- An engineer's perspective on privacy +/-
(European Public Policy Blog) Ever wondered what data Google's search engine collects and why we retain search logs for certain periods of time? Here's a hint: it's not to personalise advertising as many people wrongly assume. Our first ever Brussels Tech Talk was about this and other questions on online privacy, given that it was Data Protection Day. Dr Alma Whitten, Google's engineering lead for privacy, addressed a full room of policy makers and other interested stakeholders. Alma demonstrated how we harness the power of data to "learn from the good guys, fight the bad guys, and invent the future." You can watch the video of the talk, and follow along with her presentation.
- CA - Privacy Commissioner launches public consultations on emerging technologies +/-
(Press Release) The Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced an upcoming consultation with Canadians on privacy issues related to the online tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers by marketers and other businesses. This will be the first in a series of public consultations focused on emerging technological trends that are likely to have a significant impact on the privacy of Canadians. A second consultation on the privacy issues emerging from the growing movement toward cloud computing will be announced in the near future.
- EU - Commission launches legal action against Italy over databases for telemarketing purposes +/-
(RAPID) The European Commission has taken legal action against Italy for not respecting EU ePrivacy rules. According to EU law, subscribers who are included in a public subscriber directory must be informed about the objectives of the directory and consent to the use of their personal data contained therein for marketing purposes. As Italy failed to comply with this obligation, the Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice (the first step of an infringement proceeding).
- EU - Privacy: the challenges ahead for the European Union +/-
(RAPID) Keynote Speech at the Data Protection Day by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media, 28 January 2010, European Parliament, Brussels. See also Press Release
- European Swift bank data ban angers US +/-
(BBC) The European Parliament has blocked a key agreement that allows the United States to monitor Europeans' bank transactions - angering Washington. The US called the decision a "setback for EU-US counter-terror co-operation". The vote was a rebuff to intensive US lobbying for EU help in counter-terrorism investigations. EU governments had negotiated a nine-month deal which would have allowed the US to continue accessing the Swift money transfer system.
- Google Alters Buzz to Tackle Privacy Flaws +/-
(New York Times) Google moved quickly to contain a firestorm of criticism over Buzz, its new social network, taking the unusual step of announcing changes to the product over the weekend to address privacy problems. Google has decided to alter one of the most vehemently criticized features in Buzz: the ready-made circle of friends that Buzz gives new users based on their most frequent e-mail and chat contacts. Now, instead of automatically connecting people, Buzz merely suggests to new users a group of people that they may want to follow or want to be followed by. See also HOW TO: Integrate Facebook, Twitter, and Buzz into Your Gmail (Mashable), Buzz or Bust by Leslie Harris, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology, Google boss says 'nobody was harmed' by Buzz debacle (Guardian) and Google facing lawsuit over Buzz privacy in federal court (Ars Technica).
- Google publishes privacy principles +/-
(Google Public Policy blog) Known as Data Privacy Day in North America and Data Protection Day in Europe, 28 January is meant to increase public awareness about privacy in the information age. To mark this occasion, on the Official Google Blog we've unveiled our Privacy Principles, which guide the decisions we make as we create products and services that offer transparency and control.
- The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now +/-
(ReadWriteWeb) by Sarah Perez. In December, Facebook made a series of bold and controversial changes regarding the nature of its users' privacy on the social networking site. Those of you who edited your privacy settings prior to December's change have nothing to worry about - that is, assuming you elected to keep your personalized settings when prompted by Facebook's "transition tool." The tool, a dialog box explaining the changes, appeared at the top of Facebook homepages this past month with its own selection of recommended settings. Unfortunately, most Facebook users likely opted for the recommended settings without really understanding what they were agreeing to. If you did so, you may now be surprised to find that you inadvertently gave Facebook the right to publicize your private information including status updates, photos, and shared links.
- UK - Teachers complain of 'e-spying' +/-
(BBC) Teaching unions are complaining that e-safety software is increasingly being used to keep track of their members. They say thousands of teachers are having their every mouse-click monitored, eroding trust. So-called spyware has increasingly been adopted by schools to tackle cyber-bullying and to stop pupils accessing unsuitable websites. Such software can record online activity by individuals, including web pages visited and messages sent. Leader of the NASUWT teachers' union Chris Keates says monitoring of teachers' computer use is common - and a symptom of "a growing culture of surveillance".
- AU - Google and Yahoo raise doubts over planned net filters +/-
(BBC) Google and Yahoo have joined two Australian organisations calling for a "rethink" of the country's controversial internet filter plans. The Australian government has announced proposals to introduce a mandatory filter which would block all RC (Refused Classification) content. The groups argue that the subjects covered by RC material are too wide-ranging for a blanket ban. They also warn that the filter will not "effectively protect children".
- CA - Web Filters Cause Name Change for a Magazine +/-
(New York Times) In 1920 the Hudson's Bay Company, which owed much of its early fortune to the trade in beaver pelts, began publishing a magazine for its 250th anniversary, The Beaver. This evolved into a respected magazine about Canadian history, and last week Canada's National History Society, the nonprofit group that now publishes it, decided that the Internet required the magazine to undergo a name change. To be more precise, the title was doomed by a vulgar alternative meaning that causes Web filters at schools and junk mail filters in e-mail programs to block access to material containing the magazine's name.
- DE - Bundespräsident unterzeichnet Websperren-Gesetz +/-
(Heise) Bundespräsident Horst Köhler hat das "Gesetz zur Bekämpfung von Kinderpornographie in Kommunikationsnetzen" unterzeichnet. Laut Mitteilung bestanden "keine durchgreifenden verfassungsrechtlichen Bedenken, die ihn an einer Ausfertigung gehindert hätten". Der Bundespräsident gehe davon aus, dass die Bundesregierung entsprechend ihrer Stellungnahme vom 4. Februar 2010 nunmehr "auf der Grundlage des Zugangserschwerungsgesetzes" Kinderpornographie im Internet effektiv und nachhaltig bekämpft. Siehe auch Justizministerin will Websperren vom Tisch haben. Das Justizministerium und das Innenressort hatten kürzlich eine Stellungnahme an das Staatsoberhaupt übermitteln lassen, wonach die Regierung "eine Gesetzesinitiative zur Löschung kinderpornographischer Inhalte im Internet beabsichtigt". Bis zum Inkrafttreten dieser Bestimmung werde sich Berlin "auf der Grundlage des Zugangserschwerungsgesetzes ausschließlich und intensiv für die Löschung derartiger Seiten einsetzen", heißt es in dem heise online vorliegenden Papier. Zugangssperren würden nicht vorgenommen, betonen die beiden Ministerien.
- DE - New Internet Legislation Embarrasses German Government +/-
(Der Spiegel) A new bill to fight child pornography has been signed into law by Germany's president. There's only one problem: The government has decided it no longer wants it. They are now in the awkward position of relying on opposition help to repeal the legislation. It was supposed to be an initiative to stop child pornography on the Internet. But now the German government finds itself in a uniquely awkward situation after a bill which it no longer wanted was signed into law by the country's president. German President Horst Köhler signed the law after deciding that there were "no significant concerns" regarding the law's compatibility with the German constitution. The Access Impediment Law, as it is known, is aimed at combating child pornography and allows access to offensive Web sites to be blocked. However the German coalition government, which pairs Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, has decided it no longer wants the law, which was massively opposed by Internet users. Instead of blocking access to Web sites, it now wants to delete offensive Internet content instead.
- OSCE asks Turkey to change the laws allowing Internet blocking +/-
(EDRI-gram) OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Media Freedom representative Miklos Haraszti asked the Turkish Government to change their Internet law in order to observe OSCE commitments and other international standards protecting freedom of expression. A survey analyzing Turkey's Internet Law has shown that the Turkish authorities were able to block the access to Internet of about 3700 websites. These sites included foreign websites such as YouTube, Geocities, DailyMotion and Google, blocked by court orders and administrative blocking orders issued by the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB). The study also shows a lack of transparency in relation to the blocking orders issued either by the court or TIB and the fact that TIB has not made public the blocking statistics since May 2009. The OSCE representative considers that some of the reasons for blocking sites are "arbitrary and political, and therefore incompatible with OSCE's freedom of expression commitments."
- EU - Instantly online - 17 golden rules for mobile social networks +/-
(ENISA) Instantly online-17 golden rules to combat online risks and for safer surfing mobile social networks The EU 'cyber security' Agency - ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) presents a new report on accessing social networks over mobile phones, Online as soon as it happens. The report points out the risks and threats of mobile social networking services, e.g. identity theft, corporate data leakage and reputation risks of mobile social networks. The report also gives 17 "golden rules" on how to combat these threats.
- MTV's sexting show to air stark message for teens +/-
(CNET New.com) by Larry Magid. MTV's half-hour special, "Sexting In America: When Privates Go Public," is a good reminder for teens that taking and sending nude pictures is never a good idea. The program, which is aimed at teens, explores the consequences - to one's emotions, reputation, and legal standing - in posing for, taking, distributing, or forwarding nude pictures by cell phone or computer.
