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(IHT) When President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in January that he would ban commercials from public television, it took only moments for the share price of private broadcasters to react. It was also the first hint that behind a profound and controversial shake-up of the French public television sector loomed a much larger vision - one involving private media companies, some of Sarkozy's closest friends in the business and a long-held ambition of the president to groom that special breed of company he had already created in other industries: the national champion.There is no French multimedia empire comparable to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. or Bertelsmann of Germany, which own newspapers, television channels and radio interests and Internet ventures worldwide. And there is no French equivalent of British Broadcasting Corp., with an international reputation and no advertising pressures.
(Google blog) by Shumeet Baluja, Research Scientist. A team of Google engineers dedicated their 20 percent time over the last year and a half to build cutting-edge software for NCMEC that uses image and video recognition technology to help NCMEC analysts more effectively sort and review incoming reports of child exploitation. NCMEC analysts sort through tens of millions of images in child sexual abuse investigations, and Google leverage its expertise in organizing huge amounts of data to help make their important work more automated and efficient.
(RAPID) Speech by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, Medienforum, Cologne, 9th June 2008.
(Sunday Times) More than 90% of websites selling ringtones for mobile phones to children and teenagers are misleading them with unclear charges and confusing information, an investigation by the European commission has found. The tactics include signing up users to subscriptions when they believe they are downloading one-off tunes and using free offers to lure them into long-term paid contracts. Brussels is to announce that it will launch inquiries into dozens of British ringtone websites, in addition to many others across Europe. In a further move against the exploitation of mobile phone users, Viviane Reding, the European Union telecoms commissioner, said that operators had adopted a "bunker mentality" by not reducing their international call charges.
(RAPID) EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva has announced the results of an EU-wide investigation into websites offering mobile phone services such as ring-tones and wallpapers. The enquiry, which was carried out on more than 500 websites across the 27 Member States, Norway and Iceland, found that 80% of the sites checked need to be further investigated for suspected breaches of EU consumer rules. Many of the websites target children and young people. Problems found included: unclear price information where prices are incomplete did not include taxes or customers are unaware that they are signing up to a subscription. Large numbers of websites do not provide some of the required contact information about the trader. Other problems relate to misleading information where key information is hidden in very small print or hard to find on a website or the word "free" is used to mislead consumers into a long-term contracts. Companies will be contacted by the national authorities and asked to clarify or correct problems identified. Failure to do so can result in legal action leading to fines or closure of their websites. For cross border cases, national authorities will work with colleagues from other EU authorities. Authorities are asked to report back on their progress in the first half of 2009. See also Frequently Asked Questions.
(Economist) Authoritarian governments can lock up bloggers. It is harder to outwit them.
(OUT-LAW News) The European Commission has proposed a Directive that would give performers rights over recordings for 95 years after the recording. The change would give a player on a recording rights for the same length of time as the writer of the material. EU Competition Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has tried before to increase the term of copyright protection for performers but has previously lost the argument. The EU's commissioners have now decided to propose a Directive, though, extending the term from 50 to 95 years. See Terms of Protection page (Europa). See also Veteran rockers set for windfall (BBC).
(BBC) Music download stores like Apple's iTunes could soon be able to operate one shop for the whole of Europe, under new rules brought in by EU regulators. Currently, iTunes has to negotiate the right to sell music with a different society in every European state. The European Commission says musicians should be free to choose from among the many collecting societies that handle music royalties in the 27-nation EU. The ruling will also let the societies license music in more than one country.
(BBC) Europeans suspected of putting movies and music on file-sharing networks could be thrown off the web under proposals before Brussels. The powers are in a raft of laws that aim to harmonise the regulations governing Europe's telecom markets. Other amendments added to the packet of laws allow governments to decide which software can be used on the web. Campaigners say the laws trample on personal privacy and turn net suppliers into copyright enforcers.
(OUT-LAW News) Online auction site eBay has been fined £31.5 million and ordered to forbid the sale of some luxury perfumes in a French court order designed to battle the sale of counterfeit luxury goods. Handbag, clothing and perfume company Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) sued eBay in the French courts, claiming that the company did not do enough to combat the sale of counterfeits of its goods. EBay claims that it cannot police all the sales through its site and that it makes no guarantee that goods are genuine, and that it suspends counterfeit auctions when notified of them. The French court, though, found "serious faults" in eBay's processes that led to auctions of counterfeit goods going ahead. By allowing the sales, it said, eBay had damaged the reputation of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.
