Archive for April, 2011

The Commission finally admits:

There is indeed no EU acquis on criminal measures.
However, the Criminal Enforcement provisions of ACTA do not require additional legislation at EU level. A similar situation arises from the TRIPS Agreement, which has been in force since 1996. The TRIPS Agreement also contains criminal enforcement provisions that bind EU Member States which had to comply, in their national laws, with TRIPS. In that case, no EU legislation was necessary to implement these aspects of the TRIPS Agreement concerning criminal sanctions. ACTA therefore does not require additional EU legislation.

I would like the Europarl to ask the ECJ if a disloyal act of the member states such as so called policy laundry via the 133 process complies with the Treaties. Unlike DG Trade says TRIPS is technically special and was negotiated under an earlier development state of the European Treaties.


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Very interesting petition from a French citizen. What strikes me is that the petitioner asked for regulatory changes while the Commission in its answer restricts itself to positive law, positive competition law.

Committee on Petitions
Subject: Petition 0852/2010 by Kevin Brawn (British), on restriction of the freedom of choic when buying personal computers in France

1. Summary of petition
The petitioner claims that foreigners living in France could only purchase laptops/notebooks with operating systems in French. He criticizes the lack of options and argues that this situation would cause serious problems to EU citizens who work in France, but do not have a good command of French. He explains that the situation would be similar in other EU Member States (Germany, Portugal). He requests that the European Parliament take measures to have companies like Microsoft or Acer end this restrictive practice.

2. Admissibility
Declared admissible on 15 November 2010. Information requested from Commission under Rule 202(6).

3. Commission reply, received on 11 February 2011.

The Petitioner complains that he can only buy a PC with a Windows operating system in the language of the country where he is located, namely France. He also explains that the situation is the same in other Member States. He argues that this situation can create problems for citizens living in France but not having a good command of French, and discriminates against these citizens. The Petitioner would want to have the option to set the language of the Windows operating system. He finally requests that the Parliament takes measures to have companies like Acer or Microsoft end these restrictive practices.

The Commission’s observations on the petition

Under European competition law, companies have the freedom to decide whether and what to sell in which country. There is no European competition law rule that would oblige Microsoft, even if it were held to be dominant on the client PC operating system market, to market the same range of products or services in all EU Member States, or that would oblige it to sell all language versions of a given product in all EU Member States. Moreover, the Commission has currently no evidence of vertical agreements between companies involved in the production or distribution of PCs that would restrict the sale in one

In view of the lack of any substantial information pointing to an infringement of the law of the European Union, the Commission considers that it is not warranted to launch, at this stage, any further investigation.

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Alex Williams from ReadWriteWeb (link via Talkstandards NL):

Oracle made the announcement today that OpenOffice will become a community project and no longer a commercial endeavor. It’s not a surprising move. But it does feel like a victory for the open source community and a sign that Oracle may be easing up a bit on its hard-line stance toward the open source community.

I like the ReadWriteWeb spin a lot but of course Oracle disinvests. Apparently they also axed their upcoming Cloud Office offering. As a computer users I just want to use my word processor (with a nice interface) and LibreOffice suits me best. It all about choice after all. My colleague Charles-H. Schulz wrote on behalf of the document foundation:

The development of TDF community and LibreOffice is going forward as planned, and we are always willing to include new members and partners. We will provide as many information as we can with the progress of the situation. We are currently making every possible effort to offer a smooth transition to the project.

I also like his vague statement a lot!

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Net Neutrality is discussed in the EU: Communication, Speech, Press release

Mind how the consultation gets analysed:

There was broad consensus that operators and ISPs should be allowed to determine their own business models and commercial arrangements, subject to all applicable laws. Some respondents called on National Regulatory Authorities and operators to work together to ensure that transparency to consumers as regards traffic management practices was meaningful and effective.

As stakeholders are no constituency but just represent a diversity of views “consensus” is politically irrelevant. You cannot expect affected market players to embrace rules and principles while responses along the position to “determine [your] own business models and commercial arrangements” are expected public affairs narratives in any regulatory context. Moreover, the Commission argues the consultation was incomplete/inprecise, thus wants to dig deeper into the technical issues:

Moreover, as stated above the data obtained from the public consultation was incomplete or imprecise in many aspects that are essential to understand the current state of play in the European Union. For this reason, the Commission, with BEREC, is currently looking into a number of issues that surfaced in the course of the consultation process, in particular, barriers to switching (for example, after how long, on average, a customer is permitted to break a postpaid contract, and what if any are the penalties), practices of blocking, throttling and commercial practices with equivalent effect, transparency and quality of service as well as the competition issues relating to net neutrality (e.g. discriminatory practices by a dominant player).

As a result of the investigation the Commission announces:

On the basis of the evidence and the implementation of the telecom framework provisions, the Commission will decide, as a matter of priority, on the issue of additional guidance on net neutrality.

If significant and persistent problems are substantiated, and the system as a whole – comprising multiple operators – is not ensuring that consumers are easily able to access and distribute content, services and applications of their choice via a single internet subscription, the Commission will assess the need for more stringent measures to achieve competition and the choice consumers deserve.

Vocal advocates of net neutrality like the French advocacy group Quadrature are embarrassed by the report: “The European Commission Gives Up on Users and Innovators.” However, given the general opposition of telecom providers to net neutrality regulation, the Commissioner Kroes clearly shows that they consider “additional guidance” and “more stringent measures”. For telecommunication providers it is an invitation to enter a more technical debate about traffic management where they have to make concessions.

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Das BMI berichtet:

Ein Frühwarnsystem zur Landwirtschaft in Afrika, Kontrollstandards für ökologische Lebensmittel und eine Web-Anwendung zu pflanzengenetischen Ressourcen sind drei Beispiele für Maßnahmen des BMELV im Rahmen des IT-Investitionsprogrammes.

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Marble 1.1

The KDE globe application Marble released a new incarnation between the releases. That helps to get a better tested version in the next, sorry, I don’t get the branding, KDE 4.7 incarnation.

The Marble Team has just released Marble 1.1. … The new version provides several new features and improvements:
Map Creation Wizard and Map Sharing
OpenDesktop and Earthquakes Online Service
Extended Plugin Configuration
Map Editing
Voice Navigation

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MEP Kósa Ádám prepares a report on Mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 Have a look at the draft report, you don’t find it on OEIL.

For the larger context consider the report from KEI about the WIPO participation/leave of the EU from the WIPO treaty for the blind process. The EU does not want a diplomatic conference.

Attached is a PDF of the proposal by the European Union that was presented at the April 15, 2011 informals in Geneva, held at the US Embassy. The European Union now proposes that WIPO adopt a soft non-blinding recommendation on cross border sharing of accessible works, and then monitor progress on the issue for 3 to 5 years. Only after the period of monitoring would WIPO assess whether or not the non-blinding measures “meet the reasonable needs of persons with print disabilities because of legal restrictions,” and only then would WIPO consider “discussions” about whether or not to hold a diplomatic conference.”

Nice phrase: “soft non-blinding recommendation”

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European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström finally presented her devastating evaluation of the data retention directive transposition in the European member states. She wants to move on with a review of the directive via stakeholder consultation, a move to win time.

We pointed out the shortcoming that she did not accompany a legislative proposal for a reform of the data retention directive (Directive 2006/24/EC of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC).

Former rapporteur MEP Alexander Alvaro (FDP/ALDE) proposes radical measures: EU data retention directive should be scrapped. That would be a less beneficial move, because that leaves the ball in the court of the member states how to proceed with data retention. The better move is a fast legislative reform proposal to let the European legislators fix the directive. Cecilia Malmström’s approach seems to be to muddle through and delay, and escalate the public debate. She even wrecks the support of member states as she threatenes certain member states with EU infringement procedures.

Watch her nervous upbeat press conference. It is also insightful to watch the Dec 2005 plenary debate (part 1, part 2 wmv) again which demonstrates how clueless members of parliament were about data retention in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings.

EDRI published a shadow report:

The burden of proof in order to justify the massive interference with fundamental rights that comes with blanket telecommunications data retention lies with the Commission. From its evaluation report, it becomes clear that the statistics provided by the Member States do not prove the necessity of data retention. Remarkably, many Member States were unable to provide any relevant statistics to the Commission at all. Those that did indicated that the vast majority of data used by law enforcement authorities would be available if the Directive did not exist at all. Sound analysis of independent statistics must point to the fact that indiscriminate data retention is superfluous to the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious crime.

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Press release: Oracle Announces Its Intention to Move OpenOffice.org to a Community-Based Project

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Pt Interoperability law. Here the final text adopted by Parliament:

A quick translation of the open standards legal definition shows that it is modeled after the EIF:

For purposes of this Act, it is considered “open standard” technical standard intended for publication, transmission and storage of digital information, which meets all the following requirements:
a) Adopting the consequence of a decision-making process open and available to the participation of all stakeholders;
b) The corresponding specification document has been published and freely available document their requirements and were permitted to copy, distribute and use without restriction;
c) The corresponding specification document does not relate to actions or processes are not documented;
d) intellectual property rights applicable thereto, including patents, have been provided in full, irrevocable and irreversible damage to the Portuguese State;
e) there are no restrictions to its implementation.
2 – For purposes of this Act, it is “interoperability” the ability of two or more systems, including computers, media, networks, software and other components of information technology, to interact and exchange data according to a method defined in order to obtain the expected results.

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