The European Parliament's international trade committee has rejected a proposal by David Martin, an MEP who is drafting the Parliament's position on ACTA. Martin wanted to ask the European Court of Justice for its opinion on the controversial
anti-piracy treaty, but the committee decided that wasn't needed and will now vote in June on whether to approve ACTA. Opponents of the treaty see the development as a victory.
In a February announcement, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said that following discussion with fellow Commissioners, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The treaty, which is aimed at harmonizing global copyright enforcement globally, has largely been formulated behind closed doors and its critics fear it will only lead to censorship and surveillance of Internet users.
The plan was to ask the ECJ to look at ACTA and decide if it conflicts with the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and right to privacy.
ACTA will now be pushed through committees in the European Parliament during April and May and then to a final full Parliament vote at its June plenary session.
If ACTA dies in European Parliament, then it's a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill, said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons of new powers
to use, and close the door for the foreseeable future behind the legislators for a very necessary reform of the copyright and patent monopolies.
After its existence was first discovered by the public in 2008 after documents were uploaded to Wikileaks, ACTA's opponents now have just 10 weeks to pull out the stops.
France's National Digital Council requested in a letter to the president on 23 March voicing concern about the proposal and stressing that fundamental freedoms should not be sacrificed in order to combat cyber-crime and defend national security.
Your proposal raises several questions as regards, for example, the method of identifying the person who commits this offence, existing legislation (such as the eCommerce directive) and the fact that Internet service providers are not obliged to
keep a user's browsing history, the council's letter said. Furthermore, use of these sites by certain professions (such as journalists and university academics) and their ability to look at them regularly could raise legitimate difficulties when
it comes to enforcing this offence.
Bulgarian ISPs and campaigners have asked newly-inaugurated President Rosen Plevneliev to veto the Gambling Act and return it to the Parliament.
The Parliament have just decided to mandate ISPs to ban access to sites that offer unlicensed online gambling.
In an open letter to Plevneliev, the civic initiative No to ACTA and Internet Control, Internet Society Bulgaria, and the Association of Independent Internet Providers, note that the veto would allow a larger and deeper
debate on alternatives for effective fight against unlicensed gambling sites - alternatives that do not violate citizens' rights.
The organizations point out that more and more countries are tempted to censor and limit access to internet sites and the new Act makes filtering a fact in Bulgaria. They stress that filtering internet traffic is an extremely dangerous precedent
because instead of prevention and prosecution of the owners of unlicensed gambling sites that violate the law, the authorities will punish consumers by limiting their access to sites. The declaration adds:
Global experience shows that the appetite of governments to control internet is not going down; to the contrary -- it is on the rise. Tomorrow, those who want to control internet for the right content can decide to limit access to Facebook and
A joke about the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America was cut from Jean Dujardin's, Les Infideles , new film so he could win an Oscar, it has emerged.
The French star of the silent comedy The Artist won the Best Actor Oscar. But what many of the Americans voting for him did not know was that he produced and acted in a potentially devastating sketch in Les Infideles, which he is currently
promoting in France.
A source close to the makers of Les Infideles confirmed that Dujardin played a love cheat French businessman in one of the scenes cut out of the film. In the removed extract, the Frenchman had travelled to New York to conduct an affair, while
telling his wife that he was working hard in an office in Manhattan.
As he is about to seduce his lover in a hotel room, the businessman receives a phone call from his wife and tells her: Yes, yes, my darling, everything is fine. Meanwhile, the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001 can be seen starting
outside the window behind him, as a passenger plane flies in to the World Trade Centre. Original news footage was used in the sketch.
The source said: Yes, the scene was considered too much for America. It would have been provocative, especially in the run-up to the Oscars and other awards.
The film has previously come in for a bit of nutter stick. Posters for Les Infideles were taken down in Paris in response to whinges from the politically correct
After 28 years and 5,000 semi-clad and sometimes completely naked women, Germany's biggest-selling tabloid Bild, has announced that it was dropping its Page One Girl.
Bild is Europe's best-selling and the world's seventh biggest newspaper. It presented the decision as a spontaneous attempt by male staff to atone for decades of embarrassing sexism, although commentators said it was more likely it was
driven by commercial concerns.
It is perhaps a small step from the viewpoint of women, the paper wrote in an editorial-style report. But it is a big step for Bild and for every man in Germany.
The paper said the decision had been made on International Women's Day, when the paper was run and edited solely by men. Three hundred female staff from secretaries to section editors were given the day off.
But the German media commentator Christian Meier said that the Bild's circulation figures have been declining for years and the paper desperately needs to attract new readers, particularly within the female market.
Spain's highest court wants the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to decide if requests by Spanish citizens to have data deleted from Google's search engine are lawful.
The Spanish court said it had asked the ECJ to clarify whether Google should remove data from its search engine's index and news aggregator.
Madrid's data protection authority has received over 100 requests from Spanish citizens to have their data removed from Google's search results. An example case is a plastic surgeon who wants to get rid of archived references to a botched
The Spanish judges also asked the ECJ whether the complainants must take their grievances to California, where Google is based, or whether they can be addressed by Google Spain.
Google has maintained that it cannot lawfully remove any content for which it is merely the host and not the producer, a principle enshrined in EU law on eCommerce since 2000. Google told the Spanish prosecutor it needed more legal justification
for removing references to events in an individual's history.
A French government report is calling for a ban on mini-miss beauty pageants and children's lingerie to combat what it describes as the hyper-sexualisation of children.
The moves follow a controversy over a Vogue magazine photographic shoot featuring images of a 10-year-old French girl in a typical Vogue fashion setting. While the feature initially failed to rouse anger in France, it caused outrage in America
where the pictures were considered inappropriate, prompting the French government to announce its inquiry.
The parliamentary report, translated as Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight For Equality , calls for a ban on child-size adult clothing, such as padded bras and high-heeled shoes for children, and an end to beauty competitions for the
Chantal Jouanno, the author of the report and a senator and former sports minister, has also called for the outlawing of young models in advertising campaigns and the return of uniforms in primary schools as part of a series of measures to stem
the psychological damage she claims is being done to children.
She argued that while the sexualisation of children is not widespread in France, it is increasing and becoming acceptable because of what she described as the insidious normalisation of pornographic images.
The government report criticised the marketing of padded bras for eight year olds, thong underwear, make-up kits, and leggy dolls, all aimed at pre-pubescent girls under the age of 12.
As well as banning clothing and make up considered inappropriate for young girls, Jouanno also proposes making it illegal for top fashion houses or companies to use models under 16 in their campaigns.
Reintroducing school uniforms was a way of combatting competition between pupils over fashion label clothes which highlight social inequalities, said the report.
Techdirt has apparently been deemed harmful to minors in Germany. The German Media Control Authority has apparently been pushing internet youth filters to protect kids from dangerous things online. So far, it has officially approved two
It was discovered that Techdirt was one of many blocked sites as the filter claims that Techdirt has pornographic images and depictions of violence. We do?
Local Hanno reached out to a spokesperson for the JusProg filter, and got the usual runaround. We do not want to censor political opinions. BUT... The spokesperson claims that the system is automated and looks at links. When asked why
Techdirt was blocked, it was explained that since we use certain words perhaps twenty times in discussions about pornography and censorship, the system deemed us clearly a danger. Apparently, we can appeal to JusProg, but it appears that
might require some familiarity with German... So, in the meantime, let's just hope that we haven't already damaged the youth of Germany too much.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered his government to draft a new law punishing denial of the Armenian genocide after a top court struck down a previous bill.
The Constitutional Council earlier ruled the law backed by Sarkozy infringed on freedom of expression. The bill, which covers the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, was passed by both houses of the French parliament.
Turkey welcomed the ruling. But now Sarkozy seems set on re-opening Turkish antagonism. Noting the great disappointment and profound sadness of the law's backers, Sarkozy's office wrote in a statement:
The President of the Republic considers that [genocide] denial is intolerable and must therefore be punished. He has asked the government to prepare a new draft taking into account the decision of the Constitutional Council.
Signs featuring a woman with perky breasts and a short skirt are set to be removed from the streets of Uppsala in eastern Sweden following claims of a mix up.
The design for the sexier signs were seemingly rejected by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) for running afoul of the agency's anti-sexy policies.
But the design somehow got used anyway. Somehow, a rejected variant of the accepted prototype from several years ago was produced and erected on the streets of Uppsala, Tina Hallin of the Uppsala municipality told The Local.
The signs featuring the rejected design have now been taken down around Uppsala, even though there have been no official complaints from the residents.
The European Union's highest court has been asked to rule on the legality of a controversial anti-piracy agreement.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) has been criticised by rights campaigners who argue it could stifle free expression on the internet.
EU trade head Karel De Gucht said the court will be asked to clarify whether the treaty complied with the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms .
The European Commission said it decided today to ask the European Court of Justice for a legal opinion to clarify that the Acta agreement and its implementation must be fully compatible with freedom of expression and freedom of the internet
Several key countries, including Germany and Denmark, have backed away from the treaty amid protests in several European cities. Acta is set to be debated by the European Parliament in June.
In a statement, Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has outlined a robust position on internet freedom.
In it, she states for me, blocking the Internet is never an option and goes onto argue the current situation can and must not be changed by the ACTA agreement .
Reding concludes by saying I therefore welcome the intention of several members of the European Parliament to ask the European Court of Justice for a legal opinion to clarify that the ACTA agreement cannot limit freedom of expression and
freedom of the Internet.
Update: EU Parliament also asks for European Court guidance
he European Parliament has followed the Commission in referring the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court, for a view on its compatibility with EU law.
The decision to refer this question to the European Court is a manoeuvre designed to limit the impact of ACTA whatever the answer: if the Court decides ACTA does require European law to change, the Parliament is more likely to veto the treaty; if
it rules that no changes are necessary, that will weaken the hand of those that seek later to invoke ACTA as justification for creating new enforcement powers.
Malta's Ombudsman has issued recommendations on the composition and functions on the new film classification board which will replace the Board of Film and State Censors.
The recommendations were made as the Ombudsman, Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino, considered a complaint by KRS film importers against the chairman of the current board. KRS complained that in 2010, 28% of the films released locally
were given a higher rating that in the UK.
Judge Said Pullicino noted that the proposed legislation will abolish the Film and Stage Classification Board and create a separate Board of Film Age-Classification, with similar functions to those possessed by the existing Board. In terms of the
proposed regulations, the Film Board will consist of a chairperson and a number of 3-7 members who are appointed by the Minister for Tourism, Culture and the Environment.
The Ombudsman said the persons appointed to the film board should broadly represent the Maltese community. It should include a mixture of men and women with as close to a gender balance as possible, incorporating persons of different ages so that
there is a reasonable spread of age amongst the members. At least one of the members should be well versed in issues affecting children and young people, either as parent or through his previous employment or other activities he is involved in.
The Ombudsman noted that the proposed regulations, like those currently in force, mention that the classification of films is to be carried out in accordance with guidelines to be drawn up by the Film Board but the draft legislation is silent on
whether these should be made available, not only to applicants but also to the general public.
The Ombudsman said the film distributors and the public had the right to know what the guidelines drawn up by the Board will be.
The new rules also require the Film Board to issue, concurrently with the classification, notices to the public containing additional information as to the content of the films classified -- a practice which is already in place in many countries
and which is indispensable since it enables consumers to know which classifiable elements (e.g. coarse language, violence, drug use, nudity etc) have led to the classification decision.
He stressed that loosening state control on censorship does not equate to decriminalisation. Actions violating the new regulations could still be considered, in certain circumstances, an offence punishable at law. The Commissioner of Police still
retained the ultimate right to order a suspension of any screening and the closure of any cinema for a period not exceeding fifteen days for reasons of public order or morality or for non-compliance with any of these Regulations .
Morocco has banned the distribution of Thursday's edition of Spain's El Pais newspaper, as a cartoon published by the newspaper allegedly tarnished King Mohammed VI's name.
The decision to ban (the paper) was made on the basis of article 29 of the press code that protects the monarch, a senior communication ministry official told AFP: The caricature contains a deliberate intention to smear the (king's)
image to harm the king personally.
The cartoon, which was picked up by a Moroccan website, accompanied an article by Spanish journalist Ignacio Cembrero. Contacted by AFP, Cembrero said the Moroccan reaction surprised him as the small cartoon was friendly and rather likeable
A leading British lawyer has condemned new European regulations that force websites to delete data on users' request, saying such rules could transform search engines like Google into a censor-in-chief for the European Union, rather than a
neutral platform .
According to the current European proposal from Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, various websites will be forced to delete information shortly after consumers request it be removed.
Prof Jeffrey Rosen, writing in the Stanford Law Review, argued that the fear of fines will have a chilling effect, and that it will be hard to enforce across the Internet when information is widely disseminated:
Although Reding depicted the new right as a modest expansion of existing data privacy rights, in fact it represents the biggest threat to free speech on the Internet in the coming decade.
Unless the right is defined more precisely when it is promulgated over the next year or so, it could precipitate a dramatic clash between European and American conceptions of the proper balance between privacy and free speech, leading to a far
less open Internet.
Prof Rosen warns that if the regulations are implemented as currently proposed, it's hard to imagine that the Internet results will be as free and open as it is now.
European disquiet about the terms of the ACTA anti-piracy treaty is gaining momentum. The Netherlands and Bulgaria are the latest to question the treaty.
A majority of the Dutch Parliament is said to be against the ratification of ACTA. They only intend to change this position if there's irrefutable evidence that it doesn't violate basic human rights.
Right now this is certainly not the case, as professors Douwe Korff and Ian Brown examined ACTA's compatibility with human rights and concluded:
Overall, ACTA tilts the balance of IPR protection manifestly unfairly towards one group of beneficiaries of the right to property, IP right holders, and unfairly against others.
It equally disproportionately interferes with a range of other fundamental rights, and provides or allows for the determination of such rights in procedures that fail to allow for the taking into account of the different, competing interests,
but rather, stack all the weight at one end.
This makes the entire Agreement, in our opinion, incompatible with fundamental European human rights instruments and -standards.
Meanwhile in Bulgaria, more than 10,000 people took the streets in Sofia last Saturday to protest the treaty, Economy Minister Traicho Traikov then announced that the country will not ratify ACTA before other EU countries have made up their
The European Commission has strongly criticized recent laws passed in Hungary, saying they damage democracy and force the media toward self-censorship when reporting on the prime minister and the government.
EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes, speaking after talks with Hungarian Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics, she said the European Union continues to have grave concerns about the current situation in Hungary.
The EU has already opened legal proceedings against Hungary over the independence of its judiciary and the central bank under Prime Minister Viktor Orban. An EU media advisory panel has also denounced the extraordinary concentration of
media power under Orban.
But Kroes said the EU's concerns are wider and center on the quality of its democracy and on its political culture. She said that in the latest media developments, authorities are pushing for high music content on radio to quieten
political discussion such as that broadcast by private station Klubradio, which has been threatened with a ban. Klubradio has been given a a 60-day license extension, pending its court appeal against the Media Council decision to award the
frequency to another bidder.
Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that Hungary's Media Council (NMHH) has rejected opposition radio station Klubradio's bid to keep its Budapest commercial radio frequency, 95.3 FM, although the station had already been reassigned it
after going to court. The bids of all other radio frequency applicants were also rejected.
The Media Council's stubborn hostility towards Klubradio only reinforces the view that it is politicized, despite its denials, Reporters Without Borders said. This decision is just the latest stage in a long battle that has included an
attempt by the ruling party to use its legislative power to circumvent court decisions. It also underscores the dangers of the 2010 media law, which Prime Minister Viktor Orban is trying to retain in the face of general opposition.
By citing the 'Klubradio judicial precedent' as grounds for eliminating all the applicants for the three frequencies on offer in the capital, this regulatory agency is just making things worse. If it sticks to these ridiculous arguments, it
will be clear that it has a political agenda. How far will the ruling party go in its attempts to ride roughshod over its opponents and the international community?
The recently elected president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has criticized the current ACTA treaty, saying it provides little protection for the rights of individual users.
I don't find it good in its current form, Schultz said in an interview with Germany's ARD television station on Sunday. The current treaty swings too heavily in favor of copyright holders, he said, and an individual's internet freedoms is only very inadequately anchored in this agreement.
Schultz's own party, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, has come out against ACTA, and the German government announced on Friday that it was going to hold off on ratifying ACTA until after the European Parliament has voted on
the issue. That vote is scheduled in June, after the European Parliament's trade committee has scrutinized it.
A Belgian court has refused to ban the sale of Tintin in the Congo , rejecting arguments by a Congolese man that the iconic 1931 comic book was filled with racist stereotypes about Africans.
The Brussels court ruled that Belgian anti-racism laws only apply when there is a willful intention to discriminate against someone, said an attorney for Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, the man who tried to get the strip off bookshelves.
The court heard arguments that given the historical context, the author, Herge, could not have been motivated by the desire to discriminate.
For the past four years, Mbutu Mondondo had sought to get the book banned or at least force stores to place a warning label on the cover or add a preface explaining that it was written in a different era, as English versions do.
Mbutu's lawyers said he would appeal the decision.
Thousands of people have taken part in co-ordinated protests across Europe in opposition to a controversial anti-piracy agreement.
Significant marches were held in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).
Around 200 protesters gathered in central London outside the offices of several major rights holders.
Saturday's London demonstration was supported by the Open Rights Group, a vocal opponent to the treaty. The group's executive director, Jim Killock, argued that Germany's stance shows Acta negotiations were carried out in secret by EU bureaucrats
. Three member states in Europe are now looking like they don't want to sign, he told the BBC: That shows that politicians are only really starting to look at this now. All of a sudden, the whole thing is breaking down.
Speaking at the London protest Loz Kaye said: What we've seen is a whole wave of people coming out on the streets right across Europe, he told the BBC. Some people have been called extreme, but equally, Amnesty International,
Medecins Sans Frontieres have spoken out. Even The Economist, which is hardly radical, has described the treaty as potentially draconian.
More demonstrations were held in other UK cities, including Edinburgh and Glasgow. .
Amnesty International has urged EU governments not to join the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), branding it a Pandora's box of potential human rights violations.
Starting this Saturday, 11 February, a range of civil society groups and individual citizens have planned protests in many European cities to voice opposition to ACTA before the European Parliament decides whether to formally ratify the pact
later this year.
Amnesty International believes the pact's content, process, and institutional structure impact in a number of ways on human rights -- especially the rights to due process, privacy, freedom of information, freedom of expression, and access to
The EU should reject ACTA in its current form -- implementing the agreement could open a Pandora's box of potential human rights violations by doing away with due process and front-loading the requirement to enforce its provisions, said
Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International: While Amnesty believes that creators should be compensated for their work, the protection of intellectual property should never come at the expense of
basic human rights.
Amnesty International is concerned about ACTA's broad coverage, vague language, and tendency to value private law enforcement over judicial review. Rather than allowing the courts to resolve how infractions of the ACTA should be treated, the pact
obliges states to encourage third parties to enforce its provisions.
This would incentivize Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to impose repressive measures to avoid infringements, such as blocking, deleting, or even suspending services without recourse to judicial review.
Companies may be threatened with criminal sanctions if they derive indirect economic benefit from infringements or if they are deemed to have aided and abetted one or more acts of infringement. This is likely to have a chilling
effect on free speech and access to information.
As these private companies would also be incentivized to implement intrusive surveillance technologies in order to avoid being liable for the actions of their users, this would also lead to gross violations of user privacy.
Access to generic medicines and other essential products could also be affected, as the ACTA would give customs officials the authority to seize products with labels suspected of being confusingly similar to trademark brands. Giving generic
medicines similar labels helps to communicate medical equivalence and supports public health policy goals.
Amnesty International is also gravely concerned about the ACTA's vague and meaningless safeguards. Instead of using well-defined and accepted terminology, the text refers to concepts such as fundamental principles and even invents a
concept of fair process , which currently has no definition in international law.
Only a small number of states including EU members, Japan, Australia and the USA, have negotiated the Agreement since 2007. The negotiation process has lacked transparency and democratic credibility, as it has taken place outside of recognized
institutions, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The public was kept out of the process, and civil society, despite its demands, has not yet had access to all documents relating to the ACTA negotiations. US industry was kept up to speed with the negotiations, on condition that the industry
partners signed a non-disclosure agreement.
The resulting standards are tremendously skewed towards protecting commercial interests over human rights.
Germany has halted signing a controversial anti-piracy accord, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta), after the justice ministry voiced concerns.
A foreign ministry spokesperson told AFP that the delay was to give us time to carry out further discussions .
Latvia put off ratification on Friday. Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have already delayed the process.
The Associated Press reports Germany's that Justice ministry believes the legislation is unnecessary in Germany and that the European Parliament should vote on Acta before the country considers it for ratification.
Anti-Acta websites currently list more than 50 protests scheduled to take place across Germany on Saturday.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty, signed by most European countries last week, has generated considerable protest. This has sparked at least one signatory to have a deeper think about what they actually signed up for.
The Slovenian ambassador to Japan, Helena Drnovsek Zorko, has issued an unprecedented public apology for signing the treaty, saying she was only obeying orders and was now supporting the public protests against the treaty. She sdmitted:
I signed ACTA out of civic carelessness, because I did not pay enough attention, she said, in a most undiplomatic display of honesty. Quite simply, I did not clearly connect the agreement I had been instructed to sign with the agreement that,
according to my own civic conviction, limits and withholds the freedom of engagement on the largest and most significant network in human history, and thus limits particularly the future of our children.
The Polish government has announced it is to suspend the ratification of the ACTA treaty, in light of public concern. Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said:.
The issue of signing of the ACTA accord did not involve sufficient consultation with everyone who is part of the process. The ACTA ratification process will be frozen as long as we haven't overcome all the doubts. This will probably require a
review of Polish law. We can't rule out that, at the end of the day, this accord will not be approved.
French European Parliament member Kader Arif, who resigned in protest the day the treaty was signed, urged his fellow parliamentarians to reject ACTA.
I see a great risk concerning checks at borders, and the agreement foresees criminal sanctions against people using counterfeited products as a commercial activity, he told The Guardian. This is relevant for the trade of fake shoes or bags, but
what about data downloaded from the internet? If a customs officer considers that you may set up a commercial activity just by having one movie or one song on your computer, which is true in theory, you could face criminal sanctions.
I don't want people to have their laptops or MP3 players searched at borders, Arif said. There needs to be a clearer distinction between normal citizens and counterfeiters which trade fake products as a commercial activity.
[And if you doubt what Arif is saying you only have to look to Britain for an example of EXACTLY what Arif fears. The British Parliament deliberately targeted its anti porn laws at commercial suppliers rather than
customers. Yet the British authorities corrupted the law and deemed that giving a dodgy video to your mate was in fact commercial supply. They argued that commercial 'gain' could be as minimal as just the satisfaction of doing your mate a good
The Open Rights Group are supporting a demonstration against ACTA, which will take place in central London on Saturday, on 11th February. It has been planned to coincide with demonstrations across Europe, when a chorus of thousands of
discontented voices will speak as one against over-reaching Internet laws.
The aim will be to tell as many people as possible what's going on by distributing leaflets and asking those who are worried to contact their MEPs.
People will be meeting at UK Music's offices, 27 Berners St, Paddington, central London at 2pm. The Open Rights Group will help supply what can only be described as brilliant leaflets and fabulous t-shirts. Then the idea is to split up into small
teams and head off to spread the word.
The Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) is knocking Britain's new plan that requires surfers to select whether or not they want internet blocking, calling it nothing less than censorship.
The ISPAI said the responsibility should lie with parents policing what their children view on the web and not the business of the U.K. government. ISPAI's Paul Duran told the Irish Independent:
If Internet service providers are dictating what can be accessed, then that could be seen as nothing less than censorship. Essentially we would be deciding what would be the inappropriate material. That should be left to the parents or
The ISPAI represents 20 ISPs in Ireland including Eircom, O2, Vodafone and UPC.
Critics of the British move said there are a number of practical issues that are being overlooked and need to be addressed. The restrictions could lump in websites that do not contain sexually explicit material.
Digital law expert JP McIntyre said:
Many of these blocking issues are easy to circumvent, but what they do tend to do is damage people who have been wrongly blocked. You'll find that shops selling things like lingerie get blocked by these filters,
Very often there are no appeal mechanisms or they are very hard to use and in the meantime people find that their businesses are suffering because people can't access their sites and they don't know why.
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald refused to comment on whether there were any plans to persuade Irish ISPs to adopt the British model.
The European Parliament rapporteur for ACTA, Kader Arif, resigned just hours after the EU signed the controversial intellectual property treaty.
In a translated statement, Arif denounced the process leading up to the ACTA signings as a masquerade .
I denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process which has led to the signature of this agreement: failure to address civil society, lack of transparency since the beginning of the negotiations, successive reports of the signature
of the text without any explanation, sweeping aside of the views of the European Parliament expressed in several different resolutions.
Arif said that he had come under pressure to rush through the ratification process so as to keep ACTA out of the public eye.
As rapporteur on this matter, I was contronted by unprecedented manoeuvres by the right of the Parliament to impose an accelerated timetable with a goal of passing the agreement quickly before public opinion could be alerted.
The rapporteur closed his statement by expressing the hope that his resignation would lead to greater public awareness of the treaty.
This agreement could have major consequences on the lives of our citizens, and yet it seems that everything is being done to ensure that the European Parliament will have no voice in this chapter. Thus, today, in handing back the report that I
have been in charge of, I hope to send a strong signal to alert public opinion to this unacceptable situation. I will not participate in this masquerade.
European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has proposed a sweeping reform of the EU's data protection rules, claiming that the proposed rules will both cost less for governments and corporations to administer and simultaneously strengthen
online privacy rights.
The 1995 Data Protection Directive already gives EU citizens certain rights over their data. Organizations can process data only with consent, and only to the extent that they need to fulfil some legitimate purpose. They are also obliged to keep
data up-to-date, and retain personally identifiable data for no longer than is necessary to perform the task that necessitated collection of the data in the first place. They must ensure that data is kept secure, and whenever processing of
personal data is about to occur, they must notify the relevant national data protection agency.
The new proposals go further than the 1995 directive, especially in regard to the control they give citizens over their personal information. Chief among the new proposals is a right to be forgotten that will allow people to demand that
organizations that hold their data delete that data, as long as there is no legitimate grounds to hold it.
This is the so-called right to be forgotten . The proposal does not create a right to be thrown down the memory hole or rewrite the past; news reports and similar material would be a legitimate reason to retain personal information, and
this would override a demand to have data deleted. But sites like Facebook---which has had difficulties with the concept of deletion---and Google would likely be required to purge any such personal data should someone demand that they do so.
part, been welcomed by Google.
But she noted that the current text submitted by the European Commission is incredibly complex and thereby open to any number of interpretations by data protection authorities and companies that could be expected to comply with the rules, if
passed by the European Parliament in their current form.
Here's what Reding's proposed regulation currently states on the right to be forgotten :
Article 17 provides the data subject's right to be forgotten and to erasure. It further elaborates and specifies the right of erasure provided for in Article 12(b) of Directive 95/46/EC and provides the conditions of the right to be forgotten,
including the obligation of the controller which has made the personal data public to inform third parties on the data subject's request to erase any links to, or copy or replication of that personal data. It also integrates the right to have
the processing restricted in certain cases, avoiding the ambiguous terminology blocking .
The European Union and 22 Member States have officially signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The UK was among the signatories who gathered in Japan to sign the controversial intellectual property treaty.
The signatories commit to a raft of controversial intellectual property enforcement measures, including rules outlawing DRM circumvention, introducing criminal enforcement of intellectual property rights, and passages which have been interpreted
as turning ISPs into an unofficial copyright police force .
The treaty still requires ratification by the European Parliament. The final vote is scheduled for June.
Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Polish cities, some of them hurling stones at police, in protest at an international copyright treaty criticized as a clampdown on freedom of speech on the internet.
In the city of Kielce around 700 people protested. Some of them threw bottles and stones at police, damaged cars and partially blocked traffic.
In the largest demonstration, in Cracow, 15,000 people took to the streets in a largely peaceful protest. Demonstrators chanted Down with censorship while some had a piece of tape inscribed with ACTA glued over their lips.
ACTA is the acronym for the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which Poland was to sign in Tokyo on Thursday.
Iranian protestors gathered in Geneva, demanding the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, to take action on the Iranian government's illegal internet and communications censorship.
The protesters held placards demanding an end to the Iranian government's censorship and satellite jamming. The gathering drew the attention of attending diplomats to the widespread repression of freedom of speech and access to information.
In this rally, that was afforded protection by the Geneva police, participants demanded ITU members to act to the fullest extent of their legal capacity to stop the jamming of Persian-language satellites and eliminate censorship conducted by the
Iranian government under the banner of national internet .
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomed a new International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regulation requiring governments take necessary action to stop jamming of satellite broadcasts from within their jurisdiction.
The ITU and its member states should immediately start monitoring Iran's compliance with the new regulation and take any additional steps needed to ensure Iranian authorities stop interfering with satellite broadcasts, the Campaign added.
This is the first meaningful action taken by the ITU and the UN to make legal provisions to counter censorship of satellite programs within various countries, said Aliakbar Mousavi, former Iranian MP who served as deputy head of the
Parliamentary Telecommunications Committee.
The Campaign's spokesperson Hadi Ghaemi said:
The ITU has now made Iran's legal obligations perfectly clear. But the international community, including telecommunications corporations like Eutelsat, needs to sustain its efforts to make sure Iran stops jamming satellite broadcasts..
The French Senate has approved a controversial bill that makes it a criminal offence to deny that genocide was committed by Ottoman Turks against Armenians during World War I. The Senate approved the bill by 127 votes to 86.
The measure will now be sent to President Sarkozy for final approval.
The bill's passage in the lower house caused major tensions with Turkey. Ankara froze ties with France after the vote last month and promised further measures if the Senate backed the proposal.
The BBC's correspondent in Istanbul, Jonathan Head, says stronger Turkish measures could include the withdrawal of ambassadors and creating more barriers to French businesses in Turkey.
In the first reaction from Ankara, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin condemned the bill. He told the CNN-Turk television channel:
The decision made by the Senate is a great injustice and shows total lack of respect for Turkey.
The Turkish embassy in Paris warned that if President Sarkozy approved the bill, the damage done to relations between the two countries would be permanent.
A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of having posted a hateful video to the internet calling on Allah to destroy members of the Norwegian government and royal family.
The man, a Norwegian citizen with a Central American family background, was arrested at his home by policemen from the Telemark police service and the domestic police intelligence agency, PTS. He faces preliminary charges of threatening state
officials and incitement to terrorism.
The suspect's lawyer, John Christian Elden, said his client admitted to being behind the video but did not believe it contained any threats: He was not previously known to police, and he doesn't think he has done anything illegal, even though
he admits that he's the one who posted the video .
A link to the video was posted in a Facebook group with 1,600 members called Demonstrasjon: Norske soldater ut av Afghanistan [Demonstration: Norwegian soldiers out of Afghanistan]. The group's aim is to gather protesters for a rally
outside the Oslo parliament. The number of group members has dropped to below 1,300 since the video appeared there.
In the video, images of Crown Prince Haakon, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store are accompanied by a song in Arabic that contains the words: Oh Allah, destroy them, and let it be painful .
The 'furore' over censorship that marked 2011's ban on the play Stitching has inspired a draft censorship law. Tourism and culture minister Mario de Marco unveiled a draft law for the self-regulation of theatre productions.
De Marco said a new system of self-regulation will allow producers to set age limits for audiences on new guidelines.
A new four-member guidance board will issue guidelines to be adopted by stage producers when awarding an age-classification to the production and to assist producers who seek its counsel by suggesting appropriate age-classifications for their
stage productions, or confirming the age-classification given by the producer and director in the first instance.
The board will be chaired by Adrian Mamo, chairman of the Malta Council for Culture and Arts.
The proposed roles of the guidance board also include the presentation of complaints from the general public about the age-classification given to a production with the Board issuing its advice on whether the age-classification should be reviewed
or not. Such advice is not binding on the producer and director, however it must be made public in order to better inform the public.
The government has now launched for public consultation the amendments to the Stage and Film Classification. The consultation process is open for a period of three weeks and ends on the 7 February 2012.
Amendments on the film industry include the reconstitution of the existing Board to a Board of Film Age-Classification, which shall be responsible for the a priori classification of films. The Board of Film Age-Classification will be placed under
a duty to publish the age-classifications given to films, citing the reasons for such a classification. The board will no longer be responsible for theatre censorship.
The proposed amendments also include the creation of a film Appeals Board to hear appeals from the aggrieved party in connection with the age-classification given to a named film.
The Duchess of York, who faces charges in Turkey for going undercover and secretly filming children at a state-run home for a 2008 documentary, canceled a recent trip to the United States because of the case, a source and her spokesman said.
The United States and Turkey have an extradition treaty and the cancellation raised the question of whether Sarah Ferguson is avoiding the United States because she fears being sent to Turkey.
The duchess was accompanied by one of her two daughters, Princess Eugenie, to film the ITV Tonight program in Turkey. An ITV press statement at the time of the film's broadcast in 2008 said the duchess, as part of a reporting team, had gone undercover in one of Turkey's worst institutions -- capturing images that will shock and horrify.
The hard-hitting program was intended to help investigate the treatment of mentally and physically disabled children, ITV said.
Ferguson feels the work she did in Turkey was completely valid and consistent with her ongoing support for humanitarian causes, spokesman James Henderson told CNN. Ferguson is consulting rights lawyers as well as attorneys in Turkey as she
decides what to do next, he said.
The Ankara prosecutor's office in Turkey accused the duchess of violating the private lives and rights of five children while filming a program for Britain's ITV network, Turkey's semiofficial Anatolian news agency reported last
week. Discussing the case, the Ankara chief prosecutor asked for a prison term of up to 22 years, six months, Turkish state TV reported.
What Ferguson is accused of in Turkey would not constitute a crime in Britain.
The Home Office confirmed that it has received a formal request for mutual legal assistance concerning Sarah, Duchess of York.
Compared with some European countries where courts are telling ISPs that they must block access to certain sites (in Finland and the UK, for example), news from Germany comes as a refreshing change. The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported:
Deutsche Telekom must allow access to online betting sites, even if they are illegal in Germany. So ruled the Cologne Administrative Court.
This follows a decision in Dusseldorf at the end of last year, where a judge had ruled that Vodafone and Telekom were not responsible for the content of Web sites, because they played no role in selecting material, and therefore should not be
forced to block access.
Moreover, the latest judgment can be used as a precedent in similar cases, according to the Der Spiegel report.
The Swedish newspaper Metro published a comic strip by Norwegian artist Frode Overli, playing on a literal interpretationof cannibals asking for someone's hand [in marriage].
The paper received a barrage of complaints from readers who perceived the cartoon as somehow racist.
Swedish artist Jason Timbuktu Diakite said:
Frode Overli's comic strip...was the most insensitive and degrading thing I have ever read in your newspaper. It is a crystal clear case of ignorance and lack of insight in what it feels like to be subjected to racism. I feel deeply offended and
very sad, Diakite.
The comic strip features a cannibal chief, his daughter, and a prospective suitor.
According to Metro, some 60 readers contacted the paper saying that they felt that the image was racist. The paper has therefore chosen to print an apology, saying that it never meant to offend anyone.
German authorities have announced a plan to place anti-Islamic websites under surveillance because of growing concern that they are becoming more radical and fomenting right-wing violence.
The domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said last week it had set up a working group to assess whether German-language sites such as Politically Incorrect and Nurnberg 2.0 ,
whose stated aim is to oppose the Islamisation of Europe are in breach of the constitution.
The attack by Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people in July and posted a manifesto on the internet, threw a spotlight on the role played by websites as a forum for spreading hatred of Muslims in Europe. Calls for
greater scrutiny of the far-right intensified after the revelation in November that a neo-Nazi terrorist cell murdered at least 10 people, eight of them Muslim immigrants of Turkish origin, in a killing spree spanning more than a decade.
The head of the Hamburg branch of the intelligence agency, Manfred Murck, said there were clear signs that the operators of many anti-Muslim sites had a disturbed relationship with the democratic rule of law and often espoused infringements of
human rights protected under our constitution.
A member of parliament for the opposition Left Party, Ulla Jelpke, said closer supervision of such sites was long overdue. Blogs and websites such as Politically Incorrect or Nurnberg 2.0 clearly promote a racism that extends deep into society,
said Ms Jelpke:
They call into question the dignity and the rights of a whole group of people solely because of their origin or their faith. They thereby clearly run counter to core values of the constitution.
Prejudice against Muslims isn't a problem of the periphery but of the heart of society. That's why it's so dangerous.
Irish shops could be banned from selling sexy clothes to children under new guidelines being considered for retailers.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is expected to address the role of retailers in the early sexualisation of children as part of the Government's strategy for children and young people.
It has reportedly held talks with the National Consumer Agency about developing a code of conduct for retailers that would prevent them from selling clothes to children with sexually suggestive material. Items of clothing which have previously
come under fire include heeled shoes for toddlers, cropped tops shaped like bras for girls as young as five and skimpy underwear for pre-teens that include inappropriate slogans.
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald noted: In Ireland, there is neither a code of conduct for the retail of children's wear nor even basic guidelines by the BRC. This should be addressed. We should be examining high-level objectives and the
types of actions we should take in this country.