- EU / UK - And coming up on Sky after the football... +/-
(Guardian) The deal between the Premier League and the European commission contained a timebomb for BSkyB. The league agreed that the format of its latest live TV rights deal with the broadcaster, to run from 2004 to 2007, will not be used again. Instead, it will ensure that at least two companies share access to the live rights from 2007 onwards. As a result, BSkyB will lose its stranglehold on live Premier League football for the first time since the competition started in 1992. see Commission reaches provisional agreement with FA Premier League and BSkyB over football rights (RAPID).
- EU - Commission adopts merger control guidelines +/-
(RAPID) The European Commission has adopted guidelines on the appraisal of mergers between competing firms (Horizontal Guidelines). The guidelines are one of the cornerstones of the comprehensive reform of merger control in the European Union and complement the changes to the Merger Regulation, already agreed by EU Ministers, and several improvements introduced in the Commission's decision making process.
- EU / SE - Commission suspects TeliaSonera of abuse of its dominant position in provision of high-speed Internet access +/-
(RAPID) the European Commission has sent a statement of objections to TeliaSonera of Sweden. The statement concerns a contract for the construction and operation of a fibre-optic broadband network for the provision of high-speed Internet access and other services on behalf of HSB Malmö, a regional housing association. The Commission takes the view that TeliaSonera's bid for that contract was intentionally set below cost and did not allow the operator to recover the investments and expenses derived from the provision of infrastructures and services contained in the contract. By setting such a low price, TeliaSonera prevented the development of alternative infrastructure and the entry of competing service providers. TeliaSonera thereby strengthened its dominant positions in the markets for the provision of local broadband infrastructure and the provision of high-speed Internet access.
- IT - PM 'fury' at media law veto +/-
(BBC) Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is said to be reeling from his president's refusal to sign a bill that relaxes limits on media ownership. Critics say the bill would allow Mr Berlusconi, who owns three TV stations, to strengthen his hold on the media. President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi asked parliament to re-examine the bill passed earlier this month. Mr Berlusconi has said he is open to what he described as 'intelligent' changes to the bill. The European human rights organisation, the OSCE, welcomed the president's decision as it believes the bill undermines the independence of the media.
- UK - Government launches consultation on media mergers guidance +/-
(DTI) Draft guidance on the way mergers involving media companies will be considered and dealt with was published for consultation by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt. Most of the guidance refers to the procedures by which media mergers will be handled. The competition authorities - the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission - will decide on competition grounds whether mergers can proceed. Ministers will only be able to intervene if it is considered that the merger raises specified "public interest" issues.
- UK - Online media rival sues Microsoft +/-
(BBC) Internet media company RealNetworks has sued Microsoft, accusing it of unfairly monopolising the growing market for digital music and video. Accusing Microsoft of 'predatory conduct', RealNetworks has asked for more than $1bn (£564m) in compensation. Microsoft has denied the allegation, insisting the market was competitive.
- UK - Police launch 'child porn site' +/-
(ITV) A website that lures internet paedophiles has been launched by police as part of a global initiative. Anyone who enters the site will be given the option to continue through a series of pages while being prompted to withdraw from the process at every stage. Those who continue will ultimately be faced with a screen telling them they have entered a law enforcement website and that their actions are an offence. Their details will be captured and they could be prosecuted in their country. Other members of the "virtual global task force" supporting the initiative include the FBI, Interpol, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Australian High Tech Crime Centre.
- ES - Child porn: 27 arrested in Spain +/-
(CNN) Police have arrested 27 people across Spain for allegedly distributing child pornography on the Internet. It was a distribution network, used in chats and forums. The actual filming of the minors was done outside of Spain - in Latin America, Asia and Europe - using foreign children and done by foreign adults. The months-long investigation by Spanish police culminated with a series of raids starting Tuesday afternoon and ending early Wednesday. The arrests were carried out in 12 of Spain's 17 regions. Spain's leading radio network, SER, reported that Spanish police believe they have sufficient information to locate some of the suspects involved in the child pornography enterprise outside of Spain.
