(OII) The interests of advocates of online child protection and freedom of
expression have often been portrayed as diametrically opposed. The OII
invited advocates on both sides of this debate to meet in October 2009, in
order to open channels of communication, explore different perspectives on
the fundamental rights of protection and freedom, and map areas of agreement
and difference. A report of the discussions, including participant position
papers, is now available. Issues discussed at the forum included content blocking and filtering, government legislation and law enforcement, and parental involvement and
education. There was also discussion of location-based services, data
protection and privacy, liability of Internet Service Providers, age
verification online, lawful interception legislation, appropriate
classification of written content and pseudo-images of sexual abuse, and
(RAPID) A public consultation on what is the best approach to ensure that basic telecoms services are available for all EU citizens has been launched by the European Commission. Current EU rules on universal service obligations for telecoms date from 2002 and guarantee that Europeans have access to public telephone networks and to services like basic internet access. The consultation launched today aims to see if these rules and definitions on universal service need to be updated for the digital age, and in particular if they should be extended to cover broadband access. Reactions from consumers, industry stakeholders, and policy experts will help the Commission decide if it needs to present new legislative proposals on universal service obligations for telecoms by end of 2010. The consultation will run until 7 May 2010.
(RAPID) The European Commission has launched a consultation on strategic priorities for an EU radio spectrum policy programme for 2011-2015. Access to radio spectrum is essential for a huge range of activities from telephony and broadcasting through to transport and space applications. Wide and fair access to radio spectrum is crucial to ensure that EU citizens in both urban and rural areas can enjoy the benefits of digital technology. Better use of spectrum could also give Europe's economy a boost since rolling out fast wireless services would enhance competitiveness and growth. Industry, consumers and other stakeholders are invited to respond to the consultation by 9 April. A "Spectrum Summit" held jointly by the Commission and the European Parliament will take place on 22/23 March to discuss Europe's spectrum priorities.
(RAPID) The European Commission has ruled that Polish telecom regulator Urz?d Komunikacji Elektronicznej (UKE) must withdraw its plans to regulate the markets for internet traffic exchange services in Poland. Internet service providers use these data traffic exchange services to connect their customers to the Internet. After a two-month investigation, the Commission has decided that UKE has failed to show that competitive conditions in Poland require the regulation of these markets, which are not regulated elsewhere in the EU.
(01net) L'Association française des fournisseurs d'accès juge peu efficace la procédure de blocage prévue par La loi d'orientation et de programmation pour la performance de la sécurité intérieure (Loppsi) a été votée par les députés et continue son parcours parlementaire au Sénat, et préfère l'intervention directe auprès des hébergeurs.
(Michael Geist) On the heels of the leak of various country positions on ACTA transparency, an even bigger leak has hit the Internet. A new European Union document canvasses the Internet and Civil Enforcement chapters, disclosing in complete detail the proposals from the U.S., the counter-proposals from the EU, Japan, and other ACTA participants. The 44-page document also highlights specific concerns of individual countries on a wide range of issues including ISP liability, anti-circumvention rules, and the scope of the treaty. This is probably the most significant leak to-date since it goes even beyond the transparency debate by including specific country positions and proposals.
(Heise) Die Massen-Speicherung von Telefon- und Internetdaten zur Strafverfolgung ist unzulässig. Das Bundesverfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe entschied am Dienstag, dass die Vorratsdatenspeicherung gegen die Verfassung verstößt. Sie ist dem Urteil zufolge mit dem Telekommunikationsgeheimnis unvereinbar
(OUT-LAW News) Cafes, pubs, universities and libraries that offer wireless internet access will not be granted a special exemption from measures aimed at tackling copyright infringement, the Government has said. The Government's controversial Digital Economy Bill makes an internet access subscriber liable for the copyright-infringing behaviour of others. Internet law expert Professor Lilian Edwards had previously warned that without an exemption the measure would have a damaging effect. The Government has now published guidance to the Bill which clarifies that organisations providing access will be granted no such exemption.
(RAPID) The European Commission has cleared the proposed merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, respectively France TÚlÚcom's (FT) and Deutsche Telekom's (DT) UK subsidiaries. The decision is conditional upon the amendment of an existing network sharing agreement with Hutchison 3G UK (3UK), to ensure that there remain sufficient competitors in the market, and the divestiture of a quarter of the combined spectrum of the merging parties in the 1800 MHz band, which is one of three frequency bands currently used for mobile communications in the UK. In light of these commitments, the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) withdrew its request to refer the case for review by the UK Competition Authorities.
(RAPDI) Under the Roaming Regulation, mobile phone operators are obliged to offer their customers from 1 March 2010 a monthly cut-off limit of ?50. Customers will receive a warning when they hit 80% of the chosen limit. Until 1 July 2010, customers need to make a deliberate choice in order to benefit from a cut-off limit. Customers who do not make a choice by 1 July 2010 will have the cut-off limit set at ?50 by default as from that date. Thanks to the EU's roaming rules, the price that operators pay each other per megabyte (MB) downloaded has been limited to a safeguard level of 1? per MB, and it will fall over the next two years. These savings should be passed on to consumers and deliver lower prices for surfing the Internet while abroad.
(CNET news.com) Google searchers can now refine their search results based on location. The new "Nearby" feature is available in Google's Search Options panel. It defaults to users' current location, which can be further refined to include their city, region, or state.
(CNET News.com) A new site called Please Rob Me has popped up to expose the potential pratfalls of the geolocation craze: If you're pushing a "check-in" from Gowalla, Brightkite, or Foursquare to a local restaurant out to your public Twitter stream, you're broadcasting that you aren't home. Which could be taken to mean that your home is ripe for burglary. Please Rob Me consists exclusively of an aggregation of public Twitter messages that have been pushed through fast-growing location-based networking site Foursquare, one of a handful of services that encourages people to share their whereabouts with their friends. You can filter by geographic location, too.
(Guardian) Microsoft has been forced to backtrack after it closed down a whistleblowing website after it published a leaked version of the company's "spy guide". The American software giant took action against the Cryptome website for publishing a copy of the Microsoft Global Criminal Compliance Handbook, a document explaining how law enforcement officials can access millions of people's private information online. Microsoft said the publication infringed its copyright and lodged a complaint with Cryptome's web hosting company, Network Solutions. Network Solutions shut down the website entirely - a move that caused uproar among civil liberties campaigners, and led Microsoft to withdraw its complaint so that Cryptome could go back online. The company did not intend to close the site - just remove the document in question.
(New York Times) Policy and privacy experts agree that the relentless rise of Internet data harvesting has overrun the old approach of using lengthy written notices to safeguard privacy. These statements are rarely read, are often confusing and can't hope to capture the complexity of modern data-handling practices. As a result, experts say, consumers typically have little meaningful choice about the online use of their personal information - whether their birth dates, addresses, credit card numbers or Web-browsing habits.
(Apophenia) by Sarita Yardi. ChatRoulette is a new website that connects you face to face with Internet users around the world. When you go to the site and hit Play your webcam turns on and you're connected to another person. Most times you'll hit Next within a few seconds and be connected to someone else. Sometimes people stop to chat. Basically, instead of surfing the web, you?re surfing people. See also ChatRoulette, from my perspective by danah boyd, The Surreal World of Chatroulette (New York Times) and ChatRoulette: Heads up, parents! (Net Family News).