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Privacy

Facebook Told To Stop Taking Data From German WhatsApp Users (bloomberg.com) 38

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: Facebook, already under scrutiny in the U.S. and the European Union for revisions to privacy policies for its WhatsApp messaging service, was ordered by Hamburg's privacy watchdog to stop processing data of German users of the chat service. In a renewed clash with the social-network operator, Johannes Caspar, one of Germany's most outspoken data protection commissioners, ordered Facebook to delete any data it already has. The news comes as EU privacy regulators, who previously expressed concerns about the policy shift, meet in Brussels to discuss their position. There's no legal basis for Facebook to use information of WhatsApp customers, Caspar said Tuesday. "This order protects the data of about 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany," Caspar said. "It has to be their decision as to whether they want to connect their account with Facebook. Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened."
Businesses

London To Tech Startups: Please Don't Mind the Brexit Gap (cnet.com) 165

An anonymous reader writes: The UK faces a potential economic backlash from its decision to exit the European Union, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan doesn't think tech startups should be worried. Khan on Monday stopped in New York while on a goodwill tour that included visits to Montreal and Chicago. His mission: to win back the hearts of tech companies that may be turned off by Brexit. The breakup looks bleak for tech, with nearly nine out of 10 British tech leaders opposing Brexit before the June vote. And while the effects of Brexit haven't taken hold yet, Khan remains optimistic about London. The British metropolis remains Europe's hub for the technology sector, Khan said, citing a poll commissioned by London & Partners, the mayor's economic promotional company. "London's been open to people, to trade and to ideas for more than a thousand years, and that's not going to change," Khan said Monday at the Chelsea office of workspace company WeWork. The survey reached out to more than 200 US tech executives, who believe London is the best city in which to build a startup in Europe, beating out Berlin, Paris and Dublin. While Brexit means London soon won't have access to the EU's open market across the continent, US tech leaders still choose the city for its "favorable time zones and lack of language barriers," according to a statement from the mayor's office.
Sci-Fi

SciFi TV Series 'Space Patrol Orion' Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary (wikipedia.org) 73

In Germany the phrase "Fallback to Earth!" is about as cult as "Engage warp drive," reports Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino: One of the oldest science fiction TV serials, the famous German "Raumpatrouille Orion" (Space Patrol Orion) turned 50 today. Heise.de has a scoop on the anniversary in German [or roughly translated into English by Google]. The production of Space Patrol Orion predates Star Trek by roughly a year and was a huge hit in Germany, gaining the status of a "street sweeper" (Strabenfeger), referring to the effect it's airing had on public life.
The special effects are pretty good for 1966 -- you can watch episode one on YouTube. (And feel free to share other related videos in the comments.) "In the series, nations no longer exist and Earth is united," according to Wikipedia, which reports that Commander Cliff McLane and his loyal crew fight an alien race called the Frogs, and "He is notoriously defiant towards his superiors."
Businesses

Apple Japan Unit Ordered To Pay $118M Tax For Underreporting Income (reuters.com) 45

Apple's unit in Japan was ordered to pay 12 billion yen, or $118 million tax by local authorities after they determined it had underreported income. Apple has since reportedly paid the sum. From a Reuters report: The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined that the unit, which sends part of its profits earned from fees paid by Japan subscribers to another Apple unit in Ireland to pay for software licensing, had not been paying a withholding tax on those earnings in Japan, according to broadcaster NHK. Apple and other multinational companies have come under much tax scrutiny from governments around the world. The European Union has ordered Apple to pay Ireland 13 billion euros ($14.6 billion) in back taxes after ruling it had received illegal state aid. Apple and Dublin plan to appeal the ruling, arguing the tax treatment was in line with EU law.
EU

EU Commission Proposes Mandatory Piracy Filters For Online Services (torrentfreak.com) 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: During his State of the Union address today, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced several plans (PDF) to modernize copyright law in Europe. One of the suggestions that has a lot of people worried is Article 13, which requires online services to police pirated content. This means that online services, which deal with large volumes of user-uploaded content, must use fingerprinting and filtering mechanisms to block copyright infringing files. While the Commission stresses that small content platforms won't be subject to the requirement, the proposal doesn't define what "small" means. It also fails to define what "appropriate" or "effective" content recognition systems are, creating a fair bit of uncertainty. Commenting on the proposal, Digital rights group EDRi says that it will put many European companies at risk while endangering users' right to free speech. "The text that was launched today includes a proposal to potentially filter all uploads to the Internet in Europe. The draft text would destroy users' rights and legal certainty for European hosting companies," EDRi notes. The Commission, however, notes that the changes are needed to reinforce the negotiating position of copyright holders, so they can sign licensing agreements with services that provide access to user uploaded content.
EU

