possibilities." (22/12/2014)

Le Monde - France

Hackers threaten freedom of opinion

If the US is right about its accusations against North Korea, freedom of opinion is in danger, the left-liberal daily Le Monde writes: "The hackers have chalked up a unique victory in the history of the cyberwar. Sony wanted to recoup investments of 80 million dollars by releasing the film before Christmas, but it's been forced to capitulate. If the US theory is correct - Pyongyang denies any involvement - this would mean that a state can blackmail newspapers, publishing houses, theatres and film producers to stop the production of any article, critical report or work it doesn't like. It means that almost anything is allowed on the Internet - this space of virtual exchange located at the very heart of our daily lives. And it confirms that a form of war is already raging in this huge digital space where nothing is protected anymore." (22/12/2014)

La Repubblica - Italy

Cancelling film release is capitulation

The fact that Sony Pictures has cancelled the cinema debut of its movie The Interview after the cyber-attack is a show of weakness, the left-liberal daily La Repubblica writes: "The ghost of cyber attacks is fanning fears that these days not just terrorist attacks but also the Internet represent a constant threat. Just because of a satirical film the US is now suddenly confronted with concrete historical fears it thought it had overcome. ... By pulling the film out of circulation Sony has enhanced these fears because this is an admission of powerlessness: we prefer censorship to threats. Even if the film is aired, halting its release in theatres is a capitulation and sets a dangerous precedent: will a hacker attack and apocalyptic threats be enough in future to take a product out of circulation?" (22/12/2014)


  » open - Cuba

Global perspectives: Corks aren't popping on Cuba yet

The announcement that diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba will be resumed by no means hails the end of the regime on the island, the Cuban anti-government blogger Yoani Sánchez warns in the online newspaper "D-Day hasn't arrived yet. Instead the events are coming in bits and pieces, a step forward here, a step backward there. No cries of joy at the liberation of Cuba, no corks popping, no day which engraves itself forever in our memories. ... The release of all political prisoners, the end of political oppression, the ratification of the civil rights agreements and their implementation: ... That would be real progress in dismantling totalitarianism. And until such decisive steps are taken many of us will continue to believe that the date we all yearn for is not close yet. So let's put away the little flags and we won't open the champagne yet. It's better to keep on upping the pressure until D-Day finally arrives." (17/12/2014)

Blog Adevărul - Romania

Romanian parliament passes big brother law

Companies and government institutions in Romania will have to grant  the country's intelligence services access to their computer data in future even without a corresponding court order. The Romanian parliament passed a bill to that effect on Friday, which must now be signed into law by President Iohannis. Ioana Lupea warns on the blog of the liberal-conservative daily Adevărul: "Romania is swimming with the tide. We too are following the global trend of turning open societies into monitored ones. Social control and repression are the order of the day, people are losing their rights and being classified as suspects, potential terrorists and presumed hackers. ... The new law gives the domestic intelligence service SRI responsibility over technical coordination, while the surveillance itself will be carried out by the Supreme Defence Council. Formally these institutions are themselves subject to monitoring, in reality however they operate independently of any control mechanisms. The message is clear: If we want to effectively fight terrorism and corruption, we've got to put up with limitations to our freedom." (22/12/2014) - Lithuania

ECJ's Hamas ruling completely naive

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled last week that the EU must strike the radical Islamic Hamas organisation from its list of terrorists because the evaluation is based on insufficient evidence. The portal reacts with sarcasm: "According to the ECJ no one has demonstrated that Hamas is a terrorist organisation. It only stands to reason, right, since the Hamas representatives wear suits and not uniforms with explosives belts when they appear in public. ... Hence Hamas is a normal political organisation that governs a region seeking freedom from the predatory bloodsucker Israel, and even engages in benevolent work. This image, fabricated by Hamas supporters, easily works its way into the hearts of many a naive European. ... But the ECJ hasn't ruled that the names of Hamas members should be struck from the sanctions lists. Why not? Because it didn't even take account of those lists. ... Well then, perhaps evidence is also lacking against al-Qaeda or the IS, which beheads its hostages. Just strike them all from the terrorist lists!" (22/12/2014)

Zaman - Turkey

Preacher Gülen is a democrat

A Turkish court issued an arrest warrant against the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen on Friday. He is accused of founding and leading a terrorist organisation. Turkey's AKP government is once again behind this latest absurd accusation, the pro-Gülen daily Zaman writes angrily: "It's clear that Zaman and [the pro-Gülen broadcaster] Samanyolu TV are trying to counter the Islamist terror against Hocaefendi [Master] Fethullah Gülen. In 1994 Hocaefendi declared in a press conference at the Dedeman Hotel in Istanbul: 'A step back from democracy won't be possible.' Some Islamists who present themselves as Democrats interpreted these words as an insult. Twenty years after this avowal to democracy we are still being confronted with the desire for revenge of those who aren't able to digest it. ... Is it not time for those who try to dictate absurd charges to the judiciary to finally take a look in the mirror instead of slandering innocent people?" (22/12/2014)