- BE - Un cyberpirate condamné +/-
(Le Soir) Premier jugement sur la base de la nouvelle loi sur les crimes informatiques, à Eupen. La condamnation est légère pour le jeune informaticien qui a tenté de s'introduire frauduleusement dans le serveur d'une société concurrente. La tentative d'intrusion dans un ordinateur distant constitue déjà une infraction, a estimé le tribunal.
- NZ - Name suppression granted to man on child porn charges +/-
(Dominion Post) A New Zealand man's identity is being kept secret after he was convicted of importing child porn videos and downloading Internet images of "the youngest victims" Internal Affairs has seen. His name suppression was based on his undergoing counselling. However, an internet watchdog says the counsellor concerned was understood not to be an expert in helping child sex offenders so the counselling might not be effective. The judge fined the man, aged 43, $9500 plus $3600 costs after he pleaded guilty to 32 charges related to internet child porn and importing objectionable videos. The judge was concerned that allowing his name to be made public would harm his rehabilitation. He had no previous convictions.
- UK - Mobile phone crime blitz launched +/-
(BBC) A nationwide crackdown on mobile phone crime is being launched with the creation of a special police unit. Latest figures show half of all street crime now involves mobile phone theft. Nearly 200 are stolen in England and Wales every day, mostly in London, and many are exported by gangs to Africa, Asia and Europe.
- UK - Teenage hacker faces £21,000 bill +/-
(BBC) A teenager who hacked into an American government laboratory's computer network could face a £21,000 bill. Joseph McElroy, 18, from east London, wanted to use its power to download films and music from the internet. But his intrusion sparked a full-scale alert at the Chicago laboratory, which researches high-energy particles. Bow Street Magistrates' Court was told the US government wants compensation to cover the costs of repairs after officials "pushed the panic button".
- NL - Court rejects case against Kazaa +/-
(Guardian) A Dutch court threw out an attempt to shut down popular internet song swapping service Kazaa, which has been blamed by the music industry for a rise in piracy and a crippling slump in sales. The Dutch supreme court, the highest European court yet to grapple with the thorny issue of internet piracy, today rejected an appeal backed by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which is trying to shut down Kazaa and other so-called 'peer to peer' networks. See press release by the winning law firm (scroll down to English version). Court ruling (in Dutch). NL - Dutch Supreme Court rules Kazaa legal (Register).
- US - Court Rules Verizon Can Refuse to ID Customers to Music Industry +/-
(EFF) In a victory for Verizon and the privacy of Internet users, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the recording industry's subpoenas for user identities. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed nearly 3,000 subpoenas in Washington, D.C., as a prelude to lawsuits against 382 alleged filesharers. The court ruled that those subpoenas are not authorized by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. See also US - Court holds RIAA lawsuit strategy illegal, Ruling sounds sour note for record industry (News.com) and Verizon Wins Victory for Privacy (Copyfight) by Donna Wentworth.
- P2P: trois Français sont interpellés et un site fermé +/-
(Silicon) Opération coup de poing de la gendarmerie française contre le 'peer-to-peer'. Un site français qui proposait de télécharger des films récents, voire inédits, via le réseau d'échange BitTorrent (beaucoup plus rapide et discret que d'autres plates-formes) a été fermé. Trois personnes ont été interpellées. Ces trois personnes ont été arrêtées ce 17 décembre à Rennes, Strasbourg et Mulhouse par la Brigade de recherches de Gendarmerie de Rennes. Plus de 600 films sur CD-Rom ont été saisis à leur domicile, a précisé l'ALPA, l'Association de lutte contre la piraterie audiovisuelle.
