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  1. The EU Commission is calling for the capacity of law enforcement agencies around Europe to be "substantially strengthened" to fight piracy and other IP crimes. Promising to reinforce cooperation between rightsholders, intermediaries, police and prosecutors, the Commission says that dealing with these threats must become a higher priority. While cooperation across borders has been a regular feature of piracy and similar IP crime investigations across Europe, there is considerable momentum in Brussels to make better use of international resources. Recent actions to tackle unlicensed IPTV providers, resellers and related infrastructure reveal that law enforcement entities are able to pool resources to shut down huge operations. But according to the EU Commission, more needs to be done. Law Enforcement Needs to Give More Priority to IP Crime In a paper published this week directed at the European Parliament and European Council, among others, the Commission details an intellectual property action plan designed to support the EU’s “innovative potential”. The 15-page document covers a wide range of IP-related topics, from general counterfeiting to pharmaceuticals, patents, and online piracy. “As regards counterfeiting and piracy, the Commission sees a clear need to step up efforts. In 2016, imports of counterfeit and pirated goods into the EU amounted to as much as EUR 121 billion, which represents up to 6.8% of EU imports (against 5% of EU imports in 2013),” the paper reads. “New forms of IP infringements have arisen on the internet, such as cyber theft of trade secrets (accounting for an estimated EUR 60 billion of losses in the EU, illegal internet protocol television (IPTV) and other forms of illegal (live) streaming. They raise particular challenges for manufacturing, the creative and cultural industries as well as the sports sector.” Part of the problem, the Commission notes, is that IP crime doesn’t receive the necessary resources at the enforcement level, something that needs to be corrected in order for the EU to maximize its potential. “The capacity of law enforcement authorities has to be substantially strengthened. Counterfeiting and piracy must become a higher priority,” the Commission notes, urging Member States and the European Council to include IP crime among the priorities for the next EU Policy Cycle. EU Commission Promises to Reinforce Stakeholder Cooperation Noting that all relevant stakeholders should continue their exchanges with Europol in order to further improve threat assessment and coordinated action against IP crime, the Commission says it will do its part to improve and increase cooperation between all players involved in or affected by infringement online. At the top end, this will not only encompass numerous rightsholders but also intermediaries, including online platforms, social media companies, and the advertising industry. Enhanced cooperation will be sought from other entities too, such as those that may play a more passive role in piracy – payment services and domain name registrars and registries, for example. This cooperation will form a part of what the Commission describes as the “EU Toolbox”, which among other things will clarify roles and responsibilities while identifying how stakeholders can work together. It will also promote new technologies such as image recognition, artificial intelligence and blockchain, to increase the effectiveness of the EU’s IP protection systems. Protecting EU Companies From Unfair Competition Noting that its large single market puts the EU in a special position to act as a “global standard-setter in IP”, the Commission says that must be accompanied by better protections against IP theft originating from non-EU countries. Part of the effort to promote a global level playing field will come via the fledgling Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List, which late last year called out a broad range of alleged ‘pirate’ sites in the BitTorrent, cyberlocker, stream-ripping spaces. The EU Commission’s paper can be obtained here (pdf) Source: TorrentFreak
  2. The move is part of EU’s efforts to beef up cybersecurity, after several high-profile incidents shocked diplomats and officials. The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications. The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that "Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging." The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology. "It's like Facebook's WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage but it's based on an encryption protocol that's very innovative," said Bart Preneel, cryptography expert at the University of Leuven. "Because it's open-source, you can check what's happening under the hood," he added. Signal was developed in 2013 by privacy activists. It is supported by a nonprofit foundation that has the backing of WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, who had left the company in 2017 after clashing with Facebook's leadership. Privacy experts consider that Signal's security is superior to other apps'. "We can't read your messages or see your calls," its website reads, "and no one else can either." While WhatsApp's technology is based on Signal's protocol (known as Open Whisper Systems), it isn't open-source. Another popular messaging app, Telegram, meanwhile, faces similar concerns over the lack of transparency on how its encryption works. EU not-so-confidential After a series of high-profile incidents that shocked diplomats and officials in Brussels and across the Continent, the European Union is beefing up its cybersecurity standards. In December 2018, cybersecurity research firm Area 1 Security said it found that thousands of diplomatic cables were downloaded from the EU's COREU (or Courtesy) system, which is used by national governments and EU institutions to exchange day-to-day information on foreign policy. Then in June last year, the news broke that the EU's delegation in Moscow had suffered what appeared to be a cybersecurity breach in 2017, with two computers allegedly hacked to steal diplomatic information. The Commission said it was investigating the issue and informed its top diplomats. The EU on Wednesday said it would soon draft a new European cybersecurity strategy. It announced earlier it would set up a "joint cybersecurity unit" to support EU countries and organizations in the event of an attack. Commission officials are already required to use encrypted emails to exchange sensitive, non-classified information, an official said. Classified documents fall under tighter security rules. The use of Signal was mainly recommended for communications between staff and people outside the institution. The move to use the application shows that the Commission is working on improving its security policies. Promoting the app, however, could antagonize the law enforcement community. Officials in Brussels, Washington and other capitals have been putting strong pressure on Facebook and Apple to allow government agencies to access to encrypted messages; if these agencies refuse, legal requirements could be introduced that force firms to do just that. American, British and Australian officials have published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in October, asking that he call off plans to encrypt the company’s messaging service. Dutch Minister for Justice and Security Ferd Grappehaus told POLITICO last April that the EU needs to look into legislation allowing governments to access encrypted data. Cybersecurity officials have dismissed calls to weaken encryption for decades, arguing that it would put the confidentiality of communications at risk across the board. Source
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