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US government funds social network snooping: Citizens under scrutiny The US government is funding research into social networking sites and how to gather and store personal data published on them, according to the New Scientist magazine.
At the same time, US lawmakers are attempting to force the social networking sites themselves to control the amount and kind of information that people, particularly children, can put on the sites. (The Register)
EU gets a new arrest warrant but safeguard is blocked AN arrest warrant covering 32 crimes in the European Union was approved by the European Parliament yesterday but it blocked a habeas corpus safeguard stopping abuse of the new system by over-zealous or corrupt magistrates.
Labour and Tory MEPs voted against an amendment by Sir Neil MacCormack, a Scottish nationalist MEP and a law professor, aimed at ensuring that Britons do not languish for months or years in foreign jails but several Euro-MPs defied party whips on a point of principle.
The amendment, supported by 155 Green and Liberal MEPs across the EU, proposed a "European habeas corpus Order" curbing excesses by judicial authorities and compelling them to bring suspects to trial within 110 days or free them.
Sir Neil said the EU had muddied the waters by equating allegations with hard proof. "They seem to think that prosecutors never make mistakes. Well they do. It's most urgent that we have remedies to prevent abuses of power," he said. (London Telegraph)
Amateur 'video bloggers' under threat from EU broadcast rules THE Government is seeking to prevent an EU directive that could extend broadcasting regulations to the internet, hitting popular video-sharing websites such as YouTube.
The European Commission proposal would require websites and mobile phone services that feature video images to conform to standards laid down in Brussels.
Ministers fear that the directive would hit not only successful sites such as YouTube but also amateur “video bloggers” who post material on their own sites. Personal websites would have to be licensed as a “television-like service”.
Viviane Reding, the Media Commissioner, argues that the purpose is simply to set minimum standards on areas such as advertising, hate speech and the protection of children.
But Shaun Woodward, the Broadcasting Minister, described the draft proposal as catastrophic. He said: “Supposing you set up a website for your amateur rugby club, uploaded some images and added a link advertising your local sports shop. You would then be a supplier of moving images and need to be licensed and comply with the regulations.”
The draft rules, known as the Television Without Frontiers directive, extend the definition of broadcasting to cover services such as video-on-demand or mobile phone clips. (London Times)
US could access EU data retention information: Bilateral agreements on US access to member states' information on phone calls and emails are already in place US authorities can get access to EU citizens' data on phone calls, sms' and emails, giving a recent EU data-retention law much wider-reaching consequences than first expected, reports Swedish daily Sydsvenskan.
The EU data retention bill, passed in February after much controversy and with implementation tabled for late 2007, obliges telephone operators and internet service providers to store information on who called who and who emailed who for at least six months, aimed at fighting terrorism and organised crime.
A week later on 2-3 March, EU and US representatives met in Vienna for an informal high level meeting on freedom, security and justice where the US expressed interest in the future storage of information. (EU Observer)
US gov demands Google search records: Fishing expedition The US Department of Justice has taken Google to court, demanding it hand over all searches made in a one week period. It's a fishing expedition, unconnected with any ongoing criminal prosecution. The DOJ wants the information to back up its attempt to revive an anti-pornography law derailed by the Supreme Court two years ago.
The subpoena was issued last year, and Google refused the request - but we only learn of the case week, via a San Jose Mercury News report. The DoJ has now ordered a Federal Judge to force Google to comply.
It's a step too far even for a company with a fast and loose attitude to privacy.
Protest as Harassment: The new crime bill permits the police to stop almost any demonstration. It was the greatest legal victory against corporate power in living memory. Last week, two penniless activists, Dave Morris and Helen Steel, persuaded the European Court of Human Rights that Britain’s libel laws, under which they had been sued by McDonald’s, had denied them their right of free speech. The law will probably have to be changed, depriving the rich and powerful of their most effective means of stifling public protest. So why aren’t they hopping mad about it? The company which sued Dave and Helen will say only that “the world has moved on … and so has McDonald’s.”(1) The Confederation of British Industry, so quick to denounce the legal rulings it doesn’t like, hasn’t uttered a word.
