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Paul Merrell

Google Caves to Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service, Agrees to Pay Fine - nsnbc intern... - 0 views

  • Google ultimately caved to Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service, agreeing to pay $7.8 million (438 million rubles) for violating antitrust laws. The corporate Colossus will also pay two other fines totaling an additional $18,000 (1 million rubles) for failing to comply with past orders issued by state regulators. Last year Google caved to similar demands by the European Union.
  • In August 2016 Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service responded to a complaint by Russian search engine operator Yandex and fined the U.S.-based Google 438 million rubles for abusing its dominant market position to force manufacturers to make Google applications the default services on devices using Android.

    Regulators set the fine at 9 percent of Google’s reported profits on the Russian market in 2014, plus inflation. Similar to the case against the European Union Google challenged the penalty in several appellate courts before finally agreeing this week to meet the government’s demands.

    The corporation also agreed to stop requiring manufacturers to install Google services as the default applications on Android-powered devices. The agreement is valid for six years and nine months, Russia’s Antimonopoly Service reported.

    Last year Google, after a protracted battle, caved to similar antitrust regulations by the European Union, but the internet giant has also come under fire elsewhere. In 2015 Australian treasurer Joe Hockey implied Google in his list of corporate tax thieves. In January 2016 British lawmakers decided to fry Google over tax evasion. Google and taxes were compared to the Bermuda Triangle.

    One year ago the dispute between the European Union’s competition watchdog and Google, culminated in the European Commission formally charging Google with abusing the dominant position of its Android mobile phone operating system, having launched an investigation in April 2015.

Paul Merrell

EU-US Personal Data Privacy Deal 'Cracked Beyond Repair' - 0 views

  • Privacy Shield is the proposed new deal between the EU and the US that is supposed to safeguard all personal data on EU citizens held on computer systems in the US from being subject to mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency. The data can refer to any transaction — web purchases, cars or clothing — involving an EU citizen whose data is held on US servers.

    Privacy groups say Privacy Shield — which replaces the Safe Harbor agreement ruled unlawful in October 2015 — does not meet strict EU standard on the use of personal data. Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) told Sputnik:

    “We consider that the shield is cracked beyond repair and is unlikely to stand scrutiny by the European Court of Justice. A fundamental problem remains that the US side of the shield is made of clay, not iron.”

  • The agreement has been under negotiation for months ever since the because the European Court of Justice ruled in October 2015 that the previous EU-US data agreement — Safe Harbor — was invalid. The issue arises from the strict EU laws — enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — to the privacy of their personal data.
  • The Safe Harbor agreement was a quasi-judicial understanding that the US undertook to agree that it would ensure that EU citizens’ data on US servers would be held and protected under the same restrictions as it would be under EU law and directives. The data covers a huge array of information — from Internet and communications usage, to sales transactions, import and exports.
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  • The case arose when Maximillian Schrems, a Facebook user, lodged a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, arguing that — in the light of the revelations by ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden of mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) — the transfer of data from Facebook’s Irish subsidiary onto the company’s servers in the US does not provide sufficient protection of his personal data.

    The court ruled that: “the Safe Harbor Decision denies the national supervisory authorities their powers where a person calls into question whether the decision is compatible with the protection of the privacy and of the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.”

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    Off we go for another trip to the European Court of Justice.
Paul Merrell

EU okays 'renewed' data transfer deal, lets US firms move Europeans' private info overs... - 0 views

  • The EU has accepted a new version of the so-called Private Shield law that would allow US companies to transfer Europeans’ private data to servers across the ocean. The EU struck down the previously-reached agreement over US surveillance concerns.

  • The majority of EU members voted in support of the Privacy Shield pact with the US that had been designed to replace its predecessor, the Safe Harbor system, which the highest EU court ruled “invalid” in October 2015 following Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass US surveillance.
  • The newly-adopted agreement will come into force starting Tuesday.

    The deal, which is said to be aimed at protecting European citizens’ private data, defines the rules of how the sharing of information should be handled. It gives legal ground for tech companies such as Google, Facebook and MasterCard to move Europeans’ personal data to US servers bypassing an EU ban on moving personal information out from the 28-nation bloc. The agreement covers everything from private data about employees to detailed records of what people do online.

    “For the first time, the US has given the EU written assurance that the access of public authorities for law enforcement and national security will be subject to clear limitations, safeguards and oversight mechanisms and has ruled out indiscriminate mass surveillance of European citizens' data,” the statement said.

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  • The new deal now grants greater guarantees to European customers and provides “accessible and affordable redress mechanisms” in case any disputes concerning US spying arise. An ombudsman will also be created within the US State Department to review complaints filed by EU citizens.
  • Privacy Shield, however, has also faced sharp criticism. Concerns about extensive US spying activity were raised in Europe after whistleblower Edward Snowden released a trove of controversial material on Washington’s surveillance practices.

    Digital rights group Privacy International (PI) said the newly-adopted pact had been drawn up on a "flawed premise" and “remains full of holes and hence offers limited protection to personal data”. 

Paul Merrell

Microsoft to host data in Germany to evade US spying | Naked Security - 0 views

  • Microsoft's new plan to keep the US government's hands off its customers' data: Germany will be a safe harbor in the digital privacy storm.

    Microsoft on Wednesday announced that beginning in the second half of 2016, it will give foreign customers the option of keeping data in new European facilities that, at least in theory, should shield customers from US government surveillance.

    It will cost more, according to the Financial Times, though pricing details weren't forthcoming.

    Microsoft Cloud - including Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online - will be hosted from new datacenters in the German regions of Magdeburg and Frankfurt am Main.

    Access to data will be controlled by what the company called a German data trustee: T-Systems, a subsidiary of the independent German company Deutsche Telekom.

    Without the permission of Deutsche Telekom or customers, Microsoft won't be able to get its hands on the data. If it does get permission, the trustee will still control and oversee Microsoft's access.

  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella dropped the word "trust" into the company's statement:

    Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every individual on the planet to achieve more. Our new datacenter regions in Germany, operated in partnership with Deutsche Telekom, will not only spur local innovation and growth, but offer customers choice and trust in how their data is handled and where it is stored.

  • On Tuesday, at the Future Decoded conference in London, Nadella also announced that Microsoft would, for the first time, be opening two UK datacenters next year. The company's also expanding its existing operations in Ireland and the Netherlands.

    Officially, none of this has anything to do with the long-drawn-out squabbling over the transatlantic Safe Harbor agreement, which the EU's highest court struck down last month, calling the agreement "invalid" because it didn't protect data from US surveillance.

    No, Nadella said, the new datacenters and expansions are all about giving local businesses and organizations "transformative technology they need to seize new global growth."

    But as Diginomica reports, Microsoft EVP of Cloud and Enterprise Scott Guthrie followed up his boss’s comments by saying that yes, the driver behind the new datacenters is to let customers keep data close:

    We can guarantee customers that their data will always stay in the UK. Being able to very concretely tell that story is something that I think will accelerate cloud adoption further in the UK.

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  • Microsoft and T-Systems' lawyers may well think that storing customer data in a German trustee data center will protect it from the reach of US law, but for all we know, that could be wishful thinking.

    Forrester cloud computing analyst Paul Miller:

    To be sure, we must wait for the first legal challenge. And the appeal. And the counter-appeal.

    As with all new legal approaches, we don’t know it is watertight until it is challenged in court. Microsoft and T-Systems’ lawyers are very good and say it's watertight. But we can be sure opposition lawyers will look for all the holes.

    By keeping data offshore - particularly in Germany, which has strong data privacy laws - Microsoft could avoid the situation it's now facing with the US demanding access to customer emails stored on a Microsoft server in Dublin.

    The US has argued that Microsoft, as a US company, comes under US jurisdiction, regardless of where it keeps its data.

  • Running away to Germany isn't a groundbreaking move; other US cloud services providers have already pledged expansion of their EU presences, including Amazon's plan to open a UK datacenter in late 2016 that will offer what CTO Werner Vogels calls "strong data sovereignty to local users."

    Other big data operators that have followed suit: Salesforce, which has already opened datacenters in the UK and Germany and plans to open one in France next year, as well as new EU operations pledged for the new year by NetSuite and Box.

    Can Germany keep the US out of its datacenters? Can Ireland?

    Time, and court cases, will tell.

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    The European Community's Court of Justice decision in the Safe Harbor case --- and Edward Snowden --- are now officially downgrading the U.S. as a cloud data center location. NSA is good business for Europeans looking to displace American cloud service providers, as evidenced by Microsoft's decision. The legal test is whether Microsoft has "possession, custody, or control" of the data. From the info given in the article, it seems that Microsoft has done its best to dodge that bullet by moving data centers to Germany and placing their data under the control of a European company. Do ownership of the hardware and profits from their rent mean that Microsoft still has "possession, custody, or control" of the data? The fine print of the agreement with Deutsche Telekom and the customer EULAs will get a thorough going over by the Dept. of Justice for evidence of Microsoft "control" of the data. That will be the crucial legal issue. The data centers in Germany may pass the test. But the notion that data centers in the UK can offer privacy is laughable; the UK's legal authority for GCHQ makes it even easier to get the data than the NSA can in the U.S.  It doesn't even require a court order. 
Paul Merrell

Spies and internet giants are in the same business: surveillance. But we can stop them ... - 0 views

  • On Tuesday, the European court of justice, Europe’s supreme court, lobbed a grenade into the cosy, quasi-monopolistic world of the giant American internet companies.

    It did so by declaring invalid a decision made by the European commission in 2000 that US companies complying with its “safe harbour privacy principles” would be allowed to transfer personal data from the EU to the US.

    This judgment may not strike you as a big deal. You may also think that it has nothing to do with you.

    Wrong on both counts, but to see why, some background might be useful. The key thing to understand is that European and American views about the protection of personal data are radically different. We Europeans are very hot on it, whereas our American friends are – how shall I put it? – more relaxed.

  • <p>Given that personal data constitutes the fuel on which internet companies such as Google and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/facebook" data-link-name="auto-linked-tag" data-component="auto-linked-tag" class=" u-underline">Facebook</a> run, this meant that their exponential growth in the US market was greatly facilitated by that country’s tolerant data-protection laws. Once these companies embarked on global expansion, however, things got stickier. It was clear that the exploitation of personal data that is the core business of these outfits would be more difficult in Europe, especially given that their cloud-computing architectures involved constantly shuttling their users’ data between server farms in different parts of the world.<br></p>
    <div id="dfp-ad--inline1" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline1 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline1" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline1" data-name="inline1" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><div id="dfp-ad--inline2" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline2 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline2" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline2" data-name="inline2" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><div id="dfp-ad--inline3" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline3 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline3" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline3" data-name="inline3" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><div id="dfp-ad--inline4" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline4 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline4" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline4" data-name="inline4" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><div id="dfp-ad--inline5" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline5 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline5" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline5" data-name="inline5" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><div id="dfp-ad--inline6" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline6 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline6" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline6" data-name="inline6" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><div id="dfp-ad--inline7" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline7 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline7" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline7" data-name="inline7" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><div id="dfp-ad--inline8" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline8 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline8" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline8" data-name="inline8" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><div id="dfp-ad--inline9" class="js-ad-slot ad-slot ad-slot--dfp ad-slot--inline9 ad-slot--inline" data-link-name="ad slot inline9" data-test-id="ad-slot-inline9" data-name="inline9" data-mobile="1,1|300,250" data-mobile-landscape="1,1|300,250" data-tablet="1,1|300,250"></div><p>Since Europe is a big market and millions of its citizens wished to use Facebook <em>et al</em>, the European commission obligingly came up with the “safe harbour” idea, which allowed companies complying with its <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Safe_Harbor_Privacy_Principles" data-link-name="in body link" data-component="in-body-link" class=" u-underline">seven principles</a> to process the personal data of European citizens. The circle having been thus neatly squared, Facebook and friends continued merrily on their progress towards world domination. But then in the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden broke cover and revealed what really goes on in the mysterious world of cloud computing.<br></p>
    <p>At which point, an Austrian Facebook user, one <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/24/facebook-data-privacy-european-union-court-maximillian-schrems" data-link-name="in body link" data-component="in-body-link" class=" u-underline">Maximilian Schrems</a>, realising that some or all of the data he had entrusted to Facebook was being transferred from its Irish subsidiary to servers in the United States, lodged a complaint with the Irish data protection commissioner. Schrems argued that, in the light of the Snowden revelations, the law and practice of the United States did not offer sufficient protection against surveillance of the data transferred to that country by the government.</p>
  • The Irish data commissioner rejected the complaint on the grounds that the European commission’s safe harbour decision meant that the US ensured an adequate level of protection of Schrems’s personal data. Schrems disagreed, the case went to the Irish high court and thence to the European court of justice. On Tuesday, the court decided that the safe harbour agreement was invalid. At which point the balloon went up.

    “This is,” writes Professor Lorna Woods, an expert on these matters, “a judgment with very far-reaching implications, not just for governments but for companies the business model of which is based on data flows. It reiterates the significance of data protection as a human right and underlines that protection must be at a high level.”

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  • This is classic lawyerly understatement. My hunch is that if you were to visit the legal departments of many internet companies today you would find people changing their underpants at regular intervals. For the big names of the search and social media worlds this is a nightmare scenario.

    For those of us who take a more detached view of their activities, however, it is an encouraging development. For one thing, it provides yet another confirmation of the sterling service that Snowden has rendered to civil society. His revelations have prompted a wide-ranging reassessment of where our dependence on networking technology has taken us and stimulated some long-overdue thinking about how we might reassert some measure of democratic control over that technology. Snowden has forced us into having conversations that we needed to have.

    Although his revelations are primarily about government surveillance, they also indirectly highlight the symbiotic relationship between the US National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ on the one hand and the giant internet companies on the other. For, in the end, both the intelligence agencies and the tech companies are in the same business, namely surveillance.

  • And both groups, oddly enough, provide the same kind of justification for what they do: that their surveillance is both necessary (for national security in the case of governments, for economic viability in the case of the companies) and conducted within the law. We need to test both justifications and the great thing about the European court of justice judgment is that it starts us off on that conversation.
Paul Merrell

Belgium sues Facebook over illegal Privacy Violations of Users and Non-Users | nsnbc in... - 0 views

  • The Belgian government will be suing Facebook. The Commission for the Protection of Privacy states that Facebook violates Belgian and EU law by tracking systems that target both Facebook users as well as non-Facebook users. Facebook is known for cooperating with the U.S.’ National Security Agency. 
  • The Belgian privacy watchdog’s case against the internet giant Facebook will be heard at a court in Brussels on Thursday. The Commission has repeatedly requested that Facebook should comply with Belgian and EU law.

    Facebook failed to comply, and the Commission has no power to enforce the law; hence the decision to sue Facebook to attain a a court ruling. The President of the Commission for the Protection of Privacy, Willem Debeuckelaere, told the press that:

    “Facebook treats its users’ private lives without respect and that needs tackling. It’s not because we want to start a lawsuit over this, but we cannot continue to negotiate through other means. .. We want a judge to impose our recommendations. These recommendations are chiefly aimed at protecting internet users who are not Facebook members.”

  • The Belgian privacy watchdog alleges that Facebook tracks the web browsing of all visitors, including those who have specifically turned the tracking function off; This gathering of private information allegedly also includes those who do not have a Facebook account.

    Moreover, the Commission claims that Facebook has the capability to surveil computers without consent, even when users are logged out; and Facebook can monitor every PC of users that use websites with Facebook plugins.

