Saturday 30 August 2014

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Understanding the Google Antitrust Case: Horizontal vs Vertical Search

Posted by on 26/08/14

In various conversations over recent months, I have noticed that a lot of people don’t understand the difference between general, or horizontal search on the one hand, and specialised, or vertical search on the other. Understanding the differences is crucial to understanding how Google abuses its dominant position, because Google systematically describes a vast “search” market that denies any meaningful differences.

 

I think of these differences from four perspectives:

  1. Operators (like Google) that offer both general search and vertical search services;
  2. Vertical search providers, including Google Shopping;
  3. Websites and advertisers;
  4. Users and consumers.

 

Natural vs Vertical: Differences in the way search results are selected for display by Google

  • Whereas horizontal search results are selected on the basis of an algorithm that is applied to the entire Web and primarily designed to provide the most relevant pages, vertical search results are selected from a smaller group of sites, often listed in a database that is separate from the index of the Web from which horizontal search results are selected, and that Google deems capable of fulfilling a consumer need that it infers.
  • Google Shopping’s competitors in the vertical product search market, including Allegro’s Polish (ceneo.pl) and Czech (heureka.cz) comparison shopping services, similarly select sites for display from a subset of product provider sites and not from the entire Web.
  • Websites seeking to be found in horizontal search results need only to ensure that they can be indexed by web crawlers, whereas those seeking to be included in vertical search results must gain access to distinct databases or other data infrastructure operated by the vertical search provider.
  • Consumers experience horizontal and vertical search results differently. Horizontal results provide an overview of the most relevant places on the Web – an information experience akin to getting directions, while vertical results are a consumption experience.

Passive vs Active, Unstructured vs Structured: Differences in the way the content of the search results is provided

  • Whereas the content of horizontal search results is actively collected, at intervals, by Google’s crawling and indexing technology, and whereas sites appearing in search results have autonomy with regard to the way they design their pages, sites selected for display in vertical search products typically have contractual relationships with Google and actively provide data to Google via a feed – a permanent connection to Google’s systems. This data must be structured according to criteria determined by Google.
  • This is also the case for Allegro’s comparison shopping sites, which require partners to provide product listings in a structured format, and do not collect the data themselves from the Web.
  • Partners of Google’s vertical search services make a clear internal distinction between the activity of building their web pages with a view to their inclusion in natural search results (Search Engine Optimisation or SEO) and that of sending Google structured data for inclusion in vertical search services.
  • Consumers experience passively provided information drawn from web sites as a view (such as a snippet) on what is actually present on a given page (horizontal search results), while they experience vertical search results as product or service offerings.

Open vs Closed: Differences in the way advertisements and other commercial placements are selected for display

  • Whereas AdWords ads are selected by Google from among all bidders in an open auction to respond to a search query, the product or service providers that Google selects for promotion in a vertical search service are drawn from a restricted pool of partners defined by Google. For example, Google might allow bids for AdWords on the keywords “yellow mac” from fashion retailers (yellow raincoats), electronics retailers (yellow Mac computers), and others, but in the Google Shopping product, bids from only one of these categories will be allowed.
  • Similarly, Allegro’s comparison shopping services organise listings according to product categories.
  • AdWords advertisers have a great deal of freedom to purchase the opportunity to be found according to key words they deem likely to drive traffic to their sites, while vertical search partners are purchasing a sales lead that the vertical search service (e.g. Google Shopping or one of Allegro’s comparison shopping services) is qualifying for them. Google’s role as an intermediary is much more active in vertical search than in AdWords.
  • Consumers experience AdWords as a collection of links that a potentially large group of advertisers hope they will find interesting, whereas they experience vertical search results as product or service offerings that the vertical search provider hopes will interest them.

 

To people who manage web sites, or are in the vertical search or advertising businesses, these distinctions are very clear. Although there are also clear differences for consumers, Google’s practice of tying its vertical search services to its horizontal search results pages often leads to a blurring of the lines in consumers’ minds. That is why both industry and consumers are actively supporting the Commission’s investigation into its practices.

 

‘Class action’ contre Facebook : 20.000 utilisateurs attaquent Facebook pour violation de la vie privée

Posted by on 08/08/14

L’avocat autrichien Max Schrems a fédéré 20.000 personnes du monde entier autour d’une class action contre Facebook, visant à une meilleure protection des données. L’encyclopédie collaborative affirme que la décision de justice européenne crée des "trous de mémoire" sur internet. Après cette condamnation de la part de Wikipedia, le droit à l’oubli serait-il devenu une fausse bonne idée ?

Pour Max Schrems, aucun doute : la manière dont Facebook surveille l’activité de ses membres est contraire à la législation européenne. Cet avocat autrichien de 26 ans a déposé plainte contre le réseau social le 1er août devant le tribunal de commerce de Vienne. Cette plainte vise plus particulièrement Facebook Ireland Limited, la filiale irlandaise du groupe, qui gère la présence de l’entreprise dans le monde en dehors des Etats-Unis et du Canada.

Pour arriver à ses fins, Max Schrems a lancé une class action, c’est-à-dire une action judiciaire collective. Il encourage tous les utilisateurs de Facebook à le rejoindre pour réclamer des dommages et intérêts sur fbclaim.com. 20.000 personnes avaient déjà rejoint le combat mercredi 5 août. Le nombre de plaignants est limité à 25.000 personnes, mais Max Schrems invite les internautes à se manifester, au cas où l’affaire venait à évoluer. Eulogos répondra positivement à cet appel

Selon le jeune avocat, Facebook violerait la vie privée pour les raisons suivantes :

- Le Graph Search, qui permet aux utilisateurs de se renseigner sur les activités d’autres membres sur le réseau social

- Le traçage de membres en dehors de Facebook à travers les boutons "like" embarqués dans des pages tierces

- L’analyse de données via un système de big data : le réseau social chercherait à mieux cerner ses membres en passant au crible leurs interactions sur le site

Max Schrems accuse aussi l’entreprise d’avoir coopéré avec Prism, un programme de surveillance américain. Si le réseau social a démenti par le passé connaître Prism, il a toutefois reconnu avoir collaboré avec les agences gouvernementales américaines pour des demandes liées à la sécurité nationale.

Max Schrems demande 500 euros de dommages et intérêts pour chacune des personnes associées à l’affaire. Bien que le système juridique autrichien ne prévoit pas de recours collectif à l’américaine, l’avocat travaille à ce que les participants lui transfèrent leurs demandes d’indemnisation, ce qui est autorisé. L’action en justice ne présente pas de risque financier pour les particuliers. L’organisme allemand Roland ProzessFinanz AG prend en charge les frais judiciaires, mais se réserve 20% des gains en cas de victoire.

Avec cette démarche, Max Schrems poursuit sa croisade contre Facebook entamée il y a trois ans. En 2011, il demandait au réseau social de lui révéler toutes les informations qu’il possédait sur lui. Il reçoit alors 1.222 pages extrêmement détaillées, contenant tous les statuts et messages effacés, les tags sur les photos, les pokes, les demandes d’amis refusées… Il dépose alors une plainte auprès de la commissaire à la protection des données irlandaise. (CF. Nea say)

L’affaire a depuis été déférée à la Cour européenne de justice, mais a déjà abouti à ce que l’entreprise limite l’utilisation de son logiciel de reconnaissance faciale et facilite l’accès des membres à leurs données personnelles. Pour lui, l’affaire doit faire jurisprudence face au problème plus large de sociétés de nouvelles technologies basées aux Etats-Unis qui respectent les lois américaines, sans être adaptées à celles des autres pays. "Il ne s’agit pas d’une lutte épique avec Facebook, mais plutôt d’une question générale de savoir où nous allons et si nous respectons nos droits fondamentaux en Europe", confie-t-il à la BBC. Et l’argent lui importe peu. Comme il l’explique dans les medias, "je voulais agir, faire quelque chose de concret, et pas seulement me plaindre" de Facebook.

La fondation qui gère l’encyclopédie collaborative Wikipedia a affirmé, mercredi 6 août, que la décision de la justice européenne relative au "droit à l’oubli" sur internet créait des "trous de mémoire" sur internet et constituait une censure. La décision visée "empêche le monde d’avoir accès librement à des informations fiables à propos de certaines personnes ou événements", a regretté Lila Tretikov, directrice exécutive de la Fondation Wikimedia dans une déclaration sur un blog officiel. Selon elle, "l’impact sur Wikipedia est direct et critique" et le site a par exemple déjà reçu une cinquantaine de notifications demandant à ce que des contenus soient effacés.La décision mise en cause a été prise par la Cour de justice européenne de Luxembourg, qui a estimé que les particuliers avaient le droit de faire supprimer des résultats du moteur de recherche Google les liens vers des pages comportant des informations personnelles périmées ou inexactes. (cf. articles de Nea say) Wikipedia va poster des avertissements.

La Cour de justice européenne "a abandonné sa responsabilité de protéger l’un des droits les plus importants et universels : le droit de chercher, de recevoir et de transmettre des informations", a encore dit Lila Tretikov.En conséquence, des résultats de recherche valides disparaissent en Europe sans explication publique, sans réelle preuve, sans contrôle judiciaire et sans possibilité d’appel. Le résultat est un internet criblé de trous de mémoire", a-t-elle ajouté, précisant que Wikipedia allait poster des avertissements "pour chaque contenu retiré de son site" en raison de la décision de justice.

Les médias britanniques s’étaient déjà plaints le mois dernier à propos de l’arrêt incriminé, constatant que Google avait restreint l’accès à un blog de la BBC et à plusieurs articles de journaux anglais. (cf. autres articles de Nea say). La chambre des Lords a produit un rapport sévère sur ce plan (cf.autre article)

Mi-juillet, Google avait indiqué avoir reçu plus de 91.000 demandes pour effacer au total 328.000 liens en raison du "droit à l’oubli" en Europe.Le groupe informatique américain Microsoft a suivi les traces de Google en commençant mi-juillet à laisser les internautes européens demander le retrait d’informations les concernant dans les résultats de son moteur de recherche Bing qui semble suivre la démarche empruntée par Google.

Pour en savoir plus

Rapport de la chambre des lords, Peers say : right to be forgotten principle unreasonable.» http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-28551845

 


Classé dans:Droit à l'information, DROITS FONDAMENTAUX, Protection des données personnelles

‘Good law’: When intellectual property meets Open Innovation

Posted by on 30/07/14
Guest blogpost by Martha Suda, who works at the Open Innovation team in the EU Commission’s DG CONNECT.   Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is an omnipresent topic. What is more, it does not get any easier when you want to start an Open-Innovation-based business. First allow me to briefly introduce myself: My name is Martha Suda. [...]

Erste E-Mail erreichte Deutschland vor 30 Jahren

Posted by on 28/07/14

Sie ist das zentrale Kommunikationsmittel unserer Zeit: die E-Mail.
Schnell und günstig lassen sich weltweit kurze Nachrichten ebenso
austauschen wie große Datenpakete. Die erste E-Mail erreichte Deutschland
an der damaligen Universität Karlsruhe (TH), dem heutigen Karlsruher
Institut für Technologie, vor 30 Jahren. Sie stellte erstmals über das
Internet eine Verbindung zwischen dem amerikanischen Netzwerk CSNET
(Computer Science Net) und dem neuen Karlsruher CSNET-Server her.

Am 3. August 1984 um 10:14 Uhr mitteleuropäischer Zeit landet die erste
direkte E-Mail Deutschlands aus dem ARPANET, dem Vorläufer des Internet,
in den Postfächern von Professor Werner Zorn, Leiter der Informatik-
Rechnerabteilung (IRA), und seinem damaligen Mitarbeiter Michael Rotert.
Mit den Worten “This is your official welcome to CSNET. We are glad to
have you aboard“, begrüßt die US-Amerikanerin Laura Breeden, Mitarbeiterin
des CSNET Koordinations- und Informationszentrums bei Bolt Beranek &
Newman (BBN) in Boston, die neuen deutschen Mitglieder des Netzwerks und
erklärte damit offiziell die Betriebsbereitschaft des deutschen Servers.

„Die erste E-Mail in Karlsruhe war der Vorbote einer enormen
technologischen und gesellschaftlichen Veränderung,“ sagt Professor Holger
Hanselka, Präsident des KIT. „Die schnelle Kommunikation hat unsere Welt
zusammenwachsen lassen und den grenzüberschreitenden Austausch von Ideen
und Perspektiven ermöglicht. Ein gelungenes Beispiel von Forschung und
Technologietransfer, die unseren Alltag erreichen.“

Zwar wurden in Deutschland bereits vor dem August 1984 E-Mails versendet
und empfangen, bei der Karlsruher Nachricht handelt es sich jedoch um die
Erste, die an einen eigenständigen deutschlandweit verfügbaren E-Mail-
Server über das Internet ging. Zuvor mussten sich die Nutzer telefonisch
in amerikanische Computer einwählen. CSNET war ein in den frühen 1980er-
Jahren in den USA entwickeltes Computer-Netzwerk, in dem sich verschiedene
US-Hochschulen zusammengeschlossen hatten, um die Kommunikation zwischen
den Wissenschaftlern zu erleichtern. Israel und Deutschland waren die
ersten Nationen, die bereits 1984 an das CSNET angeschlossen waren.

Damals war es noch nicht abzuschätzen, wie rasant sich die E-Mail zu einem
der wichtigsten Kommunikationsmedien entwickeln würde. Die wirtschaftliche
Bedeutung habe damals niemand einschätzen können. “Wir haben das aus
Entdeckerfreude gemacht und nicht an Geld gedacht”, sagt Zorn,
mittlerweile Universitätsprofessor im Ruhestand und Mitglied der Internet
Hall of Fame. „Zwar haben Zeitungen damals darüber berichtet, aber es lief
eher unter dem Label ,Exotenwissenschaft‘.“

Zorn als Gesamtverantwortlicher des CSNET-Dienstes für die Domäne
„germany“ („administrative liaison“, heute „admin-c“) und Michael Rotert
als Betreuer des CSNET-Mailservers („technical liaison“, heute „tech-c“)
waren somit ab dem 3. August 1984 weltweit unter den Mailadressen
„zorn@germany.csnet“ und „rotert@germany.csnet“ erreichbar. Mit dieser
ersten E-Mail fiel in Karlsruhe der Startschuss für die heute so
selbstverständlich und flächendeckend genutzte „Elektronische Post“. Der
Grundstein dazu wurde bereits Ende 1982 mit dem Projektantrag
„Interkonnektion von Netzen“ gelegt, in welchem Zorn dem
Bundesforschungsministerium (BMFT) vorschlug, das geplante Deutsche
Forschungsnetz (DFN) frühzeitig an das US- amerikanische Computer Science
Net (CSNET) anzubinden.

Das von der National Science Foundation (NSF) geförderte CSNET hatte zum
Ziel, über das militärisch finanzierte und damit stark eingeschränkte
ARPANET hinaus, die Wissenschaftskommunikation national und international
zu erleichtern oder überhaupt zu ermöglichen. Es war das erste System,
dass die Kommunikationsprotokolle nutze, die denen des Internet
entsprachen. Dank des Erfolges von CSNET wurden die weiteren Schritte zum
NSFNET getan, das einige Jahre später das Rückgrat des Internets wurde.
Daher spricht man auch vom CSNET als erstem „Internet“ und von der „erste
deutschen Internet E-Mail“, um sie von anderen elektronischen
Kommunikationsnetzen damals abzugrenzen, deren Entwicklung jedoch nicht
zum Internet führten.

Zum genauen Zeitpunkt der Übermittlung gab es in der Vergangenheit
Missverständnisse: Laura Breeden versendete die E-Mail am 2. August um
12:35 Uhr US-amerikanischer Zeit. Sie wurde an den Server CSNET-SH
weitergeleitet und landete schließlich im sogenannten CSNET-Relay, in dem
die Mails zunächst gesammelt und von Karlsruhe aus abgeholt werden
mussten. Deshalb trägt die erste E-Mail in Karlsruhe das Datum des
Folgetags und die Uhrzeit 10:14 Uhr.

Weiterführende Informationen zur Geschichte der ersten E-Mail:
<www.informatik.kit.edu/ersteEmail>

Prisons et vols secrets de la CIA : la justice européenne est passée

Posted by on 27/07/14

La justice européenne est passée là où les institutions européennes ont montré leur impuissance (Parlement européen), leur attitude timorée (Commission européenne) ou leur franche mauvaise volonté (Conseil et Etats membres). C’est une longue histoire racontée dans le détail par Nea say de Eulogos. Un dossier particulièrement riche a été rassemblé année après année : cf. « pour en savoir visant des terroristes présumés. Le pays a été condamné pour son rôle dans les tortures subies sur son territoire en 2002-2003 par un palestinien et un Saoudien, avant que ceux-ci ne soient transférés à la base américaine de Guantanamo où ils sont toujours détenus.

La Pologne a coopéré à la préparation et à la mise en œuvre des opérations de remise, de détention secrète et d’interrogations menées par la CIA sur son territoire visant des terroristes présumés: la Pologne aurait dû savoir que, en permettant à la CIA de détenir de telles personnes sur son territoire elle leur faisait courir un risque sérieux de subir des traitements contraires à la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme. Tel est le jugement de la COUR qui indirectement condamne aussi la CIA et les Etats-Unis ; La Cour avait été saisie par les avocats de Abd Zoubaydah, un palestinien de 43 ans et Abd al-Rahim, un saoudien de 49 ans. Ceux-ci avaient plaidé que les autorités polonaises, en toute connaissance de cause et de manière délibérée, notamment par la simulation de noyades avaient autorisé la CIA à les détenir au secret pendant plusieurs mois en 2002 et 2003 en Pologne où ils ont été torturés, notamment par la technique bien connue de simulation de noyades (water boarding). Les autorités polonaises ont trois mois pour demander un nouvel examen du dossier devant la Grande Chambre de la CEDH, une sorte d’appel auquel la Grande Chambre n’est pas tenue de donner suite.

Dans les deux affaires, les juges ont estimé que la Pologne n’a pas respecté l’obligation qui découlait pour elle de l’article 38 de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme (obligation de fournir toute facilité nécessaire pour la conduite efficace de l’enquête. Les juges ont conclu, entre autres, à la violation de plusieurs articles portant sur l’interdiction de la torture et des traitements inhumains ou dégradants, sur le droit au respect de la vie privée et familiale ou sur le droit à un procès équitable.

Rappelons que le Conseil de l’Europe, le premier avec les remarquables rapports de Dick Marty, avait lancé cette sordide et dramatique affaire concernant les pratiques de la CIA, sur le sol européen. Il a été relayé par le Parlement européen qui avait créé une commission d’enquête présidée par le député portugais Carlos Coelho qui a donné lieu au rapport du député Fava, qui fut suivi d’une résolution. Deux nouveaux rapports donnant lieu à des résolutions du Parlement européen ont tenté de relancer le dossier : rapports de Hélène Flautre et de Lopez Aguilar, alors président de la commission LIBE. Dernière tentative avant que le Parlement européen ne se sépare pour les élections du 25 mai dernier.

Les députés européens ont demandé au Conseil d’enquêter de façon plus approfondie sur l’implication des Etats membres dans ces pratiques d’enlèvements, détentions, transferts secrets dans lesquels seraient impliqués à des titres divers la Lituanie, la Roumanie, le Royaume-Uni, l’Espagne, la Belgique, la France, la Slovaquie et bien entendu la Pologne. Aucune suite n’a été donnée aux demandes réitérées du Parlement européen. Cette condamnation, particulièrement sévère dans ses attendus, peut fournir une bonne occasion au tout nouveau Parlement européen de relancer un dossier perdu de vue.

Pour en savoir plus :

     -. Dossier de Nea say sur les prisons, enlèvements et vols secrets de la CIA http://www.eu-logos.org/eu-logos_nea-say.php?idr=4&idnl=3222&nea=148&lang=fra&arch=0&term=0

     -. Dossier de Nea say sur Guantanamo http://www.eu-logos.org/eu-logos_nea-say.php?idr=4&idnl=3222&nea=148&lang=fra&arch=0&term=0

     -. Communiqué de presse de la CEDH et texte de la décision (FR) http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng-press/pages/search.aspx?i=003-4832214-5894817#{"itemid":["003-4832214-5894817"]} (EN) http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng-press/pages/search.aspx?i=003-4832205-5894802#{"itemid":["003-4832205-5894802"]}

Le texte de l’arrêt n’existe pour l’instant qu’en anglais

 

 


Classé dans:DIGNITE HUMAINE, Droit à l'intégrité de la personne, DROITS FONDAMENTAUX, Lutte contre la torture, Lutte contre le terrorisme

The EU v Palo Alto: An EU perspective on privacy

Posted by on 20/07/14

One year on from the Snowden revelations and the global privacy debate is by no means settled. FB announced it will be exercising its rights to sell users’ data to third party advertisers, Russia signed an act banning the export of all its personal data abroad and Google is portraying the ECJ ruling on the right to be forgotten not as a right to privacy but as an infringement on freedom of expression. As far as privacy is concerned the field is still wide open and it’s all to play for as governments, tech-companies and the EU square up for a show-down in the months and year to come.

Kathleen Garnett

Related links: Little BrotherBig BrotherBrother on Brother

Dave Eggers’ much hyped novel, The Circle, from a literary point of view is a flop. Set in an imaginary tech-campus modelled on Googleplex in California the characters have about as much charisma and fluidity as two-dimensional card-board cut-outs. The message is at times over-flagged to the point of tedium. The relationship between the protagonist and her “love interest” as implausible and artificial as the artificial intelligence the giant tech company “The Circle” is at the forefront of developing. A missed opportunity. Had Eggers’ characters and plot been that bit more nuanced this could have been a brilliant book and possibly, one day, a classic.

For what Eggers’ lacks in literary style he makes up for in vision. Like Orwell, Eggers’ has an uncanny ability to identify the threat and coin it in a slogan. Thus, the founding philosophy of the three Circle founders reads as follows:

SECRETS ARE LIES, SHARING IS CARING, PRIVACY IS THEFT.

When George Orwell conceived 1984 in 1948 Big Brother is portrayed as an ever present, all watching, insidious State from which individuals can never escape. Eggers’ fictional “The Circle” on the other hand is based on a cheerful “Little Brother” (i.e. a huge commercial tech company with billions of subscribers harvesting user data to sell on to third parties) that slowly but insidiously invades our personal lives. Like Big Brother Little Brother is ever present, all watching and impossible to shake off. The contrast between big brother and little brother is one of perception. Whilst big brother is sinister from the word go, little brother appears to be a more benevolent, well intentioned, harmless invader of our privacy.

This is where fiction and real life over-lap in unsettling detail. Modern populations are more than willing and happy to subscribe, by the millions and billions to apps and social networking sites, hardly viewing them as sinister or malevolent. In any case do the CEO’s of on-line service providers look like ominous, totalitarian dictators? Hardly. Steve Jobs gave inspiring TED talks that made millions want to weep. Zuckerberg? C’mon hardly a Blofeld plotting world destruction from a mountain top. Just a regular nerd in a hoodie. Sergei Brin – looks like a nice clever chap with a strange obsession for glasses and extreme sports. Nothing wrong with that.

Just as the three fictional founders of The Circle reinvest their billions into new on-line tools to solve the world’s evils so too do the larger than life Jobs, Zuckerberg and Brin. They too use their immense wealth and patented technology to devise on-line tools which they claim will be able to eliminate, in no particular order: crime, corruption, fraud, world hunger, poverty, child abuse, violence, disease. Identify the global challenge and Palo Alto (aka The Circle) is ready to step in and solve the problem through innovation and technology. Money is not an obstacle to their ambitions. Privacy, on the other hand, is. For their business ambitions to succeed three crucial factors must be set in stone.

First, complete transparency which is why the message secrets are lies must be promoted. Second, all registered users must keep on posting everyday events hence sharing is caring. Third, there is nothing in our private lives to be ashamed of unless we have a criminal past or criminal desires which is why privacy is theft and not a right.

Eggers’ novel portrays a not too distant future, where monopolistic, dominant tech-companies control each and every aspect of our everyday lives by tagging us with impunity on-line. A future, which many European regulators and civic privacy groups consider no longer fiction but reality. Continental Europe, more than any other global region, is pushing for a regulatory agenda to find a balance between the obvious benefits of on-line technology on the one hand and citizens’ expectations of their right to a private life on the other.

Let us then, take each of The Circle’s slogans and dissect them, one by one, in order to determine whether, from an EU perspective, there is anything to fear from the increasing influence of global tech companies on our everyday lives. Are their business practices well intentioned signalling more jobs and a better future for us and generations to come? Or could their business practices have a less obvious, though no less problematic down side? If yes, can European regulation square The Circle and bring it back into line with human rights law?

The first section will consider the assumption that “secrets are lies” and contrast it to the EU’s “right to be forgotten”. The second section will consider the idea that “sharing is caring” and contrast it with European citizens’ squeamishness with sharing their private lives with unknown third parties . The third section, “privacy is theft” considers whether our personal data is a proprietary right or, as the EU sees it, a human right.

 

Trasparenza, crowdfunding e il Parlamento europeo

Posted by on 16/07/14

Sono al Parlamento europeo, seduto con la mia amica G al bar del terzo piano: quello di fronte alla stazione media, con le sedie dalle gambe lunghe e i tavoli slanciati in metallo lucente.

Io e G stiamo parlando dei dossier del Parlamento europeo e di come seguire il lavoro degli eurodeputati, quando mi chiede: «Ma tu conosci ParlTrack?».

Le parole le escono spontanee come un pensiero cui ha dato parola.

«Sì ed è molto utile» e spiego che è un database che raggruppa tutti i dossier, i risultati dei voti, gli eurodeputati e le agende delle commissioni del Parlamento europeo. Poso il gomito sinistro sul tavolo, mi sporgo in avanti e aggiungo «Sai chi l’ha fatto?».

«No, chi?» risponde G, che intanto osserva un eurodeputato inglese passare dietro di me.

«Un informatico ungherese, Stefan Marsiske. L’anno scorso ha fatto una campagna di crowdfunding su Indiegogo, ha raccolto 10.000 euro e ha creato il database», ritorno con la schiena dritta sullo sgabello e chiedo «Sai perché l’ha fatto?»

«Perché?»

«Per dare uno strumento alle persone per lottare per i propri diritti e fare leggi migliori» rispondo, finisco il caffè e aggiungo «Lui è la dimostrazione che chiunque può dare il proprio contributo».

Per chi fosse interessato ParlTrack è all’indirizzo: http://parltrack.euwiki.org/

To charge or not to charge: Paid vs. free access to Google’s Shopping box

Posted by on 15/07/14

In order to resolve its dispute with the European Commission (EC) over its abuses in dominant position in search, Google has proposed to use an existing commercial product, the Google Shopping box, as a basis for a settlement with the EC. The intended purpose was to give comparable presentation of rival products; note: comparable, not equal. We are seeking a non-discriminatory settlement based on equality, which will benefit Google, e-commerce businesses, and clients alike. Although we are mainly concerned with the shopping box, this issue also affects other sectors such as publishers, maps, travel, etc.

A fundamental question regarding the box is whether access to it should be paid or not. At the moment, the box is structured as a paid auction mechanism, an additional revenue stream for Google aside from the revenue coming from the normal Google Shopping product. In this mechanism, comparison shopping services, which are Google Shopping’s “rival links,” bid for a spot in the box and if they win, they are situated on the less clicked on right-hand side of the box. At the same time, Google Shopping benefits from free access to the box. As it is the freeloading child of Google, thus its parent does not charge him rent to cohabitate in the box. Think of it like this: Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags own the largest newspaper in your town and their son is opening a new restaurant which he wants to advertise in the family newspaper. As part of a settlement with a competition authority, the parents give him prime real estate on the first page of the paper for free, while other advertisements are placed on the second page or in the back with smaller ad space for which they have to pay. Where is the fairness in this scenario?

Currently, the box is diverting free traffic from the organic, or natural, search to the higher-up paid search. Considering that Google’s original abuse was against free traffic, it is unclear how the box ameliorates the situation. If the box were free for all to access, and the link placement were rotated so as to not guarantee Google the coveted left-hand side of the box, the settlement would be significantly better.

If Google insists that we continue with a paid approach, it would mean higher costs for the e-shops, thus increasing their prices and passing these costs to the consumer. If indeed the auction mechanism will continue to be used and rival companies will have to bid for space, then all actors appearing in the box, including Google Shopping, should have to pay. In this scenario, there would need to be a separation of accounts between Google and Google Shopping, so that the money that the spoiled child pays is not re-circulated into Daddy’s pockets.

We are not asking that the box be done away with. The idea of providing users with direct answers in the form of attractive pictures rather than plain search results is something we agree can be a better consumer experience. Instead of showing people long lists of blue links, it is preferable to display something fun and vivid such as pictures. We want the user to have the best experience possible, and a rich interface such as the box can achieve this goal. The main concern is that access to the box must be granted on equal terms: if rival sites pay for access, so should Google shopping; if Google shopping gets in for free, so should everyone else. It’s time to stop the spoiled child from freeloading, and ensure Google treats everyone equally.

 

Statement on the election of Mr Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

Posted by on 15/07/14

Huawei warmly welcomes the election of Mr Jean-Claude Juncker as the new President of the European Commission, approved by the European Parliament’s vote in Strasbourg today.

Having made the creation of a digital single market for consumers and businesses one of his key objectives, we fully support Mr Juncker’s stated objective that Europe must drive digital progress and help Europeans get the most out of digital technologies.

His commitment to growth spurred by technology dovetails with our strategy for creating a better connected Europe. We share many of the future President’s priorities, in particular with regard to the need to take full advantage of the EU single market for telecoms and spectrum management, and in competition law.

Huawei is also pleased that Mr Juncker has recognised the transformative role of digital technologies in creating more and better jobs. As a company with a strong European footprint, Huawei is doing its part to help drive this process, heavily investing in our European R&D operations with a high staff localisation rate.

We look forward to working with the new Parliament and the future Commission to make the ambitious objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe a reality, and boost the competitiveness of the European economy.

 

It’s time to help Europe! It’s time to communicate!

Posted by on 13/07/14
Over the last 15 years EurActiv has developed a unique concept of understanding the EU affairs landscape, both in Brussels and in the main EU capitals. Combining expertise in political science with communication and technology, EurActiv is now more than a media: it is a knowledge centre of expertise on EU communication techniques. To support [...]

UNBELIEVABLE INCOMPETENCE EUROPEAN SCHOOLS HAVE MESSED UP BAC 2014, same exam, same inspector, same subject, different year

Posted by on 01/07/14

eeb1.com_fichiers_news_fichiers1_1679_2014-06-LD-34 BACC 2014 CHEMISTRY

VP Sefcovic made some commitments to the European Parliament. He said in 2013 ”Concerning European Baccalaureate 2012 exams, the Commission regrets the problems encountered at the mathematics and chemistry exams. The Commission requested a detailed report from the Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools which was prepared by independent external experts. A number of recommendations were made that will be followed-up closely in order to avoid similar problems in the future.”

Mr Kivinen the Secretary General should be querying his position now 

I have previously told you that for Chemistry no such independent external expert report was prepared, the report is here RIES report i queried whether the Commission had mislead Parliament.

What were the recommendations he refers to?

what was the close follow-up and by whom?

in the light of this how did it happen again?

I expect MEPs will want to here from the Commission yet again.

the latest disastrous news from the school is at the top of this post.

Will the EURSC now admit its fundamental problems

Will the Member States and the Commission now recognise the harm being done to pupils?

Will the Member States and the Commission now redress the lack of any appeal rights or legal accountability of the EURSC

Will EURSC become subject to EU law, instead of being anarchic?

 

in shock at latest snafu?

oops they did it again!

Mr

Change!

Posted by on 29/06/14

Barack Obama most certainly did not mean by his „Change“ buzz word what is now going on in the relationship between USA and Germany. According to the revelations of former NSA employee, Edward Snowden, Federal Ministries in Germany are now canceling their contracts with US-provider Verizon and switching over to German Telekom. The US-company was previously responsible for ensuring the often highly sensitive communication between different administrative sites. According to a spokesperson it is „unclear“ to what extend Verizon is committed to pass data over to US Government. Seems that Germans would be less naive in the future as they have been so far.

New Crisis at European Schools? Rumours are that the Baccalaureate exam mess of 2012 has been repeated.

Posted by on 26/06/14

The European Schools (EURSC) administration appear to surpass themselves yet again.

Having botched the Baccalaureate in 2012, and since then having seen all sorts of commitments to put things right one might expect that things can only get better.

Rumour has it that the 2014 BAC has suffered a fate even worse than that in 2012.

Most likely this is a direct result of the EURSC being an anarchic body, not subject to any normal legal oversight. Amazing though it might be it is not subject to the TFEU or European Law

Watch this space.

Mainstreaming the Digital Agenda: the time is now

Posted by on 03/06/14

Europe’s voters have spoken. Now its institutions are gearing up to shape the union’s destiny over the next five years. As new MEPs set up their offices in Brussels and political leaders convene to agree priorities for the new commission, one challenge in particular will be the focus of many minds: how can we digitally enhance Europe’s future?

In a recent plea to lead contenders for commission president, EU ‘digital champions’ called on candidates to present a strategy speeding up progress towards ICT targets. “There is no ‘digital economy’ – the economy is digital,” they wrote. Cities are smartening up, technology is helping us curb energy consumption, students are taking lessons without leaving their homes, small businesses are storing their data on servers on another continent, and even criminals take their ‘business’ online. The digital agenda is crossing policy boundaries. We must both follow, and lead. As a provider of ICT solutions across Europe, Huawei will naturally be watching closely as decision makers consider the digital topics on the European agenda over the coming months. Many of them dovetail with our strategy and we have given them strong support already. Now, however, we aim to consider the digital aspects of virtually any topic on the new parliament’s and the future commission’s to-do list.

Huawei is already putting its considerable global weight behind digital in Europe. Not just through words, but, more importantly, through deeds. Europe is as much a major focus of our R&D investment strategy as China and we are at the forefront of initiatives pushing towards hyper-connectivity, for instance with our contributions to European 5G research.

China’s ICT sector complements Europe’s. Huawei is well placed to enhance cooperation so both can play to their strengths and tap the other’s expertise to shore up any weaknesses. We are also taking a proactive approach in forging business-to-business innovative partnerships and fostering ICT skills for Europe’s future generations. Since 2011, we have been running an undergraduate work experience programme offering students from European countries the opportunity to receive hands-on training in China.

For young and older generations, digital progress means greater inclusion in our societies, with widespread access to eHealth, eLearning and eGovernment. Europeans take for granted being able to cross borders physically, but less than 10 per cent of internet users buy goods and services online from another country. If we want a truly integrated market of cross-border services and a future of fast fibre networks carrying digital content to every household in Europe, we need to make progress on the necessary legislation.

At Huawei, we are glad to see a deal on commission proposals to create a single market for telecoms among parliament’s priorities. Another major step forward would be final agreement on EU rules to step up cyber security, something that is within reach before the end of 2014.

With the new parliament and future commission, Europe has a fresh chance to drive digital progress as the most effective way to enhance its future. We look forward to discussing with you how best we can use this window of opportunity.

Let’s get a digital strategy off the ground that works for all Europeans, everywhere. Let’s build a better connected Europe.

- Antonio Salvatore Graziano

 

About the author

Since May 2011, Mr Graziano has held the position of Vice-President at Huawei’s European Public Affairs and Communications Office in Brussels.

Mr Graziano holds a B.Sc. Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and a Master’s certificate in Business administration from the University College of Cardiff, UK. Starting off as an engineer for AB Electronics Newport, Wales, he spent nine years at Matsushita Electric (Panasonic) Television Division, where he held senior European and international positions. He went on to join EACEM (the former European Association of the Consumer Electronic Manufacturer) where he was appointed Technical Officer charged with organising, coordinating and administering EACEM’s Technical Committee liaisons with standardisation institutes and EU legislators and with providing expert information and advice on regulatory issues.

In 2001, Mr Graziano joined DIGITALEUROPE, the organisation representing the ICT industry in Brussels, to become their Director of Public Affairs with a specific focus on technical and environmental policy and regulation.

 

 

The curious case of the Court versus Google – The Aftermath

Posted by on 02/06/14
Reactions to my earlier article published on 20 May continue to reverberate in Europe and across the world. However, I did choke on my breakfast on 30 May when I heard on BBC radio that “Google has agreed to comply with a recent EU privacy ruling”. In an interview with the Financial Times, Larry Page, [...]

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