Europe Code Week 2015: Cocktails At Microsoft, 'Ode To Code' Robot Dancing 15

theodp writes: In case your invite to next week's Europe Code Week 2015 kickoff celebration at the Microsoft Centre in Brussels was lost in the e-mail, you can apparently still invite yourself. "Let's meet to celebrate coding as an empowering competence, key for maintaining our society vibrant and securing the prosperity of our European digital economy," reads the invite at the Microsoft and Facebook-powered All you Need is Code website. And to "keep raising awareness of the importance of computational thinking beyond Code Week," EU Code Week is also running an Ode to Code Video Contest, asking people to make short YouTube videos showing how the event's Ode to Code soundtrack causes uncontrollable robot dancing (video) and flash mobs (video). Things sure have changed since thirty years ago, when schoolchildren were provided with materials like The BASIC Book to foster computational thinking!

EU Court of Justice Declares US-EU Data Transfer Pact Invalid 203

Sique writes: Europe's highest court ruled on Tuesday that a widely used international agreement for moving people's digital data between the European Union and the United States was invalid. The decision, by the European Court of Justice, throws into doubt how global technology giants like Facebook and Google can collect, manage and analyze online information from their millions of users in the 28-member bloc. The court decreed that the data-transfer agreement was invalid as of Tuesday's ruling. New submitter nava68 adds links to coverage at the Telegraph; also at TechWeek Europe. From TechWeek Europe's article: The ruling was the court’s final decision in a data-protection case brought by 27-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems against the Irish data protection commissioner. That case, in turn, was spurred by Schrems’ concerns over the collection of his personal data by Facebook, whose European headquarters is in Ireland, and the possibility that the data was being handed over to US intelligence services.

Majority of EU Nations Seek Opt-Out From Growing GM Crops 330

schwit1 writes: Nineteen EU member states have requested opt-outs for all or part of their territory from cultivation of a Monsanto genetically-modified crop, which is authorized to be grown in the European Union, the European Commission said on Sunday. Under a law signed in March, individual countries can seek exclusion from any approval request for genetically modified cultivation across the 28-nation EU. The law was introduced to end years of stalemate as genetically modified crops divide opinion in Europe. The requests are for opt-outs from the approval of Monsanto's GM maize MON 810, the only crop commercially cultivated in the European Union, or for pending applications, of which there are eight so far, the Commission said.

EU Probes TVs Over Energy Test Scores 93

joesreviewss writes: The European Commission says it will follow up on evidence that Samsung and another TV-maker use software that alters their screens' power use during tests. The BBC reports: "One study indicates that some Samsung TVs nearly halve their power consumption when a standardised test is carried out. Another accuses a different unnamed manufacturer of adjusting the brightness of its sets when they "recognise" the test film involved. Samsung has denied any wrongdoing. It acknowledged that it used software that altered its televisions' performance during tests, but said this was the effect of a general energy efficiency feature that came into effect during normal use and had nothing to do with the testing process."

San Francisco Still Among Most Dangerous For Pedestrians 278

dkatana writes: The city of San Francisco averages 200 injuries per year and 30 deaths. This is almost double the number of Barcelona, Catalonia, which has about the same population. The city started a Vision Zero program, aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminate pedestrian deaths by 2024. But after a year-long Vision Zero education push called Safe Streets SF, whose key message is that pedestrians always have the right of way, the results have been modest. Now a series of banners on light poles in the South of Market neighborhood with the message: 'Slow down! We live here!' are trying to convince drivers to respect people on foot.

Europe Agrees To Agree With Everyone Except US What 5G Should Be 164

itwbennett writes: Following agreements signed by the EU with South Korea in June 2014 and with Japan in May 2015, the EU and China "have agreed to agree by the end of the year on a working definition for 5G," reports Peter Sayer. "About the only point of agreement so far is that 5G is what we'll all be building or buying after 4G, so any consensus between the EU and China could be significant," says Sayer.
United Kingdom

Tardis Wars: The BBC Strikes Back 72

New submitter Elixon writes: Czech trademark monitoring service IP Defender reported that The British Broadcasting Corporation applied for a figurative trademark on the "POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX" for wide range of goods and services like cinematographic and photographic films, printed publications, key chains, textile goods, toys, telecommunications and more. The Metropolitan Police was defeated by the BBC in the past while trying to monopolize the London police box; now it's the BBC's turn.
United States

Car Industry "Buried Report Showing US Car Safety Flaws Over Fears For TTIP Deal" 181

schwit1 writes: The American auto industry has been accused of withholding a report that showed U.S. cars are substantially less safe than their European counterparts. It is alleged that releasing the study would hamper the drive to harmonize safety standards as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal. The research was commissioned by the car industry to show that EU and US safety standards were similar, but the research actually showed that American models are much less safe when it comes to front-side collisions. András Bálint, Traffic Safety Analyst at Chalmers, told the Independent: “The results of our study indicate that there is currently a risk difference with respect to the risk of injury given a crash between EU specification cars and US models. Therefore, based on these results, immediate recognition of US vehicles in the EU could potentially result in a greater number of fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. The potential impact is difficult to quantify because it depends on a number of other parameters.”
United States

EU May Forbid the Transfer of Personal Data To the US 202

An anonymous reader writes: As the Snowden revelations have shown, personal data stored in the United States of America is not protected from the US government, be it through warrantless eavesdropping or national security letters. In light of this, the general attorney for the Court of Justice of the European Union has just issued an opinion requiring the US to be removed from the list of "safe harbors", where the transfer of personal data of European citizens is permitted. If the court follows his opinion, the change will have deep impact in the operations of large transnational Internet companies, between a US government that wants to keep on spying, and European authorities that will punish them if they let it happen.
United Kingdom

Does IoT Data Need Special Regulation? 99

dkatana writes: As part of the UK's Smart Meter Implementation Programme, Spain's Telefonica is deploying a M2M solution, using its own proprietary network, to collect and transmit data from 53 million gas and electricity smart meters. The most troubling issue is that the UK government awarded the contract to a private telecom that uses a proprietary network rather than to an independent organization that uses freely available spectrum and open source solutions. Those Smart Meters are supposed to be in operation for more than three decades, and rely on a network that can cease to exist. On top of that, the network, running proprietary protocols, can be hacked, and "will be hacked". Only Telefonica will be able to fix it.

France Tells Google To Remove "Right To Be Forgotten" Search Results Worldwide 381

An anonymous reader writes: France's data protection authority rejected Google's appeal to limit how a European privacy ruling may be applied worldwide. Since the European Court ruling last year Google has handled close to 320,000 requests, but only de-lists the links on European versions of its sites. "Contrary to what Google has stated, this decision does not show any willingness on the part of the C.N.I.L. to apply French law extraterritorially," the agency said in a statement.

EU Court: Commuting to Customer Sites Counts as Work 241

Joe_Dragon writes with news that the European Court of Justice has issued a ruling (PDF) saying that workers who have to commute to see customers, but don't have a "fixed or habitual place of work," must have their transit time at the beginning and end of the day count as working time. In other words, driving to your normal office every day doesn't count toward your paycheck, but leaving home in the morning to go visit a client or customer at your employer's request does. This added commute time also counts toward weekly labor limits — EU regulations for working conditions prohibit employers from making their employees work more than 48 hours a week on average. The court said, Given that traveling is an integral part of being such a worker, the place of work of that worker cannot be reduced to the physical areas of his work on the premises of the employer’s customers. The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

EU Parliament Votes To Ban Cloning of Farm Animals 116

sciencehabit writes: The European Parliament today voted to ban the cloning of all farm animals as well as the sale of cloned livestock, their offspring, and products derived from them. The measure, which passed by a large margin, goes beyond a directive proposed by the European Commission in 2013, which would have implemented a provisional ban on the cloning of just five species: cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and horses. The supporters of the ban cited animal welfare concerns, claiming that only a small percentage of cloned offspring survive to term, and many die shortly after birth. The ban does not cover cloning for research purposes, nor does it prevent efforts to clone endangered species.

