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(Net Family News) The world's most connected country - South Korea, where 97% of the population has broadband Internet access - is conducting an experiment in Internet control that the world (especially the US) might do well to watch. I say "especially the US" because we're having a discussion here (at the Internet Safety & Technology Task Force) about online verification of minors' ages. The Guardian reports that Seoul is trying to "curb online anonymity and debate." New legislation, some of which is "due to pass" next month would require all forum and chatroom users to make verifiable real-name registrations (South Koreans have national ID cards). The legislation would also make all news sites subject to the same restrictions as newspapers and broadcast media, answerable to the Korean Communications Standards Commission regulatory body.
(Press Release) The Irish Internet Hotline has collaborated with the Australian Communications and Media Authority to disable a network of websites that provided access to child sexual abuse material. The action was initiated by an anonymous report from a member of the Irish public to the Hotline.ie website. Hotline.ie analysts confirmed the images were illegal under Irish law and found that the site was part of a network of related sites. All contained illegal images of children being sexually abused. The Irish Internet Hotline ascertained the sites were registered in Australia and referred the details to ACMA, which in consultation with the Australian Federal Police, made contact with the Australian domain name registrar Melbourne IT. Melbourne IT determined that the sites breached its terms and conditions of domain name registration and quickly took action to prevent the domain names in question from directing to the offending sites.
(RAPID) Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner, CEO Summit of the European Telecommunications Networks? Operators Associations, Venice, 25 October 2008.
(BBC) A website used by criminals to buy and sell credit card details and bank log-ins has been shut down after a police operation. International forum Darkmarket ran for three years and led to fraud totalling millions of pounds. Nearly 60 people connected with the site have been arrested in cities including London and Manchester as well as in Germany, Turkey and the US. The FBI spent two years gathering evidence after infiltrating the site. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which has been leading the UK investigation, said it was "a one-stop shop" for criminals.
(RAPID) The European Commission has launched proposals for EU-wide rights to make it easier for consumers to shop on the Internet and in the main street. The new proposal will guarantee consumers, wherever they shop in the EU, clear information on price and additional charges and fees before they sign a contract. It will strengthen consumer protection against late delivery and non delivery, as well as setting out tough EU-wide consumer rights on issues from cooling off periods, returns, refunds, repairs and guarantees and unfair contract term. The proposed Consumer Rights Directive simplifies 4 existing EU consumer rights directives into one set of rules. It targets e-commerce as part of a wide ranging overhaul and up grading of existing EU consumer rights online and in the high street. The aim is to boost consumer confidence and at the same time to cut red tape which is holding back business within national borders ? denying consumers more choice and competitive offers. A standard set of consumer contract terms will cut compliance costs substantially - by up to 97% for EU wide traders. The proposed directive upgrades existing consumer protection in key areas where there have been large numbers of complaints in recent years - such as pressure selling. It adapts the legislation to new technology and sales methods, for example, m-commerce and online "ebay" auctions. There is a clear requirement in the new proposal for clear information about consumer rights to be displayed at point of sale.
(Directorate of Standard-Setting) The Council of Europe has launched, in close cooperation with European online game designers and publishers and with Internet service providers, two sets of guidelines which aim to encourage respect and promote privacy, security and freedom of expression when, for example, accessing the Internet, using e-mail, participating in chats or blogs, or playing Internet games. See guidelines for: Online games providers (PDF) Internet service providers (PDF).
(ANHRI/IFEX) The Egyptian security apparatus is conducting an aggressive campaign against bloggers and Internet activists in many cities around Cairo, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reports.
(MENASSAT) Egyptian authorities have detained a couple accused of soliciting other married couples over the Internet for 'spouse-swapping' parties in their home, Daily News Egypt reports. A 48-year-old unnamed man and his 37-year old wife were arrested for organizing parties they advertised on a web site where participants offer to 'swap' spouses with other invited married couples.
(AP) Under the watchful eye of law enforcement in 40 states, Craigslist pledged to crack down on ads for prostitution on its Web sites. As part of Craigslist's agreement with attorneys general around the country, anyone who posts an "erotic services" ad will be required to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card. The Web site will provide that information to law enforcement if subpoenaed. Craigslist's CEO said the deal will allow legitimate escort services to continue advertising, while providing a strong disincentive to companies that are conducting illegal business.
(OUT-LAW News) Google has lost two German court cases over copyright in images displayed as thumbnails in search results. German courts ruled in both cases that Google's display of miniature versions of pictures without permission infringed copyright in the originals. The search giant will lodge one appeal covering both cases.
(OUT-LAW News) A judgment by Europe?s highest court has strengthened the rights of database creators to protect their work from being used by third parties without permission. The database right protects against more than just copying and pasting, it ruled. The decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) means that the transfer of material from a protected database to another database may be prevented, even if there is no technical process of copying. The ECJ affirmed the right of the University of Freiburg to protect the content of a database of poem titles from commercial exploitation by an unrelated company. Directmedia Publishing GmbH v Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg.
(EDRI-gram) The President of the European Commission has refused French President Sarkozy's request to withdraw Amendment 138 included in the Telecoms Package recently voted by the European Parliament. Amendment 138 which basically reinstates the legal issue of the freedom to communicate of Internet users, reaffirming that only threats to public security can justify the restriction to the free circulation of information on the Internet without a court decision, was voted with a large majority by the MEPs, fact which largely displeased EU French presidency who has continuously pushed and pressed for the application of the three strike approach introduced by its "Création et Internet" draft bill. see also Commission position on Amendment 138 adopted by the European Parliament and EU - Risposte graduée : Reding a la moutarde qui lui monte au nez (Libération)
(Spiegel) WirtschaftsWoche-Redakteur Thomas Kuhn im Interview mit Peter Fleischer, dem Datenschutzbeauftragten des Suchmaschinenbetreibers Google.
(OUT-LAW News) Social networking sites are not permitted to store information about people's use of the sites beyond the duration of a particular session in Germany, according to a panel of all that country's data protection officials. Companies behind social networks such as MySpace and Facebook must also tell users what happens to any data that is collected and tell them how they can influence the use of that data. The principles were laid down by the Düsseldorfer Kreis, a panel of all the German data protection authorities. They laid down eight principles of operation for social networking sites to keep them in line with data protection law. Datenschutzkonforme Gestaltung sozialer Netzwerke (PDF).
(Spiegel) Peinliches Datenleck beim Kinderkanal von ARD und ZDF: Auf einer Webseite des Senders waren Daten von Kindern im Internet einsehbar - Klarnamen, Adresse, Telefonnummer, Geburtsdatum.
(The Register) The European Commission has again written to the government for an explanation of UK authorities' response to BT's allegedly illegal secret trials of Phorm's ISP adware system. Brussels still wants answers after a September missive from Whitehall failed to address legal issues surrounding past deployments of the technology, and didn't provide details about how future rollouts will be regulated.
(AFP) Social networking websites were urged to warn users about the low level of protection given to their profiles at a Council of Europe-organised conference on the issue. The European Union Data Protection Authority (Cnil) said websites like Facebook should inform users that their profiles currently receive only "weak" protection. It added that website users, especially minors, should be told about the risks they face by going online and given clear instructions on how to change their data protection settings. The request came at the end of a two-day conference in Strasbourg during which 70 countries also stressed the need for a universal standard on privacy and personal data protection. See Resolution on Privacy Protection in Social Network Services.
(Guardian) MPs demanded a "cultural change" in public sector data handling after it emerged that a computer hard drive with the private details of 100,000 armed forces personnel had gone missing. The hard drive was being held by EDS, the Ministry of Defence's main IT contractor. It contains the names, addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth and driving licence details of those serving in the army, navy and RAF. It also includes next-of-kin details, as well as information on 600,000 potential services applicants and the names of referees. Officials said it may also include some bank account details.
(Times) The Ministry of Defence faces an investigation by the Information Commissioner after the disappearance of a computer hard drive containing details of Armed Forces personnel and thousands of potential recruits. Richard Thomas, the commissioner, will decide what steps to take after the MoD has completed its own inquiry. The removable hard drive was supposed to have been stored in a secure room with only limited access to personnel with special pass codes. Officials at EDS, the world's second-biggest computer company, said it was possible that the hard drive had been taken home by an employee or moved to another part of the company's office in Hook, Hampshire. Details relating to the 100,000 serving members of the Armed Forces include bank and driving licence information, next-of- kin addresses and dates of birth.