- US - Why Copyright Today Threatens Intellectual Freedom +/-
(FEP) The Free Expression Policy Project has published a revised and updated report on copyright, covering everything from fair use to the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Copyright - our system for protecting and encouraging creativity - has been described as "the engine of free expression." But copyright can also interfere with free speech. Resolving these sometimes conflicting claims requires policymakers, in the words of the Supreme Court, to strike a "difficult balance" between rewarding creativity through the copyright system and "society's competing interest in the free flow of ideas, information, and commerce." But the "difficult balance" has become lopsided in recent years. PDF version.
- EU and US reach agreement over transfer of passenger data +/-
(EurActiv.com) After months of wrangling, the EU and US have reached an agreement on the transfer of air passenger data to the US authorities as part of the fight against terrorism. The agreement between the EU and the US on passenger name record (PNR) data means that 34 elements of personal data given at the time of check-in for transatlantic flights will be legally transmitted to the US Customs and Border Protection Bureau. The bureau will then screen passengers for possible involvement in terrorist activities or other serious crimes. The data will include a wide range of information such as addresses, date of birth, credit card numbers, the number of people travelling together and the number of bags they are carrying. The agreement is a clear indication that the handling of the data by the US authorities is regarded by the EU as providing sufficient safeguards for passenger privacy. In a compromise move, the US agreed to reduce the length of data storage from fifty to 3.5 years. It also agreed to use the data only in fighting terrorism and related crimes and not for ordinary crimes as it had initially requested. Subject to review by the European Parliament, the agreement will enter into effect and be in place for three and a half years with renegotiations beginning in two and a half years. see EU/US talks on transfers of airline passengers' personal data (RAPID). Frits Bolkestein Member of the European Commission in charge of the Internal Market, Taxation and Customs Address to European Parliament Committees on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs and Legal Affairs and the Internal Market Strasbourg, 16th December 2003. see also Communication from the Commission to the Council and the Parliament of 16th December 2003.
- DE - Bundesrat: 6 Monate Datenspeicherung zur TK-Überwachung +/-
(Heise) Die Bundesländer wollen das Verhalten der Telekommunikationsnutzer künftig vollständig überwachen. Wie der Bundesrat in seiner Plenarabstimmung beschlossen hat, sollen alle beim Telefonieren, beim Versand von SMS, beim E-Mailen oder beim Surfen anfallenden und verarbeiteten 'Verkehrsdaten' sechs Monate lang von den Anbietern gespeichert werden. Zugang zu dem umfangreichen Material, mit dem sich beispielsweise angerufene Nummern und verwendete IP-Adressen verfolgen und konkrete Nutzerprofile erstellen lassen, will die Länderkammer Strafverfolgern, Geheimdiensten und Verfassungsschützern verschaffen und damit die präventive Gefahrenabwehr nach den Terroranschlägen des 11. September verbessern. In ersten Reaktionen auf das Votum sprachen Bürgerrechtler von einem weiteren 'Paradigmenwechsel' hin zum Überwachungsstaat. Auch die Wirtschaft lehnt die Forderungen der Länderkammer geschlossen ab.
- UK - Mobile phones - the new fingerprints +/-
(BBC) Ian Huntley's conviction for the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman was based partly on crucial mobile phone evidence - which nowadays is almost as useful to the police as fingerprints or DNA. In the past five years, dozens of murderers have been convicted partly as a result of evidence about their mobile phones or those of their victims. Detectives now routinely contact the mobile phone networks and obtain details of phone calls made by and to a murder victim and from the prime suspects.
- ITU - Riding the Mobile Omnibus +/-
(ITU) by Lara Srivastava, Telecom Policy Analyst, Strategy and Policy Unit, ITU. Cultural and Social Impacts of Mobile Technologies WSIS Side Event, 11 December 2003
- Research forum leader takes on wireless challenge +/-
(Mercury News) As chairman of the Wireless World Research Forum, Mikko Uusitalo's task is getting dozens of self-interested manufacturers, service providers and governments across the globe to agree on a vision for the nuts and bolts of tomorrow's cell phone networks. This technology, often called fourth-generation or 4G wireless, probably won't arrive for 10 more years. When 4G does arrive, it could operate at 100 megabits a second -- nearly 10 times faster than most of the wireless hot spots that laptop users are gushing about today.
