- Does Virtual Reality Need a Sheriff? +/-
(Washington Post) Second Life is intended only for adults, and about 15 percent of the properties on the site have been voluntarily flagged by their residents as having mature material. Though some is relatively innocent, in some locations avatars act out drug use, child abuse, rape and various forms of sadomasochism. The question of what is criminal in virtual reality is complicated by disagreements among countries over what is legal even in real life. For example, virtual renderings of child abuse are not a crime in the United States but are considered illegal pornography in some European countries, including Germany.
- G8-Minister wollen Kampf gegen Kinderpornographie verschärfen +/-
(Heise) Während ihrer ersten Plenarsitzung haben die Justiz- und Innenminister der G8-Staaten heute in München größere Anstrengungen beim Kampf gegen Kinderpornographie und sexuellen Missbrauch an Kindern verabredet. Kinder bräuchten einen besonderen Schutz gegen den Missbrauch "in Form der Herstellung und Verbreitung von kinderpornographischem Material in großer Zahl in Sekundenschnelle".
- 'Second Life' publisher removes child porn after German TV probe +/-
(News.com blog) by Daniel Terdiman. Second Life publisher Linden Lab was contacted by a German TV station that said it had discovered images in the virtual world showing a child avatar engaged in "depicted sexual conduct" with an adult avatar. Linden lab quickly began an investigation and banned the two people behind the avatars, as well as removed the images. Linden Lab said it has a zero tolerance policy regarding such behavior and acts quickly to remove residents who engage in it or the content itself when it is informed of its existence.
- UK - Government proposes expanded child porn definitions +/-
(OUT-LAW News) The Government will create a new child pornography offence for computer-generated or drawn images of child abuse. The creation or possession of such images is currently not an offence at all. The possession of actual photographs or images that appear to be photographs of sexual child abuse is punishable by up to 10 years in jail. The Government wants to create a new offence for generated images which would be punishable by three years in jail and an unlimited fine. The new law will relate to cartoon, computer-generated pictures, animations, drawings or actual photos altered so that they do not appear enough like photos to fall under existing law's reference to pseudo photographs.
- UK - Operation Ore flawed by fraud +/-
(Guardian) Operation Ore has become embedded in public consciousness as the landmark police operation that tracked down people - almost always men - who allegedly paid to access child pornography via computer - but hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the cases show that the police were misled and confused by criminals whose computer expertise was years ahead of theirs. See also BBC picks up on the failings of Operation Ore.
- Microsoft puts a figure on open source 'patent infringements' +/-
(The Register) Microsoft's top lawyer says open source software violates exactly 235 entries in the firm's vast patent portfolio. General counsel Brad Smith released the figure to Fortune as part of Microsoft's long-running campaign to seed doubts over the legality of Linux and other open source efforts. (See also http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/28/100033867/ ).
- New DVD DRM "fix" hacked in a day +/-
(Ars Technica) The ongoing war between content producers and hackers over the AACS copy protection used in HD DVD and Blu-ray discs continues the hackers came out on top. The hacker "BtCB" posted the new decryption key for AACS on the Freedom to Tinker web site, just one day after the AACS Licensing Authority (AACS LA) issued the key.
- The Sound of Copy Restrictions Crashing +/-
(Washington Post) The idea of ditching "digital rights management" for music downloads is rapidly changing from dream to business reality - and faster than anybody might have hoped. Amazon said that it would open an online store that stocks only MP3 music files without copying restrictions. That would be huge news, except that Amazon is only catching up with Apple, which announced in early April that it would offer DRM-free downloads by the end of this month.
- UK - MP3 site's voucher system closes +/-
(BBC) An online voucher system which allowed customers to buy music from the Russian website allofmp3.com has been closed following a police raid in London. The worldwide music industry says the site, which offers downloads for around $1 (50p), is operating illegally. Before it closed, allofmp3vouchers.co.uk contained a code that allowed UK and European consumers to access and download music from allofmp3.com. Online payment companies and major credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard have withdrawn their payment facilities from allofmp3.com following complaints from the music industry.
- UK - Patent damages not refunded if EPO cancels patent +/-
(OUT-LAW News) Damages for patent infringement awarded by a UK court must not be paid back even if the patent is later declared invalid by the European Patent Office (EPO), the Court of Appeal has ruled. The Court was addressing the question of which body has the final say in a patent case, a UK court or the EPO. It ruled that when the UK courts system is exhausted and an order is made that damages must be paid, that order cannot be overturned because of actions at the EPO.
- US - Apple, Microsoft et al accused over media players +/-
(CNET News) A California company that makes technology designed to prevent ripping of digital audio streams has accused Apple, Microsoft, RealNetworks and Adobe Systems of violating federal copyright law by "actively avoiding" use of its products. Media Rights Technologies argues that the companies have manufactured billions of copies of Windows Vista, Adobe Flash Player, Real Player and Apple's iTunes and iPod "without regard for the DMCA or the rights of American intellectual property owners."
- US - Novell joins EFF for patent reform +/-
(CNET News) Facing criticism for its patent pact with Microsoft, Novell said it is supporting the Electronic Frontier Foundation's effort to challenge what it believes are bogus patents. In addition, Novell will work for patent reform in general and work to remove patent encumbrances from otherwise open standards.
- A Race to the Bottom - Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies +/-
(Privacy Internationa) This report has been prepared by Privacy International following a six-month investigation into the privacy practices of key Internet based companies. The ranking lists the best and the worst performers both in Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 across the full spectrum of search, email, e-commerce and social networking sites. The analysis employs a methodology comprising around twenty core parameters. We rank the major Internet players but we also discuss examples of best and worst privacy practice among smaller companies. Interim Rankings. See also An Open Letter to Google.
- Anger over DRM-free iTunes tracks +/-
(BBC) The launch of music tracks free of digital locks on iTunes has been overshadowed by the discovery that they contain data about who bought them. Some fear this data could be used to identify the owner of the tracks if they turn up on file-sharing sites.
- EU - Data protection watchdogs letter to Google goes public +/-
(OUT-LAW News) A letter from an influential group of privacy experts in Europe saying that Google's new privacy policies appear to breach the requirements of the EU's data protection regime was published today. The letter is from the Article 29 Working Party, an independent European advisory body on data protection and privacy.
- EU - Promoting Data Protection by Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) +/-
(RAPID) The Commission has adopted a Communication with the purpose of identifying the benefits of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) and laying down the Commission's objectives in this field, to be achieved by a number of specific actions supporting the development of PETs and their use by data controllers and consumers. see also Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) MEMO and Edri-gram article.
- Google may use games to analyse net users +/-
(Guardian) Internet giant Google has drawn up plans to compile psychological profiles of millions of web users by covertly monitoring the way they play online games. The company thinks it can glean information about an individual's preferences and personality type by tracking their online behaviour, which could then be sold to advertisers. Details such as whether a person is more likely to be aggressive, hostile or dishonest could be obtained and stored for future use.
- New software can identify you from your online habits +/-
(New Scientist) If you thought you could protect your privacy on the web by lying about your personal details, think again. In online communities at least, entering fake details such as a bogus name or age may no longer prevent others from working out exactly who you are. That is the spectre raised by new research conducted by Microsoft. The computing giant is developing software that could accurately guess your name, age, gender and potentially even your location, by analysing telltale patterns in your web browsing history. But experts say the idea is a clear threat to privacy - and may be illegal in some places.
- US - MySpace to provide sex offender data to state AGs +/-
(CNET News.com) MySpace.com unveiled a plan for cooperating with requests from state attorneys general for data pertaining to registered sex offenders. MySpace will provide the Multi-State Attorney General Executive Committee with data from Sentinel Safe, the database of information on registered sex offenders that the company has compiled through its partnership with identity verification firm Sentinel Tech Holding.
- UK - Bank claims deluge legal service +/-
(BBC) The government's Money Claim Online small claims service (MCOL) is being overwhelmed by claims for bank charges. So many people are using the website to reclaim overdraft charges that at times it has slowed almost to a standstill.
- UK - Call to open up public data use +/-
(BBC) Government must do more to embrace Web 2.0 tools and communities, says a report. Commissioned by the Cabinet Office, the report looks at the novel ways the web helps people use information and how government can get involved. The report said that some public data, such as post codes, was already widely used but much more could be done to open up access to official information.
- UK - 'What is a Web site?' judge says he's fully computer literate +/-
(Reuters) A British judge who said he didn't really understand the term "Web site" is fully computer literate and was merely trying to clarify complex evidence for the benefit of the court, the judiciary said. The remark by Judge Peter Openshaw during a trial on Wednesday made headlines around the world. "The trouble is I don't understand the language. I don't really understand what a Web site is," he told a London court during the trial of three men accused of inciting terrorism via the Internet. In a statement, the Judicial Communications Office did not dispute that Openshaw had been accurately quoted. But it said the remark by the judge, now in his fifth week presiding over the trial, had been taken out of context.
- UK / FR - Tony Blair félicite Nicolas Sarkozy de sa victoire +/-
(YouTube) Tony Blair félicite Nicolas Sarkozy de sa victoire aux éléctions françaises (en français). See also PM congratulates Sarkozy on French election win.
- US - Army to block YouTube, MySpace on DoD network +/-
(The Register) The US forces will "block worldwide access," to a range of websites including YouTube, MySpace and Photobucket from the unclassified Defense Department internet. General BB Bell announced the upcoming blocks. He suggested that the changes were as much to preserve bandwidth as to muzzle critical comment and news-media access. "Recreational traffic impacts our official DoD network and bandwidth availability," he wrote.
- EU - Roaming : Commission welcomes political agreement in Telecom Council +/-
(RAPID) On 7 June 2007, the Council has adopted politically the European Commission's proposal for an EU Roaming Regulation to bring down mobile roaming charges by up to 70%. The EU Regulation will, as from this summer, enable consumers to benefit from a Eurotariff which sets a maximum limit for calls made and received. These price caps will be further reduced in 2008 and 2009.
- EU caps roaming mobile phone fees +/-
(BBC) The cost of making mobile phone calls in Europe is set to fall substantially after lawmakers backed plans to cap so-called "roaming" charges. The amount mobile customers are charged by local phone operators for using their handsets while abroad should now fall by as much as 75%. More than 150 million people across Europe will be affected by the changes in the pricing regime. But the new charges are not likely to come into effect until later this year.
- Home truths about telecoms +/-
(Economist) Mobile operators and handset-makers are turning to social scientists, and in particular to anthropologists, the better to understand how telephones are used. Some of their findings are quite unexpected. A typical user spends 80% of his or her time communicating with just four other people. Despite much talk of "convergence" within the industry, people are in fact using different communications technologies in distinct and divergent ways. Even when people are given unlimited cheap or free calls, the number and length of calls does not increase significantly. Private communications are invading the workplace. Migrants are the most advanced users of communications technology.
- Success for Everest mobile effort +/-
(BBC) A British climber has set a world record by making a mobile phone call from the top of Mount Everest. In the early hours of 21 May, Rod Baber made two calls from the mountain's north ridge. The calls were made possible when China set up a mobile base station with a line of sight to the north ridge.
- Vodafone's new mobile internet customers can access all areas +/-
(Guardian) Vodafone has launched a new mobile internet service designed to make it easy for customers to access websites from mobile handsets. New 'rendering' technology means almost 10 million of Vodafone's UK customers, who already have the right sort of phone, will be able to get onto any website they want and send emails from existing online services such as Hotmail and GMail.
- 25 May 2007 - International Missing Children's Day- Commission steps up efforts to better protect children in EU +/-
(RAPID) For the third consecutive year, the European Commission is supporting the International Missing Children's Day on 25 May, organised by the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children of which the main purpose is to spread a message of hope and solidarity at the international level. To strengthen its actions in favour of children and young people, the Commission adopted a Communication "Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child" on 4 July 2006 which advocated the setting up of a 'European Forum for the Rights of the Child' as an instrument for promoting the effective exchange of information and good practices and establishing a network of stakeholders in this field. The first meeting of the Forum will be held on 4 June in Berlin. see also Context of Commission's work in area of protection of children rights.
- DE - "Ein Netz für Kinder" +/-
(Heise) Eine bis 1,5 Millionen Euro wollen der Bundesbeauftragte für Kultur und Medien, das Familienministerium und möglicherweise verschiedene Landesbehörden in die Förderung kindgerechter Angebote im Internet investieren. Zum Abschluss der EU-Konferenz "Mehr Vertrauen in Inhalte" verkündete Hans-Ernst Hanten, Gruppenleiter Medien, Film, Internationales im Hause des Kulturbeauftragten, für die Deutsche Ratspräsidentschaft auch, dass man eine Reihe von Unternehmen für die Umsetzung einer Positivliste mit kindgerechten Inhalten gewonnen habe.
- UK - Missing-girl Web site gets 55 million hits +/-
(Reuters) A Web site set up to help find a missing British 4-year-old girl who disappeared from a holiday villa in Portugal 15 days ago has received more than 50 million hits. More than 7,500 people have left messages of support on the www.findmadeleine.com site and 55 million hits have been counted since its launch. Thousands have downloaded appeal posters and forwarded an e-mail chain letter started by Madeleine McCann's family. The little girl disappeared from her bedroom at a hotel resort in Portugal on May 3 as her parents dined nearby.
- Web safety warning for children +/-
(BBC) More than half of children in the UK using the internet have had an "unwanted experience", a poll suggests. The NSPCC found 50.4% of 2,053 children had experienced problems such as bullying, being threatened or sexually harassed while online. It is concerned about the popularity of social networking sites such as Bebo or MySpace, which it says 52% of children aged 11-16 use once a day. The NSPCC says these could heighten children's exposure to abusive people.