Apple Could Be Fined Millions for Strict iPhone Marketing Contract

Did you ever look at a phone provider catalogue and think, where have I seen that advert before? If the phone in question is an iPhone then you may have noticed its prominent placement in the catalogue along with the near identical adverts in every single catalogue. There is a reason for this other than just marketing, and could get Apple fined up to €48.5 million for their strict iPhone marketing terms.

France’s country competition regulators have launched a complaint regarding Apple’s agreements, stating that they are actually illegal. Part of the terms and conditions is that carriers have to order a minimum number of iPhones, cover the cost of repairs for some of the phones and even pay for the ad’s used (including those used for in-store displays).

If this wasn’t enough Apple gains several legal benefits, such as being able to access and use some of the carriers patents and even use their branding as they see fit. The contract also allows Apple to void the contract without any prior notice, something that would scare anyone selling thousands of euros worth of equipment.

With Apple looking at renewable energy for their facilities, they may want to rethink their strategy when it comes to selling their devices as even if this court case is just in France, other countries may follow suit and start looking at stocking alternative products because of the contract they are being forced to sign.

Google Fined by France Over Right to be Forgotten

Google have been handed a fine by the French data protection authorities as a result of them failing to conform to the ‘right to be forgotten’ as ordered.

In a decision made last year by the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL), Google would have to agree to requests made for the delisting of personal information, not just on its products under European domains, but across all Google properties. Previous to this, Google had been removing requested personal results from the European versions of its search engine, including google.co.uk and google.fr, excluding other instances of the site, such as google.com, which is still accessible from within Europe.

This breach of the ruling could have allowed CNIL to charge Google as much as €300,000, however, the French organization, in the end, settled on only a €100,000 fine.

The right to be forgotten has existed since 2014 when a European court ruling allowed Spaniard Mario Costeja González to erase online evidence of a court-ordered auction of his real estate to recover debts. Those hosting the information were allowed to keep it online, but Google was ordered to remove all reference to the articles from searches of Costeja González’ name. The spirit of the decision being that minor misdemeanors or embarrassments could be covered up, but not completely removed.

Google still refuse to conform with the ruling as closely as CNIL would like, with information hidden on worldwide services, but only for users in the same nation as the one who requested the removal. For example, a Spanish user would no longer be able to find references to the auction on any Google product, including google.com, but a user from another European nation would be able to get the results through any non-European Google domain.

With over 400,000 people having already invoked their right to be delisted in Europe, they would hope that their past acts could be forgotten by all, not just those of their nation. It is unclear as to whether CNIL will make any efforts for Google to more broadly delist people, but with a fine already levied against them, they may be more compliant should the cost get steeper.

Several French Websites Are Taking a Stand against Ad Blockers

Ad blockers are incredibly controversial right now, especially since there are numerous websites out there that are relying on advertising as their main income source. Therefore, it makes sense for these websites to speak out against these browser add-ons, but some of them have begun to take action recently, particularly in France. Indeed, several large media sites have taken a joint stance against ad blockers by asking users to disable them in order to view their content. Some of these media sites include RTL, L’Equipe and Le Monde, but other smaller publishers, as well as the music streaming service Deezer, have also joined this protest.

Companies such as Le Parisien and L’Equipe require users to disable ad blockers completely in order to enjoy access to their websites while others simply ask users nicely to whitelist their publication because they rely financially on advertisements. Trade association Geste announced its plans to create this joint action last year, and it emphasized the fact that “content and services are not free.” Apparently, 27 percent of internet users in France have some form of ad blocking extension installed, which is much more than any other country in the world. Do you use ad-blocking software, and if you do, did you whitelist the websites that you are visiting often?

France to Punish Companies for Refusing to Decrypt Devices

France has been keen on getting ahead of technology when it comes to their laws. From their environmental stances of requiring solar panels on their roofs to making sure that large companies like Facebook protect people’s data sufficiently. In light of recent security concerns though they have moved to punish companies for refusing to decrypt devices.

