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Hackers got user data from Meta with forged request

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Hackers have used phony law enforcement or government requests to steal user information from Facebook parent Meta


Hackers have used phony law enforcement or government requests to steal user information from Facebook parent Meta – Copyright AFP Ishara S. KODIKARA

Facebook owner Meta gave user information to hackers who pretended to be law enforcement officials last year, a company source said Wednesday, highlighting the risks of a measure used in urgent cases.

Imposters were able to get details like physical addresses or phone numbers in response to falsified “emergency data requests,” which can slip past privacy barriers, said the source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Criminal hackers have been compromising email accounts or websites tied to police or government and claiming they can’t wait for a judge’s order for information because it’s an “urgent matter of life and death,” cyber expert Brian Krebs wrote Tuesday.

Bloomberg news agency, which originally reported Meta being targeted, also reported that Apple had provided customer data in response to forged data requests.

Apple and Meta did not officially confirm the incidents, but provided statements citing their policies in handling information demands.

When US law enforcement officials want data on a social media account’s owner or an associated cell phone number, they must submit an official court-ordered warrant or subpoena, Krebs wrote.

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But in urgent cases authorities can make an “emergency data request,” which “largely bypasses any official review and does not require the requestor to supply any court-approved documents,” he added.

Meta, in a statement, said the firm reviews every data request for “legal sufficiency” and uses “advanced systems and processes” to validate law enforcement requests and detect abuse.

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“We block known compromised accounts from making requests and work with law enforcement to respond to incidents involving suspected fraudulent requests, as we have done in this case,” the statement added.

Apple noted its guidelines, which say that in the case of an emergency application “a supervisor for the government or law enforcement agent who submitted the… request may be contacted and asked to confirm to Apple that the emergency request was legitimate.”

Krebs noted that the lack of a unitary, national system for these type of requests is one of the key problems associated with them, as companies end up deciding how to deal with them.

“To make matters more complicated, there are tens of thousands of police jurisdictions around the world — including roughly 18,000 in the United States alone — and all it takes for hackers to succeed is illicit access to a single police email account,” he wrote.



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Murdered rapper’s song pulled from YouTube in India

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Sidhu Moose Wala's murder sparked anger and outrage from fans from across the world

Sidhu Moose Wala’s murder sparked anger and outrage from fans from across the world – Copyright AFP Narinder NANU

YouTube has removed a viral music video in India released posthumously by murdered Sikh rapper Sidhu Moose Wala following a complaint by the government.

The song “SYL” talks about the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal which has been at the centre of a long-running water dispute between the late Sikh rapper’s home state of Punjab and neighbouring Haryana.

The track, released posthumously on Thursday, also touches on other sensitive topics such as deadly riots targeting the Sikh community that broke out in India in 1984 and the storming of an important Sikh temple in Amritsar by the army the same year.

It had garnered nearly 30 million views and 3.3 million likes on the singer’s YouTube page before it was pulled down over the weekend.

“This content is not available on this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government,” said a message posted on the song link.

The song is still available in other countries.

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In an email to AFP, a YouTube spokesperson said it had only removed the song in “keeping with local laws and our Terms of Service after a thorough review”.

The government did not immediately respond to enquiries.

Moose Wala’s family termed the removal of the song “unjust” and appealed to the government to take back the complaint, local media reports said.

“They can ban the song but they cannot take Sidhu out of the hearts of the people. We will discuss legal options with lawyers,” uncle Chamkaur Singh was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times daily.

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Moose Wala — also known by his birth name Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu — was shot dead in his car in the northern state of Punjab last month.

The 28-year-old was a popular musician both in India and among Punjabi communities abroad, especially in Canada and Britain.

His death sparked anger and outrage from fans from across the world.

Last week, Indian police arrested three men accused of murdering Moose Wala and seized a cache of weaponry including a grenade launcher.

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The men had allegedly acted at the behest of Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar and his accomplice Lawrence Bishnoi who is currently in jail in India.

Moose Wala rose to fame with catchy songs that attacked rival rappers and politicians, portraying himself as a man who fought for his community’s pride, delivered justice and gunned down enemies.

He was criticised for promoting gun culture through his music videos, in which he regularly posed with firearms.

His murder also put the spotlight on organised crime in Punjab, a major transit route for drugs entering India from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Many observers link the narcotics trade — mostly heroin and opium — to an uptick in gang-related violence and the use of illegal arms in the state.

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