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(BBC) The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is extending its remit to cover the online realm. It means that online marketing and ads will, from 1 March 2011, be subject to the same strict advertising rules as traditional media. The ASA will also have the power to ban marketing statements on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Last year the body received over 3,500 complaints but over half of the adverts were outside of its remit. see also Google and Yahoo back ASA in policing online ads (new media age).
(BBC) An ad campaign for BT that promised "instant" broadband has been banned after the advertising watchdog for not providing proof to back its claims. The Advertising Standards Authority ruling follows a damning report by Ofcom that found that internet companies are delivering speeds far below those they advertise, which was followed by calls from a number of industry players for much tighter advertising rules to police such claims. The ASA received four complaints that the campaign for the BT Infinity service, which used the strapline "birth of the instant internet", was misleading because although it is a quick service it still has delays. See also Virgin Media chief: rivals' broadband ads are 'grossly misleading'.
(OUT-LAW News) There should be a 48 hour limit on cookies used to send adverts to recent website visitors who left without making a purchase, trade body the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has said. Websites should be 'encouraged' to signal that the technology has been used, though neither measure is compulsory, according to a new code of conduct published by the IAB. The IAB has launched the code to govern ads based on 'behavioural retargeting', where companies advertise to users who have recently viewed their websites but not made a purchase.
(Future of Privacy Forum) A Report on the Tools and Resources Available for Safeguarding the First Generation of Digital Natives, by Jules Polonetsky.
(RAPID) EU television broadcasters are devoting an average of 63% of their air time to programmes made in the EU and 35% to independent works created by European producers, according to figures in a report covering the period 2007-2008 published by the European Commission. The Commission publishes a report every two years on monitoring the promotion of European works on TV throughout the EU, one of the aims of the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS).
(Guardian) In riposte to James Murdoch's attack on corporation last year, director-general uses MacTaggart lecture to urge Sky to invest more in British talent.
(TechRadar) Google's CEO Eric Schmidt has admitted that his thinks that internet anonymity won't last, with governments looking to maintain visibility over users' online movements. Speaking at the Techonomy conference in the US, Schmidt said that, in the interests of stopping criminal or anti-social behaviour, governments will demand a more active role: "The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it." He also added that the amount of content users are putting online means people need to be ready for a seismic change in the way their data is used, according to ReadWriteWeb: "If I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use artificial intelligence we can predict where you are going to go," said Schmidt. "Show us 14 photos of yourself and we can identify who you are. You think you don't have 14 photos of yourself on the internet? You've got Facebook photos!"
(BBC) The ringleader of an international network who shared up to 100,000 indecent images of children on Facebook has been jailed for four years. Convicted sex offender Ian Green, 45, from West Sussex, admitted 24 charges of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children. The court heard how Green would allow certain contacts to access private groups and share their own images. Chichester Crown Court heard Green, of Littlehampton Road, Worthing, used 11 different Facebook accounts to distribute the images, along with indecent videos of children. He also shared the photographs, 724 of which were rated at the most extreme level of "five", using email and MSN. An international investigation into the network began when police in Australia linked a number of Facebook accounts containing indecent images of children to a user in the UK. see also press release (Australian Federal Police). Australian warning over Facebook paedophile ring (AFP) Australian police warned social networking sites to be alert to illegal child sex activity, after cracking an alleged paedophile porn ring operating on Facebook. Australian Federal Police (AFP) said Facebook had been integral in helping international law enforcement agencies dismantle an alleged child pornography syndicate, resulted in 11 arrests in Australia, Britain and Canada. In a joint statement with the AFP, Facebook's chief security officer Joe Sullivan said the popular networking site immediately took action once alerted to the offensive activity and was working with police.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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).
(BBC) Police have conducted a series of raids across Europe in one of its biggest crackdowns on file-sharing. Police targeted 48 sites in countries including the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Hungary. In Sweden, seven premises were raided including PRQ, which is believed to host Pirate Bay and whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. Co-ordinated by Belgian police, the operation was the culmination of a two-year investigation.
(Krebs on Security) he Obama administration is inviting leaders of the top Internet domain name registrars and registries to attend a three-hour meeting at the White House about voluntary ways to crack down on Web sites that are selling counterfeit prescription medications. The invitation, sent by White House Senior Adviser for Intellectual Property Enforcement Andrew J. Klein, urges select recipients to attend a meeting on Sept. 29 with senior White House and cabinet officials, including Victoria Espinel, the Obama administration's intellectual property enforcement coordinator. "The purpose of this meeting is to discuss illegal activity taking place over the internet generally, and more specifically, voluntary protocols to address the illegal sale of counterfeit non-controlled prescription medications on-line," the invitation states. The meeting appears to be a continuation of the administration's Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, an initiative unveiled in June that promised to "address unlawful activity on the internet, such as illegal downloading and illegal internet pharmacies."
(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.
(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.
(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).
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(University of Ghent) Ghent University Library became the first in Europe to contribute public domain works scanned by Google to Europeana, Europe's flagship project for cultural heritage. Readers using Europeana can now enjoy more than 30 million newly-added pages of historical, scientific, anthropological and literary works, from over 100,000 volumes, spanning four centuries, in French, Dutch, German and other languages.
(David Goldstein) The adult industry remains concerned about the introduction of the .XXX Top Level Domain and in particular, the ICM Registry application. In a letter to ICANN, the Free Speech Coalition say they remain "deeply concerned about the application by ICM Registry (ICM) for a .XXX sTLD. The FSC, an adult industry lobby group in the US urges "the Board to make sure it has the full and accurate information necessary to make a sound decision on ICM's application." The FSC says the decision while having some effect on the domain name space will also "have more far reaching effects on the regulation of internet content and on ICANN's potential role as a direct or indirect content regulator."
(Europa) by Neelie Kroes. Tell us what you think about the re-use of public sector information(PSI). It could be any PSI – maps, meteorological, legal, traffic, financial and economic information. Re-use of public data already generating amazing products – from car navigation systems to weather forecasts and other "apps" for our mobiles – and I'm told the market is worth €27 billion each and every year, in the EU alone. But the potential is much greater than we realise – if we can structure more opportunities to re-use this data we will be helping to create thousands of job and improvements to daily life. So – you have until 30 November 2010, to tell us how we can better manage the availability of this data. What you tell us will feed into the review of the EU PSI Directive first adopted in 2003.
(BBC) Information technology lessons in UK schools are so dull they are putting pupils off the subject and careers in computing, top scientists warn. The Royal Society said the situation would lead to an unskilled workforce and threaten the UK's economy. Launching a study of how lessons might be improved, the society said the number of pupils in England doing ICT GCSE had fallen 33% over three years. And there was a 33% fall, between 2003 and 2009, in ICT A-level candidates. Now the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, is embarking on a new study: Computing in schools and its importance and implications for the economic and scientific well-being of the UK.
(RAPID) Buying popular electronic goods like digital cameras and music players on the internet is now much safer following a crackdown on problematic websites. 84% of the websites selling electronics, checked for breach of EU consumer rules, now comply with EU law (compared with only 44% in 2009). The "sweep" investigation was launched in May 2009 and carried out by national authorities in 26 member states, Norway and Iceland. The problems identified included misleading information on consumer rights, incorrect prices and missing contact details of the trader (IP/09/1292). These sites have now been corrected and penalties have been imposed where necessary. The Commission also announced the initial findings of the 2010 Sweep targeting online sales of tickets for cultural and sporting events.
(01.net) Le tribunal de grande instance de Paris délègue aux fournisseurs d'accès la responsabilité de bloquer l'accès aux sites de jeux illégaux. C'est un litige autour du site www.stanjames.com qui a motivé cette décision : sans avoir reçu d'agrément de l'Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (Arjel), il propose des paris sportifs, hippiques et des jeux de cercle aux internautes français. Malgré une mise en demeure adressée par l'Autorité le 25 juin, le site continue ses activités. L'Arjel s'est donc tournée vers la justice pour assigner l'hébergeur afin qu'il bloque son accès aux internautes français. Mais il a aussi enjoint Numéricable, Orange, SFR, Free, Bouygues Telecom, Darty et Auchan, autrement dit tous les acteurs français de l'accès à Internet, de rendre ce site inaccessible à leurs abonnés. Des demandes que le tribunal de grande instance a jugé fondées. Il ordonne donc aux FAI de « prendre toutes les mesures de nature à permettre l'arrêt de l'accès aux services en cause, soit toute mesure de filtrage, [...] par blocage du nom de domaine, de l'adresse IP connue, de l'URL ou par analyse du contenu des messages ».
(Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine) by Lawrence T. Lam, PhD; Zi-Wen Peng, MSc. Results suggested that young people who are initially free of mental health problems but use the Internet pathologically could develop depression as a consequence. These results have direct implications for the prevention of mental illness in young people, particularly in developing countries.
(BBC) The tobacco industry may be using websites such as YouTube to get around a ban on advertising cigarettes, a study says. Researchers in New Zealand studied 163 clips from video-sharing site YouTube and found a number of pro-tobacco videos "consistent with indirect marketing activity by tobacco companies or their proxies". They say governments should consider regulating such content on the net.
(Europa) Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Address at Erasmus University Rotterdam, 6 September 2010.
(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.
(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.
(RAPDI) Neelie Kroes Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Digital Agenda Address at Nordic Broadband Forum Copenhagen, 15 September 2010.
(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."
(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).
(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.
(RAPID) Neelie Kroes European Commission, Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Brussels, 23 September 2010.
(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.
(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).
(OUT-LAW News) YouTube is not liable for copyright infringement because users have uploaded video material from Spanish television station Telecino, a Madrid court has ruled. YouTube is not obliged to monitor all content and weed out infringement, the court said. Telecino sued YouTube because of the presence of material in which it held copyright. A provisional ruling two years ago backed the television station and ordered YouTube to stop hosting any Telecino videos. But the court has now said that YouTube is not responsible for the copyright infringement of the videos it hosts, though it must respond quickly to claims from copyright holders about particular videos.
(Le Monde) Le tribunal de grande instance de Paris a condamné, mercredi 8 septembre, Eric Schmidt, directeur de la publication de Google.fr et Google Inc "pour diffamation publique envers un particulier", a révélé le site spécialisé Legalis.net. M. X., qui a été condamné dans une affaire de corruption de mineure condamnation dont il a fait appel, a constaté que les fonctionnalités "Google Suggest" et "recherches associées" du moteur de recherche proposaient aux internautes qui tapaient son nom et prénom des expressions telles que "M. X. viol", "M. X. condamné", "M. X. sataniste", "M. X. prison" et "M. X. violeur". Google devra donc supprimer ces "suggestions et propositions litigieuses sous une astreinte de 500 euros par manquement constaté et par jour, dans un délai d'un mois".
(Department for Education) Report of an Independent Assessment. In The Children's Plan the DCSF gave a commitment to commission an independent review of the impact of the commercial world on children's wellbeing. That assessment, conducted by Professor David Buckingham and a panel of experts, is now complete and this report presents their findings. The assessment was launched with an online call for evidence, which was widely circulated to relevant stakeholder groups. This resulted in a range of submissions from businesses, trade associations, non-government organisations, consumer groups, teacher unions, campaigners, and others.
(RADPI) The European Commission has unveiled two new measures to ensure that Europe can defend itself from attacks against its key information (IT) systems. A proposal for a Directive to deal with new cyber crimes, such as large-scale cyber attacks, is complemented by a proposal for a Regulation to strengthen and modernise the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA). see Proposal for a Directive on attacks against information systems, repealing Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA.
(Economist) An unusually sophisticated cyber-weapon is mysterious but important.
(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.
(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.
(BBC News) Video-sharing website YouTube has removed hundreds of pornographic videos which were uploaded in what is believed to be a planned attack. The material was uploaded under names of famous teenage celebrities such as Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers. Many started with footage of children's videos before groups of adults performing graphic sex acts appeared on screen. YouTube owner Google said it was aware and addressing the problem.
(Daily Telegraph) A teenager from Hertfordshire who mistakenly posted her address and phone number on Facebook to publicise a birthday party ended up with 21,000 promised guests.
(Mashable) Pennsylvania's Harrisburg University of Science and Technology will enact a week-long social media blackout for all students in residence. The students will be forbidden from using Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and any other online communication except for e-mail. NPR reports that university Provost Eric Darr chose to enact the temporary ban because he wants students to think about how much they're using technology in their daily lives and what kind of impact it has.
(CNET) A Washington Post sports columnist was suspended for a month after the newspaper concluded that he was too cavalier with the publication's reputation when he intentionally used his Twitter account to plant a false story. Mike Wise, a well-known columnist at The New York Times before moving to the Post, was out to illustrate how sloppy sports journalism has become in the age of shoot-first blogging and social networking.
(Economist) The so-called "white space" of unused frequencies amounted to as much as 70% of the total bandwidth available for television broadcasting. Mobile phone companies and other would-be users of wireless spectrum have long lusted after television's empty airwaves. After two years of haggling and testing, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, DC, finally gave the go-ahead for others in America to use them.
(RAPID) The European Commission has decided to request France and Spain to abolish specific charges on the turnover of telecoms operators introduced when the Member States concerned decided to end paid advertising on public TV channels. In both cases, the Commission considers these "telecoms taxes" to be incompatible with EU telecoms rules, which require specific charges on telecoms operators to be specifically and directly related to covering the costs of regulating the telecoms sector.
(BBC) The sharp growth in extremist websites is making recruitment much easier for al-Qaeda, according to Interpol head Ronald Noble. "The threat is global, it is virtual and it is on our doorsteps," he said. Mr Noble told a conference of police chiefs in Paris there were 12 sites in 1998 and 4,500 by 2006. He said tackling radicalisation had been made far harder by the internet because many of the activities involved were not criminal. Increasingly, he said, the individuals targeted were young and vulnerable and from middle-class backgrounds. A researcher at the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation told the BBC that the number of radical websites was now far higher than the figure given by Interpol.
(CircleID) by Jon Arnold. Just when you thought making phone calls couldn't get any cheaper, along comes news from Google about their latest iteration of Google Voice. There have been several steps along the way for Google to get to this point, and there are a host of reasons why this news is of interest to service providers of all stripes. I often write about how certain technologies and disruptive forces change the business of being a service provider, and this is but the latest example.
(CNET) Apple has surprised many by posting significant changes to its developer license agreement (PDF) along with rules for those creating applications for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Most notably, Apple relented on the kinds of tools developers can use to create apps, which means Adobe's Flash compiler is back in, and changed its mind on how ad networks can be integrated into apps. So why did it? The timing is certainly curious, since Apple rarely gives up information willingly about anything related to how the company works. The fact that regulators were sniffing around Apple's policies was likely a motivating factor. The FTC started asking questions in June about why certain developer tools and ad networks were banned from use in apps. see also iPhone apps that wouldn't get approved today.
(O'Reilly Radar) by Alistair Croll. Twitter recently announced a new feature. The t.co URL shortener - similar to those from bit.ly, awe.sm, and tinyURL - might seem like a relatively small addition to the company's offering. But it's a massive power shift in the world of analytics because now Twitter can measure engagement wherever it happens, across any browser or app. And unlike other URL shorteners, Twitter can force everyone to use their service simply because they control the platform. Your URLs can be shortened (and their engagement tracked by Twitter) whether you like it or not.
