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(RAPID) Discours de Viviane Reding, Membre de la Commission européenne responsible de la Société de l'Information et des Médias. Colloque international pour les 10 ans du Conseil supérieur de l´audiovisuel de la Communauté française de Belgique. Bruxelles, le 21 septembre 2007.
(BBC) Microsoft has lost its appeal against a record 497m euro fine imposed by the European Commission in a long-running competition dispute. The European Court of First Instance upheld the ruling that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position.
(EDRI-gram) As Google plans to buy out U.S. web advertising supplier DoubleClick, the European Commission has already sent questionnaires to Google customers on the matter, even before Google has actually filed to the European Union's top antitrust regulator for the purchase. This is considered a rather unusual step as although the European Commission has frequently sent questionnaires to customers, it has done so once a deal has been formally filed and not before.
(Computing) Google has stepped up its battle to acquire advertising group DoubleClick, as the company's chief legal officer appeared before the US Congress. David Drummond told the Senate hearing that the proposed $3.1bn deal would be beneficial to the public and US enterprise. A subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will decide if the merger risks infringing on privacy and antitrust rules. The attack on Google's planned purchase has been led by key rival Microsoft. The software giant's general counsel, Brad Smith, told the hearing that acquiring DoubleClick would make Google, "the overwhelmingly dominant pipeline for all forms of online advertising."
(Washington Post) When Austrian authorities announced that they had uncovered an online child pornography ring, pedophiles around the world suddenly became potential targets of criminal investigations - but not the ring's 63 customers in the Czech Republic, where downloading and possessing such images is not a crime. Creating and selling child pornography is illegal in the Czech Republic. But the law does not extend to people who obtain it. Despite repeated calls for legislation in the nearly 20 years since communism's demise, this country of 10.2 million people remains the most prominent haven for consumers of child pornography in the 27-member European Union. Slovenia, a tiny Balkan nation of 2 million people, is the only other E.U. country not to have outlawed possession of the material, according to an Interpol Web site that summarizes national laws.
(Guardian) Timothy Cox was a quiet, clean-cut 27-year-old who worked for his small family brewery in rural Suffolk. He was also 'the son of god' - the mastermind of a global paedophile ring.
(Wired) New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is raising the eyebrows of defense attorneys over his recently exposed plans to pay the controversial anti-piracy firm MediaDefender to gather evidence for child-porn prosecutions.
(Press Release) IWF intelligence lead to rescue of three prepubescent children being sexually abused and their abuser being sentenced to 60 years in prison. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) provided intelligence to Cybertipline, its sister Hotline in the US, regarding a website which appeared to be hosted in the US and contained images of children being sexually abused.
(OUT-LAW News) Buying software or other digital goods as a consumer does not entitle an individual to the same rights under EU law that he or she enjoys when buying tangible products. But that could change following a European Parliament Resolution that endorsed a Green Paper on EU consumer laws .
(PC World) The Australian Government has tabled a bill that will increase the power of police to ban websites that they deem crime or terrorism related. The bill was tabled in the Senate, without notice. This bill proposes to amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to expand the black lists URLs that is currently maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to include crime and terrorism related websites hosted domestically and overseas.
(Reuters) A European Union proposal to stop people from accessing bomb-making instructions online is fraught with technical difficulties, if not downright unworkable, Internet practitioners say. EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini says he is working on plans that would block Web searches for bomb recipes and oblige Internet service providers to prevent access to sites containing them.
(Guardian) The Burmese junta was desperately trying to shut down internet and telephone links to the outside world after a stream of blogs and mobile phone videos began capturing the dramatic events on the streets. In the past 24 hours observers monitoring the flow of information have noticed a marked downturn, with the reported closure of cybercafes and the disconnection of mobile telephones.
(EDRI-gram) A Turkish court from the eastern city of Sivas decided on 18 September 2007 to order the ISPs to block the access to YouTube, considering that one of the video hosted there insulted Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish army.
(New York Times) Reversing course, Verizon Wireless will allow an abortion rights group to send text messages to its supporters on Verizon's mobile network. Last week, Verizon rejected a request from the abortion rights group Naral Pro-Choice America for a five-digit "short code". Such codes allow people interested in hearing from businesses, politicians and advocacy groups to sign up to receive text messages. Verizon is one of the two largest mobile carriers. The other leading carriers had all accepted Naral's request for the code.
(01net) Free ferme 14 newsgroups utilisés pour le piratage de films. Des newsgroups ont été détournés pour le téléchargement de copies illicites de films et de logiciels. Le FAI aurait procédé à leur fermeture sous la pression de la justice.
