The press review catalogues press articles related to la Quadrature's issues, compiled by its volunteers.
See also our French press review.
[CorporateEurope] Agribusiness is the biggest lobbyist on the EU-US trade deal, new research reveals
No sector has lobbied the European Commission more during the preparation phase for the negotiations on the proposed EU-US trade deal (TTIP) than the agribusiness sector, according to data published today by Corporate Europe Observatory in a series of research-based infographics. Food multinationals, agri-traders and seed producers have had more contacts with the Commission’s trade department (DG Trade) than lobbyists from the pharmaceutical, chemical, financial and car industry put together.
The infographics reveal a dramatic business-bias in the Commission’s consultation policy around this giant trade deal. Of the 560 lobby encounters that DG Trade held to prepare the negotiations, 520 (92 per cent) were with business lobbyists, while only 26 (four per cent) were with public interest groups. So, for every encounter with a trade union or consumer group, there were 20 with companies and industry federations. The data covers contributions to the Commission’s public consultations, public stakeholder meetings and lobby meetings behind closed doors. [...]
The data also reveals that more than 30 per cent (94 out of 269) of the private sector interest groups that have lobbied DG Trade on TTIP are absent from the EU’s Transparency Register, among them large companies such as Walmart, Walt Disney, General Motors, France Telecom and Maersk. Some of the industry associations lobbying hardest for TTIP such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the Transatlantic Business Council are also lobbying under the radar of the lobby register.
Remember UK Prime Minister David Cameron's China Lite® web blockade, the one that was set up to keep British children from stumbling across Internet Pornography™ and other assorted subjectively objectionable material? While being ostensibly "for the children," the default settings (applied by ISPs at the request of the Foster State) are blocking a whole lot of non-porn. [...]
So, while the UK works hard to keep porn and piracy blocked, the blocking of actual technical threats (malware, phishing, etc.) to users' devices still remains completely optional and, in most cases, unimplemented. Compliance with the government's wishes has basically disappeared a full fifth of the most popular sites on the internet, of which pornography only contributes 4% of the total. [...]
One of the other problematic aspects is that the filtering system is actively being made worse in order to service a few choice industries. Adding corporate pressure to an already terrible idea is a recipe for full-blown disaster. [...]
[TechDirt] Eli Lilly Raises Stakes: Says Canada Now Owes It $500 Million For Not Granting A Patent It Wanted
A few months ago we wrote about the extraordinary -- and worrying -- case of Eli Lilly suing Canada after the latter had refused to grant a pharma patent. Eli Lilly's contention was that by failing to grant its patent (even if it didn't meet the criteria for a patent in Canada), Canada had "expropriated" Eli Lilly's property -- and that it should be paid $100 million as "compensation". [...]
This shows that the initial action was no one-off, and that if Eli Lilly's action succeeds, we can expect it and many other companies to avail themselves of this method of extracting money from the public purse, as provided for under NAFTA's investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses.
What's troubling is that similar ISDS schemes are being negotiated for both TPP and TAFTA/TTIP. That will give corporations even more opportunities to sue nations for supposed "expropriation", and to challenge perfectly legitimate local laws that dare to stand in the way of bigger profits.
Coordinated enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights—copyright, patents and trade marks—has been an elusive goal for Europe. [...]
Undeterred, the European Commission is trying once again. This time, it is trying to avoid a similarly humiliating defeat in Parliament by focusing on non-legislative strategies. [...]
The most significant item of the Commission's 10 point action plan is the proposal to conclude "Memoranda of Understanding to address the profits of commercial scale IP infringements in the online environment, following Stakeholder Dialogues involving advertising service providers, payment services and shippers." For example, such Memoranda of Understanding might commit payment intermediaries or advertisers to undertake that they will not accept payments or run advertisements for a site accused of hosting infringing material, thereby depriving those sites of revenue. [...]
This does not paint a positive picture of the future of copyright in Europe. A single-minded focus on enforcement, even when limited to supposedly commercial scale infringements, will do little to foster innovation and creativity, and may indeed achieve the opposite effect. Rather than simply pandering to the IP enforcement lobby, Europe needs to start thinking outside the box—something that its talented fan artists, writers and remixers have been doing for years, in the shadow of an outdated copyright regime.
European Union citizens whose personal data is transmitted to U.S. law enforcement authorities could soon have the same legal protections as U.S. citizens, the European Commission said Wednesday. [...]
There are however more hurdles besides equality in judicial redress. The EU also seeks to ensure that data is only transferred for specified law enforcement purposes, and then processed in a way compatible with these purposes. Data of a victim of human trafficking for instance should not be dealt with in the same way as the data of a suspect of human trafficking.
In parallel, negotiations with the U.S. are ongoing to make the "safe harbor" agreement safer. The safe harbor framework gives U.S. companies the ability to process personal data from E.U. citizens while providing data protection as strong as required by EU legislation. [...]
[TechDirt] Why The European Commission's Consultation On Corporate Sovereignty Is A Sham (And How To Respond To It Anyway)
One measure of the resistance to the inclusion of corporate sovereignty provisions in TAFTA/TTIP is that the European Commission unexpectedly announced that it would be holding a three-month public consultation on this aspect in an attempt to defuse public anger. [...]
As the closing date of the consultation (6 July 2014) approaches, a number of organizations have put together handy guides to filling it in -- it's open to everyone, not just EU citizens. Here, for example, is the Answering Guide from EDRi (pdf), which helpfully explains what exactly the often opaque questions mean, then suggests a number of points you might like to mention in your reply. A new site with the self-explanatory name of "No 2 ISDS!" also runs through each question in turn, but offers rather more forthright suggestions [...]
This gives an indication of the quality and thoughtfulness of the responses that are currently being made to the corporate sovereignty consultation, and of the rich materials that citizens can draw upon in making their own comments. The European Commission certainly won't be able to claim that no one cares whether ISDS is included in TAFTA/TTIP -- the level of public interest in this previously obscure aspect of international trade law is unprecedented. Whether Karel De Gucht, the European Commissioner responsible for the negotiations on the EU side, is willing to take note of all the important points raised above and act on them, is quite another matter, though.
Geheimniskrämerei – welche Geheimniskrämerei? Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) versteht nicht, was die vielen Kritiker der geplanten Freihandelsabkommen mit den USA und Kanada umtreibt. „Die Heimlichkeit ist einer der Mythen, die über die Verhandlungen genährt werden“, betonte Merkels Sprecher Steffen Seibert am Montag in Berlin. [...]
Dafür sollen die letzten Zollschranken im Warenaustausch zwischen Amerika und Europa fallen. Vor allem aber sollen Standards und Regulierungen vereinheitlicht werden, damit Autobauer für ein Pkw-Modell nicht eine Zulassung in der EU und eine in den USA brauchen. Kritiker fürchten dadurch einen Verlust an Demokratie. Sie warnen, dass Europäer nicht mehr strengere Bestimmungen erlassen könnten, wenn die Abkommen die Standards festlegen. [...]
The High Court of Ireland referred to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) - on 18 June 2014 - a number of questions around the US/EU Safe Harbor Framework ('the Framework'), as part of the case Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner (DPC).
In particular, the High Court is asking whether the Framework needs to be re-evaluated, following revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013 that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was monitoring and accessing communications in Europe, and following the introduction of Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU after the Framework. [...]
The DPC welcomed the decision of the Court, stating in a press release that 'because of the data privacy issues raised by the Snowden revelations are so serious, it is appropriate that the [CJEU] should be asked to consider the critical issues of whether the proper interpretation of the 1995 [Data Protection] Directive and the 2000 Commission Decision [on the Framework] should be re-evaluated in light of the subsequent entry into force of Article 8 of the Charter.'
The National Security Agency has turned Germany into its most important base of operations in Europe, according to a story published by Der Spiegel this week. […] The German magazine reports that documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “paint a picture of an all-powerful American intelligence agency that has developed an increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence.” The magazine adds, “No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture like the one in Germany… In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany.”
The story also delves into the growth of facilities that house the NSA’s Special Collection Service, which is a joint operation with the CIA to collect targeted communications. There are more than 80 SCS stations around the world, and the Snowden documents indicate two sites are located in Germany—in the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt, and the U.S. embassy in Berlin, which is where the SCS is believed to have recorded Chancellor Merkel’s phone calls. […]
Facebook is launching an aggressive technique to track people across the Web. For years people have noticed a funny thing about Facebook's ubiquitous Like button. It has been sending data to Facebook tracking the sites you visit. Each time details of the tracking were revealed, Facebook promised that it wasn't using the data for any commercial purposes. No longer. Last week, Facebook announced it will start using its Like button and similar tools to track people across the Internet for advertising purposes. […]
It's a bold move. Twitter and Pinterest, which track people with their Tweet and PinIt buttons, offer users the ability to opt out. And Google has pledged it will not combine data from its ad-tracking network DoubleClick with personally identifiable data without user's opt-in consent. Facebook does not offer an opt-out in its privacy settings. [...]