Wednesday 17 September 2014

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From longform renaissance to Big Internet disenchantment (#B2B4ME part 2)

Posted by on 16/09/14
As I mentioned in my previous post, the past couple of years have seen a lot of innovation in online content strategy, coupled with growing disenchantment with “Big Internet”. These trends triggered my return to blogging, so I thought I’d start with an overview.  The Rise of Longform Across the pond, the past few years [...]

German fingerprints on Juncker’s Digital Agenda?

Posted by on 16/09/14
The 'digital agenda' was a key plank of Jean-Claude Juncker's 'campaign' to become European Commission President and will be one of the top priorities for the next five years. Indeed, his new look Commission has its own dedicated 'digital single market' cluster, which incorporates a large number of the Commission departments:

The Vice-President overseeing all this is Estonia's Andrus Ansip, a former Prime Minister of the country which styles itself as a 'digital society', with e-elections and online tax returns completed in five minutes. Former Energy Commissioner, Germany's Günther Oettinger, will take on a new role as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, which much of the German press saw as an embarrassment, particularly given the high-profile roles secured by France and the UK.

However, with online privacy and data protection such big issues in Germany, particularly following the NSA scandal, his appointment could be significant - not least because he is likely to have very different priorities to Ansip. Oettinger, along with the Czech Justice Commissioner Vĕra Jourová, will be responsible for ensuring passage of new data protection regulations and a revamp of the EU's e-Privacy Directive. He will also work on copyright. In turn, many of these issues will be integral to the US-EU free trade (TTIP) talks currently under way, another area of intense debate in Germany.

It has been noted by some that the CEO of Axel Springer, the owner of German tabloid Bild, publicly backed Juncker's candidacy (heaping pressure on Chancellor Merkel to do the same) and has a long-running beef with US internet giant Google. Whether this was a purely altruistic move we will leave up to you to decide...although we would note that one of Oettinger's first moves after the announcement of his appointment was to warn Google over its market power - a stark change in tone and approach from the previous administration, whatever the motivation.

In short, while Oettinger's appointment may not have been greeted by spontaneous cheers on the streets of Berlin, those in the corridors of power are likely to be quietly pleased. How 'German' the European Commission will be in this area will be interesting to watch.

Juncker’s digital crack team: Connecting the dots

Posted by on 16/09/14

How many European Commissioners does it take to get grandma online? 28. Now don’t expect a punchline – this is not a joke.

The publication of the names and portfolios of the proposed Juncker Commission this Wednesday ended weeks of speculation. While the Commissioners-designate will have a few more hurdles to overcome as the European Parliament scrutinises and finally votes on Juncker’s candidates, we now have a digital roadmap.

The shape and structure of the new College outlined by President-elect Juncker gives a clear indication of how he intends to achieve a connected digital single market. Much to our delight, it matches Huawei’s vision of digital policy-making. A few months ago, I posted about hardwiring digital into all policy-making activities: the new Commission organigram is translating this idea into portfolios and project teams.

To take a closer look at how this will trigger concrete results, let’s get back to the idea of getting grandma online – or, to elaborate on this idea, to enable people of all ages, men and women alike, to easily access high-speed internet, wherever they may live; to provide them with the skills they need to make full use of it; and to ensure that the services they need are available online.

Achieving this requires, of course, decisive action by the future Commission Vice-President in charge of the digital single market. But he cannot succeed without his ‘project team’.

Creating mobile applications that provide health care services for the elderly, for instance, requires progress in a broad range of areas. It requires research into new solutions and technologies. Skilled developers and ICT job opportunities for men and women. Working environments that foster innovation and new ways of thinking. A business environment that enables firms to take their activities online and across borders, safely and at reasonable cost. High-speed mobile connectivity reaching into the most remote rural areas. And learning opportunities for those not born into the digital age.

The competence for driving progress in these areas will be spread over the portfolios of the Commissioners in charge of research & innovation, education, employment & skills, gender equality, the digital economy, health & safety, industry & entrepreneurship, and of regional policy.

Even portfolios outside Juncker’s project team for a connected digital single market have a digital edge: a company like Huawei could not make such a substantial contribution to ICT in Europe without appropriate international agreements and trade policies. The ICT industry has a major impact on the future development of transport and the environment. And so on.

At Huawei, our strategy for building a better connected Europe mirrors this integrated approach. We conduct cutting-edge research to develop solutions that fit the needs of tomorrow’s Europe. We work with our European partners to bring the benefits of next generation mobile technologies such as 5G to Europeans. We seek deep engagement with the local business environment. Our Telecom Seeds programme enables young Europeans to hone the skills they need to succeed in a globalised, technology-driven marketplace. And finally, we work to ensure that the progress we achieve together is sustainable.

According to Mr Juncker, we can generate up to €250 billion of additional growth in Europe by 2019 by creating a digital single market. At Huawei’s Brussels Office, we are excited to start working with the new teams to turn these ambitious plans into reality.

- Tony Graziano, Vice-President of Huawei’s EU Public Affairs Office

Broadband and broadcast: getting on the same wavelength?

Posted by on 10/09/14

As a finite and limited resource, spectrum is naturally a most valuable commodity for the ICT and the broadcasting communities. At Huawei, we have been eagerly awaiting the results of the work of the EU High Level Group on the future use of the much-coveted UHF band.

We welcome the publication of the report presented by Mr Pascal Lamy to the European Commission on 1 September: it is an important milestone to securing the long-term development of high-speed wireless broadband services in Europe and we are glad to see that there is broad agreement on this key issue.

We regret that stakeholders were not able to agree on a common way forward with regard to the deadline for releasing the 700 MHz band or on the approach to utilising the 470-694 MHz ranges. However, we fully understand the reasons for this lack of consensus. It is now up to the new Commission to continue the forward-looking initiatives to resolve these differences for the benefit of the European citizens.

At Huawei, we believe that the mobile broadband community requires decisive short-term action on the 700 MHz band, while taking a longer-term approach to allocations in the 470-694 MHz frequency range.

The 700 MHz band is key for the future development of mobile broadband networks and for achieving the Digital Agenda targets by 2020.

To drive the development of high-speed networks in Europe, it is important to allow member states that are ready to do so to implement mobile broadband networks in these frequencies starting from 2017/2018. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the other member states will follow within three years, in line with the principles of the Telecoms Single Market.

In the spirit of compromise, as first step, the Supplemental DownLink option could be a reasonable way forward on the 470-694 MHz band. It would allow for the co-existence of traditional broadcasting services in this frequency range with other downlink-only electronic communications services (i.e. base station to end user devices). This option could be used in cases where the demand for DTT at a national level is declining, as suggested by the “flexibility option” in the Lamy report.

With regard to the international discussions, some important administrations including the USA have already declared their support for primary allocations to mobile services of the 470-698 MHz range in the context of the ongoing preparation for the World Radio Conference 2015 (WRC-15). This will lead to technical harmonisation work in the future.

Huawei believes that Europe would benefit greatly from participating in this process.

With respect to the WRC-15, the EU should therefore consider supporting a co-primary mobile allocation in the 470-694 MHz ranges that would become effective after an agreed number of years.

This would ensure economies of scale for the longer term, allowing Europe to remain at the forefront of mobile communications development by providing necessary spectrum regulations with a sufficiently long lead time, while implementing a viable strategy for the long term.


- Alessandro Casagni
Alessandro Casagni is Head of EU Wireless Regulatory Policy, managing wireless regulation issues within Huawei Wireless Strategies and Business Development Department.

Mr Casagni holds a Master’s degree in electronic engineering from Rome University.

During the period 2007 to 2009, he worked at Huawei’s WiMAX and LTE Product Line departments with a special focus on European regulation matters.

Prior to joining Huawei, Mr Casagni held several marketing and technical positions with Mediaset broadcasting (2006 – 2007), Siemens mobile communications (2002 – 2006) and Accenture ICT consulting (2000 – 2002).

Secrets are Lies v The Right to be Forgotten

Posted by on 09/09/14

“Don’t be evil”, Google slogan

“Evil is what Sergey (Brin) says is evil.” Google CEO Eric Schmidt quoted in Wired.

Secrets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are well intentioned, others not. Some relate to state security; others to highly sensitive commercial secrets. Some are personal, petty and irrelevant. Some mean the difference between life and death. Some keep secrets to evade the law. Some keep secrets to avoid having “their dirty linen washing in public”. What can be said for sure is that secrets do not come neatly packaged in standard size and kit. They are as varied and as different as any organic matter that exists on earth.

