Privacy

EU Proposes End of Anonymity For Bitcoin and Prepaid Card Users (thestack.com) 158

An anonymous reader writes: In June the European Commission will propose new legislation to effectively end the possibility of anonymous payment, by forcing users of virtual currencies like Bitcoin, and of prepaid credit cards, to provide identity details. Additionally the EC intends to propose monitoring inter-bank transfers within Europe, a measure which had not been implemented with the launch of the EU-US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP). Though the proposed measures are intended to heap new pressure on the financing of terrorism, a report from Interpol last week concluded that terrorist funding methods have not changed substantially in recent years, stating 'Despite third party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like Bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement.'
EU

Europe Now Has Its Own "Most Wanted Fugitives" Web Page (eumostwanted.eu) 207

New submitter ffkom writes: European police organization Europol was probably jealous of the fame and popularity of the FBI's Most Wanted site, so they finally launched their own, European version. And if you want to know what a peaceful place Europe is, just consider this: You don't even have to kill anyone to get on the current "Most Wanted Fugitives" list. A mere fraud worth 12€ is currently enough to get you into this "Hall of questionable fame."
Government

Canadian Government Lobbies Europe To Pass CETA (freezenet.ca) 69

Dangerous_Minds writes: The Canadian government isn't just siding with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Justin Trudeau is also actively lobbying Europe to try and pass the Comprehensive economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Freezenet points out that the agreement contains many provisions including a three strikes law and website blocking.
The Almighty Buck

SaxoBank Predicts Universal Basic Income For Europe 412

jones_supa writes: Saxo Bank, an investment bank based in Denmark, has released a list of its outrageous predictions for 2016. Among these predictions, economist Christopher Dembik claims that Europe will consider the introduction of a universal basic income to ensure that all citizens can meet their basic needs in the face of rising inequality and unemployment. This will come on the back of increased interest in basic income from Spain, Finland, Switzerland, and France.
Government

Privacy Ombudsman Could Handle EU Complaints About US Surveillance (betanews.com) 44

Mark Wilson writes with this story from Beta News: One of the greatest problems facing anyone trying to tackle the problem of privacy on the web is dealing with the ideologies of different countries, and how this affects data sharing. A level of surveillance that is deemed acceptable in the US, for instance, may be considered completely objectionable in another. The latest suggestion to help overcome this seemingly insurmountable problem is to set up a privacy ombudsman that would be able to handle European complaints and queries about US surveillance.
The Courts

European Human Rights Court Rules Mass Surveillance Illegal (theregister.co.uk) 74

Kekke sends this report from El Reg: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that mass surveillance is illegal, in a little-noticed case in Hungary. In a judgment last week, the court ruled that the Hungarian government had violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to privacy) due to its failure to include "sufficiently precise, effective and comprehensive" measures that would limit surveillance to only people it suspected of crimes. Under a section of the 2011 National Security Act, a minister of the government is able to approve a police request to search people's houses, mail, phones and laptops if they are seeking to protect national security. ... The court said the Hungarian government should be required to interpret the law in a narrow fashion and "verify whether sufficient reasons for intercepting a specific individual's communications exist in each case." Or in other words, every individual case must be looked at carefully and a decision made on each. Which is clearly impossible if the law is taken to carry out mass surveillance, i.e., hoovering up information over the internet and then searching in it."
Books

Diary of Anne Frank Subject To Copyright Dispute (theguardian.com) 150

Bruce66423 writes: The Diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager killed by the Nazis whose writing survived in the Amsterdam building where she had hidden, is causing problems. It has been 70 years since she died, making it public domain by European law. A French academic has made it available online with profits going to charity. However, the Anne Frank Fonds, the foundation established by Anne’s father Otto Frank, claims that: “Otto Frank and children’s author and translator, Mirjam Pressler, were inter alia responsible for the various edited versions of fragments of the diary” in 1947 and 1991. They add: "the copyrights to these adaptations have been vested in Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, who in effect created readable books from Anne Frank’s original writings."
Government

Belgium's Aging Nuclear Plants Worry Neighbors (phys.org) 319

mdsolar writes with news that Belgium's decision to restart a reactor at its Tihange nuclear power plant and its aging Doel plant have some of its European neighbors uneasy. Phys.org reports: "As the two cooling towers at Belgium's Doel nuclear power belch thick white steam into a wintry sky, people over the border in the Dutch town of Nieuw-Namen are on edge. They are part of a groundswell of concern in the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg over the safety of Belgium's seven aging reactors at Doel and at Tihange, further to the south and east. 'I'm happy Holland, Germany and Luxembourg are reacting because they (officials) don't listen to you and me,' butcher Filip van Vlierberge told AFP at his shop in Nieuw-Namen, where people can see the Doel plant. Benedicte, one of his customers, nodded in agreement. Van Vlierberge said he was particularly uneasy with the Belgian government's decision in December to extend the lives of 40-year-old reactors Doel 1 and Doel 2 until 2025 under a deal to preserve jobs and invest in the transition to cleaner energy."
EU

