U.N.’s World Health Organization Eyeing Global Tax on Banking, Internet Activity Fox News
The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering a plan to ask governments to impose a global consumer tax on such things as Internet activity or everyday financial transactions like paying bills online. Such a scheme could raise “tens of billions of dollars” on behalf of the United Nations’ public health arm from a broad base of consumers, which would then be used to transfer drug-making research, development and manufacturing capabilities, among other things, to the developing world. The multibillion-dollar “indirect consumer tax” is only one of a “suite of proposals” for financing the rapid transformation of the global medical industry that will go before WHO’s 34-member supervisory Executive Board at its biannual meeting in Geneva. The idea is the most lucrative — and probably the most controversial — of a number of schemes proposed by a 25-member panel of medical experts, academics and health care bureaucrats who have been working for the past 14 months at WHO’s behest on “new and innovative sources of funding” to accomplish major shifts in the production of medical R&D.
FBI broke law for years in phone record searches Washington Post
The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions. E-mails obtained by The Washington Post detail how counterterrorism officials inside FBI headquarters did not follow their own procedures that were put in place to protect civil liberties. The stream of urgent requests for phone records also overwhelmed the FBI communications analysis unit with work that ultimately was not connected to imminent threats. A Justice Department inspector general’s report due out this month is expected to conclude that the FBI frequently violated the law with its emergency requests, bureau officials confirmed.
Court Hearing in Music-Industry Lawsuit Can Be Broadcast Online Wired Campus
A federal judge ruled today that Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society can broadcast online a hearing in a recording-industry lawsuit scheduled for January 22. Sony BMG Music Entertainment is suing Joel Tenenbaum, a graduate student at Boston University, for alleged copyright infringement. Charles R. Nesson, a Harvard law professor representing Mr. Tenenbaum, had filed a motion last month to ‘admit the Internet into the courtroom.’ Today’s ruling goes beyond simply approving that request. ‘The public benefit of offering a more complete view of these proceedings is plain, especially via a medium so carefully attuned to the Internet Generation captivated by these file-sharing lawsuits,’ Judge Nancy Gertner wrote. ‘‘Public’ today has a new resonance, especially in this case.’ Sony had opposed the Internet broadcast, arguing in court documents that the goal of the request was ‘to influence the proceedings themselves and to increase the defendant’s and his counsel’s notoriety,’ The Boston Globe reported.
Microsoft to Purge User Data on Bing After 6 Months New York Times
Bowing to pressure in Europe, Microsoft said Tuesday that it would redesign the worldwide operation of its online search engine, Bing, to eliminate all data collected on users after six months. John Vassallo, a Microsoft vice president and associate general counsel, said the company would introduce the changes over the next 18 months, aiming to satisfy a European advisory group that had been critical of how search engines collect and retain data on individuals for advertising purposes. The concession, relatively painless for Microsoft given its tiny share of the global search market — just 3 percent — is yet another example of a U.S. technology giant’s changing its way of doing business to suit stricter European concepts of antitrust and privacy law.
Turkey blocking 3,700 websites, reform needed: OSCE Reuters
Europe’s main security and human rights watchdog said on Monday that Turkey was blocking some 3,700 Internet sites for “arbitrary and political reasons” and urged reforms to show its commitment to freedom of expression. Milos Haraszti, media freedom monitor for the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said Turkey’s Internet law was failing to preserve free expression in the country and should be changed or abolished. “In its current form, Law 5651, commonly known as the Internet Law of Turkey, not only limits freedom of expression, but severely restricts citizens’ right to access information,” Haraszti said in a statement. He said Turkey, a European Union candidate, was barring access to 3,700 Internet sites, including YouTube, GeoCities and some Google pages, because Ankara’s Internet law was too broad and subject to political interests.
Greek privacy watchdog likely to allow Street View Associated Press
A privacy watchdog lifted its objections Monday to a Greek Web site publishing panoramic street-level images online, making a similar decision in favor of Google’s Street View service more likely. Greece’s Data Protection Authority, or DPA, said it was satisfied by assurances given by operators of the Greek Internet site kapou.gr, including its use of face-blurring technology and limits on storing original images.
Proposed Web video restrictions cause outrage in Italy Industry Standard IDG News Service
New rules to be introduced by government decree will require people who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorization from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to communicate over the Web, opposition lawmakers have warned. The decree is ostensibly an enactment of a European Union (EU) directive on product placement and is due to go into effect at the end of January after being subjected to a nonbinding appraisal by parliament. On Thursday opposition lawmakers held a press conference in parliament to denounce the new rules — which require government authorization for the uploading of videos, give individuals who claim to have been defamed a right of reply and prevent the replay of copyright material — as a threat to freedom of expression.
Software Firms Fear Hackers Who Leave No Trace New York Times
The crown jewels of Google, Cisco Systems or any other technology company are the millions of lines of programming instructions, known as source code, that make its products run. If hackers could steal those key instructions and copy them, they could easily dull the company’s competitive edge in the marketplace. More insidiously, if attackers were able to make subtle, undetected changes to that code, they could essentially give themselves secret access to everything the company and its customers did with the software. The fear of someone building such a back door, known as a Trojan horse, and using it to conduct continual spying is why companies and security experts were so alarmed by Google’s disclosure last week that hackers based in China had stolen some of its intellectual property and had conducted similar assaults on more than two dozen other companies.
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Net access blocked by government restrictions? Use Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Go here for details.