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 Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler, Yale University Press.

Information, knowledge, and culture are central to human freedom and human development. How they are produced and exchanged in our society critically affects the way we see the state of the world as it is and might be; who decides these questions; and how we, as societies and polities, come to understand what can and ought to be done. For more than 150 years, modern complex democracies have depended in large measure on an industrial information economy for these basic functions. In the past decade and a half, we have begun to see a radical change in the organization of information production. Enabled by technological change, we are beginning to see a series of economic, social, and cultural adaptations that make possible a radical transformation of how we make the information environment we occupy as autonomous individuals, citizens, and members of cultural and social groups. It seems passé today to speak of "the Internet revolution." In some academic circles, it is positively naïve. But it should not be. The change brought about by the networked information environment is deep. It is structural. It goes to the very foundations of how liberal markets and liberal democracies have coevolved for almost two centuries.

A series of changes in the technologies, economic organization, and social practices of production in this environment has created new opportunities for how we make and exchange information, knowledge, and culture. These changes have increased the role of nonmarket and nonproprietary production, both by individuals alone and by cooperative efforts in a wide range of loosely or tightly woven collaborations. These newly emerging practices have seen remarkable success in areas as diverse as software development and investigative reporting, avant-garde video and multiplayer online games. Together, they hint at the emergence of a new information environment, one in which individuals are free to take a more active role than was possible in the industrial information economy of the twentieth century. This new freedom holds great practical promise: as a dimension of individual freedom; as a platform for better democratic participation; as a medium to foster a more critical and self-reflective culture; and, in an increasingly information dependent global economy, as a mechanism to achieve improvements in human development everywhere.

The rise of greater scope for individual and cooperative nonmarket production of information and culture, however, threatens the incumbents of the industrial information economy. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we find ourselves in the midst of a battle over the institutional ecology of the digital environment. A wide range of laws and institutions—from broad areas like telecommunications, copyright, or international trade regulation, to minutiae like the rules for registering domain names or whether digital television receivers will be required by law to recognize a particular code—are being tugged and warped in efforts to tilt the playing field toward one way of doing things or the other. How these battles turn out over the next decade or so will likely have a significant effect on how we come to know what is going on in the world we occupy, and to what extent and in what forms we will be able—as autonomous individuals, as citizens, and as participants in cultures and communities—to affect how we and others see the world as it is and as it might be.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 11:55:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, May 01, 2006

Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has published on March 10 the results of an estimate of the amount of internet traffic in Japan. According to the study, based on the total volume of traffic calculated from broadband subscribers in Japan, average traffic reached 468 Gigabit per second (Gbps) as of November 2005.

For comparison, Telegeography estimates that as of mid-2005, the combined average traffic on all cross-border internet backbone routes stood at just under 1 Terabit per second (Tbps).

This means that MIC is estimating that Japan's domestic average traffic represents almost half of all average international internet traffic.

Monday, May 01, 2006 10:50:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A new wave of spam could be on the way that tricks recipients by looking like it’s a message sent from their friends' e-mail address. This sort of spam would bypass even those filters that currently weed out 99% of the bad stuff, says John Aycock, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Calgary.

Aycock and student Nathan Friess conducted research and wrote a paper dubbed "Spam Zombies from Outer Space" to show that generating such customized spam -- such as in the form of e-mail replies -- would not be too difficult, as has been assumed in the past. Spammers have leaned toward bulk e-mail generation that is less customized.

More information can be found here.

Monday, May 01, 2006 10:08:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, April 28, 2006

Juries began deliberating at the International Competition for CyberArts 2006 (Prix Ars Electronica) in Linz, Austria this morning. Over 4'300 projects from around the world are being considered.

Since 1987, the Prix Ars Electronica has served as an interdisciplinary platform for everyone who uses ICTs as a universal medium for implementing and designing their creative projects at the interface of art, technology and society. The Prix Ars Electronica is one of the most important awards for creativity and pioneering spirit in the field of digital media.

The event calls for entries in 7 categories, including a youth competition and a grant for young creative talent:

  • Computer Animation / Visual Effects

  • Digital Music

  • Interactive Art

  • Net Vision

  • Digital Communities

  • u19 – freestyle computing

  • [the next idea] Art and Technology Grant

ITU's Lara Srivastava is Jury Member for the "Digital Communities" category, which focuses on the promotion of the social use of ICTs and the creation of common public goods, the sharing of knowledge, and the narrowing of the digital divide. This category was introduced to the Prix in 2004 by Jury Member Andreas Hirsch and Howard Rheingold. The other Jury members are: Steven Clift (Chairman, e-democracy.org) and Peter Kuthan (Founder, Tonga Online).

