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(The Register) A new social network website claiming to be a "Facebook for Kids" is riddled with security shortcomings, security researchers at Cambridge University have warned. The site - School Together Now - said that it took security seriously and promised to review the findings of the Cambridge researchers. See also Think of the children by Joseph Bonneau Cambridge University Light Blue Touchpaper blog.
(BBC) Vietnam has tightened restrictions on internet blogs, banning bloggers from raising subjects the government deems inappropriate. Blogs should follow Vietnamese law, and be written in "clean and wholesome" language, according to a government document seen by local media. Internet service providers will be held accountable for the content of blogs they host.
(TechCrunch) MySpace is getting back into the business of blocking third party widgets - they've banned embedded music widgets from the fast growing Project Playlist under threat of litigation from the major labels. MySpace they confirmed the ban, noting that they have received infringement notices from "major music companies". But see Good news for Project Playlist: Sony BMG strikes deal (CNET News). Project Playlist has struck a deal with Sony BMG to bring the label's catalog to its streaming-music service. It's the first major-label deal for Project Playlist.
(CNET) Negotiations between Warner Music Group and YouTube over renewing the licensing agreement for the record label's music videos broke down and Warner, the third largest record label, removed videos from the Google-owned video site. The impasse comes at a time when all four major labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and EMI, are renegotiating their licensing deals with YouTube.
(CNET) The Recording Industry Association of America said that it no longer plans to wage a legal assault against people who it suspects of pirating digital music files. The music industry has a new form of protection: Internet service providers. The RIAA will alert an ISP that a customer appears to be file sharing. The ISP will then notify the person that he or she appears to be file sharing. If the behavior by the customer doesn't change, then more e-mails will be sent. If the customer ignores these e-mails, then the ISP may choose to suspend the person's service. If all else fails, they can choose to discontinue service. see also Hollywood wants in on ISP "graduated responses," too (Ars Technica).
(AP) Yahoo will shorten the amount of time that it retains data about its users' online behavior - including Internet search records - to three months from 13 months and expand the range of data that it "anonymizes" after that period. Yahoo's announcement ratchets up the pressure on rivals Google and Microsoft to follow its lead. In September, Google said it would "anonymize," or mask, the numeric Internet Protocol (IP) addresses on its server logs after nine months, down from a previous retention period of 18 months. And Microsoft, which currently keeps user data for 18 months, said it would support an industry standard of six months.
(BBC) The European Union's huge digital library Europeana, which crashed last month just hours after its launch, is back online. The website's server capacity has been quadrupled to cope with demand, European Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr told reporters. But the homepage - at www.europeana.eu - warns that "the user experience may not be optimal in this test phase".
(BBC) Plans to offer hundreds of new web addresses as alternatives to .com have been criticised by the US government.The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees net addresses has floated plans for the radical change to the existing system. But the US Commerce department has questioned both the benefits and the costs of such a scheme. Officials have also raised concerns about whether the plans will destabilise the current system.
(BBC) The Australian government is due to start a series of field trials this month in order to filter websites that are harmful to children. The 'cyber-safety plan', spearheaded by Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy, will cost around AUS$126m (£55m) and will be implemented over a period of four years. See also Net firms rebuff filtering plan (BBC) and The Great Firewall of Australia (ARN).
(Guardian) Chinese government officials have defended their decision to block several foreign news websites, including the BBC, as the country moves away from its pledge for uncensored internet access during the Beijing Olympics. The BBC, Voice of America, Hong Kong's Ming Pao News and Asiaweek have all had their websites blocked in China since early December. Restrictions had previously been lifted in August, when foreign journalists demanded full access during the Olympics. China's foreign ministry said that it was within its rights to block sites that showed content illegal under the country's law.
(CNET) The UK's Internet watchdog reversed its decision to prevent users in that country from visiting a Wikipedia page containing an image of a naked child. The Internet Watch Foundation had taken exception with a page dedicated to a 1976 album by rock band The Scorpions. The cover of that album - called Virgin Killer -includes the image of a prepubescent girl, which the group deemed a "potentially illegal indecent image," landing Wikipedia on the group's blacklist. As a result, Internet service providers in the U.K. began filtering access to all pages of the online encyclopedia over the weekend. The IWF reversed that decision after an appeal and presentation by the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia. "The IWF board has today considered these findings and the contextual issues involved in this specific case, and - in the light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability - the decision has been taken to remove this Web page from our list," it said. See How to make child-porn blocks safe for the internet (Guardian) by Cory Doctorow and Why the IWF was wrong to lift its ban on a Wikipedia page (OUT-LAW News).
