Entries with tag european commission.

EU Regulators Issue “Right to be Forgotten” Guidelines

EU data-protection regulators have drafted a set of criteria regarding the handling of right to be forgotten appeals, after a two-day meeting in Brussels. The EU’s Article 29 Working Party—consisting of a representative from each member state’s data-protection authority and one from the European Commission—is expected to finalize the guidelines by the end of November 2014. The right to be forgotten gives Europeans the ability to request that search engines eliminate old or nonessential information about them. With some exceptions, search engines must do so. The new guidelines address matters such as record-keeping and the appeal of decisions not to remove material. For example, each EU member state would have to appoint a contact person to make sure that appeals are handled consistently. The guidelines are designed to provide regulators with criteria they can use in decision-making, such as the public role of the person making the request, if the information regards a crime, and how old the information is. The Article 29 Working Party met with representatives from Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo before drafting the guidelines. The right to be forgotten has proven to be controversial since its implementation in May of this year. Proponents say it’s necessary to protect individuals’ privacy. Opponents say it will leave search results in Europe incomplete and different from those in the rest of the world, and cause too much work for search-engine operators. So far, Google has received 120,000 requests to remove information. (Reuters)(Bloomberg)

Google Reinstates Some “Forgotten” News Links

After a barrage of criticism was launched against Google for taking down links to news articles as part of its intent to comply with Europe’s “right to be forgotten” regulations, the search giant has begun restoring them. The European Commission regulation says that search-engine operators must remove outdated and irrelevant results that appear in EC member nations about people if they request such action, unless it is not in the public interest. Each time Google removed links to articles, it notified the publishers, many of whom complained. Some news outlets contend Google took such action just to demonstrate its displeasure with the European Commission ruling. “Notable that Google is interpreting the ‘right to be forgotten’ rules in the way most likely to upset journalists,” noted Financial Times columnist Robert Shrimsley. Google claims it has been inundated with about 70,000 “right to be forgotten” requests since the May 2014 ruling. “We are learning as we go,” Peter Barron, head of communications for Google in Europe, told the BBC. (SlashDot)(Quartz)(Tech Crunch)(BBC)


Google Decision to “Forget” BBC Article Draws Fire

Google is processing requests to comply with the European Commission’s (EC’s) “right to be forgotten” ruling, but its decision to remove a BBC blog post from search results is causing officials and journalists to question the company’s judgment. The ruling says that search-engine operators must remove outdated and irrelevant results that appear in EC member nations about people if they request such action, unless it is not in the public interest. To comply, Google removed a link to an October 2007 piece by BBC economics editor Robert Peston about CEO Stan O’Neal’s departure from financial-management firm Merrill Lynch. However, O’Neal reportedly did not request its removal, which was done in connection with a reader comment about the article. Peston has said he will appeal the removal. EC spokesperson Ryan Heath said there was no “reasonable public interest” for the removal. At least two senior EC officials have said the removal misinterprets the ruling, which isn’t supposed to apply to news articles. Google has had 250,000 requests to remove links under the law. “It may be that [Google] decided that it’s simply cheaper to just say yes to all of these requests,” Heath said. “That's going to spark its own debate and rightly so." (BBC)(CNN)(The Telegraph)

EU Slashes Mobile Roaming Fees in Half

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, has set new roaming fees just in time for the peak summer travel season. Charges for accessing the Internet via mobile devices while traveling across the 28-nation EU bloc will be capped, cutting fees by at least half, depending on how much data is accessed. For example, the price for a megabyte of data was lowered from 45 to 20 euro cents. The EC lowered the price of both phone calls and text messages by roughly 25 percent. EU officials want to completely eliminate roaming fees by 2016. Because of high roaming charges, the EC found in a study earlier this year, Europeans curtail their Web use while traveling on vacation. EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said, “Consumers are fed up with being ripped off.” (Associated Press)(BBC)

EC Announces Probe into Apple’s Tax Agreement with Ireland

The European Commission (EC) is investigating Apple for its tax practices in Ireland. The country reportedly has a complex tax deal with the company that allows Apple to avoid paying all of the taxes for which it would normally be responsible. Apple claims it has not received special treatment from Irish authorities. Company records show its effective tax rate on non-US income in 2013 was 3.7 percent. Ireland’s corporate taxes are typically 12.5 percent.  Apple negotiated a tax payment of less than 2 percent according to US Senate records. The average corporate tax rate in the nations where Apple does business was 24 percent in 2013. The Irish government has said it has not broken any rules. The EC is also investigating Starbucks and Fiat for their tax agreements with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. On the whole, this sort of corporate tax avoidance and evasion has cost the EU cost about 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) a year. Other investigations are pending, according to Bloomberg reports. The US Senate, in a 2013 investigation, accused Ireland of giving preferential tax treatment to Apple that enabled the company to avoid paying billions in taxes. (Reuters)(BBC)(Bloomberg)(The New York Times)

EU Commissioner: Internet Governance Should Be Global

The European Union is seeking an expanded role in Internet governance. The management and operations of the Internet must be reformed, said EU digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes upon proposing a new Internet governance policy. One of the keys is globalizing the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which assigns top-level Internet domains. In light of the recent release of information about widespread Internet surveillance by US government agencies, various world leaders have questioned whether the US is a worthy Internet steward. Instead, said Kroes, Internet governance must become more global, transparent, and inclusive. The EU says governance should not be ceded to the United Nations but instead should be handled by all stakeholders, including governments, companies, civil society, and others. (SlashDot)(Network World)(The Wall Street Journal)(EUROPA)

European Commission Still Unsatisfied with Google Anti-Trust Proposal

Google has failed to improve concessions to settle a European Union investigation regarding anti-competitive behavior. Without settling the charges, it faces formal charges and a fine of as much as $5 billion. Google has been under investigation for three years regarding complaints from competitors that it has blocked them in search results. Joaquin Almunia, commissioner for the EU, says Google has a short time in which to submit a satisfactory proposal as its revisions did not allay concerns including how it presented results in specialized or vertical searches. Google had offered several concessions  including allowing competitors to display their logos and making their web links more prominent to users and also decreased the bids for paid advertisements on search results. The European Commission hopes to close the case in spring 2014. (The New York Times @ The Boston Globe)(Reuters)

Samsung EU Antitrust Case Nears Settlement

Only minor changes are reportedly needed before an offer submitted by Samsung is approved by European regulators, resolving a pending antitrust claim against the company, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. If approved, the settlement would close the EU’s two-year investigation and might let Samsung avoid fines of up to $17.3 billion, or 10 percent of its 2012 revenues. The EU’s claim involves Samsung’s patent-related dispute with Apple. The EU accused Samsung of using court injunctions against Apple to thwart competition, thereby breaching European antitrust regulations. (Bloomberg Businessweek)(Slash Gear) 

EU May Be Nearing Antitrust Settlement with Google

The EU and Google may be nearing an agreement in the antitrust case brought against the search giant. EU commissioner for competition Joaquin Almunia said in a speech before the European parliament that a set of commitments that Google recently proposed could result in a legally binding settlement between the parties by the spring of 2014. Without a settlement, Google faces a fine of up to 10 percent of its global revenue, which is about $5 billion. The EU has accused Google of unfair business practices, specifically using its market position to continue dominating the European search market. For example, European officials say Google gives preference to search results involving its own products, such as Google Maps and YouTube. The commission is seeking to end unequal treatment of third-party search engines, as well as advertising restrictions it places on other companies. Google now proposes that its rivals’ results will be prominently displayed with their logo and explanatory text. The page position of competitors’ results within the returned Google search results will be selected via an auction system still under development, which would allow competitors to bit for placement in search results. Google currently has about 90 percent of the European Internet search market. (The Guardian)(Information Week)(European Commission)

EU Says Google Concessions Inadequate

The European Commission says Google’s proposed resolutions to an ongoing anti-trust investigation are insufficient and do not alleviate concerns about blocking competitors in web search results. Joaquin Almunia, the European Competition Commissioner stated at a Wednesday news conference that he has asked Google to submit improved concessions. The search giant, which has roughly an 80 percent share of the search market in Europe, originally submitted proposed concessions to the European Commission in April to resolve a three-year investigation. It offered to mark its products in search results, provide links to at least three rival sites in results, and allow advertisers to move to competing search services. Google could be subject to significant fines if the matter is not resolved. It had been thought the matter could be concluded by year’s end. Google says it stands by its current offer. (Reuters)(CNET) 

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