Copenhagen's New All-Electric Public Carsharing Programming 84

dkatana writes: Residents in Copenhagen have a new all-electric, free-floating, carsharing service. DriveNow is launching 400 brand new BMW i3 electric cars in the Danish city. The service is one-way, and metered by the minute. The big news is that residents can sign-up on the spot taking a picture of their drivers' license and a selfie and use their public transport accounts to pay. There will be a car available every 300 meters, the same distance as bus stops. The cost will be 3.50 kroner ($0.52) per minute driven. If members decide to park the car for a few minutes continuing the rental, those stationary minutes are charged at 2.5 kroner ($0.37). The maximum charge per hour is capped at 190 kroner ($28.50). There is no annual fee.

Cities Wasting Millions of Taxpayer's Money In Failed IoT Pilots 149

dkatana writes: Two years ago at the Smart Cities Expo World Congress, Antoni Vives, then Barcelona's second deputy mayor, said he refused to have more technology pilots in the city: "I hate pilots, if anyone of you [technology companies] comes to me selling a pilot, just get away, I don't want to see you." He added, "I am fed up with the streets full of devices. It is a waste of time, a waste of money, and doesn't deliver anything; it is just for the sake of selling something to the press and it does not work."

Barcelona is already a leading city in the use of IoT and, according to Fortune, "The most wired city in the world". Over the past 10 years, the city has experienced a surge in the number of sensors, data collection devices and automation and has become "a showcase for the smart metropolis of the future". Over the past few years technology companies have sold pilot programs costing millions of dollars to cities all over the world, claiming it will enhance their "Smart City" rating. Unfortunately, after the initial buzz, many of those pilots never get beyond the evaluation stage and are abandoned because the cities cannot afford them in the first place.

Google Facing Fine of Up To $1.4 Billion In India Over Rigged Search Results 152

An anonymous reader writes: The Competition Commission of India has opened an investigation into Google to decide whether the company unfairly prioritized search results to its own services. Google could face a fine of up to $1.4 billion — 10% of its net income in 2014. A number of other internet companies, including Facebook and FlipKart, responded to queries from the CCI by confirming that Google does this. "The CCI's report accuses Google of displaying its own content and services more prominently in search results than other sources that have higher hit rates. It also states that sponsored links shown in search results are dependent on the amount of advertising funds Google receives from its clients. Ecommerce portal Flipkart noted that it found search results to have a direct correlation with the amount of money it spent on advertising with Google." The company has faced similar antitrust concerns in the EU and the U.S
Open Source

Croatian Party Advocates Government Adoption of Open Source 29

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, Croatian political party Sustainable Development of Croatia (ORaH) published a new policy that encourages the government to pursue open source solutions, addresses the dangers of vendor lock-in, and insists on open document standards. Best of all, they did it the open source way. In this article on, Croatian startup founder Josip Almasi highlights some of the policy's implications, as well as why it could matter in the upcoming election.

More Cities Use DNA To Catch Dog Owners Who Don't Pick Up Waste 177

dkatana writes: For many cities one of the biggest cleaning expenses is dealing with dog poop. While it is impossible to ask the birds to refrain from splattering the city, dogs have owners and those owners are responsible for disposing of their companion's waste. The few who shirk their duty create serious problems for the rest. Poop is not just a smelly inconvenience. It's unsanitary, extra work for cleaning crews, and in the words of one Spanish mayor, on a par with vandalism. Cities have tried everything from awareness campaigns with motorized poo videos, to publishing offenders names to mailing the waste back to the dog owner. In one case, after a 147 deliveries, dog waste incidents in the town dropped 70 percent. Those campaigns have had limited effect and after an initial decline in incidents, people go back to their old ways. Which has left many cities resorting to science and DNA identification of waste. Several European cities, including Naples and one borough in London, are building DNA registries of pets. Offending waste will then be tested and the cost of the analysis charged to the dog owner, along with a fine.