Regardless of the context – and when it suits its business interests – Google is more than happy to push the view that complete transparency is “good” and secrecy “evil”. No where is this more evident than with Google’s continued obfuscation, obstruction and resistance to EU on-line privacy regulation. Each and everyone of us has elements of our past which we would rather not share with the global on-line community. Dirty linen. Washed in public. An age old saying which seems particularly pertinent in a modern technological context.

Supposing, by way of example, you were to google your name and up pops an image of you taken ten years ago looking very drunk and very naked. It has been posted by an unknown individual onto an amateur photography site where it is being shared and highly rated for being so ridiculous. The photo is grainy and thus inadequate, it is of no relevance and it is of no public interest what so ever. You are not a politician. You have no criminal record. You’re just an embarrassed individual with a reputation you’d like to uphold.

In May the ECJ passed a land-mark ruling. Google, which has 90% of the EU market share for on-line searches along with all other search engines, will be responsible for managing requests to remove links on individuals that are either inadequate or irrelevant or no longer relevant. The onus is on on-line search companies, not you the individual or the photography site that posted the picture, to determine on a case-by-case basis whether an individual’s request is either inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant. Following the May ruling Google must delete links to your photo. Quite a tricky, costly, administrative exercise. One which no sane company would wish to engage in. You may be able to build a Googleplex campus in California, you may have lofty ideas about the shape of things to come, but you sure as hell do not want to be stranded with the administrative head-ache of deciding individual requests for deletion.

Given that Google’s legal redress in Europe has now been exhausted they have decided to take the fight to the court of public opinion by arguing that the ECJ ruling is a deliberate attack on our freedom of expression. The Google PR interpretation of the right to be forgotten can best be described as SECRETS ARE LIES and the only beneficiaries of such a judgement are criminals, paedos and dodgy politicians. Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman told share-holders in May that “A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know.”

A fight between freedom of expression and censorship sounds a lot more convincing than the more mundane truth that fabulously rich search engine companies do not want to bear the administrative costs of this ruling.

The fact is that each and everyone of us – to varying degrees – have elements of our past we would rather not share with the world. That does not make each and everyone of us criminals, liars and cheats. It makes us individuals who are vulnerable to having our reputations compromised on the flimsiest of past indiscretions.

The ruling still stands though. Google knows this. More worryingly for Google the ruling strengthens, not weakens, the proposed EU on-line data protection regulation, of which the right to be forgotten, is a key feature.

Brin and Page, no doubt brilliant mathematicians, technicians and coders may have over-stepped the mark when all those years ago, back in their proverbial garage, they dreamed that Google could define the concept of evil. That these two gentlemen are ambitious is beyond dispute. That they control 90% of the market for on-line searches is a testament to the standard of excellence Google provides. Wading into the subjective world of good and evil, two moral concepts that for better or worse, defy the logic of binary coding, was perhaps a step too far even for these ambitious intellecutally brilliant individuals.


Privacy is theft v A right to a private life

Posted by on 08/09/14

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, Alan Friedman

It’s free and we always will be, FB front-page

In the final part of  The EU v Palo Alto we come to the crux of the current tussle between Little Brother and Europe. As far as Palo Alto is concerned privacy is a proprietary right to be bought, sold and licensed at will. As far as the EU is concerned privacy is a human right which trumps proprietary rights and which can and must be protected from under-hand profiteering.

A license to Sell

“Your privacy means a lot to us,” states the privacy policy on all “free” on-line service providers. You bet it does. Your private life is what pays for the whole shebang. Although many are vaguely aware of Palo Alto’s sale of their personal data, many still do not fully grasp the extent to which Palo Alto manipulates that data to their own profitable ends and how exactly it is that they can own the personal data we generate. Particularly, teen-agers, the elderly and the uninformed.

Under the current, incomplete, regulatory system in the EU many of those who happily post, share and like their personal details on-line do not own their own lives. Palo Alto does and anyone who denies them the right to own our privacy are stealing their profits, hence the “Privacy is Theft” slogan in the fictional Circle. Where governments seek to protect the personal data of private persons the government is literally, not figuratively, stealing the profits of the big on-line commercial operators.

Say “no” to cookies and you’re not allowed to use the site. Say “no” to the sharing of your data to unknown third parties and you have to delete the whole account or refrain from using the internet. Refuse to license your copyright and it’s the high-way. User’s are in effect given only two options “in” or “out”. There is no option to pay for privacy through old-fashioned hard cash because that would destroy the myth Palo Alto has built up that their services are for free.

Go to the terms of service of any “free” on-line service provider, be it FB, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, What’s App and they all specify that “you own your own data.” Then comes the hard deal:

you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook

you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content

you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods, Twitter

The moment users agree to the terms of service, they license their copyright to Palo Alto who in turn have the legal right to change it, manipulate it – best of all sell it on to unknown third parties for a profit … pass it onto the NSA (though Palo Alto strenuously denies this claim). Millions in the EU are sleep-walking into handing over personal details and all facets of their private lives to Silicon Valley without fully grasping what it is they are handing over. The “free” message has hypnotised us all into gifting the family silver without regard to the consequences of this pact.

On-line services categorically are not free. Were they to be genuinely “free” under English contract law they would not even be a business and would have no right to legal redress in a court of law. Alan Friedman, in a modern context, may be minded to say “There’s not such thing as a free on-line service provider”.

Even for those who appreciate the sale of their data to third party advertisers the long-term effect of surrendering our personal lives to faceless parties remains unclear. Can we assume that Little Brother will always remain a well-intentioned, cheerful kid-brother?

What can be said for certain is that data leads to information which leads to knowledge and knowledge is power. Ownership of our personal information has given Little Brother an awful lot of power over each and every on of us. In the absence of clearly defined laws and the possibility of legal redress in a court of law the most individual users can hope for is that Little Brother will remain a cheerful, youthful kid-brother with his subscriber’s best interests at heart. But what happens when subscriber’s best interest clashes with that of Little Brother’s business interests? Which side of the line will our cheerful-chapy kid-brother then fall on?

Palo Alto set the business model – the EU has set out to regulate the terms of the contract

The EU had little or no say in the business model developed by Palo Alto in the early days of on-line commerce. The existing on-line data protection Directive was devised in 1996 – years before the emergence of internet giants such as Google, Apple, FB or Amazon. For this reason in 2012 the EU proposed a new on-line data Regulation that seeks to limit the extent to which on-line commercial operators can process user’s personal data.

Whilst the proposed new law does not expressly forbid the sale of personal data to third party advertisers it certainly strangles the assumption that Palo Alto can harvest user’s personal data with impunity through owning EU citizens’ data. New concepts such as the “right to be forgotten” will be enshrined in law. The proposed law assumes that personal data is private and not proprietary. As such on-line companies must seek user’s explicit consent, in simple unambiguous language, before they can process user’s data. Last but not least any breach of user’s personal on-line data can result in hefty fines amounting to 2% of world-wide profits.

Palo Alto is worried. Not only will EU regulation complicate their business model it could set a global standard that other regions may wish to emulate. Up until June last year when Snowden spilled the beans on how the US government is spying on European citizens through sites such as Google, Apple and FB, Palo Alto had begun a very effective lobbying campaign designed to scupper EU attempts to regulate personal data and our privacy. Washington was more than happy to help their kid brother out even threatening a “trade war” between the EU and the States if Europe went ahead with its intended regulations.

Since the Snowden revelations in 2013 both Palo Alto and Washington have been a touch more circumspect in their criticism of the EU preferring instead to lobby individual Member States to try and prevent the EU from putting a break on their highly profitable business model.

To conclude, as a society our perception of privacy is very different to those of our grandparents. Many may, or may not, be a lot more relaxed about sharing intimate details of their private lives in return for the fleeing attention it generates within our personal network. What can be said for certain is that knowledge of our private lives gives faceless corporations a huge amount of power over us as individuals. Unless that is we develop rigorous laws that prevent Palo Alto from assuming EU citizens’ private lives are up for grabs. That surely has to be something worth supporting?


Populating MyN online platform in Aalborg

Posted by on 04/09/14

As the interest is growing amongst our vibrant community for the new MyN Online Platform, the Aalborg pilot is looking to expand and harvest users experiences.

At a gathering in one of Aalborg’s finest functionalist buildings, designed in the early 1940s by Bent Helweg-Møller, the pilot crew stepped aside to let a group of users become friendlier with the MyN platform.


The approach to this get together with users was to let the MyN platform speaks for itself. The feelings have been mixed amongst the participants at the start of the usability test, but as newer versions have been released, participants welcome it and ideas started to flow for future improvements.


This highlights an overall trust in the product at a conceptual level. Next step will be a dynamic uptake of the platform during autumn.

Aalborg is now ready to unleash the full potential of the MyN platform and services towards its citizens !!

Faut-il préférer les livres papier ou les livres numériques ?

Posted by on 04/09/14

Le débat fait rage entre les pro et les contre livre numérique. Pour les uns, le livre numérique signerait la mort du livre et des écrivains, pour les autres, le livre numérique représenterait l’avenir. Alors, quels sont les avantages et les inconvénients du livre numérique ? Faut-il soutenir son développement ou au contraire, le boycotter ?

Dans les faits, la liseuse est en avance

Si le débat est loin d’être clos, le livre numérique n’en est pas moins en avance. En effet, il semblerait que les liseuses soient plébiscitées, notamment par les jeunes, relayant donc de fait les traditionnels livres de papier dans les placards. Une étude menée au Canada par le professeur à l’université de Montréal Thierry Karsenti avait justement pour objet les habitudes de lecture des jeunes. Le résultat est sans appel, ceux-ci préfèrent largement lire de façon électronique. Le livre électronique marque donc un premier point, grâce à sa faculté d’incitation à la lecture qu’il a auprès des jeunes.

Le livre électronique est plus plébiscité par les jeunes, soit. Mais qu’en retire véritablement le lecteur ? De nouveau, des chercheurs canadiens et norvégiens se sont intéressés à la question, et il semblerait que les livres traditionnels soient bien meilleurs pour la compréhension que les livres numériques. Pour parvenir à ces conclusions, les chercheurs ont fait lire une nouvelle de 28 pages à 50 étudiants, la moitié lisant la nouvelle dans sa version papier pendant que l’autre moitié la lisait sous sa version numérique. Si les personnages et les lieux de l’action sont bien en mémoire chez tous les étudiants, il semblerait que les différences se fassent au niveau de la chronologie. En effet, lorsqu’il a fallu replacer 14 épisodes dans l’ordre chronologique, les étudiants ayant lu la nouvelle sous sa version numérique ont eu beaucoup plus de mal que ceux qui l’avaient lu dans sa version papier. Ce point est donc pour le livre papier, qui facilite la compréhension du texte.

Une nouvelle technique de lecture

Si une telle différence se fait, notamment au niveau de la restitution des évènements, il semblerait que ce soit la conséquence d’une nouvelle méthode de lecture. Professeur à l’Université de San Jose, Ziming Lui a répondu au New Yorker que grâce ou à cause des liseuses électroniques, le lecteur aurait tendance à s’attarder sur les mots clefs plus que sur la cohérence et l’unité générales du texte. Une nouvelle méthode donc, mais également une nouvelle prise en main, puisque la liseuse électronique est tout de même bien pratique à l’heure de lire un pavé dont le seul poids peut suffire à nous en dissuader.

Stoppons cet éternel débat pour nous intéresser aux conséquences du développement à grande échelle du livre numérique. Quels sont les risques du point de vue du piratage ? Ne risque-t-on pas d’en arriver à la situation que connaissent la musique et le cinéma ? Il semblerait que non. Selon une enquête de l’IFOP, le livre numérique serait beaucoup moins propice au téléchargement illégal que la musique ou les films. Pour exemple, le téléchargement licite des livres numériques représente 74% des usages, contre 22% seulement pour une pratique mixte, c’est-à-dire à la fois légale et pirate. Si le livre numérique peut donc effrayer et faire craindre la fin de l’industrie du livre, il n’en demeure pas moins que de nombreux arguments permettent de croire que son développement ne serait pas uniquement néfaste.

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 ( and Czech ( 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 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.»


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:

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

     -. Dossier de Nea say sur Guantanamo

     -. Communiqué de presse de la CEDH et texte de la décision (FR){"itemid":["003-4832214-5894817"]} (EN){"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:


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?»


«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: