Chinese Govt Media Influence Efforts Have Increased In 30 Countries – Study

A picture of the Chinese flag.
The Chinese flag.

 

The Chinese government’s media influence efforts have jacked up since 2019 in certain countries, according to a recent report.

The report, released by a non-profit organisation, Freedom House on Thursday, also said the increased influence in most of the 30 countries under study, showed, however, that there were pushbacks.

“The report, Beijing’s Global Media Influence: Authoritarian Expansion and the Power of Democratic Resilience, finds that the Chinese government and its proxies are using more sophisticated, covert, and coercive tactics—including intensified censorship and intimidation, deployment of fake social media accounts, and increased mass distribution of Beijing-backed content via mainstream media—to spread pro-CCP narratives, promote falsehoods, and suppress unfavorable news coverage, ” the report read.

“Beijing is doubling down on its campaign to control how it is portrayed in the world and to bend foreign media to its will,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.

“These efforts seek to silence criticism of the regime and convert independent media into shills for the Chinese Communist Party. Journalists and some governments are pushing back, but more should be done to prevent Beijing’s influence from undermining fact-based reporting about the world’s most powerful authoritarian state and its activities abroad.”

It added that “Of the 30 countries analyzed, the intensity of CCP media influence efforts was found to be High or Very High in 16 countries, with 18 facing increased influence efforts over the course of the 2019–21 coverage period. Taiwan, the United States, and the United Kingdom experienced the most intense influence efforts, but strong campaigns were also documented in Nigeria, Spain, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, and Argentina, highlighting the global scope of Beijing’s ambitions.

“While the Chinese government’s media influence campaign is ramping up, its impact is being blunted in democracies worldwide, according to the report. All of the countries studied demonstrated at least one form of active pushback that reduced the effects of Beijing’s activities. This democratic resilience has hindered the CCP’s attempts to sway public opinion, with sentiment toward China or the Chinese government declining in most of the countries examined since 2018.

Journalists, commentators, civil society groups, regulators, technology firms—and to a lesser extent, policymakers—are contributing to the pushback through actions including investigations into opaque payments from China-linked entities to local elites, cancellations of content-sharing agreements with Chinese state news agencies, regulatory enforcement of broadcasting rules, and public condemnation of attempts by Chinese diplomats to intimidate journalists. Evidence of such resilience can be found around the globe—in newsrooms in Kenya, Peru, and the Philippines, in parliaments in Australia, Italy, and Kuwait, and in journalistic training programs in Tunisia, South Africa, and Nigeria.

“Many democracies are proving far from helpless in the face of Beijing’s media influence efforts,” said Sarah Cook, one of the report’s authors and Freedom House’s research director for China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

“Journalists and civil society groups are creatively marshalling resources in ways that hinder the problematic dimensions of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts. But in many countries, harmful actions by political leaders or media owners are weakening democracy’s natural defenses against authoritarian influence. This is a critical moment. Governments and societies worldwide should increase transparency and protections for press freedom and free expression. More democracy, not less, is the answer to Beijing’s campaign to control news and information around the world.”

Read the full report here:

NEW REPORT: Beijing Is Intensifying Its Global Push for Media Influence, Turning to More Covert and Aggressive Tactics
The Chinese government’s media influence efforts have increased since 2019 in most of the 30 countries under study, but democratic pushback has often curbed their impact.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is accelerating its multibillion-dollar global campaign to shape public opinion and secure both its hold on power in China and its policy priorities abroad, but local journalists, civil society activists, governments, and news consumers are pushing back at these efforts, according to a new report released today by Freedom House.

The report, Beijing’s Global Media Influence: Authoritarian Expansion and the Power of Democratic Resilience, finds that the Chinese government and its proxies are using more sophisticated, covert, and coercive tactics—including intensified censorship and intimidation, deployment of fake social media accounts, and increased mass distribution of Beijing-backed content via mainstream media—to spread pro-CCP narratives, promote falsehoods, and suppress unfavorable news coverage.

