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 Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The European Commission has released a new draft proposal to update the EU's "TV without Frontiers" Directive. In a press release, the Commission notes the proposal is intended to keep pace with rapid technological and market developments in Europe’s audiovisual sector. Highlights from the press release:

  • The proposal will create a level playing field for all companies that offer TV-like services, irrespective of the technology used to deliver them (e.g. broadcast, high-speed broadband, third generation mobiles).
  • The Commission proposes replacing disparate national rules on protection of minors, against incitement to racial hatred and against surreptitious advertising with a basic, EU-wide minimum standard of protection for audiovisual on demand services.
  • Under the Commission proposal, the modernised TV without Frontiers Directive would govern TV and TV-like services. To open up the present EU rules to technological developments, the proposal distinguishes between “linear” services (e.g. scheduled broadcasting via traditional TV, the internet, or mobile phones, which “pushes” content to viewers), and “non-linear” ones, such as on-demand films or news, which the viewer “pulls” from a network. Today’s TV broadcasting rules would apply to linear services in a modernised, more flexible form, whereas non-linear ones would be subject only to a basic set of minimum principles, e.g. to protect minors, prevent incitement to racial hatred and outlaw surreptitious advertising.
  • More flexible advertising rules: For scheduled broadcasting, the Commission proposes to remove red tape, make existing rules more flexible for new forms of advertising, and encourage self- and co-regulation. Instead of detailed prescriptions on how often and under which conditions programmes may be interrupted by advertising, the modernised Directive would simplify the existing EU rules. In the future, broadcasters would be able to choose the best moment to insert advertising in programmes, rather than being obliged, as they are now, to allow at least 20 minutes between advertising breaks. However, the quantity of advertising would not be allowed to increase as the Commission proposes to maintain the existing 12 minutes per hour ceiling.
  • The new Directive would also support new forms of advertising, such as split-screen, virtual and interactive advertising. Product placement would, for the first time, be explicitly defined and provided with a clear legal framework. Except in news, current affairs and children’s programmes, clearly identified product placement would be permitted in Europe, both in linear and non-linear audiovisual services. To prevent surreptitious advertising, consumers would be informed at the start of a programme that product placement is in use. These new rules should remove legal uncertainty, provide additional funding for European productions and thus enhance the competitiveness of Europe’s audiovisual sector.

[Via Roger Darlington's blog

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 12:23:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The internet as we know it is set to transform radically, according to a new ITU Internet Report entitled The Internet of Things, specially prepared to coincide with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis in November 2005. From an academic network for the chosen few created in the late 1960s, the internet is now a mass-market, consumer-oriented network being accessed by over 900 million people worldwide, through personal computers, mobile phones and other wireless devices. But this is only the beginning. According to ITU’s report, we are standing on the brink of a new ubiquitous computing and communication era, one that will radically transform the Internet, and with it, our corporate, community, and personal spheres. The new ITU report looks at key enabling technologies for ubiquity (e.g. RFID, sensors and sensor networks, telematics, robotics, nanotechnology) and how they might impact the future human and technological landscape.

At WSIS, the report was launched at a Press Conference and Panel Debate moderated by Kenn Cukier of The Economist. The lively debate included the following speakers and panelists: Nicholas Negroponte - MIT Media Lab, Olivier Baujard - CTO of Alcatel, Hitomi Murakami - VP General Manager of KDDI (Japan), Jonathan Murray - VP and CTO, Microsoft EMEA, Walid Moneimne, Senior VP and Head of EMEA Networks - Nokia, John Gage, Chief Researcher and Director of the Science Office - Sun Microsystems, and from the ITU, Lara Srivastava, lead author of the report.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 4:59:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dr. Roger Marks, the Chair of the IEEE 802.16 Working Group on Broadband Wireless Access has announced that a mobile version of IEEE 802.16 has been approved (now officially called IEEE Std 802.16-2004). The amended standard specifies a system for combined fixed and mobile BWA supporting subscriber stations moving at vehicular speeds in licensed bands under 6 GHz. The official press release announcement can be found here. The WiMAX Forum will now expand their certification process to include mobile as well as fixed systems.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 2:22:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, December 12, 2005

"Computer security isn't a technological problem -- it's an economic one." That is the message Bruce Schneier, Counterpane Internet Security, emphasized in his presentation at an infoSecurity Conference according to an article in InternetNews.com.