(FT) Deutsche Telekom has abandoned a contentious plan to build its own ultra-fast broadband network in its domestic market and has instead linked up with rival Vodafone to develop the next-generation network across Germany. The move follows years of criticism from the European Commission, which feared that DT's go-it-alone approach, linked to a demand to keep rivals off its network, would lead to a new monopoly in Europe's largest telecoms market.
(Ars Technica) The Wall Street Journal, having obtained some paperwork on a potential deal between Google and major ISPs, concluded that the search giant is backing off its net neutrality stance, and claims that many other major players are joining it. Fortunately, company counsel Richard Whitt describes the system in more detail on Google's Public Policy Blog. The plans are to have Google become its own edge-caching service provider, and do what commercial companies like Akamai are already engaged in: hosting copies of content at servers with high-speed connections to major regional networks. See also Nuts and Bolts: Network neutrality and edge caching (PFF Blog) by Brett Swanson.
(RAPID) The European Commission has published a set of guidelines for the authorisation of Mobile TV to accelerate roll-out of the service across Europe. Mobile TV revenues worldwide are expected to reach more than €7.8 billion in 2013. The commercial services launched before summer 2008 in some European countries show that there is an increasing consumer demand: in the Netherlands alone, 10 000 users had already subscribed to the service at the beginning of autumn. Authorisations from Member States for Mobile TV services are needed before any commercial launches by operators.
(Open Access Newsletter) The EU's Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP) has released its Draft Work Programme 2009. If the EC approves the draft in January, then it should open a call for proposals from January 29 to June 2, 2009. one thread of the new funding program is devoted to OA: Objective 2.4: Open access to scientific information.
(Consilium) The Council adopted a Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law. The text lays down that the following intentional acts will be punishable in all the EU Member States:
(Europa) The new SIP Bench study on filtering tools shows that overall tools have improved over the last three years and have become easier to install. During the last year of this three-year project, Deloitte once again carried out the SIP Benchmark testing via a comprehensive study of 26 tools for parental control. This benchmark analyses how effectively these technical solutions protect children aged 6 to 16 against harmful content on the Internet. About 140 parents and teachers from various European countries were involved in the study. In addition to these "real life" testers, an Internet laboratory was set up to conduct thorough testing under identical conditions. In general, we observe a very positive trend in filter accuracy.However an number of filters detect more potentially harmful content at the expense of unduly overblocking harmless content.
(BBC) Film-style age ratings could be applied to websites to protect children from harmful and offensive material, UK Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said. Mr Burnham said the government was looking at a number of possible new internet safeguards. He said some content, such as clips of beheadings, was unacceptable and new standards of decency were needed. He also plans to negotiate with the US on drawing up international rules for English language websites. Mr Burnham, a father of three young children, believes internet service providers should offer child-friendly web access.
(Filtering Facts) Parents Television Council has just released a study of YouTube's filtering. extremely graphic content and harsh profanity are just a click away for kids entering seemingly innocent search terms on YouTube. The PTC's study not only analyzes content in 280 of the most popular YouTube videos, but also takes into account the text commentary and advertisements that were available alongside the videos. The 20 highest-ranked YouTube videos from each of the site's most popular search terms yielded an extraordinary amount of graphic and adult-themed content. David Burt, who runs the Filtering Facts blog, comes to simlar conclusions. He found video clips already tagged by YouTube as adult content - but YouTube's filter doesn't catch them. This compares unfavourably with Google text search and Google image search using "strict filtering".
(RAPID) The EU will have a new Safer Internet Programme as of 1 January 2009. Following the overwhelmingly positive vote on 23 October in which the European Parliament expressed its support for the new Safer Internet Programme, the Council of Ministers has adopted the new Programme covering the period 2009-2013. It was proposed by the European Commission to protect children in the ever more sophisticated online world and empower them to safely use web services like social networking, blogging and instant messaging.
(Irish Times) Parents can help protect their children and teenagers from mobile phone-based bullying, according to a new guide produced by the Irish Cellular Industry Association (ICIA). The mobile operators in Ireland - Vodafone, O2, Meteor and 3 - have come together to publish Mobile phones: A parent's guide to safe and sensible use. The booklet warns that young people using mobile phones can be bullied, communicate with people they should not, view online content that is unsuitable for their age and waste money. However, when the owner of an account is a child, operators offer parents a service called "dual access". This means parents can check the numbers their child has been calling and texting, and keep an eye on the amount of money spent. Parents can also ask operators to block certain services.
