Archive for the ‘EU’ Category

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nationale The French parliament has agreed a new law requiring age verification on pornographic websites to prevent access by children under 18. The censorship law has the support of President Emmanuel Macron, who called for such a measure in January.The French law gives sites discretion to decide how to perform that age verification.

The law gives French regulators the power to create a blacklist for overseas sites that don’t comply with the new rules. If a site doesn’t respond to a warning from French officials, they can ask the Paris Court of Justice to send an order to telecom operators to block the access to these sites from France.

A major sticking point in the UK’s failed age verification law was privacy. Critics pointed out that it wasn’t a great idea to force adult consumers to turn over their credit card numbers to porn sites that might not have the strongest privacy protections. It’s not clear what privacy protections will be offered to consumers under the French law.In order to enforce the law, the French audiovisual regulator CSA will be granted new powers to audit and sanction companies that do not comply — sanctions could go as far as blocking access to the websites in France with a court order.

The Senate has already voted on the bill. Following an agreement between senators and lawmakers from the lower house National Assembly, a final vote will be held again in the Senate where the bill is expected to pass.

European Court if Human Rights fuinds that Russian internet censors were wrong to block information about TOR and VPNs.

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echr In 2015, a a human rights organization that monitors web-censorship and pirate site blockades in Russia was itself ordered to be blocked by a local court for offering advice on how to use tools including Tor and VPNs.

The European Court of Human Rights has now ruled that the order to disable access to that advice was illegal and a violation of the freedom to receive and impart information.

ECHR Russsia-based project RosComSvoboda advocates human rights and freedoms on the Internet. Part of that work involves monitoring and publishing data on website blockades and providing assistance to Internet users and site operators who are wrongfully subjected to restrictions.

In 2015, it found itself in a battle of its own when a local court ordered its advice portal to be blocked by local ISPs. RosComSvoboda’s crime was to provide information on tools that can circumvent censorship. While it didn’t offer any for direct download, the resource offered advice on VPNs , proxies, TOR, The Pirate Bay’s Pirate Browser, I2P and Opera’s turbo mode.

According to the ruling by the Anapa Town Court, the resource allowed people to access content banned in Russia so it too became prohibited content. Subsequently, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor contacted RosComSvoboda with an order to remove its anti-censorship tools information page or face being completely blocked.

The site’s operator complied and filed an appeal against the decision, arguing that providing information about such tools isn’t illegal under Russian law. The Krasnodar Regional Court rejected the appeal without addressing this defense so in 2016, RosComSvoboda’s operator, German national Gregory Engels, took his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

This week the ECHR handed down its decision, siding with Engels’ assertion that the order for him to remove the content from his site was in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers, the Article reads.

The ECHR found that the action against Engels breached Article 10. It also declared a breach of Article 13 due to a failure by the Russian court to involve him in the blocking action or consider the merits of his arguments on appeal. The Russian state was ordered to pay 10,000 euros in damages to Engels plus interest.

French constitutional council strikes down recent internet censorship law passed by parliament

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Conseil Constitutionnel logo French internet censorship law suuposedly targeted at hate speech on online platforms has been widely deemed as unconstitutional by France’s Constitutional Council, the top authority in charge of ruling whether a new law complies with the constitution. It won’t come into effect as expected in the coming weeks.The original law said that online platforms should remove within 24 hours illicit content that has been flagged. Otherwise, companies will have to pay hefty fines every time they infringe the law. For social media companies, it could have potentially cost them many millions of dollars per year.

And of course illicit content means anything that would be considered threating or insulting, such as death threats, discrimination, Holocaust denial etc.

But the Constitutional Council says that such a technical list makes it difficult to rule what is illicit content and what is not. Due to the short window of time, online platforms can’t check with a court whether a tweet, a post, a photo or a blog post is deemed as illicit or not. When you combine that with potential fines, the Constitutional Council fears that online platforms will censor content a bit too quickly.

The government said it would respond to the criticisism and change the law accordingly.

An irresponsible judgement about GDPR or an accurate judgement based on an irresponsible law…

Court tells grandma that she should have registered as a data controller and produced a risk assessment document before posting a picture of her grandchildren on social media.

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gdpr logo The GDPR is a reprehensible and bureaucratic law that is impossible to fully comply with, and dictates an onerous process of risk assessments that are enforced by inspection and audits. It is not the sort of thing that you would wish on your grandmother. So the law makers built in an important exclusion such that the law does not apply to the processing of personal data by a natural person in the exercise of a purely personal or household activity.But now a Dutch court has weighed in and decided that this important exclusion does not applying to posting family pictures on the likes of Twitter.

The court got involved in a family dispute between a grandmother who wanted to post pictures of her grand children on social against the wishes of the mother.

The court decided that the posting of pictures for public consumption on social media went beyond ‘purely personal or household activity’. The details weren’t fully worked out, but the court judgement suggested that they may have taken a different view had the pictures been posted to a more restricted audience, say to Facebook friends only. But saying that such nuance doesn’t apply to Twitter where posts are by default public.

The outcome of the case was that the grandmother was therefore in the wrong and has been ordered to remove the pictures from her social media accounts.

But the horrible outcome of this court judgement is that anyone posting pictures of private individuals to Twitter must now register as a data controller, so requiring submission to the full bureaucratic nightmare that is the GDPR.

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EU flag Eight major mobile carriers have agreed to share customer location data with the European Commission in a bid to track the spread of COVID-19.The announcement arrives after Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, Telenor, Telia, A1 Telekom Austria and Vodafone discussed tracking options with European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Thierry Breton.

Government officials attempted to allay the fears of critics by noting all collected data will be anonymized and destroyed once the pandemic is squashed.

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european commission logo The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications.The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging.

The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology. Bart Preneel, cryptography expert at the University of Leuven explained:

It’s like Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage but it’s based on an encryption protocol that’s very innovative. Because it’s open-source, you can check what’s happening under the hood.

Promoting the app, however, could antagonize the law enforcement community. It will underline the hypocrisy of  Officials in Brussels, Washington and other capitals have been putting strong pressure on Facebook and Apple to allow government agencies to access to encrypted messages; if these agencies refuse, legal requirements could be introduced that force firms to do just that.American, British and Australian officials have published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in October, asking that he call off plans to encrypt the company’s messaging service. Dutch Minister for Justice and Security Ferd Grappehaus told POLITICO last April that the EU needs to look into legislation allowing governments to access encrypted data.

The German implementation of link tax from the new EU Copyright Directive is even more extreme than the directive.

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german gvernment justice ministry logo Germany was a major force behind the EU’s disgraceful copyright directive passed last year. It is perhaps no surprise that proposed implementation into German law is even more extreme than the directive.In particular the link tax has been drafted so that it is nearly impossible to refer to a press article without an impossibly expensive licence to use the newspaper’s content.

The former Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda has picked out the main bad ideas on Twitter.Under the German proposals, now up for public consultation, only single words or very short extracts of a press article can be quoted without a license. Specifically, free quotation is limited to:

  • the headline
  • a small-format preview image with a resolution of 128-by-128 pixels
  • a sequence of sounds, images or videos with a duration of up to three seconds

Techdirt explains:

The proposal states that the new ancillary copyright does not apply to hyperlinks, or to private or non-commercial use of press publishers’ materials by a single user. However, as we know from the tortured history of the Creative Commons non-commercial license, it is by no means clear what non-commercial means in practice.

Press publishers are quite likely to insist that posting memes on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter — all undoubtedly commercial in nature — is not allowed in general under the EU Copyright Directive.

We won’t know until top EU courts rule on the details, which will take years. In the meantime, online services will doubtless prefer to err on the side of caution, keen to avoid the risk of heavy fines. It is likely they will configure their automated filters to block any use of press publishers’ material that goes beyond the extremely restrictive limits listed above. Moreover, this will probably apply across the EU, not just in Germany, since setting up country-by-country upload filters is more expensive. Far easier to roll out the most restrictive rules across the whole region.

 

 

UK Government wisely decides not to adopt the EU’s disgraceful Copyright Directive that requires YouTube and Facebook to censor people’s uploads if they contain even a snippet of copyrighted material.

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brexit celebration Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore has said that the UK will not implement the EU Copyright Directive after the country leaves the EU.Several companies have criticised the disgraceful EU law, which would hold them accountable for not removing copyrighted content uploaded by users.

EU member states have until 7 June 2021 to implement the new reforms, but the UK will have left the EU by then.

It was Article 13 which prompted fears over the future of memes and GIFs – stills, animated or short video clips that go viral – since they mainly rely on copyrighted scenes from TV and film. Critics noted that Article 13 would make it nearly impossible to upload even the tiniest part of a copyrighted work to Facebook, YouTube, or any other site.Other articles give the news industry total copyright control of news material that people have previously been widely used in people’s blogs and posts commenting on the news.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticised the law in March, claiming that it was terrible for the internet.Google had campaigned fiercely against the changes, arguing they would harm Europe’s creative and digital industries and change the web as we know it. YouTube boss Susan Wojcicki had also warned that users in the EU could be cut off from the video platform.

Supreme Irony..

Posted: 23 January, 2020 in EU, Internet
Tags: , , ,

The lawmaker behind EU a new copyright law that massively advantages US companies now whinges about the US domination of the internet.

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exel voss The EU is a bizarre institution. It tries to resolve fairness issues, social ills and international competition rules, all by dreaming up reams of red tape without any consideration of where it will lead.Well red tape ALWAYS works to the advantage of the largest players who have the scale and wealth to take the onerous and expensive rules in their stride. The smaller players end up being pushed out of the market.

And in the case of the internet the largest players are American (or more latterly Chinese) and indeed they have proven to best able to take advantage of European rules. And of course the smaller players are European and are indeed being pushed out of the market.

Axel Voss is one of the worst examples of European politicians dreaming up red tape that advantages the USA. His latest effort was to push through an upcoming European law that will require social media companies to pre-censor up loaded content for copyright infringement. Of course the only way this can be done practically is to have some mega artificial intelligence effort to try and automatically scan all content for video, text and audio that may be copyrighted. And guess who are the only companies in the world that have the technology to perform such a feat…well the US and Chinese internet giants of course.

Now out of supreme irony Voss himself has had a whinge about the American and Chinese domination of the internet.

In a long whinge about the lack of European presence in the internet industry he commented on Europe’s dependence on US companies. If Google decides to switch off all its services tomorrow, I would like to know what will be left in Europe, said Voss, painting a gloomy picture in which there are no search engines, no browsers and no Google Maps.

.. Read the full article from euractiv.com

An example for the religious world.

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ireland government logo Irish Justice minister Charlie Flanagan has announced the commencement of the Blasphemy (Abolition of Offences and Related Matters) Act 2019 .The act was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas before the Christmas recess, and was signed by the President on 21st December. The Minister said:

This act abolishes the offence of blasphemy, and reflects the outcome of last year’s referendum in which the people approved removing the Constitutional requirement that blasphemy be a criminal offence, by a majority in each of the 40 constituencies, and by 64.85% of voters nationally.

He said that the very notion of criminalising blasphemy, with the risk of a chilling effect on free expression and public debate, has no place in the Constitution or the laws of a modern republic. He said the right to express differing viewpoints in a forthright and critical manner is a right to be cherished and upheld. He added:

It may seem abstract to devote time to abolishing an offence which has not been prosecuted in practice. But it must be remembered that a number of countries still actively prosecute charges of blasphemy. Imprisonment

Those charges can carry severe penalties, including terms of imprisonment, brutal physical punishments, and even the death penalty. They have also been applied in a discriminatory manner to justify the persecution of dissidents, the socially excluded, or religious minorities.

Such countries justify those regimes by referring to the continuance of blasphemy as a criminal offence in Ireland. That has always been a very disturbing reality. This act not only addresses the situation, but ensures that Ireland should never again be cited as an exemplar of such outdated concepts. Public showing

The act also amends the Censorship of Films Acts, to remove blasphemous content as a ground for refusing or restricting the public showing, or advertising of, a film.