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Rhode Island proposes $20 porn tax. Er, haven't we heard this before?

Legislators in Rhode Island have come up with a novel way to deal with online pornography: require ISPs to block sexual content and then require consumers to pay a $20 "digital access fee" if they want to see smut. The proposal – Senate Bill S 2584 [PDF] - has caused an explosive debate with First Amendment rights advocates …
Kieren McCarthy, 06 Mar 2018

The KITT hits the Man: US Congress urged to OK robo-car trials

More than one hundred organizations called on US congress to fast-lane legislation on self-driving cars. In an open letter, dated Monday, to party-leading Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) the 108 companies and advocacy groups ask that congress speed up its consideration and passage of parallel self- …
Shaun Nichols, 06 Mar 2018
sledgehammer reduces cement block to powder

'A sledgehammer to crack a nut': Charities slam UK voter ID trials

Mandatory voter ID trials are "dangerous" and won't stop the main cause of election fraud, UK government has been told. A group of 40 charities and academics have written to Chloe Smith, minister for the constitution, setting out their concerns about voter ID pilots planned for May's local elections. The government is …
Rebecca Hill, 06 Mar 2018
Man stroking his chin deep in thought

UK data watchdog's inaugural tech strategy was written with... *drumroll* Word 2010

Staying up to date with the latest tech seems to be proving challenging for the UK's data protection watchdog. In a bid to demonstrate it's aware of the fast pace of innovation and how this is changing the areas it regulates, the Information Commissioner's Office recently issued its first technology strategy. The strategy …
Rebecca Hill, 06 Mar 2018
Thumbs down frownining emoticon

Reddit 'fesses up to just a little Russian reaming

Searchers for Russian influence on the United States 2016 presidential election have of late swung their searchlights towards Reddit, which has tried to explain its role in the affair. Co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman, aka "Spez", took to the site on Monday March 5th with a his thoughts on the matter. Titled "In response to …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Mar 2018
Footprints sand photo via Shutterstock

UK regulator moots data protection sandbox for organisations to play in

The Information Commissioner's Office has promised organisations a regulatory sandbox to test out the data protection implications of new tech as part of its first technology strategy. The strategy (PDF), which will run from 2018-21, sets out eight goals for the ICO, along with three priority areas – cybersecurity, artificial …
Rebecca Hill, 05 Mar 2018
An angry woman steaming from the ears

UK.gov told: Scrap immigration exemption from Data Protection Bill or we'll see you in court

Campaign groups have increased pressure on the UK government to remove a section of the Data Protection Bill that could effectively prevent people gaining access to immigration data held on them. The bill passed through the House of Lords at the start of the year, and has its second reading in the House of Commons today, which …
Rebecca Hill, 05 Mar 2018
swiss mountainside

Swiss see Telly Tax as a Big Plus, vote against scrapping it

Swiss voters have decided to retain the country's costly TV licence in a referendum. 71.6 per cent of voters expressed a wish to keep the Telly Tax, which helps fund the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) and over 30 regional TV and radio stations. The licence fee is currently 451 Swiss Franc per year, or around £348 at …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Mar 2018

Europe plans special tax for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon

Bruno Le Maire, France's minister for the economy, has revealed that a plan to levy a special tax on Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon will soon be revealed by European authorities. Le Maire told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche "A European directive will be unveiled in the coming weeks, the minister reveals, and it …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Mar 2018

UK peers: Is this what you call governance of facial recog tech? A 'few scattered papers'!

British cops’ use of automated facial recognition technology has come under fire from peers, with the Greens’ Jenny Jones calling on the government for an immediate ban. Speaking in a House of Lords debate, Jones said that there were “very real concerns” about the use of the technology, asserting that the UK was “moving into …
Rebecca Hill, 03 Mar 2018

Knock, knock. Whois there? Get ready for anonymized email addresses after domain privacy shake-up

You may no longer be able to see the name, email or house address for whoever owns a specific domain name under new rules proposed by DNS overseer ICANN. Such details will be removed from the Whois service that covers hundreds of millions of domain names across the world in order to comply with new European privacy legislation …
Kieren McCarthy, 02 Mar 2018

Now Europe is getting jitters over Broadcom's Qualcomm takeover bid

Chipmaker Broadcom's proposed $142bn (£103bn) hostile takeover of Qualcomm has given European lawmakers the willies over data protection implications for EU citizens. It follows concerns raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is reportedly concerned about Singapore-based Broadcom parking its …
Kat Hall, 02 Mar 2018

Euro Commission gives tech firms an hour to take down terror content

The European Commission has given tech firms three months to set up systems that will allow them to take down terrorist content within an hour. The Commission's missive is a recommendation and builds on a communication made last September – although it is technically a legal text in EU-ese, it isn't legally binding for the …
Rebecca Hill, 02 Mar 2018
ed sheeran

Spotify wants to go public but can't find Ed Sheeran (to pay him)

Analysis Spotify has ended five years of speculation about an IPO, and has filed for a public share offering likely to make its founders – and large record labels – extremely rich indeed. But although that giant payday is built on the back of songwriters' "sweat and precog"*, Spotify still has trouble finding them to pay them. Even …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Mar 2018
GDPR compliance paperwork

So the suits swanned off to GDPR events leaving you at the coalface? It's really more IT's problem

I spend a lot of time telling people that information security isn't the IT department's problem. And it's not: everyone in the business is responsible for making his or her contribution to the security of the organisation's information, and for protecting the personal data the organisation uses. I can't help thinking, though …
Dave Cartwright, 02 Mar 2018
Photo by MediaGroupBestForYou / Shutterstock

Hypersonic nukes! Nuclear-powered drone subs! Putin unwraps his new (propaganda) toys

Vids Russian Federation president Putin has used his annual state-of-the-nation address to show off the latest additions to Russia's weapon's catalog and to warn the Western powers that his country will not be trifled with. Putin showed off video of new weapons systems, including a massive ICBM capable of launching hypersonic …
Iain Thomson, 02 Mar 2018

Revealed: UK.gov's ‘third direction’ to keep tabs on spies’ potentially criminal activities

The government has finally made public a secretive direction that requires snoop oversight bodies to monitor spies’ potential participation in criminality. The oversight instruction was put on a statutory basis as a Prime Ministerial direction in 2014. However its existence was only revealed in 2016 as a result of legal …
Rebecca Hill, 01 Mar 2018
Crying baby in autumn. Photo by shutterstock

We need baby Googles, say search specialists… and one surprising VC

Google's vertical search tormentors in Europe have called for Alphabet's cash cow to be broken up, arguing that Google's solution hasn't improved competition. Google wrote its own remedy in response to the European Commission's ruling that it distorted competition, using penalties to demote rival niche search products such as …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2018

UK watchdog Ofcom tells broadband firms: '30 days to sort your speeds'

Ofcom is tightening the screws – sort of – on broadband providers that play fast and loose with speed promises by imposing a deadline to meet service obligations or allow customers to walk away without a penalty. Customers are able to exit a deal if velocity slips below a minimum guaranteed level and the provider can’t rectify …
Paul Kunert, 01 Mar 2018

Now Europe's largest trade union squeezes Euro Patent Office's pips

Pressure is continuing to build on the European Patent Office (EPO) over its treatment of staff and continued refusal to accept the results of an independent tribunal. This week, Europe's largest trade union, the Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) wrote to all 38 members of the EPO's Administrative Council noting its "great …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Mar 2018

Stop us if you've heard this one: Ex-Googler sues web giant claiming terrible treatment. This time, sex harassment

A former Google engineer is suing the US advertising giant after undergoing what she says was years of sexual harassment and retaliation from coworkers. Loretta Lee filed suit [PDF] earlier this month with the Santa Clara County Superior Court in California to collect damages for alleged infractions including a hostile work …
Shaun Nichols, 01 Mar 2018
A group of happy corporate looking types celebrate

At last, sex trafficking brought to an end with US House vote on new internet law (Yeah, right)

Analysis The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a bill aimed at tackling online sex traffickers, but which critics warn will have little effect on curbing the vile trade and could instead undermine free speech on the internet. The (Allow States and Victims to) Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) – which included …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Feb 2018

TVEyes blindsided: Fox News defeats search engine in copyright spat

A US appeals court has backed Fox News in the broadcaster's copyright-infringement battle against online telly streamer TVEyes. Essentially, TVEyes was showing clips of Fox News on its website alongside text transcripts of the reports. Fox News took the biz to a district court, alleging copyright infringement, however the site …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Feb 2018

Stop slurping NHS data to enforce immigration laws? Not on your nellie, huffs UK Home Office

The NHS has said it will continue sharing data with the Home Office for immigration enforcement, despite MPs calling for the government to put an immediate stop to the transfer. The data-sharing deal, which was put on official footing in January last year and renewed in December, allows the NHS to hand over non-clinical …
Rebecca Hill, 28 Feb 2018

Google: Class search results as journalism so we can dodge Right To Be Forgotten

RTBF Trial Google is claiming that journalistic exemptions from data protection laws should apply to its search results, in the first ever trial of the so-called Right To Be Forgotten in the High Court of England and Wales. A man who we are only permitted to name as NT1* is suing Google under the Data Protection Act for misuse of private …
Gareth Corfield, 28 Feb 2018
Man with his head in the clouds

Vaping on the NHS? Don't hold your breath

Experts told Parliament that a post-Brexit Britain should think about axing the most draconian EU-wide e-cigarette regulations to encourage people to quit smoking tobacco. The Science and Technology Select Committee heard oral evidence yesterday that the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) ban on promoting e-cigs, and its …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Feb 2018
Google, photo by lightpoet via Shutterstock

Google asked to take down 2.4 MEEELLION URLs under EU law

Google has received takedown requests for 2.4 million URLs since 2014 – but said yes to less than half. As a result of a 2014 ruling from the European Court of Justice, EU citizens can ask Google to remove information about them from search results. According to Google's transparency report, published today, since 28 May 2014 …
Rebecca Hill, 27 Feb 2018
A TV aerial. Pic: Shutterstock

BBC Telly Tax heavies got pat on the head from snoopers' overseers

Updated The BBC got top marks from the artists formerly known as the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) – but has refused to say if it will push for fewer external inspections of its use of creepy surveillance powers. The OSC (which has since been merged into the UK's uber-spying regulator, the Investigatory Powers …
Gareth Corfield, 27 Feb 2018
victorian brits

Oi, drag this creaking, 217-year-old UK census into the data-driven age

The UK's Office for National Statistics is under pressure. Every decade since 1801, it has carried out one of the world's most comprehensive statistical undertakings, the census. Now, it has until 2021 to prove it can do so without the massive surveys it still relies upon. The population survey, which was sent out to 25 …
Rebecca Hill, 27 Feb 2018
Stanford University campus

Is this why Facebook is such a toxic dump? HP, HPE sued for 'leaking chems' into office site

Stanford University is suing the descendants of Hewlett-Packard and Agilent for allegedly contaminating a property in Palo Alto, California, with toxic chemicals. The Silicon Valley uni has demanding the IT giants pick up its hazmat cleaning bill to scrub the site of industrial solvents and other pollutants. The property, …
Shaun Nichols, 27 Feb 2018

Trump buries H-1B visa applicants in paperwork

The United States Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services has released new and strict rules for H-1B visas, the permit used by many-a-tech-company to bring skilled workers to the USA from abroad. President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to restrict use of the visas, which he claimed are …
Simon Sharwood, 26 Feb 2018
Caïn, a sculpture by Henry Vidal, epic facepalm

Perusing pr0nz at work? Here's a protip: Save it in a file marked 'private'

A Frenchman who was fired after his bosses discovered porn stored on his work computer has been told his human rights were not violated by his employers' snooping. The case goes way back to 2007, when Eric Libert was suspended from his role as head of the regional surveillance unit in Amiens, northern France, for railway firm …
Rebecca Hill, 23 Feb 2018

Nobody expects the social media inquisition! OK, everybody did, UK politicos

The UK Commons Select Committee for Science and Technology has begun taking submissions for an inquiry into the "Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health". What a Hancock-up: MP's social network app is a privacy disaster READ MORE Politicians have taken notice of concerns arising from recent reports …
Richard Speed, 22 Feb 2018

Europe's Unified Patent Court fate in the balance amid German probing (yes, Brexit is in the mix)

The German Constitutional Court has agreed to hear a case about the legitimacy of the European Unified Patent Court (UPC), raising doubts over the future of a single patent court for Europe. Among the 36 cases that the Bundesverfassungsgericht has said it will decide on this year is a constitutional complaint - BvR 739/17 - …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Feb 2018

UK data controllers to pay ICO up to £2.4k more a year when GDPR kicks in

The UK government has revealed plans to increase the top tier of annual fees for data controllers from £500 to £2,900 in an attempt to ensure the Brit privacy watchdog has enough cash to function. The new payment regime comes into effect with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation on 25 May 2018. At the …
Rebecca Hill, 21 Feb 2018
London's new chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell. Smiling bearded man in a tailored but loose mixed material jacket over jeans and a brown belt

London Mayor's chief digi officer: 'Have faith and give us a chance'

Cynics could be forgiven for seeing the Mayor of London’s newly created six-figure chief digital officer role as a policy wonk title. Speaking to The Register on a rainy morning at City Hall, Theo Blackwell describes it as "a digital leadership role." So four months into the job, what key point would he communicate to reassure …
Kat Hall, 21 Feb 2018

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