EDRI-gram digital civil rights in Europe 23 May 2007
1. US official makes PNR demands to the European Parliament
2. UK implements the Data Retention Directive
3. Google is profiling online gamers
4. UK House of Commons culture committee wants copyright extension
5. The Italian Big Brother Awards for 2007
6. Bulgarian actions against online piracy - "collateral damage"
7. Opennet Initiative publishes alarming results on Internet filtering
8. OECD finds the real piracy losses
9. International Declaration on G8 and Intellectual Property launched
10. Romanian open source community gets together
11. Polish people arrested for publishing movie translations
12. Recommended Reading
As the negotiations of the PNR (Passenger Name Records) issue continue between the US Government and the European Parliament, during his visit to Brussels on 14 May, US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asked for more relaxed restrictions on the personal data transfer from the airline companies.
The interim agreement on PNR between EU and US expires in July 2007 and unless a common agreement is reached by then, airlines are in a difficult position, facing either being sued in Europe for providing these data in the US or in the US for not sharing the information.
Chertoff addressed the Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs asking for looser privacy safeguard conditions in the transfer of the personal data of passengers flying from Europe to US. The European Parliament has resisted until now, being concerned on personal data protection issues.
One of the restrictions Chertoff referred to in asking for looser conditions was the use of the data limiting their dissemination to institutions that have strict privacy safeguards standards as in the EU.
Chertoff considers that in order to stop terrorism, the data have to be shared among all US government agencies. He also stated the U.S. wanted to hold the data for 40 years but he also said this was negotiable.
While the European Commissioner for justice and home affairs Franco Frattini said he was confident the EU and the US could reach an agreement on how to handle personal information about European citizens flying to America, there were voices that asked uncomfortable questions to Chertoff.
MEP Sophie in 't Veld, the rapporteur responsible for PNR policy asked if PNR were used for purposes other than counter-terrorism, such as control of infectious diseases, or private purposes of certain companies such as insurance companies. The answer was that the use of PNR by private companies was illegal and those infringing the law would be brought to justice. But PNR data are first of all commercial records created and used for commercial purposes by travel companies and Chertoff 's answer would imply that these companies are forbidden to use these data and that would make impossible for them to operate. US has generally more lax laws on privacy and data protection and there is no law restricting them from passing part or all of those data to a third party, or using the data for other purposes than those for which the data had been collected.
Chertoff also claimed that "PNR data is protected under the U.S. Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act, among other laws, as well as the robust oversight provided through ... American courts." However, Privacy Act applies only to U.S. persons, not EU citizens and residents.
Sophie in 't Veld also asked Chertoff if he was really interested in a compromise "instead imposing unilaterally US standards and wishes" but she did not get a clear answer.
"It is never justified to give unlimited and uncontrolled powers to any government," said in 't Veld.
US asks Europe to relax privacy rules for new airline deal (15.05.2007)
U.S., EU Hopeful on Airline Data Privacy Pact (14.05.2007)
Did Chertoff lie to the European Parliament? (15.05.2007)
Does the Chicago Convention authorize government demands for PNR's? No.
Video of the PNR hearing (14.05.2007)
The UK Home Office is presently implementing the Data Retention Directive that will oblige telephony and internet service providers to keep data for 12 months. The decision was taken without any debate by simple "affirmative" votes in the parliament and the Directive is to be implemented by 15 September 2007 for fixed and mobile telephones and 18 months later for internet services (including VOIP telephony).
The Home Office intents to implement the Directive by a Regulation that will replace the current "voluntary" Code and does not seem to have taken into consideration any risk related to the privacy of personal data.
Moreover, the government says that the EC Directive covering serious crime can be used for any crime and that there is no need for public or parliamentary discussion on privacy, civil liberties or human rights issues as these have already been discussed at the EU level.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments: "The collection and retention of everyone's communications data is a momentous decision, one that should not be slipped through parliament without anyone noticing as the government plans to do. The government's proposal changes a voluntary agreement into a binding law, on these grounds alone there should be primary legislation. Moreover, the EC Directive limits the purpose for which data can be retained to "serious crime" but the government intends to extend the scope to all crime however minor."
Having in view the character of the data retained, consumers and telecoms companies need safeguards concerning the use of these data. Under the EC Directive, all countries are required to adopt measures that ensure the data can only be used by competent national authorities. Yet, UK's draft regulation and consultation process makes no reference on this. Also there is nothing in the Regulation covering sanctions and remedies for unauthorised use of the data as stipulated in the EC Directive.
