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(Eur-Lex) Directive 2007/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities OJ L 332, 18.12.2007, p. 27.
(Spiegel) Für zahlreiche Verdächtige im angeblich bisher größten Kinderpornografie-Fall in Deutschland werden die Ermittlungen folgenlos bleiben. Viele der 12.000 verdächtigten Internet-Nutzer seien nur zufällig auf eine Kinderporno-Website geraten. Mehrere Ermittler kritisieren die Aktion.
(BBC) Sixty-three people have been arrested in Spain on suspicion of involvement with child pornography, following raids across the country, officials say. Police said large amounts of computer-based "paedophile material" had been seized as the raids were executed over more than 10 days. They were the culmination of a two-year investigation focused on internet users in Spain using foreign websites.
(RAPID) The European Commission has authorised, under the EC Treaty rules on state aid, a French tax credit aimed at encouraging video game creation. This tax credit may be granted only to video games that meet the criteria of quality, originality, and contributing to cultural diversity. After an in-depth investigation that began in 2006, the Commission has concluded that this measure qualifies for the exemption provided for by the EC Treaty for aid to promote culture. See also UK Government and ELSPA speak out on French tax breaks (MCV).
(BBC) Starting a career as a cyber criminal got much easier in 2007. So say security experts looking back on 12 months in which hi-tech gangs took control of the net's underground. The economy supporting these groups has matured so much that now everything from virus-writing kits to spam-spewing zombies are available for rent or hire.
(RAPID) Just two weeks before Christmas, sweeping new EU rules to crackdown on misleading advertising and aggressive selling practices - including a ban on fake "free" offers and a ban on "pester power" advertising (direct exhortation) to children on the Internet - will come into force across the EU (December 12 2007). These restrictions are part of an extensive black list of schemes which are banned by the new Unfair Commercial Practices (UCP) Directive - targeting in particular a "dirty dozen" of the some of the most abusive practices, from bait advertising, to pyramid schemes, advertorials and false curative health claims which are used against consumers. To date only 14 Member States have implemented the directive. The Commission has launched proceedings against Member States that have not yet adopted any national rules.
(ACMA) The Australian Communications and Media Authority has determined new rules that for the first time implement a uniform approach for restricting access to MA15+ and R18+ content accessed through the internet or by mobile phones. The new Restricted Access Systems Declaration places obligations on all content service providers to check that individuals accessing restricted content provided in Australia are at least 15 years of age for MA15+ content or 18 years of age for R18+ content. Similar to previous obligations relating to stored content, the new rules provide that after receiving a complaint and investigating internet or mobile content, ACMA may require the content service provider to either remove the content or place the content behind specified access restrictions.
(BBC) A few days ago, about 30 police officers broke into the home of Chinese activist Hu Jia and took him away.His wife, fellow activist Zeng Jinyan, is now under house arrest. At least 10 security personnel guard her home. Mr Hu's arrest comes as China celebrates the start of one of its most important years in recent history.
(Reporters Without Borders) Reporters Without Borders condemns new regulations jointly issued by the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) under which only websites that are licenced by both the MII and SARFT will be able to post videos and audio files online from 31 January.
(gyaku) by shioyama. With little fanfare from local or foreign media, the Japanese government made major moves this month toward legislating extensive regulation over online communication and information exchange within its national borders. In a series of little-publicized meetings attracting minimal mainstream coverage, two distinct government ministries, that of Internal Affairs and Communications (Somusho) and that of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho), pushed ahead with regulation in three major areas of online communication: web content, mobile phone access, and file sharing.
(New York Times) An outspoken Saudi blogger, Fouah al-Farhan, is being held for "purposes of interrogation," the Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed.
(BBC) British censors are seeking a judicial review to block the sale of controversial video game Manhunt 2. Last week developer Rockstar won a hearing at the Video Appeals Committee to have a ban on the title lifted. But the British Board of Film Classification said that decision was based on an incorrect interpretation of the Video Recordings Act.
(CNet) According to a new international privacy report, governments around the world are increasingly invading the privacy of citizens with surveillance, identification systems, and archiving of private data. Driven by concern over immigration and border control, countries have been quick to implement database, identity, and fingerprinting systems, according to the 2007 International Privacy Ranking report. See also UK is Europe's worst in privacy league (Info4Security).
(RAPID) The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has issued his Opinion on the recent proposal of the Commission for a Council Framework Decision on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for law enforcement purposes. The proposal involves obligations for air carriers to transmit data about all passengers on flights to or from an EU Member State. The Opinion emphasizes the major impact the proposal would have on privacy and data protection rights of air passengers. While acknowledging that the fight against terrorism is a legitimate purpose, the EDPS expresses serious concerns about the necessity and proportionality of the proposal which, in his view, are not sufficiently established in the proposal. In addition, the EDPS takes a critical stance on the lack of clarity in relation to various aspects of the proposal, in particular the applicable legal framework, the identity of the recipients of personal data, and the conditions of transfer of data to third countries.
(BBC) The details of three million candidates for the driving theory test have gone missing, Ruth Kelly has told MPs. Names, addresses and phone numbers - but not financial data - were among details on a computer hard drive which went missing in the US in May. It belonged to a contractor to the Driving Standards Agency, the transport secretary told MPs.
(RAPID) The Commission has adopted a Communication on "Creative Content Online in Europe's Single Market". In the Communication, the Commission identifies four main, horizontal challenges which merit further action at EU-level:
(BBC) The Queen has launched her own channel on the video-sharing website YouTube. The Royal Channel will feature her Christmas Day message, and has recent and historical footage of the monarch and other members of the Royal Family. The launch marks the 50th anniversary of the Queen's first televised festive address in 1957.
(Democracy: A Journal of Ideas) by Beth Simone Noveck. How open-source technology can make government decision-making more expert and more democratic. The article argues that ordinary people possess extraordinary expertise that can improve the quality of government decision making; it also describes how democratic institutions can be reshaped.
(Reuters) A French health ministry has issued a warning against excessive mobile-phone use, especially by children, though it recognised cellular technology had not been scientifically proved to be dangerous.
(RAPID) The media are changing, and so is citizens' use of such media. New information and communication technologies make it much easier for anybody to retrieve and disseminate information, communicate, publish or even broadcast. The ability of people to critically analyse what they find in the media and to make more informed choices - called 'media literacy' - therefore becomes even more essential for active citizenship and democracy. Following an EU-wide survey last year, the European Commission has announced today its plans to encourage the development of media literacy and the exchange of good practice across Europe.
(RAPID) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. Publishers Forum, Brussels, 6 December 2007.
(E-consultancy.com) Three of the most popular social networking sites on the Internet are not doing enough to protect their child users, an independent expert audit has concluded. The investigation by web usability consultants at User Vision, one of Europe's leading independent user experience companies, found that Facebook, Bebo and MySpace all lacked targeted, clear information about online security for under 18s.
(Courier-Mai) Every Australian with an internet connection could soon have their web content automatically censored. The restrictions are planned by the Federal Government to give greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites. Under the plan, all internet service providers will have to provide a "clean" feed to households and schools, free of pornography and other "inappropriate" material. Australians who want uncensored access to the web will have to contact their internet service provider and "opt out" of the service.
(Progress & Freedom Foundation) As the Internet becomes more entwined in young people's lives, parents are finding they need assistance in teaching their children how to stay safe online. Leading experts at the October 3rd book event discussed their respective books on online child safety and the best tools and methods available to parents. he event also featured an address by Representative Melissa Bean (D-IL 8th), author of the SAFER NET Act, which supports educational efforts as the appropriate role of the government in online child safety. Adam Thierer, Moderator, The Honorable Melissa L. Bean, Sharon Miller Cindrich, Larry Magid and Nancy E. Willard.
(RAPID) The Dutch Telecom Regulator OPTA has imposed a fine totalling 1 million euro on three Dutch enterprises for illegally installing software - so called spyware and adware - on more than 22 million computers in the Netherlands and elsewhere. The companies fined now by OPTA operated together under the name DollarRevenue, which was considered to be among the 10 largest spyware distributors in the world. They managed to install the software on personal computers via downloads from the Internet and by exploiting security loopholes in computer programmes. The illegally installed software allowed the companies to spy on the consumer's on line behaviour and triggered pop-up windows containing specific advertising material. Unlawful access to a personal computer to stall information such as spyware and adware is prohibited under European law, namely article 5(3) of the EU's ePrivacy Directive of 2002. National regulators are called upon to enforce this prohibition by deterrent measures. Yesterday's decision by OPTA is the first time that a national regulator has resorted to drastic fines against a company acting in violation of the EU ban.
(BBC) Leading websites need to increase their self-regulation to tackle a rise in cyberbullying, according to Scotland's largest teaching union. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) voiced its concerns over the amount of inappropriate material about schools, pupils and teachers. General secretary Ronnie Smith said those hosting the websites were failing to exercise proper editorial control.
(Net Family News) That was just one (the Washington Post's) of an interesting range of headlines about the latest Pew Internet & American Life study about US 12-to-17-year-olds online. Here are some key findings:
(OUT-LAW News) Downloads of software, ringtones, games, music and movies sold to consumers will be taxed where the consumer is located instead of where the supplier is based with effect from 2015 under changes to Europe's VAT regime. The changes are intended to prevent distortions of competition between member states that operate different VAT rates. For business-to-consumer supplies of telecoms, broadcasting and electronic services, taxation will be determined by the place of consumption. VAT will therefore be payable in the EU member state where the consumer is based at the rate prevailing in that state. Business-to-business supplies of telecoms and electronic services will not be affected by the changes as these are already taxed by reference to where the customer is located.
(Net Family News) CNET has a guide to "18 top game picks: The DOs and DON'Ts of games for kids." The guide includes screen shots so you can see what the games look like, and it offers "nine games you can count on for your child, and nine you should shy away from (or keep for yourself)." They're all good games, just not all child-appropriate, CNET adds. There is one "don't" concerning hardware rather than a game, on the very last page: the Xbox 360 headset. "The premise: This simple headset plugs into your Xbox 360 controller and enables voice chat over Xbox Live and compatible games. The good: Lets your kids talk to other people over Xbox Live. The bad: Lets your kids talk to other people over Xbox Live."
(BBC) Apple and 20th Century Fox studio are to announce a deal that will allow consumers to rent the studio's films through iTunes. They will have a limited time to watch films downloaded from the iTunes store, a source told the Financial Times.
(BBC) Google has kicked off a project to create an authoritative store of information about any and every topic. The search giant has already started inviting people to write about the subject on which they are known to be an expert. The system will centre around authored articles created with a tool Google has dubbed "knol" - the word denotes a unit of knowledge - that will make webpages with a distinctive livery to identify them as authoritative.
(CNET News.com) Many companies are thinking about how they can take advantage of social-networking technology, but analysts at Gartner are warning against getting caught up in the hype.
(BBC) Social network sites are moving to make it much easier for software developers to write add-ons for the hugely popular web destinations. Bebo, Facebook, Meebo and Friendster have unveiled plans to help them become more than places to keep in touch. Bebo said it would also support Google's Open Social initiative which aims to create a unified system of tools that can be used on any and every social network site. The Open Social tools are due to appear in early 2008. Social networking giant MySpace is backing Google's initiative.
(Guardian) One in four UK adults do it 23 times a month. And Britons do it more often than anyone else in world, except for Canadians. The obsession is with social networking, which according to a report from the regulator Ofcom. is categorically no longer the preserve of teenagers and students, and has been adopted by a growing army of older surfers determined to link up with old acquaintances. Thanks to their growing obsession and the widespread availability of broadband, the UK leads Europe in using sites such as Facebook and MySpace. See International Communications Market 2007 (OFCOM). Part 2 - Convergence.
(IWF) Peter Robbins QPM, Internet Watch Foundation Chief Executive, has been awarded an OBE for services to children and families in the Queen's New Years Honours list.
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