Wikinews:Briefs/February 20, 2014

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A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, February 20, 2014.

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Ukrainian truce established

Kiev's Independence Square before violence erupted.
Image: Noobuster007.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych declared a truce after a violent evening in Kiev's Independence Square. There was brief peace just five days ago when protesters agreed to unblock downtown streets. That was soon broken as violence occurred when interior ministry troops, special "Berkut" security forces, and police officers confronted protesters.

So far 26 people, including protesters and ten police officers, have been killed in Independence Square clashes. This is the most violence the country has seen since it gained independence 20 years ago.


Facebook plans to purchase messaging service for US$16 billion

WhatsApp logo
Image: WhatsApp Inc..

Facebook yesterday announced a plan to purchase WhatsApp for US$16 billion. Facebook's plan says it will pay US$12 billion in stocks and US$4 billion in cash. All parties are still waiting regulatory approval. The deal could potentially be worth US$19 billion with US$3 billion more being offered to employees. Employees who remained at Facebook for four years would be offered restricted stock.

WhatsApp is a messaging service where users can send text, picture, and video messages using their data plans, instead of their messaging plan. The company has over 450 million world-wide active users, with about 70 percent of those users being active daily. WhatsApp adds about one million new users per day. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the app will not change for users.


Australia releases confidential information of thousands of refugees

The records of around 10,000 asylum-seekers in Australia were made available by the Australian government until The Guardian made authorities aware yesterday the data was freely accessible. Confidential refugee files were accessed, featuring the names, nationalities, locations, and arrival information. Paul Power, chief executive of the advocacy group Refugee Council of Australia, said the situation risked those in refugee centers in Australia, as well as their families.

In a speech delivered last November, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said that the Australian government was responsible for protecting the identities of refugees. Now the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is being called to account for its role under Australia's privacy laws, including negligence.