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(RAPID) The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between SES Astra of Luxembourg and Eutelsat of France for the provision of satellite infrastructure for broadcasting mobile TV as well as voice and data communication services to mobile devices. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.
(RAPID) The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the purchase of the fixed telephony and Internet access businesses of Télé 2 France by the French mobile telephony operator SFR. When it was originally notified, the planned operation raised serious competition concerns in pay-TV markets in France and the Commission launched an in-depth investigation. These concerns have been addressed by commitments guaranteeing DSL operators equal treatment with the new entity as regards access to television content owned by the Vivendi group, of which SFR forms part. In the light of these commitments, the Commission has now concluded that the merger will not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.
(RAPID) The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to Intel on 26th July 2007. The SO outlines the Commission's preliminary view that Intel has infringed the EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant position (Article 82) with the aim of excluding its main rival, AMD, from the x86 Computer Processing Units (CPU) market;
(RAPID) The European Commission has withdrawn its pending case at the Court of Justice against Hungary after the latter abolished a provision of its Media Act that prevented cable operators from providing cable TV services to more than one third of the Hungarian population. The provision had limited competition on the markets for cable TV and broadband internet services in Hungary: such a lack of competition typically leads to higher prices, less innovation and slower take-up of these services. The relevant provision of the Hungarian Media Act prevented the consolidation of the cable networks, in breach of the Commission Directive on electronic communications, but this has now been abolished.
(Reuters) The European Commission issued formal charges against Intel for allegedly using illegal tactics against smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices. The Commission has spent years investigating Intel's tactics to determine whether it acted unfairly to preserve its dominance over AMD.
(Press Release) The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, which represents a major advance in this field. This new Convention is the first instrument to establish the various forms of sexual abuse of children as criminal offences, including such abuse committed in the home or family, with the use of force, coercion or threats. In addition to the offences traditionally committed in this field - sexual abuse, child prostitution, child pornography, children's forced participation in pornographic performances - the text also addresses the issue of "grooming" of children for sexual purposes and "sex tourism". The Convention will be opened for signature at the Conference of European Ministers of Justice in Lanzarote on 25 and 26 October this year. See The full text of the Convention and the explanatory report.
(Reuters) Popular Internet social network MySpace has detected and deleted 29,000 convicted sex offenders on its service, more than four times the figure it had initially reported. The company, owned by media conglomerate News Corp., said in May it had deleted about 7,000 user profiles that belonged to convicted offenders. MySpace attracts about 60 million unique visitors monthly in the United States.
(CNET News.com) Expect a new push in Congress this fall for laws aimed at keeping sexual predators off the likes of MySpace.com and elevating fines on Internet service providers that don't report child pornography.
(New York Times) Facebook, the online social network, has stolen some of MySpace's momentum with users and the news media. Now, it is being subjected to the same accusations that it does not do enough to keep sexual predators off its site. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general, said that investigators in his state were looking into "three or more" cases of convicted sex offenders who had registered on Facebook and had "also found inappropriate images and content" on the service. The inquiry continues, he said, and state officials have contacted Facebook and asked it to remove the profiles.
(OECD) OECD countries have agreed a new approach to better protect the rights of consumers and make online shopping safer. They call on national authorities and business to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for people to resolve complaints and get compensation when they are unhappy with goods or services they have bought. The OECD Recommendation on Consumer Dispute Resolution and Redress offers a roadmap for consumer protection agencies to address the practical and legal obstacles that many consumers face when trying to exchange goods or get their money back from firms, in their own country or abroad.
(Guardian) There is a huge gap between the broadband speeds providers are advertising and those that users are able to achieve at home, research by Which? showed. Which? claims that while many companies advertise speeds of up to 8Mbps (megabits per second) or faster, consumers are achieving an average speed of just 2.7Mbps, while some have experienced speeds as low as 0.09Mbps.
(Silicon.fr) L´éditeur américain peut respirer. Les associations familiales déboutées, l´accès à son site ne sera pas restreint en France. Les fans du Linden Lab peuvent se rassurer. L´Union départementale des associations familiales de l´Ardèche et l'Association Familles de France ont vu l´ensemble de leur plainte déboutée par le Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris (TGI). L´accès à Second Life (SL) ne sera pas restreint. Familles de France reprochait, entre autre, à l´éditeur américain la présence de contenus à caractère pornographique trop aisément accessibles pour les mineurs. UDAF de l´Ardèche et autre / Linden Research et autres (Legalis.net) Tribunal de grande instance de Paris Ordonnance de référé 02 juillet 2007.
(BBC) Police chiefs have urged websites to remove violent video footage of children fighting, following an investigation by the BBC. Panorama found that films showing brutal fights between children are regularly uploaded to sharing websites. Police say the companies should monitor what is posted on their sites and remove any violent or criminal content. But YouTube, one of the sites found with footage, says it relies on users to "flag up" inappropriate films. The investigation found films showing children as young as 11 and 12 punching and kicking other youngsters.
(BBC) Rap star Eminem is suing computer firm Apple for allegedly selling his music in its iTunes store without permission. A lawsuit claiming infringement of copyright has been filed on behalf of the singer by his music publishing company Eight Mile Style. Apple pays Eminem's record label for each download - but Eight Mile Style argues it has not approved the deal.
(CNET News.com) Automated digital plagiarism in which software bots can copy thousands of blog posts per hour and publish them verbatim onto Web sites on which contextual ads next to them can generate money for the site owner. Such Web sites are known among Web publishers as "scraper sites" because they effectively scrape the content off blogs, usually through RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and other feeds on which those blogs are sent.
(BBC) David Cameron has pledged to extend copyright on music to 70 years - in exchange for an effort by music bosses to curb violent music and imagery. The Tory leader told record industry chiefs they had a responsibility to help fix Britain's "broken society". See speech. See also ISPs face down Tories on file sharing (The Register) ISPs have given David Cameron's call for them to block P2P music sharing short shrift, repeating their stance that they are not "the gatekeepers of the internet", as he insists.
(EDRI-gram) To the big disappointment of the music industry, the UK Government refused to promote at the EU level, the extension of the presently 50-year copyright term for performers. According to the EU rules, the copyright period for song writers and their families covers their entire lives plus 70 years while performers and their producers benefit of a 50 year copyright period starting from the recording date. UK Government considers that the majority of the performers would not benefit of the extension as most of them "have contractual relationship requiring their royalties be paid back to the record label." It also stated that such an extension would lead to the increase of costs for the industry and to the consumers.
(Guardian) Illegal music downloading is at an all-time high and set to rise further, according to a report that urges the record industry to make legal buying easier and cheaper. Although social networking sites are boosting interest in music that translates into sales, a growing band of consumers are unconcerned about being prosecuted for illegal downloads, according to Entertainment Media Research.
(CNET News) A tiny patent-licensing company has once again lost a plea to prohibit eBay from using its patent covering the auction giant's "Buy it now" feature, but the closely watched battle isn't over yet. Ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit whether an injunction is necessary in the long-running spat, a U.S. District Judge ruled that awarding monetary damages alone to MercExchange is enough to compensate any harms it experienced as a result of eBay's infringement.
(EFF) The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), asking a federal court to protect the fair use and free speech rights of a mother who posted a short video of her toddler son dancing to a Prince song on the Internet. Under federal copyright law, a mere allegation of copyright infringement can result in the removal of content from the Internet.
(CNET News) The U.S. patent system transformation long sought by high-tech industry players like Microsoft, Amazon.com and Cisco Systems may finally be gaining momentum in Congress. Supporters say the proposed Patent Reform Act of 2007 would go a long way toward staving off expensive court litigation, limiting what are perceived as excessive damage awards, and keeping questionable patents off the books in the first place.
(BBC) Teachers have called for websites such as YouTube to be shut down as part of efforts to prevent pupils and staff being bullied. Delegates at the conference of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) said bullying can continue outside school and work hours. They said bullies can send abusive text messages or e-mails to victims.
(EDRI-gram) The EDPS (European Data Protection Supervisor), Peter Hustinx, issued on 25 July 2007 an opinion on the European Commission communication regarding the improved implementation of the EC Data protection directive (95/46), considering that the Directive should not be amended and asking for its full implementation before applying any changes.
(EP Press Release) The European Parliament looked into the recent agreement signed by the EU-US administration for the transfer of air passengers' data and concluded in its resolution that the new deal still fails to offer an adequate level of data protection and it has been concluded without any involvement of parliaments from both sides, lacking democratic oversight. While recognising the difficult conditions under which the negotiations took place, MEPs regret that the EU-US agreement for the transfer of Passenger Name Records (PNR) is 'substantively flawed', in particular by 'open and vague definitions and multiple possibilities for exception'.
(OUT-LAW News) The retention of search engine query data is a security matter and not one for Europe's data protection officials, according to Google's global privacy chief. Google said that it had to keep the records because the Data Retention Directive demanded it, but the Article 29 Working Party said that the Directive does not apply to search engines.
(OUT-LAW News) A new passenger name records (PNR) deal was announced this week by the EU and the US. It covers how much information can be handed to US authorities about passengers on flights from Europe to the US and the conditions on which it was kept. The US won major concessions from the EU, winning its demands to keep data for far longer and the ability to pass it on to other US agencies. The EU appeared to win one argument, reducing the amount of data transferred. However, the reduction of the number of data fields handed to US security services announced by the European Union was achieved by squeezing almost the same amount of data on to fewer lines. The news undermines what was seen as a concession won by EU negotiators.
(BBC) Google has said that its cookies, tiny files stored on a computer when a user visits a website, will auto delete after two years. They will be deleted unless the user returns to a Google site within the two-year period, prompting a re-setting of the file's lifespan. The company's cookies are used to store preference data for sites, such as default language and to track searches.
(BBC) User worries are driving search firms to let people manage how much data they reveal when they visit the sites. The top four search sites, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Ask, have unveiled plans to cut how much data they hold and how long they store it. Going furthest Ask said it would let users search without surrendering any data about themselves and their PC.
(BBC) Facebook, the social networking website, is being used as a disciplinary tool by university authorities. Staff at Oxford University are searching the website, collecting photographs of students who they say have broken rules on post-examination celebrations, and handing down fines. The student union has branded the move a "disgraceful" intrusion into privacy and has e-mailed every common room advising how to prevent dons viewing the photographs.
(OUT-LAW News) UK telecoms companies will have to keep phone call logs for a year under a new law to come into force in October. The law does not apply to records of internet activity, such as web surfing, email and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone calls. The Data Retention (EC) Regulations transpose into UK law most of the European Union's Data Retention Directive. The Regulations will come into force on 1st October, two weeks after the deadline set by the EU, but they will not apply to internet traffic data. The Directive allows member states to extend the rules to internet data at a later date, provided these rules are in force by 15th March 2009.
(CNET News) In a setback for foes of a controversial Bush administration wiretapping program, a federal appeals court threw out an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that alleged illicit snooping on Americans' calls and e-mails.
(CNET News.com) The humble hyperlink ought to be counted high in the ranks of digital-age phenomena that have transformed the face of news reporting and consumption. In one sense, it's the 21st-century equivalent of a newspaper running an Associated Press or Reuters wire story instead of assigning one of its own reporters to the task. On the other hand, the hyperlink is the foundation behind a phenomenon that's purely Web 2.0.: the news aggregator.
(EUObserver) European lawmakers have called for the creation of a multilingual European digital library aimed at securing easy access to the continent's cultural heritage. MEPs in the European Parliament's culture committee unanimously adopted a report - 'i2010: Easy access to European cultural heritage' - by French centre-right MEP Marie-Hélène Descamps.
(Economist) A rapidly growing number of cinemas are going digital. Over 3,000 North American screens have been converted, nearly two-thirds of them in the past year. Some download films and advertisements via satellite, and others have films delivered on hard drives (which are a lot smaller, lighter and cheaper than big reels of film). America's biggest chains, which have lagged behind, will start to convert cinemas next year. And Europe, which has trailed even further, should catch up thanks to a deal announced this month with two Hollywood studios.
(ZDNet UK) Trials of electronic voting and vote-counting should be halted until the government can come up with a good reason for using the technology, the Electoral Commission has said. E-voting has been undergoing a series of trials in local elections across the UK, but the Electoral Commission, in a report, said that no further trials were necessary for the moment. The Electoral Commission suggested that the security of e-voting systems needed to be beefed up in any future implementations, and reiterated its support for a system of individual voter registration as a prerequisite to further trials.
(Europa) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, Conference on the Future of the Media, Lisbon, 17 July 2007
(RAPID) The Commission has proposed measures to make it easier and more lucrative for mobile operators in Europe to offer and develop innovative wireless technologies. By opening radio spectrum for advanced mobile data and multimedia services (such as 3G services that allow video streaming and fast downloads on a mobile handset), the Commission proposals, if they become law, will increase the number and choice of wireless services available, and will expand their geographic coverage to the benefit of all European citizens. The new EU measures will also reduce network deployment costs for Europe's wireless communications industry.
(RAPID) One month after the EU Roaming Regulation to reduce mobile roaming charges by up to 70% entered into force, the Commission has published a website to benchmark how mobile operators in all 27 Member States have applied the new EU rules. The Commission has found that the broad majority of mobile phone operators comply with the EU Regulation by offering customers the new "Eurotariff". The Commission notes that many operators offered the Eurotariff already at the start of July while others waited till just before the 30 July deadline. Some operators are also offering prices below the EU cap or new roaming packages.
(BBC) Mobile phone companies have to cut by up to 70% the amount they charge customers for making and receiving calls between EU countries. Under the new EU rules, the companies have to offer customers now a new pricing structure, with cheaper "roaming" fees.
(BBC) European officials have backed a single standard for the rollout of mobile TV services across Europe. Telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding has called on member states to roll out services using the DVB-H standard "as quickly as possible". See also Press Release and Television on the Move (Europa).
(BBC) Google has refused to deny mounting speculation that it is working to produce its own brand mobile phone. Reports suggest that the web giant is developing a series of'GPhones', centred on its mobile services, such as search, e-mail and maps.
(Guardian) Television on mobile phones might not be dead in the UK, but after BT's decision last week to close its Movio service for Virgin Mobile, it is certainly in intensive care - and operators have shovelled a lot of money that they won't recoup into it. Yet it might be rescued by the European Commission, which is preparing to mandate a European standard for mobile TV - just as it did for mobile phones by enforcing the use of the GSM standard.
(CNET News) For years Microsoft kept its "shared source" distinct from the broader open-source movement, but now the company is seeking official blessing for its work from the Open Source Initiative organization that bestows official open-source status.
(Australian IT) Australians will have access to a national online child protection hotline and free internet filtering software "within weeks", when the long-delayed $116 million scheme to protect families from predators and porn finally gets off the ground. A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan confirmed that the Government was working to a tight deadline to launch the scheme in time for national child protection week, which begins September 7.
(BBC) Fast food brands are getting around laws banning the promotion of unhealthy snacks online, research suggests. New Advertising Standards Association rules prevent the online and offline advertising of fast food to children. But, according to trade magazine New Media Age, fast food brands are targeting kids via games, videos and cartoons on their websites. It accuses brands such as McDonalds, Kinder and Haribo of exploiting a legal loophole in the rules.
(Washington Post) Disney has announced the acquisition of Club Penguin, a virtual world for children that's been around less than two years but has grown to 12 million registered users, largely without marketing. Disney executives said the deal, valued at as much as $700 million depending on the company's performance, won't result in changes to the Club Penguin site, which requires parental permission for membership and doesn't have advertising. But the deal has prompted child advocates to ask whether kids are helped or harmed by exposure to the Web. There are a growing number of sites that claim to offer entertainment and education for children. Disney said it wants to invest in sites where parents can be assured of their children's safety against adult content and contact from strangers.
(BBC) Six major firms have withdrawn advertisements from the networking website Facebook, after they appeared on a British National Party page. First Direct, Vodafone, Virgin Media, the AA, Halifax and the Prudential have all withdrawn ads. Virgin said it had to 'protect its brand'.
(OUT-LAW News) An internet service provider in Belgium must screen traffic for music piracy, a court has ruled in a decision which overturns conventional thinking on how two major European directives relate to one another. The Court of First Instance in Belgium made the controversial ruling against ISP Scarlet Extended. It said that the ISP must block or filter out traffic on its network which it thinks is copyright-infringing material. It must introduce suitable 'technical instruments' to do this within six months. It is believed to be the first time that a European court has ruled that an ISP must block such traffic. Voir aussi Belgique : un tribunal impose à un FAI des mesures pour empêcher le piratage (Silcon.fr) at P2P: les fournisseurs d'accès sommés de fermer le robinet ! (Juriscom.net) .
(OUT-LAW News) Video sharing website YouTube hopes to filter out unauthorised copyrighted material by the end of the year, according to a lawyer for its owner, Google. He said that the company hoped to have its system in place by September or later in the autumn. Beck told a New York judge of the implementation timetable as part of a lawsuit being taken against it by content owners. Film and television company Viacom, music publisher Bourne and the English Premier League are suing YouTube and their cases have been combined.
(vnunet.com) The US has passed child safety legislation that could widen the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) powers to include the internet, according to constitutional campaigners.The Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007 (S.602) was passed by the Senate Commerce Committee and requires the FCC to do a study of internet filtering technologies. The research will include the 'existence and availability' of filtering technologies for audio and video content transmitted over 'wired, wireless, and internet' platforms, as well as other devices.
