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Insider Q&A: Facebook VP of Messenger discusses privacy

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Government officials worry about Facebook’s plans to extend end-to-end encryption to Messenger

SAN FRANCISCO —
At Facebook, Stan Chudnovsky oversees the Messenger chat app that’s used by well over 1 billion people each month. He’s playing a key role in helping Facebook integrate that app with its other chat tools, WhatsApp and Instagram Direct.

The massive project has already gotten pushback from regulators worried about Facebook’s size and power. Government officials also worry about Facebook’s plans to extend end-to-end encryption to Messenger. Once that happens, Facebook wouldn’t be able to respond to law enforcement subpoenas because it wouldn’t have a way to unscramble messages.

Chudnovsky, who moved to the U.S. from Russia in 1994, joined Facebook in 2015. He spoke with The Associated Press recently about his work and views on privacy. Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What are the biggest roadblocks in bringing end-to-end encryption?

A: It’s technologically hard to move from the system that is alive and functioning and has billions of messages being sent every day to where it’s done completely differently architecturally. We also need to figure out how to do as much as we can on safety, while being the leaders on privacy. We are trying to go through that process slowly and very responsibly while talking to everyone.

Most messages in the U.S., where (Apple’s) iMessage is leading, are already end-to-end encrypted. We want to make sure that we get to the point when we lead very strongly and we do as much on safety as we possibly can given the constraints of end-to-end encryption.

Q: How do you ensure that people are safe when you can’t see bad things people are doing?

A: We are going to continue to work very closely with law enforcement on whatever we can provide. We also have connectivity to social networks. Whoever is a bad player on social networks, we will be able to see if those bad players exist on messaging services.

I don’t want to go into details on how we are thinking about approaching that stuff. But we’re just going to invest heavily in identifying threats earlier,

Q: You can send things in a private message that you can’t post on Facebook, right?

A: Definitely. You should be able to send whatever you want to send in a private message.

Q: What if it’s illegal or hurting someone?

A: Generally we believe that conversation between people should be private. We don’t make a difference between the conversations that are happening in the living room or on the phone and conversations that are happening in a private chat.

Q: What if you try to sell a gun, despite Facebook’s ban?

A: If you’re trying to sell a gun, you are probably trying to sell a gun to many people. When someone reports that and someone provides the messages that from the point of that person are illegal, then definitely we will be able to look at that.

Q: What are the biggest things that you have to figure out before interoperability becomes reality?

A: Generally, just a features compatibility in the sense that, if I “like” some message on one app, how does it manifest itself in another? Or will I be able to also call people, not only send messages?

Q: Do you think scrutiny of Facebook will ease any time soon?

A: We have a lot of responsibility. And the criticism, sometimes it’s accurate. Sometimes it’s not accurate. At the end of the day, what it means if everyone’s talking about you positively or negatively or both, is that you’re important. We just need to continue to deliver value to people. And as long as we are building products that people like. I think it’s going to be fine.

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Air Canada jet lands safely in Toronto after losing a wheel

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Air Canada says everyone is safe after one of its planes landed in Toronto missing a wheel on a main landing gear

An Air Canada jet made a safe landing Tuesday in Toronto after losing one of its main landing wheels, apparently during takeoff from New York.

The airline said the Airbus A319 jet was carrying 120 passengers and five crew members. There were no injuries when the pilots made an emergency landing at Toronto Pearson International Airport, according to Air Canada.

The plane “experienced an issue with one of its six tires on take-off,” Air Canada said in a statement. The flight took off from New York’s LaGuardia airport. The airline said it had no further details pending an inspection.

The Airbus jet normally has two large wheels on each of the two main landing gears, and two smaller wheels under the nose. One of the two wheels on the right-side main landing gear was missing when the plane touched down.

It is rare for an airline plane to lose a tire or entire wheel, although in January a passenger took video of sparks flying and then a tire falling off another Air Canada flight during takeoff in Montreal. That plane circled and landed safely back at the same airport.

Most airline jets have more than one wheel on a landing gear, and wheels and tires are designed to withstand the extra load if another one fails.