(Sunday Times) Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance. Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain's estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details.
(vnunet.com) The Royal Air Force has suffered a data loss that has reportedly put tens of thousands of personal records at risk. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that it is investigating the breach, which is believed to stem from the loss of three portable hard drives from an RAF base at Innsworth in Gloucestershire. The MoD said that two of the three drives contained RAF personnel records, while the third did not hold any sensitive information. The drives are reportedly carrying details on some 50,000 people.
(Guardian) It took a multimillion dollar lawsuit, two years of tense negotiations, and an awful lot of scanning. But yesterday the publishing world stood on the threshold of a digital era after a US deal paved the way to transform publishing. The agreement between Google and the US book industry means that internet users will soon be able to choose from and buy millions of titles, many out of print, or read them on a page-by-page basis. see New chapter for Google Book Search (Official Google Blog) by David Drummond and The Future of Google Book Search. See also Google settles with book publishers, becomes bookseller.
(RAPID) Over the years the Secretariat-General, which is concerned to preserve the institutional memory of the Commission, has built up a collection of documents on horizontal institutional issues and on the intergovernmental conferences at which the founding Treaties have been revised. Some of these documents go back to the Communities' beginnings. Hitherto this collection has only existed on paper. Until now only a handful of privileged users, mostly within the Commission, have had access to the collection. These documents have been digitised in order to move from paper to electronic storage. Dorie means that we can open up access to our collection to external users interested in institutional issues, in particular students and academic researchers, journalists, pressure groups and think tanks.
(RAPID) The European Commission is launching an on-line survey to find out more about the actual experience of businesses and public purchasers with electronic public procurement ("e-procurement"). This will provide essential information for an evaluation which is taking place on the effective up-take of e-procurement across the EU. The deadline for responses is 18 December 2008.
(OPSI) This time last year OPSI produced a report marking the first two years of operation of the UK regime for public sector information (PSI) and tracking progress made to date. As with the first report, OPSI?s aim was to ensure that the legislation that underpinned the various UK tools and initiatives to deliver PSI services 'is recognised, understood and put into practice'. The Report highlights the key milestones and tracks the progress made by OPSI and the UK government over the past year.
(Times) Barack Obama launched the official website for his transition to the White House, inviting users to send in their ideas for the future of the country. Users can also blog, and apply for jobs in an Obama administration via the website. The website continues a tactic Mr Obama employed to such brilliant effect during his campaign: make people feel they have a stake in his strategy, while simultaneously galvanising an army of supporters and new donors, who were kept in almost daily contact with the campaign through e-mails and text messages.
(Computerworld) Australians will be unable to opt-out of the government's pending Internet content filtering scheme, and will instead be placed on a watered-down blacklist. Under the government's $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material. Pundits say consumers have been lulled into believing the opt-out proviso would remove content filtering altogether. The government will iron-out policy and implementation of the Internet content filtering software following an upcoming trial of the technology, according to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
(BBC) The Thai government says it is planning to build an internet firewall to block websites deemed insulting to the country's hugely popular royal family. The Information Ministry says it has received many complaints about such sites, most of which are based abroad. Thailand's royals are supposed to be above politics and are protected by strict laws which prohibit criticism. The Information Ministry says it plans to spend millions of dollars erecting the digital firewall around the country to prevent Thailand's internet users from accessing the controversial sites.
(CNET) Child predators will be easier to track online because of two new laws President Bush signed. The Protect Our Children Act sets requirements for Internet companies to report incidences of child pornography. It also authorizes more than $320 million for the Justice Department over the next five years for, among other things, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The president also signed the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act, which requires a sex offender to provide the National Sex Offender Registry with all of his Internet identifiers, such as e-mail addresses. While the KIDS Act does not permit sex offenders' Internet identifiers to be made public, it does require the attorney general to share the information with social-networking Web sites, so the sites can compare the identifying information with that of their respective users.
