- UK - Online child abuse complaints up +/-
(BBC) Reports of websites that contain images of child abuse have continued to climb in the last year, a report has shown. In 2006, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) investigated more than 31,000 reports of sites that contained alleged images, an increase of 34% since 2005. The IWF annual report also revealed the increasing severity of content held on the sites. More than 3,000 web pages contained images depicting the most severe abuse, such as penetrative and sadistic sexual activity, the report said. Most children involved were under the age of 12.
- UK - Plan to tighten child abuse law +/-
(BBC) Ministers are planning to tighten the law to make it an offence to possess computer-generated or cartoon images depicting child sex abuse. It is currently an offence to possess indecent photographs and pseudo-photographs of children. But there has been a growth in computer-generated images, cartoons, and drawings, which are not illegal.
- UK -Two cautioned over wi-fi 'theft' +/-
(BBC) Two people have been cautioned for using people's wi-fi broadband internet connections without permission. Neighbours in Redditch, Worcestershire, contacted police after seeing a man inside a car using a laptop while parked outside a house.
- US - White House panel pushes new identity fraud laws +/-
(CNET News) A White House task force urged Congress to enact a variety of new laws designed to punish identity fraud, even though it is already illegal. The new strategy calls for rewriting existing criminal laws to penalize use of malicious spyware and keyloggers, to expand mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain levels of electronic data theft, and to allow identity theft victims to receive monetary compensation.
- CN - China battles online porn +/-
(PPA) The Chinese government is launching a new crackdown on online pornography, complaining it has "perverted China's young minds." The Ministry of Public Security says the six-month campaign will target cyber strip shows and sexually explicit images, stories and audio and video clips.
- Flame on: Hateful discourse in blogs scare some users away +/-
(Mercury News) The free-for-all world of the Internet has never been constrained by the conventions of polite speech. Speaking up is part of the culture, and fiery comments won't disappear anytime soon. But in this anything-goes environment, sharp-edged retorts are showing they can easily become threatening and filled with hate.
- Gamers affected by violence... on the telly and the big screen, that is +/-
(BBC) The British Board of Film Classification isn't the first place that gamers expect to find research on video games and the reasons that people play them, but the BBFC has just released such a report as part of its attempt to better understand the attitudes of gamers and those who don't play them. The BBFC's even-handed report also delves into the question of game violence, but always with an eye to understanding rather than judgment. Their findings? Despite some parental fears, gamers consistently understand the distinction between the real-world and an onscreen fantasy, and don't confuse the two. The report is lengthy but well worth reading, if only to see a model of how to seek understanding before leaping to polemical conclusions.
- TH - Thailand blocks YouTube for clip mocking king +/-
(Reuters) Thailand's military-appointed government blocked access to video-sharing Web site YouTube after its owner, Google, declined to withdraw a video clip mocking the country's monarch. Communications Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom told Reuters he ordered a block of the entire site from Thailand after the ministry's attempts to block the offending page last week failed. See also YouTube tries to resolve Thai ban (BBC). YouTube executives said they would not take down material that did not violate policies but would show authorities how to block individual items.
- TK - Turkey to block 'insulting' Web sites +/-
(AP) A parliamentary commission approved a proposal allowing Turkey to block Web sites that are deemed insulting to the founder of modern Turkey, weeks after a Turkish court temporarily barred access to YouTube. Parliament plans to vote on the proposal, though a date was not announced. The proposal indicates the discomfort that many Turks feel about Western-style freedom of expression, even though Turkey has been implementing widespread reforms in its bid to join the European Union.
- US - MySpace Photo Costs Teacher Education Degree +/-
(Washington Post) Teacher in training Stacy Snyder was denied her education degree on the eve of graduation when Millersville University apparently found pictures on her MySpace page "promoting underage drinking." As a result, the 27-year-old mother of two had her teaching certificate withheld and was granted an English degree instead. In response, Snyder has filed a Federal lawsuit against the Pennsylvania university asking for her education diploma and certificate along with $75,000 in damages.
- US - Web can ruin reputation with stroke of a key +/-
(San Francisco Chronicle) The first postings appeared soon after Sue Scheff, who runs a Web-based referral service for parents with troubled teenagers, advised a woman from Louisiana to withdraw her twin sons from a boarding school in 2002. Scheff is a victim of an emerging phenomenon: online smear campaigns, which can wreak havoc in the victims' professional and business lives at the touch of a few keystrokes.
- Agence France-Presse, Google settle copyright dispute +/-
(CNET News.com) News agency Agence France-Presse has entered into a licensing deal with Google, ending the dispute between the two over AFP's articles appearing on Google News. The agreement allows Google to post AFP content, including news stories and photographs, on its Google News aggregator as well as on other Google services. No further details or financial terms were disclosed by either party. Paris-based AFP had sued Google in March 2005 for $17.5 million in damages over alleged copyright infringement on Google's news site, claiming that the search giant was posting headlines, photographs and news summaries without permission. With Friday's deal, AFP has agreed to drop the lawsuit.
