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Open Source

Croatian Party Advocates Government Adoption of Open Source 28

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, Croatian political party Sustainable Development of Croatia (ORaH) published a new policy that encourages the government to pursue open source solutions, addresses the dangers of vendor lock-in, and insists on open document standards. Best of all, they did it the open source way. In this article on Opensource.com, Croatian startup founder Josip Almasi highlights some of the policy's implications, as well as why it could matter in the upcoming election.
Government

More Cities Use DNA To Catch Dog Owners Who Don't Pick Up Waste 171

dkatana writes: For many cities one of the biggest cleaning expenses is dealing with dog poop. While it is impossible to ask the birds to refrain from splattering the city, dogs have owners and those owners are responsible for disposing of their companion's waste. The few who shirk their duty create serious problems for the rest. Poop is not just a smelly inconvenience. It's unsanitary, extra work for cleaning crews, and in the words of one Spanish mayor, on a par with vandalism. Cities have tried everything from awareness campaigns with motorized poo videos, to publishing offenders names to mailing the waste back to the dog owner. In one case, after a 147 deliveries, dog waste incidents in the town dropped 70 percent. Those campaigns have had limited effect and after an initial decline in incidents, people go back to their old ways. Which has left many cities resorting to science and DNA identification of waste. Several European cities, including Naples and one borough in London, are building DNA registries of pets. Offending waste will then be tested and the cost of the analysis charged to the dog owner, along with a fine.
Twitter

Twitter Blocks API Access For Sites Monitoring Politicians' Deleted Tweets 113

An anonymous reader writes: Politwoops is/was a site that monitored the Twitter feeds of politicians and posted any tweets that those politicians later deleted. On May 15, Twitter suspended API access for the U.S. version of Politwoops, and now they've blocked access to the versions of Politwoops running in 30 other countries. Twitter has also blocked access for similar site Diplotwoops, which focused on deleted tweets from diplomats and embassies. Twitter said, "'Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user's voice." Arjan El Fassed, director of the Open State Foundation, which developed Politwoops, disagrees: "What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice."
Censorship

Now Google Must Censor Search Results About "Right To Be Forgotten" Removals 178

Mark Wilson writes, drolly, that the so-called right to be forgotten "has proved somewhat controversial," and expands on that with a new twist in a post at Beta News: While some see the requirement for Google to remove search results that link to pages that contain information about people that is 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant' as a win for privacy, other see it as a form of censorship. To fight back, there have been a number of sites that have started to list the stories Google is forced to stop linking to. In the latest twist, Google has now been ordered to remove links to contemporary news reports about the stories that were previously removed from search results. All clear? Thought not... The Information Commissioner's Office has ordered Google to remove from search results links to nine stories about other search result links removed under the Right to Be Forgotten rules.
United Kingdom

London Deploys Cycle Superhighways Despite "Old Men In Limos" 258

dkatana writes: London's mayor Boris Johnson had to fight its way through stiff resistance to the new Cycle Superhighways to see his vision of a cycling capital become reality.

Detractors included the Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), which threatened legal action, but ultimately backed away when it became apparent that a judicial review of TfL's plans would simply delay rather than stop the new routes. Property firm Canary Wharf Group had also been vocal, producing an anonymous briefing (which it later acknowledged) that called the planned route "extremely damaging for London." An unnamed borough was threatened with powers to seize control of their roads if cycle superhighways were blocked.

Now the two new segregated bike paths will crisscross the city and open up speedy, safe cycling that will ease pollution and traffic for everyone, non-cyclists, too, Boris Johnson says.
Cellphones

Commodore Smartphone Hits Trademark Opposition 46

damnbunni writes: As reported on amiga-news.de, it appears that Massimo Canigiani didn't license the Commodore trademarks before announcing that Commodore PET Smartphone. The company that actually owns the mark, Commodore Holdings, is not amused. It's not like it would have been hard to determine who owns it and try to license. The C= Holdings trademark is registered with the same EU agency 'CBM Limited' applied for a new mark. I can't see much of an excuse here. The company holding Commodore's trademarks is literally Commodore Holdings. They can't even say "We had NO IDEA who to contact!"
Government

