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(OJ) Call for expressions of interest. The Commission hereby invites applications from individuals wishing to provide expert assistance relating to the Safer Internet programme. The objective of the Safer Internet programme is to promote safer use of the internet and other communication technologies, particularly for children, and to fight against illegal content and harmful conduct online. Applications must be submitted by means of the online expert registration tool. The list of experts will be valid until 31 December 2013.
(OJ) The 2009 Work programme was adopted by the Commission on 28.5.2009. The 2009 call for proposals was published in the Official Journal C132 of 11 June 2009. The deadline for receipt of proposals is 19 November 2009 - 17:00. No substantial changes have been made to the final text of the Work Programme and call for proposals compared to the draft versions previously published.
(TED) Open call for tenders. L-Luxembourg: study on benchmarking of parental control tools for the online protection of children 'SIP-Bench II'. 2009/S 109-156522. The objective of this study is to help end-users (notably parents and child carers) to choose the most appropriate parental control tool that best fits their needs. This will be done by means of 6-monthly objective, vendor/supplier-independent expert assessments of products, tools and other systems and services that allow users to control children's access to inappropriate content online. The deadline for submission of offers is 28 July. See Invitation to tender, Technical specifications and Draft service contract.
(IDG News Service) The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a settlement involving Google Book Search for possible antitrust violations, following months of speculation that the agency had its eye on the service. In a filing to the judge overseeing the settlement of a lawsuit filed by The Authors Guild against Google, the DOJ informed the court that it has opened an investigation into the proposed settlement after reviewing public comments of concern. Those comments suggest that the agreement might violate the Sherman Act, a U.S. antitrust law, the DOJ said.
(RAPID) The European Commission has adopted two communications analysing the EU's work on justice and internal affairs in recent years and setting out its priorities for the future. Ordinary citizens should be at the heart of the future Stockholm Programme, to be debated by the European Parliament and adopted by the European Council before the end of the year, which will provide a framework for EU action on the questions of citizenship, justice, security, asylum and immigration for the next five years.
(Australian IT) Marketers are joining children in turning off the television and shifting their advertising attention to the unregulated world of the internet. There they are creating new levels of interaction with their consumers while raising deeper concerns with web-challenged parents. Social networking sites, game pages and video portals are becoming the preferred choice for brands that at once are providing large chunks of content while also gaining valuable information about growing consumers.
(Economist) Protecting China's innocents from smut, violence and the Dalai Lama. The internet is full of stuff of which China's government disapproves. Yet there are 300m Chinese internet-users. Keeping the two apart has embroiled the Chinese authorities in a long cat-and-mouse struggle. Service-providers and internet cafés are closely supervised, and a wide array of filtering mechanisms already overlays the national internet architecture. A fresh initiative goes one step further. From July 1st every personal computer sold in China will have to come with new filtering software called Green Dam Youth Escort. It has yet to be decided whether Green Dam must be pre-loaded, or left on a disk for users to install. But it has sparked an uproar.
(New York Times) There was a time when the story of the 21-year-old waitress who fatally stabbed a Communist Party official as he tried to force himself on her would have never left the rural byways of Hubei Province where it took place. Instead, her arrest on suspicion of voluntary manslaughter erupted into an online furor that turned her into a national hero and reverberated all the way to China's capital, where censors ordered incendiary comments banned. Local Hubei officials even restricted television coverage and tried to block travel to the small town where the assault occurred. On Tuesday, a Hubei court granted the woman, Deng Yujiao, an unexpectedly swift victory, ruling that she had acted in self-defense and freeing her without criminal penalties. The case of Ms. Deng is only the most recent and prominent of several cases in which the Internet has cracked open a channel for citizens to voice mass displeasure with official conduct, demonstrating its potential as a catalyst for social change.
(BBC) Google says it will take "all necessary steps" to remove pornography from its Chinese language portal, Google.cn. The firm was responded to criticism from China's internet watchdog which said Google was "disseminating pornographic and vulgar information". Google has been warned twice about allowing unacceptable porn sites to be seen in search results.
(AFP) The EU accused China of "unacceptable" Internet censorship, as Brussels rejected Beijing's claim that an internet filter due to be introduced is instead aimed at blocking pornography. "The aim of this internet filter, contrary to what Chinese authorities contend, is clearly to censor internet and limit freedom of expression," the European Commission said in a statement. "We therefore urge China to postpone the implementation of this mandate and request that a meeting is organised at technical level to better understand what is at stake," it added. The matter will be raised at "information society" talks hosted by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in Beijing on July 9.
(RAPID) Commissioner Viviane Reding met today Mr Hans-Ulrich Jörges, editor-in-chief of the German magazine Stern and initiator of the European Charter on Freedom of the Press. The Charter was signed on 25 May by 48 European journalists from 19 countries to protect the press from government interference and ensure journalists' access to sources of information. The Charter, which formulates the main values that public authorities should respect when dealing with journalists, was presented and handed over by Mr Jörges to Commissioner Viviane Reding who welcomed journalists' adoption of this first European Charter of Freedom of the Press.
(Guardian) As foreign journalists were expelled from Iran or confined to their hotel rooms, and as events moved at speed through the day, web users across the world turned in enormous numbers to their counterparts in Iran, who were using blogs, YouTube and social networking sites to spread information that would otherwise not have reached a wide audience. As one Twitter user with apparent links to the opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi put it: "Everybody try to film as much as poss today on mobiles - these are eyes of world." Mobile phone footage and grainy pictures were copied on to blogs and news sites, while mainstream broadcasters, their correspondents constrained, relied on user-generated footage in an attempt to circumvent the censored state broadcasts.
(Economist) The battle in Thailand over the royal family between government and opposition goes online. The government's efforts to protect the good name of the king are not only damaging democracy but may even rebound upon the royal reputation.
(Reuters) Le Conseil constitutionnel a censuré les pouvoirs de sanction de l'autorité créée pour lutter contre le piratage sur internet, infligeant un camouflet à Nicolas Sarkozy et aux artistes qui l'ont soutenu. Ce projet de loi adopté le 13 mai dernier par le parlement à l'instigation du président français prévoyait la création d'une Haute autorité pour la diffusion des oeuvres et la protection des droits sur internet (Hadopi). Cette dernière était chargée de la mise en oeuvre d'une "riposte graduée" allant jusqu'à la suspension de l'abonnement en cas de récidive pour les auteurs de téléchargements illégaux. C'est ce volet qu'a invalidé le Conseil constitutionnel saisi par les députés socialistes opposés au projet, estimant que seules les instances judiciaires, et non une simple autorité administrative, pouvaient décider de couper l'abonnement. En revanche, il a validé la partie du dispositif qui permet à l'Hadopi d'envoyer des messages d'avertissement aux fraudeurs.
(IDG News Service) A U.S. company will seek legal action against Lenovo, Acer and Sony next week over their shipment in China of controversial software that the company says stole its programming code. Solid Oak Software may also take action against other PC makers that have started shipping the software. The software, an Internet filtering tool that blocks pornographic and political content, copied files from Solid Oak's own Internet content control product, according to the company. In recent weeks China ordered domestic and foreign PC makers to bundle the software, called Green Dam Youth Escort, with all computers sold in the country. It postponed the requirement just hours before the original deadline this week, but said it did so only because PC makers needed more time to ship the program.
(EDRI-gram) A new communication from the European Commission to the other European bodies on the RFID (radio-frequency identification) titled "Internet of Things - An action plan for Europe" was made public on 18 June 2009. The communication builds on the work of the Recommendation on the use of RFID. The communication includes a 14-point action plan to address the main issues raised from the RFID usage. One of the most important action point is the launch of "a debate on the technical and legal aspects of the 'right to silence of the chips', which has been referred to under different names by different authors and expresses the idea that individuals should be able to disconnect from their networked environment at any time." The European Commission also announced that in 2010 it intends to publish a broader Communication on privacy and trust in the ubiquitous information society.
(BBC) Personal details about the life of the next head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, have been removed from social networking site Facebook amid security concerns. His wife had put details about their children and the location of their flat on the site.
(CNET.com) Revamped privacy settings are coming soon to Facebook. The social network's privacy controls had gotten so sprawling that they were distributed across six separate pages and 40 different settings. As a result, Facebook's new controls will be more streamlined so as to offer easier and simpler controls about how much everything from entire profiles to individual pieces of content are shared. Users will be introduced to this through "transition tools" that allow them to toggle how open everything on their profile will be - totally public, friends-only, restricted to company or school networks, etc.
(Guardian) Over two million pages of 19th and early 20th century newspapers go online, part of the vast British Library collection. The British Library worked in partnership with the Joint Information Systems Committee and Gale, part of Cengage Learning, to create the service, which can be found at. Searches are free, but users can pay to download information.
(RAPID) The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has called for more transparency and multilateral accountability in the governance of the internet. At present, a private US-based body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN ), is responsible for coordinating key elements of the internet. The Commission agrees that private companies should continue to take the lead in the day-to-day management of the operation of the internet, as long as they are accountable and independent. The Commission also believes that decisions about the internet, especially those about openness and security, should be taken in a transparent and accountable manner because they affect everyone around the globe. ICANN currently operates under a Joint Project Agreement with the US Department of Commerce which expires on 30 September 2009. In the view of the European Commission, future internet governance arrangements should reflect the key role that the global network has come to play for all countries. Commission Communication "Internet governance: the next steps" COM(2009) 2007.
(RAPID) The European Commission has published its report on US laws on remote gambling and their enforcement against EU companies. This report is the outcome of an investigation into United States measures affecting foreign suppliers of Internet gambling services. The report concludes that the US measures constitute an obstacle to trade that is inconsistent with WTO rules. As a result, WTO proceedings would be justified. At the same time, the report suggests that the issue should be addressed with the US Administration, with a view to finding a negotiated solution. See also Fact Sheet: Trade Barriers Regulation report on US Internet gambling laws.
(Guardian) Computer makers in China have been instructed to pre-install blocking software on every PC hard drive from next month, under a government push to control access to the internet. The new software, which has been developed by companies working with the Chinese military, is specifically aimed at restricting online pornography, but it could also be used to strengthen barriers to politically sensitive websites. China's authorities currently block overseas-based sites they disapprove of, such as those relating to Tibetan independence, or the Falun Gong spiritual movement, with a mesh of filters and keyword restrictions, widely known as the Great Firewall. see also China defends screening software (BBC). See also Green Dam filtering software scorned by many Chinese (Rebecca MacKinnon).
(RSF) Reporters Without Borders voiced concern over China's plan to force computer manufacturers to install software on personal computers to filter information seen by the Communist Party as "unhealthy". The 'Green Dam' software, which must be installed from 1st July onwards will filter pornographic content, the industry and information and technology ministry has decided. "It is a scenario worthy of Big Brother that is unfolding in China", the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "First comes the arrests of dissident bloggers and now the time for surveillance built into computers themselves".
(FT) Google's global website was blocked in China on Wednesday night, marking an escalation in Beijing's unprecedented crackdown on the world's leading search engine company. Attempts to access Google.com and Gmail from different computers in Beijing started failing after 9pm local time, but the websites could be accessed through proxy servers - normally a sign that a website is being blocked by internet censors. The service in Beijing at least was back after two hours. The blocking came after Google appeared to resist an earlier order to restrict access to foreign websites through Google.cn, its local website.
(BBC) China is delaying a controversial plan requiring all new computers sold in the country to be equipped with an internet filtering software, state media says. The filter, called Green Dam Youth Escort, was to have been required from Wednesday, but the ministry of industry said computer makers needed more time. Its planned rollout sparked widespread disapproval inside China, legal challenges and overseas criticism. Officials say it is designed to shield children from pornography and violence. The BBC's Quentin Somerville, in Beijing, says the reversal is an embarrassing climb down for the Chinese government.
(Reuters) A Chinese lawyer has demanded a public hearing to reconsider a government demand that all new personal computers carry Internet filtering software, adding to uproar over a plan critics say is ineffective and intrusive. Li Fangping, a Beijing human rights advocate who often embraces controversial causes, has asked the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to allow hearings on the "lawfulness and reasonableness" of the demand, which takes effect from July 1 and was publicized only this week.
(China Daily) The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's latest regulation to preinstall filtering software on all new computers by July 1 has triggered public concern, anger and protest. A survey on Sina.com, the largest news portal in China, showed that an overwhelming 83 percent of the 26,232 people polled said they would not use the software, known as Green Dam. Only 10 percent were in favor. In the Green Dam case, buyers, mostly adults, should be given the complete freedom to decide whether they want the filtering software to be installed in their computers or not. Respect for an individual's right to choice is an important indicator of a free society, depriving them of which is gross transgression. Let's not allow the Green Dam software to block our way into the future.
(ONI) The news that China will begin requiring all computers sold in the country to include Internet filtering software has sparked waves of commentary on topics ranging from legal challenges to human rights issues to concerns about security and effectiveness. The software, known as Green Dam Youth Escort, ostensibly protects children from harmful information online by filtering out sites that contain prohibited keywords. It will be mandatory on every computer sold in China after July 1, 2009. The OpenNet Initiative worked this week to evaluate the functionality of Green Dam. In "China's Green Dam: The Implications of Government Control Encroaching on the Home PC," we review the functional elements of this new software and explore the possible effects of its implementation on a national scale. We conclude that Green Dam is deeply flawed and poses critical security concerns for users. See also Analysis of the Green Dam Censorware System Scott Wolchok, Randy Yao, and J. Alex Halderman, Computer Science and Engineering Division, The University of Michigan.
(Wall Street Journal) A California company alleged that an Internet-filtering program being pushed by the Chinese government contains stolen portions of the company's software. The company, Solid Oak Software Inc., said it will try to stop PC makers from shipping computers with the software. Mr. Milburn said Solid Oak received an anonymous email stating that Green Dam may contain parts of his company's code. Some lawyers said that because the software will only be sold in China, Solid Oak faces an uphill legal battle, even if it targets U.S. companies.
(BBC) The US has called on China to scrap its plan to put net-filtering software on all its computers. It said that China's proposals would violate its free trade obligations, weaken computer security and raise serious censorship concerns. China has demanded that all computers come supplied with software called Green Dam from 1 July.
(Heise) Der Bundestag hat mit den Stimmen der großen Koalition den Gesetzentwurf zu Web-Sperren im Kampf gegen die Verbreitung von Kinderpornographie über das Internet abgesegnet (389 Ja-, 128 Nein-Stimmen, 18 Enthaltungen). Das Gesetz, das nach umfangreichen Änderungen den Titel "Gesetz zur Erschwerung des Zugangs zu kinderpornographischen Inhalten in Kommunikationsnetzen" trägt, soll auf drei Jahre befristetet werden. Das Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) soll täglich eine Sperrliste erstellen. Alle Zugangsanbieter mit mindestens 10.000 Teilnehmern müssen sie "unverzüglich" und zumindest auf Ebene des Domain Name Systems (DNS) implementieren. Ausgenommen sind Provider, die keine öffentlichen Internetzugänge vermitteln und selbst "vergleichbar wirksame Sperrmaßnahmen" einsetzen. Das BKA darf außereuropäische Kinderporno-Angebote "sofort" in das Filterverzeichnis aufnehmen, wenn ihm eine Löschbarkeit der Serverinhalte in "angemessener Zeit" nicht plausibel erscheint. Informationen an die betroffenen Host-Provider über die inkriminierten Inhalte muss die Polizeibehörde nicht verschicken. Als nächstes muss sich der Bundesrat mit dem Vorhaben befassen. Da es sich nicht um ein zustimmungspflichtiges Gesetz handelt, könnten die Länder höchstens Einspruch erheben und das Inkrafttreten am Tag nach der Verkündigung im Bundesgesetzblatt verhindern. Damit ist aber nicht zu rechnen, da die Koalition vielen Forderungen des Bundesrates Rechnung getragen hat. Das Gesetz könnte so im Sommer oder Herbst bereits Gültigkeit erlangen.
(Heise) Die europäische "Konferenz zum Schutz vor sexueller Gewalt gegen Kinder und Jugendliche mit Fokus auf neue Medien" hat in Berlin eine gemeinsame Abschlusserklärung zum internationalen Kampf gegen Kinderpornographie verabschiedet. In der von Bundesfamilienministerin Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) initiierten Deklaration wird in 16 Punkten unter anderem die in Deutschland bereits gesetzlich verankerte Zugangserschwerung zu Webseiten mit kinderpornographischen Inhalten als "flankierende Maßnahme" gegen Kinderpornographie bezeichnet. Sie sei "umso effektiver, je mehr Staaten" mitmachten. Die Erklärung wurde unterzeichnet von Europol, dem Bundeskriminalamt, den Kinderschutzorganisationen Innocence in Danger, ECPAT, Save the Children und UNESCO Deutschland. siehe auch Regierung fordert mehr internationale Zusammenarbeit (Der Spiegel).
(BMFSFJ) Protecting Children and Young People from Sexual Violence with a Focus on the New Media: Perspectives for Europe. Final Declaration, International Conference, Berlin, 30 June 2009.
(CNET News.com) by Declan McCullagh. A new generation of Iranians has found ways to bypass the country's Internet restrictions and disseminate details about Iran's internal turmoil in the wake of the recent election. In technical circles, at least, Iran is well-known for erecting one of the world's most restrictive Internet blockades, second only to China in its scope. Certain blogs are cordoned off, politically unacceptable keywords are blocked, and Web sites like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, the BBC, and YouTube remain - at least at the moment - off-limits. But the government's censors have been unable to staunch every data leak.
(Guardian) Internet companies should be forced to filter the web in order to reduce the volume of indecent material being shared online, according to children's charities. In a new "digital manifesto", a leading group of charities including the NSPCC, the Children's Society and the National Children's Bureau argue that the government should legally compel ISPs to screen out images of child abuse and underage sex. Compulsory filtering is just one of a number of recommendations made by the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety (CCCIS), which believes that action must be taken now to prevent new technologies from being used to proliferate abusive images online.
(Heise) Der Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter (BDK) spricht sich für mehr Sicherheit im Netz aus und hat der Bundesfamilienministerin Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) ein umsetzungsreifes Konzept vorgelegt. Das sagte BDK-Chef Klaus Jansen der Neuen Osnabrücker Zeitung. Das Konzept umfasst eine Aufklärungskampagne unter dem Motto "Der 8. Sinn im Netz" sowie das Online-Angebot "Web Patrol" und eine Software, mit der Übergriffe oder Verstöße im Netz gemeldet werden können. Das Konzept will Jansen auf dem 14. Deutschen Präventionstag in Hannover der Öffentlichkeit vorstellen. see also One Click Away from a Cop (Spiegel).
(RAPID) An average European has now at least one object that is connected to the internet, be it a computer or mobile phone. But the number of connected devices that are hardly visible, more complex and more mobile around us will multiply a hundred or even a thousand times over the next 5 to 15 years. The European Commission has announced actions to make sure that Europe can play a leading role in shaping these new networks of interconnected objects from books to cars, from electrical appliances to food - in short the emerging 'internet of things'.
(RAPID) The ministers of the 27 EU Member States formally adopted the new EU roaming rules proposed by the European Commission and approved by the European Parliament in April. The new EU roaming rules will lead to further reductions of up to 60% on consumers' roaming bills as of 1 July - just in time for this year's summer holidays. The new EU Roaming Regulation in particular makes sure that consumers do not pay more than €0.11 (excl. VAT) for sending a text message while abroad in the EU. Consumers will also be able to surf the web, download movies or send holiday pictures with their mobile without experiencing "bill shocks" back home for having roamed this summer. Under the new rules, mobile operators must also bill their customers for roaming calls by the second after the first 30 seconds - instead of on a per minute basis, which is expected to cut phone bills by as much as 24%. The new EU roaming rules will now become effective as of 1 July in all 27 EU Member States.
(RAPID) The European Commission has endorsed Slovenia's telecoms regulator's (APEK) plan to require Slovenia's largest mobile operator, Mobitel, to continue to give competitors access to its network at regulated prices. Unlike most other EU countries, Slovenia's market for wholesale access and call origination services on mobile networks is still not effectively competitive. Competitors, for the time being, still rely on Mobitel's network to provide full national coverage and competitive services to their subscribers. Once they have rolled out their own networks, regulation should be withdrawn.
(Siliconvalley.com) Apple's iPhone has already shaken up the mobile phone world. Next, it may shake up the video game industry. In less than a year, the device has become a significant game platform. But its bigger impact could be to help change the way the game industry does business. The iPhone is one of the first widely successful gaming platforms in which games are completely digitally distributed; the only way to get games on the device is to download them. That, along with some other important factors, has already created a new market. On the iPhone, consumers can find more games updated more regularly and at a cheaper cost per game than what they'd find on a typical dedicated game console.
(Guardian) by Bobbie Johnson, technology There's a really interesting piece in this month's Wired magazine about the conflict between Facebook and Google - in particular, how Facebook is using it's walled garden approach to build something that Google can't get access to. Worth a look. see Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network's Plan to Dominate the Internet - and Keep Google Out
(BBC News) The number of hate and terrorist websites has increased by a third in the past year, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organisation put the figure at more than 8,000 in its 2008 report Hate 2.0. And the number of so-called hate sites is growing fast, while the use of social networks to push controversial messages is also on the rise. See Facebook, YouTube +: How Social Media Outlets Impact Digital Terrorism and Hate.
(Computerworld) Microsoft has added a separate domain to its Bing search service just for pornographic images and video. No, Microsoft isn't getting into the smut business. Instead, the company is trying to make it easier for companies and organizations to filter explicit images out of search results. Mike Nichols, general manager of Microsoft Bing, said in a blog post that potentially explicit images and video content now will be coming from one separate domain - explicit.bing.net.
(Heise) Mit "viralen" Spots soll die Kampagne Watch Your Web sich im Internet und in Social Networks verbreiten; sie werden aber auch von MTV und der Deutschen Bahn gezeigt. in Berlin die Kampagne Watch Your Web gestartet, die Jugendlichen einen verantwortungsvollen Umgang mit persönlichen Daten im Netz nahelegen will.
(OUT-LAW News) The Government will create two new public bodies to help protect Government and citizens from digital security threats. It will set up one strategy body -the Office of Cyber Security (OCS) - and one operations centre to increase the UK's cyber security - the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC). They will be functional by March 2010.
(Europa) Tuenti and Rate are popular social networking services for young people in Spain and Estonia. By committing themselves to the "Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU" they take a step forward in keeping their online services safe. Signatories to the Principles committed to send to the European Commission a self-declaration, highlighting the way they implement the provisions of the Principles. As of 17 June 2009 the following companies have sent their self-declarations: Arto, Bebo, Dailymotion, Facebook, Google, Hyves, Microsoft Europe, MySpace, nasza-klasa.pl, Netlog, One.lt, Piczo, Rate.ee, Skyrock, StudiVZ.de, Sulake/Habbo, Tuenti ,Yahoo! Europe, Zap.lu. The European Commission will monitor the implementation of the Principles and it will publish the results of its assessment in February 2010. The "Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU" is a self-regulatory agreement signed on 10 February 2009 by 18 major social networking providers active in Europe. These Principles have been developed by SNS providers in consultation with the European Commission, as part of its Safer Internet Programme, and a number of NGOs, to provide good practice recommendations for the providers of social networking and other user interactive sites, to enhance the safety of children and young people using their services.
(01net) Un an après l'adoption d'une charte garantissant leur transparence, les comparateurs de prix sur Internet se dotent d'un label validé par les pouvoirs publics.
(IDG News Service) Online consumers should get more information about what information is being tracked and collected for the purposes of behavioral advertising, and they should have more control over what data is being collected, according to new privacy principles released by four advertising trade groups. Online advertising networks should also "maintain appropriate physical, electronic, and administrative safeguards" to protect data collected, and they should retain the data "only as long as necessary to fulfill a legitimate business need, or as required by law," the principles said. see also Self-regulatory principles for behavioral advertising (Google Polciy Blog) by Pablo Chavez. Of course, for any self-regulatory effort to be effective, there has to be some kind of enforcement process.
(OUT-LAW News) Social networking sites are legally responsible for their users' privacy, Europe's privacy watchdogs have confirmed. The committee of data protection regulators has said that the sites are 'data controllers', with all the legal obligations that brings. Users of the sites are also data controllers with legal obligations when they are posting on behalf of a club, society or company, the opinion said. The committee of Europe's data protection regulators, the Article 29 Working Party, has published its opinion on the legal status of social networking operators such as Facebook and MySpace. It has said that the sites cannot escape their legal obligations just because content on them is often produced and posted by users.See Opinion 5/2009 on online social networking. See also Article 29 Working Party on online social networking(EDRI-gram).
(RAPID) The European Commission has launched a public consultation on its revised proposals for the regulation of Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband networks, in the form of a draft Commission Recommendation. A previous public consultation held during the last quarter of 2008 confirmed general support for the objective of the Commission to achieve a common regulatory framework for NGA in order to foster timely investment in very high speed networks while ensuring that the competitive structure of the market is maintained. In the light of comments from stakeholders, the revised draft Recommendation includes mechanisms to allocate the investment risk between investors and operators seeking access to NGA networks. The draft Recommendation forms part of the European Broadband Strategy that the March European Council invited the Commission to develop by the end of 2009. The public consultation will be open until 24 July 2009. The Commission plans to adopt the Recommendation, taking account of comments received, before the end of 2009. See also frequently asked questions.
(RAPID) The European Commission has cleared the proposal of the French telecoms regulator ARCEP to maintain regulatory obligations on the incumbent TV transmission services operator TDF. The regulation will apply to those TDF masts and sites that are impossible or very difficult to replicate. Alternative transmission service providers need to have access to these sites under adequate conditions to provide competing transmission services to digital television broadcasters and multiplex operators. At the same time, however, the Commission invites ARCEP to monitor the extent to which TDF's sites can be replicated and the competitive developments on the market so as to ensure that the regulatory obligations to be imposed on TDF remain justified and proportionate.
(Guardian) Two issues raised in Lord Carter's review affect the games industry in particular First, there is some suggestion that the UK Government will support a tax breaks system like the ones already in place in Canada and South Korea. While the tax breaks are only alluded to in the Digital Britain document, many insiders are cautiously celebrating the possibility of implementation. Second, and more controversially, the Government has chosen to back the PEGI system of self-regulation rather than the homegrown, government-affiliated, top-down BBFC's. A long debate has been raging behind the scenes for several years between the two regulation bodies, and many in the industry will welcome the decision. Although less well-recognised in the UK, the PEGI scheme is a pan-European, independent opt-in facility backed by 28 countries. BBFC have not responded well. see Digital Britain: UK to implement PEGI system for video games classification (Daily Telegraph).
(BBC) The videogame trade association, Tiga, say the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating systems has "room for improvement". Tiga's chief, Dr Richard Wilson, said changes were needed to make the logos "instinctively recognisable".
(PC World) Asus and Disney have combined their expertise in computers and cartoons to produce a Disney-themed netbook called the Netpal. It has plenty of parental control options; parents can restrict their children's access to particular sites or programs, limit e-mail correspondence to certain addresses, set different permissions corresponding to different scheduled times and even provide statistics on what users are doing online. You can also figure out how much time the kids are spending playing Flash games when they're supposed to be studying..
(Guardian) The days of drawers full of chargers for mobile phones you no longer use could soon be over after manufacturers agreed to use a universal model. Ten companies including Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson have signed up to offer the charger, which will be based on a Micro-USB connector. Currently, when consumers buy a mobile phone they are provided with a new charger even if the old one still works.
(Economist) Laptops are evolving - and forcing the rest of the computer industry to change. see also Pre conceived Stiffer competition for the smart-phone throne and Tempting fruit A growing hunger to profit from the global market for smart phones.
(Europa) In April 2008, the Commission with its Communication on video games signalled the growing importance of video games both in social and economic terms and explicitly showcased the video games industry, arguing that it is about to become a major pillar of European media culture. One year after the Communication, Commissioner Reding, experts and relevant stakeholders will come together in order to re-assess progress to date towards improved protection of minors and identify further measures as necessary. The European Commission's hearing on video games and the protection of minors will take place on 8 July 2009 in Brussels. It will take the form of panel discussions on the following topics: Raising awareness among parents and consumers; Online Games: particular risks, specific responses?; Towards a pan- European Code of Conduct for the retail sale of video games. 8 July 2009; 10.00 - 16.30.
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