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(RAPID) The EU "Education, Youth Affairs and Culture" Council will meet on 24-25 May 2007 in Brussels. For the audiovisual and media items on the agenda on 24 May, the Commission will be represented by Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. At this Council, political agreement is expected on one of the priorities of the Commission and of the German Presidency: the Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers (AVMS) Directive.
(RAPID) EU Ministers for Culture gathered at the Cannes International Film Festival to pledge their support for Europe's audiovisual industry at a time when it faces unprecedented change, driven largely by the impact of digital technologies and the resulting change in audience behaviour. The EU Ministers' commitment to the audiovisual sector was underlined by their adoption in yesterday's meeting of the Culture Council, of the Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers directive (see IP/07/706). This will modernise the rules for traditional and emerging audiovisual media services in response to technological change and gives more flexibility to European TV- and filmmakers to produce digital content thanks to more relaxed advertising rules. See also Presenting the new Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers Directive: Frequently asked questions.
(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.
(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".
(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.
(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.
(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.
(RAPID) Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, 'Bridging the Broadband Gap' Conference, Brussels, 15th May 2007.
(RAPID) The European Commission has adopted the Communication "Towards a general policy on the fight against cyber crime". Specific actions to improve coordination and cooperation between law enforcement authorities and between law enforcement and private sector operators will play an important role in the fight against cyber crime, and complement other actions taken at national, European and international level.
(ITU) The ITU announces an ambitious two-year plan to curb cybercrime. Cybercrime takes several forms, from breaching network security, financial fraud, invasion of privacy and identity theft to virus attacks, spam or online child pornography. Against this background, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tourť set out a comprehensive Global Cybersecurity Agenda to tackle the issue within a framework of international cooperation.
(BBC) Amnesty International has warned that the internet "could change beyond all recognition" unless action is taken against the erosion of online freedoms. The warning comes ahead of a conference organised by Amnesty, where victims of repression will outline their plights. The "virus of internet repression" has spread from a handful of countries to dozens of governments, said the group. Amnesty accused companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo of being complicit in the problem.
(Reuters) China will back down from a plan to require bloggers to use their real names when they register blogs, following an outcry over the proposal from the Internet industry. Instead, the government will promote a "self-discipline code" that will encourage, but not mandate, bloggers to register under their own names, the report said, citing draft guidelines published by the Internet Society of China.
(BBC) The Church of England is considering legal action against entertainment firm Sony for featuring Manchester Cathedral in a violent PlayStation video game. The Church says Sony did not obtain permission to use the interior in the war game Resistance: Fall of Man. The game, which has sold more than one million copies, shows a virtual shoot-out in the cathedral's nave in which hundreds of enemies are killed.
(A Consuming Experience) by Improbulus. This is a first look at the BBC iPlayer, the umbrella term for "catchup TV" and other "on demand" services proposed by the BBC's management. The new services were finally approved on 30 April 2007 by the BBC Trust following an extensive public consultation - but with a couple of changes.
(ITU) A presentation entitled 'Evolution of Digital Media in a Convergent Era' (PDF), was made by Cristina Bueti, Project Officer, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit,at the Festival International du Film et de la Télévision on 4 November in Geneva, Switzerland.
(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/ ).
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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."
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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 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.
(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.
(The Register) The Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers (ICANN) has taken what appears to be a welcome step toward increasing public participation in the controversial area of generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) approval. ICANN, which determines the technical standards that govern the internet, has long been criticized for its opaque and capricious approach to approving new gTLDs.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(YouTube) Tony Blair félicite Nicolas Sarkozy de sa victoire aux éléctions françaises (en français). See also PM congratulates Sarkozy on French election win.
(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.
(BBC) Scientists have said there is no evidence to suggest a link between the use of wi-fi and damage to health. BBC programme Panorama found that radiation levels from wi-fi in one school was up to three times the level of mobile phone mast radiation. The readings were 600 times below the government's safety limits but there is ongoing debate about wi-fi use.
(ňuropa) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, "Bridging the broadband gap" conference, Brussels, 14 May 2007.
(ITU) ITU and UNCTAD announce the publication of the World Information Society Report 2007. The Report seeks to benchmark progress in meeting the WSIS targets, to be achieved by 2015 at the latest, and evaluates the evolution of the digital divide. It presents 200 pages of analysis of the latest trends in ICTs, exploring whether consumers are 'cutting the cord', the death of dial-up and growth in broadband and 3G. It evaluates the digital divide using a variety of techniques and finds that the strong growth of mobile telephony offers the greatest potential to bridge the digital divide.
(ZDNet UK) Businesses across the UK are being invited to put themselves forward as examples of internet best practice, after Nominet launched a competition. Nominet, which runs the .uk domain registry, is a participant in the worldwide Internet Governance Forum (IGF). It wants to establish a UK-specific version of the forum to show the rest of the world how well the UK manages its internet governance. Both private and public-sector organisations are invited to enter.
(ZDNEt.fr) Le Conseil d'État a validé la mise en place de systèmes automatisés de surveillance des téléchargements sur réseaux P2P, estimant que ces dispositifs ne sont pas disproportionnés au regard de l'étendue du phénomène du piratage en France. La Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (Cnil) avait rejeté la demande de quatre sociétés d'auteurs et de producteurs de musique pour renforcer la lutte contre le piratage par internet.
(RAPID) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. The International Conference "Exploring the Global Dynamics of Broadband Internet", Athens, 1 June 2007.
(ZDNet France) L'association Signal Spam a lancé depuis le 10 mai une plate-forme nationale de signalement de spams. Une initiative dont l'objectif est de lutter contre le spam en répertoriant toutes les variantes de ces messages non sollicités qui polluent les boîtes mails, avant éventuellement d'engager des poursuites contre leurs auteurs. La plate-forme peut recevoir jusqu'à 1 million de messages par jour, qui seront transmis aux autorités compétentes susceptibles d'engager des poursuites, comme la Cnil, la police nationale ou la gendarmerie. Les données sont également transmises aux FAI afin de les aider dans leur lutte contre le spam.
(CNET News) Spammers, phishers and other Internet bottom-feeders, be warned. A key Internet standards body gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to a powerful technology designed to detect and block fake e-mail messages. It's called DomainKeys Identified Mail, and it promises to give Internet users the best chance so far of stanching the seemingly endless flow of fraudulent junk e-mail.
(RAPID) The European Parliament and the Council approved a regulation harmonising the rules concerning the law applicable to non-contractual obligations ('Rome II'). The aim is to ensure that courts in all the Member States apply the same law in the event of cross-border disputes in matters of tort/delict, thus facilitating the mutual recognition of court decisions in the European Union. The Regulation adopts the solution applied in the majority of Member States and establishes a general rule that the law of the country in which the damage occurs (for example, the law of the place of the road accident) will apply, unless the parties both have their habitual residence in another country, in which case the law of that country will apply. There are a number of specific rules for the commonest specific torts/delicts such as product liability, environmental damage, anti-competitive practices, etc. Regarding the highly controversial question of media violations of privacy, the co-legislators chose to exclude them from the scope of the Regulation but called on the Commission to present a detailed study by the end of 2008.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(The New York Times) Google seems to be doing everything. It takes pictures of your house from outer space, picks fights with Hollywood and tries to undercut Microsoft?s software dominance. But Google remains a search engine. And its search pages, blue hyperlinks set against a bland, white background, have made it the most visited, most profitable and arguably the most powerful company on the Internet.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(BBC) The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the Open Net Initiative suggests. The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering.
(New Scientist) The number of governments that routinely block web sites is increasing, according to the most comprehensive survey of internet filtering yet. Meanwhile, the same study suggests that techniques for blocking undesirable content are growing ever more sophisticated.
(Observer) Thousands of schoolchildren have made it their mission to break through internet filters in schools meant to stop them surfing 'social network' websites such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook.
(CNET News) On April 27, officials in Estonia relocated a Soviet-era war memorial. The move incited rioting by ethnic Russians and the blockading of the Estonian Embassy in Moscow. The event also marked the beginning of a large and sustained distributed denial-of-service attack on several Estonian national Web sites, including those of government ministries and the prime minister's Reform Party. A distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attack occurs when hundreds or thousands of compromised computers are enlisted.
(BBC) One in 10 web pages scrutinised by search giant Google contained malicious code that could infect a user's PC. Researchers from the firm surveyed billions of sites, subjecting 4.5 million pages to "in-depth analysis". About 450,000 were capable of launching so-called "drive-by downloads", sites that install malicious code.
(Guardian) A three-week wave of massive cyber-attacks on the small Baltic country of Estonia, the first known incidence of such an assault on a state, is causing alarm across the western alliance, with Nato urgently examining the offensive and its implications.
(CNET News) Thousands of LiveJournal customers are rebelling against the company's recent decision to censor hundreds of sex-themed discussion groups, a broad swath that has led to the removal of literary critiques and fan-written fiction about Harry Potter. LiveJournal deleted around 500 journals this week in hopes of better "protecting children.
(BBC) Steam, an online distribution platform for videogame content, has signed up more than 13 million users, the system's owners Valve has said. More than 150 PC games can be downloaded via Steam and the system has also been used to automate more than 2,500 updates to existing games. Digital distribution of game content is a growing segment of the industry. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have all started online services for downloading games onto consoles.<
(Reuters) The art of trend-spotting is set to take a more scientific turn as Google, the world's top Web search company, is expected to unveil a service to track the fastest-rising search queries. Google Hot Trends combines elements of Zeitgeist and Trends--two existing Google products that give a glimpse into Web search habits, but only in retrospect based on weeks-old data.
(Pew Internet & American Life Project) The volume of spam is growing in Americans' personal and workplace email accounts, but email users are less bothered by it. 37% of email users said spam had increased in their personal email accounts, up from 28% of email users who said that two years ago. And 29% of work email users said spam had increased in their work email accounts, up from 21% two years ago. Yet fewer people say spam is "a big problem" for them.
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