(ZDNet) Le 1er juillet, la France prendra la présidence de l'Union européenne pour six mois. La ministre de la Culture entend en profiter pour dégager un consensus général sur la lutte contre le téléchargement sur les réseaux peer-to-peer. Christine Albanel, ministre de la Culture, veut transposer le modèle français de lutte contre le téléchargement illégal à l'ensemble de l'Europe. Elle a présenté à la presse ses objectifs en la matière, alors que la France s'apprête à prendre la présidence de l'Union européenne à partir du 1er juillet. voir aussi Projet Hadopi : retour sur les enjeux et les forces en présence.
(OUT-LAW News) Virgin Media has said that a threat sent out to 800 of its customers that they could be disconnected from the internet because of alleged copyright infringement was a mistake. The envelope containing a letter warning subscribers that their account was being used for illegal file-sharing was printed with the words "Important. If you don't read this, your broadband could be disconnected". A Virgin Media spokeswoman told OUT-LAW that the message was a mistake. "We are not accusing our customers of doing anything, we are alerting them to the fact that illegal file sharing has been tracked to their account. This could have been someone else in the house or an unsecured wireless network. This is an education campaign," she said. The company has shared information with music rights holders' group the BPI in order to identify accounts which may have been used for copyright-infringing file sharing. The spokeswoman said, though, that no names or addresses were passed to the BPI and that it had been responsible for the envelope, a mistake that it was "rectifying immediately".
(Guardian) eBay has won a four-year legal battle with Tiffany over the jeweller's complaint that the online website amounted to a "rat's nest" auction of counterfeit watches, bracelets and necklaces. A judge in New York ruled that eBay could not be held responsible for policing the contents of its site, and that it was Tiffany's role to draw fake designer jewellery to the auctioneer's attention. The verdict is a relief to eBay which lost a similar case in Paris two weeks ago when a French court ordered it to pay 38.6m in damages to the luxury goods manufacturer LVMH for allowing the sale of fake bags, perfumes and designer clothes.
(RAPID) The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has adopted an Opinion on the proposed multiannual Community programme on protecting children using the Internet and other communication technologies. The EDPS fully supports the general orientations of the programme aiming at more efficiently protecting children using the Internet, while adapting to the evolution of new technologies. He stresses the fact that the protection of children's data is an essential first step in guaranteeing more safety and prevention of abuse on the Internet. Data protection considerations should also apply to all persons who are connected in some way with the information circulating on the network to prevent illegal content and harmful conduct (e.g. person reported as suspect, reporting person, victim of abuse). Data protection authorities play a decisive role in the protection of children on the Internet. This should be taken into consideration when it comes to the implementation of the multiannual programme.
(OUT-LAW News) The UK's privacy watchdog has said that EU privacy laws are out of date and in need of reform. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has commissioned a research firm to look into how the law could be changed. The ICO said that Commissioner Richard Thomas would lead an international debate on how the law could and should change. Data protection laws across the EU are derived from the European Directive on Data Protection.
(Guardian) Google has struck a deal to protect the personal data of millions of YouTube users in the $1bn copyright court case brought against the video-sharing website by Viacom. Under the deal, Google will make user information and internet protocol addresses from its YouTube subsidiary anonymous before handing over the data to Viacom in the US legal case.
(BBC) Gooogle must divulge the viewing habits of every user who has ever watched any video on YouTube, a US court has ruled. The ruling comes as part of Google's legal battle with Viacom over allegations of copyright infringement. Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called the ruling a "set-back to privacy rights". The viewing log, which will be handed to Viacom, contains the log-in ID of users, the computer IP address (online identifier) and video clip details. While the legal battle between the two firms is being contested in the US, it is thought the ruling will apply to YouTube users and their viewing habits everywhere.
(LA Times) Reunion.com previously linked to other data providers when users searched its site for names. Last month, the site decided to build its own database by acquiring files on as many as 260 million people from a private data broker. A mother was upset to find the name of her 4-year-old son.
(Intellectual Property Watch) by Monika Ermert. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced the "biggest extension of the DNS [domain name system] in 40 years" after its decision last week to finish implementation of a new policy for introducing new top-level domains (TLDs). One problem is a procedure to allow anyone to file objections against new TLD proposals on the bases of existing rights of others (like those holding trademarks), confusing similarity, economic concerns or concerns of ethnic communities about a new domain. Governments also reiterated that geographical names, including place names, must be avoided or only be granted in case of endorsement by the respective local authorities. But the most discussed and criticised reason for an objection clearly is "morality and public order."
