AFNIC, which administers the .fr ccTLD, has been held not liable...

AFNIC, which administers the .fr ccTLD, has been held not liable by a French court for failing to suspend a domain name about which a trade mark owner complained.  The decision is sensible, given the impossibility of a domain registry policing the uses to which all registered domains are put, and consistent with article 15 of the E-Commerce Directive.

From the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2012...

From the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2012 report:

The impacts of crime, terrorism and war in the virtual world have yet to equal that of the physical world, but there is fear that this could change. Hyperconnectivity is a reality. With over five billion mobile phones coupled with internet connectivity and cloud-based applications, daily life is more vulnerable to cyber threats and digital disruptions. The related constellation of global risks in this case highlights that incentives are misaligned with respect to managing this global challenge. Online security is now considered a public good, implying an urgent need to encourage greater private sector engagement to reduce the vulnerability of key information technology systems.

"pagophobia (noun) — the fear of ice or frost."

“pagophobia (noun) — the fear of ice or frost.”

- Probert Encyclopedia

WordPress protests the impossibility of moderating UGC in a web...

WordPress protests the impossibility of moderating UGC in a web 2.0 world.

BoingBoing blacks out against SOPA and PIPA.

BoingBoing blacks out against SOPA and PIPA.

Facebook and the 2011 London riots

Be careful what you write. In R v Blackwell [2011] EWCA Crim 2312, Lord Judge CJ offers this blunt description of the role played by “modern technology” (principally Facebook, Blackberry’s BBM protocol, Twitter and SMS messaging) in the recent London riots. Rejecting the appellants’ argument that incitement via Facebook was a less serious offence because it did not lead to criminal activity in the real world, his Lordship commented:

[73] We are unimpressed with the suggestion that in each case the appellant did no more than make the appropriate entry in his Facebook. Neither went from door to door looking for friends or like minded people to join up with him in the riot. All that is true. But modern technology has done away with the need for such direct personal communication. It can all be done through Facebook or other social media. In other words, the abuse of modern technology for criminal purposes extends to and includes incitement of very many people by a single step. Indeed it is a sinister feature of these cases that modern technology almost certainly assisted rioters in other places to organise the rapid movement and congregation of disorderly groups in new and unpoliced areas.

FCC adopts new network neutrality rules on unstable jurisdictional ground

After months of consultation and over 100 000 submissions, the Federal Communications Commission has adopted an order which requires providers of a “broadband internet access service” to comply with its three principles of network neutrality:

The Commission adopts three basic protections that are grounded in broadly accepted Internet norms, as well as our own prior decisions.

First, transparency: fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of their broadband services. Second, no blocking: fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services. Third, no unreasonable discrimination: fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.

The big change in the final order is that it now partially encompasses mobile broadband providers, which the order prohibits from blocking competitor voice services, such as Skype or Google Voice. Of course, the rules seem to permit throttling under the guise of “reasonable network management”, which in practice could serve to render the competing services all but useless. Transparency obligations apply across the board, which can only be a good thing for consumer choice and effective competition. As carriers continue along the path of vertical integration, neutrality will only become a bigger regulatory issue.  Read more »

High Court of Australia grants leave to appeal iiNet ruling

Today the High Court of Australia granted leave to appeal against the decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia in Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd. I haven’t been able to uncover a copy of the transcript or a list of the grounds of appeal, but the appellants are likely to contest the Full Court’s approach to determining authorisation liability, its construction of the copyright safe harbour provisions, and its finding that iiNet was not provided with reasonable notice of infringement.

iiNet CEO Michael Malone said he wasn’t surprised by today’s decision, but called on the industry to come to a “workable” solution to piracy problems. “I know the Internet industry is eager to work with the film industry and copyright holders to develop a workable solution,” Malone said. “We remain committed to developing an industry solution that sees more content readily and cheaply available online as well as a sensible model for dealing with repeated copyright infringement activity.”

The respondent, iiNet, now has two weeks in which to file a notice of cross-appeal; it will presumably wish to contest Emmett J’s creative reading of the disconnection policy requirement, and his Honour’s ‘checklist’ of steps to put iiNet on notice (at [209]-[211]). There is also a costs issue to be determined. Watch this space!

Guardian interview with Professor Tim Wu: the Internet as a teenager

The Guardian is running an interview with Professor Tim Wu, who recently published The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires . I’m about three quarters of the way through the book, which offers a refreshingly detailed comparison between regulation of early communications networks in the 19th and 20th centuries and the future of the internet. The interview offers a good summary:  Read more »

Digital avatars as risk-free social substitutes: Scruton

Philosopher Roger Scruton offers this Hegelian critique of our growing digital lives:

This process of raising ourselves above the animal condition is crucial, as the Hegelians emphasized, to the growth of the human subject as a self-knowing agent, capable of entertaining and acting from reasons, and with a developed first-person perspective and a sense of his reality as one subject among others. It is a process that depends upon real conflicts and real resolutions, in a shared public space where each of us is fully accountable for what he is and does. Anything that interferes with that process, by undermining the growth of interpersonal relations, by confiscating responsibility, or by preventing or discouraging an individual from making long-term rational choices and adopting a concrete vision of his own fulfillment, is an evil. It may be an unavoidable evil; but it is an evil all the same, and one that we should strive to abolish if we can. Transferring our social lives onto the Internet is only one of the ways in which we damage or retreat from this process of self-realization.