(Consilium) Council Conclusions on setting up national alert platforms and a European alert platform for reporting offences noted on the Internet. 2899th Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, Luxembourg, 24 October 2008.
(BBC) Web users are being urged to help spot illegal and obscene content online. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is running an awareness campaign to tell web users how to report images of child sexual abuse. The campaign comes in response to IWF research which suggests 77% of people who find illegal content do not know how to report what they have seen. Banner adverts, e-mail messages and information pages are being used to educate people about how to report.
(OUT-LAW News) The Government has postponed planned legislation which could create a giant central database containing records of every email, web session and phone call made in the UK. The Government said before summer that it would create new communications legislation that would make the recording of the fact of communications, though not their content, compulsory. It has emerged that that law had been planned for the end of this year but will now be postponed until next year following consultation. Government sources have told reporters that one option is to create a single, Government-operated database of call and web use records but that there would be a public consultation on measures before the law is passed. The Government has announced that any law would extend the powers of communications logging so that they could track the use of communications through websites such as social networking sites.
(Times) Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain. GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to £1 billion to finance the first stage of the project. Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor customers live on two of the country?s biggest internet and mobile phone providers - thought to be BT and Vodafone. BT has nearly 5m internet customers.
(Europa) The European Forum on the Rights of the Child is a permanent group chaired by the European Commission aiming to promote children's rights in EU internal and external action. In order to ensure effective representation of civil society at the Forum, Civil society organisations have launched a call for interest. NGO's can submit their application up to 14th of November 2008. The European Commission has agreed to host the call for interest on its website but is not involved in the selection process. Call for nominations (PDF File 19 KB) Selection criteria (PDF File 25 KB).
(BBC) The video games consortium Elspa has proposed a solution to the ongoing games ratings controversy. Elspa supports a 'traffic-light'-type system as part of its voluntary ratings code that it says is more effective. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) dismissed the effort, saying their own colour-coded approach is well-established. A government consultation on the matter due to finish in November aims to agree a legally enforceable ratings scheme.
(RAPID) The European Parliament cast an overwhelmingly positive vote on the report drafted by MEP Roberta Angelilli which supports the launch of a new EU Safer Internet programme. The 5-year programme (2009-13), proposed by the European Commission last February, will have a budget of € 55 million to combat illegal online content but also to tackle illegal and harmful conduct such as grooming and cyberbullying. EU - Multiannual Community programme on protecting children using the Internet and other communication technologies - Position of the European Parliament.
(ENISA) The European Network and Information Security Network Agency has launched a report on virtual worlds with 25 safety tips for parents on how to make their children behave safely in online virtual worlds. These tips provide clear and comprehensive tools for parents to decide with their child what is appropriate and safe, to behave responsibly as well as to have fun in virtual worlds.
(Net Family News) Actually, online-safety education is only one part of the just-passed "Broadband Data Improvement Act" designed to improve our understanding of how much of the US has high-speed Internet access so the government can "ensure the continued rollout of broadband access, as well as the successful deployment of the next generation of broadband technology". The bill charges the Federal Trade Commission with establishing (within 90 days of enactment) an Internet safety and tech working group of experts in public and private sectors, creating a nationwide Net-safety public-awareness program, and promoting best practices within the Internet industry.
(RAPID) The European Commission has proposed legislation on establishing a Critical Infrastructure Warning Information Network (CIWIN) to strengthen information-sharing on critical infrastructure protection between EU Member States. The proposed legislation sets up a secure information technology system managed by the Commission and hosted by the Joint Research Centre in Ispra - CIWIN - with the aim of assisting EU Member States in exchanging good practices and information on shared threats, vulnerabilities and activities to protect critical infrastructure, such as for example in the transport and energy sectors.
(FSM) Die Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter e.V. (FSM) und die Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen e.V. (FSF) werden in Zukunft eng zusammenarbeiten. Das haben die Vorstände beider Selbstkontrollen beschlossen. Hintergrund ist die fortschreitende Konvergenz der Medien, die ermöglicht, gleiche Inhalte über verschiedene Vertriebskanäle abzurufen.