- EU - Copyright deal clears way for European Digital Library +/-
(EUObserver) An EU expert group on digital libraries has agreed to a basic model for handling copyrights for digitalised cultural publications in libraries. The break-through deal is part of the European Digital Library initiative, launched in June 2005, to preserve European cultural and scientific heritage and make it available online in closed networks. The model agreed on Wednesday (18 April) by the parties, which included major stakeholders such as the British Library, the German national library, the Federation of European Publishers and Google, covers only orphan works and out-of print works, but it has also built in elements that could be adopted for commercial publications in the future. See Commission Press Release and Report on Digital Preservation, Orphan Works and Out-of-Print Works and Model agreement for a licence on digitisation of out of print works.
- EU - IP crimes Directive approved by European Parliament +/-
(OUT-LAW News) A controversial Directive which criminalises intellectual property violations in Europe has been approved by the European Parliament but does not include its most controversial element, the criminalising of patent infringement. Supporters of the Directive say it is aimed at organised crime, but opponents claim that it could criminalise legitimate activities. The proposed directive is also controversial because if passed it would become the first directive to impose criminal penalties across Europe.
- Legal troubles mount for YouTube +/-
(CNET News.com) The widespread legal challenges that some experts have long predicted would dog Google's YouTube appear to have arrived. The Football Association Premier League, England's most prestigious soccer organization, filed suit in New York against the massively popular video-sharing site, accusing it of enabling users to violate copyright law. On the same day, in California, NBC Universal and Viacom filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of journalist Bob Tur, who in a lawsuit filed last summer accused YouTube of infringing on his copyrighted material by posting without his permission video he shot during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
- US - DRM group vows to fight bloggers +/-
(BBC) Bloggers 'crossed the line' when they posted a software key that could break the encryption on some HD-DVDs, the AACS copy protection body has said. A row erupted on the internet after popular website Digg began taking down pages that its members had highlighted were carrying the key. The website said it was responding to legal "cease and desist" notices from the Advanced Access Content System. Digg's users responded by posting ever greater numbers of websites with the key, and the site eventually sided with its users. See also In Web Uproar, Antipiracy Code Spreads Wildly (New York Times).
- US - Supreme Court loosens patent 'obviousness' test +/-
(CNET News) A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday backed away from a decades-old legal test that firms argue has sparked an abundance of obvious patents. The justices called for loosening the current approach set by the nation's dedicated patent appeals court for deciding when a combination of existing elements deserves patent protection.
- CA - Majority of Canadian teens in survey report being bullied online +/-
(CBC) Cyber-bullying is disturbingly common among Canadian teens, with a majority who responded to an online survey saying they have been bullied online, according to a report. The report, Cyber-bullying: Our Kids' New Reality, drew from nearly 2,500 responses to a survey conducted by Kids Help Phone between Dec. 20, 2006, and Jan. 20, 2007. Kids Help Phone and Bell Canada released the report in a handful of Canadian cities.
- Schoolgirls bullied into stripping online +/-
(MSNBC) Bullies are no longer content to taunt their victims in the playground but are turning to cyberspace, according to Canadian researchers. They are using e-mail, text messaging and social networking sites in new forms of victimization. Cyber bullies are even forcing their girlfriends to undress in front of webcams and then sharing the images with others online, said Professor Faye Mishna, of the University of Toronto, who has been researching the cyber abuse of children. Preliminary results from the research show so-called computer geeks are becoming the new schoolyard bullies. Final results of the study, which will be completed in June, are expected to be published in the autumn.
- UK - Cyber bullying threat to teachers +/-
(BBC) Teachers are calling for much tougher restrictions to protect staff from 'cyber bullying' by pupils. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has warned of the distress caused to teachers by anonymous, malicious comments on websites. 'Offensive' comments and mocking video clips should not be allowed to undermine teachers' authority.
- UK - Web bosses must block pupils' videos mocking teachers, says minister +/-
(Guardian) Website providers have a moral obligation to stop pupils posting offensive school videos that demean their teachers or other children, the education secretary said yesterday. Alan Johnson told teachers that companies had a responsibility to ensure their sites were properly policed to prevent young people putting humiliating clips taken by mobile phone cameras on the internet.
- EU - Privacy watchdog slams sharing of police data +/-
(OUT-LAW News) Europe's privacy watchdog has expressed 'grave concern' about a proposal to share personal information between police forces across Europe, calling it a 'lowest common denominator approach that would hinder the fundamental rights of EU citizens'. Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), issued his opinion on a proposal put forward in January by the German Presidency of the EU. The German plan is a revision of a long-running proposal for sharing data between European police forces.