"The future of security is getting harder to predict". Industry professionals "must start paying attention to the economics of security if they hoped for technology to keep pace." "To understand the difference it's necessary to understand the basic economic incentives of companies and how businesses are affected by liabilities" Mr. Schneier pointed out in his presentation. "The problem is that most of the costs of insecure software fall on the users." In economics, this is known as an externality: an effect of a decision not borne by the decision maker", according to Schneier. "When a company leaks data they are not the victim -- you as a user are."

"Depending on where you put liability, security improves or it doesn't," Mr. Schneier added. "Put the liability on the responsible party than we can do something," he said. That liability usually comes through legislation or lawsuits, according to Schneier. Mr. Schneier also pointed out that "Security is a process, it is not a product," he said.

Access the full article here.

Monday, December 12, 2005 2:06:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Call for input on the forthcoming review of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications and services, including review of the Recommendation on relevant markets! Deadline 31 January 2006

The Commission Services invite interested parties to give their views on possible changes to the five EP and Council directives that constitute the current EU framework for electronic communications, and to the Recommendation on relevant markets.

The consultation document can be found here.

A public workshop is provisionally planned for Tuesday 24 January 2006 in Brussels. The workshop will be open to all interested parties, but prior registration is required. A registration form can be found here.

For more information, please click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 5:15:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 25, 2005

Internet governance: A tale of community structure and individual initiative by David Allen.

On one side, the Internet community argues for the informality and flexibility necessary for innovation – that is, for individual initiative – to flourish. On the other side, some governments call for more formality and the stable base – that is, for community structure – upon which ongoing operations and change can both occur.

Friday, November 25, 2005 3:26:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, November 24, 2005

The European Commission's Information Society and Media Directorate General has commissioned a series of four monitoring reports at nine-monthly intervals on the market for electronic communications networks and services in 8 EU candidate and potential candidate countries. The first Country Comparative Report is now available.

For the Report, please click here.

Thursday, November 24, 2005 11:41:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The University of Masschusetts Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution's Cyberweek 2005-2006 Conference on ODR, eLawyering and ethics in the internet law age, was held 23-28 October 2005.  

Cyberweek is the Center's free online conference. Each year individuals and organizations from all over the world come together online for a week of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) simulations, demonstrations, presentations, discussions, experiments, and resource sharing.

Presentations, and material from this year's event can be viewed here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 4:47:59 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

WSIS Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity: Outcome and Next Steps (PDF) presented at the Global Symposium for Regulators, Yasmine Hammamet, Tunisia on 23 November 2005, Robert Shaw, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 3:32:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Development Gateway is launching a new special report - Information Society: The Next Steps.

The Information Society has produced a tantalizing array of new information and communication technologies (ICT) that have transformed today's approach to development. Access to these technologies is spreading rapidly. This year, the number of Internet users in developing countries is crossing the 500 million mark, surpassing industrial nations for the first time. By some estimates, more than 75% of the world's population now lives within range of a mobile network. Yet the long-heralded promise of ICT remains far out of reach for most of the developing world. For the information poor, economic and social gaps are in fact widening - both within and between countries. Following on the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) of December 2003, WSIS Phase II in November 2005 will assess progress and prompt further global action to capture the promise of ICT for all. This Special Report "Information Society: Next Steps" looks at how the ICT landscape is changing in the developing world and what lies ahead. Experts from governments, donors, NGOs and the private sector speak out about effective policies, promising applications and innovative business models.

The online report includes:
- Interviews with experts on how to create an effective enabling environment for ICT for development and how to finance it;
- collections of documents, research and statistics on tools and applications that can benefit developing countries, found on the Development Gateway portal and other websites; and
- a unique section devoted to the "voices" of those developing and using ICT from both the North and South, relating stories contributed through a recent Development Gateway survey of our members.

Interviews with the following people, among others, will be featured:
- Charles Geiger, Executive Director, WSIS Executive Secretariat
- Pierre Guislain, World Bank Group
- Aimal Marjan, Afghan Ministry of Communication
- Sam Pitroda, Indian Knowledge Commission
- Danilo Piaggesi,  Inter-American Development Bank

Read this Special Report.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 3:29:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, November 21, 2005

LightReading has an article on the recent NGN Industry Event in London on 18 November 2005, where ITU unveiled Release 1 standards for NGN by ITU-T's Focus Group on Next-Generation Networks (FGNGN). The event also outlined the next phase of NGN work to be progressed under the banner of the NGN Global Standards Initiative (NGN-GSI). In the presentation (Zipped PowerPoint) by BT Group Technology Officer Mick Reeve:

"...the world's telecom standards groups are, at last, all singing from the same song sheet with their work on next-generation network (NGN) standards.

"Addressing an International Telecommunication Union meeting in London today, Reeve, a key figure in the development of BT's 21st Century Network (21CN), praised the ITU for its role in bringing together the work of many different groups around the world and delivering a unified vision of what an NGN should look like and deliver. (See BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers, Bross: More to Come on 21CN, and Wales to Get 21CN First.)

"The ITU has done a great job in finding a global agreement on NGNs. There's a high level of agreement globally about NGN principles" that has helped deliver an "overall architecture for next generation networks and systems, something that has been unheard of before now," says the BT man. He cited the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), TeleManagement Forum, and Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) as organizations that have helped in the ITU's work."  

Other presentations made at the event can be found here.

Monday, November 21, 2005 10:44:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 18, 2005

Today the French Goverment has organized a workshop on Spam at the World Summit on Information Society with the support of the European Presidency and the European Commission. At this occasion, France, Marrocco and the Francofone Institute of New Information and Formation Technologies (INTIF - OIF) have annonced the organisation of the first francofone anti-spam workshop in Rabat to be held at the begining of 2006.

Presentations will be available soon at the ITU/SPU website on Spam.

 

Friday, November 18, 2005 2:22:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, November 17, 2005

Eli Noam has written a piece for the Financial Times entitled A First Amendment for the internet.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 5:35:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The WSIS Stocktaking Report has been officially launched during the World Summit on the Infrmation Society in Tunis. The report has been prepared on the basis of activities entered to the WSIS Stocktaking Database that by November 2005 contained more then 2500 entries. 

For the launch presentation see Stocktaking.pdf (1.47 MB).

For the WSIS Stocktaking Database see here

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 10:50:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Yesterday the Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, introduced legislation on the lawful interception of communications. The Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act (MITA) will ensure that the law enforcement community and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) maintain their ability to investigate crime and terrorism in the face of rapidly evolving communications technology.

“Currently, under the law, police and CSIS can only intercept communications with authorization. This Act will not change that,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. “However, that authorization may be of no effect if companies do not have the technical ability to intercept new communications technology. This legislation will ensure that criminals can no longer take advantage of new technologies to hide their illegal activities from the law.”

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 8:13:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The final documents submitted to the second phase of WSIS being held 16-18 November 2005 in Tunis have been posted. They are:

In The Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, paragraphs 3-28 related to Financial Mechanisms for Meeting the Challenges of ICTs for Development, paragraphs 29-82 relate to Internet Governance, and paragraphs 83-122 relate to Implementation and Follow-up.

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 7:24:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 11, 2005

From the soon to be released ITU Internet Report 2005: The Internet of Things comes this fresh survey data showing the breakdown of 3G mobile technologies according to markets. ITU research shows CDMA 2000 1x technology currently has 115 million subscribers while W-CDMA technology has 18.8 million subscribers at the end of 2004. 

 

Friday, November 11, 2005 4:35:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From the soon to be released ITU Internet Report 2005: The Internet of Things comes this fresh survey data showing the top 10 3G mobile markets worldwide, by millions of subscribers and type of technology (CDMA 2000 1x and W-CDMA) at the end of 2004. The USA leads in total number of 3G subscribers with 49.5 million (16.7% of the population) but the Republic of Korea has the highest national percentage with 57.4 of the population using 3G services (27.5 million subscribers).

Friday, November 11, 2005 3:55:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

An article on BBC News discusses the new UNCTAD Information Economy Report 2005 and says the costs of fast net access and linking up to the internet's global infrastructure hits poorer nations much harder than developed countries. Chapters in the report include:

  1. ICT indicators for development; Trends and measurement issues
  2. International Internet backbone connectivity: Issues for developing countries
  3. E-credit information, trade finance and e-finance: Overcoming information asymmetries
  4. Taking off: E-tourism opportunities for developing countries
  5. Information technology and security: Risk management and policy implications
  6. Protecting the information society: Addressing the phenomenon of cybercrime
Friday, November 11, 2005 2:50:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, November 10, 2005

The latest edition of ITU News has a commentary from Yoshio Utsumi, ITU Secretary-General on the expectations beyond the upcoming Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society.

We started on the long journey to Tunis in 1998, when the government of Tunisia proposed to the ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference in Minneapolis to hold a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). We have accomplished much during this journey. At the first phase of WSIS in Geneva in December 2003, we developed a common vision of the information society. In particular, we declared our common desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented society where the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) is used to promote sustainable development and improve the quality of life. It is a society where everyone, anywhere should have an opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits the information society offers.

At the second phase of the Summit in Tunis on 16-18 November 2005, we will be closing one chapter, but we will be opening a new and much bigger chapter on the implementation of that vision. In this endeavour, we should really recognize the true value of ICT as a central theme in national development policies. ICT is changing our society in ways which are as fundamental as the changes wrought by steam engines in the 19th century or motor cars in the 20th century. As those machines did, ICTs help us to be more productive and efficient than ever before to fulfil our natural desire for a better life....

Nowhere are the challenges to the conventional sovereign State greater than in the realm of cyberspace. And Internet governance has dominated our discussions since the conclusion of the Geneva phase.

The traditional principles of “national sovereignty” that have been applied to telecommunications —namely that each State regulates its telecommunication sector as it sees fit — are not working for the Internet. The Internet, which started in one country, has rapidly penetrated everywhere. Now that the Internet has become a basic element of infrastructure for every nation, it is natural that nations wish to claim sovereignty over the Internet as they do over traditional telecommunication infrastructure.

However, the value of the Internet lies in the value of information created and consumed by users rather than in the infrastructure itself. So, Internet governance requires a multi-stakeholder approach in which users and consumers of information alike agree, at a global level, to cooperate on a basic set of guidelines on such issues as security, privacy protection and efficient operation.

That is why our discussion of Internet governance has been so difficult: because the existing models do not work well. We need to embrace a new model, which I will call “new communication sovereignty.” In this model, we must fight to defend the “right to communicate” rather than the “right to govern.”

Communication is a basic human need and the foundation of all social organization. What matters is whether you have guaranteed access to information or the means to communicate with others, rather than the ability to control the means of communication. The “right to communicate” is a fundamental human right in the information society.

As the Secretary-General for the World Summit on the Information Society, I feel truly honoured to have been given the opportunity to serve the international community at this key moment of change in its history. As the wheel of change continues to turn, we must work together to create a more just and equitable information society.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 2:50:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Computer Business Review Online is reporting that the US government is said to be planning to open the IANA contract to manage the internet's addressing systems, currently held by ICANN, for competitive bidding. But a US official yesterday denied a report that such a move has been discussed publicly.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 2:31:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Belgian Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy has published a brochure on spam named “Spamming: 24 questions & answers”.

The objective of the brochure is to raise awareness of spam affected persons as to the spamming issue; applicable spamming regulations in Belgium; advice to follow in order to cope with this phenomenon and information on the authorities having competency to receive complaints.

Click below to download the brochure available in four languages: EnglishFrenchGermanDutch

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 5:32:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From Infodev: This document is a guideline for replicating the Village Phone program in a new country. infoDev along with several other partners, supported this publication.

The Study draws on Grameen’s experience in both Bangladesh and Uganda and establishes a template for creating sustainable initiatives that simultaneously bring telecommunications to the rural poor, create viable new businesses for micro-entrepreneurs, and expand the customer base of telecommunications companies. No two implementations of the Village Phone program will be exactly alike. Each country will have unique variables, participants, and environments. However, it is expected that there will be common structures, applications, and processes – all of which are described in detail herein.

The information presented in this replication manual is shared in the spirit of international cooperation. Grameen Foundation USA will continue to act as a clearinghouse for Village Phone Replication information. As people share the lessons from future replication efforts, Grameen Foundation USA will publish updates to reflect additional learning.

Click here to read more (7 Mbyte PDF file).

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 5:10:06 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) today called on EU policy makers to reject the idea of an "NGN moratorium" in favour of a policy to boost investment confidence for the entire communications sector.  Pointing to wealth of evidence that markets with competition enjoy higher levels of innovation, and ECTA’s own broadband scorecards which confirm that competition also boosts broadband adoption, ECTA recommends that policy makers maintain the pro-competitive approach that underpins the EU regulatory framework.

The proposal for a so-called "NGN Moratorium" was floated by [EC] Commissioner Reding in September as an idea for next year’s review of the Telecoms Directives. Since then, the issue has become live with a proposal from German politicians to grant a three-year regulatory moratorium on plans by the incumbent to upgrade its access network, undermining competitors’ current and future investment plans. 

The detailed ECTA position can be found here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 1:53:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet is holding a hearing on 9 November 2005 on the Staff discussion draft of legislation to create a statutory framework for Internet Protocol and Broadband Services (this is a new draft dated 3 November 2005).

The draft legislation includes provisions on broadband internet transmission services, VoIP, video services and general provisions on how the FCC should address public interest issues, including broadening of the FCC's responsibilities in countering spam.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 1:37:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Schneier on Security is reporting that Microsoft has released a document outlining a series of steps it would like to see the US Congress take to preempt a growing number of state laws that impose varying requirements on the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information. According to their press release:

[Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel Brad] Smith described four core principles that Microsoft believes should be the foundation of any federal legislation on data privacy:

  • Create a baseline standard across all organizations and industries for offline and online data collection and storage. This federal standard should pre-empt state laws and, as much as possible, be consistent with privacy laws around the world.
  • Increase transparency regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. This would include a range of notification and access functions, such as simplified, consumer-friendly privacy notices and features that permit individuals to access and manage their personal information collected online.
  • Provide meaningful levels of control over the use and disclosure of personal information. This approach should balance a requirement for organizations to obtain individuals' consent before using and disclosing information with the need to make the requirements flexible for businesses, while avoiding bombarding consumers with excessive and unnecessary levels of choice.
  • Ensure a minimum level of security for personal information in storage and transit. A federal standard should require organizations to take reasonable steps to secure and protect critical data against unauthorized access, use, disclosure modification and loss of personal information.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005 10:47:28 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Roger Darlington's CommsWatch is reporting that the UK's Ofcom has published an independent report which it commissioned from Indepen, Ovum and fathom on the impact of changes to the Television Without Frontiers (TWF) Directive proposed by the European Commission in July 2005.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 9:37:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |