Friday, March 27, 2009

Google and Privacy International clash again

From the Guardian:
"Google has dismissed accusations that it is orchestrating "an unsavoury and defamatory smear campaign" in the increasingly ferocious battle with the campaign group Privacy International, which claims the technology giant is trying to discredit its concerns over the controversial Street View tool.

In an open letter to Google chief executive Eric Schmidt tonight, Privacy International's director Simon Davies claims that after it had raising a series of privacy concerns in the national press, Google staff began secretly briefing journalists against the group by alleging it is supported by and institutionally biased in favour of Microsoft."

EU Parliament report rejects 3 strikes

Via Michael Geist on Twitter European Parliament Rejects Three Strikes and You're Out Approach

I see Slashdot has picked it up too. The report is available at the europa website. Michael Geist says:
"The key paragraph states that the Parliament recommends that the European Council:

proceed to the adoption of the directive on criminal measures aimed at the enforcement of intellectual property rights, following an assessment, in the light of contemporary innovation research, of the extent to which it is necessary and proportionate, and while simultaneously prohibiting, in pursuit of that purpose, the systematic monitoring and surveillance of all users’ activities on the Internet, and ensuring that the penalties are proportionate to the infringements committed; within this context, also respect the freedom of expression and association of individual users and combat the incentives for cyber-violations of intellectual property rights, including certain excessive access restrictions placed by intellectual property holders themselves;

While this is a mouthful, it is noteworthy that the Parliament emphasizes proportionality, the rejection of Internet monitoring, and the use of excessive access restrictions placed by IP rights holders."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Security flaws halt work on ContactPoint

From the Times: Security flaws halt work on ContactPoint
"Security flaws have halted work on the internet database designed to hold the details of 11 million children and teenagers.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) admitted last night that it had uncovered problems in the system for shielding details of an estimated 55,000 vulnerable children.

These include children who are victims of domestic violence, those in difficult adoptions or witness protection programmes and the children of the rich and famous, whose whereabouts may need to be kept secret.

ContactPoint is a £224 million online database that contains the names, addresses, dates of birth and details of schools, GPs, social workers and support services of all 11 million people aged under 18 in England. It is intended to improve child protection...

Some adopted children whose identities should be shielded are listed on the database by both their original and their adopted surnames, with a link between the two."

"In other instances, shielding simply disappears from the records of vulnerable children every time that the database is updated automatically from central government databases, such as the school census or the child benefit database. "

As Rights Clash on YouTube, Some Music Vanishes

From the NYT: As Rights Clash on YouTube, Some Music Vanishes
"In early December, Juliet Weybret, a high school sophomore and aspiring rock star from Lodi, Calif., recorded a video of herself playing the piano and singing “Winter Wonderland,” and she posted it on YouTube.

Weeks later, she received an e-mail message from YouTube: her video was being removed “as a result of a third-party notification by the Warner Music Group,” which owns the copyright to the Christmas carol.

Hers is not an isolated case. Countless other amateurs have been ensnared in a dispute between Warner Music and YouTube, which is owned by Google. The conflict centers on how much Warner should be paid for the use of its copyrighted works — its music videos — but has grown to include other material produced by amateurs that may also run afoul of copyright law.

“Thousands of videos disappeared,” said Fred von Lohmann, staff lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet civil liberties group that asked affected YouTube users to contact it. “Either they turned off the audio, or they pulled the video.”"

Obama administration sides with RIAA in P2P suit

Declan McCullagh tells us that the Obama administration has sided with the RIAA in the Joel Tenenbaum P2P lawsuit:
"The Obama administration has sided with the recording industry in a copyright lawsuit against an alleged peer-to-peer pirate, a move that echoes arguments previously made by the Bush administration.

A legal brief filed Sunday in a case that the Recording Industry Association of America is pursuing in Massachusetts argues that federal copyright law is not so overly broad and its penalties not so unduly severe that they count as "punitive." Current law allows a copyright holder to receive up to $150,000 in damages per violation...

The Massachusetts case could prove to be an important one. A group of Harvard law school students, with the help of Harvard law Professor Charles Nesson, is providing defendant Joel Tenenbaum with an aggressive legal defense. They aim to convince the courts that the law the RIAA relies on is so Draconian it amounts to "essentially a criminal statute" and is therefore unconstitutional; that it grants too much authority to copyright holders; and that it violates due process rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution."

New Zealand scrap 3 strikes provision

The New Zealand government has reportedly scrapped the three strikes provision (Section 92A) of the Copyright Amendment (New Technologies) Act.

Minister rules out use of evoting machines in Ireland

The Irish minister for the environment has reportedly ruled out using the Nedap evoting machines that have been gathering dust in a warehouse in Ireland at the cost of more than a few euros per annum.