“Beijing is doubling down on its campaign to control how it is portrayed in the world and to bend foreign media to its will,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “These efforts seek to silence criticism of the regime and convert independent media into shills for the Chinese Communist Party. Journalists and some governments are pushing back, but more should be done to prevent Beijing’s influence from undermining fact-based reporting about the world’s most powerful authoritarian state and its activities abroad.”

Of the 30 countries analyzed, the intensity of CCP media influence efforts was found to be High or Very High in 16 countries, with 18 facing increased influence efforts over the course of the 2019–21 coverage period. Taiwan, the United States, and the United Kingdom experienced the most intense influence efforts, but strong campaigns were also documented in Nigeria, Spain, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, and Argentina, highlighting the global scope of Beijing’s ambitions.

While the Chinese government’s media influence campaign is ramping up, its impact is being blunted in democracies worldwide, according to the report. All of the countries studied demonstrated at least one form of active pushback that reduced the effects of Beijing’s activities. This democratic resilience has hindered the CCP’s attempts to sway public opinion, with sentiment toward China or the Chinese government declining in most of the countries examined since 2018.

Journalists, commentators, civil society groups, regulators, technology firms—and to a lesser extent, policymakers—are contributing to the pushback through actions including investigations into opaque payments from China-linked entities to local elites, cancellations of content-sharing agreements with Chinese state news agencies, regulatory enforcement of broadcasting rules, and public condemnation of attempts by Chinese diplomats to intimidate journalists. Evidence of such resilience can be found around the globe—in newsrooms in Kenya, Peru, and the Philippines, in parliaments in Australia, Italy, and Kuwait, and in journalistic training programs in Tunisia, South Africa, and Nigeria.

“Many democracies are proving far from helpless in the face of Beijing’s media influence efforts,” said Sarah Cook, one of the report’s authors and Freedom House’s research director for China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. “Journalists and civil society groups are creatively marshalling resources in ways that hinder the problematic dimensions of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts. But in many countries, harmful actions by political leaders or media owners are weakening democracy’s natural defenses against authoritarian influence. This is a critical moment. Governments and societies worldwide should increase transparency and protections for press freedom and free expression. More democracy, not less, is the answer to Beijing’s campaign to control news and information around the world.”

The new report offers the most comprehensive assessment to date of Beijing’s global media influence and the ways in which democracies are responding. It draws on media investigations, interviews, scholarly publications, Chinese government sources, and on-the-ground research by local analysts in 30 countries, which are spread across six regions and all rated Free or Partly Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World index. It includes in-depth case studies for each of the 30 countries, appraising the scale and scope of CCP media influence efforts and the strength of the local response, and classifies them as either Resilient or Vulnerable. The report also offers recommendations on how democracies can improve their performance.

Additional report findings:

The list of those contributing to Beijing’s influence efforts is expanding. The Hong Kong authorities, companies with close CCP ties like Huawei, local officials, and media executives outside China have joined Chinese diplomats and government representatives in attempting to suppress critical reporting or shape media narratives in Beijing’s favor. Tactics like cyberbullying by pro-CCP trolls and amplification of Chinese state-linked social media posts using fake accounts have increased since 2019.
Beijing’s efforts have come up short in influencing public opinion, but present other threats to free expression. In 23 out of 30 countries, public opinion toward China or the Chinese government has declined since 2018, indicating comparatively modest returns on the CCP’s considerable investment in shaping foreign views. However, Beijing’s media influence projects have been more successful in limiting critical original reporting and commentary on China in many countries, establishing dominance over Chinese-language media, and building a structural foundation for further manipulation.
Democracies’ ability to counter CCP media influence is alarmingly uneven. Only half of the countries examined in this study achieved a rating of Resilient, while the remaining half were designated as Vulnerable. Taiwan faced the most intense CCP influence efforts, but it also mounted the strongest response, followed in both respects by the United States. Nigeria was deemed the most vulnerable to Beijing’s existing media influence campaigns, while Senegal had the weakest underlying capacity for resilience.
Inadequate government responses leave countries vulnerable or exacerbate the problem. Local laws that protect free expression help curtail Beijing’s efforts, but declines in press freedom and gaps in media regulations have undercut democratic resilience and created greater opportunities for future CCP media influence. In 23 countries, political leaders launched attacks on domestic media or exploited legitimate concerns about the Chinese government to impose arbitrary restrictions, target critical outlets, or fuel xenophobic sentiment.

Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Drops To 15.4% –  NBS

A file photo taken at a food market. A large percentage of poor Nigerians live in the rural areas where the predominant occupation is farming.
A file photo showing traders at a food market.

 

Nigeria’s annual inflation rate has dropped for the seventh straight month to 15.4 per cent in November as against 15.99 percent reported in the previous month. 

This is according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) report released by the agency on Wednesday.

The new figure represents a 2.77 percentage point decline since March when the inflation rate hit 18.17 per cent.

“The consumer price index, (CPI) which measures inflation increased by 15.40 per cent (year-on-year) in November 2021. This is 0.51 percent points higher than the rate recorded in November 2020 (14.89) per cent,” the report added.

“Increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index. On a month-on-month basis, the Headline index increased by 1.08 percent in November 2021, this is a 0.10 per cent rate higher than the rate recorded in October 2021 (0.98) per cent.

“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve months period ending November 2021 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 16.98 per cent, showing 0.02 percent point from 16.96 per cent recorded in October 2021.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Declines To 17.75%

Furthermore, the NBS report indicated that the urban inflation rate rose by 15.92 per cent (year-on-year) in November 2021 from 15.47 per cent in November 2020.

This is just as the rural inflation level jumped by 14.89 per cent in November 2021 from 14.33 per cent in November 2020.

“On a month-on-month basis, the urban index rose by 1.12 per cent in November 2021, up by 0.10 the rate recorded in October 2021 (1.02) per cent, while the rural index also rose by 1.04 per cent in November 2021, up by 0.09 the rate that was recorded in October 2021 (0.95) per cent,” it added.

“The corresponding twelve-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index is 17.55 percent in November 2021. This is higher than 17.53 per cent reported in October 2021, while the corresponding rural inflation rate in November 2021 is 16.42 percent compared to 16.39 per cent recorded in October 2021.”

EndSARS: We Await Reports From State Govts, Buhari Tells Blinken 

President Buhari welcomes US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken during the latter’s three-nation African tour. Photo: State House.

 


President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government will allow the system to exhaust itself, and will, therefore, wait for pronouncements from state governments that set up panels to probe police brutality in the country.

The president spoke Thursday at State House, Abuja, while receiving in audience Mr Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State.

“So many state governments are involved, and have given different terms of reference to the probe panels,” spokesman, Femi Adesina quoted the president as saying.

“We at the Federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work. We can’t impose ideas on them. Federal Government has to wait for the reaction of the states.”

On the recent removal of Nigeria from the watchlist of countries violating religious freedom, which Blinken said was “based on facts,” Buhari expressed the country’s appreciation, noting that there was freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one is discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.


READ ALSOPresident Buhari Signs Climate Change, AMCON (Amendment) Bills Into Law

Buhari Receives US Secretary Of State Blinken


 

The US diplomat’s visit comes on the heels of Nigeria’s removal from a US blacklist of nations that violate religious freedom. Photo: State House.

 

He said also said education is a priority in the country, “because when you educate a people, there are certain levels they will not fall below.”

The President equally appreciated the US for allowing Nigeria to procure military hardware to fight terrorism in the country, and for the training given to the Nigerian military.

“It’s helping us to stabilize the situation in the Northeast, and we’ve made a lot of progress since 2015,” he said. “We are doing a lot on security, and the people involved appreciate our efforts.”

On the development of democratic ethos, President Buhari said Nigeria has adopted the American model, “hook, line, and sinker, with its term limits. Those who have attempted to breach it were disappointed, if not disgraced. You are even lucky if you have two terms. Others try hard and don’t get it. The American model has been accepted by Nigerians as the best.”