    The capability to monitor both Facebook users and non-Facebook users allegedly functions via Cookies that store information about user’s internet activities, including preferential settings of websites and which websites internet users have visited.

    The Commission claims that Facebook installs these Cookies on all computers that visit websites that for example have a Facebook plugin to share internet content. That includes the computers of persons who do not make use of Facebook’s “share” or “like” button.

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  • In other words, Facebook has the capacity to monitor your browser settings as well as which websites you have visited if you have read this article or any other article on any website that contains a Facebook “share” button, whether you “like” it or not.

    The Commissions lawsuit against Facebook is or particular importance due to the fact that the corporation is known for its cooperation with the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). While the lawsuit is of particular interest for Belgian and EU citizens, it also sheds light on Facebook’s monitoring of U.S. citizens.

Paul Merrell

U.S. knocks plans for European communication network | Reuters - 0 views

  • The United States on Friday criticized proposals to build a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the United States, warning that such rules could breach international trade laws.

    In its annual review of telecommunications trade barriers, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said impediments to cross-border data flows were a serious and growing concern.

    It was closely watching new laws in Turkey that led to the blocking of websites and restrictions on personal data, as well as calls in Europe for a local communications network following revelations last year about U.S. digital eavesdropping and surveillance.

    "Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a 'Schengen cloud' by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them," the USTR said in the report.

  • Germany and France have been discussing ways to build a European network to keep data secure after the U.S. spying scandal. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone was reportedly monitored by American spies.

    The USTR said proposals by Germany's state-backed Deutsche Telekom to bypass the United States were "draconian" and likely aimed at giving European companies an advantage over their U.S. counterparts.

    Deutsche Telekom has suggested laws to stop data traveling within continental Europe being routed via Asia or the United States and scrapping the Safe Harbor agreement that allows U.S. companies with European-level privacy standards access to European data. (www.telekom.com/dataprotection)

    "Any mandatory intra-EU routing may raise questions with respect to compliance with the EU's trade obligations with respect to Internet-enabled services," the USTR said. "Accordingly, USTR will be carefully monitoring the development of any such proposals."

  • U.S. tech companies, the leaders in an e-commerce marketplace estimated to be worth up to $8 trillion a year, have urged the White House to undertake reforms to calm privacy concerns and fend off digital protectionism.
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    High comedy from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The USTR's press release is here along with a link to its report. http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/press-releases/2014/March/USTR-Targets-Telecommunications-Trade-Barriers

    The USTR is upset because the E.U. is aiming to build a digital communications network that does not route internal digital traffic outside the E.U., to limit the NSA's ability to surveil Europeans' communications. Part of the plan is to build an E.U.-centric cloud that is not susceptible to U.S. court orders. This plan does not, of course, sit well with U.S.-based cloud service providers. 

    Where the comedy comes in is that the USTR is making threats to go to the World Trade organization to block the E.U. move under the authority of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). But that treaty provides, in article XIV, that: 

    "Subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where like conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on trade in services, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any Member of measures:

    ...

    (c)      necessary to secure compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement including those relating to:
     
    ...

    (ii)     the protection of the privacy of individuals in relation to the processing and dissemination of personal data and the protection of confidentiality of individual records and accounts[.]"

    http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/26-gats_01_e.htm#articleXIV
     
    The E.U., in its Treaty on Human Rights, has very strong privacy protections for digital communications.

    The USTR undoubtedly knows all this, and that the WTO Appellate Panel's judges are of the European mold, sticklers for protection of human rights and most likely do not appreciate being subjects o
Paul Merrell

Hyperlinking is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules | TorrentFreak - 0 views

  • Does publishing a hyperlink to freely available content amount to an illegal communication to the public and therefore a breach of creator's copyrights under European law? After examining a case referred to it by Sweden's Court of Appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled today that no, it does not.
  • One such case, referred to the CJEU by Sweden’s Court of Appeal, is of particular interest to Internet users as it concerns the very mechanism that holds the web together.

