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Archive for April, 2009

Google Vice-President Vint Cerf, an architect of the internet, came to Brussels yesterday for an Open Forum Europe conference.

In this interview with Euraktiv from yesterday the great net strategist speaks about Cloud computing and other trends.

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Today the European Parliament adopted the report on the EU Commission’s ISA programme, the follow-up programme of IDABC. The trilog process further improved the Committee report which included a few amendments that for instance forced the Commission ISA programme to spent 50% of its budget on the local level. They are gone in the version that was adopted.

P6_TA-PROV(2009)0246
European public administration ISA: interoperability solutions ***I

Committee on Industry, Research and Energy
PE416.682
European Parliament legislative resolution of 22 April 2009 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on interoperability solutions for European public administrations (ISA) (COM(2008)0583 – C6-0337/2008 – 2008/0185(COD))

The European Parliament,

1. Approves the Commission proposal as amended;
2. Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend the proposal substantially or replace it with another text;
3. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

and

P6_TC1-COD(2008)0185
Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 22 April 2009 with a view to the adoption of Decision No …/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on interoperability solutions for European public administrations (ISA)

(16a) Given the task of the local and regional administrations in ensuring the effective functioning and interoperability of the European public administrations, it is important that solutions consider the needs of local and regional administrations.
(17) While ensuring the improvement of existing reusable generic tools established under the IDA and IDABC programmes as well as similar initiatives, the ISA programme should support the establishment, provision and improvement of new reusable generic tools in response to new needs or requirements, inter alia, established through the assessment of ICT implications of Community legislation.
(18) In the establishment, improvement or operation of common solutions the ISA programme should, whenever appropriate, build on or be accompanied by sharing of experience and solutions as well as exchange and promotion of good practices. In this context compliance with the European Interoperability Framework as well as openness in standards and specifications should be promoted.
(19) Solutions established or operated under the ISA programme should be based on the principle of technological neutrality and adaptability with a view to ensuring also that citizens, enterprises and administrations are free to choose the technology to be used.

Article 3
Activities
The ISA programme shall support and promote:
(a) the establishment and improvement of common frameworks in support of interoperability across borders and sectors;
(b) the assessment of ICT implications of proposed or adopted Community legislation as well as the planning of the implementation of ICT systems in support of the implementation of such legislation;
(c) the operation and improvement of existing common services as well as the establishment, industrialisation, operation and improvement of new common services, including the interoperability of public key infrastructures;
(d) the improvement of existing reusable generic tools as well as the establishment, provision and improvement of new reusable generic tools.

Article 4
General principles
Actions launched or continued under the ISA programme shall ▌ be based on the following principles:
(a) the principle of technological neutrality and adaptability;
(aa) the principle of openness;
(ab) the principle of reusability;
(b) the principle of privacy and protection of personal data;
(c) the principle of security.

Article 7
Solutions
1. Common frameworks shall be established and maintained by means of studies.
Studies shall also serve as means for supporting the assessment of ICT implications of proposed or adopted Community legislation as well as the planning of the implementation of solutions in support of the implementation of such legislation.
1a. Studies shall be published and forwarded to European Parliament committees responsible as a basis for future legislative modifications to ensure the interoperability of the computer systems used by public administrations.
2. Generic tools shall be established and maintained by means of projects. Projects shall likewise be a means of establishing, industrialising, operating and maintaining common services.

Article 8
Implementation rules
1. In the implementation of the ISA programme due consideration shall be given to the European Interoperability Strategy and the European Interoperability Framework.
2. Involvement of the largest possible number of Member States in a study or project shall be encouraged. A study or project shall be open for accession at any stage, and Member States not involved in a study or project shall be encouraged to join at a later stage.
2a. In order to ensure interoperability between national and community systems, common frameworks, common services and generic tools shall be specified with reference to existing European standards or publicly available or open specifications for information exchange and service integration.
3. The establishment or improvement of solutions shall, whenever appropriate, build on or be accompanied by sharing of experience as well as by exchange and promotion of good practices.
4. To avoid duplication and to speed up the establishment of solutions, results achieved by other relevant Community and Member States initiatives shall be taken into account, whenever appropriate.
To maximise synergies and ensure complementary and combined efforts, actions shall, whenever appropriate, be coordinated with other relevant Community initiatives.
5. The initiation of actions, the definition of its phases and the establishment of project charters and execution reports shall be carried out and monitored by the Commission as part of the implementation of the rolling work programme established in accordance with Article 9.

Article 13a
Interaction with stakeholders
The Commission shall bring together relevant stakeholders for the purposes of exchanging views among themselves and with the Commission on issues addressed by the ISA programme. To this end the Commission shall organise conferences, workshops and other meetings; it shall make use of electronic interactive platforms; and it may use any other means for interaction which it considers appropriate.
Article 14
International cooperation
1. The ISA programme shall be opened, within the framework of their respective agreements with the Community, to participation by the countries of the European Economic Area and the candidate countries.
2. Cooperation with other third countries and international organisations or bodies shall be encouraged, notably within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Eastern Partnership and with neighbouring countries, in particular the Western Balkan countries and the countries of the Black Sea region. Related costs shall not be covered by the ISA programme.
2a. The ISA programme shall promote, wherever appropriate re-use of its solutions by third countries.

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cheaper roaming

Europe comes up with regulatory intervention:

MEPs and the Council Presidency agreed with the Commission that a roamed text message (SMS) should cost a maximum of €0.11 (excluding VAT) from 1 July 2009.

Other data roaming services (such as sending emails and pictures or web-browsing from mobile phones or laptops) will be regulated at wholesale level – i.e. there will be a price cap for the rates the host operator charges a roaming customer’s home operator, calculated on a kilobyte basis:

from 1 July 2009: a maximum of €1.00 per megabyte (excluding VAT);
from 1 July 2010: a maximum of €0.80 per megabyte (excluding VAT);
from 1 July 2011: a maximum of €0.50 per megabyte (excluding VAT).

I wonder who would be willing to pay 50 cent in 2011.

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Robin Gross on Canadian Radio about the Pirate Bay copyright piracy vercict. CBC Radio’s “As it Happens”. Very interesting how the legal case is perceived outside Sweden and Europe.

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ISO/IEC 29500 Open XML was transformed in an ANSI standard. Apparently the support of IBM gave a surprise to other industry representatives. Rob Weir explains in Gray Knowlton’s blog that this was no vote but a formality.

Although we (and many others) continue to have serious concerns about the suitability of OOXML as a standard, and have noted our strong objections to the flawed and distorted process by which OOXML was forced through JTC1, US committee rules require that we approve as a National Standard any standard which is approved by ISO or IEC in committees in which the US participates in as a P member. As the committee rules clearly state, this should be read as support of of JTC1’s program of work, not an endorsement of any the merits of specific standard or technology.

But Gray finds abstention looks more appropriate.

Jesper Lund Stocholm was so excited that he revealed:

The support for OOXML in other applications than Microsoft Office 2007 is ridiculously low. Thank you, IBM – you really made my day.

The OOXML standardisation process remains an amusement.

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ISO/IEC 26300 was approved by INEN as a national standard for Ecuador:

PNTE INEN-ISO/IEC 26300:2009 Tecnología de la información – Formato de documento abierto para aplicaciones de oficina (Open document) v1.0.”

Congratulations!

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A press release of access-info I reproduce here for your interest:

European Court of Human Rights takes a huge step

towards recognising Right of Access to Information

Madrid, 14 April 2009: Access Info Europe welcomes today’s ruling by the
European Court of Human Rights in which it recognises that when public
bodies already hold information that is needed for public debate, the
refusal to provide it to those who are seeking it is a violation of the
right to freedom of expression and information.

In this case the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union asked Hungary’s
Constitutional Court to disclose a parliamentarian’s complaint questioning
the legality of a new drugs policy law. The Constitutional Court refused to
release the information. The European Court of Human Rights found this
refusal to be a violation the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court’s decision refers to the “censorial power of an information
monopoly” when public bodies refuse to release information needed by the
media or civil society organisations to perform their “watchdog” function.

Ádám Földes, lawyer with Access Info, who worked previously with the
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and was deeply involved in the preparation
of this case, said “this extension of freedom of expression to the right to
request and receive information from public bodies is a huge step towards
full recognition of the right of access to information.”

Access Info notes that the Court decision itself refers to recent judgments
in which it has moved “towards the recognition of a right of access to
information”.

“This ruling is a cautious confirmation that the right of access to
information is a human right” added Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of
Access Info Europe.

Today’s ruling from the European Court of Human Rights has a number of other
important features:

* The Court extends the traditional protection of the media as “public
watchdogs” to civil society groups who it says have a “social watchdog”
function;
* The Court states that use of protection of privacy to refuse to make
public information relating to the opinions of public figures on matters of
public interest would be “fatal for freedom of expression”;
* The State now has an obligation not to impede the flow of
information needed for public debate on matters of public importance. In
other words, that the public has a right to ask and public bodies have an
obligation to answer: to do otherwise would be a violation of freedom of
expression;
* The decision refers to a parliamentarian and a constitutional court
which implies that the scope of the right of access to information does only
apply to the executive branch of power.

Access Info notes that this ruling comes just five months after the Council
of Europe adopted the world’s first binding treaty on the right of access to
information, the Convention on Access to Official Documents (click
here to read
this new Convention). The importance of the ruling is that it reinforces the
right enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and in the new
Convention on Access to Official Documents by underlining the State’s
obligation to provide the public with information it holds.

Over 80 countries globally have laws that guarantee the right of access to
information. In Europe 40 of the 47 members of the Council of Europe have
such laws but implementation is often imperfect and monitoring studies show
that many requests by the public for government information go unanswered or
are denied. In addition, 24 Constitutions in Europe recognise the right of
access to information.

The European Court’s Decision can be found at:
http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=10&portal=hbkm&action=html&h
ighlight=&sessionid=22108832&skin=hudoc-en

Case of Társaság a Szabadságjogokért v. Hungary (Application no. 37374/05)

and on the Access Info Europe website http://www.access-info.org

For more information, please contact:

· Helen Darbishire, Executive Director, Access Info Europe

+ 34 667 685 319
helen@access-info.org

· Ádám Földes, Lawyer and Project Manager, Access Info Europe

+ 34 622 468 736
adam@access-info.org

Access Info Europe is a human rights organisation based in Madrid which
works to promote and defend the right of access to information by promoting
the transparency of national and international public bodies

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