(YouTube Blog) YouTube's new Abuse and Safety Center features straightforward safety tips and multimedia resources from experts and prominent safety organizations. The new center also makes it easier for you to find our Help and Safety Tool, which lets you report concerns to us and gives you granular control over your channel, like the option of blocking comments from specific users or disabling the video comments feature on specific videos. The Abuse and Safety Center is easy to find. Just look at the bottom of any YouTube page and click on the link titled "Abuse and Safety Center.".
(Net Family News) The Family Online Safety Institute has called on President-Elect Obama to promote "a national strategy on how to best educate children, tweens, teens and their parents on online ethics, safety and cybercitizenship". In a report, FOSI CEO Stephen Balkam, makes four recommendations: that the Obama administration 1) hold an annual White House Online Safety Summit, 2) create a US Council for Internet Safety 3) create a $100 million online-safety program to fund research and educational and awareness campaigns, and 4) create a National Safety Officer position in the office of the US's new chief technology officer.
(BBC) Facebook's 120 million users are being targeted by a virus designed to get hold of sensitive information like credit card details. 'Koobface' spreads by sending a message to people's inboxes, pretending to be from a Facebook friend.
(01net.) La filiale d'Iliad quitte la Fédération française des télécommunications pour cause de divergences sur des « sujets de fond » avec les autres opérateurs.
(STM) Invitations to Tender for the Behavioural Research and Usage Research aspects of the PEER project are now available. 1. Behavioural Research: Authors and Users vis-à-vis Journals and Repositories 2. Usage Research: Journals and Repositories. Tenders for both areas of research must be received by the Max Planck Digital Library by 17.00 on Tuesday 17 February 2009. PEER (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research), of which STM is a partner, will investigate the effects of the large-scale systematic depositing of authors' final peer-reviewed manuscripts (so called Green Open Access or stage-two research output) on reader access, author visibility, and journal viability, as well as on the broader ecology of European research. PEER is supported by the EC eContentplus programme.
(Net Family News) By 2020, the mobile phone will be the main tool for connecting to the Internet for most of the world's people, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's latest "Internet Evolution" study. The study asked a group of 'Internet leaders, activists and analysts' to forecast what they expect to be the major technology advances of the next decade. Two other interesting predictions concerned social tolerance and virtual reality, and the experts polled seem to have felt just as uncertain as the rest of us about what impact connective technology will have on human relations and social tolerance: "The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness." Their prediction about virtual reality lines up with teens' approach to tech for some time: "divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations."
(RAPID) A new Eurobarometer survey "Towards a safer use of the Internet for children in the EU - a parents' perspective" has ben published. According to the survey conducted in all EU Member States, 75% of children aged from 6 to 17 years already use the Internet - a trend which continues to grow. Half of the parents who did not use Internet themselves said that their child had online access. At least half of the parents stated that they talk to their children about their online activities. In addition, they take precautionary measures such as not allowing their children to disclose personal information online (92%) or to talk to people they do not know (83%). 59% of parents declared that they use filtering or monitoring software. Parents who do not use filtering tools say they trust their children (64%) or did not know how to access or use them (14%).
(Neteconomie) L'institut Médiametrie a dévoilé le classement des 10 principaux sites « communautaires ». Blogs ou réseaux sociaux, ces sites attirent désormais 22,5 des 32 millions d'internautes français pour environ 1 heure et 40 minutes de surf mensuel. Pionnier du genre, Skyrock.com garde sa couronne avec une audience de 8,5 millions de visiteurs uniques et 57 minutes de surf en moyenne. La plate-forme hexagonale est néanmoins talonnée par Facebook qui revendique désormais plus de 8 millions de visiteurs uniques pour un temps passé de près de deux heures par mois (1 heure 55).
(Google Blog) Posted by Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience. For the first time, our annual Year-End Zeitgeist features search data from more than 30 countries. Social networks comprised four out of the top 10 global fastest-rising queries, while the U.S. election held everyone's interest around the globe. Republican VP candidate, Sarah Palin, may have lost in the election, but she was the #1 fastest-rising query on our global list (Obama was #6).
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