The Net Vision Jury includes Marko Ahtisaari (Director of Design Strategy at Nokia) and the Digital Music Jury includes Rob Young (Editor-at-large, The Wire Magazine).

The Computer Animation Jury includes such names as Mark Dippé (Director of Spawn and Visual Effects Supervisor for Jurassic Park, The Abyss, and Terminator 2), Rick Sayre (Visual Effects Supervisor for Pixar's Toy Story, A Bug's Life and The Incredibles), and Shuzo Shiota (President and CEO of Polygon Pictures).

Results from all categories will be released during the third week in May. Awards will be handed out at the Ars Electronica Festival in September 2006. Check this blog for further news!

 

Friday, April 28, 2006 12:24:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In a press release, the European Commission has indicated its views on follow-up to the international policy commitments made at WSIS:

To keep up the momentum of the successful World Summit on Information Society (Tunis, 16-18 November 2005), the European Commission has set out today its priorities for implementing the international policy commitments made at the Summit. These priorities include safeguarding and strengthening human rights, in particular the freedom to receive and access information. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) should be used to contribute to open democratic societies and to economic and social progress worldwide. The Commission calls for continuing international talks to improve Internet governance through the two new processes created by the Summit: the multi-stakeholder Internet Governance Forum and the mechanism of enhanced cooperation that will involve all governments on an equal footing.

The EC has also issued a FAQ on Internet Governance.

Friday, April 28, 2006 11:01:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, April 27, 2006

Via Schneier on Security comes news of a Kaspersky Labs report on extortion scams using malware:

We've reported more than once on cases where remote malicious users have moved away from the stealth use of infected computers (stealing data from them, using them as part of zombie networks etc) to direct blackmail, demanding payment from victims. At the moment, this method is used in two main ways: encrypting user data and corrupting system information.

Users quickly understand that something has happened to their data. They are then told that they should send a specific sum to an e-payment account maintained by the remote malicious user, whether it be EGold, Webmoney or whatever. The ransom demanded varies significantly depending on the amount of money available to the victim. We know of cases where the malicious users have demanded $50, and of cases where they have demanded more than $2,000. The first such blackmail case was in 1989, and now this method is again gaining in popularity.

In 2005, the most striking examples of this type of cybercrime were carried out using the Trojans GpCode and Krotten. The first of these encrypts user data; the second restricts itself to making a number of modifications to the victim machine's system registry, causing it to cease functioning.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 9:04:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, April 24, 2006

The OECD has released its end-2005 broadband statistics for 30 OECD member countries. According to the OECD, main highlights from the second half of 2005 are:

  • In December 2005, four countries (Iceland, Korea, the Netherlands and Denmark) led the OECD in broadband penetration, each with more than 25 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
  • Iceland now leads the OECD with a broadband penetration rate of 26.7 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
  • Korea’s broadband market is advancing to the next stage of development where existing subscribers switch platforms for increased bandwidth. In Korea, fibre-based broadband connections grew 52.4% during 2005. This switchover effect is evident by the net loss of DSL (-3.3%) and cable (-1.7%) subscribers during the year.
  • The strongest per-capita subscriber growth came from Iceland, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Australia. Each country added more than 6 subscribers per 100 inhabitants during 2005.
  • Japan leads the OECD in fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) with 4.6 million fibre subscribers at the end of 2005. Fibre subscribers alone in Japan outnumber total broadband subscribers in 21 of the 30 OECD countries.
  • DSL is still the leading platform in 28 OECD countries. Cable subscribers outnumber DSL in Canada and the United States.
  • The United States has the largest total number of broadband subscribers in the OECD at 49 million. US broadband subscribers represent 31% of all broadband connections in the OECD.
  • Canada leads the G7 group of industrialized countries in broadband penetration
  • The breakdown of broadband technologies in December 2005 is as follows:
         o DSL: 62%
         o Cable modem: 31%
         o Other technologies (e.g. satellite, fibre and fixed wireless) : 7%
Monday, April 24, 2006 10:31:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Looking back, 2005 saw a rise in profit-driven attacks. These were reflected by phishing, which now represents as much as one percent of the global e-mail traffic and is far more effective than spamming.

