Former CIA Director Thinks EU “Gets in the Way” of Security Services

Security is a big issue with companies and governments alike having issues raised when it comes to people’s data. With the UK soon to take part in a referendum, the EU is at the heart of debates about security, both digital and physical. It would seem that some think the EU doesn’t quite help security services.

Retired General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, seems to think that the EU wasn’t “a natural contributor to national security”. The EU proposed late last year a set of guidelines for its member countries to follow in cybersecurity, with specialist teams designed to help track and address issues, countries would be expected to share information and help each other learn about the new threat that can be found in the digital world.Digital

Digital security became a big topic when Edward Snowden revealed the extent that the US government (and other governments around the world, including the UK) monitored and tracked people’s information. Europe is currently debating how the new data sharing policy it has with the US should look like, a decision that will change how much information both Europe and America will be allowed to store, save and access.

Mr. De Backer of the Belgian Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe has stated that members of the EU need to forget the “old concept of sovereignty” and understand that sharing information and pooling resources could only be beneficial to security services, something that is all too true for global systems like the internet.

Google Expands Right to be Forgotten to All Domains

Ever since it’s introduction, the EU’s right to be forgotten has been controversial and misguided to say the least. Under the law, Google and other search providers are forced to delist links to new stories that are no longer considered relevant or in the public interest. As if censoring information in just the EU domains is not enough, it looks like pressure is on Google to expand the delisting. According to Google, European regulators have compelled Google to delist links on all Google search domains, not just the EU ones.

According to Google’s blog post, the new strategy is to delist links when a user exposes geolocation data from an EU location. This means EU users will no longer have the option of using Google.com for instance, to easily bypass the delisting. In order to gain access to an uncensored version of Google, users will have to use a non-EU VPN though that may not be safe if regulators have their way.

From Google’s perspective, this isn’t much different from what they do now as geo-location data is already collected when a user goes to Google. Instead of triggering the delisting based on which Google search domain is used, the delisting is triggered by geo-location data. The one benefit from this is that instead of deleting from all EU Google domains, the deleting only occurs if the searcher geolocation data is from the same country as the requestee of the delisting.

UK University Wins Funding for Robotic Stem Cell Factory

We as the human race are in an almost neverending fight with nature, although there really isn’t any doubt who will in the end. That doesn’t mean that we can’t put up a fight and make the best of everything until then. One of the main areas that we fight in are the diseases that plague us as a race. One of the ways that we combat this is with stem cells, but they are too costly, time-consuming, and labour intensive to be a viable solution for a mass production large enough to cover everyone.

One of the ways that this can be improved upon is with the use of robots that don’t need downtime, work more precise, and don’t require a salary either. The EU has set aside €6 million for the project and the Aston University in Birmingham is going to play a critical role in this project to develop a robotic stem cell factory, which will reduce the cost of manufacturing adult stem cells and open up the opportunity to produce new therapies for a range of conditions.

“Stem cell therapies have the potential to treat currently unmet patient needs and provide therapies for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson’s. However, current manufacturing methods for adult stem cells are costly, time-consuming and labour-intensive, so will be unable to satisfy the expected patient demand,” said Dr Qasim Rafiq, academic lead for the project at Aston University and Lecturer in Bioprocess Engineering.

The AUTOSTEM consortium, coordinated by NUI Galway in Ireland, has received the funding through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme to address the current challenges in manufacturing stem cells. The new system will be developed as a scalable, automated robotic system for the growth of adult stem cells.

The clinical product being developed involves isolating and purifying adult stem cells from the bone marrow before growing these in bioreactors to achieve sufficient numbers of cells to treat thousands of patients. This work will be conducted in a sterile, aseptic cleanroom facility operated by a robotic system. That’s another benefit of using robots over a human workforce.

EU Could Rule Hyperlinking Illegal

Later today (2nd February), the Court of Justice in the European Union (CJEU) will hear arguments as to whether hyperlinking should or should not remain legal within the EU.

Sounds insane, right? Surely the very concept is absurd; hyperlinking contributes to the very idea of the internet as a “web”. However, as internet regulation becomes ever more complex – complicated by legislation such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – the act of hyperlinking has implications beyond simply directing an internet user to a different web page. A hyperlink could, conceivably, constitute copyright infringement.

The CJEU is adjudicating over the case of GS Media BV v Sanoma Media Netherlands BV, in which the applicant (GS Media) claims that hyperlinking could constitute a violation of copyright law, and that the act of hyperlinking could constitute “‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29”.

Sanity may prevail, though, if the previous case handled by the CJEU regarding hyperlinking is anything to go by. Around the same time last year, in the case of Svensson, et al v Retriever Sverige AB, the court ruled that if a webpage is made public online with no restriction – either by paywall or content posted without the consent of copyright holder – then it is entitled to be hyperlinked.

The grey area left by the Svensson case, though, is content that exists online without the consent of the copyright holder. For example, photo content that is improperly attributed, or leaked confidential information. The implications of this undefined area could extend beyond hyperlinking and into journalism and whistleblowing.

After arguments are heard later today, a ruling by the CJEU is expected later this year.

EU Proposal Could Ban Geoblocking Across Europe

Following the news that Netflix has begun restricting VPN use to bypass its region locks, the UK government has initiated a public consultation regarding European Union proposals to outlaw all forms of geoblocking across all member states.

“The European Commission has recently published draft legislation that is intended to ensure that all digital services are portable within the European Union,” the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) consultation file on “cross-border portability” legislation reads [PDF]. “This would mean that a person who lives in the UK, and who subscribes to a digital content service there, would be able to be confident they can continue to access that service when they are elsewhere in the EU, provided they have the right level of internet connection.”

The IPO report suggests that the UK fully supports the EU proposal, saying, “The Government supports cross-border portability, and the Prime Minister welcomed these proposals on the day of their launch. We will now be working with other European partners to negotiate the detail of the Regulations so that they deliver the best outcome for businesses and consumers.”

How this proposal will affect the licensing deals negotiated by video-on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix, is yet to be determined.  “It is currently difficult to provide portability for some types of content because of territorial copyright agreements which govern where services can be accessed,” the IPO report adds.

The EU’s proposal to outlaw geoblocking follows its recent antitrust investigation into content providers restricting its content dependent on location within Europe.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

EU lawmakers Propose Banning Under 16s From The Internet Without Parental Consent

Well this is, err, something, reports are circulating that under 16s could technically be banned from online services that include Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat unless they get permission from a parent. This quirk of fate if you will is all down to proposed new EU data protection rules which look set to be agreed.

So, how did we get to this? Well, new regulations would make it illegal for companies to handle data from anyone 15 years or younger without parental consent. These proposals open up a can of worms for various social media companies who have based their business models on targeting a younger audience with their products with hopes of an increased adoption of services.

The “ban” would leave millions of kids and teenagers having to ask their parents for permission to use internet services including email accounts, social media platforms and the downloading of apps. Somewhat understandably US tech groups are aiming to amend such a proposal through intense lobbying.

The proposal of new data protection regulations is much more stringent and companies must comply or face fines up to 4% of their global turnover, which could result in a massive bill for the biggest of online giants.

On the flip side, a petition has been launched by “The Diana Award Youth Boardwho state that “We don’t believe young people should be required to seek their parents’ consent every time they use a new app or website.”

It is certainly bizarre and impossible to police against, it will be compelling to see the outcome of these proposed regulations.

Image courtesy of mashable

EU Agree On Cybersecurity Rules

Security is a word that has appeared more and more online when it comes to the digital world in recent years. With more and more attention drawn by everyone from presidential candidates like Donald Trump to toy companies like VTech, governments are now pushing for stricter security on their systems. The EU have since agreed upon a set of rules regarding how their countries should approach the problem and where their responsibilities lie.

The proposed legislation would mean that essential services, such as electricity management and traffic control systems would have to be able to withstand online attacks while major marketplaces like Amazon or eBay would be included with cloud-based services (things like your apps which use online storage app) would be required to ensure that their infrastructure is secure and will be legally responsible for reporting any incidents.

While teams will be set up to help coordinate responses there will be a set of rules to exchange information and support one another in regards to their capability of handling cyber security issues.

While this seems like a positive step, you have to consider this is a world where people have been open about wanting to reduce, or even remove encryption, potentially even creating back doors for ‘government’ use, you have to worry about how a European-wide system would handle matters proposed by each countries governments.

 

Google Opposes Antitrust Accusations in Russia

 

Google is no stranger to being faced with anti-trust rulings worldwide, but this is the first time that the accusations have been put forth in Russia.

Back in September this year, the Russian search engine Yandex filed a complaint against Google with the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, which ruled in favor of Yandex. The complaint was centered on accusing Google of misusing its power as the provider of the popular Android operating system to pre-load the system with potentially dozens of mandatory Google applications.

As a result of the ruling, Google would be given until December the 18th to renegotiate its contracts with smartphone manufacturers to ensure compliance. This would mean that Google would be forced to sell Android phones pre-loaded with nothing but the Google Play Store.

Google seems to have no intention to take the ruling as is however, stating that they “intend to contest this decision and explain in court why we consider it unfounded,” on their Russian blog. Yandex rose to the challenge in a statement to Reuters, “Yandex is confident in every point of its position. We are ready for the appeal and welcome the most open trial.”

It seems like this is just the start of the battle between Google and Yandex, with Yandex requesting an investigation into potential infringements by Google from the EU, implicating Google in those territories too. And from a statement by the EU that Google is already under investigation, it seems like Yandex is not the only company to take issue with Google on the antitrust front.

It seems like Google will have to try to strike a balance between providing Android to the masses and pushing its own products on the platform by default if they want to escape flak from the rest of the industry. The question is, were Android not to come packaged with all the Google apps we are used to, would many users just not install them manually anyway?

HMRC ‘Reluctant’ to Tackle VAT Fraudsters Says Tax Law Professor

HMRC is responsible for investigating companies and individuals who failed to disclose VAT when selling goods online. However, according to Rita de la Feria, a professor in tax law at Durham University, HMRC isn’t intervening due to EU law and soaring legal costs. Additionally, she discussed the legislation which demands companies like eBay to properly inform users of their legal obligations. As a result, Amazon and eBay could legally be charged billions in pounds of unpaid VAT if they do not properly safeguard against VAT fraudsters. La Feria said:

“I doubt there will be a case immediately. But if HMRC starts asking questions based around the legal principle, which is now sufficiently strong, that could be a stick for Amazon and eBay.”

“HMRC is trying to avoid [acting] as the legal costs of this will be high.”

eBay responded to these claims and released a statement which reads:

“eBay reminds all its users of their need to comply with their legal obligations and we also provide helpful guidance on VAT through our Policies and Help pages with the aim of providing a safe and fair marketplace for all our buyers and sellers. If eBay sellers are found to be breaching UK VAT compliance rules, we will cooperate with HMRC in all cases where HMRC provides evidence of underpayment of taxes.”

As with any legislation, the finer details are quite complicated. EU law takes precedence over UK common law, which means the company’s trading with a EU base have to uphold their legal responsibilities. Although, HMRC isn’t doing enough and needs to apply pressure on large corporations.

Deutsche Telekom First to Introduce Fast Lanes Under New EU “Net Neutrality” Laws

Mere days after the European Parliament voted in broken net neutrality laws that allow for traffic shaping and internet fast lanes, the first EU telecoms company has announced plans to introduce a two-tier internet, allowing priority access to paying customers. In a statement on the company’s website (in German), CEO Timotheus Höttges said Deutsche Telekom will introduce charges for startups to access specialised internet services.

“There needs to be the option of giving priority to data associated with sensitive services if the network is congested,” says Höttges (translation courtesy of Euroactiv). “Developing innovative internet services with high standards of quality will continue to be possible.”

“Start-ups need special services more than anyone in order to have a chance of keeping up with large internet providers,” Höttges argues. “If they want to bring services to market which require guaranteed good transmission quality, it is precisely these companies that need special services. By our reckoning, they would pay a couple of percent for this in the form of revenue-sharing,”

In response to Deutsche Telekom’s plans, Vodafone Germany told German newspaper Der Spiegel, “Vodafone is not currently pursuing such plans [for internet fast lanes], but in our view, Deutsche Telekom’s position is correct,” adding that, “an equal internet does not even exist today.”

Image courtesy of Acoustic Branding.

UK ‘Porn Filters’ Ruled Illegal by the European Union

While the European Union’s much-contested net neutrality laws are causing much consternation amongst internet rights activists, one knock-on effect that the legislation has had is to make UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘porn filter’ illegal. The EU’s net neutrality laws require all member countries to “treat all traffic equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference” whatever the “content accessed or distributed”, making Cameron’s “opt out” adult content filter unworkable, to the dismay of anti-porn campaigners.

While a form of adult content filter can still be applied in the UK, it would have to be “opt in” only, meaning that internet users can choose to use such a filter, rather than it being turned on by default. The ruling is designed to put control back into the hands of the use, allowing them to “access and distribute information and content […] via their internet access.” The UK Government required ISPs to introduce the “opt out” porn filter in July 2013.

Despite the ruling, a spokesperson from Downing Street said that “nothing would change”. Another spokesperson told the Daily Mail, “This means that if we need to we will bring in our own domestic law to retain the existing filtering systems the ISPs have put in place.”

European Parliament Votes in Broken Net Neutrality Laws

Despite challenges by activists, MEPs, and online businesses, the European Parliament (above) has voted in net neutrality laws that includes exceptions allowing traffic shaping and two-tier speeds, the very things net neutrality was designed to prevent. Loopholes in the legislation, opposed by many trying to protect the idea of a free and open internet, allows websites that pay ISPs for preferential treatment. The regulations came into effect in every European Union country following the commencement of the vote.

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said that the defeat of the amendments a sign that “corporate interests come first,” while Julia Reda, MEP for Germany’s Pirate Party, said the legislation allows for the creation of a “two-speed” internet.

“We are disappointed that the European Parliament has decided not to legislate on this critical issue,” Estelle Massé, Policy Analyst for Access Now, said. “By not supporting the necessary amendments to give clarity to the text, the Parliament has left it up to courts and national regulators to determine its meaning.”

However, Günther Oettinger, Commissioner of Digital Economy and Society in the EU, claimed the new law would “deliver tangible results to improve the daily lives of Europeans”.

“We will get for the first time ever net neutrality rules in EU law,” he added. “These rules protect the right of every European to access the content of their choice, without interference or discrimination.”

One good thing to come from the vote, though, is an end to roaming data charges across EU countries, which will come into effect on 15th June, 2017.

Europe is Close to Voting on Broken Net Neutrality Laws

Following years of discussion and drafting, the European Parliament is to vote on net neutrality laws next week, and if the legislation is approved then it could spell disaster for a free internet across Europe. It has been known for months that the EU’s net neutrality proposals are broken, and that its idea of “net neutrality” is a misnomer, but as well as creating internet fast lanes for paying companies, the latest draft of its bill will allow torrent and VPN throttling.

“This is a real problem for P2P applications. ISPs regularly throttle or otherwise interfere with peer-to-peer file-sharing applications to manage congestion if they are not prevented from doing so by network neutrality rules,” Barbara van Schewick told TorrentFreak.

“The provisions would allow ISPs to throttle or de-prioritize P2P file-sharing around the clock based on the ‘objective technical requirement’ that P2P file-sharing is not sensitive to delay,” she added.

In a post on Medium, van Schewick outlined the four major problems with the EU’s net neutrality proposal:

  • Problem #1: The proposal allows ISPs to create fast lanes for companies that pay through the specialized services exception.
  • Problem #2: The proposal generally allows zero-rating and gives regulators very limited ability to police it, leaving users and companies without protection against all but the most egregious cases of favoritism.
  • Problem #3: The proposal allows class-based discrimination, i.e. ISPs can define classes and speed up or slow down traffic in those classes even if there is no congestion.
  • Problem #4: The proposal allows ISPs to prevent “impending” congestion. That makes it easier for them to slow down traffic anytime, not just during times of actual congestion.

Anyone European citizen that is concerned that the proposed EU legislation will kill a free and open internet should contact their respective MEP to ask that they stand against issues that allow ISPs to shape, throttle, and prioritise internet traffic. More information can be found at SavetheInternet.eu.

Image courtesy of The Daily Dot

CableMod Opens Direct Online EU Store for Modding Fans

Building a new PC system can be a very easy task if you don’t care much about how it looks in the end. But a lot of people do care and they want a perfect system where everything matches in colour and has the best possible setup with the components in use.

One thing that is boring and can destroy the looks of a great system are the default cables from your power supply. Adding sleeved and coloured cables to your setup can give it that final touch that lets you say, I’m happy with this build. It can also create envy among friends whose systems don’t look as great. Getting hold of professional-sleeved cables got a lot easier now for residents of the EU as CableMod just opened up their own online store that caters to just this market.

Initially, CableMod will be offering the newly announced Basic Cable Kits and more products will be added to shop when they become available in the near future. The first 12 available kits can be had for AXi/HXi/RM, G2/P2, PRO Series Black Edition, RMi/RMx, and XP2/XP3, KM3, FL2 models.

Have you sleeved your own cables in your system or bought a pre-sleeved kit like these? Or are you one of those satisfied with the default cables that came with your power supply? Let us know in the comments.

Europe Mismanages Disposal Of Discarded Electronics

A ticking timebomb is in the form of the correct way to dispose electronic waste, the globe is producing unit upon unit of the latest gadget which in turn pumps chemicals and materials into these devices. The turnaround from purchase to waste is even shorter than ever and protocols need to be implemented with the aim of recycling, which decreases the environmental impact on the plant as possible.

Unfortunately, A European Union Funded project in conjunction with Interpol, the United Nations University, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, the WEEE Forum, the Cross Border Research Association, Zanasi and Partners and Compliance and Risks has found rather poor statistics.

They have found in Europe, “just 35% (3.3 million tonnes of 9.5 million tonnes) of used (but still functioning) and waste electronics and electrical equipment discarded by companies and consumers in 2012 wound up in official collection and recycling systems”. What happened to 6.2 million tonnes? It’s not like companies made it disappear, (reads more information) OK it is like companies made it disappear as the rest of the waste was “either exported, recycled under non-compliant conditions or simply thrown in waste bins”.

Responsible manufacturing and consumers who buy these electronics need to bear in mind disposal when throwing away items. The raw materials are toxic, think chlorofluorocarbons in fridges or Benzene and n-hexane which are chemicals thought to cause cancer and nerve damage, not such a problem? These chemicals have been used in the production of Apple products up until 2014.

Of course, as this report illustrates, an unknown but damaging factor is the criminal gangs who thrive off the illegal waste supply chain in some countries. Disposal of electronic waste is essential considering the amount which is being manufactured with the ratio increasing year on year, hopefully, more can be achieved in this area to decrease humans carbon footprint on the earth.

Thank you economictimes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of open-electronics

Games Prices In Europe Set To Be Unified

Europe is looking towards a more technological environment, where companies and countries can operate knowing that there is a standard across the board for everything that may impact that their work. This could soon be the same for games as well thanks to the European Commission.

The Digital Single Market outlines a proposal for a fairer system when it comes to game pricing in the EU. Game prices fluctuate depending on where you buy them from, with companies like GoG trying to level this through their credit system.

Please note that this only applies to digital copies of games, but would be across the board. This means that be it from Xbox Live, PSN, Steam or another digital distributor, you would be asked to pay the same price throughout all EU territories.

The digital single market was first introduced in May 2015 and looks to bring about uniform pricing in 2016. This is alongside a broadband standard that would see 30MBPS internet standard for all citizens, with 50% of European households having 100MBPS internet by 2020.

With all these measures to help not only gamers but everyone in the European union, we could shortly see better internet connections and fairer prices for digital content. How can that be a bad thing?

Thank you European Commission for the information.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

EU Pretends Internet Fast Lanes Are OK Under Net Neutrality

The European Union is moving ahead to legislate net neutrality and enforce a free and open internet! Hooray! Only, the EU is trying to change the meaning of words to make its net neutrality laws nothing of the sort. The key to the EU’s obfuscation is the term “specialised services”; under this banner, companies can throttle speeds and prioritize traffic to their heart’s content.

The current draft of the EU net neutrality legislation looks promising:

The rules enshrine the principle of net neutrality into EU law: no blocking or throttling of online content, applications and services. It means that there will be truly common EU-wide Internet rules, contributing to a single market and reversing current fragmentation.

  • Every European must be able to have access to the open Internet and all content and service providers must be able to provide their services via a high-quality open Internet.
  • All traffic will be treated equally. This means, for example, that there can be no paid prioritisation of traffic in the Internet access service. At the same time, equal treatment allows reasonable day-to-day traffic management according to justified technical requirements, and which must be independent of the origin or destination of the traffic.

But this defines just one category of internet traffic. The second is classed as “specialised services”, which will allow for the “paid prioritisation”, “blocking”, and “throttling” that is prohibited from other parts of the internet:

What are specialised services (innovative services or services other than Internet access services)?

The new EU net neutrality rules guarantee the open Internet and enable the provision of specialised or innovative services on condition that they do not harm the open Internet access. These are services like IPTV, high-definition videoconferencing or healthcare services like telesurgery. They use the Internet protocol and the same access network but require a significant improvement in quality or the possibility to guarantee some technical requirements to their end-users that cannot be ensured in the best-effort open Internet. The possibility to provide innovative services with enhanced quality of service is crucial for European start-ups and will boost online innovation in Europe. However, such services must not be a sold as substitute for the open Internet access, they come on top of it.

In segregating the internet into two categories, enforcing open internet laws on one and allowing the other to exploit traffic in whatever way it seems fit, the EU is making a mockery of net neutrality, with the bill itself becoming an oxymoron. Let’s hope that by 2016, when the laws are set to take effect, that the European Union can deliver true net neutrality to the citizens of Europe.

Thank you TechDirt for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Briton Starts Crowdfunding to Raise €1.6 Billion for Greece

As Greece makes history by missing their IMF payment, one man is setting out to fix it himself and with the help of others like him. While we all have our own ideas in how to best help Greece, one common man has gone out and done something. Taking matters into his own hands, Thom Feeney, a London shopkeeper, has started an IndieGoGo campaign to help raise €1.6 Billion for the beleaguered country.

With 6 days to go, the campaign has already raised €573,722 which is quite a lot of money for crowdfunding. However, that is still a long ways away from the stated, not yet reaching 1% of the target (that would be about €1.6 million). In his decision to start the fundraiser, Feeney noted that it was time for the people to solve the problem and all the governments dithering over it was boring. Rewards range from €3 for a poster of Greek PM Alex Tsipras, €5 for a Greek Salad and all the way up to an island for €1.6 billion though that reward has now been removed.

Right now the campaign is so popular that the IndieGoGo page that it has become inaccessible for most of the time. Given the current population of the EU, if every person is able to give around €3, the campaign will meet its goal. Counting generous donors outside the EU, it gets even easier. Even with an extra €1.6 billion though, Greece would still fall short of its debt obligations. It will be interesting to see what happens with the campaign and how the Greek government will respond in the run-up to the critical July 5th referendum.

No More Data Roaming Charges in EU from 2017

Nothing can sour the vacation more that roaming charges, but that will soon be a thing of the past in the European Union as a new law will abolish those charges by June 2017 after a 14-month interim period. That is the new deal reached on Tuesday with the aim to bring the Europe Union another step closer.

You’ll of course not get it completely free, but you will be able to use roaming a lot cheaper. With the new rules, telecom operators are only able to charge you €0.05 extra per minute for calls, 0.02 extra per SMS sent, and 0.05 extra per megabyte of data. Whether they charge this or not is up to each individual company, but we should expect to pay the full amount on almost any network.

The new cap would make roaming within the Europe Union up to 75% cheaper during the interim period, the European Commission said. All of this is a culmination of years of campaigning for net neutrality within the EU and partly a follow-up to the US adoption of net-neutrality.

All internet traffic also has to be treated equally, but regulations are possible in situations such as counter-terrorism.

This is great news for anyone who travels a lot, but even more for someone like me that lives right up at the border and travels two countries equally.

Thank You BBC for providing us with this information

Amazon Prime Now Opens One-Hour Delivery in London

Amazon launched their one-hour Amazon Prime Now delivery last December in Manhatten US and later expanded the experiment to Dallas, Baltimore, and Miami. Now Amazon has reached over the big pond to open up the service outside of the US for the first time and in a timely fashion compared to their usual expansion times that take a lot longer.

Amazon Prime Now is now available to several postcodes in central London. Zone 2 and zone 3 postcodes couldn’t get the speedy delivery yet, but several Zone 1 postcodes can now take advantage of this new delivery method.

Amazon says that Prime Now can deliver thousands of products in London, but you need to order for at least £20 each time and it will cost you £6.99 per order for this speedy delivery method. If you don’t need it that fast, you can get the delivery for free within a two-hour window between 8am and midnight.

The service is of course geared towards products that you’d need last-minute, but you can get anything from inkjet printers to microwave ovens and Apple TV devices. You can pick products from 27 of Amazon’s departments.

Users can also choose to tip the delivery courier if they wish too. You can read a lot more about Amazon Prime Now on the official page, download the mobile app, or check your postcode for availability.

Thank You TechCrunch for providing us with this information

BBC Disrespects EU’s Right to Be Forgotten – Publishes List of Pages Removed

The BBC, in flagrant disregard of the European Union’s ‘right to be forgotten’ law, has published a list of its own webpages that have been removed from search engine listings via the ruling, promising to update the list frequently.

The EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ legislation is designed to protect individuals from being persecuted or discriminated against due to past indiscretions, achieved by removing potentially stigmatising materials from search engine results. By publishing a list of pages and articles that have been hidden due to this ruling, the BBC is effectively neutering its intent.

The BBC blog reads:

Since a European Court of Justice ruling last year, individuals have the right to request that search engines remove certain web pages from their search results. Those pages usually contain personal information about individuals.

Following the ruling, Google removed a large number of links from its search results, including some to BBC web pages, and continues to delist pages from BBC Online.

The BBC has decided to make clear to licence fee payers which pages have been removed from Google’s search results by publishing this list of links. Each month, we’ll republish this list with new removals added at the top.

We are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy. We think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. We hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. We also think the integrity of the BBC’s online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.

This seems scant justification, since the listings have only been removed from search engines, not from the BBC site itself; they have not been deleted, and still show up through internal searches on the BBC website, so to draw attention to pieces that have been hidden from external searches opens them up to speculation. Since the source of the ‘right to be forgotten’ request is entitled to anonymity, persons unrelated to the removal could be persecuted over it, amplifying the very behaviour the EU sought to nullify.

While he BBC does add the caveat, “when looking through this list it is worth noting that we are not told who has requested the delisting, and we should not leap to conclusions as to who is responsible. The request may not have come from the obvious subject of a story,” the statement seems designed to shield itself from any blowback, rather than protect unrelated parties from accusation. I’m sure the EU will be having a disgruntled word in the BBC’s ear quite soon.

Image courtesy of LogoDatabases.

Net neutrality Under Threat in Europe

Europe is attempting to renege on an agreement to implement net neutrality legislation across European Union member states. Back in May, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favour of Europe-wide net neutrality legislation, a positive step in protecting internet rights for users and content providers alike. However, after being passed through the belly of the European Council, the proposed net neutrality regulations have become so mangled that they no longer represent a free and open internet.

UK internet activism organisation Open Rights Group (ORG) is campaigning for the next round of negotiations, due to take place on 29th June, to change the legislation to better reflect true net neutrality.

As the proposal stands at present, it is open to exploitation by ISPs and other online service providers. ORG describes the flaws within the fledgling legislation:

The Council’s text could allow Internet Service Providers to charge customers and companies extra for receiving and delivering different types of online services. Only those who pay more will have easy access to an audience online. It would also authorise blocking of lawful content. This is completely counter to net neutrality and contradicts the Parliament’s position.

ORG also accuses the European Parliament of being complicit in undermining the integrity of net neutrality, despite agreeing to the protections in principle, saying:

The Council and the Parliament have been negotiating the final text of the new net neutrality rules for the last few months. And we’ve seen the Parliament give in to the Council’s demands time and again while the Council has given up almost nothing. The Parliament have even conceded on the definition of net neutrality. The phrase net neutrality isn’t even in the most recent working text. The Council has successfully replaced it with a vague “open internet” which suggests there is a “non-open” Internet, which is worrying.

In an effort to guide the legislation back into something resembling real net neutrality, ORG is asking all European citizens to contact their MEP to implore them to stand up for a free and open internet. If you are interested in helping fight the good fight, click here to get the relevant information how to contact your MEP.

Image courtesy of Oompfh.

War Robots Put Humankind at Risk, AI Experts Warn

An artificial intelligence expert has warned the development of killer robots, or Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), capable of engaging targets without human intervention puts the principles of human dignity at risk. “LAWS could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill,” Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, warns. “For example, they might be tasked to eliminate anyone exhibiting ‘threatening behaviour’.”

A report written by members of the Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, entitled Mind the Gap: The Lack of Accountability for Killer Robots, counselled the European Union to ban so-called ‘killer robots’, due to the serious moral and ethical ramifications of machines possessing “the ability to select and engage their targets without meaningful human control.”

“Despite the limits imposed by physics, one can expect platforms deployed in the millions, the agility and lethality of which will leave humans utterly defenceless. This is not a desirable future,” Russell adds.

According to Russell, DARPA is already working on such technology and he estimates that it is only a couple of years away from being a reality. Potential LAWS weapons could be armed quadcopters or self-driving tanks with the capacity to identify and eliminate hostile targets.

Russell spoke at the recent United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons event. Germany were receptive to LAWS restrictions, saying it would “not accept that the decision over life and death is taken solely by an autonomous system”, but the UK, US, and Israel refused to commit to an international treaty to restrict the use of LAWS.

Thank you International Business Times for providing us with this information.

Europe to Fight UK Porn Block Reveals Leaked Document

A leaked document from the European Union shows that Brussels will fight UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s attempts to block internet porn. Two years ago, Cameron announced that every UK home would have pornography automatically blocked, unless users opted-in to viewing adult content. A number of UK ISPs, including Sky and TalkTalk, have already introduced automatic adult content filtering that blocks adult materials.

However, in a document seen by The Sunday Times dated 17th May, the Council of the EU is proposing measures to prevent internet providers from having the ability to block content without the user’s consent. The proposal puts the power back into the hands of the user, right where it should be, with filters only being implemented with the user’s consent whilst maintaining the “possibility to withdraw this consent at any time.”

According to John Carr, a member of the executive board of the UK council on Child Internet Safety, a chief adviser to the UK government on online security for children, told The Sunday Times that the EU proposal would mean “a major plank of the UK’s approach to online child protection will be destroyed at a stroke”.

Damn the EU, with their defence of people’s freedoms!

Thank you The Independent for providing us with this information.

Geo-Blocking Could Become A Thing Of The Past

Geo-Blocking has been a hot topic in recent years, and even more so in recent years. The term is applied to the process by which certain digital media, most notably online videos are limited to certain countries based on where their IP says they are, but this may be set to change within Europe at least.

The EU commission is moving one step closer towards the idea of a unified digital market with recently purposed policies. Among the new policies are several sections that will not only put the end to geo-blocking within Europe but also will update copyright so that people can enjoy their music, films and digital games while abroad as if they were in their home country.

Typically in modern days companies, due to the laws of other countries, block watching or downloading certain things due to the local laws, most normally because the company the program belongs to doesn’t have permission to show the media in other countries, although this can also come down to the actual content being in breach of laws within the country in more extreme cases.

With the use of VPN’s (Virtual Private Network) on the rise, allowing people to pretend that they are in another country rather than the one they say they are from, more and more companies are either having to block VPN’s or find ways to share their products with the wider public. Netflix, one of the largest  media streaming services, has spoken out about this and instead of relying on VPN’s it has stated that it is seeking global deals allowing users from all around the world to watch their TV and Film’s in any country without any delays between releases.

Among the new plans are also steps for the EU to take piracy and illegal content online, while also looking at topics such as search engines behaviour and those of online companies to ensure fair use of the internet and remove any anticompetative natures that may have developed in recent years.

The final step in the EU policies purposed is new steps on topics such as e-health and the proposal of a “European Free Flow of Data Initiative”. With these steps in the next few years it could be possible to watch and download any of your digital media in any part of the EU without a delay between it being released in the UK or in Germany.

Thank you to the Inquirer and ZDNet for the information.

Enermax Celebrates 25th Birthday and Gives Away 100 Gifts to Customers

ENERMAX is celebrating their 25th birthday, but instead of getting presents they are handing them out themselves in order to give something back to their customers. The anniversary celebration is a Europe-wide event for end users where everybody who buys an ENERMAX power supply between the 1st and 31st of May 2015 has the chance to win 1 of 100 prizes. End users from all of Europe can participate in the big Born 4 Power contest.

Enermax has just recently released their MAXPRO power supply series, so this could indeed be a good time to invest in one of them and get a shot at the 100 prizes with a total value of €4,000. Prizes don’t come just from ENERMAX themselves, you can win MSI graphics cards, AMD APUs, and ASROCK motherboards next to a some of ENERMAX’s own cooling and chassis products.

To enter the contest, customers have to register their purchase via an online form and provide a copy of the invoice as proof. You can only enter the raffle once per PSU bought, but can enter with up to five products to get five tickets in the raffle.

While this isn’t for everyone as it requires a purchase, it is a really nice bonus for ENERMAX customers and a way for a company to say thanks for the support over the last 25 years. And congratulations Enermax on the first quarter of a century in the business.

Is Google Messing With Your Shopping Search Results?

Do you use Google as your default search engine? You do? Have you ever thought that everything you read, stumble upon or even buy are just imposed on you? Well, it might be true! At least according to the EU’s antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, who plans on fining the search giant for its manipulative approach.

Vestager seems to be convinced that Google is intentionally manipulating search results to redirect and serve its own interest rather than give back relevant search results that users seek when they use the search giant. To make things clear, the EU is not interested in the company revealing its secret search algorithm, but wants to make sure people get what want, not what they are fed.

“We don’t want to interfere with screen design, how things are presented on the screen as such or the algorithm. What we are concerned about is that people see the most relevant shopping results,” Vestager stated.

There have been some allegations that Google is on the anti-competitive run with its Android operating system as well, but the EU is more focused on its search engine due to the fact that it received a formal complaint regarding the accusations.

“Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company,” said Vestager.

Google apparently finds this as “very disappointing news” and is now seeking to reassure the antitrust commission it is within legal boundaries with its operations. But let’s think about it, Google really reached a position where it can even dictate how people think or feel everyday. I mean, what’s the first page loaded by every browser nowadays? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with G and ends with E and sometimes it drops on you when you hit this link.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information