European Union

Researchers find that filters don’t prevent porn

In a paper entitled Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material, Oxford Internet Institute researchers Victoria Nash and Andrew Przybylski found that Internet filters rarely work to keep adolescents away from online porn. “It’s important to consider the efficacy of Internet filtering,” said Dr, Nash. “Internet filtering tools are expensive to develop and maintain, and can easily ‘underblock’ due to the constant development of new ways of sharing content. Additionally, there are concerns about human rights violations – filtering can lead to ‘overblocking’, where young people are not able to access legitimate health and relationship information.” This research follows the controversial news that the UK government was exploring a country-wide porn filter, a product th...

European MEPs vote to reopen copyright debate over ‘censorship’ controversy

A 318-278 majority of MEPs in the European Parliament has just voted to reopen debate around a controversial digital copyright reform proposal — meaning it will now face further debate and scrutiny, rather than be fast-tracked towards becoming law via the standard EU trilogue negotiation process. Crucially it means MEPs will have the chance to amend the controversial proposals. Last month the EU parliament’s legal affairs committee approved the final text of the copyright proposal — including approving its two most controversial articles — kicking off a last ditch effort by groups opposed to what they dub the ‘link tax’ and ‘censorship machines’ to marshal MEPs to reopen debate and be able to amend the proposal. The copyright reform is controversial largely on account of two articles: Arti...

AI spots legal problems with tech T&Cs in GDPR research project

Technology is the proverbial double-edged sword. And an experimental European research project is ensuring this axiom cuts very close to the industry’s bone indeed by applying machine learning technology to critically sift big tech’s privacy policies — to see whether AI can automatically identify violations of data protection law. The still-in-training privacy policy and contract parsing tool — which is called ‘Claudette‘: Aka (automated) clause detector — is being developed by researchers at the European University Institute in Florence. They’ve also now got support from European consumer organization BEUC — for a ‘Claudette meets GDPR‘ project — which specifically applies the tool to evaluate compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Early results from this project hav...

Wikipedia goes dark in Spanish, Italian ahead of key EU vote on copyright

Wikipedia’s Italian and Spanish language versions have temporarily shut off access to their respective versions of the free online encyclopedia in Europe to protest against controversial components of a copyright reform package ahead of a key vote in the EU parliament tomorrow. The protest follows a vote by the EU parliament’s legal affairs committee last month which backed the reforms — including the two most controversial elements: Article 13, which makes platforms directly liable for copyright infringements by their users — pushing them towards pre-filtering all content uploads, with all the associated potential chilling effects for free expression; and Article 11, which targets news aggregator business models by creating a neighboring right for snippets of journalistic content — aka ‘t...

Europe takes another step towards copyright pre-filters for user generated content

In a key vote this morning the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee has backed the two most controversial elements of a digital copyright reform package — which critics warn could have a chilling effect on Internet norms like memes and also damage freedom of expression online. In the draft copyright directive, Article 11; “Protection of press publications concerning online uses” — which targets news aggregator business models by setting out a neighboring right for the use of snippets of journalistic content that requires users to get a license from the publisher (aka ‘the link tax’, as critics dub it) — was adopted by a 13:12 majority of the legal committee. While, Article 13; “Use of protected content by online content sharing service providers” — which makes platforms directly l...

After twenty years of Salesforce, what Marc Benioff got right and wrong about the cloud

Grant Miller Contributor As we enter the 20th year of Salesforce, there’s an interesting opportunity to reflect back on the change that Marc Benioff created with the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for enterprise software with his launch of Salesforce.com. This model has been validated by the annual revenue stream of SaaS companies, which is fast approaching $100 billion by most estimates, and it will likely continue to transform many slower-moving industries for years to come. However, for the cornerstone market in IT — large enterprise-software deals — SaaS represents less than 25 percent of total revenue, according to most market estimates. This split is even evident in the most recent high profile “SaaS” acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft, with over 50 percent of GitHub’s revenue co...

Pressure mounts on EU-US Privacy Shield after Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal

Yet more pressure on the precariously placed EU-US Privacy Shield: The European Union parliament’s civil liberties committee has called for the data transfer arrangement to be suspended by September 1 unless the US comes into full compliance. Though the committee has no power to suspend the arrangement itself. But has amped up the political pressure on the EU’s executive body, the European Commission . In a vote late yesterday the Libe committee agreed the mechanism as it is currently being applied does not provide adequate protection for EU citizens’ personal information — emphasizing the need for better monitoring in light of the recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, after the company admitted in April that data on as many as 87 million users had been improperly passed to third pa...

Cambridge Analytica’s Nix said it licensed ‘millions of data points’ from Acxiom, Experian, Infogroup to target US voters

The repeat grilling by the U.K. parliament’s DCMS committee today of Alexander Nix, the former CEO of the now ex company Cambridge Analytica — aka the controversial political and commercial ad agency at the center of a Facebook data misuse scandal — was not able to shed much new light on what may or may not have been going on inside the company. But one nugget of information Nix let slip were the names of specific data aggregators he said Cambridge Analytica had bought “consumer and lifestyle” information on U.S. voters from, to link to voter registration data it also paid to acquire — apparently using that combined database to build models to target American voters in the 2016 presidential election, rather than using data improperly obtained from Facebook. This is more information than Ca...

Europe to cap intra-EU call fees as part of overhaul to telecoms rules

European Union institutions have reached a political agreement over an update to the bloc’s telecoms rules that’s rattled the cages of incumbent telcos. Agreement was secured late yesterday after months of negotiations between the EU parliament and Council, with the former pushing for and securing a price cap on international calls within the bloc — of no more than 19 cents per minute. Texts will also be capped at a maximum of 6 cents each, Reuters reports. While roaming charges for EU travelers were abolished across the bloc last summer, the parliament was concerned that charges for calls and texts between EU Member States is often disproportionately high — hence pushing for the cap, which was not in the original EC proposal. The Commission proposed a new European Electronic Communication...

Brexit blow for UK’s hopes of helping set AI rules in Europe

The UK’s hopes of retaining an influential role for its data protection agency in shaping European Union regulations post-Brexit — including helping to set any new Europe-wide rules around artificial intelligence — look well and truly dashed. In a speech at the weekend in front of the International Federation for European Law, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, shot down the notion of anything other than a so-called ‘adequacy decision’ being on the table for the UK after it exits the bloc. If granted, an adequacy decision is an EU mechanism for enabling citizens’ personal data to more easily flow from the bloc to third countries — as the UK will be after Brexit. Such decisions are only granted by the European Commission after a review of a third country’s privacy standards t...

To truly protect citizens, lawmakers need to restructure their regulatory oversight of big tech

Gillian Hadfield Contributor More posts by this contributor To control AI, we need to understand more about humans If members of the European Parliament thought they could bring Mark Zuckerberg to heel with his recent appearance, they underestimated the enormous gulf between 21st century companies and their last-century regulators. Zuckerberg himself reiterated that regulation is necessary, provided it is the “right regulation.” But anyone who thinks that our existing regulatory tools can reign in our digital behemoths is engaging in magical thinking. Getting to “right regulation” will require us to think very differently. The challenge goes far beyond Facebook and other social media: the use and abuse of data is going to be the defining feature of just about every company on the planet as...

Facebook, Google face first GDPR complaints over “forced consent”

After two years coming down the pipe at tech giants, Europe’s new privacy framework, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is now being applied — and long time Facebook privacy critic, Max Schrems, has wasted no time in filing four complaints relating to (certain) companies’ ‘take it or leave it’ stance when it comes to consent. The complaints have been filed on behalf of (unnamed) individual users — with one filed against Facebook; one against Facebook-owned Instagram; one against Facebook-owned WhatsApp; and one against Google’s Android. Schrems argues that the companies are using a strategy of “forced consent” to continue processing the individuals’ personal data — when in fact the law requires that users be given a free choice unless a consent is strictly necessary for provisi...