(Financial Times) Prince, the US rock star, has joined the list of media content owners suing internet distributors to try to recoup lost copyright revenues. A spokeswoman for the artist said he had taken legal action against YouTube, Ebay and Pirate Bay for "failing to filter out" unauthorised Prince content.
(OUT-LAW News) The UK Intellectual Property Office has launched a public consultation on proposals to introduce a fast-track system for patent and trade mark applications. The plan builds on a suggestion made in the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.
(Economist) The number of patent applications has soared in recent years, but patent offices have been unable to keep up - resulting in huge backlogs and lengthy delays. Standards have slipped and in America the number of lawsuits over contested patents has shot up. In an attempt to fix these problems, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Britain's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the European Patent Office are evaluating a radical change: opening the process up to internet-based collaboration. The scheme, known as "Peer to Patent", was created by Beth Simone Noveck, a professor at New York Law School. It applies an unusual form of peer review to a process which traditionally involves only a patent applicant and an examiner. Anybody who is interested may comment on a patent application via the internet. The scheme was launched as a one-year pilot programme in America on June 15th. The project is being supported by big technology firms including IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.
(Ars Technica) Another file-sharing defendant who says she has never installed or used file-sharing software is fighting back against the RIAA, accusing the music industry of waging war in the US court system to "shore up the American recording industry's failing business model."
(CNET Blog) DirecTV lost an important case : Programmers, security researchers, and anyone who believes in a limited government won. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a default judgment against a pair of alleged DirecTV television pirates, saying an "unauthorized decryption device" law the company invoked against them does not apply. That law promises statutory damages of $100,000 per violation.
(CNET News) The holding company that brought BlackBerry Nation to its knees in 2006 is once again on the advance, this time filing suit against AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. Way back in 2002, NTP won a jury verdict that RIM infringed on patents for a wireless e-mail system. RIM tried several times to overturn that verdict on appeal but never prevailed, and in March 2006 the companies settled for $612.5 million. The settlement came despite the fact that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued final office actions invalidating most of NTP's patents at issue in the case. NTP is appealing that decision, in a process that could stretch on for years.
(CNET News) Advertising-supported companies have long turned to the courts to squelch products that let consumers block or skip ads: it happened in the famous lawsuit against the VCR in 1979 and again with ReplayTV in 2001. Tomorrow's legal fight may be over Web browser add-ons that let people avoid advertisements.
(BBC) Schools are being given guidance urging them to take firm action against pupils who use mobile phones and the internet to bully other children and teachers. More than a third of 12 to 15-year-olds have faced some kind of cyberbullying, according to a government study. Ministers are also launching an awareness campaign on the social networking sites used by many pupils. Schools have been told they can confiscate mobile phones and how to get hurtful material pulled from websites. see Safe to Learn: embedding anti-bullying work in schools (Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and Directgov cyberbullying campaign. Bullying.com (BBC Radio 4).
(BBC) Cyberbullying is becoming more and more of a problem for children, and schools and parents are finding it hard to cope.
(EDRI) Two decisions from the Paris Appeal Court held that collection of IP addresses does not constitute a processing of personal data, and consequently was not subject to CNIL prior authorization, as required by the French Data Protection Act. In the mean time, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, in case C-257/06 Productores de Música de España (Promusicae) v. Telefónica de España, an entirely separate case lodged for reference by a Spanish Court under the preliminary ruling procedure, took the position that the EU legislation on personal data protection should prevail on the Community law on e-commerce, copyright protection and IP enforcement.
(OUT-LAW News) The head of privacy at Google is urging the governments of the world to adopt a unified set of privacy laws to protect personal data online. A non-binding framework that is already used by Asia Pacific nations is recommended for global use. Google calls for web privacy laws (BBC) .
(CNET News) The "ethical hacking" group GNUCitizen has developed a proof-of-concept program to steal contacts and incoming e-mails from Google Gmail users. "This can be used to forward all your incoming e-mail," Pure Hacking security researcher Chris Gatford said. "It's just a proof of concept at the moment, but what they're demonstrating is the potential to use this vulnerability for malicious purposes."
(Economist) These days, data about people's whereabouts, purchases, behaviour and personal lives are gathered, stored and shared on a scale that no dictator of the old school ever thought possible. Most of the time, there is nothing obviously malign about this. Governments say they need to gather data to ward off terrorism or protect public health; corporations say they do it to deliver goods and services more efficiently. But the ubiquity of electronic data-gathering and processing - and above all, its acceptance by the public - is still astonishing, even compared with a decade ago. Nor is it confined to one region or political system.
(Economist) The world's internet superpower faces testing times. Rarely if ever has a company risen so fast in so many ways as Google, the world's most popular search engine. The list of constituencies that hate or fear Google grows by the week. And now come the politicians. Libertarians dislike Google's deal with China's censors. Conservatives moan about its uncensored videos. But the big new fear is to do with the privacy of its users.
(BBC) More than 100,000 old books previously unavailable to the public will go online thanks to a mass digitisation programme at the British Library. The programme focuses on 19th Century books, many of which are unknown as few were reprinted after first editions. The library believes online access to the titles will help teachers.
(OUT-LAW News) The registry for .uk domain names has proposed a change in the way that name disputes are handled, but the proposed fast-track system faces criticism for not being radical enough.
(BBC) New Zealanders have been given the chance to write their own laws, with a new online tool launched by police. The "wiki" will allow the public to suggest the wording of a new police act, as part of a government review of the current law, written in 1958. Police say they hope to gain a range of views from the public on the new law before presenting it to parliament. The wiki, one of the first of its kind in the world, is open to any internet user, police say.
(CoE) On 13 and 14 September the Council of Europe will host a pan-European conference on the ethical dimensions of the information society, organised in conjunction with UNESCO and the French Commission for UNESCO. The aims of the conference are:
(Italy) The Italian Government, in the framework of the Internet Governance Forum process, and in cooperation with the UN and the IGF Secretariat, will organize a Dialogue Forum on Internet Rights, to be held in Rome on 27 September 2007. The Government of Italy invites all stakeholders - Governments, private sector, civil society, academic and technical communities, and international organizations - to attend the meeting. To facilitate the public debate a dedicated online forum is also available. This initiative aims at facilitating the international multistakeholder debate on the opportunity of defining shared rights, that guarantee the open and multilateral character of the Internet.
(CNET News) Web's global nature makes it essential for U.K. and Europe to discuss Net neutrality, says British Computer Society president. Professor Nigel Shadbolt said that, because so much of the Internet's content is derived from the U.S., the U.K. and Europe would be affected by any Net neutrality-related decisions made across the Atlantic. Because Internet users in the U.S. tend to have a smaller range of ISPs to choose from than do users in the U.K., the consensus in the U.K. has been that Net neutrality is a U.S.-centric debate.
(BBC) Regulator Ofcom has added its voice to the growing debate about how the UK should roll out super-fast broadband. It has launched a consultation, running until December, to probe ways to keep UK net services up to speed with those of other nations. Current broadband speeds have a natural limit which are unlikely to satisfy growing consumer demand for bandwidth. see also Ofcom opens door for 10 times faster broadband connections (Guardian).
(BBC News) The US Justice Department has said that internet service providers should be allowed to charge for priority traffic. The agency said it was opposed to "network neutrality", the idea that all data on the net is treated equally. The comments put the agency at odds with companies such as Microsoft and Google, who have called for legislation to guarantee equal access to the net.
(OUT-LAW News) A Belgian court ruling would force internet service providers into conducting "invisible and illegal" checks on internet users' actions, according to Belgian ISP Scarlet, who were recently ordered by a Belgian court to block its users from engaging in illegal file-sharing. It has now lodged an appeal against that ruling. "This measure is nothing else than playing Big Brother on the Internet,'' said Scarlet managing director. "If we don't challenge it today, we leave the door open to permanent, and invisible and illegal, checks of personal data."
(Associated Press) Swedish Internet service providers could be required by law to cut off customers who share large amounts of copyright music and films online under a new proposal presented to the government. A report prepared by a government-appointed investigator said illegal file-sharing was "a significant obstacle" to the development of legal alternatives to download copyrighted material on the Net. Internet providers should therefore be obliged to cancel services to customers found to engage in large-scale file-sharing or face fines, according to the report by Justice Department investigator Cecilia Renfors.
(Wired) A legal spat between YouTube and Volkswagen is throwing light on the increasing copyright surveillance of social networking sites. Volkswagen has filed a subpoena seeking the identity of a YouTube user who posted a Nazi-themed parody of a recent VW Golf commercial. Volkswagen's move underscores the privacy risks to a blossoming community of users on sites like YouTube and Yahoo Video, and social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Copyright holders and their agents have long been monitoring activity on file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent and Gnutella. Now they're turning their attention to the social networks.
(BBC) An Apple software update is disabling iPhones that have been unlocked by owners who wanted to choose which mobile network to use. Earlier this week Apple said a planned update would leave the device "permanently inoperable". Thousands of iPhone owners hacked their expensive gadget in order to unlock it for use with other mobile carriers and to run a host of unsupported programs.
(Australian) Vodafone Australia will lock children out of its mobile phone chatrooms from early next year in an effort to protect them from sexual predators. The mobile phone carrier has been monitoring its mobile chatrooms to protect children from online predators since late 2004, but it was no longer economically sustainable for the carrier to continue providing the service. The carrier said the chatrooms would be made available only to adults when the company launches its new adult verification system, Parental Lock, which is scheduled to be included on all Vodafone mobile handsets from March next year.
(RAPID) The European Commission has approved two further applications for assistance under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) from Germany and Finland. They concern redundancies in two companies in the mobile phone sector: BenQ in Germany and Perlos in Finland. Both applications are made against a general trend towards delocalising production for mobile phones and accessories, mostly to Asia. This is not only because it is cheaper to make mobile phones there, but also because of the proximity of technology partners and a fast-growing consumer market.
(vnunet.com) Mobile phones are keeping children awake at night, new research has revealed. A study to be published in the September issue of the journal Sleep suggests that mobile phone use after bedtime is "very prevalent" among adolescents, and is related to increased levels of tiredness. The research by Jan van den Bulck, of the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research in Belgium, focused on 1,656 school children with an average age of 13.7 years in the youngest group and 16.9 years in the oldest group.
(Guardian) Cash-strapped students will be able to save their money for books and more likely beer with the launch of a new mobile service which offers free calls and texts if customers agree to receive advertising on their phone. Blyk, a startup run by the former president of Finnish mobile firm Nokia, is targeting the key 16-to-24-year old market with free texts and minutes of talktime every month. It has signed up 45 brands from McDonald's and Coca Cola to Boots and L'Oreal who want to target this key demographic.
(BBC) The UK's big five mobile phone firms have switched on a payment system that turns handsets into digital wallets. Called PayForIt, the scheme is designed for those buying goods and services with a value of up to £10. The industry hopes it will be used to pay for ringtones, train tickets, parking fees and eventually as a payment system on web shops and sites.
(BBC) Internet law professor Michael Geist gets to grips with the legal implications of unlocking the iPhone.
(Associated Press) It may be something of a teenage nightmare: limits on when a wireless phone can make and receive calls and to whom, restrictions on text messages and talk time, and set allowances for ring tones and other downloads - all at a parent's fingertips. AT&T will launch a service giving parents that kind of wide-ranging control on almost all of its 63.7 million subscriber lines.
(EPP-ED) The Intergroup on Family and Protection of Childhood in the EP in Strasbourg, under the presidency of MEPs Ruth Hieronymi and Maria Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou, met with the Audiovisual Policy Intergroup in order to exchange views on the influence of media on the lives and development of children. The meeting, which focused on the topic 'Children and Media: growing up in a digitalised world', gathered representatives of the European Commission, Parliamentarians, industry, and NGOs.
(Guardian) The impact of media violence on children will be the focus of a wider than expected government review. It may lead to new voluntary controls over excessive violence and sex on children's television and the internet and in video games. Gordon Brown stressed that he did not see the review leading to state censorship, but hoped it would lead to a common agreement between parents, programme makers and internet providers that new controls are necessary. Speaking at his monthly press conference in Downing Street, Mr Brown said parents were right to expect the government to do everything in its power to protect children from harmful material in a multimedia age. The review is to be conducted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
(Register) The availability of gore and violence on the internet has prompted the UK Government to consider backing a campaign to encourage wider awareness and use of net-filtering software. Gordon Brown has ordered ministers to work with ISPs and media watchdog Ofcom to devise a strategy to regulate access to smut and violence online. Early ideas include plans to educate parents about the use of net-filtering software (aka censorware). Ofcom has been asked to develop a kite-mark scheme to certify net-filtering products. There will also be a review on whether new rules are needed about the marketing of some products to youngsters.
(Times) Facebook, the social networking site, has been accused of not keeping young users safe from sexual predators after an investigation revealed apparent defects in its safety controls. The New York State attorney general has subpoenaed Facebook asking it to explain its security policy following an an undercover investigation in which authorities posing as teenagers received sexual advances within days of setting up profiles on the site. When contacted about the message, Facebook said it would remove any post that violated its rules but a month later had still not taken any action.
(Guardian) Adam Hildreth's website for teens made him millions and gave him the idea for his next venture: fighting online abuse. Now his anti-grooming software has put him in the child protection business. Once downloaded on the computer, if the software identifies a possible "grooming" conversation online a warning message appears on the screen advising the young person that he or she is involved in a potentially "dangerous" conversation. The software has the ability at the same time to alert the parent, either via email or text message, that a potential grooming incident has taken place.
