Thursday, 28 November 2013

Internet architects propose encrypting all the world’s Web traffic

Internet architects propose encrypting all the world’s Web traffic | Ars Technica: "A vastly larger percentage of the world's Web traffic will be encrypted under a near-final recommendation to revise the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that serves as the foundation for all communications between websites and end users.
The proposal, announced in a letter published Wednesday by an official with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), comes after documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden heightened concerns about government surveillance of Internet communications. Despite those concerns, websites operated by Yahoo, the federal government, the site running this article, and others continue to publish the majority of their pages in a "plaintext" format that can be read by government spies or anyone else who has access to the network the traffic passes over. Last week, cryptographer and security expert Bruce Schneier urged people to "make surveillance expensive again" by encrypting as much Internet data as possible." 'via Blog this'

Keeping Secrets: Pierre Omidyar, Glenn Greenwald and the privatization of Snowden’s leaks

Keeping Secrets: Pierre Omidyar, Glenn Greenwald and the privatization of Snowden’s leaks | PandoDaily: "It’s especially worth asking since it became clear that Greenwald and Poitras are now the only two people with full access to the complete cache of NSA files, which are said to number anywhere from 50,000 to as many as 200,000 files. That’s right: Snowden doesn’t have the files any more, the Guardian doesn’t have them, the Washington Post doesn’t have them… just Glenn and Laura at the for-profit journalism company created by the founder of eBay.
Edward Snowden has popularly been compared to major whistleblowers such as Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and Jeffrey Wigand. However, there is an important difference in the Snowden files that has so far gone largely unnoticed. Whistleblowing has traditionally served the public interest. In this case, it is about to serve the interests of a billionaire starting a for-profit media business venture. This is truly unprecedented. Never before has such a vast trove of public secrets been sold wholesale to a single billionaire as the foundation of a for-profit company." 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

CyberTelecom Blog: [NIST] Initiating Review of Cryptographic Standards Development Process

CyberTelecom Blog: [NIST] Initiating Review of Cryptographic Standards Development Process: "To ensure that our guidance has been developed according the highest standard of inclusiveness, transparency and security, NIST has initiated a formal review of our standards development efforts. We are compiling our goals and objectives, principles of operation, processes for identifying cryptographic algorithms for standardization, methods for reviewing and resolving public comments, and other important procedures necessary for a rigorous process." 'via Blog this'

Google's terms and conditions are less readable than Beowulf

Google's terms and conditions are less readable than Beowulf: "Richard Mortier, a lecturer in computer science at Nottingham, ran Google’s latest revision through the plug in and found it to have a SMOG score of 15.48. That means users need a GCSE-level reading age to understand it. According to Literatin, 43% of the adult English population would not be able to read the terms.
Texts with a SMOG value in this range require a reading age of between 15-18 if they are to be understood, so anyone hoping to wade through Google’s terms of service and make it out the other side would need to go in equipped with a pretty decent education.
In comparison, the epic Old English poem Beowulf has a SMOG score of 13.9" 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The road from Bali to Rio… to Dystopia? Mapping the future of Internet governance

[Unedited version of a blog post which was heavily edited for LSE Media Policy blog].
The Internet Governance Forum is a diverting annual sideshow, a pit-stop on the flying circus towards Internet governance, with no heads of state, few ministers, no European Commissioner and only a few of Internet engineering’s legendary inventors, such as Louis Pouzin. But it matters, as much as for what is said than what is not done. Yes, it is “sprawling, unfocused and formally useless” with five days of often ten parallel workshops all with bewilderingly similar titles, but it is also a vital junction between the governing and the governed. You have never seen Internet governance in action until you have seen a Chinese diplomat make ludicrous and chilling claims about human rights and free expression in their censored Intranet, to be hissed and laughed at by a roomful of activists. It makes for a wonderful forum of differences.
Make no mistake, there are real problems with Internet governance – encryption is broken by bad faith government actors (Dual EC DRBG in particular), which is shattering to its integrity as a communications network. Imagine a postal system in which every letter can be opened. That will be high on the list of issues argued at the IETF Vancouver meeting beginning this Sunday – though encryption is marginal to the central work of most IETF network engineers and no-one has a real solution.
Bad faith and loss of integrity also neatly sums up most governments’ and people’s view of the Five Eyes’ activities, even though avuncular Ed Vaizey, Britain’s telecoms minister, avoided discussing PRISM and surveillance by the British secret services at the IGF. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has had her phone bugged since 2002 when she was an opposition politician, and it is bugging of her phone that has finally led her to real upset at Five Eyes surveillance (personal offence leading to a general public interest inquiry just like the UK Leveson Inquiry). Laws may not stop surveillance by foreign governments, and proposed United Nations resolutions will be studiously ignored by the US, but European data protection laws can really impact on US multinational actors, hurting the US government in the wallet.
So we move on from the Bali forum, with its post-modern ironic Miss Indonesia Internet (surely?), to a summit that will really matter: the Rio Summit of April 2014. There is a magnificent description from BestBits of how ICANN President Fadi Chehade managed to persuade the Brazilian President to hold a multistakeholder rather than multilateral meeting, over the head of her state-centric communications minister (who continued to dig himself into a multilateral hole throughout the Bali forum). For the un-initiated: multilateral means governments, which means China, Russia, Arab, Asian and African kleptocracies plus a few well-meaning others, multistakeholder means some lucky winners from civil society will be able to speak truth and expertise to power at an actual decision-making forum: Bali with balls.
What will the Rio Summit aim to do? First, it has to deal with the issue of ICANN and IANA – who rules the root and will the US hand over control in 2015? The last head of ICANN also tried to declare independence in 2011/12, and was shackled by the renewed Affirmation of Commitments to the US government, which “basically gave him the finger” in response. As a result, ICANN is “almost free” but still under formal unilateral legal control. We shall soon see where that hyperpower’s digit is placed next – in Bali it was firmly jammed in its ear to avoid hearing the word ‘Snowden’.
Second, the Rio delegates must deal with the intractable ‘orphan’ issues, which Ian Brown and I recently described as the “hard cases” where there is no current regulatory settlement in place. These include glacial IPv6 adoption, the Internet of Things (think ‘Stuff’ rather than people) which Alison Powell described in yesterday’s blog post, as well as international rules for interconnection, and the reaction of telecoms companies to Over The Top services and apps, which were debated at the new Dynamic Coalition on Network Neutrality (video of panel here). These dynamic coalitions do a lot of the serious regulatory preparatory work at the IGF, while most workshops are less substantive and more sloganised. The I* (pronounced I-star) standards organisations (ICANN, IAB, IETF, W3C, ISOC) had substantial presence at the Bali Forum, and discussed the benefits of their self-regulatory approach, though Jeremy Malcolm, Avri Doria and Amelia Andersdotter highlighted the lack of formal multistakeholderism and significant corporate capture in W3C. Network architecture is a critically important part of Internet governance.
Jeremy Malcolm argues that the Rio Summit itself effectively reduces next April’s WSIS+10, the decade-on retrospective on the original World Summit on the Information Society which kicked off the travelling circus, to irrelevance, and predates the November 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary (hosted by South Korea) at which Russia and China are expected to renew their power grab after their failure at the WCIT in December 2012 (see my earlier post). A lot rides on this Rio summit as the ‘last best hope for civil society’ before the ugly face of undemocratic government tries to reframe these issues. One of the Five Eyes’ domain registrars, Australian Chris Disspain, argued using unfortunate Iraq War language that our current US-controlled arrangements are a “quiet coalition of the willing” that could fall victim to multilateral control (i.e. ITU under China-Russia-others).
Fans of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope will recall a series of Road To… films in which a backlot of a Hollywood studio doubled up as paradise for US marines nostalgic for the WWII beaches they fought for and their families read about (including Road to Bali, Rio and Utopia, which turned out to be an Alaskan goldmine). Internet governance is much the same, with the real action taking place in ICANN’s California headquarters, even if its President is moving himself to Singapore and the travelling circus continues, ICANN convening on 17 November in Buenos Aires for instance.
We shall see if the Brazilian government, which has anti-corruption riots in its own streets, can conjure a solution to Internet governance in its annus mirabilis, which is somewhat closer to multistakeholder dialogue than its brutally censorious Chinese and Russian allies would like. The latter would be a road to an awful Dystopia…in fact to zemblanity. We will have to be exceedingly careful what we wish for in the next chapter of Internet governance.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Benjamin Franklin - a previous Snowden type whistleblower

Craig Murray: "in 1773, Benjamin Franklin leaked confidential information by releasing letters written by then-Lt. Governor of Massachusetts Thomas Hutchinson to Thomas Whatley, an assistant to the British Prime Minister. The letters suggested that it was impossible for the colonists to enjoy the same rights as subjects living in England and that “an abridgement of what are called English liberties” might be necessary. The content of the letters was so damaging to the British government that Benjamin Franklin was dismissed as colonial Postmaster General and had to endure an hour-long censure from British Solicitor General Alexander Wedderburn." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 28 October 2013

Energy companies' reasons for price hikes cast into doubt

Energy companies' reasons for price hikes cast into doubt - Telegraph: An appalling example of regulatory failure and profiteering. Will the public trust smart metering plans after this? "Consumers have in recent weeks been hit by price rises of up to 11.1 per cent. A number of the “Big Six” energy firms have claimed that the increases are because of rising wholesale prices.
However, data from Ofgem, the energy regulator, suggests that wholesale prices rose by only 1.7 per cent over the last year. The figures, reported in the Financial Times, will prompt fury across the country as homeowners prepare for winter. According to the analysis, the element of the average energy bill due to wholesale prices would only have gone up from £600 to £610." 'via Blog this'

Friday, 25 October 2013

Real time Network Management of Internet Congestion: BITAG Technical Working Group Report

BITAG: "Network operators typically estimate demand months to years in advance, and use such demand estimates to plan a schedule for capacity upgrades. Since it may take months to implement a capacity upgrade, the time scale for managing congestion in this manner is months to years. Thus, although capacity planning can greatly affect how much congestion occurs on a network over time, it cannot react to congestion as it occurs." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Hillary Clinton: we need to talk sensibly about spying

Hillary Clinton: we need to talk sensibly about spying | World news | The Guardian: "David Bickford, a former legal director of MI5 and MI6, told the Guardian that the current oversight regime for Britain's intelligence agencies was "obviously inadequate."
"Secrecy in this country is over-protected and under-regulated," he said. "The UK has signally failed to prepare itself for openness when dealing with politically sensitive issues such as terrorism or the involvement of their secret agencies in the gathering of information by secret means."Bickford added: "We see only a fleeting and ephemeral face of the intelligence agencies chiefs; ministers glide over the threats, never explain their relationship with those agencies and are content to retain an obviously inadequate system for their supervision."
Bickford said public scepticism was "made worse by the Communications Data Bill's proposal that the agencies themselves control their mining of communications data."
He added: "Unless government takes this debate seriously, secrecy will be pierced by the needs of society and terrorism and organised crime will plunder our sovereignty."" 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

net.wars: The opposite of zemblanity .:. News .:. net.wars: The opposite of zemblanity: "Zemblanity, introduced by Chris Marsden, co-author of Regulating Code, was new to me. It means the opposite of serendipity. Serendipity is an accidental lucky discovery; it's Charles Schulz unexpectedly finding a warm puppy or searching the Internet for an old high school friend and finding he lives a few streets away. By contrast, zemblanity is an accidental unlucky discovery: in Marsden's example, the realization that on the Internet you are never alone - ever. Or the rediscovery of how much geography matters: a guy with a spade cuts off Armenia for five hours in 2011; the NSA taps cables; and you could probably still wreck an awful lot of the Internet by simply buying ten backhoes and deploying them strategically." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 22 July 2013

The irrelevance of Microsoft — Benedict Evans

The irrelevance of Microsoft — Benedict Evans: "Microsoft's share of connected devices sales (in effect, PCs plus iOS and Android) has collapsed from over 90% in 2009 to under a quarter today. Just as overnight success can take a lifetime, so overnight collapse can also take a long time. There are founders creating companies today who weren't born when people were still actually scared of big bad Micro$oft.
It stopped setting the agenda 18 years ago. Windows 95 was the moment of victory, but was also the peak: it came just at the moment that the Internet started taking off, and Microsoft was never a relevant force on the internet despite investing tens of billions of dollars. But you needed a PC to use the internet, and for almost everyone that PC ran Windows, so Microsoft's failure to create successful online services didn't seem to matter. Microsoft survived and thrived in the PC internet era, despite appearing to be irrelevant, by milking its victory in the previous phase of the technology industry. PC sales were 59m units in 1995 and rose to over 350m in 2012.
Of course, that's now coming to an end. Though it looks like we've passed the tipping point, this process isn't going to be over quickly. PC sales aren't going to zero this year. But the replacement cycle, already at 5 years, will lengthen further and further, more and more apps will move to mobile or the cloud, and for many people the PC will end up like the printer or fax - vestigial reminders of an older way of doing things. Microsoft may yet manage to turn Windows tablets and phones into products with meaningful market share, but it will never be dominant again.'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Global data privacy rules would be awesome (but good luck getting there)

Global data privacy rules would be awesome (but good luck getting there) — Tech News and Analysis: "Google and Facebook’s international operations, of course, are headquartered in Ireland. So Merkel suggested she wanted German-strength laws to apply in Ireland – and that means being super-clear about who gets access to users’ data. “We [in Germany] have a great data protection law,” she said. “But if Facebook is registered in Ireland, then Irish law is valid, and therefore we need unified European rules.”" 'via Blog this'

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Case C‑131/12 Google Spain SL/Google Inc. v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD)

delivered on 25 June 2013 (1) Case C‑131/12 Google Spain SL/Google Inc. v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) (Reference for a preliminary ruling from the Audiencia Nacional (Spain))
(World Wide Web – Personal data – Internet search engine – Data Protection Directive 95/46" 'via Blog this'

EU Data Retention Directive finally before European Court of Justice

EU Data Retention Directive finally before European Court of Justice | Internet Policy Review: "The Commission has postponed a full-fledged review to 2014, while at the same time continuing to push for implementation in all member states.
The European Court of Justice, in a decision dated 30 May 2013, has tackled data retention implementation, requesting Sweden to pay a lump sum of 3 million Euro for its delay in transposing the directive into national law in time. Sweden already lost the first case in 2010 for violating its obligations to transpose the directive by September 2007. A new Swedish government finally implemented the data retention provisions on 1 May 2012.
Belgium was warned by the Commission by the end of May 2013 for not fully transposing the directive. The Commission's case against Germany is pending. Romania and Bulgaria have adjusted implementation after judgments by their Constitutional Courts. The transposition into Czech law was cancelled by its Constitutional Court in 2011." 'via Blog this'

The shocking truth about Silicon Valley genius Doug Engelbart

The shocking truth about Silicon Valley genius Doug Engelbart | ZDNet: "His funding was based on the use of large computers connected to personal workstations that looked very much like PCs, a computer architecture called time-sharing.
But the microcomputer and its promise of being self-sufficient, unconnected to anything, was thought to be the future at the time. And the counter-culture with its hatred of "the Man" and centralized systems of power and oppression, rejected the time-sharing mainframe based computer architecture that underpinned the work of Mr. Engelbart and his colleagues. Big centralized systems were out of favor in the computer research communities and so was funding, which went to microcomputer based architectures.
Today's computer systems are essentially what we had with time-sharing mainframes in the 1960s and 70s: personal workstations connected to a large central computer system (server farm), able to communicate with each other and run spreadsheets, word processors, and apps. Ross Mayfield, in an interview with Doug Engelbart in June 2005, writes: "We herald the PC revolution, but we should remember that it made us forget to share.  Timesharing enabled groups to share a common pool resource, sharing that, which impacted social dynamics.  With PCs, we were left on our own, however empowered."'via Blog this'

PRISM: The EU must take steps to protect cloud data from US snoopers

PRISM: The EU must take steps to protect cloud data from US snoopers - Comment - Voices - The Independent: "There are already amendments tabled to the new Regulation which would protect such whistleblowers, and require citizens to give their consent to put their data in Clouds outside EU jurisdiction, and only after seeing a drastic warning notice.
The US has resisted recognition of European data protection rights for 30 years, and seems minded not to change. The EU should develop an industrial policy for its own Cloud industry, based on open-source software, on a comparable scale to the planning that now allows Airbus to win equal market share with Boeing. If the Cloud is anywhere near as important as the hype suggests, why wouldn't Europe want to do this anyway, and retain the high-end of the value chain which now flows back to the US through tax arbitrage?" 'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Three Strikes and You’re Still In – France Kills Piracy Disconnections

Three Strikes and You’re Still In – France Kills Piracy Disconnections | TorrentFreak: "In June, a nine-member panel lead by former Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure produced a 700 page report advising on policies for advancing entertainment industries in the digital age.
Among other things, the panel concluded that the three strikes mechanism had failed to benefit authorized services as promised. It also recommended that the ultimate sanction of Internet disconnections for infringers should be dumped.
That recommendation has now been carried out by the French Government.
Earlier this morning the Ministry of Culture published official decree No. 0157 of July 9, 2013 which removed “the additional misdemeanor punishable by suspension of access to a communication service.”
The changes come too late for the only individual to have fallen foul of France’s disconnection law. In June and after millions of warnings sent, a single Internet subscriber was fined 600 euros and suspended from the Internet for two weeks after failing to respond to “strike” notices." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Interview with Caspar Bowden: Tracing the (Mis)steps to the PRISM Revelation

Interview with Caspar Bowden: Tracing the (Mis)steps to the PRISM Revelation | LSE Media Policy Project: "There’s been a grinding down of people’s privacy expectations in a systematic way as part of the corporate strategy, which I saw in Microsoft. As for the secret surveillance agenda, most people in the UK do not seem to care about it, because they lack accurate information in the media about what exactly is happening. The reporting is always chronically mangled and pre-spun according to law-enforcement lobbies.
"The key socio-political question is not whether and how much privacy one wants for oneself, but whether one would want to live in a society where nobody has any privacy. Such a society would be sterile, conformist and probably repressive and authoritarian. So in this way privacy is properly understood as a meta-right – a right which makes other political and personal rights collectively possible." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Public Sector ICT: OFT Shows Interest amid Competition Concerns

Public Sector ICT: OFT Shows Interest amid Competition Concerns: "OFT is keen to ensure that competition in this sector works well. The OFT is particularly seeking information about:

  • the structure of the sector, for example the number of suppliers and their market share;
  • whether there are barriers to entry which make it difficult for smaller businesses to compete in this sector;
  • whether public sector users face high barriers to switching suppliers, such as costs of transferring and restrictive licence agreements;
  • whether some suppliers seek to limit the interoperability and use of competitor systems with their own.
  • whether outsourcing of ICT service provision results in a high level of dependence on suppliers' expertise, undermining the ability of public bodies to drive value for money over time." 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S. | McClatchy

Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S. | McClatchy: "Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage. “Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 17 June 2013

Public Safety Month I | The MIT Press

Public Safety Month I | The MIT Press: "The revelations raise questions in regard to three of the five case studies in the book – privacy, censorship and social networking regulation – with Facebook, Google, Yahoo! and other US-based multinationals handing over data on their non-US customers under the US FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The revelations threaten to derail agreements between US and European governments which permit data exchange while protecting European citizens’ fundamental rights. The implications of a breakdown in trust between European and US governments could jeopardize several other areas of cooperation for public safety, notably air passenger records, financial transfers, and the overall ‘safe harbor’ by which US multinationals can certify their data practices as conforming to European privacy standards." 'via Blog this'

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Retired Federal Judge: Your Faith In Secret Surveillance Court Is Dramatically Misplaced

Retired Federal Judge: Your Faith In Secret Surveillance Court Is Dramatically Misplaced | ThinkProgress: "It’s an anointment process. It’s not a selection process. But you know, it’s not boat rockers. So you have a [federal] bench which is way more conservative than before. This is a subset of that. And it’s a subset of that who are operating under privacy, confidentiality, and national security. To suggest that there is meaningful review it seems to me is an illusion."
Gertner, an attendee at the American Constitution Society’s national convention, stood up during a panel discussion to make her comment after Sales, a law professor at George Mason University, suggested that individuals have some protection from excessive government surveillance because the Internet Service Providers who field government requests for information have the opportunity to challenge those requests before the secret court. “This isn’t a a paper tiger,” he said. “This is a court that engages in judicial review.”
Gertner urged the audience to be skeptical about the court’s oversight, both because of its severely conservative make-up, and its secrecy. " 'via Blog this'

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Toxic Cloud Computing, and How Open Source Can Help

Toxic Cloud Computing, and How Open Source Can Help - Open Enterprise: "There followed a test case at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which held definitively that the Fourth Amendment requirement for a specific warrant only applied to surveillance directed at US persons. This opened the door for Congress to enact FISAA §1881a in 2008, which authorized mass-surveillance of foreigners (outside US territory), but whose data was within range of US jurisdiction. However, the most significant change escaped any comment or public debate altogether. The scope of surveillance was extended beyond interception of communications, to include any data in public cloud computing as well. This change occurred merely by incorporating “remote computing services” into the definition of an “electronic communication service provider”."
And so the Cloud became a giant hose sucking data into the NSA 'via Blog this'

Friday, 7 June 2013

Europe opens up to the cloud: does NSA need to ask permission to spy on us?

This old story becomes very interesting after today's revelations - Europe opens up to the cloud Tech News and Analysis: "WP29 says the EU’s new upcoming data protection laws should ban organizations in the EU from passing on people’s personal data to third countries just because those countries’ courts or governments demand it, “unless this is expressly authorized by an international agreement or provided for by mutual legal assistance treaties or approved by a supervisory authority.”" NSA needs to ask us before Google can cough up EU citizens' data? 'via Blog this'

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Brown and Marsden to present #RegulatingCode at ORGCon 2013

We're on at 12pm in the Council Chamber talking about #RegulatingCode - and Ian has a video 'preview' (with cut-away shots aplenty of the Thames at low tide...)
Chris will also present the book in Brighton at the Festival of Social Sciences Friday 3.45pm.

EU Council deals killer blow to privacy reforms » The Privacy Surgeon

EU Council deals killer blow to privacy reforms » The Privacy Surgeon: "Council’s proposals will put the onus on industry to police itself, except in limited circumstances. The role of the Commission will be all but eliminated, national regulators will have less discretion to take action and – crucially – the rights of data subjects will be reduced.
From a prescriptive framework to a risk based approach. This means that instead of being required to follow a set of harmonised procedures and safeguards to protect information, data controllers can decide for themselves what constitutes a risk, and merely show that they have taken some steps to mitigate that risk. This will include the development of self regulating codes of conduct.
Exemption for social networking. All social networking and online activities conducted by individuals will be exempt from the regulation, meaning that a vast regulatory black hole will open up across online information flows.'via Blog this'

Monday, 20 May 2013

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are secret backers behind European Privacy [sic] Association

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are secret backers behind European Privacy Association | PCWorld: "EPA [i]s an "astroturf organization," or front group, defending the interests of large IT corporations. Paganini refuted these allegations, saying that although the EPA listens to its members ideas and concerns, the reports it produces are independent. He claimed the failure to list the companies on the Transparency Register was an oversight.
Joe McNamee of EDRi (the European digital rights organization) said he had brought the issue to EPA's attention four months ago in January of this year but that nothing had been done. Paganini said that EPA did not know it was supposed to list any corporate members on the transparency register. was unfamiliar with the procedure in Brussels. However, EPA chairwoman Karin Riis Jorgensen is a former elected member of the European Parliament.
CEO says there is also evidence that the EPA has close relationships with two lobbyist consultancy firms, Competere Geopolitical Management and DCI Group, and is working to promote industry-friendly legislation in the new Data Protection Regulation that digital rights organizations say will undermine fundamental civil liberties online." 'via Blog this'

Marsden and Brown speak on #RegulatingCode at ORGCon 8 June: 12noon Room 1

Friday, 17 May 2013

Little Atoms 279 – Chris Marsden and Ian Brown & Regulating Code

Ian Brown is Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute. He is the editor of the Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet. Christopher T. Marsden is Professor of Law at the University of Sussex School of Law. He is the author of Net Neutrality: Towards a Co-Regulatory Solution, Internet Co-Regulation, and three other books. Ian and Chris are the join authors of Regulating Code: Good Governance and Better Regulation in the Information Age.
This week’s Little Atoms is presented by Becky Hogge, with special guest presenter Bill ThompsonBill Thompson is a technology writer, best known for his weekly column in the Technology section of BBC News Online and his appearances on Click, a radio show on the BBC World Service.

Little Atoms podcast available 17th May 2013

Chris Marsden and Ian Brown

Ian Brown is Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute. He is the editor of the Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet.
Christopher T. Marsden is Professor of Law at the University of Sussex School of Law. He is the author of Net Neutrality: Towards a Co-Regulatory Solution, Internet Co-Regulation, and three other books. Ian and Chris are the join authors of Regulating Code: Good Governance and Better Regulation in the Information Age.
This week's Little Atoms is presented by Becky Hogge, with special guest presenter Bill Thompson.
Bill Thompson is a technology writer, best known for his weekly column in the Technology section of BBC News Online and his appearances on Click, a radio show on the BBC World Service.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Human Rights Law Might not be the Answer: Response to Article 19’s Principles on Copyright

Human Rights Law Might not be the Answer: Response to Article 19’s Principles on Copyright | LSE Media Policy Project: Anne Barron: "Hackers are experimenting with new formulations of both freedom and property – re-thinking how both creative autonomy and economic security could be possible for authors in the new economy that the Internet has helped to produce. They are also engaged in imaginative efforts to re-mix trade mark rights, moral rights, ‘copyleft’ licences and informal hacker norms into a new array of authors’ rights that could advance these ideals more effectively than conventional copyrights. The experiments are unfinished and beset by contradictions, but they are arguably more responsive to the exigencies of the ‘digital age’ than the lofty notions enunciated in international human rights law." 'via Blog this'

Better late than never: UNESCO publications finally available free of charge

UNESCO to make its publications available free of charge as part of a new Open Access policy | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: "By adopting this new publishing policy, UNESCO aligns its practice to its advocacy work in favor of Open Access and strengthens its commitment to the universal access to information and knowledge. The Open Access (OA) movement was born in the scientific community to address the spiraling costs of the scientific literature, which is essential to researchers. A wide range of universities, institutions and governments support it as an alternative to the traditional model of knowledge dissemination through costly academic journals. Starting from July 2013, hundreds of downloadable digital UNESCO publications will be available to users through a new Open Access Repository with a multilingual interface." 'via Blog this'

The Shakespeare review: what's the future of UK open data?

The Shakespeare review: what's the future of UK open data? | News | "The main thing missing from the report is detail: what should be core data? How fast is fast? The trading funds should work differently, but how so? Who's actually going to implement this? What about [insert pet dataset here]?
Those questions aren't for Shakespeare to answer, but the answers will impact the entire scope of the review.
There's also potentially significant missed opportunities through not specifically addressing criminal justice data in detail: police data is opening, but court records (and detailed, granular sentencing information) lags significantly behind the rest of the UK government." 'via Blog this'

UK Government Censors Copyright Consultation Submission About Awful Collecting Societies

UK Government Censors Copyright Consultation Submission About How Awful Collection Societies Are | Techdirt: "the first link above is to Techdirt, and the others are to sites like the BBC, El Pais, Die Welt and TorrentFreak. None of them is defamatory, since they are all reporting on established facts. This means that the UK government must think that these facts are somehow "inappropriate". That's a pretty extraordinary state of affairs. The UK government has taken it upon itself to hide what UK collection societies get up to, in an absolutely key consultation, one of whose purposes is surely to get the facts about what's happening in this sector." 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Law is Code – and legislators need to catch up fast

Law is Code – Slaw: "Law makers of all stripes now need to think in terms of systems and consult with technologists in terms of not only formulating the law but in considering how the law will be implemented. Where there is a law, that law should be given a hand by technologists in terms of how it will be coded so that it comes to terms with the (increasingly) digital world in which we all work." 'via Blog this'

Monday, 6 May 2013

Monday, 29 April 2013

The road to monopoly is littered with good intentions: how the EC let Google win the search war

Three years ago, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes was a ‘Prosumer Champion’, defending European Internet users from Microsoft’s abusive behaviour as the dominant European – and global -  PC operating system vendor. She forced Microsoft to permit choice of Web browser for end users, as well as search. European prosumers – those who rip, mix, burn, blog, tweet or just update their Facebook status - were saved from monopoly. Or so some thought.
The browser war over, Ms Kroes explained that she was instituting a new European Interoperability Framework to ensure that “we do not have to fight an epic antitrust battle every time we want interoperability”. The idea was to bias government policy and law towards openness, to ensure that users were not locked into proprietary standards. Interoperability would stop a world where you have to ask permission to innovate. Together with the enforced openness of networks through the Citizen Rights and Better Regulation Directives, and their accompanying Declaration of Network Neutrality, which were passed on 18 December 2009, the Teenies were to be the decade when interoperability and openness won out over corporate control and segregation. How is that working out so far?
We know that net neutrality has been abandoned as a policy by Ms Kroes personally, with pesky Netherlands and Slovenian legislators (who passed net neutrality laws in 2012) the only champions of the open Internet so far amongst the 27 member states. Microsoft for 10 months refused to allow browser choice by default in Windows 7 in 2011, resulting in a massive fine of €561m levied in March 2013, a further skirmish in the browser wars in which it had previously been fined €497m in 2007 and €860m in 2012. For a company as massive as Microsoft, a total of almost €2,000,000,000 is peanuts. Even today, Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser, though the promise of free software Firefox is gaining ground while data-harvesting Google Chrome languishes far behind, alongside walled garden enthusiasts Apple’s Safari.
Google is involved in the new war, for control not of the desktop but of our personal data. While Facebook has since 2008 outstripped MySpace in social networking, a market which has grown tenfold in 5 years, Google now dominates Internet advertising, and is extending that lead into other sectors, notably e-commerce, video advertising and mapping for location-based commerce. Extending your monopoly, hard-won with innovative products, excellent engineering, well executed alliances and fortuitous timing, into downstream product and service markets shows that Google is copying Microsoft’s strategy from the 1990s. So has the European Commission learned its lessons from the decade of Microsoft investigation and then five years of litigation? Can we achieve interoperability without an epic antitrust case? Google was first complained of in 2008 – how far have we got?
The answer is almost nowhere, though we have so far avoided an epic antitrust case because Google gave voluntary undertakings rather than being forced into a formal settlement (Article 9 not Article 7 in the legal jargon). Google has apparently agreed – subject to formal closure of the case – that it will flag up clearly when it is inserting non-neutral Google-affiliated links that appear before what you asked for – the Internet’s most popular results. That is most of the settlement – an alleged abusive monopolist will flag up where it is abusing that dominance. Does that sound like a consumer victory?
The EC has caved in on interoperability and preventing abuse of a vertical monopoly, just as it earlier did on net neutrality (almost as soon as the Commissioner recovered from her mauling by rightly suspicious Parliamentarians at her confirmation hearing in March 2010, for failing to guarantee consumer protection from network operators trying to block rival content). Why has it caved in? To avoid a fight, and because Google achieved an even more overwhelming victory in the United States, gifted to it in January this year by Obama’s outgoing first term appointed Federal Trade Commissioners in the wake of the 2012 general election, that multi-billion dollar lobbyist festival of political backscratching sand backsliding.
Why does the European Commission want to achieve that Pyrrhic victory without a fight? It is in partly political – Google is seen as a greater innovator than the copyright and patent maximalist European corporates, so European defeat for Google on these grounds would threaten the home teams too. This betrays the Commission’s shaky grasp of digital innovation, unless one attributes darker motives to their support for big corporates over smaller true innovators and creators, not to mention prosumers. The political also figures in the need to be seen to be besting the US regulator, in a piece of pure theatre, Google pretending to feel the pain of the EC solution, and US commentators pretending to be outraged at EC interference. Even worse, the suggestion is that Commissioner Almunia wants his part in history not only as a member of Barroso’s austerity Commission, but as the quasi-regulator of Google, yet without extracting a binding settlement or any settlement at all outside the European Economic Area.
But the argument also goes to law and economics, and a view of regulating software code. How can Google discriminate? Because it writes both the best algorithms for searching across the Internet for most popular – i.e. most linked – pages, and also because it intersperses these with its own links, to its affiliated e-commerce or features such as maps. The former is what we can call its neutral public service function, which is why it became the search leader. The latter is its attempt to extract economic rents form users based on its neutral search reputation. Think of it as the distance between BBC and BBC World, its more commercial arm. The difference is that Google has no rules separating its two functions, and no requirement to be neutral, nor auditing of that neutrality.
As prosumers, we “believe” that its code (i.e. search result) is neutral, not because it used to claim a decade ago to “not be evil” before its legal obligation became that of maximising publicly traded shareholder returns. No, we “believe” because we have no option. It is the Sky Electronic Programme Guide without even the minimal regulation that European law imposes on Sky. If it is to become neutral, we need to take seriously that public service function.
That is the challenge for the new Commission in its ‘Europe2020’ agenda, to create an environment in which we prosumers are able to trust our famously lucrative eyeballs, and content provided as neutral is demonstrated to be that – to the advantage of advertisers (who would have a more transparent view of trusted providers and their audiences) and the poor bloody infantry, the prosumer, whether small business, sole trader, eBay buyer or web surfer.
Professor Chris Marsden is Law Professor at the University of Sussex and author, with Ian Brown (Oxford) of Regulating Code (MIT Press, 2013).

Friday, 26 April 2013

Google's New European "Antitrust" Search Results: Here's What They'll Look Like

Google's New European "Antitrust" Search Results: Here's What They'll Look Like: "There are three basic scenarios: where Google sees direct monetization from the SERP, indirect monetization in the vertical or no monetization (e.g., News in Europe). In each case the presentation and the rules will be slightly different. The screens below are all mock-ups that have been supplied to the EU by Google as part of the formal settlement proposal. The image immediately below reflects what the new page will look like in a situation where sponsored results appear in the SERP (e.g., product listing ads). The current label “sponsored” is expanded to include “Google Shopping results.” This is intended to clearly indicate these results are from Google." 'via Blog this'