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(BBC) Police have smashed a global child abuse network which was co-ordinated through a UK-based internet site. Global agencies, led by UK investigators, examined more than 700 suspects, including 200 in the UK.
(RAPID) The European Commission has fined the Spanish incumbent telecoms operator Telefónica 151 875 000 for a very serious abuse of its dominant position in the Spanish broadband market. Telefónica imposed unfair prices in the form of a margin squeeze between the wholesale prices it charged to competitors and the retail prices it charged to its own customers. In so doing, Telefónica weakened its competitors, making their continued presence and growth difficult: competitors were forced to make losses if they wanted to match Telefónica's retail prices. With high wholesale costs and weakened retail competition on the broadband market, Spanish consumers pay 20% more than the EU-15 average for broadband access. The Spanish broadband penetration rate is 20% below EU-15 average, and its growth is nearly 30% below that of the EU-15. see also frequently asked questions and Press conference on Telefónica decision introductory remarks Neelie Kroes European Commissioner for Competition Policy, Press conference, Brussels, 4th July 2007.
(RAPID) The European Commission has adopted a Communication extending until 31st December 2009 at the latest the application of the current rules on state aid to cinematographic and other audiovisual works. This Cinema Communication extends the rules laid down in the previous Communications of 2001 and 2004. This continuity should further encourage Europe's audiovisual industry by maintaining the current conditions and thereby helping the industry to face future challenges in a highly competitive market.
(OUT-LAW.com) The Government has published a new law which will criminalise extreme pornography. The possession of extreme pornography will be punishable by up to three years in jail. Material covered will include necrophilia, bestiality and violence that is life threatening or likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts or genitals. Such material has been illegal to publish until now under the Obscene Publications Act. The material has not been illegal to view or possess, though; the new law will make possession a crime. Images of child pornography are already illegal to view or to possess.
(Guardian) The National High Tech Crime Unit, set up in April 2001 in response to a perception that e-crime was on the rise, was absorbed a year ago into the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca). Soca took over this role because it was felt that financial e-crime was increasingly the preserve of organised crime, its principal area of responsibility. But the result, say people in both the banking and computer security industries, is a shambles. Labels: Computer_crime.htm">Computer_crime
(Wired) Texas police have arrested six sex offenders who weren't supposed to be using the internet under the terms of their probation or parole, but who allegedly surfaced in MySpace's database search. A seventh MySpace user was picked up for failing to register as a sex offender.
(Reuters) The blocking of Flickr is the latest casualty of China's ongoing battle to control its sprawling Internet. Wikipedia and a raft of other popular Web sites, discussion boards and blogs have already fallen victim to the country's censors.
(BBC) Yahoo shareholders have rejected plans for the company to adopt a policy that opposes censorship on the internet. Proposals to set up a human rights committee which would review its policies around the world, specifically China, were also heavily defeated.
(Register) Flickr's introduction of content filters in Germany last week has provoked protests in blogs and web forums globally. While in most countries the photo sharing site's 'SafeSearch' function can be turned off by users interested in seeing all the photos available on Flickr, that option has been axed in Germany due to 'stricter legislation and penalties in that country', parent company Yahoo! said in a statement.
(EDRI-gram) Yahoo and Google seems to have problems adapting their business to the tough requirements of the German law regarding content harmful to minors and the implementation of the data retention directive, respectively. Yahoo has recently changed the way the content filter setting for its photo-sharing service Flickr works for German members so that they can't view photos labelled as "moderate" or "restricted" via the search function. The German draft law for the implementation of the data retention directive also raises problems with the online service providers. The draft foresees that providers of e-mail services will basically have to keep records of the following: the user's IP address for each e-mail sent and for each access to the inbox as well as the sender's network ID for every e-mail received. Peter Fleischer, Google privacy counsellor considered the draft law as "a severe blow to privacy " and praised the possibility to have anonymous email accounts.
(Heise) Die Studie zur Evaluierung des Jugendschutzsystems im Bereich Video- und Computerspiele (PDF-Datei), die das Hamburger Hans-Bredow-Institut für Medienforschung im Auftrag des Bundesfamilienministeriums erstellt hat, spricht sich gegen eine Verschärfung des Verbots von "Killerspielen" aus. Ähnlich wie die SPD-Fraktion im Bundestag sehen die Forscher aber Vollzugsdefizite bei der Einhaltung der Regeln zur Verhinderung der Verbreitung gewalthaltiger Spiele.