10 Years in Prison For Online Pirates a Step Closer in the UK (torrentfreak.com) 136

The UK Government's Digital Economy Bill has moved a step closer to becoming law after its second reading in Parliament. With unanimous support, the current two-year maximum custodial sentence for online piracy is almost certain to increase to a decade, TorrentFreak reports. From the article: Due to UK copyright law allowing for custodial sentences of 'just' two years for online offenses, anti-piracy groups such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft have chosen to pursue their own private prosecutions. These have largely taken place under legislation designed for those who have committed fraud, rather than the more appropriate offense of copyright infringement. Physical pirates (CDs, DVDs) can be jailed for up to 10 years under current legislation. During the past few years, there have been lobbying efforts for this punishment to apply both on and offline. That resulted in a UK Government announcement last year indicating that it would move to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement to ten years. They also urge Google to do something about growing incidents of piracy.
EU

New EU Rules Promise 100Mbps Broadband and Free Wi-Fi For All (arstechnica.com) 180

An anonymous reader writes: The European Commission has promised free Wi-Fi in every town, village, and city in the European Union, in the next four years. A new grant, with a total budget of 120 million euro, will allow public authorities to purchase state-of-the art equipment, for example a local wireless access point. If approved by the the European Parliament and national ministers the cash could be available before the end of next year. The commission has also set a target for all European households to have access to download speeds of at least 100Mbps by 2025, and has redefined Internet access as a so-called universal service, while removing obligations for old universal services such as payphones. It also envisions fully deploying 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made reference to many of these proposals while also promising to abolish roaming once and for all in his "State of the European Union" address on Wednesday morning.
EU

EU Court Blocks Brazilian Company From Trademarking Sound Of a Ringing Phone (arstechnica.co.uk) 111

The standard ringing from an alarm clock or a telephone is too boring and banal to be registered as a trademark within the EU, a top court has ruled. The judgment was handed down by the EU General Court (EGC), blocking a Brazilian company that had tried to claim ownership of the sound, Ars Technica reports. From its story: In 2014, the Brazilian mass media company Grupo Globo applied to register the globally familiar "ring-ring" sound "for the dissemination of information electronically, orally, or by means of television" -- guarding its use on all electronic devices and in media representations. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) at the time refused to register the jingle on the grounds that it had "no distinctive character," and that it was "a banal and commonplace ringtone which would generally go unnoticed and would not be remembered by the consumer." Globo -- the biggest media company in Latin America -- appealed EUIPO's decision at the EU General Court, which has today ruled that the sound is indeed too boring to register.
Businesses

'Paying Taxes Is a Lot Better Than Phony Corporate Courage, Apple' (theintercept.com) 579

theodp writes: Every fall," writes The Intercept's Sam Biddle, "internet and its resident tech mumblers congregate for The Apple Event, a quasi-pagan streaming-video rite in which Tim Cook boasts of just how much money his company is making (a lot) and just how much good it's introducing to the world (this typically involves a new iPhone). This is merely annoying most years; but in 2016, when Apple is loudly, publicly denying its tax obligations around the world, it's just gross." Biddle finds Apple's use of the word 'courage' to describe the corporate ethos that pushed the company to remove the headphone plug from the newest iPhone while offering a new pair of $160 jack-free earbuds particularly irksome: "Removing a headphone jack or adding 20 headphone jacks does not require courage; engineers are very smart, but their job does not typically require much bravery. Courage is more often found in, say, running into a burning school to rescue the students and class rodent. Or, maybe, you could call courageous the act of paying the many billions you owe around the world into the system that ensures those students have all of the resources they need in order to learn and grow. Just a hint: Collaborative spreadsheet software doesn't count [introducing new real-time collaboration features, Cook called iWork a "very important tool in education"].
EU

EU Finance Ministers Line Up Behind $21B Tax Ruling Against Apple (herald-dispatch.com) 302

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Associated Press: Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem urged Apple Saturday to "get ready" to pay up, as he and counterparts from other EU nations lined up behind a finding that the technology giant owes billions of euros due to more than a decade of improperly low taxation. Apple's bill could reach 19 billion euros ($21 billion) with interest, and both the company and Ireland, Apple's European headquarters are appealing the European Commission ruling. But on the last day of an EU finance ministers' meeting focused on ways to harmonize tax rules for international companies, Dijsselbloem told reporters that these "have an obligation to pay taxes in a fair way."

"International tax loopholes are a thing of the past," he said. Apple will have to pay back taxes both in the United States and Europe, he added, "so get ready to do that." Philip Hammond, his British counterpart, said the EU was keen "to make sure that international corporations pay the right tax at the right place. That's the fair way to do it, and we are going to make sure it happens."