(Heise) Ein Jahr nach der Unterzeichnung einer Selbstverpflichtung für mehr Jugendschutz durch Mobilfunkanbieter und die Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter (FSM) ziehen die beteiligten Unternehmen positive Bilanz. Die vom rheinland-pfälzischen Jugendministerium initiierte Selbstverpflichtung sei erfolgreich umgesetzt worden, teilte die FSM mit.
(BBC) Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have signed a global code of conduct promising to offer better protection for online free speech and against official intrusion. The Global Network Initiative follows criticism that companies were assisting governments in countries like China to censor he Internet. see also New steps to protect free expression and privacy around the world (Google Public Policy Blog) by Andrew McLaughlin.
(Economist) Firms have been exploiting social networks such as Facebook and MySpace to get their messages to a broader audience. But although they have the potential to be useful marketing tools, such networks can also be a source of damaging publicity, as British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic have discovered to their cost. On October 31st Virgin fired 13 of its cabin crew who had posted derogatory comments about its safety standards and some of its passengers on a Facebook forum. On November 3rd BA began investigating the behaviour of several employees who had described some passengers as "smelly" and "annoying" in Facebook postings.
(EDRI-gram) Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, gave her first public speech on social networks at the Safer Internet Forum on 26 September 2008, which confirms the interest of the EU bodies on this topic. The commissioner emphasized the growth of the social networks in Europe. While praising their success in promoting cultural diversity and enhanced interactivity and, at the same time, in bringing new economic opportunities for the European industry, Reading mentioned also the new issues raised by the social networks on data privacy and protection of minors. The Commissioner took the stance of self-regulation in relation to social networking and announced that the Commission wants to act as a facilitator: "For this purpose the Commission has convened a Social Networking Task Force, which held two meetings in 2008 with 17 operators of social networking sites used by under-18s (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Bebo, Hyves, StudiVZ, and Skyrock), a number of researchers and child welfare organisations. The objective is to agree on voluntary guidelines for use of social networking sites by children, to be adopted voluntarily by the European industry."
(Economist print) Among the few firms benefiting from the upheaval in the financial markets are professional social networks - websites that help with business networking and job-hunting. On LinkedIn, the market leader, members have been updating their profiles in record numbers in recent weeks, apparently to position themselves in case they lose their jobs. The two most popular sites, LinkedIn and Xing, have been growing at breakneck speed and boast 29m and 6.5m members respectively. And, in contrast to mass-market social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, both firms have worked out how to make money.
(BBC) Companies should not dismiss staff who use social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo at work as merely time-wasters, a Demos study suggests. Attempts to control employees' use of such software could damage firms in the long run by limiting the way staff communicate, the think tank said. Social networking can encourage employees to build relationships with colleagues across a firm, it added.
(RAPID) The European Commission is publishing new legislative texts on the EU Telecoms Reform package to take account of the European Parliament vote of 24 September 2008 and the ongoing discussions in the Council. The new texts presented by the Commission will be discussed in the Council of Telecoms Ministers on 27 November. At the heart of the compromise texts is a new, small and independent office for Europe's telecoms regulators that should help the Commission to bring about more consistency to regulatory measures on Europe's telecoms markets. The new regulatory framework is expected to become law in all 27 EU Member States by 2010.
(Times) Almost half of all children want adults to supervise them when they use the internet, a report by Ofsted, the school inspectors, indicates. Two out of three of those questioned want pornographic sites and chat rooms on the web to be blocked or filtered to protect them from graphic or inappropriate sites. The survey of 686 children aged between four and 20, from varying social backgrounds, indicated that 45 per cent think adults should sit next to or near young people when they are on the internet so they can monitor what is being viewed. Children should be taught basic internet safety to prevent them stumbling upon porn or falling prey to paedophiles, according to a quarter of those surveyed at the national children's conference.
(BBC) Three out of four children have seen images on the internet that disturbed them, an NSPCC poll suggests. The charity is renewing its call for computer manufacturers and retailers to install security to stop children finding violent or sexual content. The NSPCC, which polled visitors to its children's website There4me.com, said it was "alarmed" by the accessibility of potentially disturbing material. Some 377 of 497 votes cast claimed to have been disturbed by internet images.
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