(RAPID) The European Commission has formally reminded the Greek authorities of its obligation to lift its total ban on gaming machines, including computer games. The European Court of Justice in Case C-65/05 of 26 October 2006 ruled that the Greek laws which ban the installation and operation of all gaming machines violate a number of internal market principles.
(BBC) A video game which uses a term abusive to people with disabilities is being pulled by its manufacturer. MindQuiz, a brain training game for the Nintendo DS handheld console, was released in the UK by French software giant Ubisoft in March 2007.
(BBC) British censors have banned a violent video game from the UK for the first time in a decade. The video game Manhunt 2 was rejected for its "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying", the British Board of Film Classification said. It means the Manhunt sequel cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK. see also A discussion of the BBFC's decision to ban Manhunt 2 (gamesindutry.biz) by Rob Fahey. Labels: Content_Regulation.htm">Content_Regulation, Rating_and_filtering.htm">Rating_and_filtering
(FEP Project) The U.S. Court of Appeals has invalidated the FCC's ban on "fleeting expletives," and in the process, cast doubt on the constitutionality of the agency's whole censorship regime. In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the "fleeting expletives" rule was "arbitrary and capricious," in violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act, because the agency gave no reasoned rationale for its change, in 2004.
(Wired) Take Two has confirmed that the upcoming Manhunt 2, scheduled for release July 10 on PlayStation 2 and Wii, has been given a preliminary rating of Adults Only by the ESRB. see also Take-Two delays plans to distribute 'Manhunt 2' and Manhunt 2 Ban Fallout, Game Rated AO By ESRB. Labels: Content_Regulation.htm">Content_Regulation, Rating_and_filtering.htm">Rating_and_filtering
(EDRI-gram) The summer special session of United Nation's World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related rights (SCCR) ended with an outcome that effectively killed the proposed treaty for protection of broadcast organisations (Broadcast Treaty). The committee called off the Diplomatic Conference that was supposed to take place in November to approve the treaty. Even if the treaty remains on the agenda of SCCR, it is unlikely that there will be any serious push to overcome the vastly different positions on key issues relating to objectives, scope and object of protection. Labels: Copyright_trademarks_and_patents.htm">Copyright_trademarks_and_patents
(CNET News) The European Commission charged the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) in February 2006 with imposing anticompetitive territorial restrictions on authors and composers. Authors and composers have until July 9 to comment on proposed new European Union rules that would loosen restrictive territorial contracts for copyright registration on material transmitted via the Internet, satellite and cable. Labels: Copyright_trademarks_and_patents.htm">Copyright_trademarks_and_patents
(BBC) One in five young people has been bullied by mobile phone or via the internet, a study suggests. Children's charity NCH surveyed 770 youngsters and found 14% of 11- to 19-year-olds had been threatened or harassed using text messages. Bullies had used images taken with mobile phone cameras to intimidate or embarrass one in 10 young people.
(BBC) One third of US online teenagers have been victims of cyber-bullying according to research by the Pew Internet Project. The most common complaint from teens was about private information being shared rather than direct threats. Girls were more likely than boys to be targets and teens who share their identities online are the most vulnerable, the survey found. Labels: Cyber-bullying.htm">Cyber-bullying, Protection_of_minors.htm">Protection_of_minors
(Ars Technica) A Brazilian judge has ruled in favor of YouTube, Globo Comunicaçġes e Participaçġes, and Internet Group do Brasil (iG) this week in a case involving Brazilian model Daniella Cicarelli and a sex video. Cicarelli and her boyfriend, Tato Malzoni, had sued YouTube after a video of the couple having sex on a public beach in Brazil appeared on the site. The pair argued that YouTube was violating their privacy. Judge Gustavo Santini Teodoro ruled that the couple's privacy claims were unfounded and ordered Cicarelli to pay fees to each of the defendants.
(RAPID) Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, sent letters to the Portuguese Ministers for Justice and Interior. Hustinx requested the upcoming presidency to ensure sufficient consideration of data protection implications before Council initiatives are adopted. It seems that a number of agreements on new anti-terrorist measures have been concluded without fully considering the impact on fundamental rights. To help the Council avoid that from happening, the EDPS makes himself available as an advisor so that the Council can adopt effective as well as legitimate new policies.
(out-law.com) Google is not bound by the Data Retention Directive when it comes to search engine logs, Europe's data protection committee has said. Google has used the Directive to justify keeping data, but OUT-LAW has learned that the law does not apply. Google has come under increasing pressure in Europe to anonymise its server data, but the company says that it will wait until 18?24 months have passed before anonymising. Among its reasons for this was the Data Retention Directive.