(Press Release) At the International Youth Forum in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak attended the session on "Rules of Engagement: What it Takes to be Safe on the Net". Speakers included Leila Ben Debba, Manager International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Stephen Carrick Davies, CEO Childnet International.Questions raised in the session focused on the major effects of misusing the internet and how to protect young children from the detrimental websites. see Agenda, Net Family News and Childnet International Press Release.
(Economist) Hacking used to be done by kids for kicks or bragging rights. Nowadays, it's big business for organised crime, often out of reach of the law, on the far side of the world. Connect an unprotected personal computer to the internet for more than 15 seconds and it will almost certainly be attacked by a virus or worse. That's how ruthlessly effective the army of malicious robots, dispatched by criminals to scour the net for vulnerable computers, has become.
(ABC) The Federal Government has announced a new working group which will investigate the safety of social networking sites and the danger they pose to Australian children. The task force will look at sites like MySpace and Facebook and see how paedophiles can infiltrate them and use the internet to get closer to young people. The Social Network Consultative Group is part of the Government's $189 million NetAlert program.
(Guardian) Very deeply, because it's only by guarding it jealously and parcelling it up and then selling it to someone else that they can make any money. Thus this season's poster child for social networking, Facebook, announced on its blog that in a few weeks, it will make parts of its 40 million users' details, such as their names and pictures, available to the major search engines - Google, Yahoo! and MSN Live - and so visible to anyone online. Why? Simple: money.
(Reuters) Facebook, the social-networking site that has enjoyed explosive growth in new members over the past three months, said it plans to let users tell the rest of the world how to find them on the site. Facebook will begin notifying members they have a choice over whether to keep their listings private or to allow Facebook to make their name and profile picture available when outsiders search the site. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based site has grown to 39 million members, up 62.5 percent from 24 million in late May.
(Heise) The dispute about the creation of an EU regulatory body for European telecom markets is escalating. In a joint letter to the EU commission, Germany and five other EU states have voiced their opposition to such a European super authority. There is no need for "institutional reform", they write in their letter, which was signed by representatives of German, French, British, Spanish, and Swedish economic ministries. A representative of the State Ministry signed on behalf of Luxembourg.
(Arstechnica) In a presentation before the European Parliament last week, EU security commissioner Franco Frattini outlined a new set of anti-terror proposals, including plans for a Europol explosives database, airplane passenger list databases, and legislation that would criminalize publication of bomb-making instructions on the Internet. The proposals are based on the findings
(CNET News) The European Commission will commit $212.16 million to research on counterterrorism technologies. The grants will cover 44 research projects, including the development of automatic surveillance systems for water distribution systems. Funding will also be allocated for the development of a European ballistic database, which will analyze and store firearms information and allow sharing of information among European police forces.
(Guardian) The New York Times has just abandoned its two-year effort to charge for content online, taking down TimesSelect, the pay wall around its columnists and much of its archives. So content is now and forever free. That isn't because people won't pay for content - some did. It's because there is a new economy of content online that isn't built on scarcity and control but instead relies on the idea that content must be public and permanent to realise its value in the wider conversation.
(Guardian) A combination of an urban lifestyle and infrastructure advantages mean that the fixed internet is being left behind by the mobile.
(Multichannel News) When it comes to influencing young people, friends are often the best brand marketers. That?s one of the key takeaways from a new global study about youth and technology called "The Circuits of Cool/Digital Playground" from MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft, which used both qualitative and quantitative methodology to talk to 18,000 kids (8-14) and young people (14-24) in 16 countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. In the study, MTV Networks and Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions studied 21 technologies that impact on the lives of young people: Internet, e-mail, PC, TV, mobile, instant messaging, cable and satellite TV, DVD, MP3, stereo/hi-fi, digital cameras, social networks, on and offline video games, CDs, HDTV, VHS, webcams, MP4 players, digital-video recorders/personal video recorders and hand-held game consoles. See also Teens establish community generation (FT).
(Ars Technica) P2P traffic is dominating the Internet these days, according to a new survey from ipoque, a German traffic management and analysis firm. ipoque's "preliminary results" show that P2P applications account from anywhere between 50 percent and 90 percent of all Internet traffic. Leading the way is BitTorrent, which has surpassed eDonkey as the P2P protocol of choice. During the last year, BitTorrent accounted for between 50 percent to 75 percent of all P2P traffic, with eDonkey coming in second at between 5 percent and 50 percent. The wide variance in the figures is due to local preference, according to ipoque: in some parts of the world, eDonkey still reigns supreme when it comes to P2P traffic.
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