Austria, France, and Italy are reportedly also watching the case closely.
EU

Linking Without Permission Violates Copyright, Rules EU Court (reuters.com) 282

BarbaraHudson writes: Reuters is reporting that Playboy has won a lawsuit against a Netherlands news site for linking to photos without permission: "'It is undisputed that GS Media (which owns GreenStijl) provided the hyperlinks to the files containing the photos for profit and that Sanoma had not authorized the publication of those photos on the internet,' the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said in a statement. 'When hyperlinks are posted for profit, it may be expected that the person who posted such a link should carry out the checks necessary to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published.' The European Commission, the EU executive, is set next week to propose tougher rules on publishing copyrighted content, including a new exclusive right for news publishers to ask search engines like Google to pay to show snippets of their articles." Neil_Brown adds: The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled today on whether posting, on a website, hyperlinks to copyright infringing works constitutes a "communication to the public" for the purposes of EU copyright law, an act which requires permission of the rights holder or other authorizing basis. The court held that, if the links are provided "without the pursuit of financial gain by a person who did not know or could not reasonably have known the illegal nature of the publication of those works on that other website," the act of posting the hyperlink is not an infringement of copyright. However, if the links are providing in the pursuit of financial gain, the poster of such links is deemed to have known that they were infringing copyright, unless they can prove otherwise. The court has stated that those sites operating "for profit" are expected to have carried out the (impossible?) "necessary checks to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published on the website to which those hyperlinks lead." The court does not clarify what is meant by "the pursuit of financial gain." If previous decisions are followed, any sites which host ads (Papasavvas), or perhaps even just accrue value to a brand (if the Advocate General's opinion in McFadden is followed), might be treated as operating for financial gain.
EU

Japan Goes Public With Brexit Demands, Says Data Flow Deals Must Be Protected (arstechnica.com) 315

Kelly Fiveash, writing for ArsTechnica:UK Prime minister Theresa May said at the weekend that she wanted to take her time to secure the best trade deals for a post-Brexit Britain, and reiterated -- in her trademark vague terms -- that the so-called Article 50 won't be triggered this year. But political pressure from governments as far away as Japan continues to mount. On Sunday, in a bold move, the Japanese government published a 15-page memo setting out a number of demands it wants the UK to adhere to, once it leaves the European Union. It underscored that Britain faces a torrid time of negotiations -- not just with member states in the EU, but further afield, too. Japan, which has close economic ties with the UK, listed its demands based on requests from businesses in the country. It said; "It is of great importance that the UK and the EU maintain market integrity and remain attractive destinations for businesses where free trade, unfettered investment, and smooth financial transactions are ensured." It's brutal stuff from Japan, and could well lead to other countries making similarly robust demands. On tech specifically, the Japanese government called on the UK and EU, post-Brexit, to maintain cloud agreements between businesses at an international level, by safeguarding the "free transfer of data."
EU

Finland Prepares Their First Tests Of A Universal Basic Income (futurism.com) 630

Finland is getting ready to launch their first pilot program with a Universal Basic Income -- one of several countries which are now testing the concept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from Futurism.com: Finland is about to launch an experiment in which a randomly selected group of 2,000-3,000 citizens already on unemployment benefits will begin to receive a monthly basic income of 560 euros (approximately $600). That basic income will replace their existing benefits. The amount is the same as the current guaranteed minimum level of Finnish social security support. The pilot study, running for two years in 2017-2018, aims to assess whether basic income can help reduce poverty, social exclusion, and bureaucracy, while increasing the employment rate.
In January a basic income program will also begin testing in the Netherlands, according to the article, which points out that Y Combinator has also launched a test program in Oakland, California. And there's now also calls for a Universal Basic Income in India, where one social worker argues it's "sound social policy," while pointing out that it's already being implemented in other countries. "In Brazil, it targets the poor and has been a way out of poverty; in Iran, it has substituted for subsidies and citizens receive about $500 a year..."
Earth

World Map Shows Countries Requiring Open Source Software (networkworld.com) 32

"Europe and South America are the biggest hotspots for open-source use in government," reports Network World, while Bulgaria requires all software written for the government to be FOSS. Slashdot reader alphadogg quotes their report: It's become increasingly common over the past decade or so to see laws being passed to either mandate the use of open-source software or, at the very least, encourage people in government who make procurement decisions to do so. Here's a map of the status of open-source laws around the world.
China

