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(BBC) Profits made by peddlers of child sex abuse images are being targeted by a pan-European alliance. The European Financial Coalition brings together payment firms, law enforcement agencies and child protection groups to disrupt commerce in the images. By tracking cash made by sites selling abuse images, investigators hope to stop the trade and find abusers. Backers include Mastercard, Visa, Paypal and UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). Funded by the European Commission, the coalition is intended to serve as a "stark warning" to those involved in the sale and distribution of child sex images. See also Commission Press Release and Keynote speech by Mr Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission "An indecent profit, a horrific crime", Preparing a European response to combat the commercial distribution of child abuse images. 3 March 2009, London.
(BBC) A British man living in the US has been told by a judge to pay $200,000 to a woman for possessing an indecent image of her as a child. The judge said it was the first such criminal case in which someone found possessing illegal images had to pay restitution, despite not creating them. Briton Alan Hesketh was sentenced to 78 months in prison in October.
(FT) Google has sought a seat at the table in influencing the new restrictions that European regulators are set to impose on Microsoft's browser business, as it officially staked out a position against Microsoft in the software company's latest anti-trust battle with Brussels. The move comes after the European Commission filed a statement of objections against Microsoft, taking issue with its practice of "tying" its Internet Explorer browser with its dominant Windows PC operating system. In a blog posting, Sundar Pinchai, product manager for Google's Chrome browser, said that the internet company had applied to become a "third party" in the case.
(Silicon.fr) Nouveaux ennuis en perspective pour France Télécom. Après avoir été condamné coup sur coup par le Conseil de la concurrence et le tribunal de Commerce pour l'exclusivité de l'iPhone et sa stratégie de contenus exclusifs autour du sport, l'opérateur historique subit un nouvel assaut de la part de Vivendi. La maison mère de SFR et de Canal+ va déposer une plainte auprès de la Commission européenne pour abus de position dominante. "Nous estimons qu'il y a une position dominante de France Télécom avec les prix pratiqués en matière d'abonnement et de tarifs d'accès à la boucle locale" (dégroupage), a expliqué Jean-Bernard Lévy, président du directoire de Vivendi.
(MINEFI) Éric Woerth s´est rendu au siège de la Direction nationale du renseignement et des enquêtes douanières (DNRED) pour inaugurer « Cyberdouane ». Ce nouveau service a pour mission de recueillir, enrichir et exploiter les renseignements permettant de lutter efficacement contre les fraudes sur Internet (importations de produits stupéfiants, médicaments, contrefaçons, armes et munitions, uvres d´art et toute autre marchandise objet de trafics ou de transactions illicites).
(Europa) Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. Event on the idea of an EU "GOFA" (US Global Online Freedom Act), European Parliament Plenary Session, Strasbourg, 3 February 2009.
(Le Monde) par Luc Besson. Il est un délit maintenant reconnu de tous : celui de visionner des films gratuitement sur son ordinateur via Internet. On appelle ça le "piratage". Le piratage est tout simplement "un vol caractérisé". Il y a 500 000 vols de films par jour en France : 500 000 connexions illégales. Les internautes français détiennent ce triste record du monde. Voilà une bien mauvaise image pour le pays des droits de l'homme. Ces sites ne pourraient exister sans la complicité objective de bon nombre d'acteurs économiques français qui ont un intérêt financier à faire perdurer le système. L'économie du piratage sur Internet est une longue chaîne d'acteurs qui, pour la plupart, n'apparaissent pas au grand jour mais tirent profit de cette activité illégale. Pour que les sites de téléchargement et de streaming soient accessibles aux internautes, il faut tout d'abord trouver un hébergeur. Il arrive que ces hébergeurs soient de nationalité française. Cette prestation, pour un site de streaming tel que BeeMotion.fr, de nationalité canadienne, est assurée par une grande entreprise française de télécommunication, Iliad, par l'intermédiaire de sa marque Free. Voir aussi Luc Besson attaque, beeMotion ferme (Les Numériques)
(CNET) Swedish police reported making a major Internet piracy bust. Authorities seized computer equipment belonging to a Stockholm-area man whom they suspected of violating local copyright law. The seized server contained 65 terabytes of digital data, consisting of films, TV series, computer programs, and the music equivalent of 16,000 movies, according to the Antipiracy Agency, an organization based in Sweden that's supported by a consortium of film and game organizations to fight Internet piracy.
(CNET) The trial against The Pirate Bay site has begun in Sweden. And while Sweden is depicted by copyright-enforcement groups as piracy's promised land, it is also a nation that experiments with legal music-service alternatives. For years, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the Motion Picture Association of America have depicted Sweden as rife with digital piracy. During the time leading up to the trial, though, at least three innovative, legal alternatives for listening to digital music have been launched in Sweden: Spotify, Tunerec, and Chilirec. Spotify has forged agreements with organizations such as Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, EMI Music, Warner Music Group, Merlin, The Orchard, and CD Baby, and now offers millions of songs streamed online. See also Pirate Bay: we don't know nothin' about org charts, contracts (Ars Technica) and Pirate Bay Crew Chums Up to Foes Over Lunch (Wired).
(Guardian) The culture secretary, Andy Burnham, is aiming to have the framework of an international strategy to combat illegal internet downloads agreed with the US and European partners by the autumn. Burnham's ambitious plan, part of a five-pronged strategy to bolster the ailing music industry, was outlined by the government minister at a parliamentary reception involving groups including the BPI, which represents UK record companies. The ultimate aim of the plan would be to develop a consensus with other governments that would make the UK's own initiatives to combat internet piracy more likely to succeed. Burnham said the government is seeking a 70% to 80% reduction in illegal downloads with its plans in the UK.
(OUT-LAW News) Dell is trying to have a trade mark owned by rival Psion cancelled because it believes the term 'netbook' is now a generic name for small, cheap computers. Psion applied to register the term as a trade mark in 1996. Dell has filed for cancellation with the US Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO), arguing that the trade mark has been abandoned, that Psion has made false claims in declarations about the trade mark and that the term has now become generic. Psion has recently been asserting its rights to control the term 'netbook' as small, cheap computers become a fast-selling item.
(RAPID) A video clip on cyber-bullying has been produced for the European Commission. It is available in all EU languages plus in Norwegian and Icelandic. The video will be broadcast on public and private TV channels all over Europe throughout 2009 and will kick off on Safer Internet Day (10 February). A longer version of the video will also be posted on the internet on sites popular with teenagers such as: Arto, Skyrock, Piczo, Habbo Hotel, Myspace UK, YouTube, Dailymotion, BeboIE. The video clip shows a young girl who is victim of cyberbullying, but fights back and reports the problem to her social networking site. Her appearance goes through different stages of transformation, reflecting the way that bullies are distorting her photo on a website. Finally, the girl takes control by pressing the "Report abuse" button available on the social networking site and everything comes back to normal. "Block bullying online! Keep it fun, keep control" is the final message of the video. It shows young people that there are solutions to the problems they may face on the Internet. The video closes with the website and phone number where teenagers can find help and advice in their country. The video clip can be seen at http://www.keepcontrol.eu/.
(Heise) Nach Angaben der Europäischen Kommission in Brüssel wurde bereits jeder fünfte Schüler in Deutschland im Internet gemobbt. In anderen EU-Ländern ist Cyber-Mobbing sogar noch verbreiteter. Untersuchungen ergaben, dass in Großbritannien jeder dritte Jugendliche und in Polen sogar jeder Zweite schon einmal im Netz fertiggemacht wurde. Cyber-Mobbing steht deshalb im Zentrum des "Safer Internet Day", an dem Schüler und Lehrer weltweit dazu aufgerufen sind, über die Gefahren im Internet zu diskutieren.
(World Privacy Forum) Cloud computing involves the sharing or storage by users of their own information on remote servers owned or operated by others and accessed through the Internet or other connections. Privacy in the Clouds: Risks to Privacy and Confidentiality from Cloud Computing by Robert Gellman outlines its implications for the privacy of personal information as well as its implications for the confidentiality of business and governmental information. See also Cloud Computing Tips for Consumers, Business, and Government.
(EDRI-gram) The Framework Decision on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters was adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal on 30 December 2008. The decision is the first horizontal data protection instrument in the field of personal data used by police and judicial authorities and its main purpose is to establish a common level of privacy protection and a high level of security when exchanging personal data. Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
(ZDNet.co.uk) The European Commission has threatened to take formal action against the UK government, which it says has not provided information it needs in its probe into Phorm's behavioural targeted ad-serving technology. The Commission has sent three letters requesting information from the government, but has not received sufficient answers.
(IDG News Service) Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will push for a re-think of the balance between the need for security and the right to privacy on the Internet, not just in Europe but around the world. They supported a report which calls on the 27 countries in the European Union and the European Commission, its executive body, to define global standards for data protection, security and freedom of expression. The author of the report, Greek socialist MEP Stavros Lambrinidis, said the move is vital at a time when people's digital identity is becoming an integral part of their actual identity. One specific demand in the report is for a strict definition of a user's "consent" to share his data, given the unequal balance of powers between users, private companies or governments. Another is that the right of access to the Internet should be considered equal to the right to education, and should never be blocked by governments or private companies. The report drew support from academics, civil liberties groups and Europe's data protection supervisor Peter Hustinx, who warned against applying less strict data protection rules to the Internet than the protection expected in daily life. See EP Legislative Observatory.
(EDRI-gram) The EU funded European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) has issued its Position Paper on security features in European eID schemes, showing a large disparity between the various systems which might affect their usefulness. The paper is an analysis of 10 ID card systems already used in EU and 13 under development. The eID cards are presently used mainly in relation to tax declarations and other e-Gov services with some applications in the commercial sector as well, but their application will largely extend in the future. The study shows that Europe has no coordinated strategy to protect the private data stored on the cards which leads to their lack of interoperability and to reluctance in accepting them by potential users.
(BBC) The founder of Facebook says the social network will return to its previous terms of service regarding user data. In a blog post Mark Zuckerberg said the move was temporary "while we resolve the issues that people have raised". Users had complained after new terms of service seemed to suggest Facebook would retain personal data even if someone deleted their account. Originally defending the changes, Mr Zuckerberg had said it was to better reflect how people used the site. He had said the changes were made to ensure that if a user deleted his or her account any comments or messages he or she had left on a friend's Facebook page would not also disappear. see also Zuckerberg Responds to Concerns About Facebook's Updated Terms of Service (Inside Facebook), Facebook still showing growing pains by Darren Waters and Facebook's privacy storm by Jonathan Zittrain,Clear English Could Be a Big Winner in the Facebook Affair, Whose data is it anyway? (BBC) and Facebook: You Own All Your Data. Period. (But See You at the Next Privacy Uproar) (TechCrunch).
(Schneier on Security) Welcome to the future, where everything about you is saved. A future where your actions are recorded, your movements are tracked, and your conversations are no longer ephemeral. A future brought to you not by some 1984-like dystopia, but by the natural tendencies of computers to produce data.
(Guardian) The government and the courts are collaborating in slicing away freedoms and pushing Britain to the brink of becoming a "database" police state, a series of sold-out conferences in eight British cities heard. In a day of speeches and discussions, academics, politicians, lawyers, writers, journalists and pop stars joined civil liberty campaigners yesterday to issue a call to arms for Britons to defend their democratic rights. More than 1,500 people, paying £35 a ticket, attended the Convention on Modern Liberty in Bloomsbury, central London, which was linked by video to parallel events in Glasgow, Birmingham, Belfast, Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff and Cambridge.
(Press Release) Federal Trade Commission staff have issued a report describing its ongoing examination of online behavioral advertising and setting forth revisions to proposed principles to govern self-regulatory efforts in this area. The key issue concerns how online advertisers can best protect consumers' privacy while collecting information about their online activities. See also Targeted Online Advertising: What's the Harm & Where Are We Heading? (Technology Liberation Front) and Privacy groups slam new rules (BBC).
(BBC) Museum visitors will be able to share their cultural passions in a social networking website. A group of the UK's most famous museums, including the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum, is creating a collective website. As well as finding information about exhibits, museum lovers can use the website to create communities based on their historic and creative interests.
(Washington Post) The team that ran the most technologically advanced presidential campaign in modern history is finding it difficult to adapt that model to government. WhiteHouse.gov, envisioned as the primary vehicle for President Obama to communicate with the online masses, has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve. Obama, for example, would like to send out mass e-mail updates on presidential initiatives, but the White House does not have the technology in place to do so. The same goes for text messaging, another campaign staple. see also Too Early to Criticize Obama's Tech Policy? (Wired) by Nicholas Thompson. The most legitimate complaint so far is that Obama has yet to appoint a CTO.
(RAPID) A new report on Barriers to E-commerce, presented by EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, shows that online shopping is increasingly popular in the EU, but warns that barriers to cross border trade are holding back its development. The report presents a detailed analysis of current trends in e-commerce across the EU - including per country, most purchased items and obstacles for consumers and business online. Between 2006 and 2008 the proportion of EU consumers buying at least one item over the internet increased from 27% to 33%. These average figures mask the huge popularity of online shopping in countries like UK, France and Germany where more than 50% of internet users have made online purchases in the last year. In the Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland) the proportion of internet users who bought products and services online was 91% in 2008. Countries like Italy and Spain are also fast growing markets. Against this pattern of fast growing national markets, the extent of online purchasing cross border remains small, at only 7% in 2008 (compared to 6% in 2006). The report warns that numerous obstacles - linguistic, practical and regulatory as well as important trust issues - are holding back the development of online shopping in the EU.
(Heise) Bundesfamilienministerin Ursula von der Leyen hat im Vorfeld einer Anhörung im Unterausschuss Neue Medien des Bundestags erneut die Werbetrommel gerührt für ihre heftig umstrittene Forderung nach Sperrungen kinderpornographischer Webseiten durch die Internetprovider. Die heftige Kritik aus Reihen der Internetwirtschaft und von Rechtsexperten bezeichnete die CDU-Politikerin als reines "Ablenkungsmanöver". Siehe auch DE - Rechtsprofessor kritisiert Vertragsentwurf für Kinderporno-Sperren, CCC veröffentlicht Vertragsentwurf zum Sperren von Kinderpornographie, Siehe auch Kinderporno-Sperren im internationalen Vergleich und DE - Arbeitsgruppe zu Kinderporno-Sperren ergebnislos vertagt.
(AFP) Le président Nicolas Sarkozy a souhaité la création d'une "liste noire" des sites pédopornographiques sur internet et que les fournisseurs d'accès les bloquent, ce que ces derniers ont accepté, tout en s'interrogeant sur le coût du filtrage des sites. Dans l'après-midi, les fournisseurs d'accès à internet (FAI) ont fait savoir qu'ils étaient "décidés à bloquer les sites" en question, comme le leur a demandé le président, a assuré la Fédération française des télécoms. Voir aussi Recommandation « Les enfants du Net III » et Communiqué de presse (Forum des droits sur l'internet).
(Sunday Post) Irish internet users are to be blocked from accessing music swapping websites, as internet service providers bow to pressure from the music industry. Eircom, the country's biggest internet provider, is to start blocking its internet customers from accessing music swapping. The country's other internet providers have been told by the Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma) to follow suit or face legal action. If the music industry is successful, Ireland will become the first European country to completely block access to hundreds of file-sharing websites.
(ZDNet.co.uk) The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an organisation set up by internet service providers to monitor child sexual abuse websites, caused a furore in December when it attempted to block a page on online collaborative encyclopaedia Wikipedia. Through a combination of technical factors, people wishing to edit Wikipedia were blocked from doing so, causing an outcry. The image the IWF tried to block was the LP cover for Virgin Killer, a 1976 album by German rock band Scorpions. Peter Robbins, chief executive of the IWF, talked to ZDNet UK about the fallout from the decision to block the page, and whether self-regulation of internet content is effective.
(BBC) Children's charities have expressed "serious concerns" many UK households still have access to images showing child sex abuse via their computers. The government had asked all internet service providers (ISPs) to block illegal websites by the end of 2007. But firms providing 5% of broadband connections have still failed to act. See also Can we block child abuse sites? (BBC).
(Guardian) UK Police are responding to more than 100 alerts every month from child internet users who are in immediate danger of sexual abuse or violence at the hands of online predators. Specialist officers from Ceop, the Home Office-funded Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, are receiving on average four alerts every day from children who are about to meet in the real world a suspicious character they have met online or are suicidal because they have been so comprehensively groomed. The alerts are made through a "report abuse" button, which links directly to a team of specialist police officers trained in handling online child abuse. But the amount of suspicious activity online is likely to be far greater than the volume of complaints suggests because many popular social networking sites, including Facebook, have so far declined to feature the link.
(BBC) People's health could be harmed by social networking sites because they reduce levels of face-to-face contact, an expert claims. Dr Aric Sigman says websites such as Facebook set out to enrich social lives, but end up keeping people apart. Dr Sigman makes his warning in Biologist, the journal of the Institute of Biology.
(Guardian) Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist. The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children. See also Why Social Networks Are Good for the Kids (TechCrunch) by Sarah Lacy.
(VNUnet.fr) Un nouvel accueil téléphonique, le 0820 200 000, vient d'être mis en place, depuis le 1er décembre dernier, par l'association e-Enfance. Il sert avant tout à renseigner les enfants et leurs parents sur les dangers que peut receler la Toile, et les moyens à mettre en place pour s'en protéger. Inaugurée par Michèle Alliot-Marie, la ministre de l'Intérieur, et Eric Besson, le secrétaire d'Etat à l'Economie numérique, la hotline Net Ecoute Famille est chargée, avec l'aide de plusieurs psychologues, de répondre à toutes les questions que peuvent se poser les Français à propos des dangers et des dérives que représentent Internet pour les plus jeunes. L'instauration de cette hotline répond à une volonté de la Commission Européenne qui prévoit, dans son programme Pour un Internet plus sûr/Internet sans crainte, que chaque Etat membre se dote le plus vite possible d'un accueil téléphonique de ce type.
(EUObserver) In an apparent U-turn, the EU's judicial cooperation body has said it is not officially examining ways to wire-tap Skype and other computer-to-computer conversations. Eurojust retracted previous statements saying it was taking the lead in helping national authorities to wiretap Skype conversations, saying they were issued "prematurely" and were "incorrect". See EU group aims to eavesdrop on Skype calls (Ars Technica).
(BBC) Criminals in Italy are increasingly making phone calls over the internet in order to avoid getting caught through mobile phone intercepts, police say. Officers in Milan say organised crime, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings are turning to Skype in order to frustrate investigators. The police say Skype's encryption system is a secret which the company refuses to share with the authorities.
(RAPID) Connecting the 30% of the EU's rural population that has no high speed internet access should be a priority for achieving 'broadband for all' by 2010, the Commission has said. Improved internet connectivity is a powerful tool to stimulate swift economic recovery. The Commission has outlined how it would use its own support programmes to boost internet networks and services in rural areas, and called on EU Member States to do the same. See Communication on better access for rural areas to modern ICT.
(BBC) A sheriff in Illinois is suing the online ad site Craigslist, accusing its owners of knowingly promoting prostitution in the US. Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart said the site was failing to block offers to trade sex for money. He wants a federal judge to shut down the site's erotic services section. In a statement, Craigslist said it had not seen the lawsuit but that it co-operated with police daily to prevent misuse of the site. See also Craigslist to sheriff: Federal law protects site and Is Craigslist the world's biggest bordello? (CNET).
(Ars Technica) Is it time to revisit and tweak a critical portion of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)? Adam Thierer, Director of the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Center for Digital Media Freedom, and John Palfrey, Harvard law professor and Vice Dean, debate whether ISPs and social networking sites should be more liable for the things their users post.
(FT) European policymakers are to push through rules to cut mobile phone bills despite opposition from member states. Interconnection fees are the latest front in a protracted battle between mobile phone operators and Brussels. Twelve countries, including Germany, the UK and Spain, voted against plans by Viviane Reding, the European telecoms commissioner, to force operators to cut the amounts they charge each other for carrying calls across their networks. Fierce lobbying by mobile operators meant only five countries supported the Commission's proposal to force them to reduce those charges by over two-thirds, to between 1.5 and 3 cents a minute, by early 2012. Ten countries abstained. But a spokesman for Ms Reding said the plans had "wide support" in the EU and would be adopted by the Commission in early April.
(FCC) This Notice of Inquiry ("NOI") implements the Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007, adopted December 2, 2008, which directs the Commission to initiate a proceeding within 90 days after the date of enactment to examine "the existence and availability of advanced blocking technologies that are compatible with various communications devices or platforms." Congress defined "advanced blocking technologies" as "technologies that can improve or enhance the ability of a parent to protect his or her child from any indecent or objectionable video or audio programming, as determined by such parent, that is transmitted through the use of wire, wireless, or radio communications." Congress's intent in adopting the Act was to spur the development of the "next generation of parental control technology." In conducting this proceeding, we will examine blocking technologies that may be appropriate across a wide variety of distribution platforms and devices, can filter language based upon information in closed captioning, can operate independently of pre-assigned ratings, and may be effective in enhancing a parent's ability to protect his or her child from indecent or objectionable programming, as determined by the parent.
(PC World) The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Microsoft have brought the ThinkUKnow education program to Australia. The program, which originated in the UK, is aimed at educating parents and teachers about how to keep kids away from online predators and other threats.
(Cybertip.ca) Welcome to Cybertip.ca's Respect Yourself website. Many safety campaigns geared at teens focus on the stereotypical sex offenders - creepy strangers preying on innocent, confused youth. This site has been created to remind users that there are other, more common concerns when it comes to your safety and the Internet. One of the most overlooked issues with the Internet has to do with sending pictures/video of yourself by email or instant messaging (IM), or posting them to a social networking or photo sharing site. Once these pictures/video are sent, there's no way for you to regain full control. Voir aussi: Respecte-toi.
(Vnunet.fr) "Le temps du jeu", "La violence et le jeu", "La dépendance présumée au jeu" - Voici quelques-uns des thèmes abordés par Pedagojeux.fr, le nouveau site d'information sur les jeux vidéo destiné aux familles. L'ergonomie du site est agréable et la navigation aisée grâce à six onglets ("Sujets sensibles", "Jeu et rapports sociaux", "Bien choisir son jeu", "Équipements", "Aspects financiers", "Droits et devoirs") et grâce à un moteur de recherche efficace. Pendant neuf mois, un comité de pilotage, composé de la DIF, du programme Internet sans Crainte (soutenu par la Communauté Européenne), du FDI, de l'Unaf, de l'association Action Innocence, du Sell, de Microsoft, de Bayard Jeunesse et de Jeuxonline, s'est réuni. Une poignée de scientifiques a été consultée pour la réalisation du site ou a directement contribué.
(Economist) Safety tips for parents on protecting kids from harassment in cyberspace - with strong criticism of Google for hiding e-mail senders' IP addresses.
(BBC) A reward of $250,000 has been offered by Microsoft to find who is behind the Downadup/Conficker virus. Since it started circulating in October 2008 the Conficker worm has managed to infect millions of computers worldwide. The Conficker worm is a self-replicating program that takes advantage of networks or computers that have not kept up to date with Windows security patches. It can infect machines via a net connection or by hiding on USB memory drives used to ferry data from one computer to another. Once in a computer it digs deep, setting up defences that make it hard to extract.
(RAPID) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, Safer Internet Day, Luxembourg, 10 February 2009. See also Social Networking: Commission brokers agreement among major web companies (Press Release), Making the most of social networking and Text of agreement. See also Safer social networking and self regulation (Google Public Policy blog) by Luc Delany.
(New York Times) by Brad Stone. A week after its community erupted in protest over changes to its terms of service that appeared to give it control over its users' information, Facebook announced that all significant policy changes on the site would be subject to comments from members and, if they prove controversial, a popular vote. Most immediately, Facebook will open a dialogue with users over a set of principles, or "foundational elements for how we want to govern the site," said Mark Zuckerberg, the company's founder and chief executive. Users will have the opportunity over the next 30 days to comment and vote on these principles, which are posted in a document that tries to harness some of the verbal eloquence of a governing constitution. In making this change, Facebook is conceding again that it goofed with its new terms of service and needs to play closer attention to users.
(NMA) The hugely popular micro-blogging site Twitter is a child safety and privacy disaster waiting to happen, according to online safety experts. The site - which has had a yearly 974% jump in UK traffic alone and attracts between 4m and 6m people, including celebrity twitterer Stephen Fry - is open to abuse if it fails to effectively self-moderate. Online safety experts have raised concerns and are calling for swift action to head off trouble for the fast-growing site, which already hosts brands such as British Airways, Dell and Penguin. Twitter's terms state users must be 13 or over, but it doesn't offer a 'report abuse' button or explicit ways to flag offensive material or monitor sexually explicit and racist behaviour and links to adult sites. new media age uncovered links to prostitution and escort services, cannabis seed shops and racist and pornographic material on Twitter.
(IDG News Service) Prospects for a quick conclusion to talks about a change in Europe's telecom rules were dashed with blame for the stalled negotiations leveled at the Czech government by, among others, the author of the reforms, Commissioner Viviane Reding. The Czech Republic holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union. In a meeting with the European Commission and the European Parliament it held out against an agreement, even though a majority of the 27 countries it was negotiating on behalf of were ready to sign a compromise.
(BBC) Video games should have a "red button" parents can press to disable inappropriate games, says a report. Drafted by a European parliament committee, the report backs games for children but says parents need help policing how and when they are played. The committee said games have a "broadly beneficial effect" on the mental development of children. The report comes as research shows that more than half of European children are unsupervised when using computers. The report backed the European Pan European Game Information system (PEGI) and called for it to be strengthened and win more support from member nations. See Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Own-initiative report A6-0051/2009 Report on the protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games by Toine Manders MEP.
(RAPID) 8 Oscars were awarded to "Slumdog Millionaire" at the 81st Academy Award ceremony in Hollywood. This UK film was co-funded under the EU's film support programme MEDIA. These include the most prestigious prizes: Best Film and Best Director (Danny Boyle). "Slumdog Millionaire" received €830,000 support from the MEDIA programme for distribution in 2008 and 2009. The total budget of the film is estimated to be €11 million. See also Seven EU-funded films nominated for Oscars for more on the EU's MEDIA programme, the other Oscar nominees co-funded under MEDIA and previous Oscar winners.
(Wired) Netbooks violate all the laws of the computer hardware business. Traditionally, development trickles down from the high end to the mass market. PC makers target early adopters with new, ultrapowerful features. Years later, those innovations spread to lower-end models. But Mary Lou Jepsen's design for One Laptop per Child trickled up. In the process of creating a laptop to satisfy the needs of poor people, she revealed something about traditional PC users. They didn't want more out of a laptop - they wanted less.
(Economist) Even industry veterans have been surprised by the rapid take-up of mobile broadband - using built-in receivers or plug-in "dongles" to provide internet access to laptops via high-speed mobile networks. The advantage of this is that it works anywhere - unlike short-range Wi-Fi technology, it is not limited to a few hotspots. In Western Europe alone, the number of mobile-broadband users will grow by 50% to 27m this year. Worldwide, there are thought to be around 100m. The growth, however, comes with a couple of big drawbacks for the operators. One is loss of control. Subscribers can do what they want: the operator is merely a "dumb pipe" to the internet. Next, rates have been falling quickly. see also Boom in the bust.
(New York Times) One day last summer, Google's search engine trundled quietly past a milestone. It added the one trillionth address to the list of Web pages it knows about. But as impossibly big as that number may seem, it represents only a fraction of the entire Web. Beyond those trillion pages lies an even vaster Web of hidden data: financial information, shopping catalogs, flight schedules, medical research and all kinds of other material stored in databases that remain largely invisible to search engines.
(Reuters) by Eric Auchard. Social networking phenomenon Facebook has beaten arch-rival and former market leader MySpace by most measures of popularity, except the one that pays the bills. While Facebook has outpaced MySpace in bringing in members - it has 175 million active users at the latest count, compared with around 130 million for MySpace - it has struggled make money from them. While MySpace is closing in on $1 billion in revenues, Facebook generated less than $300 million in sales last year. Indeed, Facebook's efforts to drum up revenue have led to it repeatedly becoming the target of some of the biggest online privacy protests on the Web. Its most recent fight earlier this month followed Facebook's attempt to redefine its own rules and assert ownership over anything its members posted on the site. The company has since backed off and is rethinking its policies. See also A false sense of security (BBC). see also Facebook 'withdraws' data changes
(Reuters) Everybody at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona wanted to be the new best friend of the social networks. From the world's biggest phone maker, Nokia, to tiny Irish semiconductor start-up Movidia, delegates to the wireless industry's biggest annual gathering couldn't stop talking about Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. The top executive at MySpace, owned by News Corp, said members reaching the network from mobile phones had quadrupled in the last year to 20 million, out of 135 million unique visitors in total, and Facebook has seen a similar leap. MySpace announced deals at the fair with Nokia and Palm, who will adapt some of their phones to make uploading pictures or video to the social network a matter of a single push of a button. The so-called Facebook phone or Social Mobile made by INQ, a spin-off of Hutchison Whampoa's 3, won handset of the year award from the show's hosts, the GSM Association - and everyone involved was eager to claim a share of the credit.
(Microsoft) Almost a third (29%) of European teenagers have been bullied on the internet according to new research by Microsoft. The research, which examines the rise in social media and the habits and attitudes of European teenagers, was released today in support of Safer Internet Day and the launch of a new Microsoft volunteering programme designed to educate children, parents and teachers on safe internet use. See also Teens targeted in net safety push(BBC).
(EU Kids Online) A study released for Safer Internet Day 2009 shows that Britons take more practical action to screen their children from the dangers of the internet than anyone else in the EU. They are most likely to use filtering software (77 per cent) and most likely to talk to their children about what they do online (87 per cent). The survey, conducted for the European Commission and analysed by the EU Kids Online research project at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), shows that British parents still worry about internet safety - with 59 per cent concerned about the dangers of their children seeing sexual or violent content. However in France the highest - the figure is 88 per cent while in Portugal and Greece it is 84 and 81 per cent respectively.
(Inside Facebook) The famous Dunbar number, or "theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships", is generally accepted to be about 150. However, in a recent interview with The Economist, Cameron Marlow, a research scientist at Facebook, shared some interesting stats on Facebook users' social behavior patterns. His findings: while many people have hundreds friends on Facebook, they still only actively communicate with a small few. Or to quote the author of the article, "Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently. But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever." see also Primates on Facebook (Economist).
(IPSOS) A l'occasion du Safer Internet Day organisé par la Commission Européenne (journée européenne d'encouragement à une utilisation plus sûre et plus responsable d'Internet chez les jeunes) l'association e-Enfance, en partenariat avec l'institut IPSOS, publie la première étude française exhaustive sur l´attitude des parents face à l'utilisation d'Internet, du mobile et des jeux vidéo (enquête réalisée en novembre 2008 sur un échantillon représentatif de la population française auprès des parents d´enfants entre 6 et 18 ans).
(Washington Post) Nearly 83 percent of all Web sites advertised through spam can be traced back to just 10 domain name registrars, according to a study. The data come from millions of junk messages collected over the past year by Knujon ("no junk" spelled backwards and pronounced "new john"), an anti-spam outfit that tries to convince registrars to dismantle spam sites.
(Sunday's Zaman) According to a study conducted by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) in August 2008, 24.47 percent of households in Turkey are online. Internet connections are becoming ubiquitous, and a large number of children are using the Internet on a daily basis to browse Web pages, chat, connect to peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and participate in online forums. Parents and teachers encourage children to use computers to prepare them for the future. Some teachers even assign homework that requires students to search for information on the Internet. According to experts, the most widespread threat against children on the Internet is "accessing inappropriate content."
(GamesIndustry.biz) The BBFC has published the results of a survey revealing that three quarters of British parents are concerned about the content of videogames and want independent ratings. The survey, conducted by YouGov for the BBFC, revealed that 79 per cent of parents believe that videogames affect children's behaviour, 74 per cent wanted games to be regulated by an independent body, and 82 per cent felt it would be beneficial if videogames used the same ratings as films and DVDs. "This poll clearly shows parents support a regulatory system for games that is independent of the industry and UK based, reflecting UK sensibilities and sensitivities," said David Cooke, director of the BBFC. See also ELSPA: 'PEGI is still the right solution for child safety' (MCV) and Why the BBFC gaming survey is hokum (TechRadar).
(TechRadar) A survey by an anti-bullying charity has discovered that one in three youngsters could have been the victim of cyberbullying. A poll of 2,000 11 to 18-year-olds by BeatBullying discovered an alarming growth in the use of technology like social networking sites and SMS messaging. Girls are four times more likely to be on the receiving end of cyberbullying than boys. The research was released to boost the profile of BeatBullying's CyberMentors campaign, which has been backed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
(Daily Telegraph) Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Friends Reunited have taken over from pubs and nightclubs as the most popular place to find love, it has emerged. One in four British people are dating - or have dated - someone they met through online community websites. And over a third have got back in touch with an old flame through the sites. One in ten have even had gone a step further and had an affair or a one-night stand with someone they met via a social networking site.
(Berkman Center) We invite everyone to explore Herdict Web and participate by reporting websites that they cannot access, testing sites that others have reported, or downloading the browser add-on for reporting sites on the fly. Using Herdict Web, anyone anywhere can report websites as accessible or inaccessible. Herdict Web aggregates reports in real time, permitting participants to see if inaccessibility is a shared problem, giving them a better sense of potential reasons for why a site is inaccessible. Trends can be viewed over time, by site and by country. The brainchild of Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Herdict Web builds out from the OpenNet Initiative's research on global Internet filtering. The OpenNet Initiative tests Internet filtering through an academic methodology. Herdict Web takes a different approach, crowdsourcing reports to learn about and display a real-time picture of user experiences around the globe.
(IGF) The fourth annual IGF Meeting will be held from 15-18 November in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Consultations open to all stakeholders were held in Geneva on 23-24 February 2009. Open Consultation 23 February 2009 Transcript and Open Consultations 24 February 2009 Transcript. The Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) met in Geneva on 25-26 February 2009. The MAG agreed on the broad outline of a meeting schedule. see summary. Stakeholders are invited to submit preliminary workshop proposals based on this template by 15 April 2009. An online form will be made available in due course for the submission of proposals.
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