Nigeria and her neighbors, the President noted, have been living with the impact of climate change for a while, which has seen Lake Chad shrink drastically from its original size, and affected the livelihood of about 30 million people in the Lake Chad Basin countries.

“That is why the youths defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean to attempt emigrating to Europe. Inter-basin water transfer is needed to keep the youths at home, and they can resume their lives of farming, fishing, and animal husbandry,” Buhari added.

Mr Blinken, who had held a virtual meeting with the Nigerian President earlier in the year, said jocularly that it was now good to see him “mask to mask, hoping that we will soon see face to face.”

He appreciated the contributions of President Buhari to the protection of the climate, particularly his presence and contributions at the recent COP26 climate conference held in Glasgow, Scotland.

Blinken said America and Nigeria have diverse challenges, but a common denominator is security, and hoped for better partnerships, “so that the bad guys won’t get the good guys.”

He described the report of the EndSARS probe panel as “democracy in action,” stressing that America equally had its own police brutality, and hoping that necessary reforms would be made.

EndSARS Report: Govt Agents Attacking Panel Members, Adegboruwa Raises Alarm

A file photo of Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.

 

Legal practitioner, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), has raised an alarm over what he described as “vicious attacks” on members of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Enquiry on Police Brutality following the group’s submission of its report. 

“Since the submission of the EndSARS Panel Report to the Governor of Lagos State on November 15, 2021, members of the Panel have become the subject of vicious attacks by those suspected to be agents of the government, ” Adegboruwa, a member of the panel, said in a statement he issued on Thursday.

“All manner of allegations has been heaped upon Panel Members, some of who have been called unprintable names.”

READ ALSO: [EndSARS Panel Report] We Await The States, Buhari Tells US Secretary Of State

He restated that members of the panel were appointed on merit, debunking reports that they lobbied to get into the position.

“As a matter of fact, in my own case, His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, appealed to me to accept my appointment, which I saw as a call to national service,” he added.

“The primary reason the Governor gave to me then was that he wanted men and women of integrity, independent and not subject to manipulation, to be on the Panel.”

Adegboruwa described a report credited to an unnamed counsel to the Lagos State Government that members of the panel took bribes as “unfair, ungodly, and least expected of the government and its lawyers”.

According to him, the panel is waiting for the Lagos State Government’s white paper on the report submitted by the panel but decried the “mindless propaganda upon Panel Members”.

While calling on the Lagos State Government to “call its agents and lawyers to order so as not to provoke aggravated responses,” he said members of the panel deserve better treatment from the government.

“I should not become a victim of unwarranted attacks just because I accepted to serve the government and the outcome of that assignment did not favour the expectations of the government,” Adegboruwa, further noted.

“Suffice it to mention that I worked with men and women of unblemished integrity and I’m proud to be associated with them all.”

 

UNILAG Crisis: Visitation Panel Submits Report To FG

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu

 

The Special Visitation Panel set up by the Federal Government to investigate the management crisis rocking the University of Lagos has submitted the report of its findings.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, received the report on behalf of the Federal Government in Abuja on Thursday.

He said the recommendations of the panel will be thoroughly scrutinized with the aim of full implementation.

READ ALSO: UNILAG Crisis: Visitation Panel Concludes Investigation

Shortly before presenting the report to the minister, the Chairman of the panel, Professor Tukur Sa’ad expressed optimism that the report of the panel will bring an end to the crisis that has festered in the university over the last one year.

READ ALSO: FG Inaugurates Presidential Panel For UNILAG

This comes three weeks after the Federal Government inaugurated the panel to resolve the lingering crisis facing the institution.

While setting up the panel on August 26, Adamu warned members against interfering in the activities of the university management.

He encouraged the stakeholders in the university to fully cooperate with the panel and to allow it to work unhindered.

“Councils are to lay down policies while managements are to implement them, but over the past one year, the ministry has been inundated with complaints and correspondences from the management and the governing council of the University of Lagos as well as the National Assembly, on the lingering governance issues in the institution, including allegations of financial infractions and breach of responsibilities,” he said.

The panel was set up to investigate the crisis rocking the university, following the earlier removal of its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, by its Governing Council led by Mr Wale Babalakin, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

 

Report Says 3,188 Nigerians Were Atrociously Killed In 2019

 

3,188 Nigerians were reportedly atrociously killed in 2019.

This is according to a report by Global Rights, an international non-governmental organisation championing human rights capacity building.

The report shows that 3,188 Nigerians, including 2,707 civilians and 481 security operatives were killed.

The report, presented to journalists by a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu and a co-convener of the Bring-Back-Our-Girls campaigner, Aisha Yesufu, said this was due to violent incidents in the country.

The reports showed Borno State topping the casualty figure list with 728; while Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Taraba recorded 450, 280, 254 and 181 respectively.

An in-depth analysis of the report showed that violence-related deaths were recorded in every state in Nigeria with Abia notably the least impacted, with one death recorded.

Facebook Faces Criminal Probe Of Data Deals – Report

Facebook Faces 'Oppenheimer Moment' Over Trump Scandal

 

US prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Facebook’s practice of sharing users’ data with companies without letting the social network’s members know, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed information from at least two major smartphone makers about such arrangements with Facebook, according to the Times.

Regulators, investigators and elected officials around the world have already been digging into the data sharing practices of Facebook which has more than two billion users.

READ ALSO: A Day Not To ‘Like’ For Facebook, Hit By Outage, Criminal Probe

The social network’s handling of user data has been a flashpoint for controversy since it admitted last year that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, used an app that may have hijacked the private details of 87 million users.

“It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice,” a Facebook spokesman said in response to an AFP inquiry.

“As we’ve said before, we are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

Facebook has shared limited amounts of user data with smartphone makers and other outside partners to enable its services to work well on devices or with applications. Regulators, and now prosecutors, appear intent on determining whether this was done in ways that let users know what was happening and protected privacy.

The California-based social network has announced a series of moves to tighten handling of data, including eliminating most of its data-sharing partnerships with outside companies.

The focus of the grand jury probe was not clear, nor was when it started, according to the Times, which cited unnamed sources.

AFP

AIB Releases Report On Crash Of Osinbajo’s Helicopter

APC, PDP React To Osinbajo’s Helicopter Crash Survival
A helicopter conveying Vice President Yemi Osinbajo crash-landed in Kogi State on February 2, 2019.

 

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released a preliminary report of an investigation into the helicopter crash involving Agusta Westland W 139 Caverton Helicopters which flew Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to Kabba in Kogi State.

In the report released on Wednesday, the AIB said the crew lost visual contact with the ground at about 50 feet owing to a brownout – (dust generated when landing on a sandy area) – that enveloped the helicopter.

According to the agency, the helicopter experienced a hard landing and consequently rolled over.

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 Osinbajo’s Helicopter Crash-Lands In Kogi State

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While the AIB says the investigation into the crash is still ongoing, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Akin Olateru, gave two safety recommendations to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the operator, Caverton Helicopters Limited.

Olateru asked the NCAA to issue an advisory circular to helicopter operators on the effects of brown out and how to mitigate its effects.

Secondly, he asked Caverton Helicopters to carry out proper risk analysis and assessment before operating flights into unapproved landing pad.

The chopper carrying the Vice President, his entourage and three crew members, had crash-landed at the Kaaba Stadium on February 2.

There were, however, no casualties.

Committee Investigating NHIS Submits Report To SGF  

 

The committee set up to investigate allegations of fraud against the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Professor Usman Yusuf has submitted its report.

The committee submitted the report of its findings to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha on Monday.

But it, however, refused to make public their recommendations.

The report is coming more than seven weeks after the committee was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the allegations against Professor Yusuf.

READ ALSO: FG Inaugurates Seven-Man Panel To Probe NHIS Boss

Buhari Directs NHIS Boss To Proceed On ‘Administrative Leave’

After its inauguration on November the 2nd, 2018, the committee was given two weeks to complete its assignment.

It will be recalled that the Chairman on the NHIS Board, Mr Ifenne Enyanatu, had in October suspended the Executive Secretary after obtaining permission from the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole.