Climate Deal: US and China Join Paris Climate Accords (bbc.com) 163

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the BBC: The US and China -- together responsible for 40% of the world's carbon emissions -- have both formally joined the Paris global climate agreement... It will only come into force legally after it is ratified by at least 55 countries, which between them produce 55% of global carbon emissions. Before China made its announcement, the 23 nations that had so far ratified the agreement accounted for just over 1% of emissions. This will put pressure on G20 nations over the weekend to move faster with their pledge to phase out subsidies to fossil fuels...
There's a G20 summit starting on Sunday, and the BBC's environmental analyst reports that the accord "will just need the EU and a couple of other major polluters to cross the threshold." Its ultimate goal is to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius -- "well above the aspirational 1.5C heating that the UN accepts should really be the limit" -- though U.K. researchers report that already 2016 temperatures may be rising 1.1C above pre-industrial levels.
Businesses

Apple CEO Tim Cook on EU Apple Tax Case: 'Total Political Crap' (arstechnica.com) 410

Earlier this week, Apple was ordered to pay a record sum of 13 billion euros plus interest after the EU said Ireland illegally slashed the iPhone make's tax bill. At the time, Tim Cook found the accusations "baseless." In a new interview, he had more things to say:A war of words has erupted between Europe's competition chief and Apple CEO Tim Cook after Ireland was ordered to reclaim $14.5 billion in back taxes from the company. Cook, in an interview with the Irish Independent, labelled Brussels' competition chief Margrethe Vestager's decision as "total political crap." He claimed Ireland was being "picked on" and that he hoped to see the Irish government launch an appeal against the ruling. Vestager refuted that claim when quizzed by reporters on Thursday. "This is a decision based on the facts of the case. The figures that we used in our decision are the figures that we got from Apple themselves," she said. "There are very, very few figures in the public domain. More transparency would be a good thing, for example, a country by country reporting. If it was up to me, the non-confidential version of the decision would have been published yesterday, because that is another way of enabling everyone to see what we have decided and on what basis we have made this decision. Right now the ball is in the hands of Apple and Ireland."
EU

Europe's Net Neutrality Doesn't Ban BitTorrent Throttling (torrentfreak.com) 66

Millions of Europeans will have to do with throttling on BitTorrent. The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) published its guidelines for Europe's net neutrality rules on Tuesday in which it hasn't challenged the BitTorrent throttling practices by many ISPs. TorrentFreak reports:Today, BEREC presented its final guidelines on the implementation of Europe's net neutrality rules. Compared to earlier drafts it includes several positive changes for those who value net neutrality. For example, while zero-rating isn't banned outright, internet providers are not allowed to offer a "sub Internet" service, where access to only part of the Internet is offered for 'free.' However, not all traffic is necessarily "neutral." ISPs are still allowed to throttle specific categories for "reasonable" network management purposes.
EU

Apple Ordered To Pay Up To $14.5 Billion in EU Tax Crackdown, Cook Refutes EU's Conclusion (bloomberg.com) 564

Apple has been ordered to pay a record sum of 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) plus interest after the European Commission said Ireland illegally slashed the iPhone maker's tax bill, in a crackdown on fiscal loopholes that also risks inflaming tensions with the United States Treasury. According to the European Union regulator, Apple benefited from selective tax treatment that gave it an unfair advantage over other businesses. In the meanwhile, Apple has refuted such accusations, saying that EU's conclusion has "no basis in fact or law." EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, "If my effective tax rate would be 0.05 percent falling to 0.005 percent -- I would have felt that maybe I should have a second look at my tax bill." Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "Over the years, we received guidance from Irish tax authorities on how to comply correctly with Irish tax law -- the same kind of guidance available to any company doing business there. In Ireland and in every country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe."
EU

European Commission To Issue Apple An Irish Tax Bill of $1.1 Billion, Says Report (reuters.com) 212

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The European Commission will rule against Ireland's tax dealings with Apple on Tuesday, two source familiar with the decision told Reuters, one of whom said Dublin would be told to recoup over 1 billion euros in back taxes. The European Commission accused Ireland in 2014 of dodging international tax rules by letting Apple shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from tax collectors in return for maintaining jobs. Apple and Ireland rejected the accusation; both have said they will appeal any adverse ruling. The source said the Commission will recommend a figure in back taxes that it expects to be collected, but it will be up to Irish authorities to calculate exactly what is owed. A bill in excess of 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) would be far more than the 30 million euros each the European Commission previously ordered Dutch authorities to recover from U.S. coffee chain Starbucks and Luxembourg from Fiat Chrysler for their tax deals. When it opened the Apple investigation in 2014, the Commission told the Irish government that tax rulings it agreed in 1991 and 2007 with the iPhone maker amounted to state aid and might have broken EU laws. The Commission said the rulings were "reverse engineered" to ensure that Apple had a minimal Irish bill and that minutes of meetings between Apple representatives and Irish tax officials showed the company's tax treatment had been "motivated by employment considerations."

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