EU

Europe Vows To Get Rid of Geo-Blocking 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-article-only-available-at-select-latitudes dept.
AmiMoJo writes: The European Commission has adopted a new set of initiatives for digital technologies that aims to improve access to online services for everyday users. Among other things, Europe vows to end geo-blocking, which it describes as "a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons," and lift other unwarranted copyright restrictions. Consumers will have the right to access content they purchased at home in other European countries. "I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe," Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says.
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Most Chromebook-Like Unofficial ChromeOS Experience? 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-company-to-pay-for-it-wink-wink dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am interested in Chromebooks, for the reasons that Google successfully pushes them: my carry-around laptops serve mostly as terminals, rather than CPU-heavy workhorses, and for the most part the whole reason I'm on my computer is to do something that requires a network connection anyhow. My email is Gmail, and without particularly endorsing any one element, I've moved a lot of things to online services like DropBox. (Some offline capabilities are nice, but since actual Chromebooks have been slowly gaining offline stuff, and theoretically will gain a lot more of that, soon, I no longer worry much about a machine being "useless" if the upstream connection happens to be broken or absent. It would just be useless in the same way my conventional desktop machine would be.) I have some decent but not high-end laptops (Core i3, 2GB-4GB of RAM) that I'd enjoy repurposing as Chromebooks without pedigree: they'd fall somewhat short of the high-end Pixel, but at no out-of-pocket expense for me unless I spring for some cheap SSDs, which I might.

So: how would you go about making a Chromebook-like laptop? Yes, I could just install any Linux distro, and then restrain myself from installing most apps other than a browser and a few utilities, but that's not quite the same; ChromeOS is nicely polished, and very pared down; it also seems to do well with low-memory systems (lots of the current models have just 2GB, which brings many Linux distros to a disk-swapping crawl), and starts up nicely quick.

It looks like the most "authentic" thing would be to dive into building Chromium OS (which looks like a fun hobby), but I'd like to find something more like Cr OS — only Cr OS hasn't been updated in quite a while. Perhaps some other browser-centric pared-down Linux would work as well. How would you build a system? And should I go ahead and order some low-end 16GB SSDs, which I now see from online vendors for less than $25?
Government

German Intelligence Helped NSA Spy On EU Politicians and Companies 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the der-rubberschtampen dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We've known for some time already that intelligence agencies operate beyond rules, laws, and regulations. Now, we learn that the NSA and the German intelligence service, BND, lied and withheld information about misuse from the German Chancellor's Office.

"The BND realized as early as 2008 that some of the selectors were not permitted according to its internal rules, or covered by a 2002 US-Germany anti-terrorism "Memorandum of Agreement" on intelligence cooperation. And yet it did nothing to check the NSA's requests systematically. It was only in the summer of 2013, after Edward Snowden's revelations of massive NSA and GCHQ surveillance, that the BND finally started an inquiry into all the selectors that had been processed. According to Der Spiegel, investigators found that the BND had provided information on around 2,000 selectors that were clearly against European and German interests. Not only were European businesses such as the giant aerospace and defense company EADS, best-known as the manufacturer of the Airbus planes, targeted, so were European politicians—including German ones.

However, the BND did not inform the German Chancellor's office, which only found out about the misuse of the selector request system in March 2015. Instead, the BND simply asked the NSA to make requests that were fully covered by the anti-terrorism agreement between the two countries. According to Die Zeit, this was because the BND was worried that the NSA might curtail the flow of its own intelligence data to the German secret services if the selector scheme became embroiled in controversy.
Businesses

Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA 153

Posted by timothy
from the be-right-over-here-guys dept.
Mark Wilson writes Twitter has updated its privacy policy, creating a two-lane service that treats U.S. and non-U.S. users differently. If you live in the U.S., your account is controlled by San Francisco-based Twitter Inc, but if you're elsewhere in the world (anywhere else) it's handled by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland. The changes also affect Periscope. What's the significance of this? Twitter Inc is governed by U.S. law; it is obliged to comply with NSA-driven court requests for data. Data stored in Ireland is not subject to the same obligation. Twitter is not alone in using Dublin as a base for non-U.S. operations; Facebook is another company that has adopted the same tactic. The move could also have implications for how advertising is handled in the future.
EU

Google Responds To EU Antitrust Claims In Android Blog Post 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the wait-a-minute dept.
An anonymous reader writes Earlier today the European Union released a Statement of Objection against Google, asserting that the search giant's dominance violating antitrust rules and Android products hindering equal opportunities for market access among its rivals. Google has now released an official blog post in response to the Commission's proposed investigation. Regarding its Android devices, Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering at Android writes: "The European Commission has asked questions about our partner agreements. It's important to remember that these are voluntary—again, you can use Android without Google—but provide real benefits to Android users, developers and the broader ecosystem." He continues: "We are thankful for Android's success and we understand that with success comes scrutiny. But it's not just Google that has benefited from Android's success. The Android model has let manufacturers compete on their unique innovations [...] We look forward to discussing these issues in more detail with the European Commission over the months ahead."
Google

EU To Hit Google With Antitrust Charges 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-be-too-good-at-what-you-do dept.
Bruce66423 sends news that the European Union has decided to hit Google with antitrust charges that could lead to fines of over $6 billion. The EU has been investigating Google for five years now. "The European Commission has highlighted four main areas of concern in its investigation: potential bias in Google’s search results, scraping content from rival websites, agreements with advertisers that may exclude rival search-advertising services and contracts that limit marketers from using other platforms." They're also keeping an eye on Android-related business practices.
EU

EU's Unitary Software Patent Challenged At the Belgian Constitutional Court 42

Posted by timothy
from the one-bureaucracy-to-bind-them-all dept.
zoobab writes The Unitary Patent for Europe is being challenged at the Belgian Constitutional Court. One of the plaintiffs, Benjamin Henrion, is a fifteen-year campaigner against software patents in Europe. He says: "The Unitary Patent is the third major attempt to legalize software patents in Europe. The captive European Patent Court will become the Eastern District of Texas when it comes to software patent disputes in Europe. As happened in America, the concentration of power will force up legal costs, punish small European companies, and benefit large patent holders."
Facebook

Report: Facebook Tracks Visitors Who Have Opted Out, Violating EU Law 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-cookie-jar dept.
itwbennett writes: In a technical analysis (PDF) of Facebook's tracking practices, researchers found that Facebook tracks everyone who visits its site, including people who don't have an account, and even continues to track users and non-users who have opted out of targeted ads. The problem with these practices is that the cookies are placed without consent, which under EU law is only allowed if there is a strict necessity to do so. Facebook disputes the report: "We have explained in detail the inaccuracies in the earlier draft report (after it was published) directly to the Belgian DPA, who we understand commissioned it, and have offered to meet with them to explain why it is incorrect, but they have declined to meet or engage with us."
The Internet

EU Commission Divided Over Nation-Specific Content Blocking 57

Posted by timothy
from the for-me-and-not-for-thee dept.
jfruh writes In theory, the European Union is supposed to act as a single national market. But one area in which practice doesn't live up to theory is geoblocking: Europeans may find that a website they can reach or content they have a legal right to stream in one EU country is blocked in another. Now two members of the EU Commission (the equivalent of a nation's cabinet) are feuding as to whether geoblocks should be eliminated: Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said that "deep in my heart ... I hate geoblocking," while Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger, worrying about protecting the European film industry, said "We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater."
EU

Europe Agrees On Regulatory Drone Framework 14

Posted by Soulskill
from the american-regulators-still-arguing-about-what-email-is dept.
Hallie Siegel writes: Not a week goes by where some aspect of drone regulation fails to make the news. But for any regulated industry where technology is advancing faster than new rules can be agreed upon, it will undoubtedly cause a few headaches. This week closes with a very positive announcement from European stakeholders on the future of drones. During a two-day conference in Riga, the European aviation community found broad agreement on the main principles to guide a regulatory framework to allow drone operations throughout Europe from 2016 onward.
Open Source

European Commission Will Increase Use of Open Source Software 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the leading-by-example dept.
jrepin writes: The European Commission has updated its strategy for internal use of Open Source Software. The Commission, which is already using open source for many of its key ICT services and software solutions, will further increase the role of this type of software internally. The renewed strategy puts a special emphasis on procurement, contribution to open source software projects, and providing more of the software developed within the Commission as open source.
EU

European Commission Proposes "Digital Single Market" and End To Geoblocking 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-big-happy-family dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new initiative from the European Commission proposes a reformed "single digital market", addressing a number of issues that it sees as obstructions to EU growth, including geoblocking — where services such as BBC's iPlayer are only available to IP addresses within the host country — and the high cost of parcel delivery and administration of disparate VAT rates across the member states. The ramifications of many of the proposals within the Digital Single Market project extend to non-EU corporations which have built their business model on the current isolationism of member state markets.
EU

Finland's Education System Supersedes "Subjects" With "Topics" 213

Posted by samzenpus
from the learning-time dept.
jones_supa writes Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programs ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional "teaching by subject" in favor of "teaching by topic". The motivation to do this is to prepare people better for working life. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take "cafeteria services" lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages, writing skills and communication skills. More academic pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union — which would merge elements of economics, history, languages and geography. There will also be a more collaborative teaching approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.
Canada

Daylight Saving Time Change On Sunday For N. America 277

Posted by timothy
from the time-keeps-on-slippin'-slippin'-slippin' dept.
An anonymous reader writes Just a reminder that DST starts this weekend for most of North America. The majority of people feel that DST is a bad idea and want it to stop. If that was done, the main question would then probably be whether to go to Standard time year-round, or "summer" time year-round (more). For the latter, there is some evidence that it helps reduce crime (at least initially); for the former, more northern locations would have sunrise occur 08:30 or later, which would make the morning commute difficult. Some even argue that the U.S. should go to only two timezones. The DST change occurs at the end of March in the EU, so there will be a second round of confusion for trans-Atlantic conference calls then.
United States

Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens? 734

Posted by timothy
from the can-is-open-worms-are-everywhere dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Can you help me decide whether to allow my small daughter and son to become American citizens? I am American and my partner is Swedish. We have both lived in Belgium for many years and have no plans to leave. I became a Belgian citizen some years ago and kept my American citizenship. My partner has both her original Swedish and now Belgian citizenship. We are not married. Instead we have a registered partnership, which is common in northern Europe, confers most of the benefits of marriage, and raises no eyebrows. However, the American government does not recognize such partnerships, so in their eyes I am still single. Generally, children of American citizens abroad automatically become American citizens themselves at birth. But our kids fall under an exception. Male American citizens who live abroad and have children out of wedlock with a non-citizen mother do not automatically transmit citizenship to their children unless they sign an "affidavit of support" promising to support their children until the age of 18. If you don't sign before the child reaches 18, the child is not considered an American citizen. This has been upheld by two Supreme Court rulings (Nguyen v. INS and Flores-Villar v. United States). For legal beagles, the relevant statutes are 8 U.S.C. 1401 and 1409. (Read on below for the rest.)
EU

EU Free Data Roaming, Net Neutrality Plans In Jeopardy 71

Posted by timothy
from the can't-we-all-just-not-get-along? dept.
An anonymous reader writes EU free data roaming and net neutrality plans now look like they are in doubt as European regulators have dropped plans to ban roaming charges and have proposed net neutrality rules allowing privileged access in some cases. This comes as a U-turn of plans [compared to] 2014, when EU MEPs voted to scrap mobile roaming fees in Europe by 15th December 2015, with the proposal orginally covered on Slashdot in 2010."
The Almighty Buck

Will Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis Support Cryptocurrency In Greece? 253

Posted by timothy
from the for-health-points dept.
giulioprisco writes New Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, former Economist-in-Residence at game developer Valve Corporation, sees something like Bitcoin — or, more likely, a state-controlled "Fedcoin" — possibly playing a role in the (necessarily creative) rescue of the Greek economy. "The technology of Bitcoin, if suitably adapted, can be employed profitably in the Eurozone," he said.
EU

EU Preparing Vast Air Passenger Database 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the come-spy-the-friendly-skies dept.
jfruh writes: Despite privacy concerns and doubts over its usefulness, a plan to track passengers entering or leaving the European Union in a series of national databases is likely to become reality by the end of the year. Legislation working its way through the European Parliament will authorize European nations to set up databases of the sort already in use in the UK, and to share information with each other. All the EU parties except the Greens are in favor.