The group of European data protection authorities has told Facebook in a letter that it is unacceptable that the company fundamentally changed the default settings on its social-networking platform to the detriment of a user. Facebook made the change only days after the company and other social networking sites providers participated at a hearing during the Article 29 Working Party's plenary meeting in November 2009. The Article 29 Working Party, which held its 75th plenary session in Brussels on May 10 and 11, 2010, sent letters to 20 social network operators that have signed the Safer Networking Principles for the EU. The Working Party emphasised the need for a default setting in which access to the profile information and information about the connections of a user is limited to self-selected contacts. Any further access, such as by search engines, should be an explicit choice of the user. The letters also address the issue of third-party applications Providers of social network services should grant users a maximum of control about which profile data can be accessed by a third party application on a case-by-case basis. see also Facebook’s open disdain for privacy and Facebook faces fresh privacy criticism (FT), Facebook Executive Answers Reader Questions (New York Times).
(Tech and Law) European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx made a speech "Data Protection and Cloud Computing under EU law", for the Third European Cyber Security Awareness Day, 13 April 2010. The main challenges he sees in relation to applying the data protection legal framework to cloud computing are what role cloud computing providers play - controller or processor; determining whether EU law applies; international data transfers; ensuring more effective data protection - accountability, 'privacy by design', and if necessary even with some ‘privacy by default; processing data for purely personal purposes i.e. cloud computing services provided to end users who use them for purely personal purposes.
(Article 29 Working Party) The group of European data protection authorities has told Facebook in a letter that it is unacceptable that the company fundamentally changed the default settings on its social-networking platform to the detriment of a user. Facebook made the change only days after the company and other social networking sites providers participated at a hearing during the Article 29 Working Party's plenary meeting in November 2009. The Article 29 Working Party, which held its 75th plenary session in Brussels on May 10 and 11, 2010, sent letters to 20 social network operators that have signed the Safer Networking Principles for the EU. The Working Party emphasised the need for a default setting in which access to the profile information and information about the connections of a user is limited to self-selected contacts. Any further access, such as by search engines, should be an explicit choice of the user. The letters also address the issue of third-party applications Providers of social network services should grant users a maximum of control about which profile data can be accessed by a third party application on a case-by-case basis. see also Facebook’s open disdain for privacy and Facebook faces fresh privacy criticism (FT), Facebook Executive Answers Reader Questions (New York Times).
(RAPID) In a speech at the European Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners' Conference in Prague, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx, spoke strongly about the need to be proactive in the context of the unfolding debate on the future of the EU legal framework for data protection. The EDPS called on the European Commission to remain ambitious in updating the existing framework to avoid the risk of an increasing loss of relevance and effectiveness of data protection in a society that is ever more driven by technological change and globalisation. In his speech, Peter Hustinx insisted on the key conditions for an effective legal framework to protect the individual's personal data in the EU. This includes the need for a comprehensive legal framework to ensure more effectiveness, as well as the following main elements: integration of "privacy by design" and "privacy by default" in information and communication technologies; more accountability for controllers; and stronger enforcement powers for data protection authorities. See also Data Protection Directive reform - Hustinx views (Tech and Law).
(BBC) oogle has defended its privacy practices following a letter of complaint from data protection commissioners around the world. The original letter expressed concerns on privacy issues surrounding Google's social networking tool Buzz and its Street View service. In response Google said it was "committed to ensuring privacy is designed into our products". But it admitted that mistakes were made with the launch of Buzz.
(New York Times) European privacy regulators and advocates have reacted angrily to the disclosure by Google, the world’s largest search engine, that it had systematically collected private data since 2006 while compiling its Street View photo archive. After being pressed by European officials about the kind of data the company compiled in creating the archive — and what it did with that information — Google acknowledged that it had collected snippets of private data around the world. In a blog post on its Web site, the company said information had been recorded as it was sent over unencrypted residential wireless networks as Google’s Street View cars with mounted recording equipment passed by.
- UK - British Library newspaper archive plan riles James Murdoch
(Independent) The heir to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation empire attacked the British Library for "harming the market" in print journalism by allowing online access to its vast newspaper archive. Mr Murdoch was responding to the library's announcement that it would digitise its archive, which aims to be a complete record of British regional and national newspapers. "This is not simply being done for posterity, nor to make free access for library users easier, but also for commercial gain via a paid-for website," he said. see also News Corp. flabbergasted anyone could oppose "three strikes" (Ars Technica).
