- DE - Kritik an der Evaluierung des Jugendmedienschutzsystems +/-
(Heise) Die Analyse des komplizierten Systems des deutschen Jugendmedienschutzrechts sei bislang zu schlampig ausgefallen, meint eine Gruppe namhafter Juristen. In einem Artikel der Fachzeitschrift "MultiMedia und Recht" kritisieren sie den jüngst vorgestellten Bericht des Hans-Bredow-Instituts in Hamburg zur Evaluation des Jugendmedienschutzstaatsvertrages und Jugendschutzgesetzes. Die Juristen stellen den Bericht als "defizitäre Defizitanalyse" in Frage.
- TR - Turkey Bans YouTube for Second Time +/-
(Huffington Post) A Turkish court has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube because of clips allegedly insulting the country's founding father. It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal in Turkey to insult the revered figure, whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices nearly 70 years after his death.
- UK - Crackdown on sales of violent video games +/-
(BBC) Ministers want to make it easier for parents to protect their children from violent games by introducing a new, simpler classification system based on age ratings used by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Under the new scheme, it would become illegal for retailers to sell any video game to a child who was younger than the age rating on the box. At present, only the most violent games are regulated. The majority of games receive an age rating based on a voluntary system run by Pan-European Game Information (PEGI). PEGI ratings are not legally enforceable, however.
- UK - High court sends Manhunt back to Video Appeals Committee release +/-
(BBC) The developer of controversial video game Manhunt 2 has failed in its latest attempt to release the game in the UK. A high court judge ruled that the Rockstar Games' title must be re-evaluated by an appeals committee. The British Board of Film Classification successfully argued that the game had been approved for release on a misinterpretation of the law by the a decision by the Video Appeals Committee (VAC). The latest ruling means that the VAC must now re-evaluate the game under new guidelines.
- UK - Watchdog puts stranglehold on ad for violent computer game +/-
(Guardian) A TV advertisement for a computer game, Stranglehold, showing a shoot-out between four men was banned yesterday by the advertising watchdog for being too violent. After an investigation triggered by complaints from the public, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the advert breached advertising rules relating to violence and cruelty, and health and safety. The watchdog said the advert for the 18-rated game featured almost continuous shooting and realistic computer-generated scenes of violence.
- EU - Do internet companies protect personal data well enough? +/-
(EP Press Service) Claims that big internet companies, such as Google or Yahoo, track the on-line behaviour of millions of users, so as to be able to sell the resulting data to on-line advertisers, raise difficult issues, such as whether these data could also be used for other purposes that violate personal privacy, said data protection, industry and consumer protection bodies at a public hearing held by the Civil Liberties Committee on 21 January. see also EU Official: IP Is Personal (AP). IP addresses, string of numbers that identify computers on the Internet, should generally be regarded as personal information, the head of the European Union's group of data privacy regulators said.
- MySpace Bug Leaks 'Private' Teen Photos to Voyeurs +/-
(Wired) A backdoor in MySpace's architecture allows anyone who's interested to see the photographs of some users with private profiles - including those under 16 - despite assurances from MySpace that those pictures can only be seen by people on a user's friends list. Info about the backdoor has been circulating on message boards for months. Since the glitch emerged last fall, it has spawned a cottage industry of ad-supported websites that make it easy to access the photographs, spurring self-described pedophiles and run-of-the-mill voyeurs to post photos pilfered from private MySpace accounts.
- Social sites prove hard to leave behind +/-
(BBC) Thousands of final-year students who've put a lot of information on social networks are starting to worry about what potential employers may find if they take a look. But one student at Nottingham Trent University has found just how hard it can be to leave one of the networks, MySpace.
- UK - Facebook faces privacy questions +/-
(BBC) Facebook is to be quizzed about its data protection policies by the Information Commissioner's Office. The investigation follows a complaint by a user of the social network who was unable to fully delete their profile even after terminating their account. Currently, personal information remains on Facebook's servers even after a user deactivates an account. Facebook has said it believes its policy is in "full compliance with UK data protection law".
- UK - Ministry of Defence lost three unencrypted laptops +/-
(ZDNet.co.uk) Secretary of state for defence Des Browne has admitted that the laptop lost by the Ministry of Defence containing details of up to 600,000 defence personnel was not encrypted, and also that services personnel have previously lost two more laptops containing similar unencrypted recruitment information. On 9 January, the unencrypted laptop was stolen from a recruiting officer's car which had been left overnight in a car park in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The information on the stolen laptop included 3,700 people's bank details, as well as other data on up to 600,000 people, including their names. Approximately 153,000 people also had data including addresses, passport details, national insurance numbers, driver's licence details, doctors' addresses and National Health Service numbers compromised.
