Archive for February, 2010

Today, in the course of the Berlinale Festival a new reconstruction of the Metropolis long version based on recent Argentinian findings was presented, together with its music score. An absolute sensation, it seems like the movie finally makes sense. It gets the rhythm right and the scenes fit much better than the earlier 2001 reconstruction attempts based on Enno Patalas works. The special aspect for Metropolis reconstruction is that there are different original camera negative version. The Independent finds:

Yet, for all its magnificence, the Metropolis as we knew it was illogical in places and suffered as a result. For years audiences have wondered how good this film might have been had it not been edited. It turns out that it’s better than anyone could ever have expected. … The film now feels suitably epic and tense throughout.

I fully agree, it is a totally different, much richer picture. The quality though indicates there is still way for digital improvements. This applies in particular to stripes during still camera shots. In that sense the fantastic new version looks like a fundraiser of the F.W. Murnau Foundation to present us with an improved version. Earlier restauration attempt for instance only used 2k digital scans.

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Press release of Opentia.

One of the main results of the research done by the OPENTIA team, has been the analysis and catalogation of more than 500 standards, technologies and technical specifications, according to the precepts defined by the Law 11/2007, the Spanish case law and the EU acquis communautaire. Part of such results can be seen in the following extract of statistical conclusions. They have been obtained, from our reports, by responsible public servants of the Ministry of Public Administrations, and were presented during the Spanish W3C Day at 2009. …

This second conclusion, together with some other also obtained, drives to assure that the Law and the Spanish Interoperability Framework can be implemented in the real world: “For almost all the features researched, in practical terms, has been demonstrated that the Public Sector can serve to the citizens using open standards”, states Alberto Barrionuevo, CEO of OPENTIA.

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SWIFT vote

The SWIFT interim agreement was rejected by the European Parliament with 378 votes to 196. Standing ovations. That is a strong message and indicates that members understood how outrageous the proposal was.

In German TV news Markus Ferber and Martin Schulz strongly criticised the American pressure, and expressed great institutional satisfaction. Martin Schulz criticised the ‘arrogancy’ of the Council ministers of interiour. Alexander Alvaro expressed similar concerns before.

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Commissioner Malmström defensive intervention in the European Parliament. She claims the agreement includes “an absolute prohibition on data mining – searches of the database can only be undertaken where it is possible to show a reason to believe that the subject of the search is engaged in terrorism.” The Spanish presidency claimed that the SWIFT interim agreement was not about bulk data transfer. This contradicts the information from SWIFT that it was technically impossible for them to answer individual queries. Here is the text of the agreement.

Video recordings from today’s debate are available from the European Parliament website.

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The intergovernmental agreement is about bulk transfer of data, crazy:

On the principle of proportionality: SWIFT cannot, for technical and governance reasons, search the ‘content’ of the messages, and thus cannot search data based on criteria like names, addresses and/or invoice numbers of individuals. Therefore if SWIFT were to receive a (Article 4, FMDA) request to produce data related to e.g. an individual, SWIFT will not be able to produce that specific data because of technical reasons. SWIFT could provide instead ‘data in bulk’. These messages may eventually contain the specific data (e.g. the name or the address of an individual) that the authority needs for counter terrorism purposes. So, by the very nature of SWIFT it is not possible to refer to so-called limited requests.

The above-mentioned implies that SWIFT has to transfer all, or virtually all, of its data to US Treasury. That violates the basic principles of data protection law, i.e. the principles of necessity and proportionality. This cannot be subsequently rectified by mechanisms of oversight and control.

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KDE 4.4 is out. The new version of the Desktop Environment works fine for me, most serious show stopper bugs are gone now and KDE4 appears to make a lot more sense as a productive environment, compared to the situation one year ago. A more usable KDE will certainly help developers to focus on a resolution of the other crashes and annoyances. For Dolphin for instance there are 66 crash bugs recorded, for Konsole 31, all of this doesn’t look severe anymore.

The KDE project also renewed their website. Now it looks pretty fresh and new. Unfortunately all relevant stuff for persons interested in development is shielded from the web site users. The website proposes to download the software but most users don’t do that. Development-related essentials are kept away from the users. Think of the bug tracker. It is still available but the website is very slow.

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Brusselsblogger makes a very good case why the European Parliament has to reject the SWIFT data proliferation deal this week, despite the aggressive moves from the United States diplomatic corps to keep the interim agreement. The PR machine is running full speed, we are told how indispensable the date results were in the fight against terrorism for our domestic law enforcement purposes. While terrorism alone cannot disrupt our financial markets the SWIFT data proliferation bears the potential to achieve that. Let me add another two aspects to the great Brusselsblogger analysis:

I. The missing larger context argument: Europe currently suffers from an unprecedented post-War financial crisis. It is founded in permissive financial market regulations and US financial stimulus in the aftermath of the very Islamic terrorist attack. The loss of financial market confidence affects European families and the financial stability of European economies such as Greece, Spain and others. Some European nations are close to national bankruptcy, some neighboring countries like Iceland passed that stage

A rejection of the proposed SWIFT financial data proliferation agreement would sent a strong message to citizens that policy makers take a more sensitive approach towards financial regulation. Given that US counter-terrorism context of the current financial crisis it can hardly be understood that a Spanish Presidency takes a permissive approach, and some European decision makers still believe that anti-terrorism uses of the date out-weight the malpractice, irresponsible administration of toxic data.

II. The financial bulk data could be used for US business espionage and cause devastating effects on the financial market and financial market confidence. Furthermore the agreement is lukewarm in its permission to share such data with other nations, which may be more aware of the toxic nature of the data and seek their advantage. By all means European policy makers have to prevent a financial data crisis, that is undermining trust in electronic financial data transactions by opening pandora’s box.

It is not about “privacy” of citizens as the news agencies report, that is really the minor concern. A majority of European policy makers fully agrees in principles to use the data for anti-terrorism requests from law enforcement agencies (which requires careful administration and strongest safeguards).

In a conventional narrative our personal “privacy” interests would be weighted against public “security” interests of our government which seeks to counter terrorism and other serious crimes. Some politicians and media observers think along these lines which are on a lower level. Here the general trust in financial transaction services, our  European financial transaction markets are at stake.

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The European Commission has answered the written question posed by a Swedish member.

Answer given by Mrs Ferrero-Waldner
on behalf of the Commission

The Commission can inform the Honourable Member that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be in line with the body of EU legislation, which fully respects fundamental rights and freedoms and civil liberties, such as the protection of personal data. This includes the Intellectual Property Rights’ relevant aspects of the Telecoms package.

ACTA should not contain measures restricting end-users’ access to the internet that would not be approparite, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society and without a prior, fair and impartial procedure.

It is the Commission’s view that ACTA is about tackling large scale illegal activity, often pursued by criminal organisations, that is causing a devastating impact on growth and employment in Europe and may have serious risks to the health and safety of consumers. It is not about limiting civil liberties or harassing consumers.

4 December 2009
WRITTEN QUESTION by Christian Engström
(Verts/ALE) to the Commission

Subject: ACTA negotiations and Telecoms Package principles

In the recent agreement on the Telecoms Package it was decided that no measures restricting end-users’ access to the Internet may be taken unless they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society — and never without a prior, fair and impartial procedure that includes the right to be heard and respects the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy.

Are the proposals currently being discussed in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations fully in line with the letter and the spirit of these provisions in the Telecoms Package? If not, when and how will the Commission redress any incompatibilities?

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The new US ambassador to the European Union William Kennard applies a mad rhino strategy, he blackmails members of the European Parliament, the Financial Times Deutschland quoted from a letter his office sent to the group leaders:

“Wenn das Europäische Parlament das Abkommen kippt, bin ich nicht sicher, ob die Washingtoner Behörden wieder entscheiden würden, diese Angelegenheit auf EU-Ebene zu adressieren”

Now AFP has the same quote:

“If the European parliament overturns the agreement, I am unsure whether Washington agencies would again decide to address this issue at EU level”

He indicates the US would negotiate a bilateral agreement instead. Of course it seems legally impossible for member states to enter bilateral agreements and member states would be reluctant to follow that path. Hillary Clinton reportedly phoned Catherine Ashton(?!) and Parliament President Jerzy Buzek. I am sure Buzek and the other members will teach them manners.

And here is a fresh consultation.

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Stellungnahmen zum JMStV sind veröffentlicht.

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