(CNET) The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has voted to relax rules for naming Web sites. At its meeting in Paris, ICANN, a not-for-profit organization that oversees the naming scheme for Web sites, voted to accept a proposal that will allow companies to purchase new top-level domain names ending in whatever they like. See also ICANN go-ahead on gTLDs - with "string criteria" (LINX Public Affairs blog, posred by Malcolm Hutty).
(Open Access News) The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released a new Recommendation of the Council for Enhanced Access and More Effective Use of Public Sector Information at its recent Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy (Seoul, June 17-18, 2008).
(RAPID) Parents and children need to be able to call help quickly and free of charge while travelling in the EU. In the UK and Belgium alone more than 7,500 children were reported missing in 2007. Public concern about child safety has been heightened by cases like the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal. In 2007, the Commission took action by reserving, at national level, six-digit numbers starting with 116 for missing children hotlines (116000) and for helplines (116111) with which children can seek assistance. However, a recent EU survey shows that only a minority of Member States have assigned these numbers to service providers: seven for 116000 and ten for 116111. The Commission has called on Member States to speed up implementation of these numbers. Under EU law Member States do not have to assign the numbers, but are required to reserve them and inform the public and providers of their availability. The survey shows few efforts by Member States to make known the numbers' availability, delaying their implementation.
(Kyodo News) Only 20 percent of some 1,600 known child pornography sites were taken off the Internet in 2007 despite pressure from a Tokyo-based watchdog that monitors the harmful sites. As the Internet Hotline Center Japan is not authorized to enforce deletions or issue requests for such action to foreign servers, cross-border exchanges of pornographic images continue. The center detected 1,609 child porn sites last year, based mainly on tipoffs, and urged the taking down of 526 whose servers are located in Japan. However, only 339 accepted the request.
(BuaNews) Members of the public can now anonymously report any images of sexual abuse discovered on the internet through a newly launched website in South Africa. The website, www.fpbprochild.org.za, which is available 24 hours, seven days a week was launched in Johannesburg by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba. Mr Gigaba said the website service will afford members of the public an opportunity to report any incidences of child pornography online and remain anonymous. "Our internet content analysts will assess the contents of any reported website and will forward a detailed report to the law enforcement agencies in South Africa for further action. The Film and Publication Board fully supports the initiative Other stakeholders in the fight against child pornography included the South African Police Service, SABC and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
(BBC) New guidelines for how internet service providers should combat spam have been published. The advice, from the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) recommends ISPs use separate servers for received and forwarded e-mails. It also recommends ISPs block the port - known as port 25 - through which spam travels.
(RAPID) The Commission has launched a public consultation on the future regulation of "voice call termination rates" in the EU. Voice call termination rates are the wholesale tariffs charged by the operator of a customer receiving a phone call to the operator of the caller's network. These tariffs are determined by the intervention of national telecoms regulators. At the moment the decisions of the national telecoms regulators result in very divergent rates across the EU. This distorts competition between operators from different countries and between fixed line and mobile phone operators. The public consultation on this proposal will be open until 3 September 2008.
(RAPID) The 2.5 billion text messages sent every year by roaming customers in the EU cost over 10 times more than domestic short messages (SMS), show figures released by the European Commission. The average cost of a roaming text message in the EU between October 2007 and March 2008 was 0.29 according to the European Regulators' Group (ERG), but can be as high as 0.80 for travellers from Belgium. Calls on the industry for self-regulation and voluntary reductions of roaming prices for text messages have not been answered. The Commission will therefore start working on measures to ensure that consumers benefit from a truly single market for mobile text services. The Commission will also seek to put an end to "bill shocks" that can hit roaming customers using a mobile connection to surf the Internet.
(RAPID) Use of mobile data services within individual Member States is growing much faster than cross border data roaming services, says a Connect2Roam study carried out for the European Commission. This is because mobile operators are introducing aggressive retail rates to compete with existing broadband offers. However, use of data roaming services remains limited as consumers are discouraged by extremely high charges when compared to national prices, as well as a lack of transparency related to the pricing by volume of data (Megabytes) used. High-volume users are susceptible to bill shocks if, for example, they surf the internet for long periods when using their datacard connection on a laptop computer.
(RAPID) Speech by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy. 0penForum Europe - Breakfast seminar, Brussels, 10th June 2008. See Kroes calls for open standards in eGovernment (EurActiv). In an unusual move, EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes backed the use of open software for eGovernment and called on public authorities not to impose proprietary standards on citizens. She clearly suggested that public authorities should use open standards rather than proprietary software that could generate anti-competitive practices and harm citizens.