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American cruise passengers quarantined at US military bases

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More than 300 American cruise ship passengers, including 14 who tested positive for coronavirus, are being quarantined at military bases in California and Texas after arriving from Japan on charter flights overnight

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. —
More than 300 American cruise ship passengers, including 14 who tested positive for coronavirus, were being quarantined at military bases in California and Texas on Monday after arriving from Japan on charter flights overnight.

One plane carrying cruise passengers touched down at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California just before midnight Sunday, while another arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas early Monday. The passengers will remain at the bases for two weeks.

Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono tweeted earlier that Japanese troops helped transport 340 U.S. passengers on 14 buses from Yokohama port to Tokyo’s Haneda airport. About 380 Americans were on the cruise ship.

The U.S. said it arranged for the evacuation because people on the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the new virus that’s been spreading in Asia. For the departing Americans, the evacuation cuts short a 14-day quarantine that began aboard the cruise ship Feb. 5.

The State Department announced later that 14 of the evacuees received confirmation they had the virus but were allowed to board the flight because they had no symptoms. They were being kept isolated from other passengers on the flight, the U.S. State and Health and Human Services said in a joint statement.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that an infected person who shows minimal symptoms could still pass the virus to someone else.

It’s unclear which base the 14 who tested positive for the virus went to.

Officials said the evacuees who arrived at Travis Air Force Base will be housed at a different location from the more than 200 other Americans who were already being quarantined on the base, in a hotel. Those people have been at the base since early February, when they arrived on flights from China.

No Travis airmen will have contact with the passengers, officials said.

Now that they’re in the U.S., the cruise ship passengers must go through another 14 days of quarantine at the military facilities — meaning they will have been under quarantine for a total of nearly four weeks.

Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Italy were planning similar flights of passengers. Other governments, including Canada and Hong Kong, also will require the passengers to undergo a second 14-day quarantine.

Japan on Monday announced another 99 infections on the Diamond Princess, raising the ship’s total number of cases to 454. Overall, Japan has 419 confirmed cases of the virus, including one death. The United States has confirmed 15 cases within the country. Separately, one U.S. citizen died in China.

Americans Cheryl and Paul Molesky, a couple from Syracuse, New York, opted to trade one coronavirus quarantine for another, leaving the cruise ship to fly back to the U.S. Cheryl Molesky said the rising number of patients on the ship factored into the decision.

“We are glad to be going home,” Cheryl Molesky earlier told NHK TV in Japan. “It’s just a little bit disappointing that we’ll have to go through quarantine again, and we will probably not be as comfortable as the Diamond Princess, possibly.”

She sent The Associated Press a video of her and her husband boarding the plane with other Americans.

“Well, we’re exhausted, but we’re on the plane and that’s a good feeling. Pretty miserable wearing these masks though, and everybody had to go to the bathroom on the bus,” she said.

Some American passengers said they would pass up the opportunity to fly to the United States because of the additional quarantine. There also was worry about being on a long flight with other passengers who may be infected or in an incubation period.

One of the Americans, Matthew Smith, said in a tweet Sunday that he saw a passenger with no face mask talking at close quarters with another passenger. He said he and his wife scurried away.

“If there are secondary infections on board, this is why,” he said. “And you wanted me to get on a bus with her?”

He said the American health officials who visited their room was apparently surprised that the couple had decided to stay, and wished them luck.

“Thanks, but we’re fine,” Smith said he told them.

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This story has been corrected to show the first flight landed in California at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, not 2:30 a.m. Monday.

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Associated Press journalists Mari Yamaguchi, Yuri Kageyama and Emily Wang in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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Read more about the coronavirus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak

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Wind delays Northrop Grumman’s supply run to space station

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High wind has delayed Northrop Grumman’s supply run to the International Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —
High wind delayed Northrop Grumman’s supply run to the International Space Station on Friday.

The weather was OK at the launch pad on Wallops Island, Virginia, but upper-level winds exceeded safety limits. The company will try again Saturday at 3:21 p.m. — an easy-to-remember 3-2-1.

It will be Northrop Grumman’s third attempt in under a week to launch its Antares rocket with a Cygnus capsule on top. Sunday’s try was interrupted by pad equipment concerns, then bad weather moved in.

The delivery includes nearly 4 tons of experiments and gear, as well as candy and cheese for the three station astronauts.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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