Viruses, worms, and malicious software are becoming part and parcel of information and communications technology. According to Trend Micro's report, called Virus and Spam Roundup 2005 and Predictions for 2006, this year will see more spy phishing and spear phishing on the Internet.

More information can be found here.

Monday, April 24, 2006 5:08:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Though the United States is making progress in the war on unsolicited commercial e-mail, or spam, it still generates more than any other nation in the world, according to recent statistics from Sophos, a provider of anti-malware solutions.

Sophos ranked spam outputs of the top 12 countries and top six continents based on messages it received in its “global network of spam traps” between January and March, according to the group’s release.

More information can be found here.

Monday, April 24, 2006 5:01:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Brough's Communications points to Yale's Yochai Benkler's Coase’s Penguin, or, Linux and The Nature of the Firm whichs suggests that the open source development phenomenon has much deeper significance.

For decades our understanding of economic production has been that individuals order their productive activities in one of two ways: either as employees in firms, following the directions of managers, or as individuals in markets, following price signals. This dichotomy was first identified in the early work of Nobel laureate Ronald Coase, and was developed most explicitly in the work of neo-institutional economist Oliver Williamson. In the past three or four years, public attention has focused on a fifteen-year-old social-economic phenomenon in the software development world. This phenomenon, called free software or open source software, involves thousands or even tens of thousands of programmers contributing to large and small scale project, where the central organizing principle is that the software remains free of most constraints on copying and use common to proprietary materials. No one "owns" the software in the traditional sense of being able to command how it is used or developed, or to control its disposition. The result is the emergence of a vibrant, innovative and productive collaboration, whose participants are not organized in firms and do not choose their projects in response to price signals.

In this paper I explain that while free software is highly visible, it is in fact only one example of a much broader social-economic phenomenon. I suggest that we are seeing is the broad and deep emergence of a new, third mode of production in the digitally networked environment. I call this mode "commons-based peer-production," to distinguish it from the property- and contract-based models of firms and markets. Its central characteristic is that groups of individuals successfully collaborate on large-scale projects following a diverse cluster of motivational drives and social signals, rather than either market prices or managerial commands.

The paper also explains why this mode has systematic advantages over markets and managerial hierarchies when the object of production is information or culture, and where the capital investment necessary for production-computers and communications capabilities-is widely distributed instead of concentrated. In particular, this mode of production is better than firms and markets for two reasons. First, it is better at identifying and assigning human capital to information and cultural production processes. In this regard, peer-production has an advantage in what I call "information opportunity cost." That is, it loses less information about who the best person for a given job might be than do either of the other two organizational modes. Second, there are substantial increasing returns to allow very larger clusters of potential contributors to interact with very large clusters of information resources in search of new projects and collaboration enterprises. Removing property and contract as the organizing principles of collaboration substantially reduces transaction costs involved in allowing these large clusters of potential contributors to review and select which resources to work on, for which projects, and with which collaborators. This results in allocation gains, that increase more than proportionately with the increase in the number of individuals and resources that are part of the system. The article concludes with an overview of how these models use a variety of technological and social strategies to overcome the collective action problems usually solved in managerial and market-based systems by property and contract.

Monday, April 24, 2006 12:13:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, April 21, 2006

The National Communications Authority of Hungary (NCAH) started last summer the elaboration of a regulatory strategy for the period 2006 to 2010. In this process a detailed breakdown is given of the means by which NCAH intends to promote the development of electronic communications markets which play an increasingly important role in the Hungarian economy contributing to the creation of the information society and consequent improvement of the country’s competitiveness.

The concept is available here.

Friday, April 21, 2006 1:50:42 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Telecommunications Policy Review Panel was established by the Minister of Industry on April 11, 2005, to conduct a review of Canada's telecommunications framework. The Panel was asked in particular to recommend on:

1. how to implement an efficient, fair, functional and forward-looking regulatory framework that serves Canadian consumers and businesses, and that can adapt to a changing technological landscape,
2. mechanisms to ensure that all Canadians continue to have an appropriate level of access to modern telecommunications services,
3. measures to promote the development, adoption and expanded use of advanced telecommunications services across the economy.

The Panel's reviewed Canada's telecommunications policy and regulatory framework and made recommendations on how to make it a model of 21st century regulation.

The Final Report of the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel 2006 is available here.

Friday, April 21, 2006 1:33:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

On 6 April 2006 Quallo Center held 2006 Quello Communication Law and Policy Symposium.

For programme of the event and presentations please click here.

