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(Europa) A new call for proposals will be launched under the eContentplus programme in 2007. The drafts of the 2007 work programme and call text have been published. The provisional date for publication of the final text is June. The provisional deadline for receipt of proposals is 4 October 2007. An Information Day will be held in Luxembourg on 24 May.
(Europa) A new call for proposals will be launched under the Safer Internet plus programme in 2007. The drafts of the 2007 work programme and call text have been published. The provisional date for publication of the final version is June. The provisional deadline for receipt of proposals is end September 2007. An information day will be held in Luxembourg on 21 June, in conjunction with the Safer Internet Forum.
(Europa) The European Commission can confirm that it has sent a Statement of Objections to major record companies and Apple in relation to agreements between each record company and Apple that restrict music sales: consumers can only buy music from the iTunes' on-line store in their country of residence. Consumers are thus restricted in their choice of where to buy music, and consequently what music is available, and at what price. See also EU price probe into Apple iTunes (BBC).
(CNET News) The software giant, in response to the Commission's statement of objections over pricing for licensing its Work Group Server protocol technology, said it will waive its right to a hearing on the matter and continue discussions with the antitrust agency. The issue centers on whether Microsoft is providing its Windows Server protocol technology under "reasonable and nondiscriminatory" terms.
(BBC) The European Commission is investigating Apple and some of the world's top record companies over how they sell music through the firm's online iTunes store in Europe. Brussels says commercial agreements between the companies limit consumer choice and violate EU laws governing the single market. Brussels is not quibbling about iTunes' dominance of the market but, rather, how it goes about selling its songs to music lovers across Europe. Consumers can currently only download songs from the iTunes website in their own country, preventing someone in Belgium buying tracks from the British version of the site.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(BBC) BBC shows such as Doctor Who and EastEnders are to be made available on-demand after the BBC's iPlayer service was given the green light. The service - which will launch later this year - allows viewers to watch programmes online for seven days after their first TV broadcast. Episodes can also be downloaded and stored for up to 30 days. The BBC Trust gave the iPlayer the go-ahead after consultations with members of the public. See also analysis (Ars Technica).
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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).
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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).
(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.
(OECD) The concept of the "participative web" is based on an Internet increasingly influenced by intelligent web services that empower the user to contribute to developing, rating, collaborating on and distributing Internet content and customising Internet applications. This study describes the rapid growth of "user-created content" (UCC), its increasing role in worldwide communication and draws out implications for policy. Questions addressed include: What is user-created content? What are its key drivers, its scope and different forms? What are new value chains and business models? What are the extent and form of social, cultural and economic opportunities and impacts? What are associated challenges? Is there a government role and what form could it take?
(BBC) Internet law professor Michael Geist takes a look at a fundamental shift in the way research journals become available to the public. Last month five leading European research institutions launched a petition that called on the European Commission to establish a new policy that would require all government-funded research to be made available to the public shortly after publication. That requirement - called an open access principle - would leverage widespread internet connectivity with low-cost electronic publication to create a freely available virtual scientific library available to the entire globe
(CNET News) More than 2.5 million people and organizations have registered European Union domain names since .eu was opened to the public a year ago. According to the European Union, .eu is now Europe's third most popular top-level domain and the seventh most popular globally.
(BBC) Tony Blair has launched a Labour Party 'channel' on the YouTube website to communicate directly with voters. In a minute-long video on the channel the prime minister says the website will enable voters to receive 'unmediated' information. The channel also carries messages from Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt. Last year Tory leader David Cameron launched his own video weblog to try to get his message to young people.
(BBC) The BBC Trust has announced it is to suspend the online education service, BBC Jam, pending a review. It follows complaints from commercial online companies to the European Commission about the £150m project. They say the service, designed as a learning resource for children aged five to 16 in support of the national curriculums, damages their businesses.
(BBC) Computers with wireless internet should not be placed on children's laps, says the head of the government's committee on mobile phone safety research. Professor Lawrie Challis told the Daily Telegraph children using wi-fi networks should be monitored until research into potential health risks is completed. He says children should keep a safe distance from the embedded antennas. The Health Protection Agency has said wi-fi devices are of very low power - much lower than mobile phones.
(ITU) The second edition of the World Information Society Report: Beyond WSIS is going to be launched on the occasion of the World Information Society Day on 16 May 2007. Published by ITU and UNCTAD, this report looks beyond the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS, Geneva 2003 - Tunis 2005) to the creation of an inclusive, people-centered and development-oriented Information Society, open to all. Some of the themes covered in the report are: the evolution of the digital divide, trends in the information society, ICT growth strategies, cybersecurity and WSIS implementation. The report tracks progress in digital opportunity for 181 economies over the past few years since the start of the WSIS process and is accompanied by a series of tables providing the latest statistics on the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) worldwide.
(Washington Post) For spammers, volume is king; the more e-mails sent advertising penny stocks or miracle cures, the higher the odds that someone, somewhere will open the message and buy the "product." Thus, the spammers focus on sending as many unsolicited e-mail messages as possible in the shortest amount of time. MailChannels of Vancouver, Canada, found that by forcing e-mail programs to wait a few seconds before being allowed to communicate with Internet servers handling the recipients' incoming mail, most spammers give up and move on.
(News.com) by Declan McCullagh. The latest attempt to misuse the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "takedown" sections involves Uri Geller, the purported spoon-bending "psychic" who is trying to suppress a video on YouTube that claims Geller is a fraud and demonstrates sleight-of-hand tricks he could have used.
(CNET News.com) A Pennsylvania school principal has filed a lawsuit against four former students, claiming they falsely portrayed him as a pot smoker, beer guzzler and pornography lover and sullied his reputation through mock MySpace profiles.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(Iowa Law Review) by James Grimmelmann. Search engines are the new linchpins of the Internet, and a new body of law - search engine law - will increasingly determine the shape of the Internet. Making sensible search policy requires a clear understanding of how search works, what interests are at stake, and what legal questions intersect at search. This article offers the first comprehensive overview of search engine law, which it organizes into a systematic taxonomy. It then demonstrates the dense legal interrelationships created by search by discussing a series of important themes in search engine law, each of which cuts across many doctrinal areas.
(BBC) The Chinese government has clamped down on the amount of time youngsters can spend playing online games. Under-18s who play for more than three consecutive hours a day will have limits imposed on the amount of points they can score. Online game companies based in China have been given three months to install the so-called anti-addiction software.
(Sunday Times) Internet chatrooms run by Skype, the online telephone giant, have become a magnet for paedophiles and sexual predators who want to groom children as young as 10 for sex, an investigation has found. The software, which enables users to make free phone calls and also "chat" by typing messages while online, has become the preferred method for many paedophiles to find their victims. Other internet chat facilities have strengthened their child protection measures or closed down entirely because of concerns over internet "grooming".
(Business Week) Just like the Real world, MySpace.com needs an enforcer. The man trying to bring order to the planet's biggest social networking site is a former federal prosecutor named Hemanshu 'Hemu' Nigam. He was hired a year ago to keep MySpace's largely youthful denizens safe from predatory grown-ups--and from one another. For MySpace owner, News Corp., patrolling the virtual streets is not simply a matter of keeping kids safe, it's also crucial if the company is to attract sufficient advertising to help boost profits.
(EuObserver) After six years of heated political debate, EU member states are set to agree on a common anti-racism law, under which offenders will face up to three years in jail for stirring-up racial hatred or denying acts of genocide, such as the Holocaust. One diplomat in Brussels confirmed to Euobserver that the controversial piece of law is in its final-tuning phase and is likely to gain EU blessing at a justice and interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday (19 April). See also EU Agrees on Weakened Anti-Racism Rules (Guardian). Framework decision on Racism and Xenophobia (Council Press Release
(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.
(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.
(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."
(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.
(Europa) The Commission has launched a public consultation to identify the most effective ways of making the online environment and communication technologies safe for users, in particular children. The current Safer Internet plus programme will end in 2008 and the Commission is conducting this consultation for creating a basis for deciding whether to propose a follow-up programme from 2009 to 2013 and how best to address issues relating to online technologies in the future. The deadline for contributions is 07/06/2007.<
(BBC) The support for a blogger hounded by death threats has intensified with some high profile web experts calling for a code of conduct in the blogosphere. Kathy Sierra, the female blogger at the centre of the row has been shocked to discover that hers is not an isolated incident. See also Call for a Blogger's Code of Conduct (Tim O'Reilly).
(Press Release) Companies investing in user generated content (UGC) websites must consider how they will protect their brands from negative or inappropriate submissions from site users, according to a new white paper from UGC moderation company, eModeration. The paper, Six Techniques for Safer User Generated Content Campaigns, details techniques for creators of UGC sites to protect both their brand reputations and their users; while creating a site that is fun and engaging for users.
(GameSpot) While concerned parents and legislators have criticized the gaming industry as selling violent games to children, a report by the Federal Trade Commission names the gaming industry as the most improved media when it comes to keeping children from inappropriate content. see also FTC: Games better regulated than music, movies (Ars Technica).
(BBC) Readers should be warned when they are reading blogs that may contain "crude language", a draft blogging code of conduct has suggested. The code was drawn up by web pioneer Tim O'Reilly following published threats and perceived harassment to US developer Kathy Sierra on blogs. The draft says people should not be allowed to leave anonymous comments. Blogs which are open and uncensored should post an "anything goes" logo to the site to warn readers, the code suggests.
(BBC) Joost, the on-demand online video service backed by the founders of Skype, has launched commercially. The internet television service boasts more than 150 content channels - from cartoons to music videos and films. Services like Joost may change the way viewers consume media and revolutionise the business model of broadcasters. The service provides video streams in broadcast quality, and is distributed using peer-to-peer technology. The founders of Joost - Niklas Zennstroem and Janus Friis - are also the team behind the hugely successful internet telephony service Skype.
(CNET News) Rupert Murdoch watched Google snatch YouTube, but he's not letting Photobucket get away. Social-networking site MySpace, owned by Murdoch's News Corp., has agreed to acquire Photobucket, the Web's No. 1 photo-sharing service.
(BBC) The net is helping to close the digital divide between industrialised nations, suggests a report. The annual e-readiness rankings by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows Asian and African nations catching up with big net users such as Denmark. The report says this is partly due to broadband which is now cheap and affordable in almost every nation. But it warns that much hard work remains to be done to get the best out of the net for citizens and companies.
(Reuters) Web search leader Google's market share inched up to 64 percent of all queries among U.S. Internet searchers in March, gaining further ground against Yahoo and Microsoft.
(Reuters) Virtual reality world Second Life was born in the United States, but 61 percent of its active residents are Europeans, a study by research firm comScore said. The number of active German residents exceeds the number of active residents in the United States, although growth rates in the U.S. are the highest worldwide.
(Euroap) On Thursday 24 May, an Information Day will be held for the third call for proposals of the eContentplus programme. Subject to the completion of all the necessary procedures, it is intended to launch the call in June 2007 with a provisional deadline for receipt of proposals on 4 October 2007.
(Europa) The Safer Internet Forum 2007 will take place in Luxembourg on 20-21 June. The Forum will be composed of three workshops and a plenary session for discussing relevant issues with stakeholders which, in addition to the public consultation on Safer Internet and online technologies for children, will give input for the Commission's decision whether to propose a follow-up programme from 2009 to 2013. The three workshops focus on: Online-related sexual abuse of children, in particular grooming; Assessing the need for awareness-raising for creating a safe online environment for children; and The impact and consequences of convergence of online technologies for online safety.
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