- FR - French Government Decree on data retention - another Big Brother act +/-
(EDRI-gram) The French Government, during this election period, is preparing a decree for the application of the law on the confidence in the numerical economy (LCEN) of 21 June 2004, which requires webmasters, hosting companies, fixed and mobile telephony operators and Internet service providers to retain all information and on Internet users and telephone subscribers and to deliver it to the police or the State at a simple request.
- FR - Le décret qui inquiète l´Internet français +/-
(L'Express) Le gouvernement veut imposer à tous les éditeurs de contenu en ligne, aux FAI et aux hébergeurs de conserver les traces des internautes passant sur leurs sites. Le Net français s'indigne. Apparemment sans fin, le feuilleton de l'instauration de mesures destinées à surveiller les réseaux vient de connaître un nouveau rebondissement. La publication d'une version« de travail » d'un décret d'application de la loi LCEN de juin 2004 (Loi pour la confiance dans l'économie numérique) a en effet soulevé une vague de protestations, tant de la part des professionnels du Net que de l'association de défense des libertés IRIS (Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire). voir aussi Conservation des données d'identification et de connexion : toujours plus et plus longtemps (IRIS).
- UK - Private investigators fined for data 'blagging' from DWP +/-
(Silicon News) A firm of private investigators has found itself on the wrong side of the law after pleading guilty to unlawfully obtaining data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The company, Infofind, "blagged" information on 250 individuals from the government unit in an attempt to trace debtors, in order to sell the details on to a finance business.
- EU - Roaming price cap shelved as negotiations stall +/-
(OUT-LAW News) A European Parliament vote on mobile phone roaming charges has been postponed because the three EU governing bodies cannot agree on a compromise deal. The plan would cap voice call charges for calls made within the EU. Two days of talks failed, leading negotiators to cancel this week's Parliament hearing. It will be heard at the next plenary session, which starts on 21st May. While a cap now seems almost certain, mobile operators seem to have won a concession of a three month delay from politicians, which would allow them to operate without caps during the lucrative summer period. Negotiations are also focusing on whether or not subscribers should be placed on the capped tariffs automatically, or whether or not they should have to request the new price structure.
- EU assembly group moves towards lax roaming rules +/-
(Reuters) The European Parliament's biggest political faction is moving closer to backing looser rules on mobile telephone 'roaming' price caps that would not be automatically set for all consumers. The centre-right European People's Party is scrabbling for enough support among lawmakers that would enable it to pass the proposal backed by EU countries and viewed more favourably by the industry, leapfrogging opposition from the socialist bloc.
- US - Phone for tweens and kids +/-
(Net Family News) Kajeet is a new cellphone specifically aimed at 8-to-16-year-olds (but probably more appealing to, say, 8-to-11-year-olds). It has a "mature look and simple pricing," the Washington Post reports. "Parents can set monthly allowances" for minutes, ring tones, games, and text messaging on the $99 phone's "pay-as-you-go cellphone service" on the Sprint Nextel network. No contracts or cancellation fees. And there's a "wallets" option, so that calls to family members are covered by Mom, for example, but ring tones come out of the kid's wallet. As for kid phones, The Olympian describes popular brands like Wherify, Disney Phone, Firefly, and Tic Talk.
- AU - Porn filters free from July +/-
(ZDNet Australia) Content filtering software from five vendors is set to become freely available in Australia from July as part of the government's program to combat offensive online content. The AU$93.3 million National Filter Scheme will see the vendors' software provided via free download from a government portal. The vendors will be determined by a request for tender issued last week.
- CN - China Blocks LiveJournal +/-
(Wired) The Chinese government began blocking access to the popular blogging site LiveJournal, cutting off its citizens from the roughly 1.8 million blogs the service hosts. SixApart, the company behind LiveJournal, says there are 8,692 self-reported Chinese bloggers on the site, a number that's likely low since it's based on information volunteered in user profiles.
- US - Senators propose labels for adult Web sites +/-
(CNET News) Operators of Web sites with racy content must label their sites and register in a national directory or be fined, according to a new U.S. Senate proposal that represents the latest effort among politicians to crack down on Internet sex. The requirements will "clean up the Internet for children."
- Websense extends parental controls to mobile surfing +/-
(vnunet.com) Websense has unveiled software that allows wireless operators to protect users from malware and protect minors from inappropriate internet content. The software, dubbed the Websense Wireless URL Categorisation Engine (WUCE), allows operators to add services such as customised parental controls, premium content offerings for subscribers, enhanced wireless security identification, as well as mobile advertising and marketing.