Friday, April 21, 2006 1:13:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) joined 29 other countries in calling for increased cooperation between nations in combating spam. The FTC signed off on a set of anti-spam recommendations by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a coalition of 30 countries organized to promote economic growth and trade.

More information about OECD activities on  countering spam can be found here.

Please clik here to read the article.

Thursday, April 20, 2006 4:50:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The third edition of the International Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (CIIP) Handbook focuses on key aspects of CIIP related to security policy.

The CIIP Handbook is the product of a joint effort within the Comprehensive Risk Analysis and Management Network (CRN) partner network. The CRN is run by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and is a member of the Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS).

"The first (2002) edition of the CIIP Handbook contained an inventory of protection policies in eight countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States) and their methods employed for CII assessment. The second edition (2004) included an update of existing surveys and covered six additional countries (Austria, Finland, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and New Zealand) as well as international protection efforts."

"The latest version continues the tradition of the past two editions, while its scope has been extended: not only has the country survey section been further expanded with a specific focus on Asia by including India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Russia, but it is also accompanied by a second volume with in-depth analysis of key issues related to CIIP."

Please click here to read more about the 2006 CIIP Handbook.

Volume 1 of the 2006 CIIP Handbook can be downloaded here.
Volume 2 of the 2006 CIIP Handbook can be downloaded here

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 10:30:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The United States National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), a Cabinet-level Council that coordinates science and technology policies across the Federal Government, on April 17th, 2006, released the Federal Plan for Cyber Security and Information Assurance Research and Development.

"This report sets out a framework for multi-agency coordination of Federal R&D investments in technologies that can better secure the interconnected computing systems, networks, and information that together make up the U.S. information technology (IT) infrastructure."

"This country’s IT infrastructure – which includes not only the public Internet but also the networking and IT systems that control critical infrastructures ranging from power grids to emergency communications systems – is vital not only to our national and homeland security but to our economic security," said John H. Marburger III, Science Adviser to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). "This report provides a blueprint for coordination of Federal R&D across agencies that will maximize the impact of investments in this key area of the national interest."

The Plan was prepared by the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Cyber Security and Information Assurance (CSIA), whose members represent more than 20 government organizations. The CSIA IWG operates under the auspices of the NSTC’s Subcommittee on Infrastructure and Subcommittee on Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD).

The Federal Plan for Cyber Security and Information Assurance Research and Development is available through the NITRD Program Web site.

Please see the recent Press Release and the Federal Plan for further details on these activities.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 9:44:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, April 18, 2006

ITU's Strategy and Policy Unit has just released a new issue of SPU Flash.

The electronic version of the flash is available here

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 3:51:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ITU has released the Results of its 2006-2007 Questionnaire on Future Topics  for workshops under the ITU New Initiatives Programme.

The top three winners are as follows:

1. Pushing the Boundaries - Wireless Networking

2. The Future of Voice

3. Privacy and Data Protection in Telecommunications

More information about the ITU New Initiatives Programme can be found here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 3:03:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, April 11, 2006

ITU will take the lead in international standardization for IPTV with the announcement that it is to form a Focus Group on IPTV (IPTV FG).

The announcement, while acknowledging that standards work is ongoing in many different places, including ITU, is a reaction to an industry call for ITU to push forward and coordinate global standardization effort in the field.

IPTV is a system where a digital television service is delivered to consumers using the Internet protocol over a broadband connection. It will help pave the way for players, many of whom are already moving to IP-based NGN infrastructure, to offer a triple-play of video, voice and data.

Standards are necessary in order to give service providers, whether traditional broadcasters, ISPs or telecoms service providers, control over their platforms and their offerings. Standards here will encourage innovation, help mask the complexity of services, guarantee QoS, ensure interoperability and ultimately help players remain competitive.

The mission of IPTV FG is to coordinate and promote the development of global IPTV standards taking into account the existing work of the ITU study groups as well as SDOs, fora and consortia. The group was launched following a decision taken at a public consultation meeting attended by around 120 experts from the world’s ICT companies. Attendees agreed that all players in the IPTV value chain will benefit from worldwide standards, that there is a lot of work to be done and that rapid progress is necessary in order to avoid market fragmentation. The Focus Group mechanism was seen as the most effective way of addressing this. Inputs to the meeting as well as a webcast can be found here.

Houlin Zhao, Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau of ITU: "We have seen a desire to expedite and accelerate a global focus on standards for IPTV. There has been extraordinary consensus that ITU must lead this work and I am pleased that – again - ITU is seen as the right place to develop and harmonize this international standardization work, as well as identify and help fill gaps where there is still a standardization need." The FG will build upon existing work. Its scope will include architecture and requirements, QoS, security, network and control aspects, end system aspects – terminals etc., interoperability, middleware and application platforms.

Please see the ITU-T IPTV website for more information on the focus group.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006 8:59:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, April 03, 2006

China’s Ministry of Information Industry has adopted the Measures for the Administration of Internet E-mails. The regulations, which took effect from 30 March 2006, are designed to apply to email service providers and apply to any person operating an email service for Internet users in Mainland China.

The regulations are as follows:

  • A provider is defined as any person in the service supply chain involved in delivering or helping users to receive email;
  • Service providers must register with the government and obtain a license before providing email services;
  • Violators face warnings or penalties of up to 30,000 yuan (approx. $3,700 US) and risk losing their license;
  • Firms are barred from sending unsolicited commercial messages without prior consent from recipients;
  • All commercial email must have a subject header of “AD” or the Chinese character for advertisement;
  • The rules only apply to email containing commercial advertisements;
  • The rules state that providers must stop delivery of any messages containing commercial advertisements even if a recipient first consents, but later changes his or her mind.

A copy of the rules (in Chinese) can be found here.

 

Monday, April 03, 2006 5:45:41 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The IEEE 802.11 Working Group has passed a major milestone in the development of IEEE 802.11s(TM), "Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications: Extended Service Set Mesh Networking", by voting to confirm a single proposal as the initial basis for the IEEE 802.11s standard. Many additional steps, which will include technical changes, are necessary before this standard becomes final; but this vote sets the baseline from which the group will work. Once completed, IEEE 802.11s will provide an interoperable and secure wireless distribution system between IEEE 802.11(TM) mesh points. This can reduce backhaul and installation costs. It also will extend mobility to access points in IEEE wireless local area networks (WLANs), enabling a new class of IEEE 802.11 applications that require untethered infrastructure.

See the IEEE website for more details with regards to this development related to wireless mesh networks (Wikipedia).

Monday, April 03, 2006 8:12:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, March 31, 2006

The Federal Trade Commission and members of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) are meeting in Jeju, Korea, on March 26-28, to discuss the progress of international efforts to combat cross-border fraud and explore new international initiatives to protect consumers around the world.

The FTC’s participation in ICPEN is one part of the agency’s ongoing effort to combat a rising number of cross-border fraud complaints from American consumers. ICPEN members discussed the results of a recent Internet surf for Web sites that are “hidden traps online.”

Over 30 countries participated in the international surf. In the United States, the focus was on Web sites with fraudulent claims advertising “miracle cures” for diabetes, with the FTC, FDA, and several states Attorneys General offices participating.

The FTC and its partners reviewed over 1,000 Web sites and identified over 150 with potentially misleading diabetes claims. The FTC will follow-up, sending warning letters to Web sites that appear to have deceptive or false claims.

More information can be found here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 11:29:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, March 30, 2006

"The European Commission launched a new website which aims to help consumers get a better deal when using their mobile phones abroad. For this purpose, the website makes public roaming tariffs from the operators in all 25 EU Member States. The launch of this site was signalled in July when Commissioner Viviane Reding highlighted the high cost of using mobile phones abroad and the need to ensure greater transparency of these charges. By means of tables of sample tariffs and direct links to EU mobile operators, the website intends to give EU consumers a concrete idea of the level of tariffs they are likely to face when going on holiday as well as guidance and tips on how to manage their international roaming bills. Since the announcement of the website before this summer, there are signs that competition is starting to develop, in particular with some operators offering special holiday and other tariff packages."

More information can be found here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 9:19:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Owing the dangers of cybercrime and the need for common minimum technical and legal standards to fight such crime at a global level, the Convention on cybercrime (ETS N° 185) was prepared by Council of Europe member States and Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United States. It entered with force on 1 July 2004. Its Additional Protocol concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems (ETS N° 189) entered into force on 1 March 2006.

The Convention is the only binding international instrument dealing with cybercrime. It has received widespread international support and is open to all States.

The Convention provides for consultations of the Parties (the Convention Committee on Cybercrime (T-CY)). The first meeting of the consultation of the parties took place in Strasbourg, France from 21-22 March 2006. Documents and materials from the meeting are available on the T-CY website.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 4:50:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |