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.

Employers In The EU Can Read Your Private Messages At Work

It’s a slow day. Really slow and you’re bored, so you decide to fire up Facebook and check to see who’s messaged you. Twitter, Facebook, even your personal emails, we all have a way of communicating online. Might not be the best time to open up your personal messages at work though with the ECHR deciding that companies can read your private messages at work.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared that as a worker while checking his yahoo messenger at work, it was perfectly in its right as a company to read those messages. The Judges ruled that in the end he had breached the company’s rules and it had a right to check his activity while at work.

This ruling now means that all countries that are part of the European Convention on Human Rights, including Britain, must now follow this decision.

While at work the employee checked his Yahoo Messenger, something he used for both personal and professional contacts. As it believed the account in question was for work, the judges ruled that the company had not been in error on checking the contents of the messages.

While a scary president it lies on several factors, firstly a company would have to have a computer policy in place that means they can read your messages (this policy is something anyone who works with a computer on a daily basis should read, especially if you message on it). As a second step, how would you prove if an account is being used for “work”? Ultimately it’s something that Judges will have to step carefully with, with the ECHR even saying that policies must also protect workers against unfettered snooping.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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 to Protect Edward Snowden

After the mess the European Union made of its net neutrality laws, it’s heartening to see them doing something positive. Earlier today (29th October), the European Parliament voted in favour of protecting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from prosecution and extradition to the US, as well as dropping any charges against him within EU member states. The resolution was voted in by 285 votes to 281, and grants protection to Snowden as a “human rights defender”.

Rumours of the vote hit Twitter shortly before the official announcement, with Snowden himself commenting:

After the European Parliament released the news via its website, Snowden appeared shocked and delighted:

The European Parliament declared:

“Too little has been done to safeguard citizens’ fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They urge the EU Commission to ensure that all data transfers to the US are subject to an “effective level of protection” and ask EU member states to grant protection to Edward Snowden, as a “human rights defender”. Parliament also raises concerns about surveillance laws in several EU countries.”

How this affects Snowden’s asylum in Russia is yet to be determined. It would be interesting to know how the European Parliament would vote for a similar resolution in regards to Julian Assange, currently exiled in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

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

EU Antitrust Probe Could Put an End to Geo-Blocking

The European Union (EU) has started an antitrust investigation into a number of Hollywood film studios and the UK satellite programming provider Sky. The European Commission (EC), which is investigating the companies on behalf of the EU, has the ultimate aim of abolishing geo-blocked film and television content, and has made its objections to geographical restrictions clear to six major studios, including Warner Bros., Disney, and Paramount.

TV and movie content is often region-locked and only available for a limited period due to complex and exploitative licensing agreements that favour the studios over the content provider, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, a practice the EC intends to put an end to.

The EU has US studios Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Bros, plus SKY UK, in its crosshairs, sending a statement of objections to all seven before launching its antitrust probe.

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, says of the antitrust investigation, “European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU.”

“Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky’s UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online,” she added.

The EC has outlined its intent “to end unjustified geo-blocking,” a practice it describes as “a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.”

The gist of the EU’s ire is, if content is available in one European member state, it should be available to all other member states equally. The EU is a community of countries and, as such, one member should not have any rights or privileges that another does not or cannot enjoy. We’re all equal, or something. Bloody hippies.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Search Engine Land.

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.

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.

Permanently League of Legends Ban for Profanity in Just 15 Minutes

This was bound to happen sooner or later since most players I’ve seen on either League of Legends or Dota 2 gain faster profanity skills than any other game-wise skills. Thankfully, Riot Games shares the same vision and wants to keep League of Legends a fun and welcoming place.

The developer wants to make an automatic world-wide banning system for players who use verbal harassment in the game. The system is said to have rolled out for the European Union, but should the tests prove to be successful, it will roll out in the rest of the regions soon enough.

The system works by sending notification cars to players who have used verbal harassment in matches, providing an evidence of the latter and an appropriate punishment that will take effect. The player can be punished in two ways, with either a two-week ban or a permanent ban, after exiting the match. It takes only 15 minutes after the match ends for the system to register the verbal harassment and deliver the ban.

Riot states that the player behaviour team is looking over all verbal harassments being reported and if the test goes as planned, the system will be available worldwide shortly. But this is not all that it brings. The new system will also keep players who reported others up to date with the process status and rewards players for positive gameplay. Personally, if the system gets rid of all annoying players out there, it might even tempt me to join the MOBA community. How about you? What are your thoughts?

Thank you Polygon 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.

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

Researchers Say Facebook Tracking Violates European Union Privacy Law

Facebook had a lot of privacy concerns in the past, and it looks like they just keep on coming. Researchers from the Belgium data protection agency have also determined that Facebook’s latest web tracking policy violates the European Union privacy law.

What Facebook does is it uses cookies to track web visitors without permissions, whether they log in or take advantage of the EU’s proposed opt-out laws. Cookies themselves are only supposed to be used when the user is signed in and only for things users agree to. Facebook’s cookies however break that law by adding tracking cookies on the system in the EU, having the company tracking what users do regardless if they have opted out from tracking or not.

Facebook seems to be tackling these accusations with certain ‘issues’ it found, stating that the study has ‘factual issues’ and has offered resolve its problems with the Belgian government. Officials are said to have turned down requests so far, putting Facebook in a very tight spot should the company be forced to defend itself against the serious EU allegations in the near future.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

If You Don’t Want to be Spied On, Close Your Facebook, Warns European Union

The European Union (EU) has warned its citizens that they should delete their Facebook profiles if they don’t want their information making its way into the hands of the US intelligence and security services, as current Safe Harbour legislation isn’t sufficient to protect user data from surveillance requests.

The alert comes from European Commission (EC) Attorney Bernhard Schima during his handling of Maximilian Schrems’ privacy court case, which examined whether EU citizen’s online data should be considered safe in the hands of the US, post-Snowden.

During the case at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, Schima told EU Attorney General Yves Bot, “You might consider closing your Facebook account, if you have one.”

The Safe Harbour framework is designed to facilitate the transmission of EU citizens’ data to the US. In its absence, it would be illegal for that information to be sent outside of the EU. Schrem argues that companies operating within the EU should not be allowed to take advantage of the Safe Habour protection.

The case is on-going. A decision from the European Court of Justice on the Safe Harbour framework is expected on 24th June.

Source: The Guardian

EU Committee Delays Roaming Fees Removal

There have been a lot of talks these past two years regarding the abolishment of roaming fees in the European Union’s member states. Last year, we heard that the EU Commission was voting to scrap the fees altogether and have them removed by 2016.

However, this might not be the case. The European Parliament does have its mind set on removing the roaming fees, but it seems that it also backs carriers who claim that they need to charge customers due to the space taken up on foreign carrier networks. To be noted is that carriers such as Vodafone, T-Mobile, Telefonica, and Telenor already have networks in almost every EU country, but there are still some carriers who cannot cope with a big changes just yet.

While there has been a steady drop in roaming prices in the past two years, along with a variety of tariffs added to reduce prices even further, we won’t be seeing a total removal of roaming fees next year. A more realistic target now points to 2018, making some room for everyone to cope with a big change on a large scale.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information

Right to Be Forgotten Is a Waste of Time

The legal ruling in Europe that allows everyone to wipe their digital slate clean is a complete and utter waste of time. Simply removing your articles from Google is hardly going to cover your ass when you’ve done some thing wrong. In fact some members of the public have taken it upon themselves to expose those who are trying to hide, adding further levels of futility to those who are trying to remove content about themselves from search engines.

A recent House of Lord report declared the idea “wrong”, adding that it’s clear that “neither the 1995 Directive, nor the Court of Justice of the European Unions’s (CJEU) interpretation of it, reflects the incredible advancement in technology that we see today, over 20 years since the Directive was drafted”.

The right to be forgotten is an interpretation of Article 12 of the Data Protection Directive, laid down by European Parliament in 1995 and relating to the protection and processing of personal data. The right to be forgotten rule is a new interpretation of this directive.

“We do not believe that individuals should have a right to have links to accurate and lawfully available information about them removed, simply because they do not like what is said,” Baroness Prashar said.

I couldn’t agree more, if people are so ignorant that they feel they can remove data like this from the internet then fool on them, even worse is when convicted criminals, failed businessmen and more are using this ruling to have articles they don’t like removed from Google, if an article is based around the truth, why should we have to hide it? That’s like burning news papers and books from libraries because they contain stories that someone doesn’t want you to know and it looks like time for this law is about to pass.

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wired.

Bitcoin Supporters Hope to See EU Provide Regulatory Guidance of Cryptocurrencies

European Union countries need to make adjustments to outline regulatory guidance on bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, according to bitcoin supporters.

The European Commission recently noted that it plans to create virtual cryptocurrency rules as quickly as possible – there is a higher level of regulatory scrutiny of bitcoins, while governments are still unsure what to make of bitcoins.

Here is what Jeremy Allaire, head bitcoin consumer finance company Circle, recently said in an interview with Reuters:

“One of the challenges is that without clear guidance from the EU, from the UK, it will limit industry development.  Unless they have a clear view of where does this (bitcoin) fit, how do we know what the rules are?”

The United States, EU, and select Asian countries have struggled to try to deal with the rise of bitcoins, especially considering potential fraud problems.  If regulators become involved and create overly restrictive laws, however, it could curb bitcoin growth across the world, supporters worry.

Bitcoin value currently hovers around $630 (£367), though remains rather volatile as more consumers and businesses dabble with cryptocurrencies.  However, the European Banking Authority (EBA) could scare customers away by devising rules to clamp down on money laundering and criminal abuse.

Thank you to Reuters for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Huffington Post

Data Roaming Charges To Drop 55% In EU From July 1st

As a result of the recent European Commission ruling that is due to come into effect from July 1st data roaming charges will fall across the European Union. In the European Union all network carriers will not be allowed to raise prices higher than EU maximum rates. The most significant of these decreases in charges is with data roaming, the price per MB of data will fall from €0.45 to €0.20, that’s $0.61 to $0.27 and £0.36 to £0.16. The price of making calls, receiving calls and sending text messages will all decrease as well by around a quarter.

Additionally from July 1 mobile providers can offer you a specific roaming deal before you travel and they can allow you to choose a local mobile provider for data services. The future also looks fairly bright for EU travellers as the EU Commission is currently working to eliminate roaming charges altogether, the EU may not be something everyone agrees with but I’m all for less data roaming charges when travelling!

Vice President of the European Commission, @NeelieKroesEU, responsible for the Digital Agenda said: “This huge drop in data roaming prices will make a big difference to all of us this summer. But it is not enough. Why should we have roaming charges at all in a single market? By the end of this year I hope we see the complete end of roaming charges agreed – the Parliament has done their part, now it is up to Member States to seal the deal!”

Source: Europa

Image courtesy of Europa

Intel Fined $1.4 Billion Due To “Unfair Sales Tactics”

Intel has lost a case this Thursday opened by the European Commision back in 2009, where Intel was charged with harming its competitor, Advanced Micro Devices, or most commonly known as AMD by giving rebates to PC makers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and Lenovo for buying most of their computer chips from Intel.

In addition to the above charges, Intel is said to have paid German retail chain Media Saturn Holding to stock only computers with its chips. These are quite harsh accusations thrown at Intel, having the case opened for about 5 years now. However, it appears that the decision has been finally made and it looks like the Luxembourg-based General Court has backed the Commision’s decision as well with the following statement:

“The Commission demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that Intel attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of its practices and implemented a long-term comprehensive strategy to foreclose AMD from the strategically most important sales channels,” the court said in a near 300-page decision.

The EU judges have also decided to fine Intel with the outstanding sum of $1.4 billion, which is equivalent to 4.15% of the company’s revenue in 2008, opposed to a possible maximum fine consisting of 10% of the revenue. Also, the judges’ decision along with the rising level of fines could become a source of serious concern for a lot of companies.

Intel still has one more chance it could take by taking the case forward to the Court of Justice of the European Union. However, the company refused to make any official statement on what its future actions will be.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

EU Developing Remote Shutdown Tech For All Cars

Recent reports show that European Union officials have been meeting to develop a system to help law enforcement remotely kill any cars engine. The tech would rely on a central control facility which would effectively send a kill code to the car’s engine, shutting it down entirely.

This technology is nothing new of course, many car companies offer a remote vehicle shut-down feature, but the efforts of the EU police officials is to make this kind of technology a standardized feature that would be controlled by the police, not by the car manufacturer.

Of course a standardised system like this would take years to integrate and would no doubt raise many concerns with the general public. Even members of parliament are not happy about the project and stated that “the price we pay for surrendering our democratic sovereignty is that we are governed by an unaccountable secretive clique.”

Liability could be a big issue, what if the systems are triggered by mistake while a car is travelling at speed? What about invasion of privacy, could this be the beginning of more monitoring of drivers, perhaps even location monitoring software would be used to not only shut-down a car, but to track its location “in case of theft”. Some of the thoughts that spring to mind are a little tinfoil hat brigade, but in light of many spying revelations of the last few years, it’s hardly a big stretch to come to some wild conclusions.

On an engineering level the technology already exists, so it’s not too hard to believe that it can be scaled up and standardised. It will no doubt do wonders for reducing car thefts on newer cars, but it seems it will come with a whole new set of problems for car owners.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.