superglaze writes: "Facebook's extraordinarily quiet consultation over proposed changes to its terms elicited enough of a response (mostly from German speakers) to make the company drop a clause that some users feared could be used to justify censorship.
The clause had read: "Some or all of Facebook's services and features may not be available to users in certain geographic areas. We reserve the right to exclude or limit the provision of any service or feature in our sole discretion." Facebook said the wording had been open to misinterpretation.
On a related note, tracking these changes is getting stupidly difficult. Not only does Facebook only provide notifications of changes on its obscure site governance page, but actually seeing what has been changed involves cross-checking different tracking documents. Bad Facebook."
superglaze writes: "I think it's fair to say now that Google+ has not gained traction. The problem for Larry Page is that the social endeavour is too integral to the company to be cast aside like Google's previous efforts. And it's his fault that this is now the case. Can Google's co-founder hang onto the CEO spot when the inevitable comes?"
superglaze writes: "The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is to get an extra level of scrutiny in the EU after the European Commission said it would refer it to the European Court of Justice, to check it really does comply with fundamental freedoms in the union. This obviously follows mass protests over ACTA, and it seems justice commissioner Viviane Reding was the one who pushed for ECJ scrutiny. It's not currently clear if this will delay the European Parliament ratification process, but it is hard to imagine the parliament voting on ACTA (scheduled for June at the moment) before the ECJ has had its say — and no-one can say right now how long that will take to happen."
superglaze writes: "Following its takedown earlier this week of the music blog RnBXclusive, the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has claimed that "a number of site users have deleted their download histories" in response. Given that the site didn't host copyright-infringing files itself, how do they know? We've asked, but SOCA refuses to discuss its methods. A security expert has pointed out that, if they were hacking using Trojans, the police would themselves have been breaking the law. Added fun fact: SOCA readily admits that the scare message it showed visitors to the taken-down site was written "with input from industry"."
superglaze writes: "Poland has suspended its ratification process for ACTA, throwing the copyright crackdown into doubt for the whole European Union. ACTA is being handled as a 'mixed agreement' in the EU due to its criminalisation clauses, so if a single EU member state (such as Poland) fails to ratify it, it is null and void across the entire union. If that were to happen, at least six of the remaining international signatories would have to ratify ACTA for it to apply anywhere in the world. Outside the EU, only eight countries — including the US — have signed."
No it can't just be ignored. If these laws pass, every EU country will be forced to implement them. The European Commission has very sharp teeth indeed on stuff like this, and does not take kindly to companies trying to ignore its rules.
superglaze writes: "Europe's digital chief Neelie Kroes has already proposed much lower price caps for retail voice, text and data roaming within the EU. Now a member of the European Parliament is trying to halve even those caps. Operators are arguing this will leave roaming too unprofitable for new operators to start up, thus hurting competition."
superglaze writes: "The European Union is asking companies that sell surveillance and law enforcement tech to repressive regimes to stop doing so. The EU is not taking concrete action yet, but has warned that sanctions may be applicable. All this comes little more than a week after Wikileaks published the Spy Files, a name-and-shame list of the companies offering tools for mass surveillance and interception to despotic regimes, but also to Western governments."
superglaze writes: Against the backdrop of governments and courts around the world ordering ISPs to block file-sharing sites, European commissioner Neelie Kroes has said people have started to see copyright as "a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognise and reward". "Citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it," the EU's digital chief said, adding that the copyright system also wasn't rewarding the vast majority of artists.
superglaze writes: "Having got BT, one of the biggest ISPs in the UK, to block the Newzbin2 Usenet site, the Motion Picture Association is now trying to get the same result from all the other major service providers in the country. As this is likely to go through, it won't be long before most people in the UK will be unable to visit file-sharing sites at all, without using a proxy, VPN or special client."
superglaze writes: "Alarmed by rumours of the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom considering a shut-down of FM radio in order to give more spectrum over to broadband, ZDNet UK's Rupert Goodwins has proposed another idea: the reuse of the mostly disused 'Band I' and the creation of a new, national open mesh network — a plan that could bring internet connectivity to everyone at very low cost."
superglaze writes: "Neul, a UK start-up headed up by veterans of the Cambridge wireless tech scene, has unveiled a new system for providing machine-to-machine and up-to-16Mbps broadband services in the 'white spaces' between TV transmissions. The system consists of a royalty-free protocol called Weightless, along with base stations and terminals, and Neul claims the system is the first to comply with the FCC's strict standards for avoiding interference. The team behind Neul have a lot of form in the Bluetooth industry, and seem very bullish about their chances in the new white space market."
superglaze writes: "We knew Microsoft was tracking Windows Phones in much the same way as Apple does with iPhones, but we didn't know the full extent. Now, Windows Phone chief Andy Lees has written to Congress promising that Microsoft has stopped tracking specific handsets, and will in the next Windows Phone 7 update stop those devices sending unique identifiers to Microsoft's location services. His answer to a question about the length of time location data was stored on Windows Phones was, however, pretty fuzzy — almost giving the impression that Microsoft wasn't too sure itself about this detail."