However, Yusuf defied the Governing Council and resumed at the headquarters of the NHIS in Abuja with the backing of policemen, a day after the pronouncement.

North Korea Slams Sex Abuse Report

North Korea's Kim Says No More Nuclear, Missile Tests
North Korean President Kim Jong-Un                                                  Credit: KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

 

North Korea Sunday slammed a report by Human Rights Watch which said sexual abuse of women was rampant in the isolated nation.

In its report released Thursday, the US-based rights group said North Korean police and other officials prey on women with near-total impunity.

HRW drew on interviews with more than 50 North Korean escapees to chronicle gruesome details of rape and other abuses perpetrated by security officers such as border guards, but also civilian officials.

In its response Sunday, the North’s Korean Association for Human Rights Studies said the “preposterous” report was “a part of political scheme fabricated by the hostile forces … to tarnish the image of the DPRK”, the state Korean Central News Agency reported, using the country’s official acronym.

“It is also an extremely dangerous provocation aimed at reversing the tide of peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula,” the statement said, branding the women interviewed as “human scum”.

In the HRW report, one anonymous former textile trader in her 40s recounted being treated like a sex toy “at the mercy of men”.

“On the days they felt like it, market guards or police officials could ask me to follow them to an empty room outside the market, or some other place they’d pick,” where they forced sexual encounters, she said.

“It happens so often nobody thinks it is a big deal. We don’t even realise when we are upset,” she added.

Pyongyang maintains that it protects and promotes “genuine human rights”, and says there is no justification for the West to try to set human rights standards for the rest of the world.

“Sexual violence in North Korea is an open, unaddressed, and widely tolerated secret,” said HRW executive director Kenneth Roth.

AFP

Facebook To Offer ‘Bounty’ For Reporting Data Abuse

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks in a hallway prior to a meeting with U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), committee chairman of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, April 9, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

Facebook said Tuesday it would begin offering rewards to people who report misuse of private information from the social network, as part of an effort to step up data protection in the wake of a firestorm.

The new program “will reward people with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a Facebook platform app collects and transfers people’s data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence,” product security chief Collin Greene said in a statement.

Greene said the new offer was inspired by the “bug bounty” offered by Facebook and other online services to reward people who find security flaws.

The reward will be “based on the impact of each report,” Greene said, with a minimum of $500 for verified cases of abuse affecting 10,000 people or more.

“While there is no maximum, high impact bug reports have garnered as much as $40,000 for people who bring them to our attention,” he added.

The announcement comes with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg set to begin testimony at congressional hearings Tuesday and Wednesday on abuse of private data collected by the social network.

Facebook is under fire in the United States and around the world following disclosures of private data hijacked by the consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which was working for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“We’ll review all legitimate reports and respond as quickly as possible when we identify a credible threat to people’s information,” Greene said of the new program.

“If we confirm data abuse, we will shut down the offending app and take legal action against the company selling or buying the data, if necessary. We’ll pay the person who reported the issue, and we’ll also alert those we believe to be affected.”

AFP

Coutinho Set To Join Barcelona – Report

Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 30, 2017.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

Barcelona and Liverpool have agreed a deal in principle to allow Philippe Coutinho to move to the Spanish giants for 120 million euros ($144 million), a report said Saturday.

Barcelona-based Sport newspaper said Coutinho would join Barca this month on a deal for five seasons, although it said the details of the deal were still to be finalised.

Coutinho’s departure would be a blow to Liverpool, but it would allow Barcelona to move on from the bitter experience of losing his Brazil teammate Neymar last summer to Qatar-backed Paris Saint-Germain for a world record 222 million euros.

Coutinho’s age — he is 25 — is also attractive to Barca, whose three main stars, Lionel, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta are all in their thirties.

French sport daily L’Equipe reported on Saturday that Liverpool were lining up Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez to replace Coutinho, although other reports have indicated that the Merseyside club would prefer to acquire Thomas Lemar from Monaco.

AFP