France recently looked into banning the anonymous network Tor and blocking Wifi during special situations. The latest step in security was to accept an amendment to a bill that would make companies like Apple, who are activly fighting the FBI on modifying their software to break into an iPhone, either pay a fine or face five years in jail if they refused  to hand over encrypted data.

While this is only the bills first reading, if the amendment went ahead companies may feel uneasy doing business in France for fear of either giving out personal information or face a fine. It should be noted though that while Amendment 90 is being considered, it could be worse with amendment 221 going so far as to increase the fine by over 5 times and requesting “all relevant” information, that means more than just the message they are looking for.

Amendment 51 went so far as to state that companies who refused to help authorities would be considered “accomplices to terrorism”, a far stretch from the truth by any imagination. With public support seeming to increase for Apple’s case in the US and companies and figures alike coming out in support of them, accepting such a controversial bill couldn’t help the French government when trying to enlist technology companies help.

France Gives Facebook Deadline to Act on User Data

Facebook is one of the world’s largest social networks, containing information about people from all over the world from their names and dates of births to pet hobbies and the messages they’ve sent to their friends. with companies raising concerns about the new ‘Snooper charter’ in the UK, data security awareness is at an all-time high with countries looking to protect their users from breaches like that affecting the Juniper’s hardware. In the latest move, the French Data protection authority has given Facebook a deadline on when they need to take action on several areas of data security.

The first issue the French data authority had was with Facebook’s tracking of non-users on its site, without any warning or notice to the user. This means that even if you went and viewed a public profile, it was recorded that you had viewed the account. The second issue is related to transferring information abroad, a political minefield when it comes to data security.

The second issue is related to transferring information abroad, a political minefield when it comes to data security. In the next three months, Facebook is to stop transferring some data to the United States. This move is not a surprise given that the EU and the U.S. are currently negotiating the successor to the transatlantic safe harbour pact, an agreement that created a legal framework for transferring information from the EU to America. The previous agreement was struck down following the fear that the U.S. government could use it to spy on EU countries similar to its mass surveillance program.

French Prime Minister Denies Tor and Public Wi-Fi Ban Demand

Earlier this week, leaked documents revealed that French police were pressuring President Francois Hollande (pictured above) to ban the Tor browser and to block public Wi-Fi in a state of emergency. Hollande’s Prime Minister, however, has denied that any such demand was made, and added that the French government would not entertain such a notion in the name of “freedom”.

“A ban of Wi-Fi is not a course of action envisaged,” Prime Minister Manuel Valis said, as reported by English language French Newspaper The Connexion, which adds that France has plans to outlaw Tor, either.

“Internet is a freedom,”Valis added. “[It] is an extraordinary means of communication between people, [and] it is a benefit to the economy.”

Police liaison DLPAJ revealed that law enforcement bodies were also seeking the powers to “require [service] providers to give security forces access codes” for communications applications, such as Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp.

France has been in a state of emergency since the Paris terror attacks that took the lives of 130 people on 13th November, and will run until 26th February, 2016. Valis warned, though, that the period could well be extended on that date, saying, We can’t rule out that possibility, depending on the level of danger, and we have to act with a great deal of responsibility.”

Image courtesy of Business Insider.

 

France Looks to Ban Tor and Public Wi-Fi

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, French police has submitted proposals to ban anonymous web browser Tor and block Wi-Fi networks in public places to President Francois Hollande (pictured), according to French newspaper Le Monde (via Business Insider). La Monde has acquired documents that show the French government is taking the proposal very seriously and it could be included in France’s new anti-terrorism bill, which could come into effect as early as January.

According to Vice Motherboard, French authorities want “to block or forbid communications of the Tor network” and “Forbid free and shared wi-fi connections” when a state of emergency is declared, similar to mobile phone networks being taken down during such a time.

If France does introduce a ban on the Tor browser, it has two options with which to enforce it: a legal ban, which would outlaw its use at risk of prosecution, and a technological ban, which would require the installation of a China-esque national firewall that blocks Tor entry nodes. The latter is sure to worry free speech and civil liberties activists.