- UK - Pupils 'must manage online risks' +/-
(BBC) Pupils given a greater degree of freedom to surf the internet at school are less vulnerable to online dangers in the long-term, inspectors say. "Managed" online systems were more successful than "locked" ones at safeguarding pupils' safety, they said. In a report, The safe use of new technologies, Ofsted said the area most in need of improvement was online safety training for teaching staff.
- Google chief extends olive branch to mobile phone groups +/-
(Guardian) Eric Schmidt has stressed that Google's involvement in mobile is designed to make the operators money, not leave them out of pocket. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has extended an olive branch to the mobile phone industry saying he is "not trying to run roughshod" over the operators or turn them into "dumb pipes" in the air. Speaking for the first time at Mobile World Congress, the industry's largest trade show, Schmidt faced angry questioning from some in the industry who fear that Google is piggybacking on their massive investment in infrastructure, through ventures such as its Android mobile phone platform, but giving them no return.
- Users will pay for content online, with a few catches +/-
(Ars Technica) Magazines and newspapers may have some hope in getting consumers to pay for online content after all, though people trying to generate income by writing blog posts and making YouTube videos may not be so lucky. Media research firm Nielsen has found from its latest 52-country survey that there are indeed opportunities to make money on content, but users can be choosy about what kinds of things they're willing to pay for. The survey, which included more than 27,000 customers globally, found that consumers are (naturally) more inclined to keep already free things free. Still, things that people pay for offline - such as movies, music, and games - were the same things that people were most willing to pay for (or consider paying for) online.
- Watching the creative destruction of the mobile industry at MWC +/-
(Networld World) The mobile device and infrastructure industries continued their familiar yet increasingly complex dance at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: Consumers and enterprises receive ever more devices to choose from, while carriers scramble to figure out how to support, deploy and make money off the mix.
- Facebook dominates UK mobile use +/-
(BBC) Facebook dominates the lives of mobile internet users in the UK, according to figures from a mobile industry body. The social network accounts for nearly half of all the time people in the UK spend going online using their phones. The data, from the GSM Association (GSMA), showed that people in the UK spent around 2.2bn minutes browsing the social network during December alone.
- Facebook is the new threat to Google +/-
(Guardian) More people are coming to US news sites via Facebook and other social networking sites such as Twitter - supplanting Google News, which had been one of the primary sources of readers, according to research by the metrics company Hitwise. During the past year, the proportion of traffic that Facebook sends to US media sites has tripled from around 1.2% to 3.52%, while that sent by Google News has remained roughly static, at around 1.4%.
- Sahara Byrne: Parents, Kids and Online Safety +/-
(John Palfrey) Prof. Sahara Byrne, of the communications department at Cornell, studies responses to Internet safety techniques. She's interested in the "recipes for disaster," such as when parents love a given safety technique and kids hate it. She's a believer in psychological reactance theory: that when kids really don't like something, they're going to work hard to get around it. Her methods: an extensive Internet survey of 456 parents, with matched child pairs (10 - 17 years old). Asked parents how much they would support a particular tool and kids how they would feel if their parent adopted this strategy. Parents were asked more questions than the kids. A few of her findings from the matched pairs: - Surveillance of kids' online behavior by the technology/service provider is popular by parents and particularly disliked by kids. - User-child empowerment strategies were popular with both parents and kids. See video.
- Teen blogging replaced by Facebook status updates +/-
(IDG) Blogging is becoming a thing of the past for teens and young adults, who are now far more likely to keep in touch with friends on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, according to a new study Social Media and Young Adults by Pew Internet & American Life Project.
- The Future of the Internet IV +/-
(Pew Internet) A survey of nearly 900 Internet stakeholders reveals fascinating new perspectives on the way the Internet is affecting human intelligence and the ways that information is being shared and rendered. The web-based survey gathered opinions from prominent scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers and technology developers. It is the fourth in a series of Internet expert studies conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University and the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. In this report, we cover experts' thoughts on the following issues: Will Google make us stupid? Will the internet enhance or detract from reading, writing, and rendering of knowledge? Is the next wave of innovation in technology, gadgets, and applications pretty clear now, or will the most interesting developments between now and 2020 come "out of the blue"? Will the end-to-end principle of the internet still prevail in 10 years, or will there be more control of access to information? Will it be possible to be anonymous online or not by the end of the decade? See Overview of responses. see also presentation by Lee Rainie.