- EU - Protecting freedom of expression +/-
(Europa) by Neelie Kroes. I've had good feedback about some earlier Tweets on an important debate in the European Parliament. You can read the full text of my two speeches. The first is my opening remarks, the second (perhaps more interesting) is the response I gave to the more than 50 MEPs who spoke passionately on the issue. Such free and long and passionate debates are what our democracy is all about.
- Google calls for pressure on Internet censors +/-
(Reuters) Google's Chief Legal Officer David Drummond legal chief called for pressure on governments that censor the Internet, such as China and Turkey, arguing that their blocking access to websites not only violates human rights but unfairly restrains U.S. trade.
- Google releases censorship tools +/-
(BBC) Google's new Transparency Report is a set of tools designed to show censorship levels around the globe. Civil liberty groups welcomed the tool but called on Google to provide even more detail about the requests. Earlier this year, Google released details about how often countries around the world ask it to hand over user data or to censor information. The new map and tools follows on from that and allows users to click an individual country to see how many removal requests were fully or partially complied with, as well as which Google services were affected.
- RU - Microsoft Changes Policy Over Russian Crackdown +/-
(New York Times) Microsoft announced sweeping changes to ensure that the authorities in Russia and elsewhere do not use crackdowns on software piracy as an excuse to suppress advocacy or opposition groups, effectively prohibiting its lawyers from taking part in such cases. The company was responding to criticism that it had supported tactics to clamp down on dissent. see also Above the Law - Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent and Microsoft blog.
- US - Craigslist dumps 'adult service' adverts +/-
(BBC) The online marketplace Craigslist has closed the controversial "adult services" listing in the US. The company has not said why it took the decision, but it has faced an ongoing barrage of criticism from attorneys general and advocacy groups. They have claimed the listing was a virtual tool for pimps and prostitutes. The section has now been replaced with a black and white bar that reads "censored". An "erotic" service is still active outside the US. see also Craigslist is hub for child prostitution, allege trafficked women (Guardian), US - AGs call on Craigslist to banish adult ads CNET Craigslist adult services takedown could lead to more crime, Microsoft researcher says (Washington Post) and Danah Boyd's post (Huffington Post).
- CA - Privacy Commissioner completes Facebook review +/-
(Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada) The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has finished reviewing the changes that Facebook implemented as a result of her investigation of the social networking site and has concluded that the issues raised in the complaint have been resolved to her satisfaction.
- Controlling where Facebook Places puts you +/-
(CNET) In designing its new Places geolocation service, Facebook seems to have learned from its past privacy blunders. The new service has multiple layers of privacy control, but as with other aspects of Facebook privacy, users need to put some thought about whether and how they want to disclose their location. Facebook has also created an extra level of privacy for its under-18 users, prohibiting them from displaying their location to anyone other than their friends.
- DE - Data privacy in Germany - No pixels, please, we're German +/-
(Economist) On September 20th Thomas de Maizière, Germany's interior minister, invited politicians, regulators and tech-company representatives to Berlin to discuss "geo-data services"—online technologies that identify the real-world location of individuals and their property. The meeting was an attempt to defuse a row that has rumbled since August, when Google announced it would launch its Street View service, an online mapping system that knits together photographs of streets and buildings, in Germany’s 20 largest cities by the end of the year. After the summit Mr de Maizière called on Google and other firms that publish geo-data to draw up, by December, a binding "data-protection charter" in line with Germany's restrictive privacy laws, saying that this could forestall the need for further regulation. Although the debate is at its sharpest in Germany, tensions have surfaced elsewhere. Last week the Czech government banned Google from collecting Street View information, citing data-processing concerns. Authorities in Italy this week barred Google’s Street View cars from picking up stray wi-fi data. see also Germany asks web firms to write privacy code (OUT-LAW).
- DE - German Schools to Teach Online Privacy +/-
(Der Spiegel) Internet companies such as Facebook and Google have come in for repeated criticism in Germany, where the government has concerns about what they do with users' data. Now one state, worried about the amount of information young people reveal online, plans to teach school pupils how to keep a low profile on the web. The government of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, recognizing that young people are not always aware of the dangers of revealing personal information on the Internet, is planning to teach school students how to deal with the Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- EU - Commission takes UK to court over alleged privacy law failings +/-
(OUT-LAW News) The European Commission is taking the UK to court, claiming that UK law does not protect citizens' privacy as strongly as EU laws demand. The case centres on the UK Government's response to the Phorm web monitoring scandal. Phorm invented a technology for ISPs to use to track users' web use in order to serve them ads that were related to the recorded internet activity. ISP BT used this technology without telling users, which led to complaints to UK regulators and the Commission that this broke privacy laws. The Commission said that UK law failed to meet the requirements of EU directives in three respects. There is no independent national authority to supervise the interception of some communications; UK law 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; UK law prohibiting and providing sanctions in case of unlawful interception are limited to 'intentional' interception only, whereas EU law requires Member States to prohibit and to ensure sanctions against any unlawful interception regardless of whether committed intentionally or not.
- Facebook proposes changes on rules for user data +/-
(Inside Facebook) Facebook has posted a proposed set of changes to its governing documents for Facebook users to comment on. The changes focus on restricting the transfer of user data when application developers merge or are acquired, making application privacy policies more easily accessible, and allowing users to control how their names and pictures are used commercially. Most of the points have appeared in various Facebook policy documents already. Overall, the latest change show that the company is trying to communicate a clear and uniform set of rules, rather push a major shift versus what it has already been doing.
- Google - trimming our privacy policies +/-
- Google's Schmidt mocked in Times Square ads +/-
(CNET) Consumer Watchdog took its crusade against Google to new heights, running ads in New York's Times Square blasting CEO Eric Schmidt on privacy issues. The group's Inside Google site produced two videos (hosted on YouTube, of course) depicting Schmidt as a creepy maniacal ice-cream truck driver handing out free ice cream to children while conducting full body scans in order to absorb private information through "Google Analytics." A shorter version of the video will run 36 times a day for an unspecified length of time in order to promote Consumer Watchdog's campaign for a national "Do Not Track Me" list, similar to the Do Not Call list managed by the Federal Trade Commission. In singling out Google, Consumer Watchdog highlighted Schmidt's comments to CNBC last year on privacy as well as a more recent report that he advocated giving young people the right to change their names to restore their reputations.
- US - Google settles Buzz lawsuit for $8.5M +/-
(CNET) Google will pay $8.5 million to settle a privacy lawsuit filed in the wake of the Google Buzz launch. The social-media service was heavily criticized for automatically including users' frequent Gmail contacts on public Buzz profiles when it first went live in February. Google scrambled to make changes to give users better clarity about how the privacy settings worked, but that didn't prevent lawsuits such as the one filed by Gmail user Eva Hibnick in February. Proceeds from the settlement - after the lawyers get paid, of course - will be donated to as-yet unspecified Internet privacy groups. Google is also required to "undertake wider public education about the privacy aspects of Buzz," although no specifics were provided. Google will, however, have to notify all Gmail users that it has reached a settlement.
- EU - Europe 3.0 +/-
(Europa) Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Address at Erasmus University Rotterdam, 6 September 2010.
- EU - Moving from reflection to action on internet governance +/-
(RAPID) Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Digital Agenda, Address at opening session of Internet Governance Forum Vilnius, 14 September 2010.
- EU - Welcome to Brussels: crossroads to the future +/-
(RAPID) Neelie Kroes European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Opening address at ICT 2010 Conference Brussels, 27 September 2010. ood morning everybody and a very warm welcome to the ICT 2010 event. It is a great pleasure for the European Commission to host this event in Brussels with the Belgian Presidency. This sort of unique gathering is one of the things the EU does best: bringing people together to think big and act big.
- EU - Who pays what? Broadband for all and the future of Universal Service Obligations +/-
(RAPDI) Neelie Kroes Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Digital Agenda Address at Nordic Broadband Forum Copenhagen, 15 September 2010.
- EU's Kroes: 30 percent of Europeans are 'digital virgins' +/-
(CNET) Privacy concerns need to be further addressed if Europe is to lure the 30 percent of its population that remain "digital virgins" onto the Internet. "There are still digital virgins as I am always saying," European Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, speaking at the Techonomy conference here. One of the big hurdles, she said, is trust. And while the elderly are the least likely to be online, she said that it is not strictly an age issue. Kroes was blunt when asked if there were any downsides to Europe's comparatively stricter policies regarding privacy. "No, not at all," she said. However, she didn't suggest that her track record was perfect. "I've learned more from my mistakes than my successes...and my list of mistakes is much longer," she said. Kroes also said that hurdles remain to entrepreneurship in Europe, including a lack of venture capital, among other issues. "Our labor laws are rather strict," Kroes said. "But we are on the move, so to say."
- The future of the Internet: A virtual counter-revolution +/-
(Economist) The internet has been a great unifier of people, companies and online networks. Powerful forces are threatening to balkanise it. See also The web's new walls and The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet (Wired).
- EU - Commission outlines measures to deliver fast and ultra-fast broadband in Europe +/-
(RAPID) Three complementary measures to facilitate the roll out and take up of fast and ultra-fast broadband in the EU have been adopted by the European Commission. This package comprises a Commission Recommendation on regulated access to Next Generation Access (NGA) networks that provides regulatory certainty to telecom operators, ensuring an appropriate balance between the need to encourage investment and the need to safeguard competition, a proposal for a Decision to establish a Radio Spectrum Policy Programme to ensure, inter alia, that spectrum is available for wireless broadband and a Broadband Communication outlining how best to encourage public and private investment in high and ultra-high speed networks. See also MEMO/10/426.
- EU - Telecoms markets - working together for change +/-
(RAPID) Neelie Kroes European Commission, Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Brussels, 23 September 2010.
- Uk - Broadband target put back to 2015 +/-
(Guardian) The battle to close Britain's broadband divide suffered a blow when the government pushed back the UK's target for universal access to high-speed networks by three years. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, said that it was not practical to meet the previous government's target of universal broadband coverage by 2012 – a commitment he had previously dismissed as "paltry". Instead, Hunt said it would take until 2015 before every home in Britain had at least a 2Mbps (megabits per second) connection. Speaking at the start of an industry day that was meant to find solutions to Britain's broadband coverage problems, Hunt claimed the previous government had not funded its 2012 commitment properly.
- US - Verizon defends Net neutrality plan with Google +/-
(CENT) A Verizon Communications executive has lashed out at critics who have savaged the company's recent Net neutrality announcement with Google, calling the complaints misguided and based on mischaracterizations of the joint proposal. The actual text of the joint proposal to Washington regulators and politicians calls for "a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices" that would prevent wireline broadband providers from prioritizing traffic in a way that "causes harm to users or competition." Google and Verizon's proposal isn't suggested legislation but is instead a collection of concepts aimed at bringing some finality to discussions of what regulations that will be imposed on tomorrow's Internet. It recommends giving the Federal Communications Commission explicit regulatory authority, but it stops short of extending that power to wireless broadband. See also Facts about our network neutrality policy proposal (Google Public Policy blog) and AT&T: Net rules must allow 'paid prioritization' (CNET).
- EU - Towards more confidence and more value for European Digital Citizens +/-
(Europa) Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, European Roundtable on the Benefits of Online Advertising for Consumers Brussels, 17 September 2010. A self-regulatory solution for the new rules on cookies is possible. First and foremost, we need effective transparency. Secondly, we need consent. Third, we need a user-friendly solution, possibly based on browser (or another application) settings. Fourth and finally: effective enforcement. It is essential that any self-regulation system includes clear and simple complaint handling, reliable third-party compliance auditing and effective sanctioning mechanisms. If there is no way to detect breaches and enforce sanctions against those who break the rules, then self-regulation will not only be a fiction, it will be a failure. Besides, a system of reliable third party compliance auditing should be in place.
- Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere +/-
(Open Net) Online conversations today exist primarily in the realm of social media and blogging platforms, most of which are owned by private companies. Such privately owned platforms now occupy a significant role in the public sphere, as places in which ideas and information are exchanged and debated by people from every corner of the world. Instead of an unregulated, decentralized Internet, we have centralized platforms serving as public spaces: a quasi-public sphere. This quasi-public sphere is subject to both public and private content controls spanning multiple jurisdictions and differing social mores. This paper will highlight the practices of five platforms — Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Blogger — in regard to Terms of Service (TOS) and account deactivations. It will highlight each company’s user policies, as well as examples of each company’s procedures for policing content.