The recently imprisoned Silk Road creator, Ross Ulbricht, operated using a combination of Tor and public Wi-Fi in an effort to make himself more difficult to track and monitor.

Windows 3.1 System Shuts Down Paris Airport

Last Saturday, the Orly airport in Paris was forced to ground all flights due to a computer glitch and not just any glitch, but one caused by a system running Windows 3.1 – Yes, the early 1990s operation system.

This glitch was brought to light by French satirical weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné, which reported that the error that cause the shutdown was traced back to a system called DECOR. DECOR is used to communicate Runway Visual Range to pilots during takeoff and landings, which during adverse weather conditions such as the fog at the time, is almost invaluable. Unfortunately, this critical system runs on the once popular Windows operating system from 1992.

The use of a 20-year-old system to run a critical system is just the tip of the iceberg, which was revealed by Alexandre Fiacre, the secretary general of France’s UNSA-IESSA air traffic controller union. “The tools used by Aéroports de Paris controllers run on four different operating systems, that are all between 10 and 20 years old,” he said “Some of ADP’s machines run on UNIX [an operating system favored by universities and start-ups in the ’80s], but also Windows XP”. Frighteningly, ADP is the company responsible for running two of France’s busiest airports: Orly and Charles de Gaulle.

His further statements only serve to make me think flying to France may not be the safest prospect, stating that the dated systems are ill maintained, a lack of staff qualified to maintain them and that they are forced to resort to scouring eBay for the parts they need to keep the systems running. And even the promises made by France’s transport minister that the systems would be replaced by 2017 are doubted by Fiacre, believing 2019 would be the earliest it could be done.

I for one, worry about the safety and security of systems that are used in critical systems, when they continue to be run on poorly maintained, dated systems. I might even be thinking twice about using air travel…

New Literary Vending Machine Dispenses Short Stories

In Grenoble, France, a new type of vending machine has hit the streets, in an attempt to tear its residents away from typical modern distractions during those dull moments.

Currently in a pilot program with 8 of the devices placed across the city, the initiative was set up by French publishing company Short Edition, who told Agence-France Presse:

“The idea came to us in front of a vending machine containing chocolate bars and drinks. We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to occupy these little unproductive moments.”

The vending machine itself is a small black and orange cylinder, sporting 3 buttons used to dispense stories and a slot through which it is delivered. The customer can select the length of the story using the buttons, 1- , 3- and 5-minutes in length, upon which a random original short story is chosen and printed onto 8 centimeter wide paper and dispensed. Additionally, all of the stories dispensed by the machines are written by members of Short Edition’s community, which can raise awareness for the up-and-coming writers looking to get published. And the best part is, that all of this is free, so there is no reason for residents of Grenoble not to take a break from their smartphones and tablets every once in a while.

The question is then, will this new type of vending machine catch on, luring ever more people away from their touchscreens, or be forever consigned to the list of unusual vending machines alongside many Japanese creations?

Image: AFP

Electronic Arts Might Have a Woman on the Cover of FIFA 16 This Year

Electronic Arts is working on the latest FIFA 16 title, as it is every year, but this year should be different. EA has looked into adding female players in the FIFA titles, but this year the company will finally do it. But this comes with another question, which is who will be featured on the regional covers of FIFA 16?

The timing for the big change couldn’t be perfect too. The recent success of the World Cup in Canada and the US team’s victory has fans hyped up for the title. Also, to choose the regional top players, EA has devised a voting system. We see a lot of candidates being proposed in France, Latin America, Mexico and the UK. However, surprisingly, we see only women candidates being proposed for the Australian cover. The only options chosen for Australian are Kyah Simon, Steph Catley and Katrina Gorry.

Last year, FIFA’s cover consisted of two players from the specific region, alongside all-star Lionel Messi. However, this year might be extremely different, given that women’s teams will also be featured. Will we see regional covers consisting of top male and female players appearing alongside? That would be the best option to consider, however EA is said to reveal their plans in the near future. Until then, what do you think? How should EA display this year’s cover?

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information

US, UK, New Zealand and France – Who’s Spying On Who?

Over the past few years, people have been told more and more about countries which have been part of or are actively spying on one another. The biggest revelation coming when it was revealed by Edward Snowden the extent at which the American government was spying not only on foreign entities but also on their own citizens. If the latest reports are correct it would seem France has joined the list of countries spying on foreign entities.

In a report from the L’Observateur, it claims that the french agency DGSE tapped several undersea fiber cables in an attempt to gain access to the information transmitted via them. This action was conducted and completed with cooperation from both the telecom supplier Alcatel-lucent and the operator Orange.

The received information was then shared with GCHQ, the British security agency responsible for digital and online security. If these reports are confirmed it could be a little trouble with GCHQ, given that they also received information from the American’s PRISM program. The PRISM program is reported to have recorded the conversations and communications of several high-ranking French officials including the President himself but also tried to access and gather all information relating to French companies which were valued over $200 million. PRISM then shared the information with the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

It seems that everyone is shocked when they find out  that someone spied on them, but then it all changes when it turns out they were spying on that country at the same time. I’ve lost track of who’s spying on who and sharing that information with what country.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Reuters.

Uber Leaders Arrested In France

Uber has been in the news a lot recently. From having accounts sold on the dark net to being banned in countries due to its drivers behaviors. All of these have been large problems for a company which relies on the public not only using their app but also providing the cars for people to use. Today it all changed as two officials in Uber’s French branch were taken into custody.

Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe GM Pierre-Dimitir Gore-Coty were taken into custody in Paris today, this follows on from a raid that took place in its Paris office back in March. The two executives were charged with different allegations, the first of which being the running of an illegal taxi operation. This is a problem they have encountered in a few countries, with some debating if Uber can be considered a taxi service and others debating if their drivers are contractors or indeed employees.

The second allegation was concealing digital documents following on from the March raid, which in turn was slowing down the investigation.

France already has a strict stance on Uber, banning UberPOP (the equivalent of Uber in France) which allowed people to sign up and become Uber drivers without professional licenses. In response to this ban police have been issuing fines, these fines would be paid for by Uber.

So after being fined and possibly having their vehicles taken away they are still willing to drive for an app which considers them “contractors” (this avoids a lot of legal implications, such as providing health insurance in certain countries). After having two of its senior members taken into custody maybe Uber will have to rethink how it does business, or maybe France will have to go one step further and ban UberPop with a Justice Court ban on the service?

Thank you Tech Crunch for the information.

PayPal’s One Touch Feature Expands to Other Non-US Markets

PayPal introduced the One Touch feature last year when it first rolled out to mobile devices in the US. Retailers who already had a PayPal payment feature could switch automatically and allow customers to make payments without the need of entering their passwords again. This was ideal for people who wanted to quickly check out their products, but it was available just for mobile.

A month ago, PayPal launched the feature for the web in the US. This meant that you could log into a website, place everything you wanted in your basket and then quickly make a PayPal One Touch check-out. While no official stats have been disclosed, the feature seems to be so popular that PayPal now wants to make it available in other markets too.

The company said that it will make their One Touch feature for web available for Canada and the UK at first, but more countries are on the list. The mobile version is said to also be live in Australia, France, Italy, Sweden and Spain, with more countries being considered for the near future.

The move also comes after Apple announced that it is expanding the Apple Pay feature to the UK, so it’s likely that PayPal wants to join its service with Apple’s own payment feature once it gets released in other countries. Still, I think we will have to wait a bit longer for people to actually get comfortable with paying in stores with their iPhones.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Damaged Robots Use Algorithm to Adapt and Keep Moving

We all love robots, they’re awesome creatures that can do fantastic things in today’s, ever-developing world.

Well, now your little friend can take a hit and recover from the damage. It does make me wonder if there could be a doomsday scenario off that.However, it’s functionality that developers and researchers are working towards, rather than world domination.

The system works by using an algorithm before it is “deployed” to create a map of the different ways to behave and the value of each behaviour. Once a robot loses a limb it conducts a self-test to work out a new method of functioning without using that limb or part.

The team who have developed this new system have been led by Jean-Baptiste Mouret at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) in France. The main idea behind the scheme was to create less fragile robots by allowing them to adapt like an injured animal would, finding the best way to continue by adjusting the way they walk.

Having this sort of technology will be extremely useful in many fields, they could be used in space to visit other planets, asteroids and even other lifeforms! If it is damaged in transit or the landing it can recover, otherwise a multi-million-pound mission could be over. It could also be used in the military, deep sea cabling teams and even the medical industry.

Thank you to Geek for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of ZentaOlbaid

Facebook Started Looking for EU Talent by Opening an AI Research Lab in Paris

Are you a Ph.D. graduate or really good and enthusiastic about artificial intelligence? Well, if you live in Europe, you should know that Facebook is opening a new AI research lab in Paris and is looking for the best Europe can offer in the latter area of expertise.

The company also did some research into available talent and noticed that France has quite a reputation in AI research. LeChun, who is said to be a renowned AI researcher, said that one of the key areas AI scientists in the country are focusing on include deep learning and computer vision.

Facebook is said to have already hired six researchers and is looking to hire around 25 more next year. The main focus Facebook is keen on researching into links to image tagging, predictions and face recognition. Aside from the latter, Facebook is also working on their own virtual reality projects and I bet you get really excited when you see the possibilities of merging both research fields.

However, Facebook is not the only company interested in AI. Google, Amazon and other tech companies are researching and looking to acquire AI talented individuals. They may not research the same AI related topics such as Facebook, but they do work on researching methods of processing large amounts of data.

Thank you WJS.D for providing us with this information

Mozilla Protests Against France’s New Mass Surveillance Law

In a post on its blog, Mozilla has expressed its deep concern over the French National Assembly’s Projet de Loi Relatif au Renseignement, a new law which legitimises mass surveillance though the installation of “black boxes” among telecommunications operators devices. Mozilla, developer of the Firefox internet browser, says that “the bill threatens the integrity of Internet infrastructure, user privacy, and data security.”

According to the blog post, the surveillance bill authorises French intelligence services to:

  • Pervasively monitor and store user communications, metadata, and Web activity about all users in France and abroad;
  • Force Internet service providers (and potentially other technology companies) to install “black boxes” in their networks to collect massive amounts of data and use algorithms to search for “suspicious patterns”;
  • Intercept user communications, including reading emails and tapping phones, without meaningful due process or oversight; and
  • compromise Internet infrastructure in France and extraterritorially.

The bill came as a surprise to many, since France was one of the founding members of was a founding member of the Freedom Online Coalition, which was designed to stand against infringement on internet users’ rights, something that this surveillance bill spits upon.

Mozilla ends its blog post by saying, “we call on France, as an international leader in upholding human rights around the world, to set a positive example for other governments rather than continuing on a course of eroding protections for users and undermining the open Internet.”

Image courtesy of FreeVector.

France Starts With Solar Panels or Plants on the Rooftops

The rooftop scenery in France is set to change over the new few years as new buildings built in commercial zones in France will be required by law to either be covered in plants or solar panels.

While originally intended to cover all new buildings, the law was narrowed down to only included new commercial buildings. Intended to implement “green roofs” on all buildings, a term used to describe roofs which are covered in plants and grass, reducing the amount of energy needed to heat a building by insulating the roof (one of the main sources of heat loss in a building) thus keeping the building warm in winter and cool in summer. The new law, brought in on Thursday, allows for only part of the roof to be covered and offers the option to include solar panels, allowing them to generate electricity instead.

This is not the first case of a country enforcing green roofs through the law, Toronto in Canada adopted a law making them mandatory in industrial and residential buildings.

Have you ever seen a green roof? What do you think of them, is this the future of buildings?

Thank you Guardian for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Ezsolar.

New Anti-Drone Drone Developed to Combat Nosy Pilots

As much as drones are really freaking awesome, they are also incredibly problematic for those who wish to keep their airspace clear of nosy drone enthusiasts looking to get a peek over the proverbial garden fence.

But when that garden fence turns into a government building or key landmark, things can get a tad more serious, which has certainly been the case recently in France with anonymous drone pilots causing concern for the authorities by piloting the popular flying machines around some key landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the US Embassy and even a nuclear power plant. Whether the acts are intended for criminal purpose or not, these happenings have led to the creation of an anti-drone drone, which is capable of tracking down the troublesome drones and ultimately locating their pilot, alerting the unwanted presence to the authorities.

Built by the French firm ECA, the craft is able to locate a drone’s pilot in under a minute with a range of up to 700 metres before taking a nice mug shot of the malicious perpetrator and making the work of the police all that much easier.

Although ECA refuses to reveal how the drone can perform such an advanced task, the French government seem to vouch for it after being “fully satisfied” after just two test runs.

Hopefully, this new technology will soon be readily available to all who are in demand of such an impressive bit of kit and perhaps it will make policing drone control a much simpler task.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy Of Mcall

Android Trade-in Program Launches Today at Apple Retail Stores

Today Apple is launching a trade-in program for select non-iPhone smartphones at its Apple Retail Store locations. The program will allow credit towards an immediate purchase of a new iPhone model for users who trade in their select Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry phones.

Apple is aiming to drive more business from people who will trade in their current working devices to get something better. The standard Apple iPhone trade-in program was first started in 2013 and last year opened up to include iPads. Now the program is accepting select Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry devices for in-store credit to users immediately buying an iPhone. The program is so far only available in the US, France, Italy, and the UK.  You can check if your store has the program on its individual store page. The online Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is now open for users to trade in a Windows notebook or desktop for an Apple Store gift card.

Source: 9to5 Mac

Apple Increases Prices of Its Products in Non-US Countries

While Apple has discounted the price of its Apple TV in North America to $69, the company seems to be doing the exact opposite to a lot of its products around the world. This comes as a result of the US Dollar gaining some ground and becoming stronger in the market.

Apple products which suffered an increase in pricing include the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display, and are now more expensive in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Portugal and other countries to reflect currency adjustments.

For example, the Canadian Apple Store shows an increase in unlocked iPhone 6 from between $749-$969 to $839-$1,099, Thunderbolt Displays from $999 to $1,199, and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros from between $2,099-$2,699 to $2,449-$3,049. Apple also upped the price on its 15-inch MacBook Pro in France, with the base model now starting at €2,249 up from €1,999, and the higher-spec model up to €2,799 from €2,499.

Apple is said to continue to make the adjustments in order to ensure that its products and services are as consistently priced as possible throughout the world. However, in some cases, international prices will remain higher than North America prices as a ‘safety’ against currency fluctuations.

Thank you MacRumors for providing us with this information

Apple Approves ‘Je Suis Charlie’ App in 1 Hour After Tim Cook E-Mail

Apple is notoriously famous for its lengthy App Store approval process. Some apps can take weeks to get approved for sale on the store. Well one new app got approved in just an hour after the developers e-mailed Tim Cook.

The app in question has been created for the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ campaign in support of the victims of last week’s terrorist attack in Paris. It simply allows users to tag their location on the map as a supporter of the campaign.

The developers apparently e-mailed Cook, Apple’s CEO, and they received a response from an employee in 10 minutes. The company promised that it would be reviewed in an hour and voila – it’s now available to download.

Source: 9to5Mac

Apple and Google Show Support for ‘Je Suis Charlie’

Among many tech companies showing their respect for the victims of Wednesday’s shooting at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris, Apple and Google have made modifications to their websites in support of those affected.

As you can see above, Apple has included the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ message on their French homepage, while Google has posted this black ribbon as can be seen bellow on its homepage across Europe.

“Remembering the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo.”

Google also has a considerable presence in the world of journalism and news, and has also posted the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ message on their Google News France homepage.

Source: Google, Apple

Successful Delivery Drone Test in France

French express delivery company GeoPost has successfully tested a delivery drone for same-day parcel orders. The drone trial is part of GeoPost’s GeoDrone project, in partnership Atechsys, and took place at its drone delivery testing centre Centre d’Etudes et d’Essais pour Modèles Autonomes.

The drone delivered a parcel with 40 x 30 x 20 cm (16 x 12 x 8 in) dimensions and weighing 4kg weight within a 12 mile radius. The test involved an automated take-off, flight, successful landing and delivery, ending with a return to base.

GeoPost hopes that further refinements to its drone technology will mean being able to access more remote areas, such as mountains, rural areas, and even islands.

Source: Gizmag

Blogger Fined In French Courts For Leaving Negative Restaurant Review

When electronics company MediaBridge threatened a customer with legal action who left a negative Amazon review about one of their products, the internet went a bit nuts. Within a few short days Amazon had banned MediaBridge from selling its products directly on Amazon, most MediaBridge products on most big retail sites (mainly Amazon) had been “trashed” with negative reviews from people who hadn’t even bought the products and the brand name of the company had been totally tarnished. If businesses learnt anything from that incident it was not to mess with the power of the consumer: reviews exist for a reason and without negative reviews positive reviews would simply not exist. It appears one business didn’t get the memo to not sue customers who leave negative reviews. In France the restaurant chain Il Giardino took a French blogger to court after she left a negative review which became prominent in Google’s search results. Il Giardino claim that the review was harming business and that it should be removed.

The result of the court case was that Il Giardino won a Pyrrhic victory. The French blogger was forced to pay a €1500 fine and €1360 of court costs. The blogger was also forced to edit the title of the blog post reviewing Il Giardino which had become so popular. In fact the review was not too different to many other Il Giardino reviews except with a humorous spin. However, as expected the internet backlash has been huge. As the above image shows, it is like MediaBridge round two. Hundreds of angry internet users (who have undoubtedly never visited the restaurant in question) have jumped to write negative reviews about the restaurant which is doing a lot more damage than the single negative review that they managed to have edited.

Yet again the decision to sue a customer for a negative reviewer has backfired hugely. In some cases negative reviews left by consumers may indeed be incorrect or based on false information, but it certainly seems that suing the reviewers is not the way forward.

Source: Eater.com

Images courtesy of Google (Maps and Reviews)

Amazon Avoids French Law Prohibiting Free Shipping With 1 Cent Charge

A law in France that came into effect recently has prohibited online-only retailers from offering free shipping and discounts to customers. The law, described as “anti-Amazon”, is hoped to bring back a competitive advantage to “bricks and mortar” book stores over online giants like Amazon. With the law in place Amazon have now complied with the new guidelines, but have arguably defied “the spirit” of the law. Instead of offering free shipping Amazon will now charge a measly €0.01 shipping for its customers. French Amazon Prime members will still be entitled to free next-day shipping because they have technically already paid for the shipping service they get in a subscription based model. For Amazon the new law is still a big let-down, they are not allowed to offer 5% discounts on books (the maximum amount allowed by French law), something that bricks and mortar stores can do even if they have a large online presence. Bricks and mortar stores can also offer free delivery. Amazon are expected to appeal the decision to EU courts who are likely to see the new law as anti-competitive.

Source: Engadget

Image courtesy of Goodman

Windows 8.1 Overtakes Windows XP! But Only In France

Windows 8.1 has done fairly well over the past year managing continued growth in most markets despite the relative failure of Windows 8. In France Windows 8.1 achieved a landmark objective this month as it overtook Windows XP in uptake. Windows 8.1 managed 8.83% of the market and Windows 8 managed 8.5% giving a combined market share of 17.33%. Windows XP has 8.55% of the market putting it fourth, behind Windows 8.1, for the first time. Windows 7 still dominates with a hefty 48.91% of the desktop OS market in France.

Since April 8th 2014 Microsoft’s Windows XP no longer receives updates or security patches meaning all XP users are technically vulnerable unless they purchase extended support packages from Microsoft. Does Windows 8.1 have what it takes to ring the final death knell for Windows XP?

Source: Softpedia

Image courtesy of StatCounter