Iran Complies With Nuclear Deal; Sanctions Lifted (nytimes.com) 229

An anonymous reader writes: Iran has shipped most of its nuclear fuel out of the country, destroyed the innards of a plutonium-producing reactor and mothballed more than 12,000 centrifuges. This compliance with the nuclear accord struck in July has caused the U.S. and Europe to lift financial sanctions on Iran, releasing ~$100 billion in assets. "Under the new rules put in place, the United States will no longer sanction foreign individuals or firms for buying oil and gas from Iran. The American trade embargo remains in place, but the government will permit certain limited business activities with Iran, such as selling or purchasing Iranian food and carpets and American commercial aircraft and parts. It is an opening to Iran that represents a huge roll of the dice, one that will be debated long after Mr. Obama he has built his presidential library. It is unclear what will happen after the passing of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has protected and often fueled the hardliners — but permitted these talks to go ahead."
EU

Apple May Owe $8 Billion To the EU After Tax Ruling (bloomberg.com) 148

Robotron23 writes: An investigation by the EU Commission may make Apple liable for up to $8 billion in back taxes. Bloomberg Intelligence estimates Apple has paid only 1.8% tax on profits between 2004 and 2012 — this ruling increases their liability to 12.5%. This decision comes hot on the heels of a tax avoidance settlement Apple reached with Italy last month for $347 million.
EU

More People In Europe Are Dying Than Are Being Born (phys.org) 547

jones_supa writes: More people in Europe are dying than are being born, according to a new report co-authored by a Texas A&M University demographer. In contrast, births exceed deaths, by significant margins, in Texas and elsewhere in the United States, with few exceptions. The researchers find that in Europe, deaths exceeded births in most of the counties of Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, as well as in Sweden and the Baltic States. Further south, natural decrease is found occurring in the majority of the counties of Greece, Portugal and Italy. More births than deaths (natural increase) is widespread in Ireland, Cyprus, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg. "Natural decrease is much more common in Europe than in the U.S because its population is older, fertility rates are lower and there are fewer women of child-bearing age," the researchers explain. "Natural decrease is a major policy concern because it drains the demographic resilience from a region diminishing its economic viability and competitiveness."
EU

EU Companies Can Monitor Employees' Private Conversations While At Work (softpedia.com) 127

An anonymous reader writes: A recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights has granted EU companies the right to monitor and log private conversations that employees have at work while using the employer's devices. The ruling came after a Romanian was fired for using Yahoo Messenger back in 2007, while at work, to have private conversations with his girlfriend. He argued that his employer was breaking his right for privacy and correspondence. Both Romanian and European courts disagreed.
Security

Attackers Abuse Legitimate EU Cookie Law Notices In Clickjacking Campaign (malwarebytes.org) 84

An anonymous reader writes: Hackers have set up a clever new clickjacking campaign taking advantage of pop-up alerts that European users are (by now) accustomed to see: the "EU Cookie Law" notifications. The criminals are placing a legitimate ad banner on top of the warning message via an iframe. The trick is to make the ad invisible by setting its opacity to zero. So, each time a user clicks anywhere on the legitimate message, he or she clicks also on the hidden ad.
EU

Uber In Retreat Across Europe 460

HughPickens.com writes: Mark Scott reports at the NY Times that Uber is rapidly expanding its ride-hailing operations across the globe but some of Uber's fiercest opposition has come in Europe, where the culture clash between the remorseless competition of the US tech industry and the locals' respect for tradition and deference to established interests is especially stark. In Frankfort, Uber shut its office after just 18 months of operation spurred in part by drivers like Hasan Kurt, the owner of a local licensed taxi business, who had refused to work with the American service. Uber antagonized local taxi operators by prioritizing its low-cost service, and then could not persuade enough licensed drivers to sign up, even after it offered to pay for licenses and help with other regulatory costs that totaled as much as $400 for new drivers. "It's not part of the German culture to do something like" what Uber did says Kurt. "We don't like it, the government doesn't like it, and our customers don't like it."

Uber also pulled out of Hamburg and Düsseldorf after less than two years of operating in each of those German cities. In Amsterdam, Uber recently stopped offering UberPop, in Paris and Madrid, Uber has been confronted by often violent opposition from existing taxi operators, while in London, local regulators are mulling changes that could significantly hamper Uber's ambitions there. Uber's aggressive tactics have turned off potential customers like Andreas Müller who tried the company's Frankfurt service after first using Uber on a business trip in Chicago. Müller said he liked the convenience of paying through his smartphone, but soon turned against the company after reading that it had continued operating in violation of court orders and did not directly employ its drivers, who are independent contractors. "That might work in the U.S., but that's not how things are done here in Germany," says Müller. "Everyone must respect the rules."
Space

A Brief History of the ESA (arstechnica.com) 27

An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica takes a look at the history and development of the European Space agency. Getting things done at the ESA has an extra layer of difficulty compared to most other space programs because they rely on cooperation between many governments with different goals and budgets. "The first talks regarding the ESA took place against the backdrop of the growing space rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union, which had burst onto the world's stage with the successful Sputnik mission in October 1957. ... By 1959, the effort took on a sense of urgency.

Auger and Amaldi were concerned that the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Science Committee was thinking of developing a satellite to put Europe in space. Krige's book states that both scientists '[balked] at the prospect of having European space research located in an [organization] essentially dedicated to military goals, an [organization] which would impose layers of bureaucracy and secrecy on any space science effort.'" This led to the formation of the European Space Research Organization and the European Launcher Development Organization, which became precursors to the ESA. Today, the ESA's mission pipeline is packed with interesting probes set to do fascinating science.

Businesses

Apple Settles a $348M Fine With Italian Authorities For Tax Evasion (reuters.com) 87

jaromil writes: Apple Italy, a subsidiary of Apple Sales International based in Ireland, has for years managed the company's sales on the Italian Peninsula. As Italian tax authorities noticed the company did not file any income tax declarations between 2008 and 2013, they opened a court case for an estimated debt of €880M. Apple Italy has now settled for a fine of €318M ($348M), while three managers involved in the tax fraud still need to face court. "The settlement comes amid a European Commission investigation into the tax arrangements of numerous multinational companies accused of using cross-border structures to reduce their tax bills, sometimes with the help of secret and potentially illegal 'sweetheart' deals."
EU

EU Rules Would Ban Kids Under 16 From Social Media (theguardian.com) 161

An anonymous reader sends word of new data protection rules up for vote in the European Parliament which would make it illegal for companies to handle the data of children aged 15 and younger. Currently, such data processing is prohibited only for kids 12 and under. This would affect European teenagers' ability to use Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and many other social media services. This amendment has been opposed not only by the tech companies involved, but by many child safety experts as well: Janice Richardson, former coordinator of European Safer Internet network, and consultant to the United Nations' information technology body, the ITU and the Council of Europe said: "Moving the age from 13 to 16 represents a major shift in policy on which it seems there has been no public consultation. "We feel that moving the requirement for parental consent from age 13 to age 16 would deprive young people of educational and social opportunities in a number of ways, yet would provide no more (and likely even less) protection." Larry Magid, chief executive of ConnectSafely.org, said: "It will have the impact of banning a very significant percentage of youth and especially the most vulnerable ones who will be unable to obtain parental consent for a variety of reasons."
Businesses

Qualcomm Faces Antitrust Charges In Europe (nytimes.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes: Chipmaker Qualcomm is on the receiving end of an antitrust investigation in Europe, where officials say the company has abused its market dominance by offering financial incentives to device manufacturers to exclusively use Qualcomm chips. "Qualcomm was also accused of unfairly setting prices below manufacturing costs to force competitors from the market. ... If found to have breached Europe's antitrust rules, the chip maker could face fines amounting to about 10 percent of its annual global revenue, which was $26.49 billion in 2014, and could be required to change some of its business practices. In previous European antitrust cases, however, companies typically have not been asked to pay such high financial penalties."
Businesses

First Ever EU Rules On Cybersecurity 21

An anonymous reader writes: Transport and energy companies will have to ensure that the digital infrastructure that they use to deliver essential services, such as traffic control or electricity grid management, is robust enough to withstand cyber-attacks, under new rules provisionally agreed by internal market MEPs and the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers on Monday. In addition, some internet services providers, such as online marketplaces (e.g. eBay, Amazon), search engines (e.g. Google) and clouds, will also have to ensure the safety of their infrastructure and to report on major incidents. Micro and small digital companies will get an exemption, the deal says.
EU

Patriot Act Author Warns EU Against Dragnet Response To Terror (politico.eu) 138

schwit1 writes: Jim Sensenbrenner, former chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, was one of the driving forces behind the Patriot Act. He introduced the legislation a month and a half after the Sept. 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, and in 2013 he led the charge to scale back its powers, after Edward Snowden's revelations. Now, in the wake of the tragedy in Paris, Sensenbrenner is warning the EU that sweeping surveillance measures are not a proper response. Sensenbrenner said, "The cautionary tale is that democracy depends upon a respect for civil liberties. ... Talking about it in practical terms, the answer is to target the people which you know are up to bad stuff rather than bringing in the 99.8 percent of the inhabitants there, including the vast majority of followers of Islam, who have no intention whatsoever of conducting a terrorist attack."

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