(Progress & Freedom Foundation) by Adam Thierer. This is the final installment of my 10-part series of essays that have coincided with Internet Safety Month. Many of these essays have focused on the variety of parental controls tools on the market that can help parents better control, or at least monitor, their children's Internet usage or online communications. (See parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.) Other essays focused on the importance of education, building public awareness, and the need for stepped-up law enforcement efforts aimed at prosecuting online predators. (See parts 7, 8, and 9). In this final installment, I want to focus on what I believe is the most important?and most frequently overlooked?part of the parental controls and online safety discussion: Good parenting!
(BBC) Hi-tech criminals have found novel ways to carry out web-based attacks that are much harder to spot and stop, warn security experts. Some cyber criminals have exploited file-sharing networks and popular webpages to attack targets.
(Economist) Suppose you are a computer hacker and you discover a bug in a piece of software that, if it were known to the bad guys, would enable them to steal money or even a person's identity. How might you sell your discovery for the highest price? A service has been launched intended to make the whole process of selling bugs more transparent while giving greater rewards to hackers who do the right thing.
(Infoworld) The GAO reports that identity theft really isn't a problem. The problem, apparently, is that the process of notifying consumers whenever their personal financial information has been compromised is confusing us simple-minded folks.
(CNET News) The US Congress really doesn't get tech. Politicians charged that peer-to-peer networks can pose a "national security threat" because they enable federal employees to share sensitive or classified documents accidentally from their computers.
(BBC) Using public wi-fi hotspots has got much riskier as security experts unveil tools that nab login data over the air. Demonstrated at the Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas, the tools make it far easier to steal account details, said Robert Graham of Errata Security. Identifying files called cookies are stolen in the attack which let hackers pose as their victim. This gives attackers access to mail messages or the page someone maintains on sites such as MySpace or Facebook.
(RAND Europe) RAND Europe invite contributions to an online survey from all Internet users with knowledge of self-regulatory institutions. This research institute is conducting fieldwork for the European Commission to evaluate options for and effectiveness of self-regulation in the Information Society. The findings and recommendations will be validated by means of a key stakeholder workshop and reported in a form suitable for wide dissemination and discussion. The final date for completion of the online survey is the 31st October 2007.
(Times) Manchester Cathedral is calling for all video games manufacturers to sign up to a new set of "sacred digital guidelines" to prevent future "virtual desecration" of religious buildings. Digital Guidelines code of conduct: 1. Respect our sacred spaces as places of prayer, worship, peace, learning and heritage. 2. Do not assume that sacred space interiors are copyright free. 3. Get permission from the faith leaders who are responsible for the building interiors you want to clone. 4. Support the work of those engaged in resisting the culture of gun crime and those involved in promoting the work of conflict resolution.
(BBC) Sony has issued an "unreserved" apology to Manchester Cathedral for using it as a violent computer game backdrop. The firm published an apology in a city newspaper but has confirmed it will not be withdrawing the game or making any changes to it.
(Times) The huge expansion of online social networking sites has opened up an etiquette minefield, complete with snubs, awkward faux pas and ample opportunity to give and take offence. With networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace expanding expedientially, the rise of cyber friendships has brought with it a new set of social niceties, conventions and potential embarrassments.
(BBC) Five years after the concept was first proposed, the so-called $100 laptop is poised to go into mass production. Hardware suppliers have been given the green light to ramp-up production of all of the components needed to build millions of the low-cost machines. See One Laptop Per Child.
(CNET News.com) ComScore released some numbers pertaining to how quickly a handful of popular social-networking sites are growing worldwide, and which ones dominate in which regions of the globe. The main set of numbers tracks worldwide social-networking growth, with June 2006 and June 2007 as the benchmarks, for seven services: MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Orkut, Hi5, Friendster, and Tagged. Facebook has grown quite a bit - 270 percent, from 14,083,000 uniques to 52,167,000. ComScore charts Bebo as having grown about 172 percent.
(BBC) Broadband users in 30 of the world's most developed countries are getting greatly differing speeds and prices. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report says 60% of its member countries net users are now on broadband. The report said countries that had switched to fibre networks had the best speeds at the lowest prices. See OECD Communications Outlook 2007.
(IGF) The inaugural Internet Governance Forum meeting in Athens, Greece, proved a great success. This year, the Government of Brazil has generously offered to host the second IGF meeting in Rio de Janeiro from 12 to 15 November 2007.
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