- UK - TV presenter hoist with own petard +/-
(Press Association) Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has admitted he was wrong to brand the scandal of lost CDs containing the personal data of millions of Britons a "storm in a teacup" after falling victim to an internet scam. The outspoken star printed his bank details in a newspaper to try and make the point that his money would be safe and that the spectre of identity theft was a sham. He also gave instructions on how to find his address on the electoral roll and details about the car he drives. However, in a rare moment of humility Clarkson has now revealed the stunt backfired and his details were used to set up a £500 direct debit payable from his account to the British Diabetic Association. see also Twice bitten: acts of stupidity can lead to identity theft (Cnet).
- UK - Whitehall staff face laptop ban +/-
(Press Association) A new ban on Whitehall staff removing unencrypted laptops containing personal data from their offices has begun. A massive operation to ensure that civil servants comply with the new rule, laid down by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell on Monday night, is now under way. As well as communicating the policy to all staff, departments will have to ensure that officials can continue to do their jobs within the constraints of the ban.This is likely to involve the encryption of large swathes of data.
- EU - European Parliament resolution: Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child +/-
(EP Press Release) An EU strategy on the rights of the child won Parliament's backing with 630 votes in favour, 26 against and 62 abstentions. MEPs call for the strategy to include tougher measures to combat paedophilia on the internet as well as steps to counter child sex tourism and enable suppliers of products manufactured with child labour to be prosecuted in Europe. The own-initiative report, drafted for the Civil Liberties Committee by Roberta Angelilli (UEN, IT), is Parliament's response to a Commission communication of 4 July 2006 titled "Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child". The report restates Parliament's opposition to all forms of violence against children and calls for a specific budget heading for their rights, with which to fund work required by the strategy. Among the European Parliament's many proposals, MEPs call for technical measures to combat the dissemination of paedophile content via the internet. They would also like to involve access suppliers, search engines and even banks, so as to block payment by would-be purchasers of illegal content. In addition, the House wishes to protect children by tightening up rules on the transmission of harmful content via the internet or multimedia messaging services and the sale of violent video games. It would like a uniform classification and labelling system to be created for such games, and for all audiovisual content. Children should be better informed of their rights via a dedicated internet site to be set up for this purpose, argues the European Parliament. The House recommends setting up a European early warning system on child abductions and supports the Commission's plan to introduce a telephone help-line for children. It also urges the creation of a European strategy, and a single EU-wide set of extraterritorial criminal laws, to counter child sex tourism.
- EU - Romania to protest cartoon featuring with "suicidal squirrels" to the European Commission +/-
(Associated Press) A darkly humorous cartoon showing squirrels hanging themselves and throwing themselves in front of cars has drawn the ire of Romanian broadcasting authorities. But Romanian authorities have no control over the cartoon, because it is broadcast on a channel with a British license. The Romanian regulatory body for television broadcasting said it would make an official protest to the European Commission about the one-minute cartoon shown every afternoon on the British-licensed channel AXN.
- UK - Where online kids' worries lie +/-
(Net Family News) A quick snapshot from a UK researcher halfway through her cyberbullying study: Well-known psychologist Tanya Byron told the Oxford Media Convention that "children are more worried about being bullied in cyberspace than any threat from paedophiles," the Financial Times reports. On pedophiles, she quoted one girl as telling her, "We kind of know who the creepy people are and what they say, and we kind of ignore them." The research shows that, "although children were adept at exploiting the ignorance of their parents about the internet and gaming, many would prefer to be able to talk to their mother or father about their online lives," the FT added.
- UK - MP calls for law to force online shops to verify age +/-
(OUT-LAW News) A bill has been introduced in Parliament which would force online retailers to check customers' ages before selling goods that cannot be sold to children. The Online Purchasing of Goods and Services (Age Verification) Bill received its first reading in Parliament on Tuesday when it was introduced by Labour MP Margaret Moran as a private member's bill. Moran said in a speech to the House of Commons that e-commerce provided people under 18 with a loophole, enabling them to buy age-restricted goods such as alcohol, cigarettes and pornography.
- Facing the future Facebook style +/-
(BBC) Regular commentator Bill Thompson ruminates on the inevitability of Facebook being in the news in 2008.
- Social networking sites claim safety comes first +/-
(Guardian) In a survey by the popular teen site Piczo, which offers creative tools to help users customise their profile pages, users said they felt safer online than they did this time last year, despite what many feel are increased safety risks. Piczo's European managing director, Chris Seth, said online safety falls into two areas; access and monitoring. He said Piczo, which claims more than 10m unique users each month, has worked with the Silicon Valley start-up Keibi on the development of monitoring software. This is used in combination with a team of 20 safety officers, who check random pages and also monitor the site for blacklisted keywords and phrases, aided by scanning software. See also Teens 'under false sense of security' online (netimperative).
- UK - Review to probe suicide websites +/-
(Press Association) The danger of internet sites that encourage suicide will form part of a Government review that is due to report in March. Parenting guru Tanya Byron has been considering the issue as part of her probe into child safety on the web, and is expected to look at the recent cluster of teenage suicides in Bridgend, South Wales. At least seven young people who knew each other have killed themselves in the past year in what are feared to have been copycat acts. There has been speculation they may have used the internet to research and discuss suicide. see also Memorial Web Sites: Tributes or Temptation? British politician questions how memorial sites affect young people, after a rash of suicides (Reuters) and Land of the online death pact fights to save lives from the web (Times).
- UK - Web worries after suicide spate +/-
(BBC) Social networking websites could be "romanticising" suicide, an MP claims after the deaths of seven young people from her area in the past year. Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon will raise internet use issues with police. Mrs Moon said she was growing increasingly worried by the appearance of so-called "memory walls" on networking sites like Bebo, where members leave messages to mark the death of a friend.
- US - MySpace & 49 attorneys general: Agreement +/-
(NetFamilyNews) Two years of negotiation between MySpace and the US's state attorneys general culminated in an announcement that they'd reached an agreement on "Key Principles of Social Networking Sites Safety." Not all is new (MySpace has implemented dozens of safety measures and programs in the past year, including a 24-hour hotline for law enforcement). But a few new social-Web safety developments were announced, and the agreement is a victory for collective thinking and action appropriate to this medium and against the litigation that the attorneys general had been threatening.
- Americans turn to online videos +/-
(BBC) Online video sharing sites are reaping the benefits of the ongoing writers' strike in the US. According to net measurement firm Nielsen Online, some online video sites have doubled their audience since the strike began at the end of October. The news comes as US-based Pew Internet Project highlights a more long-term growth of video sharing sites.
- CN - Bloggers in China surpass 47 million +/-
(People's Daily Overseas) China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) published the 2007 China blog survey report recently. The report showed that, by the end of November 2007, China blog spaces have totaled 72.82 million, and the number of bloggers reached 47 million. see also Blogs popular among China's youngsters, but many soon go blank (Xinhua).
- Flat-rate tariffs drive mobile networking +/-
(Guardian) Flat-rate internet tariffs are helping drive take-up of social networking tools on mobile phones, with some users spending more than an hour a day online, according to research. Singapore-based mobile communities firm BuzzCity polled 875 users of its MyGamma service, which offers discussion groups, photo sharing, calendars, mobile blogging and virtual gifts for around 2 million users in 60 countries.
- UK - Christmas online sales 'rise 50%' +/-
(BBC) UK online sales rose by more than 50% in the three months to Christmas, according to an industry survey. Internet sales between 1 October and 31 December hit £15.2bn, up from £9.61bn a year earlier, with electronics and clothing doing well, Capgemini said. Firms with both a High Street and online presence, such as John Lewis, did best, the survey said. For every pound spent on goods in 2007, 15 pence was spent online, pushing annual electronic sales to £30.2bn.
- UK - Life through a lens: how Britain's children eat, sleep and breathe TV +/-
(Guardian) A generation of "multitasking" children are living their daily lives - including eating and falling asleep - to the accompaniment of television, according to a survey of youngsters' media habits. The flickering of the screen accompanies most of them before they go to school, when they return home, as they consume their evening meal and then - for 63%, far more than read a book each day - in bed at night. The study of five- to 16-year-olds shows that four out of five children now have a TV set in their bedroom. So ubiquitous has television become that many children now combine it with other activities, including social networking online, flicking their eyes from laptop to TV screen and back again. Even if they are focusing on the television, young people are now reluctant to commit to one programme, with boys in particular often flipping between channels to keep up with two simultaneous shows at once.
- US - Researchers tapping Facebook usage for social dataset +/-
(Ars Technica) It's fairly easy to obtain demographic information - age, ethnicity, health status, etc. - from simple surveys. But researchers are becoming increasingly interested in how some of those demographic features interact with social connections, which are much harder to track. Those interested in studying social networks, however, are finding that today's college students are doing the hard work for them at sites such as MySpace and Facebook. In what may be the most ambitious effort of its type, a group of researchers at Harvard and UCLA is surreptitiously tracking an entire freshman class' social connections using their Facebook profiles.