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The Sunday Times Ireland - Ireland

ECB not to blame for Ireland's bank crisis

Representatives of the ECB have refused to testify before the committee of inquiry charged with investigating Ireland's 2010 bank collapse, which began its work last week. Those who criticise the ECB's behaviour are losing sight of the committee's real objectives, the conservative Sunday Times Ireland writes: "The banking inquiry is - or should be - about us. It would serve a valuable purpose if it were to elucidate how a generally intelligent people managed to blow the benefits of a soaring economy, plunging themselves into unsustainable debt, and reliance on the charity of neighbours. It should explain how and why their political elite, public servants, bankers, business community and indeed their news media seemed to lose their reasoning faculties as the crisis built. The ECB did not cause the crisis." (21/12/2014)

Lapin Kansa - Finland

Rouble drags Finland's tourism down

The fall of the Russian currency is having a huge impact on the Finnish economy, the liberal daily Lapin Kansa writes, fearing that the drop in Russian tourists means hard times lie ahead for the tourism and retail trade above all in northern and eastern Finland: "Companies that rely on Russian business felt the consequences of the rouble's collapse immediately. In South Karelia some businesses have had to close up shop after their sales dropped by half, if not more, within just a few days. In terms of overnight stays, the Russians are the third-largest tourist group in Lapland. They make up such a large share of the market that the situation is dire indeed. One can only hope that the other markets hold out. Otherwise tourist companies in Lapland are in for very hard times." (22/12/2014)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Poles borrowing festive mood from banks

Poles had already taken out 15.2 billion euros in consumer loans by the end of October, according to an estimate by the private credit analysis institute BIK. This means the country's consumers are likely to break the 2008 record of 16.6 billion euros this year. The Poles are buying themselves their festive mood on credit, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita fears: "We just want Christmas to be special - particularly  for our children. That's probably why we're so willing to take out such loans. ... We're basically buying ourselves that Christmassy feeling with these loans. But we have to be careful that what gives us so much pleasure today doesn't become too big a burden in the future. The delight the presents bought on credit give us is short-lived. Because then comes the time to start paying the money back." (22/12/2014)


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Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Fight gangs with social measures

Twelve members of a criminal gang in Gothenburg were sentenced to prison on Friday. The liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten is concerned that many witnesses felt too intimidated to testify: "No one wants to talk. People will do anything to protect themselves and their families from the gangs, which control several neighbourhoods with an iron fist. ... Eleven young men between 17 and 30 have been murdered in recent years in connection with gang crimes, and no one has been found guilty. ... Anyone would think this was the tougher neighbourhoods of New York we're talking about. But in fact it's happening in our small and for most people very safe city, Gothenburg. That's completely unacceptable. The police works hard to fight gang crime. ... But the most important thing is to help children from underprivileged backgrounds from as early as preschool. That's the only way to stop the gangs in the long term." (22/12/2014)


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L'Obs - France

Talk openly about Islamophobia

The French news broadcaster i-Télé announced on Friday that it would cancel the talk show Ça se dispute hosted by writer Eric Zemmour after he made anti-Islamic remarks in an interview. But even if Zemmour views immigration as a danger for the national identity he must not be excluded from public debate, historian Michel Franza argues in the left-leaning magazine L'Obs: "The press is the last bastion of democratic debate. That is more true than ever today, even if this controversy offends - or shakes up - our values and consciences. The worst thing is to exclude someone from the debate and render the discussion sterile by removing elements that are frowned upon by a small number of people. Zemmour is part of the reality of France. Instead of hiding that let's acknowledge and react to it, because we're all responsible for the current state of national disharmony." (21/12/2014)


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The Independent - United Kingdom

Only Blatter's resignation can save Fifa

Fifa's executive committee agreed on Friday to publish Michael Garcia's inquiry report into allegations of corruption behind the decisions to let Russia and Qatar host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, respectively. But ultimately only the resignation of Fifa President Sepp Blatter can help polish up the football association's reputation, the left-liberal daily The Independent argues: "Mr Blatter hopes the publication of the Garcia report will restore credibility to Fifa, something he clearly wants to do, but Fifa and football must brace themselves for eight long years trapped in this entirely discredited twilight zone. It cannot begin to move forward, to look credible again, until Mr Blatter is gone. ... Football is the ultimate zero-sum game, and Mr Blatter shows no sign of ending his own personal one. For as long as he is winning, the game is losing." (20/12/2014)

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