Tel Aviv Has Become a "Beta City" For New Technology 86

dkatana writes: Hila Oren, founder and CEO of Tel Aviv Global, part of the city government, writes an an Op-Ed for "Cities of the Future" where she details how, based on citizen participation and unpredictability, Tel Aviv has become one of the smartest cities on the planet. She mentions the "DigiTel" program for residents, who use a personalized account with the city to receive special offers, sign up for city services and programs, and report any issues. Being a small city with less than 1/2 million residents, Tel Aviv has become a "beta tester" for new technologies, fueled by their big startup community.
The Internet

Cuba Uses Big Data To Help Tourism, But Their Networks Lack Capacity 60

dkatana writes: The Cuban government is very active in reshaping the country's industry, not only focusing on leisure and cultural tourism. The biggest challenge, however, is the quality of Internet connections. Cuba's global ranking for Internet speed is 196 out of 200, averaging 1.6 Mbps, just ahead of Guinea, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, and Niger. Another thing that Cuba lacks: free movement of currency, as reader lpress points out: Cuba has two paper currencies — the Peso and the Convertible Peso or CUC. CUCs are worth about $1 and Pesos, which are used for government salaries, are worth about $.04. But, what about Bitcoin? The first Cuban Bitcoin transaction is history. Will Bitcoin be used by Cubans and Americans to sell goods and services without the knowledge of their governments? Cuban offshore developers might be the first to use Bitcoin.
Google

Google Rejects French Order For 'Right To Be Forgotten' 330

Last month, French data protection agency CNIL ordered Google to comply with the European "right to be forgotten" order by delisting certain search results not just on the European versions of Google's search engine, but on all versions. Google has now publicly rejected that demand. CNIL has promised a response, and it's likely the case will go before local courts. Google says, This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web. While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally. Moreover, there are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others: Thailand criminalizes some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be "gay propaganda." If the CNIL's proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world's least free place.
Businesses

Trillion-Dollar World Trade Deal Aims To Make IT Products Cheaper 97

itwbennett writes: A new (tentative) global trade agreement, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products, ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. A full list of products covered was published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which called the ITA expansion 'great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture, and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from MRI machines to semiconductors to video game consoles.' The deal covers $1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today. The deal has approval from 49 countries, and is waiting on just a handful more before it becomes official,
EU

EU May Become a Single Digital Market of 500 Million People 132

RockDoctor writes: The Guardian is reporting that the EU is becoming increasingly vociferous in its opposition to "geo-blocking" — the practice of making media services available in some areas but not in others: "European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channel of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU." That adds up to a block of nearly 500 million first-world media consumers. They don't necessarily all speak the same language, but English is probably the most commonly understood single language. And the important thing for American media companies to remember is that they're not American in thought, taste or outlook.
Businesses

NY Mayor Commits To Reduce Emissions 40% By 2030 80

dkatana writes: New York mayor Bill de Blasio pledged this week to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. He made the announcement at the start of a two-day conference on climate change at the Vatican. He was in Rome by invitation of Pope Francis, who has become a hero to the environmental movement and has used his moral authority and enormous popularity to focus world attention on climate change and its effects on the poor. "I believe fundamentally in the notion of giving our private sector friends an opportunity to come along peacefully. And if that's not going to work, to put strong mandates and clear mandates on. And I believe, but the way, that that has tremendous public support." de Blasio said. Nearly three quarters of New York City's greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used to heat, cool, and power buildings, making building retrofits a central component of any plan to dramatically reduce emissions.
EU

Europe's Top Court To Decide If Uber Is Tech Firm Or Taxi Company 193

An anonymous reader writes: A Spanish judge has requested that the European Court of Justice determine whether or not Uber is a generic "digital service," as it claims, or a "mere transport activity." If the court rules that Uber is a transportation firm the company may have to follow the same licensing and safety rules as taxis and other hired vehicles. "Today's news means that the European Court of Justice will now determine if the national rules currently being applied to digital services like Uber are legal and appropriate under European law," said Mark MacGann, Uber's Head of Public Policy for EMEA, on a conference call with journalists.
EU

Bitcoin Exempt From VAT Says European Court of Justice 72

An anonymous reader writes: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) proposes that Bitcoin should be exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT). This news has been positively received by the Bitcoin community in the EU, as member states are not likely going to apply VAT to purchases and sales of Bitcoin. A clear cut argument brought up by Advocate General Juliane Kokott, was that VAT is commonly applied to goods and services which have an end consumer. Bitcoin is neither a good, nor a service and has no end consumer, as Bitcoins are eternally transferable just like normal currency. Bitcoin exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, Bitstamp, and Bitfinex will all benefit from this ruling, which may lead to other countries across the globe to follow a similar approach.
EU

Data Store and Spying Laws Found Illegal By EU Court 64

WillAffleckUW writes: The EU High Court found the United Kingdom's data retention (and subsequent storage and analysis) and surveillance laws to be illegal throughout the EU, which subsequently would be an argument in courts in Australia and Canada against their own spy laws. This effectively brings back the rule of law that all EU citizens have a right to privacy that is at the Bill of Rights level, not an easily short-circuited legal basis.

"The judges identified two key problems with the law: that it does not provide for independent court or judicial scrutiny to ensure that only data deemed 'strictly necessary' is examined; and that there is no definition of what constitutes 'serious offenses' in relation to which material can be investigated." It is uncertain that this would apply to U.S. spy laws, as a right of privacy is only inferred by U.S. high courts and is not written into constitutions as it is in the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
The Almighty Buck

Cashless Adoption Growing In Europe 294

dkatana writes: Many European cities are moving toward a cashless economy. Some public services are not accepting cash anymore, such as parking meters, buses and transit, and city offices. (If you plan to visit Europe make sure your credit card has a chip, or you won't be able to use self-service machines.) Contactless cards, which allow people to pay easily for small transactions, are also gaining popularity. According to Finextra, a leading financial news service, "contactless is the new normal in Europe, with more than a billion tap-and-go purchases worth €12.6 billion on Visa cards in the last 12 months." In some places, cashless options are being pushed by mistrust of the banking system. At the same time, places like Germany are dead set on keeping cash as the preferred method of payment.
Transportation

Ask Slashdot: If Public Transport Was Free, Would You Leave Your Car At Home? 654

dkatana writes: The Estonian capital launched a program of free public transport to encourage people to leave their cars at home. But they never did. When Tallinn launched the program ridership numbers did increase, but not by the 20% the city had projected. Instead, they grew by a modest 3%, and by people already using public transport. What happened is that more pedestrians and bike users started to use public transit instead of walking and cycling. But car users continue to drive to work. Do you think the same would hold true in the U.S. if a similar program was started?
EU

European Agreement Sets Up Third Greek Bailout 485

An anonymous reader writes: Euro zone leaders have reached a deal that will attempt to resolve Greece's financial crisis. The deal sets up negotiations for the country's third bailout, and will require the Greek government to give up significant autonomy in financial matters. Experts have estimated that Greece could require almost $100 billion to stabilize once again. While this will be a significant cost to taxpayers in other European countries, the economic repercussions of letting Greece default on its debts would be much greater. "The agreement will call for Greece to raise taxes in some cases, parepension benefits and take various other measures meant to reduce what critics see as too much bureaucracy and too many market protections that keep the Greek economy from operating efficiently. ... Despite the agreement, Greek banks are expected to remain closed this week. The banks are acutely short of cash and Greek depositors may soon find it difficult to withdraw even small sums from ATMs."
Social Networks

Running a Town Over Twitter 80

dkatana writes: You may call Jun an ancient town — it was founded by Romans 2,200 years ago. But Jun's mayor is known worldwide for using the latest technology to run the city. Back in 1999, when he was deputy mayor, the town declared internet a basic universal right for its citizens. And now political parties run "virtual" campaigns without printing posters. But the most impressive accomplishment of Jun's mayor is running the entire town administration and public services using Twitter. He has more followers (350 k) than the mayor of NY. A third of the 3,800 residents have Twitter accounts, and they use the platform to interact with the city administration at all levels.