(FT) Google has made fresh concessions to European Union data protection officials, agreeing to limit the amount of time it keeps users? personal search data to 18 months. The US internet group also said it would "radically redesign" its policy on keeping information from "cookies" or identifier programmes on individual computers.
(out-law.com) The Council of Ministers agreed the new deal at a meeting of justice and home office ministers this week. It will open up police databases, including DNA databases, to queries from all other EU nations. The deal has been agreed against the advice of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), whose role is to advise Europe's governing bodies on privacy and data protection issues.
(EDRI-gram) After a long and difficult period of negotiations, on 28-29 June 2007, final agreements were reached between EU and USA on the data regarding European financial transactions operated by Belgian consortium SWIFT and on the passenger name records (PNR) issue respectively. Regarding the access to financial data from SWIFT, the US has committed to use any data received from SWIFT exclusively for counter-terrorism purposes, the data retention period being of 5 years. An "agreement was reached on the substance of the new Passenger Name Records (PNR) system, with only technical details and EU national parliaments' opinion still to be resolved".
(BBC) The world's leading industrialised nations have been forced to update privacy laws made obsolete by the huge volume of data moving around the net. Of particular concern to the 30 OECD states was the increasing amount of personal data flowing between nations. These cross-border torrents made it tricky to prevent unlawful use of people's data and for authorities to enforce existing laws, the OECD said. The newly adopted recommendations update a 27-year-old agreement. The 1980 guidelines laid the foundations of privacy laws amongst OECD states but did not account for the internet age, with instant access to global information. OECD Recommendation on Cross-border Co-operation in the Enforcement of Laws Protecting Privacy.
(AP) The European Commission has posted a montage of sex scenes from European films on a video-sharing Web site, drawing criticism from some lawmakers who described it as "soft porn". The Commission launched its own channel on YouTube last week called EUTube, saying it wanted to spread messages about topics such as climate change and human rights. Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr said the sex scene clips - drawn from award-winning films such as "Amelie" and "Bad Education" - highlighted Europe's tradition of rich cinema.
(RAPID) The European Commission has launched a dedicated channel on YouTube to make its audiovisual material more widely available to the public. "This initiative reflects the Commission's commitment to better explain its policies and actions on issues which concern citizens across the EU - such as climate change, energy or immigration" said Margot Wallström, Vice-President for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy.
(BBC) British democracy could be undermined by moves to use electronic voting in elections: the risks involved in swapping paper ballots for touch screens far outweigh any benefits they may have, says the Open Rights Group report.
(PAID) Viviane Reding, Mitglied der Europäischen Kommission, verantwortlich für Informationsgesellschaft und Medien. Ziele und Perspektiven europäischer Medienpolitik. 19. Medienforum.nrw Köln, 18. June 2007.
(The Register) The first UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF), held in Athens in November last year, was widely hailed as a success. It was an undeniably huge achievement to get the Chinese government in the same room as Amnesty International, and then to get them talking. The IGF is unique in the UN's history, designed to grant governments, NGOs, and commerce an equal seat at the table. But last time round, less than a sixth of attendees came from the private sector. Nominet, the registry for .uk addresses, has cooked up a scheme to get more companies involved with the IGF when it rolls into Rio De Janeiro for its second meeting this November.
(Economist) Internet-service providers are worried that new online-video services, such as a television-over-internet service called Joost, will overload their networks. Many ISPs have taken the less drastic measure of "throttling" the download speeds available to their heaviest users at peak times, which are between 4pm and midnight - in other words, prime-time for television. Virgin Media, a British ISP that recently introduced throttling, offers a maximum download speed of 20 megabits per second, but this is reduced once a three-gigabyte limit has been exceeded. If the connection is running at full capacity, that will take 20 minutes.
(CNET News) The Bush administration blasted a congressional proposal that would shield a broad swath of news gatherers, including some bloggers, from revealing their confidential sources. The latest draft of the Free Flow of Information Act would pose a grave threat to national security and federal criminal investigations by protecting far too large a segment of the population, a U.S. Department of Justice official told Congress.
(EurActiv) Starting from 30 June 2007, European consumers can request cheaper tariffs for phone calls abroad from their mobile-phone operators. The regulation on mobile-phone roaming. It was published in the Official Journal on 29 June 2007 and will come into effect on 30 June. Until then, all mobile phone operators in Europe have to offer tariffs that are on the same level or cheaper than the Eurotariff. Since operators have up to a month to activate the new tariff, Europeans going on holiday in August will need to request the cheaper rate from their operator at the beginning of July, in order to make sure they benefit from the cheaper rates. See Regulation (EC) No 717/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2007 on roaming on public mobile telephone networks within the Community and amending Directive 2002/21/EC. See also EU Roaming Regulation enters into force across all 27 Member States on 30 June and International Mobile Roaming : how will the new"Eurotariffs" reduce the cost of using a mobile phone in the European Union? (RAPID).
(BBC) Buying stolen mobile phones is a "waste of money" because the industry blocks them within 48 hours, a new advertising campaign will aim to point out. The Home Office adverts will use abbreviated text and be distributed via networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace, to target under-25s.
(Ars Technica) Yet another Microsoft-funded study about open-source software evaluates the comparative cost of open-source software and Microsoft technologies, this time in European schools. The study, which was conducted by Microsoft partner Wipro Technologies, evaluates the performance of Microsoft and open-source software solutions in the contexts of student learning, teacher productivity, administrator productivity, and cost.
(CNET News) After 18 months of sometimes inflamed debate, the Free Software Foundation has released version 3 of the General Public License, a highly influential legal document that embodies the principles of the free- and open-source programming movement.
(Council of Europe) The sixth meeting of the Committee of Experts on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse (PC-ES) took place at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, from 26 to 30 March 2007. The Committee adopted the draft Convention and its Explanatory Report. See Draft Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and Draft explanatory report. See European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) 56th Plenary Session of 18-22 June 2007. See also Council of Europe programme for the promotion of children's rights and the protection of children from violence.
(InformationWeek) The anonymity and anything-goes nature of the Internet is a lure for sexual predators. We need to reconcile this with our children's growing passion for online social networking. see also Building a Safer MySpace (Business Week) January 24, 2007.
(Economist) When John Reid took over the job of home secretary in May 2006, it was in the wake of two damaging scandals involving sex offenders. Just a few weeks into his new job, he announced a review of the systems that are meant to protect children from unknown sex offenders.
(Consilium) Pending the lifting of some Parliamentary reservations, the Council reached a general approach on this Framework Decision. The text establishes that the following intentional conduct will be punishable in all EU Member States:
Member States will ensure that these conducts are punishable by criminal penalties of a maximum of at least between 1 and 3 years of imprisonment. Labels: Racism_and_xenophobia.htm">Racism_and_xenophobia
(Euroap) ENISA, the European Network and Information Security Agency together with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is launching a new portal for IT security standards, for the first time giving Europe one, single access point for IT security standards. The project, called 'ICT Security Standards Roadmap', was initiated by the ITU Telecommunication Standardisation Sector (ITU-T). From the beginning of 2007, it became a collaborative effort between ENISA, ITU-T, and the Network and Information Security Steering Group (NISSG). One of the objectives of this security standards portal is to provide a central tracking facility for NIS standards. It facilitates identification of standards and standardization activities, as well as coordination among standardization bodies, reduction of duplicate work and easier identification of existing gaps.
(Europa) A public consultation has started on the future of ENISA, the European Network and Information Security Agency. This public consultation was announced on 1 June in a Commission Communication on the evaluation of ENISA. ENISA was established in order to enhance the capability of the Community, the Member States and consequently the business community to prevent, to address and to respond to major network and information security risks, from 14 March 2004 for an initial period of five years.
(Reuters) NATO defense ministers agreed that fast action is needed to tackle the threat of cyberattacks on key Internet sites. Estonia suffered an onslaught of cyberattacks on private and government Internet sites, peaking in May after a decision to move a Soviet-era statue from a square in Tallinn prompted outrage from Russian nationals in Estonia and a diplomatic row with Moscow.
(BBC) A hacker has managed to penetrate one of the Pentagon's e-mail systems, leading officials to take up to 1,500 accounts offline. The e-mail system did not contain classified information relating to military operations, a spokesman said.
(RAPID) Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, ISFE Expert Conference, Brussels, 26 June 2007 Labels: Rating_and_filtering.htm">Rating_and_filtering
(RAPID) The European Commission is asking professional associations in the EU to provide information on their codes of conduct, either existing or in preparation, and to give their opinions on how best to develop codes of conduct at European level. Encouraging the development of such codes of conduct could contribute to the improvement of quality of service, which is an important aspect of the Services Directive, due to be implemented in Member States by end 2009. The consultation, which is in the form of an online questionnaire, is open until 30 July 2007.