(CNET) The European Commission has opted for the iPhone and HTC handsets over the BlackBerry to roll out to its employees. The search for a new smartphone began in 2008 when the Commission, the European Union's executive arm, was deploying a new synchronization tool, prompting it to evaluate different devices on the market, including BlackBerrys. The EC has been using PDAs made by Q-Tek (later HTC) since 2003.
(CNET) An app for the iPod Touch called Textfree assigns users a real phone number, and lets them send and receive texts for free. The trade-offs are minor. To text, they need to be connected to Wi-Fi and to deal with ads bannered across the bottom of the app. In the roughly two months since users of Pinger's Textfree app started getting assigned actual phone numbers, Pinger has handed out 1.6 million. That's as many wireless numbers as AT&T gave out to net new subscribers in April, May, and June. Pinger is now sending out about 630 million text messages per month; 70 percent of those are sent from iPod Touches, and 30 percent are sent from iPhones. The median age of the app's users is 18. See also Free Text Messaging Is Possible (New York Times) by David Pogue.
(New York Times) Now, even on the Internet, it is not what you know but who you know. After a decade when search engines ruled supreme — tapping billions of Web pages to answer every conceivable query — many people now prefer getting their online information the old-fashioned way: by yakking across the fence. Turning to friends is the new rage in the Web world, extending far beyond established social networking sites and setting off a rush among Web companies looking for ways to help people capitalize on the wisdom of their social circles — and to make some money in the process.
(CNET) For Stanford University student Feross Aboukhadijeh, what started off as a bet fueled by youthful ambition and technical bravado, ended up an Internet hit and quite possibly a job. Aboukhadijeh, 19, was just an ordinary but albeit talented college student as he tested out Google Instant, the Web giant's new predictive search results feature. He was immediately impressed on its debut but also inspired. To his roommate, he said, "I bet you I can build YouTube Instant in an hour." And his roommate took him up on the deal. Aboukhadijeh didn't quite make the hour deadline, but three hours later, YouTube Instant was born. The site lets users search the enormous YouTube video database in real time.
(Guardian) The software giant appears to have decided that hosting blogs isn't the way to get ahead - and is passing its 7m users (and ad revenues) to the blogging company .
(CNET) People spend not just real time but also real money growing these crops in virtual farming games that combine the allure of both games and social networking in what is usually a cute and deceptively simple package. They can be addictive: many users come back at least once a day to micromanage their farms and deal with other users' requests. On average, the users of these types of games are spending anywhere from a few minutes a game to the greater part of an hour. The companies behind these titles are raking in millions of dollars from people who toil on land that doesn't even exist, and that number continues to grow. A research report from eMarketer in June said social games generated more than $725 million last year in the U.S. alone and projected three times that revenue in 2011.
(Der Spiegel) They may have been dubbed the "Internet generation," but young people are more interested in their real-world friends than Facebook. New research shows that the majority of children and teenagers are not the Web-savvy digital natives of legend. In fact, many of them don't even know how to google properly. A study by the Hans Bredow Institute entitled Growing Up With the Social Web was particularly thorough in its approach. In addition to conducting a representative survey, the researchers conducted extensive individual interviews with 28 young people. Once again it became clear that young people primarily use the Internet to interact with friends. They go on social networking sites like Facebook and the popular German website SchülerVZ, which is aimed at school students, to chat, mess around and show off - just like they do in real life.
(Guardian) More than half of people with geolocation-capable mobile devices worry about "loss of privacy" from using their location-sharing features, a survey has found - even though location-sharing apps such as FourSquare and Gowalla have millions of users checking in every day. Among UK respondents, 52% said they were "very or extremely concerned" about loss of privacy from using location-sharing applications - even though the same proportion said that they geotag photos, indicating where they were taken, when uploading them to the internet. The survey, commissioned by security company Webroot, interviewed 1,500 owners of devices with geolocation capabilities, including 624 people in the UK.
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