Glyn Moody writes: The main claims about likely economic gains from concluding the US-EU trade agreement TAFTA/TTIP, billed as a "once-in-a-generation prize", are increasingly under attack. BEUC, representing 41 consumer organizations from 31 European countries, has written a letter to the EU Trade Commissioner responsible for the negotiations, Karel De Gucht, complaining about his "exaggeration of the effects of the TTIP", and "use of unsubstantiated figures regarding the job creation potential". In a blog post entitled "Why Is It So Acceptable to Lie to Promote Trade Deals?", Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, has even harsher words: "Implying that a deal that raises GDP by 0.4 or 0.5 percent 13 years out means 'job-creating opportunities for workers on both continents' is just dishonest. The increment to annual growth is on the order of 0.03 percentage points. Good luck finding that in the data." If the best-case outcome is just 0.03% extra growth per year, is TAFTA/TTIP worth the massive upheavals it will require to both US and EU regulatory systems to achieve that?
Glyn Moody writes: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), potentially the world's biggest trade agreement, has been negotiated behind closed doors for nearly a year now. Apart from what we learn from a few official releases — and an increasing number of leaks — we still don't really know what is being agreed in the name of 800 million people in the US and EU. When a peaceful anti-TTIP protest was held outside yet another closed-doors meeting in Belgium, the local police sent in the water cannons and arrested nearly 300 people in what seems an extreme over-reaction. Will TTIP turn into the next ACTA revolt?
Glyn Moody writes: "The Presidency of the EU's Law Enforcement Working Party wants to create [pdf] "a single secure European cyberspace with a certain "virtual Schengen border" and "virtual access points" whereby the Internet Service Providers (ISP) would block illicit contents on the basis of the EU "black-list"." Leaving aside the fact that this won't work for lots of reasons, how seriously can you take anyone talking about "cyberspace" in 2011?"
Glyn Moody writes: "We live in an age of unparalleled online creativity. Most of that user-generated content (UGC) is being produced by young-ish people: the last thing they want to think about is their own mortality. But here's the problem: that means few are thinking about what happens to all their content when they die. Who's going to look after it? Your heirs? Companies offering "digital eternity"? National repositories? Or will the risk of storing "infringing" material — and the threat of crippling lawsuits — ensure that no one dares do anything, and we lose most of this unparalleled global explosion of human creativity for ever?"
Glyn Moody writes: "According to this story about Google's attempts to launch its own music service, "the search giant is “disgusted” with the labels, so much so that they are seriously considering following Amazon’s lead and launching their music could service without label licenses." So here's a simple solution: Google should just buy the major record labels — all of them. It could afford them — people tend to forget that the music industry is actually relatively small in economic terms, but wields a disproportionate influence with policy makers. Buying them would solve that problem too."
Glyn Moody writes: Vladimir Putin has signed an order calling for Russian federal authorities to move to GNU/Linux, and for the creation of "a single repository of free software used in the federal bodies of executive power". There have been a number of Russian projects to roll out free software, notably in the educational sector, but none so far has really taken off. With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?