    The dispute centers on a company called Retriever Sverige AB, an Internet-based subscription service that indexes links to articles that can be found elsewhere online for free.

    The problem came when Retriever published links to articles published on a newspaper’s website that were written by Swedish journalists. The company felt that it did not have to compensate the journalists for simply linking to their articles, nor did it believe that embedding them within its site amounted to copyright infringement.

    The journalists, on the other hand, felt that by linking to their articles Retriever had “communicated” their works to the public without permission. In the belief they should be paid, the journalists took their case to the Stockholm District Court. They lost their case in 2010 and decided to take the case to appeal. From there the Svea Court of Appeal sought advice from the EU Court.

    Today the Court of Justice published its lengthy decision and it’s largely good news for the Internet.

Paul Merrell

US websites should inform EU citizens about NSA surveillance, says report - 0 views

  • All existing data sharing agreements between Europe and the US should be revoked, and US web site providers should prominently inform European citizens that their data may be subject to government surveillance, according to the recommendations of a briefing report for the European Parliament.

    The report was produced in response to revelations about the US National Security Agency (NSA) snooping on internet traffic, and aims to highlight the subsequent effect on European Union (EU) citizens' rights.

  • The report warns that EU data protection authorities have failed to understand the “structural shift of data sovereignty implied by cloud computing”, and the associated risks to the rights of EU citizens.

    It suggests “a full industrial policy for development of an autonomous European cloud computing capacity” should be set up to reduce exposure of EU data to NSA surveillance that is undertaken by the use of US legislation that forces US-based cloud providers to provide access to data they hold.

  • To put pressure on the US government, the report recommends that US websites should ask EU citizens for their consent before gathering data that could be used by the NSA.

    “Prominent notices should be displayed by every US web site offering services in the EU to inform consent to collect data from EU citizens. The users should be made aware that the data may be subject to surveillance by the US government for any purpose which furthers US foreign policy,” it said.

    “A consent requirement will raise EU citizen awareness and favour growth of services solely within EU jurisdiction. This will thus have economic impact on US business and increase pressure on the US government to reach a settlement.”

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  • Other recommendations include the EU offering protection and rewards for whistleblowers, including “strong guarantees of immunity and asylum”. Such a move would be seen as a direct response to the plight of Edward Snowden, the former NSA analyst who leaked documents that revealed the extent of the NSA’s global internet surveillance programmes.

    The report also says that, “Encryption is futile to defend against NSA accessing data processed by US clouds,” and that there is “no technical solution to the problem”. It calls for the EU to press for changes to US law.

  • “It seems that the only solution which can be trusted to resolve the Prism affair must involve changes to the law of the US, and this should be the strategic objective of the EU,” it said.

    The report was produced for the European Parliament committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, and comes before the latest hearing of an inquiry into electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens, due to take place in Brussels on 24 September.

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    Yee-haw! E.U. sanctuary and rewards for NSA whistle-blowers. Mandatory warnings for customers of U.S. cloud services that their data may be turned over to the NSA. Pouring more gasoline on the NSA diplomatic fire. 
Paul Merrell

Europe and Japan Aiming to Build 100Gbps Fibre Optic Internet - ISPreview UK - 0 views

  • The European Commission (EC) and Japan have announced the launch of six joint research projects, supported by £15.3m+ (€18m) in funding, that aim to build networks which are “5000 times faster than today’s average European broadband ISP speed (100Gbps compared to 19.7Mbps)“.

    The telecoms experts among you will know that 100Gbps+ (Gigabits per second) fibre optic links are nothing new but most of these are major submarine or national cable links. The new effort appears to be looking further ahead, with a view to improving the efficiency of such networks and perhaps even bringing them closer to homes.

    It’s frequently noted that demand for data is putting a growing strain on broadband connections (the EU expects data traffic to grow 12-fold by 2018), which is partly fuelled by ever faster fixed line ISP and mobile broadband connectivity. But technology is always evolving to keep pace.

  • A quick glance at each of the projects reveals that this seems to be more about improving what already exists, yet in some circles even 100Gbps is beginning to look old-hat. Never the less many of the improvements mentioned above will, if ever adopted, eventually filter down to benefit everybody.

    After all, several UK ISPs are already offering 1Gbps home connections (e.g. Hyperoptic, CityFibre / Fibreband in Bournemouth, Gigaclear etc.) and that’s only 99 fold slower than a 100Gbps link. In the realm of evolving internet access services that’s only a short hop, unless your infrastructure is still limited by a copper last mile.

    But there’s little point in having a 100Gbps link (don’t worry we won’t see this in homes for a fair few years) if the ISP can’t supply the capacity for it and that’s another part of the new effort. It’s important to stress that this is not about tackling today’s needs; it’s all about the future. Not so long ago we were still stuck on 50Kbps dialup.

Paul Merrell

Snooper's charter has practically zero chance of becoming law, say senior MPs | UK news... - 0 views

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    Finally, acknowledgement that the growth of the cloud computing industry will likely be affected greatly by disclosures of widespread US and UK storage and surveillance of digital data. But will this be enough to turn cloud computing companies into staunch advocates of reining in the NSA and GCHQ?

    Note that the emerging E.U. position creates an economic advantage for cloud computing companies with their server farms located in the E.U. (likely excluding the UK). 
Gary Edwards

EU Cyber Agency ENISA Issues Governmental Cloud Report | WHIR Web Hosting Industry News - 0 views

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    The EU's cyber security agency ENISA (www.enisa.europa.eu) announced this week it has released a new report on governmental cloud computing.

    The report, which can be downloaded now on the ENISA website, is targeted at senior managers of public bodies who have to make a security and resilience decision about migrating to the cloud, if at all.
    The main goal of the report is to support governmental bodies in taking informed risk based decisions relating to the security of data, resilience of service and legal compliance on moving to the cloud.

    ENISA concludes that private and community clouds appear to be the solutions that offer the best solution to meet the needs of public administrations if they need to achieve the highest level of data governance.The report makes several recommendations to governments and public bodies, including national governments and the EU institutions should investigate the concept of an EU governmental cloud.The report also argues that cloud computing will soon serve a significant portion of EU citizens, SMEs and public administrations, and therefore national governments should prepare a cloud computing strategy and study the role that cloud computing will play for critical information infrastructure protection.Finally, the report states that a national cloud computing strategy should address the effects of national/supra-national interoperability and interdependencies, cascading failures, and include cloud providers into the reporting schemes of articles 4 and 13 of the new Telecom Framework Directive.

    Download report:  http://www.enisa.europa.eu/act/rm/emerging-and-future-risk/deliverables/security-and-resilience-in-governmental-clouds/
Gary Edwards

EU settlement will alter Microsoft's stance on interoperability -- Government Computer ... - 0 views

  •  
    EU settlement will alter Microsoft's stance on interoperability
    By Kurt Mackie
    Dec 21, 2009
    Microsoft provided more details about its settlement with the European Commission (EC), particularly with regard to interoperability agreements.

    In a blog post on Thursday, Dave Heiner, Microsoft's vice president and deputy general counsel, claimed that the company has pledged to implement a threefold approach to interoperability that EC Commissioner Neelie Kroes outlined in past speeches.

    Heiner summarized that approach: companies should disclose technical information, provide a remedy if the information is inadequate and charge equitable royalty rates for associated intellectual property.

    Kroes had also specifically called for companies to follow open standards as one of the best ways to achieve interoperability. However, Heiner omitted the word, "open," from his comment. He said that "products from different firms can work well together when they implement common, well-designed industry standards."

    Microsoft's interoperability pledge announced this week appears to continue ideas the company put forth in February 2008. At that time, the company announced broad interoperability principles as well as APIs for software developers working with Microsoft's mainline products, including Windows client and server operating systems, Exchange, Office and SharePoint, among others. Microsoft has been releasing documentation for that purpose, with "hundreds of Microsoft developers" devoted to the effort, according to Heiner.

    The new elements to Microsoft's interoperability pledge appear to be warranty and patent-sharing templates. Those documents, and more, can be accessed at the end of a statement about the settlement by Brad Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel.
Paul Merrell

Working to Fulfill our Legal Obligations in Europe for Windows 7 - Microsoft On The Issues - 0 views

  • Earlier today CNET reported that Microsoft had sent a memo to computer manufacturers and retailers about our plans for Windows 7 in Europe.  We’re getting quite a few calls on this, so we thought it would be helpful to explain our plans.
  • In January the European Commission provided its preliminary view that Microsoft’s “bundling” of Internet Explorer in Windows violated European competition law.
  • Windows 7 will be offered in Europe in all of the versions that will be available here in the United States, both 32- and 64-bit, with an “E” at the end of the product name (for instance, Windows 7 Home Premium E).  The E versions of Windows 7 will ship at the same time as Windows 7 ships in the rest of the world, and they will be available in 23 European languages.

    What does this mean for European consumers?  The E versions of Windows 7 will include all the features and functionality of Windows 7 in the rest of the world, other than browsing with Internet Explorer.  Computer manufacturers will be able to add any browser they want to their Windows 7 machines, including Internet Explorer, so European consumers who purchase new PCs will be able to access the Internet without any problem.  Consumers will also be able to add any Web browser to their PCs, to supplement or replace the browsers preinstalled by their computer manufacturer. 

    Most importantly, the E versions of Windows 7 will continue to provide all of the underlying platform functionality of the operating system—applications designed for Windows will run just as well on an E version as on other versions of Windows 7. 

  • ...2 more annotations...
  • Our decision to only offer IE separately from Windows 7 in Europe cannot, of course, preclude the possibility of alternative approaches emerging through Commission processes.  Other alternatives have been raised in the Commission proceedings, including possible inclusion in Windows 7 of alternative browsers or a “ballot screen” that would prompt users to choose from a specific set of Web browsers.  Important details of these approaches would need to be worked out in coordination with the Commission, since they would have a significant impact on computer manufacturers and Web browser vendors, whose interests may differ.   Given the complexity and competing interests, we don’t believe it would be best for us to adopt such an approach unilaterally. 
  • In January 2009 the Commission sent Microsoft a “Statement of Objections.” In it the Commission advised Microsoft of its preliminary view that the inclusion of Web browsing software in Windows violates European competition law. The Commission said in this document that it intends to impose a fine for this. The Commission also said that, with hindsight, the remedy adopted in its 2004 decision was not effective because there was very limited consumer demand for the versions of Windows without media player. We were, of course, disappointed to learn that the approach we took in September 2008 would not adequately address the Commission’s concerns.

    Microsoft filed its response to the Commission’s Statement of Objections in April. We believe we made a strong showing that including Internet Explorer in Windows is lawful so that no remedy is needed. We hope that the Commission will ultimately agree with us. In the meantime, we have to move forward with final planning for the release of Windows 7, so we’ve decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately. As noted, we will continue to discuss browser issues and other matters with the Commission.

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    Note the emphasis that this is a unilateral move by Microsoft and a different remedy may still be forthcoming from DG Competition. In particular, not only the remedy as to bundling may be different, but other related issues remain, such as Opera's complaint that Microsoft had been undermining Open Web standards with inadequate support.
Paul Merrell

Europe to get Windows 7 sans browser | Beyond Binary - CNET News - 0 views

  • Microsoft plans to remove Internet Explorer from the versions of Windows 7 that it ships in Europe, CNET News has learned.
  • "To ensure that Microsoft is in compliance with European law, Microsoft will be releasing a separate version of Windows 7 for distribution in Europe that will not include Windows Internet Explorer," the software maker said in the memo
  • Microsoft confirmed the authenticity of the document but declined to comment further.
  • ...1 more annotation...
  • Update, 12:20 p.m.: Microsoft has posted a blog on its law and policy Web site, in which one of its lawyers responds to our story.
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