- Shaping the Future Mobile Information Society: The case of Japan +/-
(ITU) Meetings were held in and around Tokyo during October 2003, in order to gather material for the Japan case study on "Shaping the Future Mobile Information Society". In all, 63 experts from Japanese industry, government and academia participated in the case study meetings, from a total of 23 different organizations. Sneak preview of the Japan case study on Living in the mobile information society, Japan-style (Excerpt) and Codes, cards and chips (Excerpt).
- UK - MP ejected for picture-phone abuse +/-
(The Register) Henry Bellingham, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, was spotted using a phone including a camera, and disciplined by being ejected from the chamber of the House of Commons.
- U.S. Starts Fingerprinting Russians +/-
(Moscow Times) U.S. Embassy officials started taking fingerprints of Russians hoping to visit the United States, in a security measure that might exacerbate an already tense issue in U.S.-Russian relations and raises the specter of a tit-for-tat response. According to U.S. legislation drafted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, all nonimmigrant visa applicants between the ages of 14 and 80 must provide prints of their left and right index fingers as part of their applications. U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow demonstrated the new biometric technology to reporters, taking his own fingerprints with a special scanner.
- UK - Biometric Passports Take a Test Flight +/-
(IDG) Could that passport photo be a thing of the past? The UK Passport Service in January will launch a six-month trial of biometric technology. The trial, which will involve 10,000 volunteers, is billed by the UK government as the first step in its compulsory ID card plan. The UKPS will test facial, iris, and fingerprint recording and recognition in an attempt to determine which process is the least invasive for passport holders. The trial will also help determine how the technology works on a broad scale, what the costs will be, and how well people will accept the technology.
- US - Online Financial Crime Headed From Bad to Worse +/-
(Washington Post) In the annals of cybersecurity, 2003 should go down as one of the worst years ever, as hackers and spammers repeatedly demonstrated just how easy it is to use the latest software security holes, worms and viruses to attack businesses and trick unwitting Internet users into divulging their personal and financial information. And 2004 could be worse.
- DE - Gericht stoppt neue Telekom-Tarife +/-
(Heise) Die Telekom darf die Tarife XXL (neu) und Calltime 120 nicht mehr vertreiben, entschied das Verwaltungsgericht Köln. Die Gratis-Telefonate beeinträchtigten die Wettbewerbsmöglichkeit anderer Anbieter, befand das Gericht. Die beiden Tarife sind Pauschaltarife, der Kunde bezahlt eine monatliche Pauschale und erhält dafür beim Calltime-120-Tarif zwei Freistunden für Gespräche ins deutsche Festnetz; der neue XXL-Tarif erlaubt an Samstagen, Sonntagen und Feiertagen Telefonate ins deutsche Festnetz ohne Berechnung.
- EU - Electronic Communications: Commission acts against seven Member States +/-
(RAPID) After the passing of the deadline for implementation of the new regulatory framework for electronic communications, the European Commission opened in early October infringement proceedings against eight Member States for failure to notify transposition measures (see IP/03/1356). The Commission has now followed up on this action by sending Reasoned Opinions to seven of those Member States, which have still not implemented the regulatory framework into their national legislation. The Member States concerned are Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal. Spain recently notified the Commission of its implementation of the Directives in question and the infringement proceeding against it has therefore been closed.
- UK - BT rivals angered by Ofcom's broadband plans +/-
(ZDNet UK) A group of UK telcos and ISPs have hit out at Britain's regulators for not forcing BT to change the way it prices certain broadband products. The Broadband Industry Group (BIG) claimed that Ofcom, the new communications regulator, and telecoms watchdog Oftel had missed an opportunity to bring more competition to the UK broadband market, and ultimately lower prices for consumers and businesses.