(BBC News) MySpace is running out of breath, while Bebo and Facebook are fast catching up. That's the message from the latest figures on social networking in Britain. Labels: Social_networking.htm">Social_networking
(CNET News) Ultra-high frequency spectrum should be allocated to WiMax once Europe's analog television signals are phased out, the European commissioner for information society and media has proposed. Labels: Telecommunications.htm">Telecommunications
(RAPID) Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-284/04 and Case C-369/04 T-Mobile Austria GmbH and Others v Republik Österreich Hutchison 3G UK Ltd and Others v Commissioners of Customs & Excise. The award by the State of 3G mobile telecommunications licences by auction does not constitute an economic activity. Consequently that activity does not fall within the scope of the Sixth VAT Directive.
(RAPID) In the dispute over Germany's new telecom law, the Commission will refer Germany to the European Court of Justice. Germany has failed to remove new provisions in German law that could grant Deutsche Telekom a 'regulatory holiday' in spite of its dominant position in the broadband market.
(Europa) Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, 13. Internationale Handelsblatt Jahrestagung "Telekommarkt Europa", Duesseldorf, 12 June 2007.
(BBC) The European Commission is drafting new Europe-wide measures to bolster the fight against terrorism, including sharing air passenger data. EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said that all states needed to co-operate more closely. The measure is expected to require air passengers travelling into the EU to submit data for security agencies. Other proposals include creating a "rapid-alert" system for stolen explosives, a network of bomb disposal squads and making the spread of bomb-making instructions online a criminal offence. Labels: Content_Regulation.htm">Content_Regulation, Data_protection_privacy.htm">Data_protection_privacy, Terrorism.htm">Terrorism
(Reuters) Three men said to be linked to al-Qaeda, including one using an Arabic name meaning "Terrorist 007", have admitted inciting terrorism over the internet in the first case of its kind in Britain. The men, said by prosecutors to have close ties to Osama Bin Laden's network, pleaded guilty to inciting acts of terrorism "wholly or partly" outside Britain via websites which advocated the killing of non-Muslims. Labels: Terrorism.htm">Terrorism
(Guardian) With the market for downloadable over-the-air content flat, operators and music companies are looking to other ways of making money from mobiles, says Adam Webb Labels: Digital_content.htm">Digital_content, Mobile_and_wireless.htm">Mobile_and_wireless
(Economist) It has already changed most people's lives, but there is more work ahead for the mobile phone. The trusty SIM card can also act as a debit and credit card. That means it may only be a matter of time before mobile phones are used to deposit, transfer and withdraw cash.
(BBC) Net providers (ISPs) may start charging some websites for faster access to customers, a report has predicted; It could create a 'two-tiered internet' which, while making money for providers would risk alienating consumers, Jupiter Research said. ISPs currently operate on incredibly tight margins in order to offer cheap broadband deals to the public. One way of creating a new revenue stream would be to supply faster, prioritised access to a select group of websites willing to pay.
(BBC) Auction website eBay has pulled its US advertising from search engine giant and adversary Google. The move comes after Google angered eBay with a provocative decision to hold an event on the same evening as eBay's annual merchants' conference. Google's party was aimed at attracting attention away from eBay's payment system PayPal to its own card processing service, analysts say.
(New York Times) Since the inception of the Web, online commerce has enjoyed hypergrowth, with annual sales increasing more than 25 percent overall, and far more rapidly in many categories. But in the last year, growth has slowed sharply in major sectors like books, tickets and office supplies. Growth in online sales has also dropped dramatically in diverse categories like health and beauty products, computer peripherals and pet supplies. Analysts say it is a turning point and growth will continue to slow through the decade.
(Guardian) Half of Britons cannot exist without email and 30- and 40-somethings are more reliant on it than teenagers, a survey reveals. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, 50% felt they could not carry on without access to email, the ICM poll found. This age group was identified as the pioneer in using electronic communication to keep in touch with the office as well as friends.
(Ars Technica) by John Timmer. Results of a survey of American adolescents have appeared in the June edition of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, and they paint what is likely to be a reassuring picture for those willing to listen: less than half of adolescents are gamers, and they spent a small enough time gaming that it plays a minimal role in their lives. The researchers found that 36 percent of adolescents played video games, and that there's a stark split along gender lines: 80 percent of those gamers were boys. Typical use was about an hour of gaming a day during the week and an hour and a half on weekends (females played less than males). Labels: Statistics.htm">Statistics
(Google Blogoscoped) Lawrence Lessig, founder of the Creative Commons movement and copyright analyst, is moving up onto a higher plane of the problem: the systematic corruption that makes politicians and professionals of different areas fail to understand his copyright analysis. For the last 10 years he worked on delivering clear arguments to the copyright debate,
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