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(Techcrunch) Berlin police have arrested a man who tried to blackmail VZ-Netzwerke, the holding company for the successful Facebook clone StudiVZ and other German social networks. The man had used crawler software to harvest detailed user information not only only from the group's networks for adult people, StudiVZ and MeinVZ, but also from Germany's biggest social network for pupils, SchülerVZ. The 20 year old man asked for €80,000.
(IDG News Service) U.K. police have apologized over a recent public presentation that linked a nonprofit Internet registry with money laundering by a notorious group of Russian cybercriminal gangsters. The brouhaha started during a presentation by the U.K.'s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cyber Division, at the RSA security conference on Oct. 21. The cybercriminal investigators were describing the Russian Business Network (RBN), a well-known group linked to malicious software, hacking, child pornography and spam. In 2006, RIPE allocated a block of IP addresses to a fake company registered in the U.K. that was a front for the RBN. RIPE contends it was duped and that at the time, it was impossible to tell that the front company wasn't legitimate. After repeated contact with law enforcement, RIPE eventually pulled RBN's IP allocation in May 2008.
(RAPID) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, BEUC multi-stakeholder Forum on "Consumer Privacy and Online Marketing: Market Trends and Policy Perspectives" Brussels, 12 November 2009.
(OUT-LAW News) The European Commission has formed a new group, the Stakeholder Forum on Fair Data Collection, in an attempt to regulate companies' growing gathering and use of customers' personal data. The group has been formed to address problems the Commission says are eroding consumer trust. Online retail is increasingly dependent on information on users' browsing habits and demographic information gathered from them. Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva has created a new industry body that she wants to address the privacy and consumer protection problems faced by the users of online retail services. See "Consumer Privacy and Online Market" Speech by Meglena Kuneva European Consumer Commissioner, BEUC Multi-Stakeholder Forum "Consumer Privacy and Online Marketing: Market Trends and Policy Perspectives" Brussels, 12 November 2009.
(BBC) Websites mis-selling mobile ringtones and other services have been forced to clean up their acts, following a European Union crackdown. Some 301 sites were investigated, resulting in the closure of 54 and the correction of 159. The biggest problems were unclear pricing and misleading advertising suggesting ringtones were free. The investigation was a direct response to hundreds of complaints from parents and consumers across Europe. See Commission Press Release.
(IDG News Service) Online games in China should move away from "lowbrow" content such as monster hunting, Chinese regulators said, highlighting the uncertain regulatory conditions faced by game operators in the country. The game features the regulators dislike, especially monster hunting as the main way for players to gain experience points and new powers, exist in virtually all hit online games. Game operators should also limit highly popular systems that let players kill other human-controlled characters, the country's culture ministry said in a statement on its Web site.
(First Monday) by Rebecca MacKinnon. This study explores an under-studied layer of Chinese Internet censorship: how Chinese Internet companies censor user-generated content, usually by deleting it or preventing its publication. Systematic testing of Chinese blog service providers reveals that domestic censorship is very decentralized with wide variation from company to company. Test results also showed that a great deal of politically sensitive material survives in the Chinese blogosphere, and that chances for its survival can likely be improved with knowledge and strategy.
(New York Times) The virtual World of Warcraft game is the subject of a regulatory dispute in China, where such games are big business. The background: the Chinese General Administration of Press and Publication ordered the Shanghai-based operator of World of Warcraft, NetEase, to shut down its servers for World of Warcraft. The agency said that it had rejected the company's application to become the new host of the game's four million Chinese players. But the Ministry of Culture had struck back. "In regards to the World of Warcraft incident, the General Administration of Press and Publication has clearly overstepped its authority," a ministry official was quoted as saying "They do not have the authority to penalize online gaming." The ministry said it had that authority. And it said NetEase was perfectly free to offer the game on computers in China. The matter now appears destined for settlement by the State Council, the Chinese government's cabinet.
(Guardian) Iran has moved to block the last remaining outlet of expression for the country's political opposition with the launch of a special force to police the internet. A 12-member team reporting to the chief prosecutor will scour websites with a view to pressing charges against those judged to be "spreading lies" and "insults" against the Islamic system. Members will include police and personnel from other, unspecified, parts of Iran's security apparatus.
(RAPID) The European Commission has adopted a Communication on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy aiming to tackle the important cultural and legal challenges of mass-scale digitisation and dissemination of books, in particular of European library collections. The Communication was jointly drawn up by Commissioners Charlie McCreevy and Viviane Reding. Digital libraries such as Europeana will provide researchers and consumers across Europe with new ways to gain access to knowledge. For this, however, the EU will need to find a solution for orphan works, whose uncertain copyright status means they often cannot be digitised. Improving the distribution and availability of works for persons with disabilities, particularly the visually impaired, is another cornerstone of the Communication.
(Reuters) Google and the Authors Guild filed a new version of a deal to create a massive online library in hopes that changes will answer possible antitrust and copyright concerns in the United States and overseas. Amendments to the settlement were crafted after extensive meetings with the Justice Department, according to the parties. Google's plan to put millions of books online has been praised for bringing broad access to books but has also been criticized on antitrust, copyright and privacy grounds. In one shift, money from unclaimed or orphan works will go to an independent fiduciary rather than go to the registry. Also, books in the registry and covered by the deal were reduced to those copyrighted in the United States or published in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
(EFF) We're happy to announce our involvement in a truly global project: Copyright Watch. Working with academics, libraries and copyright monitors from across the world, Copyright Watch brings together the most recent copies of laws from as many countries as we could find. And with that global team, we'll be tracking new proposals, consultations, and freshly passed regulations: finding the promising changes, and highlighting the spectacularly bad ideas hopefully before they can take hold.
(Guardian) Acta, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, has been progressing for two years without much fanfare. Supporters say the treaty will help create a broad consensus on how to deal with counterfeit goods: the kind of legislation usually aimed at criminals who mass-manufacture and sell pirate DVDs, or flood the market with dangerous fake products such as batteries and electrical equipment. In truth, the treaty also contains suggestions for the control of internet content that some believe could radically alter the nature of copyright law worldwide. See also The ACTA Threat: My Talk on Everything You Need To Know About ACTA, But Didn't Know To Ask (Michael Geist) and ENDitorial: ACTA Revealed, European ISPs Might Have A Big Problem (EDRI-gram).
(CNET blog) There's no denying that the online multiplayer experience is a major selling point for video games like the just-released Modern Warfare 2. The ability to play with (and against) other players from around the world adds an expanded dimension and a social component that single-player titles lack. But while the bulk of the mainstream media criticism of these games tends to focus on the violence, gore, and questionable ethics in such combat-centric titles, little is spoken about a growing issue that can affect online gamers playing any title: instances of racism, misogyny, and homophobia.
(Google European Public Policy blog) We have learned that Swiss Data Protection Authority intends to take Google to court over Street View in Switzerland. We are disappointed. Data Protection Commissioner Herr Thuer has taken this move despite our efforts to provide a comprehensive set of solutions to his concerns. We want to take this opportunity to outline the situation to date and to explain why we believe his legal action is unnecessary. Before the launch in Switzerland, we made sure we spoke to privacy regulators and other interested groups to give them an opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns they might have. We always do this before a launch because we know that different countries may have different expectations. See also ArsTechnica FDPIC's complaint to the Federal Administrative Court (PDF, German-only).
(Europa) Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. see also Stakeholders discuss how to respond to data breaches at EDPS-ENISA seminar (Brussels, 23 October 2009).
(RAPID) The Commission has moved to the second phase of an infringement proceeding over the UK to provide its citizens with the full protection of EU rules on privacy and personal data protection when using electronic communications. European laws state that EU countries must ensure the confidentiality of people's electronic communications like email or internet browsing by prohibiting their unlawful interception and surveillance without the user's consent. As these rules have not been fully put in place in the national law of the UK, the Commission will send the UK a reasoned opinion. Specifically, the Commission has identified three gaps in the existing UK rules governing the confidentiality of electronic communications: 1) There is no independent national authority to supervise interception of communications 2) The current UK law - the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) - authorises interception of communications not only where the persons concerned have consented to interception but also when the person intercepting the communications has "reasonable grounds for believing" that consent to do so has been given. These UK law provisions do not comply with EU rules defining consent as freely given, specific and informed indication of a person's wishes 3) The RIPA provisions are limited to 'intentional' interception only, whereas the EU law requires Members States to prohibit and to ensure sanctions against any unlawful interception regardless of whether committed intentionally or not.
(AFP) Experts from 50 nations meeting in Madrid have reached a draft agreement on international standards for the protection of privacy and personal data. Under the proposed standards, data may only be processed after obtaining the "free, unambiguous and informed consent" of the data subjects and it should be deleted when it is no longer necessary for the purposes for which it was gathered. Data collectors must identify themselves, state in clear language the purpose of the data processing and the recipients of the gathered data. International transfers of personal data may only be carried out to a country which "affords, as a minimum, the level of protection provided for in the document," according to the proposed standards, agreed by representatives from privacy protection agencies.
(Le Point) Les données numériques sont impalpables : c'est à la fois leur force et leur faiblesse. En effet, leur effacement ne peut pas être contrôlé facilement, et le respect de la vie privée des internautes en souffre sans vraiment qu'ils s'en rendent compte. La secrétaire d'État à l'Économie numérique, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, propose de garantir le "droit à l'oubli numérique". Elle souhaite la création de labels pour les sites Web, particulièrement pour les réseaux sociaux, afin de garantir l'effacement des données. voir aussi Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet s´est rendue à Charm el Cheikh, dimanche 15 novembre 2009, pour représenter la France au Forum mondial sur la gouvernance de l´Internet. Elle a saisi cette occasion pour défendre la notion de droit à l´oubli numérique et pour proposer la mise en place d´un groupe de discussion international sur la prescription des données personnelles sur Internet." Discours de la Ministre.
(BBC) Staff at mobile phone company T-Mobile passed on millions of records from thousands of customers to third party brokers, the firm has confirmed. Details emerged after the firm alerted the information commissioner, who said his office was preparing a prosecution. Christopher Graham said brokers had sold the data to other phone firms, who then cold-called the customers as their contracts were due to expire.
(RAPID) The European Commission has published a reflection paper on the challenge of creating a European Digital Single Market for creative content like books, music, films or video games. According to Commission studies, a truly Single Market without borders for Creative Online Content could allow retail revenues of the creative content sector to quadruple if clear and consumer-friendly measures are taken by industry and public authorities. The digital availability of content thus presents great opportunities for Europe, but also a number of challenges. First of all, regulatory and territorial obstacles still stand in the way of digital distribution of cultural products and services and can impede creativity and innovation. In addition, illegal downloads on a large scale can jeopardize the development of an economically viable Single Market for digital content; there needs to be much more encouragement for legal cross-border offers. The reflection paper outlines current challenges for three groups of stakeholders - rightholders, consumers and commercial users - and invites everybody interested to participate in a broad debate about the possible European responses to them. Comments can be sent by 5 January 2010.
(Europa) On 16 October, the EU bookshop launched its digital library, its online collection now containing every document published by the EU since 1952 - 110 000 publications. With the archives now included, the digital library contains no fewer than 12 million scanned pages in 50 languages. The new digital library will be linked to Europeana, a digital version of libraries and archives all over Europe.
(RAPID) Opening speech by Viviane Reding Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media at the Internet Governance Forum Sharm El Sheikh, 15 November 2009.
(RAPID) At the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), the European Commission has s welcomed a landmark step towards a truly global (and local) internet: the announcement that "Internationalised Domain Names" will be introduced at the top level. Until now, internet domain names were either fully or partly in the Latin "a to z" alphabet. ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which manages the internet's core directory, has announced that a fast track process would be launched today to open up country code top level domains (like ".eu" of europa.eu) to non Latin characters. This means that Europeans, especially in Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus, will be able to see domain names in their own alphabets. Viviane Reding, the EU's telecoms and internet Commissioner, heralded this major multilingual development. She also called for the timeframe of the Internet Governance Forum - a unique multi-stakeholder dialogue platform for the global internet community - to be extended. See also Why the Internet must be open, global and multilingual Opening speech by Viviane Reding Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media at the Internet Governance Forum Sharm El Sheikh, 15 November 2009.
(BBC) Ordnance Survey map data will be freely available online to everybody from 2010, the Government has announced. The move will allow people to interpret public statistics about crime, health and education by postcode, local authority or electoral boundary. Currently, the geographical data is only available free of charge to small scale developers. Opening it up is key to the success of government plans to free its data via data.gov.uk, say the site's creators.
(RAPID) There are widespread problems with refusals of orders for EU consumers trying to purchase goods online in another Member state, according to a new European Commission report on cross border consumer e-commerce. An extensive independent mystery shopping exercise was carried out for the Commission where shoppers across the EU tried to purchase a list of 100 popular products ?for example cameras, CDs, books, clothes - from a cross border provider. Over 11,000 test orders were carried out. The research found that 60% of cross border transactions could not be completed by consumers because the trader did not ship the product to their country or did not offer adequate means for cross border payment.
(RAPID) A joint statement setting out general principles that would underpin the online distribution of music in the future and so lead to improved online music opportunities for European consumers was signed by participants at the fourth meeting of the Roundtable on the Online Distribution of Music, chaired by European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes on 19 th October 2009. The participants at the Roundtable were Amazon, BEUC, EMI, iTunes, Nokia, PRS for Music, SACEM, STIM and Universal. Following the Roundtable, a number of participants announced concrete steps and commitments that should result in improved access of European consumers to music online.
(SC Magazine) The Australian Computer Society has released a report that flags conditional support to ISP-based internet filtering from a technical standpoint, based on a series of boxes that need to be checked before giving the scheme the green light. Six experts from the ACS said that filtering of the internet is plausible, but suggested a number of steps that the Federal Government needs to first address. The computer society pushed for the blacklist to be "transparent." "Transparency and credibility should include an independent oversight, a system of checks and balances that incorporates a system of appeals and an independent auditing process," the report said. Blocking websites was not enough to stop illegal websites from appearing, the report said. The ACS suggested the Federal Government work with the internet corporation for assigned names and numbers (ICANN) and encourage it to reject domain name applications that were likely to contain illegal material.
(Australian Computer Society) Report from the Filtering and E-Security Task Force.
(Heise) Die Jugend im Netz war neben Klassikern wie Meinungsfreiheit und Datenschutz eines der großen Themen auf dem diesjährigen Internet Governance Forum (IGF) im ägyptischen Sharm El Sheik. Auf rund einem Dutzend Veranstaltungen wurden Themen wie Kinderschutz im Internet oder der Kampf gegen Kinderpornographie diskutiert. Dabei sprachen sich Experten auch für den Einsatz von Netzsperren aus.
(Aconite) Government attempts to block access to the Internet are mounting throughout Europe - but look set to backfire, according to new study. The Open Society Institute funded the report which is titled "Internet Blocking: Balancing Cybercrime Responses in Democratic Societies." The study shows how efforts to block Internet content are spreading throughout democratic Europe. In Germany, Britain, Italy and Scandinavia, the measures are intended to block pages containing child pornography. The new study concludes that the measures are ineffective. Many technical ways exist to get around blocking technologies. More importantly, the blocking measures are intrusive and often abuse fundamental freedoms. These systems either over-block or under-block content and do not prevent the serious offender from gaining access.
(Europa) INHOPE was founded in 1999 with 8 Member hotlines in Europe. Today, INHOPE has 35 Members all over the world, in 25 European countries, as well as international members from the US, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, South Africa, Russia and South Korea. The main objective of the network is to fight against illegal content online, and especially against child sexual abuse images. A Hotline is where the general public can report illegal Internet content, primarily child sexual abuse images. Illegal activity on the Internet is a cross border problem that no organisation can effectively tackle alone. Often illegal material reported to Hotlines is hosted beyond the borders of their own country and the national jurisdiction. The global network of INHOPE member hotlines provides a means to pass the relevant information, without delay, to be handled in the country where the site is hosted. Hotlines have the support of their national government, Internet industry, law enforcement, and Internet users in the country of operation and they offer effective transparent procedures for dealing with reports. The expansion of the network around the globe has increased the ability to remove child sex abuse images from the Internet and in consequence help to protect the children behind the images.
(RAPID) Speech by Viviane Reding Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, 'Visby Agenda: Creating impact for an eUnion 2015' Visby/Gotland, 9 November 2009.
(BBC) Egypt should not have been picked as the venue for a key net talking shop, say human rights activists. Reporters Without Borders said it was "surprised" that the Internet Governance Forum will take place in Egypt's Sharm-el-Sheikh resort. Set up by the UN, about 1,400 participants are expected to attend the three day meeting which gets under way on 15 November. Delegates will debate security, access and the growth of social networks. In a statement Reporters Without Borders said: ""It is astonishing that a government that is openly hostile to internet users is assigned the organization of an international meeting on the internet's future." See also Open Net Initiative profile for Egypt and UN slated for stifling net debate.
(Rebecca McKinnon) On the final day of a four-day meeting, most government representatives expressed support for renewing the Internet Governance Forum's five-year mandate which ends next year. China did not. Chen Yin, the head of the Chinese delegation to the Internet Governance Forum, said that the IGF's mandate should not be continued without reforms.
(Rebecca McKinnon) The Internet Governance Forum is winding down today in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. There have been a lot of very constructive conversations in workshops and panels over the past four days about how to advance security, privacy, child protection, AND human rights and free expression on the Internet. Unfortunately, the biggest headline coming out of the forum so far has been an incident on Sunday in which a poster promoting a book about censorship by the Open Net Initiative was removed by U.N. security. See reports by the BBC, the Associated Press, and the ONI's FAQ on the incident. Also see a YouTube video of the incident, and video of IGF Chairman Markus Kummer explaining the incident.
(Le Point) La médiatisation la semaine dernière du cas d'un habitant de Petite-Forêt, près de Valenciennes, qui a reçu une facture d'Internet de près de 46.000 euros pour le seul mois d'août a incité d'autres clients malheureux à sortir de l'ombre. Un médecin urgentiste, abonné à internet avec une clé 3G illimitée, a affirmé mardi être en contentieux avec Orange depuis six mois après avoir reçu une facture de 159.212 euros.
(Berkman Center) It has been three weeks since the FCC posted for public comment the Berkman Center?s study (PDF) of international experience with broadband transitions and policy. The FCC recently upgraded its comment facility, and we want to encourage everyone who cares about the future of broadband, and the National Broadband Plan, to take advantage of this updated system and to add their comments to the appropriate FCC dockets. The comment period for the Berkman Center study closes November 16. In the meantime, comments in the blogosphere have also emerged, and we thought it would be appropriate to respond to the ones that have received the most attention. The study is long and dense, and we hope that P.I. Yochai Benkler's responses below, that highlight some key considerations of the study's methods, will be helpful for those who are reviewing it.
(ABC) Fines totalling almost $16 million were handed down to two companies and three individuals in the Federal Court in Brisbane for breaches of the Spam Act. The scheme involved using dating sites to procure mobile phone numbers, and then sending unsolicited text messages. The landmark case brought by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is the first court action against people sending unwanted text messages.
(01net) La France s'est dotée en 2007 d'une plate-forme nationale de signalement de pourriels, appelée Signal-spam. Selon la Cnil, elle compterait aujourd'hui 50 000 utilisateurs inscrits qui lui auraient adressé plus de 17 millions de signalements. L'association Signal-spam, partenariat entre pouvoirs publics et acteurs privés, est financée par ses membres. L'Etat vient de lui renouveler son soutien financier, d'un montant de 32 000 euros.
(RADID) The world celebrates the 20 th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). To highlight the joint commitment to the principles of the UNCRC, the European Commission, UNICEF and UNRIC will jointly mark the 20 anniversary of the adoption of the Convention.
(Childnet International) Video with messages for the IGF. Shown at the workshop on Internet Governance - Activating and Listening to the Voice of Tweens at Sharm el Sheikh 17 November 2009.
(Net Family News) Last week I had the great good fortune of participating in the Safer Internet Forum 2009 in Luxembourg. What a fantastic experience, connecting with online-safety experts representing the 27 EU member countries plus Malaysia, Brazil, and New Zealand. The Forum included teen panelists (aged 14-18) from 26 of the 27 countries. This year's focus was "Promoting Online Safety in Schools." Here are highlights - things I heard from presenters over the four days of Forum and INSAFE meetings.
(UN) Audio Webcast. Chair: Ana Luiza Rotta Soares (Protegeles), Panelists: Katia Segers (EU Kids Online), Rachel O'Connell (Bebo), Janice Richardson (INSAFE), Gry Hasselbalch (Danish Media Council), Simon Grehan (NCTE Ireland), Dieter Carstensen (eNACSO) .
(Berkman Center for Internet & Society) The Risky Behaviors and Online Safety track of Harvard University Berkman Center's Youth and Media Policy Working Group Initiative is creating a Compendium of youth-based Internet safety programs and interventions. We are requesting organizations, institutions, and individuals working in online youth safety to share descriptions of their effective programs and interventions that address risky behavior by youth online. We are particularly interested in endeavors that involve educators, social services, mentors and coaches, youth workers, religious leaders, law enforcement, mental health professionals, and those working in the field of public or adolescent health. Program descriptions will be made publicly available. Exemplary programs will be spotlighted to policy makers, educators, and the public so that they too can learn about different approaches being tried and tested. Submissions also will be used to inform recommendations for future research and program opportunities. Deadline: December 21, 2009.
(Bruce Schneier) At the Internet Governance Forum in Sharm El Sheikh this week, there was a conversation on social networking data. Someone made the point that there are several different types of data, and it would be useful to separate them. This is my taxonomy of social networking data.
(BBC) Parents fear their daughters are becoming addicted to social networking sites, a girls' school leader says. Girls seem to be "permanently connected" to sites like Facebook and Bebo, president of the Girls' Schools Association Jill Berry said. This issue now tops the list of parents' worries by some way, she told the association's annual conference.
(BBC) Major social networking sites MySpace and Facebook have been criticised for failing to introduce a help button for children being bullied online. Jim Gamble, from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), hit out as rival networking site Bebo adopted the button. He said there was "no legitimate reason" why MySpace and Facebook had not done the same. see also Networking sites 'alert' police.
(Press Release) The Canadian Centre for Child Protection today released a new study titled Child Sexual Abuse Images: An analysis of websites by Cybertip.ca. The study reinforces concerns regarding the scope and severity of child sexual abuse imagery and underscores the need for additional solutions. The report was based on the examination of nearly 16,000 incidents involving sites hosting child pornography and the analysis of more than 4,000 unique images of child sexual abuse. More than 82% of the images assessed by Cybertip.ca depicted very young, pre-pubescent children under 12 years of age. Most concerning was the severe abuse depicted, with more than 35% of all images showing serious sexual assaults.
(RAPID) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. CMT's II International meeting: "Regulation in a convergent environment" Barcelona, 23 November 2009.
(ZDNet UK) Europe is set to get a major overhaul of its telecoms regulation, after the European Parliament and Council of Telecoms Ministers reached a compromise on the rights of internet users across the continent. The Telecoms Reform Package is a raft of new laws that tackle issues ranging from data-breach notification to faster number porting. The package will now become part of national legislation in every EU country, with a deadline of May 2011. see Commission Press Memo. See also Press Release following EP approval.
(ZDNet UK) The European Commission has called on member states to speed up their switchover from analogue to digital television, to free up spectrum for wireless broadband services. The Commission first announced its intention to set aside the so-called 'digital dividend' spectrum for wireless broadband in 2007. Since then, consultations and industry negotiations have taken place, leading to the proposals set out by the Commission. See also Commission Press Release.
(Guardian) With the new Google Dashboard, the personal data and product settings of different Google products are combined on one side to make it simpler for users to deal with them. The feature, which has just been launched, looks like a console for your personal data. Now you can do what Google can do too, as it links from one place to the data stored on different Google sites. And yes, it does make it easier to manage your personal data. Users can change their privacy settings, delete data on the dashboard, or read the privacy policies from various accounts instead of looking for them everywhere.
(Guardian) This year is the most successful in the UK's history for singles sales. More than 117m have been sold - comfortably beating the previous record of 115.1m, set in 2008. It is happening because of an explosion of new companies offering tracks free, legally, without having to go to peer-to-peer sites and thereby avoiding the risk of getting bogus tracks or viruses. People are flocking to them simply because it is a much easier way of listening to music. None of these sites were started by the music industry. Two of the newbies, Spotify.com and We7.com, alone have gained at least 5 million new users in their first year, mainly people who previously downloaded illegally. They use so called "freemium" business models offering streamed tracks for free if you accept an advert or for nothing if you take out a monthly subscription.
(Guardian) The co-founder of Twitter warned Rupert Murdoch that his plans to charge for online content, and block Google from using stories produced by his News International titles, were a vain attempt to "put the genie back in the bottle".
(BBC) A service that gave many people their first taste of building and owning a web page is set to close. Yahoo-owned GeoCities once boasted millions of users and was the third most popular destination on the web. The free site has since fallen out of fashion with users, who have switched to social networks. Yahoo, which acquired the site for $3.57bn in 1999 at the height of the dotcom boom, said sites would no longer be accessible from 26th October.
(Business Week) Google and Microsoft will incorporate information culled from social media sites into search pages. Microsoft said its Bing search engine will let users search for Twitter posts known as tweets and, later, for status updates posted to Facebook pages. Google will also include Twitter updates in search results and that it will begin offering a social search tool that delivers information posted by a searcher's friends on social sites.
(Net Family News) Google has a new feature that lets parents lock the computers kids use into the strictest SafeSearch setting. All parents need to do is log into their Google account on any computer the kids use, click on Settings, then Search Settings in the upper right-hand corner of the page. On the page that takes you to, scroll down to SafeSearch Filtering and click "Lock SafeSearch." Here's a little 95-sec. demo and Google's Help page on the locking tool. The only thing to remember is that you need to do this with any browser used on that computer - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.
(Sydney Morning Herald) The Facebook juggernaut has claimed the scalp of AOL Time Warner's $US850 million acquisition of Bebo, with the social media site tipped to close its Australian operation before Christmas as part of a global retreat and rethink. Australians, unlike net users in many other markets, have rapidly given Google and Facebook a near-monopoly position in online search and social networking.
(FT) The new chief executive of MySpace has told the Financial Times that the company is no longer interested in competing with Facebook, in effect conceding defeat in the race to become the largest online social network. Owen Van Natta, a former Facebook executive who replaced Chris DeWolfe as chief executive of MySpace six months ago, said the company instead aimed to become an online hub for music and entertainment. "Facebook is not our competition," he said. "We're very focused on a different space."
(Europa) A study says that European interactive websites like video sharing sites and blogs are growing, generating revenue for both owners and contributors. Compared with the US, which hosts the most commonly used websites for content created by users (blogs, texts, videos, music, games and virtual objects), Europe has more contributors. For example, almost 4 in 5 Italian internet users read blogs compared to 60% in the US, 41% of Spanish users write blogs but only 26% in the US, almost 60% of Czech internet users upload photos and 48% of Polish internet users subscribe to RSS feeds, all ahead of the US. To help the emergence of European Flickrs and youtubes that turn this large European creativity into growth and jobs, the Commission's report highlights the need for new and updated EU rules building a Single Market for content that can be made and shared online by anyone.
(CNET) The New Oxford American Dictionary has picked the verb "unfriend," or "to remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook," as its 2009 Word of the Year. [Ed: Other new words were considered including hashtag, netbook and sexting]
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