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  1. By Grant Gross Feb 11, 2014 1:32 PM The European Union will push for diminished U.S. influence on Internet governance because of “loss of confidence” in the current U.S.-centric model, according to a news report. The European Commission, the executive arm of the E.U., is set Wednesday to propose a series of steps to globalize Internet governance functions, reported The Wall Street Journal, citing an E.U. draft policy paper. The proposal is sparked by revelations of mass U.S. surveillance activities online, the newspaper said. "Large-scale surveillance and intelligence activities have ... led to a loss of confidence in the Internet and its present governance arrangements,” the Journal quotes the policy paper as saying. ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), with headquarters in California, currently oversees Internet governance issues, including the assignment of top-level domains. The U.S. government and ICANN have a long-standing operating agreement, but in recent years, many countries have questioned the arrangement. The European policy paper seems to reject a U.N. takeover of Internet governance functions, by rejecting calls for a new international legal regime. The paper calls for a multistakeholder process that ICANN trumpets as its current model. An ICANN spokesman didn’t have an immediate comment on the proposal, while an E.U. spokeswoman wasn’t immediately available for comment. "The Internet should remain a single, open, free, unfragmented network of networks, subject to the same laws and norms that apply in other areas of our day-to-day lives,” the E.U. document said, according to the Journal. “Its governance should be based on an inclusive, transparent and accountable multistakeholder model.” ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehade, since taking over the organization in mid-2012, has concentrated on giving ICANN a more international focus, and he’s opened offices in Turkey, Singapore, Beijing and Geneva. Governments including Russia, China and Brazil have called for more international governance of the Internet in recent years. Since last year’s revelations about broad U.S. National Security Agency surveillance programs, Brazil has proposed to wall off its Internet traffic from U.S. networks. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2096880/report-eu-to-push-to-reduce-us-role-in-internet-governance.html
  2. By Jason Del Rey February 15, 2014, 7:58 AM PST Google’s long battle with European antitrust regulators over what the European Commission deemed to be anti-competitive search practices appears to be reaching a conclusion. The commission’s competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has approved the settlement, but a formal vote among all commissioners will reportedly take place in the coming months. The agreement would mean Google would avoid paying a penalty that could have reached $5 billion. Yesterday, Google published the settlement in full. It’s … long. So here’s the abridged version, as Google explained in yesterday’s blog post. First, Google is loosening restrictions it had placed on publishers in the European Union who ran AdSense ads on their sites from incorporating ads from other third-party providers. Google will also give advertisers who buy search ads through AdWords an easier way to run their search ad campaigns through competitor services. Thirdly, the search giant must let competitors opt out from having their results used in Google’s vertical search products without impacting the third-parties’ results in organic Google results. But the biggest — and most contested — changes have to do with how Google will display competitor search results. When a Google user searches for a product, for example, Google will now have to surface at least three alternatives next to where it displays its own Google Shopping results in a box. Same thing for flight results. The full text of the settlement explains how Google will decide which alternative results should be chosen and who’s eligible for such placements. But below are screenshots to give you a feel for what the changes will look like. Product search results before changes: Product search results after proposed changes: Here’s how Google proposes to incorporate alternative listings on mobile phones: And, finally, here’s how the “Alternatives” box might look on search results for flights: http://recode.net/2014/02/15/heres-how-googles-new-search-results-will-look-under-european-antitrust-settlement