(BBC) Children as young as 11 are being given debit cards which allow them to buy goods such as cigarettes and Viagra over the internet, without their parents' permission. The high street bank Lloyds TSB, which sends out the Visa cards to youngsters, last night came under fire from politicians and credit charities for placing children at risk. The bank claims guardians can opt out of the service for their children - but admits to sending the cards directly to their customers with a parental guidance leaflet which the youngsters should pass on.
(BBC) A Newsbeat investigation has uncovered a dating website specifically for teenagers which campaigners fear will become a "playground for paedophiles". Children's Charity, NSPCC, says MyLOL.net, which is marketed for teenagers but has hundreds of adult profiles, should clean up its act or be shut down. The site's owner claims there are security measures in place and they'll be toughened up soon.
(BBC) A row has broken out between the games industry and the UK's content classifiers over who should regulate video games in the future. UK games industry body Elspa has called on the government to replace the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) role's in assessing video games. The industry favours its own voluntary system, called Pegi. see also BBFC vs PEGI debate rolls on (GamesIndustry.biz).
(Berkmann Center) The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University announces a Request for Technical Submissions as part of the work of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force. The Task Force, comprised of leading Internet businesses and organizations, is focused on identifying effective online safety tools and technologies that can be used by companies and individuals across multiple platforms. The Request for Technical Submissions asks companies, non-profits, and individuals with technologies relevant to child safety online to submit a detailed description that will enable a thorough review by the Task Force's Technical Advisory Board.
(BBC) Children from around the world are meeting in London to discuss how they can better protect themselves from the dangers posed by the internet. More than 150 teenagers from 19 different countries will attend the five-day conference and voice their opinions to government and industry. Their aim is to draw up a global online charter to be presented to the UN. see also Canberra kids to give Aussie insight at global online safety forum (Computerworld) and Young Canadians Attend International Youth Advisory Congress on Online Safety and Security Conference (RCMP Media Relations).
(Guardian) The government has unveiled an action plan to make the internet safer for children with a £9m ad campaign promoting "e-safety" and setting up a council on child internet safety. The action plan, unveiled today by the department for children, schools and families, aims to deliver on Dr Tanya Byron's recommendations in her report "safer children in a digital world". See Byron Review Action Plan.
(Official Google Blog) In the spirit of National Internet Safety Month, we welcomed Ernie Allen, co-founder and president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to the Googleplex last week to discuss child protection issues. In a policy talk called "Beyond Milk Cartons: Keeping kids safe in a digital world", Ernie provided an overview of NCMEC's work and chatted with Googlers about the ever-changing landscape of child protection challenges shared by parents, educators, advocacy organizations, and technology companies like Google as we work to help families make smart choices online. Watch Ernie's talk on YouTube.
(Computerworld) The Communications minister has signaled the Australian government's support for the Content Services Code, an Internet Industry Association code of practice for providers of online and mobile phone content. This establishes a framework for the regulation of content services, such as Internet streaming and 3G mobile services, to provide protection to children from exposure to unsuitable content and ensure content providers adhere to requirements of the new code.
(NetFamilyNews) Last week I wrote about Google's launch of Lively avatar chat, ending with a caveat that seems to apply to so much of the social Web: that there were sex-related chat rooms in the Popular Rooms list. This week CNET reports the same: "Despite some injunctions to the contrary, sexual overtones are creeping into" Lively, with the qualification that "a little snooping around revealed some evidence of borderline rooms, but nothing as risque as shows in the more permissive realm of Second Life" (which does have ratings so those who want to can avoid sex-related virtual locations). Google told CNET it's taking complaints about these seriously and is "working to remove them."
(OUT-LAW News) A European Parliament committee has rejected the European Commission's plans for an EU-wide telecoms regulator. The MEPs have proposed an alternative body which will have fewer powers. Viviane Reding, the Telecoms Commissioner, has criticised the plan, saying that the alternative body would not be able to act quickly enough. The Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) of the Parliament approved a report by Spanish socialist MEP Pilar del Castillo which proposes the new agency, the Body of European Regulators in Telecommunications (BERT) as an alternative to the Commission's proposed European Telecoms Market Authority (ETMA).
(BBC) Children are able to illegally buy violent video games through online auction websites, the UK's Trading Standards Institute has said. Almost 90% of retailers tested by the association sold under-18s games, such as Manhunt 2, through such outlets. Traders supplying games to an under-age person in breach of official classifications can face a fine or up to six months in jail.
(Economist) Microsoft knows what it wants to do when Bill Gates leaves - but the road ahead will not be easy.
(Guardian) Orange is to launch a major push for mobile social networking in the UK, introducing a service which aggregates users' accounts across the major social networks. Launched as a trial in France last month under the name MySocialPlace, Orange has now partnered with the biggest social networks - Facebook, MySpace and Bebo - to introduce the service in the UK in the autumn under the Orange World branded website. UK users will also be able to access the chat service Flirtomatic and the photo-sharing site Pikeo, while Orange customers in France can use the Skyrock community, DailyMotion video site and dating service Meetic.
(Guardian) Millions of pay-as-you-go mobile phone customers have been hit with a sharp rise in the minimum price for making a call as networks attempt to claw back lost revenue. O2 and T-Mobile this week doubled the minimum connection charge for many of their prepay customers, while Vodafone imposed a more modest rise last month. In many cases these charges have jumped from 10p to 20p or 25p.
(RAPID) An EU-wide survey of 27,000 households has revealed the emergence of new consumption patterns in telecoms services in Europe. Technological progress and competition have brought more choice to European consumers; 24% of households have given up their fixed telephone in favour of mobile phones while 22% of them are using their computer from home to make phone calls over the Internet. In an increasing number of Member States, European households are using wireless access to connect to the Internet, via mobile or satellite networks. Meanwhile, 29% of European households buy bundled telecoms and media packages, an increase of nearly 10% since last year. Nevertheless, the top priority for consumers in this fast evolving environment remains the quality of services.
(Europa) eCommunications household survey: The results of a special Eurobarometer survey conducted by TNS Opinion & Social between 9 November 2007 and 14 December 2007 to measure the attitude of European households and individuals towards fixed and mobile telephony, IT equipment and Internet access, TV broadcast services, bundled offers, telephone directories and 112 emergency call number. The survey covers the 27 EU Member States, with an average of 1,000 households interviewed per country. Full Report Summary.
(vnunet.com) New research suggests that global mobile web users will jump from 577 million today to over 1.7 billion by 2013. Juniper Research attributes the growth primarily to surging demand for collaborative applications, and greater penetration of next-generation mobile infrastructure. Accessing social networking, user-generated content, instant messaging and location-based services on the go will drive more and more people to the mobile web, the report claims. However, this shift towards the direct-to-consumer model will put pressure on mobile network operators and handset manufacturers to relinquish some of their control over the value chain by opening up networks and devices to third-parties.
(PC Advisor) 11 percent of children have had a sexually explicit conversation online, according to a survey by The Carphone Warehouse. The Mobile Life survey, which polled 6,000 adults and children about their web and mobile habits also revealed that a quarter of 11 to 18 years olds had visited adult websites and 10 percent had met people they first interacted with online. Almost half the children surveyed admitted they lie to their parents about their online activities, with most using homework as a cover for surfing the net or social networking. Thirty-three percent revealed they would be in trouble if their parents knew what they were really looking at.
(Europa) This year's Safer Internet Forum will take place in Luxembourg on September 25 and 26. The Forum is open for stakeholders from NGOs, governments, researchers, industry representatives, including Internet Service Providers, mobile network operators, social networking sites, software developers. The European Commission is organising 4 different experts' panels on the following topics: September 25: Social Networking and Children, Age verification; September 26: What do we know about Children's use of online technologies?, Media Rating - towards pan-European cross media rating and classification schemes. In order to prepare the Safer Internet Forum discussions, the European Commission has launched in June 2008 a public consultation to get input from all relevant stakeholders. Contributions from those interested are expected until July 31 2008.
(EuroDIG.org) Consultations before the 3rd IGF in Hyderabad with a particular emphasis on : "Fostering security, privacy and openness on the internet". European actors interested in Internet Governance issues will meet in Strasbourg on 20-21 October 2008, to discuss openly and freely their ideas, experiences and concerns in a fully multi-stakeholder format. The main themes on the Agenda of the 3rd IGF to be held in Hyderabad in December will be addressed with a particular emphasis on issues surrounding security, privacy, and openness on the Internet (concerns such as cutting Internet access, the privacy and security of popular internet banking and commerce applications, etc). Other themes will include universal access, as well as managing Internet critical resources. Europäischer Dialog zur Internet Governance geplant (Heise)
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