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[TechDirt] UK Filters And The Slippery Slope Of Mass Censorship

We've covered the ridiculousness of the UK's "voluntary" web filters. UK officials have been pushing such things for years and finally pushed them through by focusing on stopping "pornography" (for the children, of course). While it quickly came out that the filters were blocking tons of legitimate content (as filters always do), the UK government quickly moved to talk about ways to expand what the filters covered. [...]

That appears to be happening at an astonishingly fast pace in the UK. Index On Censorship has a fantastic article, discussing how a UK government official has already admitted to plans to expand the filter to "unsavoury" content rather than just "illegal." [...]

Of course, if you recognize that the continued expansion of such filters was likely the plan from the beginning, then everything is going according to plan. The fact that it doesn't solve any problems the public are dealing with is meaningless. [...]

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140418/15545526961/uk-filters-slipper...

[TechDirt] Protests Mount Against Mexico's Proposed Telecommunications Law, Which Would Bring In Censorship, Allow Real-time Surveillance And Kill Net Neutrality

[...] On the face of it then, a new Mexican telecoms law that aims to loosen the grip of those dominant companies should be a good thing. But increasingly people are worried that its bad elements may outweigh the good [...].

That's a pretty toxic mix -- censorship, real-time surveillance and no net neutrality. The good news is that Mexicans are starting to mobilize against the proposed measures:

ContingenteMX, a nonprofit collective consisting of Human Rights, environmental and social network activists and citizens, hereby demands a guarantee that the inalienable right of free Internet access

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140418/08095326958/protests-mount-aga...

[NYTimes] F.C.C., in a Shift, Backs Fast Lanes for Web Traffic

The principle that all Internet content should be treated equally as it flows through cables and pipes to consumers looks all but dead.

The Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday that it would propose new rules that allow companies like Disney, Google or Netflix to pay Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon for special, faster lanes to send video and other content to their customers.

The proposed changes would affect what is known as net neutrality — the idea that no providers of legal Internet content should face discrimination in providing offerings to consumers, and that users should have equal access to see any legal content they choose. [...]

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rule...

[TechDirt] Revolving Door: MPAA Hires Chief USTR Negotiator Behind ACTA And TPP's IP Chapter

For the past five years or so, the USTR's [Office of the United States Trade Representative] chief intellectual property negotiator has been Stan McCoy. McCoy has long positioned himself as an intellectual property maximalist, repeating talking points from lobbyists regularly, while condescending to anyone who questions the legitimacy of those claims. McCoy famously was the chief negotiator behind the US's disastrous (and mostly failed) attempt to push ACTA through, as well as the lead on the TPP's intellectual property chapter [...].

Given all that, it should be no surprise at all that McCoy, the failed strategist behind ACTA and the TPP's IP provisions... has received his reward and pat on the back from the industry: a shiny new job at the MPAA [Motion Picture Association of America]. As Tim Lee notes in that link, this is just the latest in the never-ending revolving door between maximalist lobbying groups and the USTR [...].

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140422/06011926988/revolving-door-mpa...

[TorrentFreak] Record Labels: Used MP3s Too Good and Convenient to Resell

Responding to a consultation of the EU Commission, various music industry groups are warning against a right for consumers to sell their MP3s. IFPI notes that people should be barred from selling their digital purchases because it's too convenient, while the quality of digital copies remains top-notch. Interestingly, the UK Government opposes this stance with a rather progressive view.

[...] In the United States the ReDigi case has been the center of this debate, with a federal court ruling in favor of Capitol Records last year. In the EU, however, the Court of Justice previously ruled that consumers are free to resell games and software, even when there’s no physical copy.

http://torrentfreak.com/record-labels-used-mp3s-too-good-and-convenient-...

[TechDirt] How Corporate Sovereignty Threatens Democracy

As people have begun to learn about corporate sovereignty through plans to include it in TAFTA/TTIP, the European Commission has been trying to scotch the idea that it might allow corporations to dictate policies to nations. Here, for example, is a comment in the Commission's main TTIP FAQ, which tries to answer the question "Why is the EU including Investor to State Dispute Settlement in the TTIP?" : "Including measures to protect investors does not prevent governments from passing laws, nor does it lead to laws being repealed. At most, it can lead to compensation being paid." [...]

Does GBU deserve to be awarded 2% of a country's GDP, paid for by the citizens of a land struggling to raise its living standards? That hardly seems fair. And yet it's precisely what ISDS could allow, because the arbitration panel that decides such corporate sovereignty cases is unconstrained in what it can award, and not at all concerned with what the knock-on effects might be.

But the politicians making up the European Commission should be, since they are supposed to represent the 500 million European citizens that pay their salaries. The fact that they are pushing as hard as they can for ISDS in TAFTA/TTIP shows which side they are really on, and that they are quite happy to put corporations before nations, and profits before people.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140416/09560626932/how-corporate-sove...

[TechDirt] TAFTA/TTIP: What Are The Benefits? What Are The Costs?

As we draw near to the conclusion of TAFTA/TTIP's first year of negotiations, the detailed differences are starting to emerge between the US and EU. But one thing they both take for granted is that it's a good idea. "Good" in this context is essentially about money: the argument is that concluding a trade deal between the US and EU will boost both their economies, increase companies' profits, create employment and generally make people better off. Of course, since all of those are in the future, the only way to justify those kind of claims is to model the likely effects of TTIP on the various economies -- of the US, EU and rest of the world.
That's precisely what a study entitled "Reducing Transatlantic Barriers to Trade and Investment; An Economic Assessment" aimed to do (pdf). [...]

While some will doubtless argue about the details of the new GUE/NGL analysis, it has the valuable function of reminding us that TAFTA/TTIP is not just about corporate profits, but also concerns the 800 million people who make up the citizenry of the US and EU. Until they are included in the equation, and their potential losses and gains factored in, any claims about TTIP's "benefits" -- even the tiny ones that the European Commission's analysis comes up with in its "ambitious and comprehensive" agreement -- must be regarded as simplistic, one-sided and incomplete.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140417/09391926947/taftattip-what-are...

[BBCNews] Privacy fears over FBI facial recognition database

Campaigners have raised privacy concerns over a facial recognition database being developed by the FBI that could contain 52m images by 2015.

The civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) obtained information about the project through a freedom of information request. [...] The facial recognition database is part of the bureau's Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme which is a large biometric database being developed to replace the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). [...]

"This means that even if you have never been arrested for a crime, if your employer requires you to submit a photo as part of your background check, your face image could be searched - and you could be implicated as a criminal suspect, just by virtue of having that image in the non-criminal file," said the EFF. [...]

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27037009

[BoingBoing] Message to NETmundial: protect fundamental Internet freedoms

Jeremie [Zimmermann] from France's La Quadrature du Net sez, "The farcical illusion of 'multistakeholder' discussions around 'Internet governance' must be denounced! For the last 15 years those sterile discussions led nowhere, with no concrete action ever emerging. In the meantime, technology as a whole has been turned into a terrifying machine for surveillance, control and oppression. The very same 'stakeholders' seen in IGFs and such, by their active collaboration with NSA and its public and private partners, massively violated our trust and our privacy." […]

http://boingboing.net/2014/04/19/message-to-netmundial-protect.html

[CorporateEurope] Still not loving ISDS: 10 reasons to oppose investors’ super-rights in EU trade deals

At the end of March, the European Commission launched a public consultation over its plan to enshrine far-reaching rights for foreign investors in the EU-US trade deal currently being negotiated. In the face of fierce opposition to these investor super-rights, the Commission is trying to convince the public that these do not endanger democracy and public policy. See through the sweet-talk with Corporate Europe Observatory’s guide to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). [...]

In January, in response to growing public concern over the proposed EU-US trade deal (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP), the European Commission announced it was halting negotiations over the deal’s controversial investor rights to conduct a public consultation on the issue. This was an important success for the growing anti-TTIP movement, which is unanimously opposed to the corporate powers in the deal. [...]

Nonetheless, the consultation period does create space for real debate and pressure. And people in Europe should use this space to tell the Commission, as well as MEPs (especially in the run-up to the EU elections in May) and member states, to axe the extreme corporate rights once and for all – not only in the proposed transatlantic trade deal, but also in other international agreements under negotiation with countries such as Canada, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Japan, for example. [...]

http://corporateeurope.org/international-trade/2014/04/still-not-loving-...

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