- UK - David Cameron to make more government data available
(BBC) Prime Minister David Cameron has set out plans to make more government data accessible to the public. Mr Cameron said he wanted to rip off the "cloak of secrecy" around government and public services - and extend transparency as far as possible. Data being made available includes items of major government spending and the pay of top civil servants. see Government data: full text of David Cameron's letter pledging to open up the datasets (Guardian).
- DE - Bundesrat gegen Websperren auf EU-Ebene
(Heise) Der Bundesrat hat den Vorstoß der EU-Kommission für eine Blockade kinderpornographischer Webseiten kritisiert. Der Vorschlag, Teil eines Entwurfs fÃ¼r eine Richtlinienentwurfs für den Kampf gegen Kindesmissbrauch, setze "mit der Sperrung des Zugangs" zu illegalen Internetangeboten "nicht bei den Ursachen des sexuellen Missbrauchs und der sexuellen Ausbeutung von Kindern an", halten die Länderchefs in einer Stellungnahme fest.
- PK - Pakistan blocks access to YouTube in internet crackdown
(BBC) Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube because of its "growing sacrilegious content". Access to the social network Facebook has also been barred as part of a crackdown on websites seen to be hosting un-Islamic content. A Pakistani court ordered Facebook to be blocked because of a page inviting people to draw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Some Wikipedia pages are also now being restricted, latest reports say.
- TH - Thailand censors more websites as protests persist
(AP) George Orwell's "1984" had its Big Brother, and Thailand has Ranongrak Suwanchawee. The country's information minister stares down from billboards along Bangkok's expressways, warning that "Bad websites are detrimental to society" and should be reported to a special hot line. The latest crisis in Thailand's past five years of political turmoil has pushed the government into tightening already tough controls over the Internet. The government has declared a state of emergency, barring the media, under threat of a ban or censorship, from disseminating any news that "causes panic, instigates violence or affects stability." Immediately it ordered 36 politically oriented websites blocked.
- EU - Bringing European values to the Internet of Things
(RAPID) Speech by Neelie Kroes,European Commissioner for Digital agenda, 2nd Annual Internet of Things Conference Brussels, 1st June 2010.
- EU - Digital Agenda: Commission outlines action plan
(Europa) Implementing the ambitious Digital Agenda for Europe unveiled by the European Commission would contribute significantly to the EU's economic growth and spread the benefits of the digital era to all sections of society. The Agenda outlines seven priority areas for action: creating a digital Single Market, greater interoperability, boosting internet trust and security, much faster internet access, more investment in research and development, enhancing digital literacy skills and inclusion, and applying information and communications technologies to address challenges facing society like climate change and the ageing population. Examples of benefits include easier electronic payments and invoicing, rapid deployment of telemedicine and energy efficient lighting. In these seven areas, the Digital Agenda foresees some 100 follow-up actions, of which 31 would be legislative.
- EU - MEP condemns plan to give authorities access to stored search logs
(OUT-LAW News) An MEP has warned colleagues not to sign a declaration demanding that search engines keep a record of searches for examination by authorities. Cecilia Wikström said she had signed the declaration but has now withdrawn her support. Two MEPs have proposed a 'written declaration' to set up a system they say will act as an 'early warning' system to identify paedophiles and other sex offenders. The Data Retention Directive means that telecoms operators keep details of the use of their systems for a period, set country by country, of between six and 24 months. Details of calls made and internet usage are kept but not the content of the communications. Tiziano Motti and Anna Zaborska have proposed the call for an 'early warning' system and also for an extension of the Data Retention Directive to the content of communications, to search engine use.
- DE - Erneute Stellungnahme des Hans-Bredow-Instituts zum Entwurf eines novellierten Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrags
(Heise) Ende März 2010 haben sich die MinisterprÃ¤sidenten der Länder auf einen Entwurf für die Novellierung des Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrags geeinigt. Der Vorschlag wird derzeit in den Länderparlamenten diskutiert. Das Hans-Bredow-Institut nimmt die Auseinandersetzung der Landtage und Bürgerschaften sowie die weiterhin geführten öffentlichen Debatten zum Anlass, erneut zu dem aktuellen Entwurf Stellung zu nehmen. In dem Dokument stehen die derzeit in der Öffentlichkeit diskutierten Hauptkritikpunkte im Fokus der Bewertung.
- eNACSO launches Agenda for Action
(eNACSO) eNACSO launches its Agenda for Action at the international conference “Protecting Children Online” on 6th May 2010. The eNACSO Agenda for Action includes recommendations to governments, industry and other stakeholders on how to create a safer online environment for children and young people. see also EU - Speech at the eNACSO Conference Protecting Children Online
- UK - Wales - An Internet drama by pupils from Ysgol Preseli
(YouTube) Pupils from Ysgol Preseli put on this short dramatisation of young people's use of the Internet (created by Dafydd Hughes, Assistant Head of the school) at the WISE KIDS - WISP conference in Swansea on February 1st 2010 (Welsh version).
- US - Report urges more education about online safety
(Washington Post) An online safety committee created by Congress will recommend on Friday that educators and government leaders focus on teaching children and parents about safe Internet practices while recognizing the limits of filtering technology in protecting young people. The biggest takeaway from the report by the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, created by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is that the real and online lives of young people are blending, and parents, educators and lawmakers need to treat both worlds equally.
- Antisocial Networking? How Does Technology Affect Kids' Friendships
(New York Times) Children used to actually talk to their friends. Those hours spent on the family princess phone or hanging out with pals in the neighborhood after school vanished long ago. But now, even chatting on cellphones or via e-mail (through which you can at least converse in paragraphs) is passé. For today’s teenagers and preteens, the give and take of friendship seems to be conducted increasingly in the abbreviated snatches of cellphone texts and instant messages, or through the very public forum of Facebook walls and MySpace bulletins.
- EU / US - TACD Resolution on Social Networking
(TACD) Millions of social network users are being exposed to privacy risks and lack adequate control over their personal information, according to the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), a coalition of U.S. and European consumer advocacy groups. The TACD has adopted a new resolution criticizing the U.S. and European governments for failing to protect social network users from privacy and marketing abuses. Recent changes to Facebook’s policies reclassify user information that was previously protected, such as lists of friends, employment information, gender, geographic region, and film and literary preferences, as “publicly available.” Furthermore, the groups expressed concern about Facebook’s “instant personalization” feature and asserted that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Facebook users to exercise meaningful control over their data. TACD members are especially concerned about young people who use social network sites. The resolution calls for the U.S. and EU governments to prohibit social networks from targeting advertisements to children under 16 and to bar them from using online marketing practices that studies show can have a negative impact on individuals, particularly children - for instance, digital marketing of products that contribute to childhood obesity.
- FR - Pas d'interdiction générale des apéros Facebook
(01net) Une réunion interministérielle s'est penchée sur le problème des rassemblements organisés par l'intermédiaire de Facebook. Rien n'est interdit mais les organisateurs ont des responsabilités.
- UK - Student fined for bringing UCL into disrepute with FitFinder
(Times) The founder of a student flirting website has been fined £300 for bringing his university into disrepute. The FitFinder, set up last month, combines Twitter and Facebook to allow students to exchange saucy messages on campus. The site received four million hits in its first month and has rapidly expanded to universities across the country.
- EU - Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) established in Riga
(RAPID) European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes has welcomed the decision of EU Telecoms Ministers that the Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC Office) will be based in Riga, Latvia.
- EU - Commission report on national telecoms regulation shows more competition but no Single Market
(RAPID) A European Commission report shows that EU telecoms markets have become more competitive thanks to the Commission's guidance in the consultation and review process known as the 'Article 7 procedure', whereby national telecoms regulators inform the Commission in advance of their plans to regulate parts of their national telecoms markets. As a result, citizens and businesses enjoy greater choice of services and cheaper prices. However, the report also indicates that a single EU telecoms market is still far from reality. Problems include different national regulatory approaches to tackling competition issues, such as regulating access to fibre networks. Regulatory uncertainty could hamper the roll out of investment-intensive infrastructure projects like Next Generation Access (NGA) networks, one of the flagships of the Digital Agenda for Europe. see also How the Article 7 consultation and notification mechanism works: frequently asked questions.
- EU says telecoms market 'too fragmented'
(BBC) Businesses and consumers across the EU are plagued by high prices because of inconsistent application of EU telecoms rules, the European Commission says. Mobile phone call charges range from 0.04 euro per minute in Latvia to 0.24 in Malta, a Commission report says. Big price differences are hampering efforts to create a single market in EU telecoms. There was zero growth in EU telecoms in 2009, while the overall EU economy saw a 4.2% decline.
- US - FCC chairman proposes increased regulation of Internet service providers
(Washington Post) Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed putting Internet service providers (ISPs) into the same category as telephone companies, a move aimed at solidifying the agency's authority over the fast-growing broadband industry. The proposal would impose a fresh layer of rules on a sector that has so far been lightly regulated. By reclassifying broadband providers, the FCC hopes to be able to carry out its plans to greatly expand Internet access nationwide and require companies that get consumers onto the Web to treat all online traffic equally. Genachowski portrayed his plan as a middle-of-the-road approach to regulating broadband, saying he would exempt providers from dozens of rules that typically apply to phone companies.
Market & Technology
- Emperors and beggars - The rise of content farms
(Economist) A new brand of media firms dubbed “content farms” aim to produce content at a price so low that even meagre advertising revenue can support it. Clever software works out what internet users are interested in and how much advertising revenue a given topic can pull in. The results are sent to an army of 7,000 freelancers. They artfully pen articles or produce video clips to fit headlines such as “How do I paint ceramic mugs?” and “Why am I so tired in winter?”. Although an article may pay as little as $5, writers make on average $20-25 an hour, says Mr Kydd. The articles are copy-edited and checked for plagiarism. For the most part, they are published on the firm’s 72 websites, including eHow, answerbag and travels.com. But videos are also uploaded onto YouTube, where the firm is by far the biggest contributor. In March, Demand Media churned out 150,000 pieces of content in this way. The company is expected to go public later this year, if it is not acquired by a big web portal, such as Yahoo!, first.
- Publishers want universal e-books; won't cooperate to get them
(Ars Technica) The industry-wide struggle over e-book formats continues, despite the fact that publishers are inundated with choices over how and where to distribute their e-books. In fact, such a wide selection is part of the reason why publishers are up in arms over the lack of a good universal option: they don't want to have to choose between Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble; nor do they want to spend the extra time and resources trying to do all three. They want to choose one format and have it be available everywhere, but the industry may be standing in its own way before a widely accepted universal format becomes available.
- UK - British Library to scan 40m newspaper pages
(The Register) The British Library and its commercial partner brightsolid - a division of DC Thomson - are to digitise 40 million pages of old newspapers. The library holds 52,000 national and international titles covering 300 years. Currently researchers, 30,000 a year, have to go to Colindale in north London to scan through microfilm or hard copies. Under this agreement brightsolid will scan a minimum of four million pages within the next two years. Over ten years, as scanning technology improves, some 40 million pages will be scanned. This will include in-copyright material following negotiations with rights holders.
- Results of cell phone cancer study inconclusive
(CNET News.com) After spending 10 years and $24 million to see whether cell phone use leads to brain cancer, the World Health Organization has reached a verdict: it's not quite sure. In a decade-long survey of nearly 13,000 people across 13 countries, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that most cell phone use did not lead to an increased risk of either meningioma, a common but typically benign form of cancer, or glioma, a rare but more dangerous type of brain cancer.
- Why Foursquare is the traveller's new best friend
(Guardian) Location-based social networking sites mean that being at a loss for things to do in a new city could be a thing of the past. Benji Lanyado puts Foursquare's tips to the test in central London.
- Google Delivers Foreign Tongues at the Press of a Button
(Spiegel) A German scientist has developed one of the first translation programs suitable for everyday use. Sheer computing power gives the Google software surprisingly good results - perhaps the best yet seen created by a machine.
- CN - China's online population passes 400 million
(The Age) The number of Internet users in China, already the largest in the world, has surpassed 400 million and accounts for almost a third of the country's population. The online population in the world's most populous nation has reached 404 million, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the State Council Information Office. That compares with 384 million users at the end of 2009.
- Reputation Management and Social Media
(Pew Internet) More than half (57%) of adult internet users say they have used a search engine to look up their name and see what information was available about them online, up from 47% who did so in 2006. Young adults, far from being indifferent about their digital footprints, are the most active online reputation managers in several dimensions. For example, more than two-thirds (71%) of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online.
- UK - Britons grow cautious about social networking data
(OUT-LAW News) Twice as many UK adults have a social networking profile now compared to two years ago and those users are nearly twice as likely to keep their profiles private, according to research by media and telecoms regulator Ofcom. A study by Ofcom found that 44% of British adults had a social networking profile in 2009, compared to 22% in 2007. The study into media literacy found that 80% of those users now set their profile so that it is only visible to their friends and family. In 2007 that figure was just 48%.
- US - 48% of Parents Friend Their Kids on Facebook
(Mashable) According to a survey of parents' social media practices by consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo, nearly half (48%) of parents add their children as friends on Facebook. Retrevo also asked parents at what age they believe it’s appropriate for kids to sign up for Facebook or MySpace. 26% said over 18, 36% said 16-18, 30% said 13-15 and just 8% said under 13.
- US - Cyberbullying 2010: What the Research Tells Us
(Pew Internet) by Amanda Lenhart. An updated look at the research and definitions around bullying and cyberbullying, this talk was presented to the NetSmartz Youth Online Safety Working Group assembled by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Amanda unpacks both what current research can tell us about cyberbullying as well as where the gaps in our understanding of this issue lie.
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.
QuickLinks consists of
- a free newsletter appearing approximately every two to three weeks. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list.
- a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
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