Bonum Certa Men Certa

Maximalists and Lobbyists Take Over Europe, Internet, PCs

The lunacy that was mentioned here a couple of days ago surely continues. In order to keep you up to date, here's some of the latest.

Brussels



ACT carries on with its fight for RAND terms that essentially leave FOSS out of the cold. They try to enforce these anti-FOSS laws by ridiculing the EU (e.g. "scoring an own goal") and by calling Free software a "religion" -- i.e. daemonising it in ways. They are also camouflaging themselves and their funding sources. They don't really represent small businesses.

Glyn Moody wrote to explain what ACT actually is and what it tries to achieve.

Both posts now have extensive postings from Mark Blafkin, who is Vice President for Public Affairs at the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT). It bills itself as “protecting small business innovation”, but it also boasts “several Sponsor Members including eBay, Microsoft, Oracle, Orbitz and VeriSign.” Significantly, its offices are located in Washington in the US, and in Brussels in the EU: in other words, it's a lobbying organisation aimed at swaying the two most powerful political machines.


Watch the comment from Simon Phipps. He understands tis better than most people.

Meanwhile, also in Europe, Microsoft is protesting against old fines. It's slowing down the process using bureaucracy ahead of more heavy fines.

Microsoft Calls EU Fine 'Excessive'



[...]

The Commission said it issued the fine because Microsoft did not follow an order in 2004 from Brussels to offer information to competitors on reasonable terms.


Hasn't ACT done enough 'protesting' over this already? Watch this old story.

EU Internet



Many people are probably aware by now of the media industry's Web grab. For those who are new to this, read the press release Kathy Sinnott's:

Kathy Sinnott MEP for Munster will be voting against a series of amendments to the European Telecommunications Directive designed to give the EU control over citizen’s internet usage. The proposed amendments to the could force internet service providers to turn over information on customers and monitor their internet usage. It could also force software makers to include spyware in their products to allow not only governments but also corporations to monitor citizen’s activities whether or not they are suspected of unlawful behaviour.

Kathy Sinnott MEP said “I am a great proponent of net neutrality. The reason the internet is what it is today, is that no-one owns it and no company or government has as yet taken control over it. These amendments being pressed by some MEP’s seek to move Europe closer to the Chinese internet model where usage is monitored and where an individual goes online can be curtailed. This will give vast control over our lives to governments and in some cases corporations. I believe that law enforcement agencies should be allowed to pursue specific targets (eg. child pornography, terrorism) but monitoring the entire populace is not the way to go about it. These intrusions into our privacy would be unacceptable and I will be urging my colleagues to vote down all such amendments on July 7th.”

It does affect software, too.

Other amendments added to the packet of laws allow governments to decide which software can be used on the web.


How about this from Bill Thompson, who typically writes about (and in favour of) digital freedom and rights?

Another amendment put forward by Mr Kamall allows that "traffic data may be processed… to ensure the security of a public electronic communication service", which the campaigners read as giving carte blanche to the content providers to monitor and control what happens on the network on the grounds that copying files or breaking digital rights management counts as a "security" breach.

I'm not so sure.


Nicolas Sarkozy deserves some of the blame. In fact, he deserves a lot of the blame for initiating lots of what we have now. Going all the way up to the source, it turns out that Vivendi-Universal may actually deserve most of the blame for working behind the scenes.

Corruption overflow in the policy-making environment



[...]

At the centre of this story of corruption lies one company, but please, don’t think it is a unique case (others will be quoted below): it is just the most impudent and shameless one. This company is Vivendi (formerly Vivendi-Universal).


Brazil Too



It was hardly surprising to find some sneaky last-minute amendments also in Brazil. It's the same type of situation over there. [via Simon Phipps]

Downloading files from the Internet to become a crime in Brazil



[...]

Another article from the draft law – article 22 – is also being targeted by ISPs and the law professors. It imposes an obligation to ISPs requiring them to secretly inform authorities of any suspicion of criminal activity of which they acquire knowledge.

According to the professors, the article creates a system of private surveillance and finger-pointing affecting every net user, since ISPs will be obliged to communicate cases in which – according to their own convictions – there would be potentially criminal activity.


In Germany, You Share the PC... with Big Brother



Another reason to avoid proprietary software: Germany now takes further steps to legalise government spyware. Of course, everyone is told that it's part of the 'Fight Against Terrorism'.

Terrorism 'this and that' (sometimes "paedophiles") is the perfect excuse for justifying warrentless wiretapping. This one seems like no ordinary measure.

Bavaria has become the first German state to approve laws that allow police to plant spyware on the PCs of terror suspects.


What makes some person a 'terror suspect'? What is the criterion?

Some laws which were passed to supposedly combat terrorists have already been abused to interrogate an animal activist (by divulging PGP keys). That happened last year.

The "terrorist" term (or "religion", or "zealot", or "basement dweller") is often just an excuse for passing laws or starting something that later expands in terms of scope. You can't ever say "no" to the "fight against terror" though.

Like any such broad change (for instance, public databases that see data theft due to no encryption, missing laptops and security flaws), it's only a matter of time before things go out of control, Legalising government spyware? Back doors as standard? What would prevent cybercriminals from entering the very same back door. They already exist by the way.

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