They don’t care, and they don’t need to. You can see why by reading the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which has now passed through the Commons for the third time. What civil law once gave them, criminal law now offers instead.
There has been a great deal of disquiet about this bill, but not because of its effects on protest. The public complaints have concentrated on the clause banning “hatred against persons on religious grounds”.(2) This is important, but not nearly as important as the parts almost everyone has missed. Once this bill becomes law, it could be used to ban people from handing out leaflets to customers entering McDonald’s, whether their contents are defamatory or not. (London Guardian)
Postage Is Due for Companies Sending E-Mail Companies will soon have to buy the electronic equivalent of a postage stamp if they want to be certain that their e-mail will be delivered to many of their customers.
America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered. The senders must promise to contact only people who have agreed to receive their messages, or risk being blocked entirely.
The Internet companies say that this will help them identify legitimate mail and cut down on junk e-mail, identity-theft scams and other scourges that plague users of their services. They also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted. (New York Times)
Is the Internet dead? At a recent Wall Street Journal conference at New York's World Trade Center, two telephone company CEOs actually said the Internet is "dead." I want to assure you that it is not -- bogging and collapsing maybe, but not dead. Here come the Internet's next generations.
CEO Bill Esrey talked about Sprint's ION. With acronyms including SONet, ATM, and DSL, ION will become the kind of network that Sprint customers really want, not the old Internet, which is "dead" really.
CEO Rich Notebaert, who once wrote an op-ed in the Journal saying the Internet is "dead," scoffed at the idea that Ameritech and other telephone companies "don't get it." And then he actually let it slip again -- I was just 15 feet away -- and said the Internet is "dead." (CNN)
RIAA wants the Internet shut down: Interesting argument of the day ONE OF THE lawyers involved in defending cases bought against people by the RIAA claims that if the music industry wins a crucial case, the Internet will have to be switched off.
Speaking on the DefectiveByDesign anti-DRM campaign site, Ray Beckerman said the case of Electro vs. Barker has become very important for the web's future.
Barker was being defended by Beckerman who made a motion to dismiss the case because the RIAA had forgot to provide any acts or dates or times of copyright infringement as the law normally requires. (The Inquirer)
US government wants bloggers to register: Silent majority must become known THE US GOVERNMENT is planning to force bloggers who criticise Congress and organise grassroot causes to register themselves or face jail time.
According to GrassrootsFreedom.com, under Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, bloggers who have more than 500 readers will have to register and report quarterly to Congress just like lobbiests or go to jail. (The Inquirer)
Raw obtains CENTCOM email to bloggers An email sent by United States Central Command (CENTCOM) to bloggers about the "global war on terror" (GWOT) has been obtained by RAW STORY.
CENTCOM announced earlier this year that a team of employees would be "[engaging] bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information." (The Raw Story)
Congress may consider mandatory ISP snooping: It didn't take long for the idea of forcing Internet providers to retain records of their users' activities to gain traction in the U.S. Congress Last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a Republican, gave a speech saying that data retention by Internet service providers is an "issue that must be addressed." Child pornography investigations have been "hampered" because data may be routinely deleted, Gonzales warned.
Now, in a demonstration of bipartisan unity, a Democratic member of the Congressional Internet Caucus is preparing to introduce an amendment--perhaps during a U.S. House of Representatives floor vote next week--that would make such data deletion illegal.
Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette's proposal (click for PDF) says that any Internet service that "enables users to access content" must permanently retain records that would permit police to identify each user. The records could not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed. (CNet News)
The End of the Internet? The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.
Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.
Under the plans they are considering, all of us--from content providers to individual users--would pay more to surf online, stream videos or even send e-mail. Industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing "platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access that would set limits on the number of downloads, media streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received. (The Nation)
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