Further more, the data can also be obtained in the absence of existing court proceedings and can be available to anyone who can convince the Courts that they have a right to access them.
Keeping personal data should help law enforcement authorities in their fight against crime and for national security purposes. On the other hand, telecom companies must protect their customers' privacy and, according to the draft regulations, they will not be able to protect these data by destroying it.
The only positive element for them is that, at least, the government proposes to compensate them for compliance costs and litigants are obliged to pay for disclosure of documents which they request from third parties.
Mandatory data retention in the UK - Statewatch analysis (05.2007)
Data retention: a balancing act for telcos (10.05.2007)
3. Google is profiling online gamers
Google has filed a patent in Europe and in US on a profiling technology planning to create psychological profiles of web users based on their behaviour at playing on-line games. The company thinks it can gather up information to shape the personality of web users according to the way they react and take decisions while playing online and then sell these psychological profiles to advertisers.
The patent says: "User dialogue (e.g. from role playing games, simulation games, etc) may be used to characterize the user (e.g. literate, profane, blunt or polite, quiet etc). Also, user play may be used to characterize the user (e.g. cautious, risk-taker, aggressive, non-confrontational, stealthy, honest, cooperative, uncooperative, etc)."
On the basis of these profiles, adverts inside online games could be shaped to address the people's interests, tastes and tendencies. Adverts that appear inside the game could thus be more "relevant to the user", Google says.
The patent says that information from previously saved games could be accessed from memory cards. "Such saved information may be thought of state information, and offers a valuable source of information to the advertisers" and also that Google could also monitor people playing on any game console that connects to the internet, including the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft's Xbox.
These plans have created concerns for privacy campaigners, who consider that the implications of compiling and storing such detailed information are "alarming".
Sue Charman the Open Rights Group said: "I can understand why they are interested in this, but I would be deeply disturbed by a company holding a psychological profile. Whenever you have large amounts of information it becomes attractive to people - we've already seen the American federal government going to court over data from companies including Google."
The patent gives alarming examples of the invasive type of approach the advertisers could use, such as: "In a car racing game, after a user crashes his Honda Civic, an announcer could be used to advertise by saying 'if he had a Hummer, he would have gotten the better of that altercation', etc. If the user has been playing for over two hours continuously, the system may display ads for Pizza Hut, Coke, coffee."
The experts say that although such scanning is already done by some web companies that use keywords for online advertising based on basic attributes, such kind of complete profiles viewed by the Google patent would go much further in combining information sources to put names and addresses to the anonymous profiles.
Google stated to The Guardian that it had no plan in the next future regarding this patent and that this was only one of the large number of patents filed during the last months by the company. "Google registers different patents irrespective of whether we actually intend to use them" was Google spokesman's statement.
Google may use games to analyse net users (12.05.2007)
Google Patents Gamer Profiling Technology (14.05.2007)
Google Plans to Secretly Track Your Online Gaming (12.05.2007)
Google's online gaming patent alarms privacy advocates (14.05.2007)
The copyright term for sound recordings is back on the public agenda in UK, after a report from the House of Commons culture committee has recommended its extension from 50 to 70 years, despite the negative feedback received earlier from Andrew Gowers' report or a recent study commissioned by the European Union and made public in January 2007.
The Culture committee report considered that the musicians have a "moral right" to keep control of their creations while alive and that 7000 people will lose in the next years their royalties from the 50s and 60s recordings. Also the report considered there was a non-reasonable difference between the copyright term for songwriters, whose families keep the copyright 70 years after the death of the author and the 50-year rule for sound recordings.
"We recommend that the government should press the European Commission to bring forward proposals for an extension of copyright term for sound recordings to at least 70 years.", concluded the report.
77 UK MPs have signed a parliamentary motion calling for this extension. EDRi-member ORG has publicly opposed the change asking from the people to remind the politicians to debate this issue on the basis of evidence - which points firmly against extension - rather than nostalgia.
The decision of the UK MPs is opposite to Andrew Gowers' report, backed by the Treasury, that recommended not to extend the copyright term for sound recordings.
Moreover, Gowers exclusively revealed to Out-Law Radio last month that, far from leaning towards extension, he almost recommended shortening the term of copyright:
"I could have made a case for reducing it based on the economic arguments," he said. "We certainly considered it, and if you look at the report that came from the academics that we commissioned to examine the arguments and examine the evidence they also argued very robustly that 50 years could be arguably more than enough."
Copyright extension back on Commons' agenda (16.05.2007)
Music stars 'must keep copyright' (17.05.2007)
Copyright extension: Seems our MPs haven't been doing their homework
EDRI-gram: Copyright extension term rejected by EU commissioned report
On 19 May 2007, the two-day e-Privacy Conference in Florence hosted the Big Brother Awards Italy. The candidates for the awards were selected by a jury made of seven members.
The people's choice price "The People's lament" was won by far by Telecom Italia especially for the Tavaroli & Co case when a vast system of illegal eavesdropping of telephone conversations was discovered under the company's umbrella. The company's financial maneuvers and court actions have also contributed to its victory.
The Municipality of Milan won the award "The Worst Public Agency" for having installed several cameras in the city starting with public parks without giving any information on who would use the recorded data and for having sponsored a private initiative that proposes to the Milanese traders a 50% reimbursement for the installment of cameras on their sideway part.
The "Worst private corporation" award was received again by Telecom Italia for having illegally intercepted the conversations of millions of Italian citizens without any constitutional guaranty or requests from the secret services for emergency situations. In a best scenario, the management of the company had lost control over their employees' actions.
The award for "The Most Invasive Technology" was received by Google for the large amount of data retained. The company is considered the second most dangerous entity for privacy in the world. With the recent acquisition of DoubleClick.com, the advertising giant, its motto could now be "Don't be evil, buy the Devil!".
Paolo Gentiloni, the Minister of Communications received the "Boot in the Mouth" price. He considers that the eavesdropping is not a problem as long as unless such data is made public, especially by the journalists.
The "Lifetime Menace" award was adjudicated by the Italian Parliament for having approved a law against the illegal interceptions only when its members considered they were personally in danger. The Italian Parliament has proven lately that the defense of the privacy rights of the Italian citizens is no longer a focus.
The positive award "Winston Smith - Privacy Hero" was awarded this year to Representative Maurizio Turco who has presented the Winston Smith Project law against Data Retention, the only law proposal issued during the last year in favor of privacy.
The winners of Big Brother Italia (only in Italian, 21.05.2007)
Big Brother Award Italia 2007
E-privacy 2007 Conference proceedings (18-19.05.2007)
Bulgarian authorities went beyond the EU limits in investigating Internet users and website owners in 2005 according to MEP Antonyia Parvanova who thinks the Bulgarian officials have caused the bankruptcy of some Internet clubs and brought serious damages to a website owner by prosecuting people who had not actually committed any crime.
She believes that these cases should be investigated and she stated she would address this matter to the European Commission to verify whether the actions of the Bulgarian authorities did not infringe the European laws, especially article 11 of the Chapter of Human Rights.
Rumen Petkov, Bulgaria's Minister of Interior, stated the actions involving the serisure of all the equipment of some Internet clubs followed by very strong mass media coverage had been triggered by EU pressure to "control Internet piracy".
The case was dismissed after two years of litigation, the Internet clubs were found not guilty and the equipment was returned but the clubs has already gone bankrupt and the equipment was already outdated.
Actions were also taken against the "black boards" where users post and exchange what they have. One of these actions was against ArenaBG.com, one of the most popular websites of this kind. As a result of the police raids and prosecution the owner was out of business. According to Parvanova, due to the publicity created around the case and to false reports regarding his wealth he had to hide for fear of being kidnapped.
These cases were brought to the attention of Parvanova by representatives of EDRI-member Internet Society Bulgaria.
Bulgarian crackdown on "pirate" Internet captures no one (12.05.2007)
EDRi-gram - Bulgarian Police ordered ISPs to block US-based torrent tracker
On 19 May 2007 the Opennet Initiative (ONI) held a conference on the state of global internet filtering. On the conference ONI presented the results of its research over the last years. It concludes that an increasing number of coutries is applying filtering to the Internet. The core of the results can be found on ONI's website and will be published in a book in the end of 2007.
"It's an alarming increase," according to Ron Deibert, one of the academics leading the ONI Initiative. "Once the tools are in place, authorities realize that the Internet can be controlled. There used to be a myth that the Internet was immune to regulation. Now governments are realizing it's actually the opposite."
The academic study has categorized their findings on government Internet filtering into four broad categories: political (such as opposition material), social (such as pornography, gambling), conflict/security (armed conflict, militant groups), and Internet tools (such as anonimizers). There are country reports on 40 specific countries and eight regional reports, including Europe, the last opening with: "In less than a decade, the Internet in Europe has evolved from a virtually unfettered environment to one in which filtering in most countries, particularly within the European Union (EU), is the norm rather than the exception."
An important conclusion of ONI is the lack of tranparency of the filtering that was discovered. "What's regrettable about net filtering is that almost always this is happening in the shadows. There's no place you can get an answer as a citizen from your state about how they are filtering and what is being filtered.", according to John Palfrey, director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, one of the partners of ONI.
Internet filtering in Europe is a point on the agenda of the Council of Europe Group of Specialists on Human Rights in the Information Society (CoE MC-S-IS) in which EDRI is an observer. The first exchanges during the March 2007 meeting of the MC-S-IS group on the technical filtering of content seemed promising, EDRI-Gram reported on 12 April 2007, as a large majority of participating member states expressed strong doubts on both the usefulness of technical filtering measures and their compatibility with Article 10 of the ECHR.
Research OpenNet Initiative
Governments using filters to censor Internet, survey finds (18.05.2007)
Global net censorship 'growing' (18.05.2007)
EDRI-gram: CoE to address the impact of technical measures on human rights
(Contribution by Joris van Hoboken - EDRI-member Bits of Freedom - Netherlands)
Financial Times obtained an executive summary of a new report produced by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that estimates the trade losses due to piracy and counterfeiting did not exceed 200 billion USD.
The report should be endorsed by the OECD board this month and is considered politically sensitive, taking into account that the estimates from the industry show figures up to 3-4 times higher than the OECD estimates based on reported customs seizures in various countries.
The efforts of the international business lobbists, that have pushed for Germany to put the fight against counterfeiting on the next G8 summit agenda, could be undermined by this new report. This is why the International Chamber of Commerce Secretary General quickly reacted by considering the OECD figures as "underestimated" and said that "up to 1 000 billion USD in international trade was lost annually" to piracy and counterfeiting.
Forgery trade losses 'under $200bn' (7.05.2007)
The German non-profit organization "Netzwerk Freies Wissen" (Free Knowledge Network) heavily criticizes the goals of the conference held by the G8 states' ministers of justice starting on 23 May 2007.
The most important item on the agenda is a stronger enforcement of intellectual property. For this reason the Network, together with other organizations and private persons from many countries will present the "Civil Society declaration on the G8 summit 2007 and intellectual property rights".
"The goal of this declaration is to point out the severe problems in this area, which have grown throughout the world in the last years", says Petra Buhr, speaker for the network. "Furthermore we demand radical changes in the politics of the G8", she adds. Be it patents on drugs, the protection of seeds that prevent the cultivation of plants or the freedom of education which is threatened by strong copyright laws. The paper demands, that a state has to decide by itself on how far it wants to introduce intellectual property laws and that the pressure, mainly on developing countries, must stop in order to allow a fair development.
Also the paper talks about the problems in the G8 states. It claims software patents are a threat to innovation and digital rights management a threat to the worlds cultural heritage. It also demands a massive aid towards alternatives such as free access to knowledge or free software which was financed by public funds. It shows concern at the increasing privatization of public research.
Finally the Network demands from the hosting German Government to show its true colours: "It is perfidious to talk about fake T-Shirts and unsafe medicine while actually trying to stop the important production of generic drugs in developing countries", Buhr answers to a statement of Brigitte Zypries, the German minister of justice. "The government arguments are one-sided. The problems caused by ever increasing intellectual property rights are complex and very serious. Alternatives should be chosen instead of enforcing a very corrupt system worldwide" Buhr concludes.
The declaration is open for signatories starting today. Among the first signatories of the Declaration are also the EDRI-members Netzwerk Neue Medien, Chaos Computer Club and Swiss Internet User Group SIUG.
Declaration - For better development and just access to knowledge in all forms - Against the domination of exclusionary rights on the knowledge economy
- A civil society statement concerning intellectual property and the 2007 G8 summit
Tool for signatures
Statement Minister of Jusice Zypris (15.05 2007):
(Thanks to Petra Buhr - Netzwerk Freies Wissen)
Probably the most important conference in Romania on open source and free software took place at the end of the last week - on 18-19 May 2007 in Brasov. The eLiberatica 2007 conference was organized by a new group of IT specialists called Romanian Open Source and Free Software Initiative (ROSI).
The conference aimed at bringing community leaders from around the world to talk about the hottest topics in FLOSS movement demonstrating the advantages of adopting, using and developing Open Source and Free Software solutions.
The international participants that included Monty Widenius, the main engineer and supervisor of MySQL, Brian Behlendorf, one of the Apache Project initiators or Zak Greant, representing Mozilla Foundation, provided a high level view on the entire FLOSS movement including business, social and technical aspects.
Aleksander Farstad, CEO of eZ systems explained how open source development can be used in creating a successful business and the presentations from the Romanian speakers showed examples of locally developed open source products from ERP/CRM solutions to Open Source for Public Libraries or VoIP solutions.
The use of open source software and open standards in public administration were highlighted by Georg Greve (president of Free Software Foundation Europe) in its presentation on the necessity of adopting open standards and supporting them at the national level as well. A practical example on adopting FOSS in public administration was shown by Jim Willis, Director of eGovernment and Information Technology from Rhode Island.
As some of the Romanian participants pointed out, the Romanian Government preferred until now proprietary software and technologies (with closed source code) at very high prices, "making Romania directly available to foreign corporations and paying hundreds of millions of Euro from public money as licenses."
The necessity for a better-organized open source community was highlighted by Bogdan Manolea from EDRI-member APTI Romania, who presented the obstacles the Romanian copyright legislation creates for open source developers and why the open source community should react to those actions supposed to "fight piracy" of the authorities.
A similar message was projected by Lucian Savluc, the main organizer of the event, who promoted ROSI as a good framework where the Romanian open source community can be gathered, if there is support, work and involvement. The first step will be the creation of a public portal that will present all the Romanian activities related to FOSS, both in Romanian and English. Other projects will follow as well.
Eliberatica 2007 Conference (18-19.05.2007)
A popular subtitle exchange community in Poland, Napisy.org, was in shock, after nine of its members were accused of posting illegal translations of movies and were held by the Police for questioning.
The Napisy.org community, that gathers approx. 600 000 users, allowed the submission of translated subtitles for movies (especially from English into Polish) for free. The translators did not get any money for their work.
The Polish Police had a common intervention in 6 cities of Silesia, Podlachia, Cracow and Szczecin where they entered at 6 AM in some of the translator's homes and took them for questioning. According to the Polish Police, 2000 CDs with allegedly illegal copied movies were also found and 17 computers were seized.
Krzysztof Czerepak, the webmaster of napisy.org, contested the information made public by the Police, explaining that he knows only about 6 persons (2 admins, 3 moderators and one translator) and denied the existence of the CDs found by the Police. "The two admins had laptops with fully legal software, while the woman-translator had a company-owned laptop" he added. The webmaster also commented that " most of the amateurish translations appear long before a "professional" translation is prepared. It is also an often omitted fact that a lot of "professionals" use (or steal, naming the things) our translations to do their job. Nobody calls this a violation of the law."
The website that was hosted on a German server was shut down and the Polish Police explained that it was a collaboration with the German colleagues for this activity. The people held for questioning could be accused of illegal publication of copyrighted works and could be sentenced to up to 2 years jail time.
Poland: Nine people held by police for translating movies (17.05.2007)
12. Recommended Reading
ITU and UNCTAD announced the publication of the World Information Society Report 2007
8 May - 22 July 2007, Austria Annual decentralized community event around free software lectures, panel discussions, workshops, fairs and socialising
24 May 2007, Geneva, Switzerland Council of Europe Roundtable - The Internet and public service: do they go together ?
26 May 2007, Zurich, Switzerland Creative Commons Switzerland - Launch Event
11-15 June 2007, Geneva, Switzerland Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda: Fourth Session
11-12 June 2007, Strasbourg, France Council of Europe - Octopus Interface 2007 - Cooperation against Cybercrime
12 June 2007, Berlin, Germany German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information - Symposium "Data Protection in Europe"
14 June 2007, Paris, France ENISA/EEMA European eIdentity conference - Next Generation Electronic Identity - eID beyond PKI
15-17 June 2007, Dubrovnik, Croatia Creative Commons iSummit 2007
17-22 June 2007 Seville, Spain 19th Annual FIRST Conference, "Private Lives and Corporate Risk"
18-22 June 2007, Geneva, Switzerland Second Special Session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)
5-11 September 2007 Ars Electronica Festival - Festival for Art, Technology and Society
Information about EDRI and its members:
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