  3. 15 February 2014 Last updated at 19:22 German Chancellor Angela Merkel is proposing building up a European communications network to help improve data protection. It would avoid emails and other data automatically passing through the United States. In her weekly podcast, she said she would raise the issue on Wednesday with French President Francois Hollande. Revelations of mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) have prompted huge concern in Europe. Disclosures by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden suggested even the mobile phones of US allies, such as Mrs Merkel, had been monitored by American spies. Classified NSA documents revealed that large amounts of personal data are collected from the internet by US and British surveillance. Mrs Merkel criticised the fact that Facebook and Google can be based in countries with low levels of data protection while carrying out business in nations that offer more rigorous safeguards. "Above all, we'll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic," she said. "Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe." Sensitive There was no doubt that Europe had to do more in the realm of data protection, she said. A French official was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that the government in Paris planned to take up the German initiative. Personal privacy is a sensitive issue in Germany where extensive surveillance was carried out under the Nazis and in communist East Germany. A foreign policy spokesman for Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats, Philipp Missfelder, recently said revelations about US spying had helped bring relations with Washington down to their worst level since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Germany has been trying to persuade Washington to agree to a "no-spy" agreement but without success. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26210053
  4. 19 January 2014 Last updated at 22:02 GMT The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Kiev says ''wave upon wave'' of attacks have been carried out on the police line Clashes have taken place after large crowds of pro-EU demonstrators rallied in Ukraine's capital Kiev against new laws restricting public protests. Stun grenades and flares were thrown as protesters tried to reach parliament, their way blocked by police and buses. Opposition politician Vitali Klitschko later said President Viktor Yanukovych had agreed to set up a cross-party commission to resolve the crisis. The US appealed for an end to the violence and urgent political talks. Mr Klitschko, who leads the Udar party, made comments after meeting President Yanukovych at his residence outside Kiev. "The president pledged to create on Monday morning a commission with representatives from the presidential administration, cabinet and opposition to find a solution to the crisis situation," Udar quoted the former world heavyweight boxing champion as saying. Arseniy Yatseniuk, another opposition leader, said Mr Yanukovych called him to say that he was ready for talks. The new legislation was passed with a quick show of hands on Thursday by MPs loyal to the president, who then signed it into law. Analysis David Stern BBC News, Kiev The violence on Kiev's streets on Sunday opens a worrying and potentially dangerous chapter in Ukraine's anti-government, pro-European protest movement. Riot police, in contrast with previous clashes, have been relatively reserved in the face of activists' attacks with petrol bombs and paving stones. But it seems unlikely that there will continue to be no reaction from officials in the coming days. Thanks to the "anti-protest" legislation, which helped spark these confrontations, President Yanukovych's government has an extensive legal toolbox within his grasp. But the question remains which method they will use: a general crackdown, or a more surgical approach of arresting individual activist leaders. And then there are the protesters themselves. As the fighting near the Ukrainian parliament rages into the night, only one thing is clear: Ukraine's leaders on both sides of the divide are incapable of ending the political standoff. The opposition accused the ruling party of a coup. US and EU officials have expressed deep concern at the new legislation. Ukraine's current anti-government movement began in protest at Mr Yanukovych's decision in late November to pull out of a landmark treaty with the EU, but has expanded to demand his resignation. 'Extremists and provocateurs' Sunday's rally in Kiev, attended by tens of thousands, heard calls from opposition politicians to disregard the new laws curbing protests that pro-EU demonstrators have been staging for the past two months. Clashes erupted as some people headed away from the main square towards parliament, to vent their anger over the new laws. They ran into police cordons near Kiev's Dynamo football stadium, some 300 metres from Independence Square. They pelted police with flares, thunder flashes and petrol bombs, the BBC's Daniel Sandford in Kiev reports. They overturned a bus used by riot police and interior troops and set it alight. Other vehicles were also set on fire. The police could be seen behind buses sheltering under their riot shields, and occasionally throwing their own thunder flashes and gas canisters to try to force the crowd back, our correspondent says. Police also used water cannon to try to disperse the demonstrators. Pro-European protesters attack a police van during a rally near government administration buildings in Kiev 19/01/2014 Some in the crowd of protesters attacked a bus being used by the police as a cordon Police van which was attacked after a pro-European integration protest burns It was set alight after petrol bombs were thrown Vitaly Klitschko (centre) reacts after he was sprayed with a powder fire extinguisher during a pro-European integration rally in Kiev 19/01/2104 Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko (centre), who called for calm, was sprayed with a powder fire extinguisher Interior ministry spokesman Serhiy Burlakov blamed "provocateurs and extremists" for the confrontations and urged people not to follow their lead. Police were filming everything and had opened criminal proceedings under Article 294 (organisation of mass riots), the interior ministry said. The opposition leaders said it was committed to a peaceful resolution of the crisis, denouncing those activists who took part in clashes. Call for defiance Earlier, Mr Klitschko called on President Yanukovych to respond to the protesters' demands and to hold elections. "You're fighting with your nation. Stop the escalation. Don't go the way of (former Romanian President Nicolae) Ceausescu and (former Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi. During the day, the rally on the main square heard a call from a former Ukrainian navy chief for members of the armed forces to defy "illegal" orders from those in power, Unian news agency reported. "Tomorrow the regime will enslave you too. Therefore we are calling on you to fulfil your military oath of loyalty to the Ukrainian people and not to the authorities who have gone off the rails," said Rear Admiral Ihor Tenyukh, who was sacked by Mr Yanukovych in 2010. Demonstrators in Kiev, 19 January Some demonstrators wore masks, also in defiance of the new law Demonstrators in Kiev, 19 January Kiev has seen protest rallies every Sunday for two months Speakers gather on stage at protest in Kiev, 19 January Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk (second from left) was among those taking the stage Opposition leaders are under huge pressure to come up with an action plan, amid criticism from many activists that their campaign has been too passive. The new curbs on protests, which have been signed into law by the president, include: A ban on the unauthorised installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places Provision to arrest protesters wearing masks or helmets A ban on protests involving more than five vehicles in convoy Hefty fines or jail for breaches of law The protesters have been camping out behind extensive barricades on the Euromaidan, as Independence Square has been dubbed, for nearly two months. The mass demonstrations were initially triggered by President Yanukovych's last-minute rejection of an EU deal under heavy pressure from Russia in November. The protesters' demands later widened to include the fight against what they said was widespread government corruption and abuse of power. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25798320
  5. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Netherlands can no longer permit its citizens to freely download copyrighted movies and music without paying for them. In its judgment the Court rules that the current system of a "piracy levy" to compensate rightsholders is unlawful. In common with many other countries around the world, downloading music and movies is hugely popular in the Netherlands. Surveys estimate that a third of the population downloads copyrighted content without paying for it. Contrary to most other countries, however, downloading and copying movies and music for personal use is not punishable by law. In return, the Dutch compensate rightsholders through a “piracy levy” on writable media, hard drives and electronic devices with storage capacity, including smartphones. In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice has declared this system unlawful. The case was brought by several electronics stores and manufacturers, whose products were made more expensive because of the levy. In its judgment the Court held that the levy system is a threat to the internal market and that it puts copyright holders at an unfair disadvantage. “If Member States were free to adopt legislation permitting, inter alia, reproductions for private use to be made from an unlawful source, the result of that would clearly be detrimental to the proper functioning of the internal market,” the Court noted in a briefing on the verdict today. “Similarly, the objective of proper support for the dissemination of culture may not be achieved by sacrificing strict protection of copyright or by tolerating illegal forms of distribution of counterfeited or pirated works.” As a result the Court ruled that the Dutch system, in which people are permitted to copy files from pirated sources, can not be tolerated. The Court believes that “legalizing” file-sharing encourages the distribution of counterfeit and pirated works. In addition, it explains that the system poses “an unfair disadvantage to the copyright holders.” The Court further notes that the Dutch system also punishes those who buy their digital movies and music from authorized sources, as they also pay the piracy levy on the devices and media they record them to. “All users are indirectly penalized since they necessarily contribute towards the compensation payable for the harm caused by private reproductions made from an unlawful source. Users consequently find themselves required to bear an additional, non-negligible cost in order to be able to make private copies,” the Court notes. Today’s judgment is also likely to affect other European countries with similar systems, such as Switzerland where downloading pirated works for personal use is also permitted. Ironically, copyright holders may be worse off if the Netherlands does indeed outlaw downloading pirated material. This would result in millions of euros in lost revenue through the piracy levy, which may be hard to match by an increase in legal sales, if there’s any increase at all. Update: The Dutch Government confirmed to Tweakers that downloading copyrighted material for personal use is no longer allowed, effective immediately. The Government also clarified that offenses will be prosecuted through civil cases, not criminal ones. We have updated the title of this article accordingly. Source: TorrentFreak
  6. The European Court of Justice has overturned Europe's data retention directive, arguing that it's disproportionate and a violation of people's privacy. The decision has far-reaching consequences for the collection of data from European internet users, including their IP-addresses. In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice has declared Europe’s Data Retention directive to be a violation of Internet users’ privacy. Under the Directive Internet providers and other telecom companies were required to log and store vast amounts of information, including who their subscribers communicate with, and what IP-addresses they use. The local authorities could then use this information to fight serious crimes, but it was also been frequently used by third parties, in online piracy cases for example. Today the Court ruled that the data collection requirements are disproportionate. In a case started by Digital Rights Ireland the Court effectively annulled the directive, and it’s now up to the individual member states to change local laws accordingly. “The Court is of the opinion that, by adopting the Data Retention Directive, the EU legislature has exceeded the limits imposed by compliance with the principle of proportionality,” the Court states. “By requiring the retention of those data and by allowing the competent national authorities to access those data, the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data,” it adds. The judgement has far-reaching implications for large telecom companies, but also for smaller businesses including many VPN providers. With the new ruling these companies are no longer required to log extensive amount of user data as was required under the EU Directive. While many ISPs are waiting to see what local Governments decide, the Swedish provider Bahnhof immediately announced that it would wipe all subscriber data it stored. “Bahnhof stops all data storage with immediate effect. In addition, we will delete the information that was already saved,” Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung says. There’s also resistance against the Court decision. The Dutch Minister of Justice Fred Teeven, for example, wants local ISPs to continue storing user data for law enforcement purposes. The European Court of Justice judgement is a clear victory for privacy activists, but mostly for the public who will regain some of their online privacy. While the ruling specified that some data retention may be needed, broad and mandatory retention laws and NSA-style data dragnets are no longer the standard. Source: TorrentFreak
  7. Published time: January 23, 2014 04:12 Edited time: January 23, 2014 05:37 A huge crowd of demonstrators has surrounded the US embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, protesting against Washingtons meddling in the countrys internal affairs. Follow RT's live updates. The event was organized by Kievans for Clean City, a new pro-government activist group which has spoken out against the rioters and violence in downtown Kiev. Several thousand demonstrators are taking part, urging the US to stop sponsoring mass unrests, local media reported. The US is behind everything that is happening in Kievs downtown right now. The financing is coming from over there. This has to be stopped. That is what we came out here to say to the whole world: US - stop! US - there needs to be peace in Ukraine, said Ivan Protsenko, one of the movements leaders. Rioters on Grushevskogo Street continue to burn tires, with building No. 4 catching fire from the high flames, Unian news agency quoted the Ministry of Internal Affairs as saying. Police have been holding their line throughout the evening, attempting to extinguish fires with water cannons. After four days of protests, the center of the Ukrainian capital continues to resemble a warzone, with smoke, barricades, and debris all around. Wednesday's clashes between rioters and police intensified in the afternoon after riot police cleared Grushevskogo Street. Footage from the Ukrainian capital showed hundreds of police officers using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades against the protesters. The dispersal is the largest to take place since the latest outbreak of violence began four days ago. Some clashes involved policemen snatching individual rioters from the crowd and brutally beating them. Rioters threw firecrackers, Molotov cocktails, and stones at police. Despite some episodes of police brutality, security forces largely refrained from attacking rioters. Former Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk said he is grateful for the patience that police officers and the Berkut unit have shown while confronting rioters on Grushevskogo Street. I am grateful to the guys and Berkut, who are standing there now. I do not condone nor approve of the fact that they cleared out the students on November 30, although the right thing to do would be to criticize the person who gave out the order, Kravchuk said in a Forbes opinion piece. Now they are going through an incredible challenge: being beaten up, having stones and burning mixtures thrown at them, and they stand there and endure. Not a lot of countries have military who would tolerate such a treatment in a similar situation. The riots have reportedly left two people dead and at least 300 injured, according to local media. Ukraines Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Wednesday that more than 70 people have been detained during the unrest. Ukraine's prime minister, Nikolay Azarov, said police were not given any additional instructions on the use of force against the protesters. Conversely, procedures now in place ensure minimal use of force against even the most violent rioters. "Instructions given to law enforcement authorities were simple: avoid the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and prevent violent seizure of government buildings and institutions, Azarov said in a BBC interview. The clashes erupted after a massive rally was held in Independence Square on Sunday, where protesters spoke out against new laws adopted by the Ukrainian government last week. http://rt.com/news/ukraine-protest-us-embassy-056
  8. By SPIEGEL Staff, BENJAMIN BIDDER, CHRISTIAN NEEF, VLADIMIR PYLYOV and MATTHIAS SCHEPP January 27, 2014 – 04:40 PM Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich appears bent on crushing the protest movement but the opposition won't go quietly. A right-wing nationalist party is seeking to benefit from the growing violence and has begun warning of a civil war. Dressed in jeans and a down jacket, the parliamentarian who wants to overthrow Ukraine's president by any means necessary is standing in Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, where a struggle for power has played out over the last two months. "What can our cobblestones, Molotov cocktails and burning tires do against water cannons, bullets and armored cars?" asks Igor Myroshnychenko. "Many people here are prepared to die." Under his jacket Myroshnychenko wears a traditional embroidered Ukrainian shirt. He is among the leaders of the right-wing nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) Party, which has formed a coalition with former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko's Udar Party, along with jailed former leader Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland Party, against President Viktor Yanukovich. Myroshnychenko tried a few days ago to prevent the passage of an amendment that limits the right to demonstrate. Soon after the president signed it, Myroshnychenko and three other Svoboda MPs marched into the printing plant where the government newspaper was being completed. New laws only take effect once they have been published. Part of the print run had already been sent off in trucks but protestors burned the remainder on Maidan Square. Government opponents have been erecting increasing numbers of barriers in the center of Kiev in recent days, and the country is on the brink of a "partisan war," Myroshnychenko says. "A lot of blood will flow, including the blood of innocent people. I have no hope that Yanukovich will meet even a single one of our demands." Death Toll Mounting Last week, three people lost their lives in the protests, with and one of them showing injuries consistent with torture. Hundreds of demonstrators have been injured. By European standards, the course taken by the president last week made no sense. Viktor Yanukovich has done nothing to solve the conflict for two months. And then he poured oil into the flames by whipping through a package of laws hostile to democracy. But not even a man with political horizons as limited as Yanukovich can have wanted what is now happening in Ukraine. The stage has now been set for civil war, and the hatred between pro-Europeans and friends of Russia has turned bloody. Yanukovich supporters regard the demonstrators as "extremists and terrorists;" even Prime Minister Nikolai Mykola Azarov used those words on television as if they were self-evident. Arsen Klintshayev, a government party parliamentarian in Lugansk, says it was "totally right" that the first demonstrators have now been killed. They had turned against the country's leadership and one should "take a much harder line against the protesters." Igor Myroshnychenko, meanwhile, regards the Yanukovich supporters as "fascists and bandits" who want to turn democratic Kiev into a "mafia-like Donetsk." Donetsk is a mining center in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine. In the 1990s, the city saw bloody power struggles between rival businessmen. Yanukovich, convicted of theft and causing bodily harm, comes from there and represents the interests of Donetsk-based oligarchs. The scope for talks between the two sides is eroding and the country is growing increasingly divided. Ukrainians who have thus far stayed out of the protests are starting to join the activists. Last Thursday, people stormed city halls and regional parliament buildings not just in western bastions of resistance like Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk but also in Cherkasy and Poltava in the east. They forced governors to sign their resignations and blocked public offices. Over the weekend, the protests spread further still, while in Kiev, demonstrators temporarily took control of the Justice Ministry. Weak Opposition Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine's first president, said that the current government is making matters worse, referring to the scandalous passage of the demonstration laws which weren't discussed in parliamentary committee. The vote took place by hand signs in a turbulent parliamentary session and the head of the parliament signed the laws immediately, in contravention of rules. The amendments are in line with Russian laws but the punishments are even stiffer. In Russia, "organizers of mass unrest" face four to 10 years in jail, compared with 10 to 15 in Ukraine. Former Ukrainian Justice Minister Sergey Golovaty says the events of recent days were stage-managed by Moscow, not by Kiev. Ukraine's political regime, he says, is to be "aligned with that of Russia and Belarus." The regime needs a pseudo-judicial basis for repression. That is why Yanukovich is steering towards a violent outcome of the crisis, Golovaty believes. That assessment is consistent with the dismissal of the moderates from Yanukovich's team, including the head of the presidential office, Sergey Levochkin who had favored entering into a dialogue with the opposition. He was replaced by a Donetsk-based supporter of Yanukovich who is reported to have ordered the first violent clearance of Maidan Square in November. Yanukovich's unwillingness to compromise also has to do with the weakness of the opposition. The protests of pro-European Ukrainians, which began eight weeks ago, took Klitschko and the heads of the allied opposition parties by surprise. Last week, they were once again overtaken by events when militants took the initiative on Kiev's Maidan Square out of frustration that the three opposition leaders were unable to get what they demanded of the country's leadership. Svoboda member Myroshnychenko is likewise not a fan of Klitschko. His development as a politician is moving "rather slowly," he says sarcastically. "I don't think that he can take over leadership of the opposition, much less leadership of the aggressive Maidan." What he doesn't say is that his own party is also a problem for the opposition alliance. Svoboda has joined the revolt, but it rejects certain human and minority rights. With 10 percent support, Svoboda is the fourth-strongest group in parliament. Klitschko and the Tymoshenko party need its backing. Plus, the party is a key player in the protests. But Klitschko plays down Svoboda's right-wing stance. "We have different ideologies, but two things connect us," Klitschko says. "We are fighting against those in power today and we want European values for our country." Flirting with the Right Wing The Svoboda party also has excellent ties to Europe, but they are different from the ones that Klischko might prefer. It is allied with France's right-wing Front National and with the Italian neo-fascist group Fiamma Tricolore. But when it comes to the oppression of homosexuality, representative Myroshnychenko is very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, even if he does all he can to counter Moscow's influence in his country. "The EU is the only possibility for us to defend ourselves against Russian pressure," he says. He and his party see the alliance with Klitschko as being purely tactical. Klitschko, after all, would like to limit the powers of the president while Svoboda dreams of a country with a strong leader. Myroshnychenko was press spokesman for the Ukrainian national football team in the lead up to the 2008 European Championships, but he isn't exactly cosmopolitan. He would even like to see foreign professional football players deported because they "change Ukraine's ethnic map." There have been other, similar incidents. In a 2012 debate over the Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis, he said that she wasn't Ukrainian, rather she was a "Jewess." Indeed, anti-Semitism is part of the extremist party's platform; until 2004, they called themselves the Social-National Party of Ukraine in an intentional reference to Adolf Hitler's National Socialist party. Just last summer, a prominent leader of party youth was distributing texts from Nazi propaganda head Joseph Goebbels translated into Ukrainian. Without the nationalists' tight organization, the revolt on Maidan Square would long since have collapsed. But Svoboda also embodies the greatest danger to the protest movement. The party's foot soldiers, with their muddled, right wing doctrine, aren't likely to hold back for much longer. And that might be what the president is waiting for. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/ukraine-sliding-towards-civil-war-in-wake-of-tough-new-laws-a-945742.html
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